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Timesizing News, April 11-30, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


4/30/2003  timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -

  1. Lufthansa gains trimmed after cutting working hours, by Steve Goldstein, CBS MarketWatch 12:55pm 04/29/03 via AOLNews.
    German airliner Deutsche Lufthansa saw its gains clipped to 0.9% after cutting working hours, and corresponding pay, to 35 hours a week, as a measure to combat its difficulties stemming from the economic climate.
    [Classic, intelligent and effective timesizing, not downsizing.]
    Lufthansa had said previously that it was considering the measure. In addition, capacity will be reduced by another 15 aircraft in continental traffic. Lufthansa said passenger business revenue to decline by around 20% in April 2003 compared to the same month last year, triggering the cuts. "The limit [to decline] agreed on in the arbitration process for the initiation of the second stage of the reduction in working hours has been signficantly exceeded," the company said, with a statement attributed to CEO Jurgen Weber saying that further measures were needed.
    [Additional articles, from shorter to longer, several explaining the reference to "the second stage of the reduction in working hours" -]
    Germany's Lufthansa idles 15 planes, AP 04/29/03 13:39 EDT via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Germany's Lufthansa said Tuesday it is idling 15 planes on intercontinental routes and cutting working hours for ground staff in an effort to cope with the impact of the SARS virus, the war in Iraq and a slow economy. The decision was "the direct consequence of undiminshed difficult economic burdens," the airline said in a statement. "Aside from the continuing slow economy and the effect of the Iraq war, the great insecurity among passengers to Asia due to SARS is responsible for the increased fall in passenger demand."
    Lufthansa said demand had slumped by up to 85% on some Asian routes due to SARS, and said it had cut the number of flights to Hong Kong from 13 per week to three. The airline, which anticipated a 20% year-on-year fall in passsenger revenue for April, said it was using smaller airplanes on many international flights.
    Hours for ground personnel, which already were cut by 1½ hours per week to 36 hours earlier this month, will be cut to 35 hours with a corresponding pay reduction by mid-May.
    [Hourscuts with corresponding paycuts are reality for companies in trouble.]
    The forecast revenue drop triggered provisions in Lufthansa's collective bargaining agreement with labor unions that are aimed at cutting costs without laying off workers.
    [Clips from longer articles -]
    Lufthansa grounds 15 planes, slashes Asian flights, Reuters 04/29/03 12:42 ET via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Lufthansa said on Tuesday it was grounding 15 more planes as the deadly SARS virius pounded demand to Asia and the recent war in Iraq and a weak economy exacerbated the worst crisis the industry has seen.... Europe's 3rd largest airline by passengers said demand on Asian routes had collapsed by as much as 85% due to the deadly SARS virus. The airline said it was trimming its flights to Hong Kong to 3 per week from 13.
    CEO Juergen Weber said in a statement that even more measures were needed to cut costs as Lufthansa and other airlines battle the 3 factors of war, deadly disease and the economy, which are all knocking the industry. "Even these measures are not enough," Weber said in a statement.... Lufthansa has now grounded 70 planes along with its regional partners.
    Ground staff will work 35 hour weeks with an according cut in pay, the company said....
    [And much longer, but much more stringently excerpted -]
    Germany's travel industry feels SARS pain, by Jeff Mason, Reuters 04/29/03 13:56 ET via AOLNews.
    ...Lufthansa, which had already introduced short-time working for thousands of cabin crew [so est. 2,000 jobs saved] and ground staff, said it was cutting the working week for Germany-based ground staff to 35 hours, with a corresponding reduction in pay....
    [But not all of Lufthansa's involvements are as careful to maintain morale by cutting hours to avoid cutting jobs -]
    Europe's 2nd largest travel firm Thomas Cook, jointly owned by Lufthansa and retailer Karstadt Quelle, said on Tuesday it was doubling planned job cuts for 2003 to 1,200. A spokeswoman for the tourism giant said the end of the Iraq war had brought only a slight improvement in forward bookings.

