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Timesizing News, September 16-30, 2001
[Commentary] ©2001 Phil Hyde, The Timesizing Wire, Box 117, Harvard Sq, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


9/30/2001  weekend glimmers of timesizing -

9/29/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. Northwest and American to pay severance benefits - Indications that the number of layoffs in aviation may not be as high as feared [because of timesizing, not downsizing], by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, C3.
    ...Northwest Airlines originally announced that it would lay off 2,800 flight attendants, but because of a furlough program negotiated with the union, 2,500 Northwest attendants chose to take voluntary furloughs.... Last week, Northwest announced that it would eliminate 10,000 positions, but in recent days Northwest management said that voluntary leaves and attrition would reduce the layoff total to no more than 6,500 workers.... "I have to acknowledge that the company has gone out of its way to work with this union to reduce the number of involuntary layoffs," said Danny Campbell, president of the Teamsters union local that represents Northwest's flight attendants....
    [So, we get to deduct 3500 from our running total of jobcuts today. These are the most quantified results we have seen from the timesizing strategy on these pages after noting the 280,000 new jobs created by France's 4-hr drop to a 35-hour workweek for big firms last year and Volkswagen's saving 30,000 jobs by cutting from 35 to 28.8 in 1994.]
    Continental Airlines said that it would need to make 1,000 fewer layoffs than the 12,000 it initially announced, because than many workers had agreed to take one-year leaves of absence.
    [Well, a one-year furlough is stretching it, but it works for lots of academics, so let's give Continental executives the benefit of the doubt and deduct an additional 1,000 from our running total of jobcuts, meaning that we have to deduct Northwest's 3500 and Continental's 1000 for a total of negative-4500 jobcuts.]
    With such furloughs [as Northwest is offering], most of them five months long, Northwest's flight attendants will receive unemployment insurance payments, while retaining their health benefits and travel privileges....
    [Not as good as a feedback-enhancing percentage hours&paycut for all employees including top executives, but better than an indefinite lay-off and job&market loss.]
    Union officials remain dissatisfied with the severance benefits being offered by American and Northwest. "It's substantially less than what the contract offers," said Robert DePace, the chairman of the machinists' union at Northwest. "But every little bit helps"..\..
    Union officials acknowledged that fear of flying was a factor in some flight attendants' decisions to accept a voluntary furlough....
    [No kidding.]
    But many airline officials said that at most several dozen flight attendants had resigned outright....
    The wave of airline job cuts has increased pressure on Congress to provide extended unemployment insurance to airline workers who lose their jobs and to have the federal government reimburse them for 18 months of health insurance coverage. Union officials and Democratic lawmakers voiced confidence yesterday that Congress would take up such measures next week, attaching them to White House-backed legislation to enhance airport security....

  2. French unemployment rate increases, AP-NY-09-28-01 0924EDT via AOLNews.
    PARIS - French Prime Minister Lionel Lionel Jospin said the government is preparing a plan to fight unemployment after the release of figures showing that joblessness rose to 9% in August. The unemployment rate moved up from 8.9% in July, the fourth straight monthly increase, the Labor Ministry said. The number of workers seeking employment increased by 11,000 to 2,127,800....
    To reduce unemployment, the government enacted a law shortening the work week from 39 hours to 35. Officials say the measure has created jobs by forcing employers to hire more staff to keep up productivity..\..
    "The government has decided to reinforce its policy for employment by mobilizing even more means at its disposal," Jospin told Socialist lawmakers, adding that the government was "actively preparing a series of measures to this effect"..\.. Jospin, who came to office in 1997 promising to create jobs, did not reveal details about the new plan....
    [All he has to do is flex up the workweek reduction and instead of freezing work per person at the new arbitrary level of 35 hours a week, let the workweek fluctuate slowly against unemployment - if unemployment goes up, the workweek goes down, and vice versa.] Of course, he might also accelerate the application of workweek reduction to the public sector. To have government lagging instead of leading is ridiculous.]
    Labor Minister Elisabeth Guigou encouraged the French to keep their faith in the economy.
    [Never mind the economy. Keep the faith in sharing the market-demanded work, in sharing your lot in the most critical dimension of the age, for more or less, for "good" or "ill" - which may be the opposite to what we think. When you are together, every "tragedy," every downturn, is cushioned. Tragedy fades and common experience glows.]
    "Everyone must react by continuing as before, without getting demoralized," Guigou said. "It's true for consumers. It's also true for investors. That's economic patriotism."
    [France is modeling a way for America to be more united in this time of tragedy. Though they could flex it up a bit and add the "secret weapon" - overtime-to-skills&jobs conversion. It's very vulnerable until that is done.]

