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Timesizing News in Y2000
[Commentary] ©2000 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 622, Cambridge MA 02140 USA (617) 623-8080


12/29/2000  glimmers of Timesizing -

12/27/2000  Aluminum smelter to reduce output and sell power, Bloomberg via NYT, C3.
Golden Northwest Aluminum [plans] to cut production by 83% through October 2001 because of power shortages on the West Coast. Smelters in The Dalles, Ore., and Goldendale, Wash., will scale back output and allow the Bonneville Power Administration to resell the electricity they would have used to California, where power prices have quintupled in the last year. Aluminum smelters are among the biggest electricity users in the region.
Golden Northwest will use profits from electricity sales to keep all its 1,225 employees on its payroll or to supplement unemployment compensation to match their salaries, a spokesman said.
[This is stark contrast to the behavior of Kaiser Aluminum, as we learn from the wireservice original of this story -]
Golden Northwest to cut aluminum production on power shortage, Bloomberg Dec/26/2000 19:09 ET via AOLNews.
...Energy Secretary Bill Richardson criticized Kaiser Aluminum Corp. earlier this month after the company said it planned to temporarily shut a smelter and lay off employees to sell power to the BPA..\..
[Kaiser has always treated employees like crap, too dumb to timesize instead of downsizing. But back to timesizing Golden Northwest -]
"You have to play the hand you're dealt," said Brett Willcox, CEO of Golden Northwest, a closely held company based in The Dalles, Ore. Golden Northwest will reduce production, which had already been cut in September, at its smelters to 25,000 metric tons a year from 150,000 tons, he said. The company's capacity is 250,000 tons.... He declined to say how much profit the company expects to make....
[And here's more info from another wire -]
Goldendale cuts aluminum output due to expensive power,
by Zach Howard, Reuters 15:10 12-26-00 via AOLNews.
..."During this period we are dedicated to ensuring that our commitments to our customers are met, as well as ensuring that any negative impact on Goldendale's employees in minimized," said...president Jim Walters \of\ Norsk Hydro's Hydro Aluminum Metal Products-North America (HAMP-NA) [which has] since 1987 an agreement \under which\ the Goldendale smelter..\..owned by privately held Golden Northwest Aluminum...has provided aluminum to...HAMP-NA.... Norsk Hydro [will] honor all commitments to its customers during the temporary reduction at Goldendale by supplying aluminum from Hydro's other global sources.... In mid-November, Hydro started up its scrap remelt plant in Henderson, Ky., where it is able to produce 90,000 tonnes of extrusion ingot annually. "The start of our production at Hydro's Henderson remelt comes at an opportune time," says Lars Narvestad, HAMP-NA senior VP. "Our $33m investment in this remelt facility will help ease the reduced shortfall at Goldendale."..\..
Additionally, [Hydro] said the two companies [Hydro & Goldendale?] agreed to a financial transaction that compensated Hydro for its costs, investments and metal.... [Hydro] said it would pay "costs of continued employment, wages and benefits of the smelter's employees," adding that the power resale would "free-up funds to protect the viability of Goldendale through investment in power generation capacity."....
[Probably didn't hurt that Norsk Hydro, as a Norwegian industrial giant, injected a little European-style respect for employees into this power crisis, which Kaiser clearly lacks.]

[another company practicing a primitive form of timesizing -]
12/23/2000 Weirton Steel to furlough workers during holidays, AP via NYT, B3.
...1,080 hourly and management employees for the last wee of the year, and another 200 after the holidays. The company attributed the move to heavy competition from inexpensive imported steel, and said more furloughs could be expected unless the government acted to stem the flow of imports. Weirton furloughed 2,800 hourly and management employees for 10 days in late November.
[As in all cases where worktime is cut instead of workforce, this preserves the company's morale and its skillset.]