  2. Strike ends at GM plant in Brazil, talks continue, Reuters 04/29/03 13:43 ET via AOLNews.
    SAO PAULO...- Some 10,000 workers at a General Motors Corp. auto plant in Brazil went back to work on Tuesday, ending a 5-day strike as talks on a pay raise continued, company and union officials said...though the company had yet to settle a salary dispute with the plant's employees. Workers at the..\..Sao Jose dos Campos factory in Sao Paulo state...walked off the job last Tuesday to demand a bonus equal to 10.39% of their earnings from September to February to make up for a sharp surge in inflation that cut into their buying power. They also wanted management to slash their work week to 36 hours from 40 hours and implement a so-called "inflation clause" that would guarantee a pay raise every time consumer prices jump more than 3%. But union leaders agreed to scrap the last proposal at a meeting on Monday with company and government officials, who are keen to head off widespread salary demands that could further fuel inflation in Latin America's largest economy....
    [As frequently, union leaders put off their only strategic power issue - which would have curtailed intensified wage-depressing labor surplus in the longer run - in favor of unsustainable, short-term pay goals, thus bucking market forces and making unions not only ineffectual but self- and economy-destructive and complicitous in their own long-term demise.]

  3. Analysis by Economic Policy Institute and Institute for America's Future shows Pennsylvania to face $755m in cuts due to federal tax and budget agreement - AFL-CIO and organizations urge Pennsylvania's members of Congress to reject tax cuts for wealthy Americans that force...cuts in education, health care, other critical programs, PRNewswire 04/29/2003 14:42 EDT via AOLNews.
    ..."No more voodoo economics. Pennsylvania's economy is not struggling because millionaires have too little money.
    [That goes for the whole nation's economy.]
    "Pennsylvania's economy is struggling because workers don't have jobs and don't have health care," said Martin Berger, President Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans.
    Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William George also urged Pennsylvania's Congressional Members to oppose the assault on overtime [OT] pay and the 40-hr. workweek underway by members of the Bush administration and their supporters in Congress.
    [Not exactly true, as we noted in comments on articles below. Bush is weakening overtime regulation at the top of the pay scale but strengthening it at the bottom. Unions should be focused on getting rid of it everywhere, even to the point of setting up a shadow time accounting systems for salaried employees. There should be no such thing as "exempt from overtime" regulation in a world that wants a future worth living.]
    "They have the audacity to portray this anti-family legislation (H.R. 1119 and S. 317) as pro-family. It makes it too easy for employers to abuse overtime to increase profits resulting in no pay for overtime and less time to spend with your family," said George.
    [William George, the AFL-CIO, and the entire labor movement should also be focusing on designing overtime eradication that does not demotivate it for one group while motivating it for another - demotivating use of overtime for management by forcing them to pony up extra pay for overtime while motivating it for labor by making them accept extra pay for overtime. Overtime should be always and only voluntary. Mandatory overtime should be universally replaced by much better management planning and the use of temporary employees in all skills. Our design candidate is in Phase Two and Phase Three of the Timesizing full-employment program.]

4/29/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 4/28/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 4/25/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [Our top US working model of timesizing battles on -]
    Nucor Corp. - Profit slides 12% [Q1] as high costs eclipse 37% boost in sales, Dow Jones via WSJ, A10.
    ...Higher costs for scrap steel, which Nucor melts to make new steel products, are likely to continue through Q2, hurting the company along with weak economic conditions and depressed levels of nonresidential construction.
    [But then, nothing can really hurt this last-remaining profitable US steel company because it simply shrinks its workweek to accord with current conditions, instead of amputating and demoralizing its workforce.]
    Nucor, of Charlotte NC, said second-quarter earnings would be similar to the first quarter's. Nucor's net income fell to $17.8m, or 23 cents a share, from $20.3m, or 26 cents a share, while sales climbed to $1.48B from $1.08B a year earlier....