  3. Fiat says cuts, temporary layoffs, AP-NY-09-28-01 via AOLNews.
    MILAN - Fiat SpA's automotive unit will cut back car production in October by temporarily laying off 20,000 employees as a result of the terrorist attacks in the United States, a Fiat spokesman said Friday.... Fiat will lay off [they mean "furlough"] 14,500 workers for the two work weeks running from Oct. 22 through Nov. 2 and another 5,500 workers for the week of Oct. 22 through Oct. 26. Workers will still get 80% of their salaries.
    [This is timesizing, not on the most flexible basis of hours-denominated workweek fluctuation, but on the basis of week-denominated workmonth fluctuation. But is still manipulates/mutilates schedules instead of consumers, worktime instead of workforce.]
    Fiat spokesman Gualberto Ranieri said he couldn't specify the financial impact the [furloughs] would have on the company.
    [Clearly less than indefinite layoffs, which would lose chunks of the company's current skill set and morale.]

9/28/2001  glimmers of timesizing - 9/26/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. Tee times available at Pebble as attacks threaten resort business, by Doug Ferguson, AP-NY-09-25-01 1201EDT via AOLNews.
    [As PBS screens its Evolution series for the first time, the stories on these timesizing pages take on the appearance of the experiments documented in the fossil records (especially here at Pebble Beach!), experiments that work in a limited way in their own time and context, but which all together may be ready for a great transformation - the transformation of human economies into timesizing economies where the demeaning and demoralizing practice of mass layoffs - throwing human beings out of their livelihoods through no fault of their own - becomes extinct. And workweek fluctuation, that we see in its most advanced forms so far in Nucor and Lincoln Electric, proliferates in form and ease and becomes the basis of newly integrated, cooperative and mutually trusting human societies. Just as we've now found out that the single-boned hind-arm, the double-boned fore-arm, the wrist, and the digits were already present in certain fish before they left the water, similarly Nucor Steel, Lincoln Electric and the new shorter workweek in France, have most of the elements required for the new economic transformation - the periodic changeability of the workweek, both upward and downward; the gradualness of those changes; their conditioning by factors (e.g., sales) external to the organism (e.g., the corporation), as in Timesizing Phase Four. There remains only the intimate tying-in of skill transfer (as in Timesizing Phase Two and Phase Three) into the experiments playing out before us on these pages. And even the whole five-phased Timesizing program itself is just one possible organization of this transformation, chosen and designed for simplicity and easy explanation, but a transformation that is already happening in myriad ways in a multiplicity of economic environments, relatively few of which we know about because most never reach the media, and fewer still that we manage to collect here on our timesizing pages. And in a small rudimentary way the basic elements of the transformation are being foreshadowed here in this story also at Pebble Beach, like fossils locked in shale -]
    Pebble Beach Golf Links is the most famous course in America that anyone can play as long as money is not a problem and tee times are booked months in advance. On a typical day, at least 200 people play golf while taking in the spectacular scenery.
    These days are not typical. "There is availability at Pebble Beach," CEO Bill Perocchi said, a hint of disbelief in his voice. "If someone came in today and wanted to go off tomorrow, they could."... The terrorist attacks of two weeks ago have taken a toll on air travel and the economy, two keys for the golf resort industry. Groups that had outings booked for late September and early October have canceled. Occupancy levels at hotels are way down, which means fewer rounds of golf. Some resorts are already considering layoffs.
    "What the terrorists have done has quickly impacted our shores," said Gary Planos, VP of operations at Kapalua, an idyllic resort on the west end of Maui.... "People who come will have more of the island to themselves," [he] said.... But Planos said shorter work weeks and smaller wages were inevitable, along with layoffs.
    [At least he's trying timesizing and paysizing before he resorts to downsizing. It's that priority of response that slows the slide into recession.]
    "It's like the airlines," he said. "You can't survive with flight loads that are 30%. We can't survive with occupancy at 30%. It's a matter of hanging on."