12/22/2000  a flurry of pre-Xmas Timesizing stories -

  1. As consumers turn pessimistic...shrinking hours..., by David Leonhardt, NYT, front page, C6.
    ...[At] the Frigidaire washer-and-dryer factory in Webster City, Iowa...overtime hours disappeared.... Kim Willson [is] a 15-year employee who has kept her job but now works fewer hours...because her overtime has been cut back....
    [If she and her fellow factory workers hadn't hogged those hours by working overtime, there wouldn't have been so many underemployed people pushing their wages down and the earnings would have been spread around to more people who needed stuff, like washers and dryers, and would have gone out and bought it, thus supporting consumer optimism, and delaying and decreasing the drop in consumer purchases of large appliances, and everything else.]
    ...At Coe Press Equipment, a maker of steel-unwinding machines in Sterling Heights, Mich., that sells to GE and Whirlpool...in the second half of 2000, sales will be about 50% lower than in the first half. In response, the company's president, John C. Coe...called off plans for a $650,000 expansion and put all the mfg employees - about 50 people and almost half the company's payroll - on leave for the next two weeks.
    [This is timesizing independently reinvented, as at the beginning of every recession in American history, and timesizing at work to save companies' skillset and morale instead of downsizing - here are employees working less but keeping their jobs = the core of the timesizing approach.]
    Kirt T. Howard is one of the workers who will begin collecting unemployment insurance on Monday. Six months ago, Mr. Howard...was making almost $1,100 a week, thanks to 20 hours of overtime.
    [Overtime should never become a standard thing. Overtime should always and only occur on an emergency basis. This is not optional if human beings have any desire to move forward toward greater freedom rather than backward toward sweatshops and slavery.]
    Recently, his weekly salary had dropped to $620....
    [The reporter means that his bloated pay dropped back down to his weekly salary, because overtime pay cannot be regarded as part of a standard "salary."]
    Mr. Howard said he had been able to make only minimum payments on his three credit card bills lately.
    [If Mr. Howard has become dependent on overtime, both he and his employer are at fault. In the economies of the future, all overtime will be automatically converted into on-the-job training (OJT) and hiring, and Mr. Howard will have plenty of OJT available to upgrade his skills and enable him to make what he thinks he needs within straight time. This will become easier when he stops hogging the extra hours and lets those extra hours absorb the under-employed, whose over-availability is the main factor in the flattening of American and global wages over the last 30 years, and that flattening in turn has been the main factor in the bloating of top executive wages over the last 20 years (hey, somebody's gotta take in all that extra money - it's just that the more you got, the smaller the percentage you spend, ergo recession - "the more concentration, the less circulation").]

  2. Schwab executives to take pay cut in first quarter, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
    The Charles Schwab Corp. [will] temporarily cut the salaries of its top executives to conserve cash because of the stock market slump. The co-executives, Charles Schwab and David S. Pottruck, will give up half their salaries in the first quarter fo 2001...
    [Sounds like a lot, but -]
    ...or about $100,000 over three months, based on their annual salaries of $800,000 apiece.
    [So the poor guys will have to "make do" with just $400,000 next year instead of $800,000? "Life is rough." One, two, three, organized sob.]
    About 750 other officers at VP level or above will have their January and February paychecks cut by 5-20%.
    [These clowns have 750 vice-presidents or higher? Sounds like "too many chiefs and not enough Indians."]
    Lower-ranking employees will keep their current salaries but will be encouraged to take any saved vacation time, plus unpaid leave of up to 20 days. No layoffs are planned....
    [OK, this is a good example of timesizing, not downsizing at work. 'Course it works better if you're doing it continuously and in small increments of the workweek, not large chunks of the workyear.]