  2. [more backward 'progress' -]
    Truck drivers get new rules for the road - Longer driving stints with more time off, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, A26.
    ...In the first major revision of hours-of-service rules in 64 years [= no particular recommendation], the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will allow truck drivers to spend up to 11 straight hours behind the wheel [is this nuts or is this nuts?], an increase of one hour from existing limits [even that was nuts!]. The new rules will require drivers to take off at least 10 hours between shifts, a 2-hour increase.
    [A meaningless, or perhaps rigidifying, 2-hour increase. 'Lord, what fools these mortals be.']
    Federal officials said the new rules would increase safety ...
    [not by increasing time on the road surely - they must be referring to the meaningless move from 8 to 10 hours of rest - highway accidents and fatalities will tell the tale in coming years. Let's get to the real conflict of interest here -]
    ... while saving money for trucking companies and the many corporations that use them.
    The rules angered the Teamsters, the nation's largest union of truck drivers, while largely pleasing the trucking industry [CEOs].
    [who, like CEOs everywhere, are getting ever more insulated, isolated, and self-destructive.]
    "Allowing an extra hour of driving time is going to increase driver fatigue and hurts safety," said Rob Black, a spokesman for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters....
    The rules, which take effect on Jan. 4 [2004?], will reduce by one hour a driver's maximum workday, including driving, loading and unloading, making it 14 hours.... For short-haul drivers, the regulations will permit a 16-hour day once a week.
    [14- and 16-hour workdays at the dawn of the Third Millennium with the degree of worksaving technology we have today? What an insult to intelligence!]
    ..\..Some safety experts criticized the new regulation for permitting truckers to work...additional hours after driving for 11 hours....
    [Guess so!]
    Annette Sandberg, the acting administrator of the motor carrier agency, an arm of the Dept. of Transportation, said the rules were based on sound science....
    [What planet...? Or more likely, this is just the usual Bush administration strategy = call black 'white' and evil 'good.' Lie through your smiling gleeming born-again teeth. The bigger the lie, the more true believers.]
    "The hours-of-service final rule represents a significant improvement in addressing driver fatigue over the current rule that has been in existence more than 60 years."
    [Pass the barf bag. This is all part of a huge misuse of technology - via downsizing for an ever-growing minority instead of timesizing for everyone - that is degrading American living standards. More cost-saving technology in telecoms but strangely, must now answer business calls 24/7 and on vacation. More cost-saving technology in telephone databases but strangely, must now pay fees for directory assistance; more efficient technology at banks but strangely, must now pay huge late fees for credit cards and fees for every little thing they can think of - especially in the mortgage dept; more technology in air travel but no more meals; more technology in offices but offices changed to cubicles; more technology in medicine and insurance but higher and higher medical insurance premiums and deductibles; on and on, in so many ways American life has deteriorated from even a generation (30 years) ago, let alone two generations ago. Real progress is not guaranteed, especially to those who, by lapsing their pressure for sharing the currently 'up' value dimension (worktime), have allowed themselves to become a surplus commodity. Surplus labor - scarce employment (and employers) - and getting worse as the spending powers gets vacuumed out of the general consumer base into the top income brackets, in concentrations so astronomical that it cannot possibly be spent, and we have the strange spectacle, virtually totally ignored by mainstream economists, of the top income brackets actually suctioning the markets away from their own necessarily huge investments. First consumer markets weaken, then job markets weaken, then the financial markets weaken. It's time we got wise to this vicious spiral and moved on to the next generation of economic design, guaranteed maximum consumer markets via guaranteed full employment via automatic adjustment of the workweek against comprehensively defined unemployment (as long as unemployment is too high or rising, the everyone's workweek is slowly reduced) and automatic conversion of overtime into training&hiring = timesizing, not downsizing.]

4/24/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - nothing current so we plumb the barrel of late arrivals -
4/23/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 4/22/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 4/19-21/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - nothing current, so we plumb the barrel of late arrivals - 4/18/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 1 step forward & 2 steps back -
  1. [one step forward]
    Britain: Waterford Wedgwood layoffs, by Brian Lavery, NYT, W1.
    ...The manufacturer behind the Waterford Crystal and Wedgwood brands of luxury goods laid off 94 temporary workers at its factory in the city of Waterford after experiencing falling demand for its products. Pending discussions with its labor unions, the company is likely to cut costs further by closing its 2 Irish plants, which employ 1,600 people, for one week in June;
    [Cutting worktime to avoid cutting employees = timesizing, not downsizing.]
    a spokesman said such short-term closings were common during slow retail periods of the year. Let's conservatively estimate that the headquarters plant in Waterford is as big as both the Irish plants put together (1600 staff) but that the Irish plants use weeklong plant closings for all employees to survive slow retail periods rather than hiring and firing temps. Therefore the Irish plants are avoiding 94 layoffs by trimming hours instead of chopping jobs. So, est. 94 jobs saved.]