  2. [Here's a big Canadian union that may be waking up to the key issue of workhours -]
    CAW responds to Air Canada's surpluses, *CAW-TCA Bulletins and press releases (St Sauveur: 26-Sep-01) via *"Timework's" Tom Walker via the Shorter Work Time e-list (swt-digest@swt.com).
    [Internal evidence suggests this is an announcement to rank-and-file members from the bargaining committees of two union locals of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW), especially CAW Local 1990, according to "Source: CAW 1990" beside/above the headline of the Internet version.]
    Air Canada announced today [this announcement occurred on 9/26] plans to reduce the total workforce by 9000, of which 1000 are from Air Canada Regional. Of these numbers a total of 1500 are to come from the mainline CAW ranks. These are not layoffs. They are identified surpluses...
    [Hooboy, deep into word games. If the CAW wants to adopt meaningful alternative language, it should be translating out of the language of workforce reduction in job units (assuming at least 40 hrs/wk per "job"), to reduction directly in units of working hours per week (alias labor hours or manhours). The first of their "various possibilities" (below) hints at this approach - but they're still in the dark ages.]
    ...which we intend to mitigate through a number of voluntary programs.... The CAW intends to find voluntary ways to address the surpluses. No layoff notices will be issued.
    Meetings are scheduled with the company over the next few days. We will be looking at various possibilities such as a 36 hour work week, increasing the number of VSPs [meaning "voluntary severance packages" (thankyou, Tom Walker)] and a top-up program for employment insurance....
    [This may be the dawning of intelligence in the brain stem of another union, the CAW, just as it dawned in the Teamsters a few days ago in reducing workweeks at AirTran (see below on 9/19, "AirTran mechanics OK concessions"). Controlling worktime to the extent of being capable of incrementally reducing it is unions' only effective long-term mechanism for maintaining pay levels against the downward pressures of automation, robotization and population. We recommend coupling workweek reduction with converting overtime and overwork into training and hiring, within an overall strategy.]
    The CAW national along with the leadership of the other unions will also be meeting over the next few days to discuss various funding program[s] for incentives to reduce the workforce.
    [Still spouting self-defeating language. They should be talking about "incentives to reduce labor hours" or "worktime."]
    In particular we will be looking for attractive options that will appeal to our senior members in order to ensure jobs for more junior members....
    [Agism, i.e., not performance-based but based on something totally superficial, namely, age. This kind of effort usually results in inflexible worklife controls, such as early retirement schemes, rather than flexible workweek controls. Let's get back to that "36 hour work week" idea and see how we can flex it up.]
    Please be assured that we are committed to the [government's shaky] job security protection provisions and will be working with the company [Air Canada] to find alternatives to ensure that no one is harmed.
    [The only mechanism that is both impartial enough and powerfully comprehensive enough to qualify is what Walter Reuther called "fluctuating adjustment of the workweek." It's also simple and easy-to-understand in concept, which facilitates its sometimes complicated implementation (as France can attest in the midst of its current implementation of a nationwide 35-hour workweek). Here's hoping the CAW and all other unions focus in on this powerful pathway to a better and more unified future for all of us, including the wealthy.]
    ...Your bargaining committees, Local 1990 and Local 2213 [CAW]

9/25/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. [cutting hours, not jobs -]
    Waterford Crystal puts workers on short time, by Alex Richardson, Reuters 12:01 09-24-01 via AOLNews.
    DUBLIN...- Irish china and glass maker Waterford Wedgwood said on Monday it was to introduce short-time working for 1,600 workers at its Waterford Crystal division in response to the U.S. downturn.... Workers at the company's crystal factories at Waterford and Dungarvan, in the south of the Irish Republic, will be affected by the shortened working hours.... "We are all aware of the financial hardship this will cause but it is necessary if we are to protect our business"..\..said Waterford Crystal CEO John Foley in a statement.
    [Evidently Foley is concerned about his employees as part of the business because there is no mention throughout the article of layoffs. And the financial hardship will be less than no job at all.]
    "We are determined to match supply with demand; we will continue to consult our workforce about finding ways to reduce output."... [Note the consultation with the workforce. This is not your pathetic American "disposable employee" and unspendably wealthy and short-sighted CEO.]
    Local press reports last week suggested the company's inventory levels of unsold crystal had risen as high as 114m euros ($104.5m). Sales of crystal in the first half [of the year] totalled 162.5m euros..\.. The firm [usually] does the bulk of its business in the second half...in the run-up to Christmas..\..
    "The tragic and horrific events of September 11 have had an immediate and severe impact on our business with a marked reduction in retail activity and widespread cancellations by Americans due to visit Ireland," said...Foley.... Around 44% of the company's revenues come from the U.S., while some 60% of its sales in Ireland depend on visiting tourists..\.. The company said it had been feeling the effects of an economic slowdown in the United States even before the devastating attacks in New York and Washington on September 11.... The stock...has fallen from a 12-month high of 1.40 euros in late February \to closing at\ 0.55 euros in Dublin on Friday.... Shares in luxury goods companies were badly hit in the wake of the U.S. attacks, and Waterford Wedgwood is vulnerable because of its level of exposure to the American market....

  2. New EBRI research: 'Phased retirement' catching on, but private industry opts for informal arrangements, PRNewswire 09/24/2001 13:55 EDT via AOLNews.
    WASHINGTON...- U.S. employers appear to be warming to the concept of "phased retirement" for their more valued - and older - workers, but formal policies are far more likely in state and local governments and academia than in the private sector, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI).
    EBRI's September Notes examines flexible work options, often termed bridge jobs or phased retirement, that allow retirement-age employees to work fewer hours each day, fewer days per week, or even full time for only certain weeks of the year - before leaving the labor force permanently.... One study found...the most common arrangements to be reduced hours or schedules (47% of employers...responding to recent surveys)..\.. Another study found a particular emphasis on part-time/temporary work (70%) and reductions in workweek and workday schedules (60%)....