  3. [Well, ol' Phil "Planta Clause" Hyde went back onto his $4.95/month mini AOL account to follow up a mention of layoffs at Ford Motor (and Lucent) and struck paydirt. Ford wasn't having layoffs, it was having week-offs, alias timesizing -]
    Ford cuts Q4 estimate, Q1 N.American production, by Ben Klayman, Reuters 19:19 12-21-00 via AOLNews.
    ...Ford said Hourly workers at Big Three [Ford, GM, DaimlerChrysler] automakers' plants receive about 95% of their pay during shutdowns, between federal unemployment benefits and company payments.
    [If timesizing is done right, it reduces, not increases, our dependence on and taxes for government unemployment insurance schemes.]
    Not affected by the cutbacks are the two plants in St. Louis and Louisville, Ky.,
    [...making them easier to remember...]
    gearing up to begin making the new 2002 Ford Explorer SUV [aaarg, more damn SUVs!], and three other plants. Mother Nature and supplier problems in the fourth quarter [Q4] led to Ford's revised profit estimate. The snow in the Midwest during December cost Ford 26,000 units in lost production for North America, while parts shortages in Europe reduced output by another 20,000 units, Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said.
    [And the rest of the Big Three? This article has a quick summary -]
    1. Earlier on Thursday [12/21/00], GM said it would completely idle five North American plants the first week of January and shut down a sixth plant for one day that week because of slowing sales. The plants employ 17,412 hourly employees. GM spokesman Kevin Frazier said the actions were part of GM's previous first-quarter [Q1] cutback plans [for] cars and light trucks, down 14.5% from the same period this year. GM CEO Rick Wagoner [also easy to remember! -ed.] said [on Dec. 7] the production cuts have to be "broad-based" and "sustainable" in the face of slowing U.S. sales.
    2. Chrysler [= now short for DaimlerChrysler] said last week it would idle three North American plants and part of a fouorth that same week.
    [So let's see, from this article alone, we can calculate that, apart from Chrysler where no figures are given, there are some 2200+5000+33,600+4600 +17,412= 62,812 employees in the US auto industry alone who are familiar with the idea of cutting worktime a little for everyone instead of cutting jobs completely for a few (and possibly then a few more, and a few more...) - in other words, with the basic concept of timesizing, not downsizing. Nearly 63,000 Americans, plus the ones at Chrysler, in one industry alone that we KNOW about. This is considerable. Shorter hours advocates can take courage from the fact that for these 63,000 people, they don't have to impart the basic concept, - just the idea that this concept can be smoothed out on the basis of trimming a few hours off the workweek instead of jerking around entire weeks at a time.]

  4. And ol' "Planta Clause" then did something he shoulda done years ago, something he hasn't done since his halcyon days in 1995-96 as an electronic news reviewer at Individual Inc. in Burlington MA (where he did nightly searches of their database of 17,000 a day stories off 250 newswires) - he searched AOLNews for "shorter hours" and hit much more paydirt - plus "shorten hours," "shorter workweek" and "shorten workweek" (or "work week" with a space, - individual figures are also good - "35-hour workweek" or "35 hours a week," "30-hour workweek" etc.) Phil came up with the following non-exhaustive set of articles that were obvious shorter-hours stories from their headlines, each providing vital references and experience about how this crucial strategy can and must be applied if the human race is ever to bust out of the straitjacket of political power-sharing - rhetorical only - to sharing the skills, work, income, wealth, and "points beyond" -