  2. [step back #1]
    County nixes coffee breaks for workers, AP 04/17/03 07:56 EDT via AOLNews.
    GOSHEN, NY - In an effort to squeeze more work hours from public employees...Orange County Executive Edward Diana..\..has canceled all coffee breaks for employees. [He] told the Times Herald-Record of Middletown, "There's nothing in our contract dealing with formal breaks...." Neither state law nor union contracts require the county to provide its employees with two paid 15-minute recesses, the paper reported..\.. The county faces a $7.5 million budget gap next year. By eliminating those breaks, Diana says he'll squeeze hundreds of extra work hours from county staff.
    The new policy doesn't affect smoking breaks or bathroom trips for the 2,500-workforce.... The county is required by law to provide a 30-minute meal break for those working at least six consecutive hours.
    [Watch for more bathroom trips and longer meal breaks now that Diana has stooped to this depth of microstinginess.]
    Paid coffee breaks have long existed in the county's largest departments, including Public Works, Social Services and the Residential Health Care Facility. Diana told the paper that in some cases entire road crews would stop work for 15 minutes, leaving equipment standing idle.
    [But usually the work goes faster and more accurately after a refreshing recharge. Plus you get ideas about priorities and shortcuts when you're away from it for awhile.]
    The Civil Service Employees Assoc. has filed grievances related to the proposal. Glenn Blackman, the union's chief negotiator in Poughkeepsie, said under Diana's plan the hours of worktime the country would gain amounted to "fuzzy math." "That kind of arithmetic might work is you're producing widgets and the assembly line shuts down when everyone goes on break," Blackman added. "Orange County isn't going to shut down. The work gets done [during individuals' breaks]."

  3. [step back #2]
    Labor for U.S. forces in Japan go[es] beyond stipulated work hours, Kyodo News 04/17/03 05:28 EDT via AOLNews.
    TOKYO...- People working for the U.S. forces stationed in Japan have long been logging an average of 44 hours a week, four hours more than legally stipulated, an opposition Diet lawmaker said Thursday. These people who work extra hours are hired by the Japan Defense Facilities Administration Agency but work at the bases and related facilities of the U.S. forces, House of Councillors member Keiichiro Asao said.
    [We aren't told whether they are getting paid for the extra hours, and if so, whether they are getting paid an overtime premium similar to 'time&ahalf' pay in the U.S. - if & when US employers condescend to obey the law.]
    The Agency, which acts as a national administrative organization attached to the Defense Agency, admittted to having [people] work extra hours in violation of the Labor Standard Law, and promised to urge the U.S. forces to rectify the situation.
    The matter was raised at a Health, Welfare & Labor Committee session of the upper house by Asao, a member of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan. In the same session, Takehiko Shimaguchi, the facilities administration agency's director general, also admitted that no labor-management agreement had been signed. Such an agreement is needed to authorize working hours beyond 40 per week.
    Shimeguchi stressed, however, that workers who put in extra hours were those in charge of security, among other things...
    ["Security" seems to cover a multitude of sins in Japan, as it does in the U.S. But a real concern for security would make sure that security workers were well-rested and alert.]
    ...and that they are hired under a special arrangement whereby the Japanese government hires and pays them but they work for the U.S. forces.... Among its roles, the Agency is tasked with [oh so they've picked up the irritating 'verbing' of the noun 'task'! - we'd say 'charged with'] paying the personnel expenses of Japanese working for the US forces to maintain the forces' presence in the country as part of Japan's so-called host-nation support.
    [Yep, money is fungible, and Japan doesn't have a military, but it still has US bases. And in this case, both nations are violating their own labor laws. But that's what a labor surplus does. It slashes labor power and respect, and accelerates incremental backsliding on labor protections = another of the thousands of little damages inflicted on the money centrifuge that keeps an economy out of recession, so guess what....]

4/17/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - nothing today, so from yesterday - 4/16/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. Slump in plane travel grounds Wichita, world's 'air capital', by Peter Kilborn, NYT, front page.
    WICHITA, Kan. -...In March [3/21/2003 #3], Cessna, the last to order mass layoffs, said it would let 1,200 workers go in May. It will shut its plants for seven weeks in June and July, furloughing 6,000 more of the 8,000 still on the payroll....
    [6,000 jobs (75%) saved by timesizing, despite downsizing of 1,200 in March.]

  2. [reader response to John de Graaf's Saturday (4/12) op ed -]
    Leisure time vs. money, letter to editor by Tim Mamin of West Hills CA, NYT, A26.
    John de Graaf accurately describes American workers' decision to capture productivity gains in the form of money rather than leisure time ("Workweek woes," op-ed, Apr.12).
    Is this decision attributable to greed and shortsightedness, as he seems to suggest, or merely to a complete lack of confidence that pension and Social Security income will be adequate to live on after retirement (or even available at all)?
    [= interesting connection between overwork and fears of eroding retirement.]

  3. [and the final results on our Parti Quebecois stories -]
    Quebec result: Solidly for Canada, by Clifford Krauss, NYT, A8.
    ...The Liberals won 45.9% of the vote, with the Parti Quebecois [PQ] gaining 33.2% and the center-right Action Democratique du Quebec trailing with 18.2%....
    [So much for the 4-day workweek the PQ was talking about.]