9/21/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
  1. Attacks affecting New York tourism, by Theresa Agovino, AP-NY-09-20-01 0625EDT via AOLNews.
    ..."We've had slow periods before, but nothing like this," said Eric Washington, who has been a captain at..\..the top-rated restaurant Tavern on the Green...for 23 years....
    ...The attack has left 3,000 hotel workers without work. Nearly 1,000 of them worked at the hotels near or in the World Trade Center. One hotel was destroyed while three others are closed.
    John Turchiano, a spokesman for the New York Hotel Trades Council, an umbrella organization for nine unions, said discussions will be held to see if members would agree to wage cuts or shorter work weeks to avoid more layoffs....
    [Here and there unionists are getting smart, and realizing that income-trimming but hourly-wage-maintaining shorter hours for all are far preferable to membership-cutting, income-slashing and wage-depressing layoffs for a few (and a few more, and a few more...).]

  2. Airlines's [sic] woes spreading fast to others, by Krasner and Kowalczyk, BG, E4.
    ...The slowdown in air traffic is expected to have a dramatic impact of the hotel industry in Boston, in the midst of what normally is peak leaf-peeping season. Hotel occupancy rates have plunged to about 40%, and hotels and restaurants throughout the city have begun issuing layoff notices and reducing the number of hours that employees work, tourism officials said.
    "We are curtailing hours and eliminating new hires," said Robert Rivers, general manager of the Millennium Boston Hotel."...
    [When they start cutting hours exclusively, there'll be no more downturns, because the growing labor shortage will centrifuge income out of the top brackets and back "down" to the brackets who actually spend it.]

  3. The clouds darken - Airlines' woes leave others lurching, by Krasner and Kowalczyk, BG, E1.
    From the companies that build airplane engines, to the laundry in Somerville that washes passengers' blankets, to the shop at Boston's Old North Church that sells tourists their souvenirs, the dramatic drop in air travel is hurting businesses at levels of the economy in a rapid slowdown that analysts predict will lead to hundreds of thousands of layoffs....
    At Royal White Laundry in Somerville MA, which launders blankets and cloth napkins used on airplanes, manager Brian Leibovitz said he has laid off or reduced the hours of 20 employees - and he's worried that's not the end of it. ...He said, "...I'm trying to protect as m any jobs as I can."...
    [Well, we were going to estimate half'n'half, in other words, 10 laid off. But hey, Royal White is only a couple of blocks away, so we phoned Brian to get the straight story. Brian said he was doing a "20/20 plan" - a 20% layoff (20% of 20 is two) and a 20% hours reduction for the remaining 18. We're not at all clear on how Brian gets these figures to work out to only a 20% hourscut. He said they used to work 43-44 hrs/wk, 6 am to 2-3 pm (sounds like 8-9 hrs/day). Now they work 6 am to 11am (sounds like only 5 hrs/day). Sounds more like a 38-44% hourscut. What hasn't he told us? Even if there was a one-hour lunch in only the previous schedule, giving us a 7-8 hr day vs a 5 hr day, we'd still have an hourscut of 29-38%.]

  4. Nucor cuts third-quarter profit estimate in half, AP via NYT, C2.
    [Nucor is the most flexible companies in the world, because of timesizing. But the NYT misses the timesizing. The Reuters version of this article doesn't -]
    Nucor's warning points to more steel industry woes, by Jamie LaReau, Reuters 20:39 09-20-01 via AOLNews.
    ..."The third quarter has seen a continuation of the most challenging U.S. steel market conditions in two decades," Dan DiMicco, Nucor's CEO, said in a statement.... DiMicco said Nucor's lowered earnings forecast is not a foreshadowing of future job cuts or layoffs. He said the company has reduced work weeks at some of its Vulcraft plants, its manufacturing plant that makes steel joist and steel deck, but its other plants are running at mostly full capacity.... DiMicco said Nucor maintains a conservative balance sheet and remains very profitable..\..
    Nucor Corp.'s {NUE.N} warning on Thursday that its third-quarter earnings will be almost half of previous estimates points to further trouble ahead for the battered steel industry. Nucor, the No. 3 U.S. steel producer, cited weak pricing and a slowdown in nonresidential construction, among other reasons....
    "If Nucor warns, it means that everyone else's numbers will go down. It's just a question of whether or not they'll warn too," said steel analyst Brett Levy of RBC Dominion Securities....

9/19/2001  glimmers of timesizing -
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