    Clearly at the dawn of the Third Millennium, the people of Europe are doing most of the "heavy lifting" on the key/core/central/strategic/all-in-one issue for real human progress - FREE UP OUR TIME. And if you are one of those disgraces to human intelligence that gets incensed about limits on your worktime, smarten up and realize that free time is the most basic kind of freedom. You can have all the other "freedoms" you want, and if you are still working on somebody else's agenda 50-60-70-80-or up to all 168 hours a week, all your other so-called "freedoms" mean absolutely nothing.
    In future we at Timesizing.com will be doing a lot more of these searches and focusing up our 'glimmer of hope/intelligence' section, which was originally planned to hilite, explore, applaud and celebrate all the little cases of timesizing that are constantly springing up spontaneously all over the world. The problem was that the American media report on these cases even less than they report on bankruptcies and suicides. Isn't it strange how often we fear the one area of change that could most enhance our freedom and happiness. Just look at the resistance in France to the 35-hour workweek! A louzy drop of 5 hours from the 60-year frozen 40-hour workweek and many employers still don't "get" the direct connection to boosting their markets and dropping their taxes that a fully self-supporting population delivers. And our great grandparents, who all expected that we would by now be working only 20-25 hours a week, would be absolutely disgusted with us for our lack of progress and boneheaded stupidity at the dawn of the new millennium. What a disgrace we are to the concept of intelligence. We yap constantly about Freedom and Liberty, yet we tremble in fear before the most meaningful kind of freedom - free time. And we spew cautions about "the devil finds work for idle hands to do." What could be worse than the current 2,000,000 prison inmates that we have with our frozen 40-50-hours-and-rising workweek dragging us back in time toward sweatshops and slavery? Whatever happened to "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"? Do we realize how boring we're getting by talking about work all the time and with nothing to talk about but work? As Gerard Manley Hopkins might have said in his "The Skylark,"

    Like a dare-gale skylark scanted in a dull cage,
    Man's mounting spirit in his mean house, 40-hour-workweek dwells.
    That bird [the skylark] beyond the remembering his free fells [fields],
    This [mankind] in drudgery, day-laboring-out life's age.

    Not that the song fowl, free fowl, needs no rest.
    Why see him, hear him warble and drop down to his nest -
    But his own nest, free nest, no prison....




12/19/2000  In Canada's Northwest Territories, bureaucracy chills out - Officials cherish 2-week furlough as offices are shut, by Colin Nickerson, Boston Globe, A29.
...The year's final message to the media \from the\ press secretary \of the\ government [in Yellowknife, NWT -] "Please be advised that the Government of the Northwest Territories will be closed from December 21 - January 3, 2001." ... The entire government is shutting down - lock, stock and switchboard operator.
The winter closing of the territorial government has become a tradition called Donny Days...after Donald Morin, territorial premier in the mid-1990s when budget shortfalls created a financial crisis. He took a look at the bottom line, swallowed hard, and told everyone to go home for two week. Without pay.
[Hey, this is timesizing, not downsizing - with the workyear varying directly with revenues. Too little money for the full year? No problemo. Drop a couple of weeks off the workyear. Everyone sacrifices together. No one is laid off. And no skills are lost.]
That was an especially shocking holiday...for the western Arctic territory of 42,000 [people]. Government is the biggest single employer, with some 4,200 people [10% of the population!] on the payroll.

But the tightfisted premier was adamant. And life without government, it turned out, somehow carried on.
The Donny Days are still technically "enforced leave" for austerity reasons, not a proper holiday. But the pain is now thinned across a year of slightly reduced paychecks, so it feels like a boon more than the cruel kick in the wallet of that original Donny notice.
"People honestly love it," said..\..Susan Fleck, the executive assistant for the Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development.... "Some head for the sun. Some hang out at home. It's a great time for socializing and for family."
The break also means no more squabbling at the office over who has to work over Christmas. No more employees saddled with triple-work while luckier colleagues jet off to the "11th province" as Canadian-crammed Florida is known.
"We're like France in August, except of course for the temperature," Fleck said. "It's wonderful. Every government should do it. No one's so important that they can't take a break." ...

11/28/2000  G.M. to lengthen holiday shutdown at European plants, Bloomberg via NYT, C4.
...at Ruesselsheim, Germany and Luton, England, but one to three weeks in an effort to reduce bulging inventories of unsold cars, especially midsize Vectras and larger Omegas. GM's sales in Western Europe slid 7% in the year through October, compared with the first 10 months of 1999....
[Hey, it's primitive, but it's "timesizing, not downsizing."]