4/15/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of (temporarily lost) strategic hope - 4/12-14/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. 4/12   Workweek woes - Can Americans learn to enjoy their leisure time? op ed by national coordinator John de Graaf of Take Back Your Time Day, NYT, A19.
    SEATTLE - Last [Sunday] was the 70th anniversary of a momentous yet forgotten event in American history. On April 6, 1933, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have made the standard workweek 30 hours. Anything more would be overtime.
    The bill passed by the Senate was an effort to reduce a national unemployment rate that stood at 25%. It had strong support from labor and religious leaders who argued that working people needed time for family, education, recreation and spirituality as much as they needed higher wages. But the bill failed in the House.
    [Or rather, FDR blocked it in the House and sent it into eternal committee, only to let it emerge 5 years later as the too high, too late 44-42-40 hour workweek that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) enacted for 1938, 1939 and 1940.]
    The FLSA, passed five years later, gave Americans a statutory 40-hour workweek. Yet today, in an era when American productivity is several times what it was then, most Americans find it hard to get all their work done in 40 hours.
    Meanwhile, millions of Americans are without work, even as many others are working mandatory overtime or far longer than they would if they had a real choice in the matter.... The average American actually worked 199 hours more in 2000 than he or she did in 1973, a period [when] worker productivity [was only half as great].
    What happened? In effect, the United States as a society took all of its increases in labor productivity in the form of money and stuff instead of [free] time. Of course, we didn't all get the money;...the largest share of the increase went to the richest Americans \and\ the very poor earn even less in real terms [today] than they did then....
    The harmful effects of working more hours are being felt in many areas of society. Stress is a leading cause of heart disease and weakened immune systems. Consumption of fast foods and lack of time for exercise has led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes. Many parents complain that they do not have enough time to spend with their children, much less become involved in their community. Worker productivity declines during the latter part of long work shifts.
    By contrast, over the past 30 years, Europeans have made a different choice - to live...more balanced lives and work fewer hours. The average Norwegian, for instance, works 29% less than the average American - 14 weeks per year - yet his average income is only 16% less. Western Europeans average 5-6 weeks of paid vacation; we average two..\..
    According to the International Labor Organization, Americans now work 1,978 hours annually, a full 350 hours - [almost] nine weeks - more than Western Europeans. Later this year...the first Take Back Your Time Day \will be\ on Oct. 24 [because that] falls nine weeks before the end of the year [and symbolizes when Western Europeans quit work for the year relative to Americans. Its] goal...is to encourage Americans to lead more balanced lives....

  2. 4/14   Liberal Party leads separatists in Quebec election poll, by Clifford Krauss, NYT, A2.
    The federalist Liberal Party has jumped to a lead in the polls and appears poised to wrest the Quebec provincial government from the separatist Parti Quebecois in the election on Monday.... Quebec's premier, Bernard Landry, soft-pedaled the separatist issue during most of the campaign, refusing to promise another referendum while proposing tax breaks and four-day workweeks for young families with children....
    [meaning probably, 'families with young children.']

  3. 4/12   Cathay Pacific and Singapore Air cut back on Asian service because of deadly virus - The public lacks confidence in flying, regardless of fares, by Keith Bradsher, NYT, C3.
    HONG KONG -...Cathay Pacific Airways...the main carrier based here, [will] operate 37% fewer flights than it had previously planned.... The company cited a "sudden and unexpected collapse in passenger demand," but said that its cargo business was still strong. David Turnbull, Cathay Pacific's CEO and deputy chairman, told employees this week that the combination of war and disease "has annihilated our passenger bookings." He added, "Cathay Pacific has now entered its most dangerous time in terms of its commercial future in the 26 years I have been involved with the company." ...The...carrier [did not] announce...large-scale layoffs today.... Cathay Pacific said it was urging its staff to volunteer for unpaid vacations if at all possible....
    [Voluntary timesizing instead of downsizing.]

  4. 4/12   Germany: Shoppers' bonus, by Hugh Eakin, NYT, A5.
    A new law will allow four more hours of shopping on Saturdays. The measure, approved by the upper house of Parliament over stiff resistance from labor unions, extends the strictly regulated Saturday retail closing time to 8 pm, from 4 pm, but keeps in effect a retail ban on Sundays. The new hours take effect in June.
    [The invention of shift work means that longer weekly hours of business do not necessarily mean longer weekly working hours per person.]

4/11/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
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