11/25/2000  South Korea's bitter harvest - Can Kim find jobs for [all the demonstrators], Economist Magazine, 49.
...The country's militant trade unions...want the working week to be shortened from 44 hours to 40, with no pay cuts or reduction in paid holidays....

11/23/2000  2 automakers plan to idle some North American plants, Bloomberg via NYT, C9.
DaimlerChrysler AG and the Ford Motor Co. [will] idle some...plants next week as [they] try to reduce the number of unsold cars and trucks. DaimlerChrysler plants in Detroit, Brampton Ont., and Toledo...will be closed for the week starting Monday, affecting 13,600 workers.... Ford is idling its Avon Lake, Ohio plant for two weeks starting next week, affecting about 1,600 workers....

11/17/2000  DaimlerChrysler, GM to idle plants, AP via Boston Globe, D2.
General Motors Corp. and the Chrysler arm of DaimlerChrysler AG [will] idle 5 assembly plants next week to reduce inventories of unsold cars and trucks.... About 6,100 workers will be idle; those US workers who are off for inventory adjustment will get 80% of their straight pay....
[Thus smart companies retain their skillset and morale intact, although doing it on a constantly adjusting workweek basis (trimming or adding hours like Lincoln Electric and Nucor) is more flexible than this sporadically adjusting work month (week on, week off).]

8/04/2000  DaimlerChrysler A.G., NYT, C3.
...said it would idle its Jeep assembly plant in Toledo, Ohio, next week because of a backlog of Cherokee and Wrangler sport utility vehicles. The idling would result in the temporary layoff of about 2,800 of the 5,200 workers at the plant.
[Daimler is doing an alternating-week type of timesizing and keeping their skill set intact, instead of downsizing and damaging their skill set.]

[Another spontaneous case of classic timesizing, not downsizing -]
4/29/2000  Plant to turn out fewer Jeep Cherokees, Reuters via NYT, B8.
DETROIT - DaimlerChrysler A.G. said [yester]day that it was trimming production, at least temporarily, of its Jeep Grand Cherokee midsize sport utility vehicle.
A company spokesman, Trevor Hale, said the automaker was cutting back the work schedule for 3 shifts at its Jefferson North Assembly plant in Detroit by one half hour, to 7 hours each. Mr. Hale said a shift for Saturday had also been cancelled. But the schedule could be changed in the future. "Now production is catching up to demand, so we are adjusting our schedule to balance our inventory," he said. "We change it by the week."
The Detroit Free Press reported, citing an unidentified source at the plant, that DaimlerChrysler would trim production by 8,000 vehicles a year, down from the 300,000 produced in 1999. Mr. Hale could not confirm that figure, but he said the reduced hours would mean around 80 fewer vehicles a day, from a level of 1,330 units.
The Grand Cherokee is one of the top-selling vehicles in the U.S. But the midsize sport utility [SUV] market has faced increasing competition from new entrants. For the first 3 months of this year, Grand Cherokee U.S. sales fell 5.6% to 64,442 units, from 68,270, despite higher sales for the SUV sector in particular and the overall market.
[Are higher gas prices scaring people back to smaller cars?]

2/07/2000  Building workers strike today in push for 36-hour week..., Australian Associated Press (AAP) via Terry Kelly via Mark Hudson at News from *32 Hours: Action for Full Employment.
...across the [Australian state of] Victoria...despite a court injunction and a warning their strike will cost $23m. The strike, in support of the unions' campaign for a shorter week and a 24% pay rise, is to be repeated every 4 weeks by the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU). The...action potentially affects an estimated 35,000 workers.
But the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday issued an injunction against some workers participating in the strike. While the action directly involves only workers from 4 major companies - Balderstone Hornibrook, Multiplex, Theiss and Walter Constructions - a legal source last night said it could have much wider repercussions. He said the injunction directly affected 500 workers....
Meanwhile, Master Builders' Assoc. of Victoria (MBAV) exec. dir. Brian Welch has called for today's strike to be a [one time only]. Welch yesterday said the action would cost A$23m in lost time and accused the unions of jeopardising investment in major projects in Victoria because of the threat of long-term industrial instability. "The industry is prepared to give workers a 15% pay rise, well above the cost of living," he said....
[Maybe they'd rather have the time than the money - "time is a non-renewable resource."]

[Some reverse timesizing -]
Feb/2000  Somerville Journal owner [Fidelity Investments] reduces CNC editors from 18 to 6 - Source: Fidelity demands 15% take from news, Somerville Community News, front page & 5.
SOMERVILLE, Mass. -...The unpredented profit demand follows a major reorganization of the publications in the Community News Corporation [CNC] chain, which includes the Somerville Journal. The [source] editor asked to remain anonymous for fear of management retaliation....
[And this is during a stock bubble when Fidelity is already pulling in profits like gangbusters. Can this possibly last when Fidelity and its ilk are bashing its consumer base every chance they get?]
Longer hours for those left The reorganization of Fidelity's newspaper chain has meant a much longer workweek for those staff people who haven't quit or left for other jobs. One editor is now working a 55-60 hour workweek. The chief of photography at Fidelity's newspaper chain is now working a 75-hour workweek....
[Title of the book: "Creating Hell in America."]

1/12/2000  French truck owners lift blockades, AP-NY-01-12-00 1819EST.
[Although the version of timesizing that they are using is pretty primitive (lacking automatic overtime-to-training&hiring conversion and automatic workweek adjustment against all forms of underemployment), the Republic of France is having the most advanced nationwide timesizing experiment in the world today. All their experiences are therefore incredibly valuable to the rest of us because we are going to be following their example - if, that is, we will be having any significant social progress instead of just an ever greater concentration of wealth and an ever more violent business cycle and underclass. So we will bring to you stories about their experiences from time to time, even though they may not relate directly to the design of their system. However, we will be hampered by a tremendous dearth of coverage in the English-language press on this remarkable and hopeful experiment.]
PARIS - Traffic was moving again on French roads Wednesday after truck owners lifted blockades that for two days had stalled foreign trucks at France's borders in a protest over gas prices and a shorter work week.... Truck owners had been protesting a 30% rise in diesel fuel prices over the last year. But their main concern was the government program to reduce unemployment by cutting the work week from 39 hours to 35. The [owners] said it would make [French] truckers far less competitive than [their] European counterparts.
During Tuesday's talks, Transport Ministry officials decided trucking employees could work more than 35 hours a week if they were paid overtime beyond the 35th hour. Truck owners will also receive tax breaks on diesel fuel. "Even though nothing has been signed, the state has made a promise to the four professional unions. That is worth gold," said Guillemette de Fos, spokeswoman for the FNTR union. By Wednesday afternoon, all the barricades that had [been] placed at French border crossings had been removed../..
[Is the FNTR a union for truck owners then? Because apparently the truck drivers themselves are not happy with these Transport Ministry concessions -]
While the bosses were appeased after late-night talks Tuesday with the government, their drivers were not. They have promised their own [road] blockades. ...Employees are unhappy with the concessions granted to the [owners] because truckers who drive only in France had been set to go onto the 35-hour workweek program. Now they will have to work between 48 and 56 hours a week, like their long-distance counterparts who travel through Europe
"It's a real gift to the bosses. There is no reduction in working hours," said Alain Villette of the CFDT union. "Once again, it's the employees who are going to have to pay." Truck drivers have already called for a smaller round of blockades Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, and warned they could act sooner. Their unions met with Transport Ministry officials Wednesday.
French truckers are among Europe's most militant. In November 1988, a strike disrupted France and snarled traffic with neighboring nations for five days. In 1996, truckers stopped work for 12 days. In October [this year], truckers blocked roads and highways as part of Europe-wide protests against plans to limit weekend driving in European Union countries.



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