Timesizing® Associates - Homepage

Timesizing News, July 1-4, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080

7/04/2003  primitive-timesizing & worktime-consciousness news = glimmers of strategic hope -

  1. S. Korea workers stage half-day walkout, AP 07/03/03 10:19 EDT via AOLNews.
    SEOUL...- Tens of thousands of South Korean auto and metal workers staged a half-day walkout Thursday [7/03] to demand a 40-hour workweek and better working conditions, officials said.... South Korean workers have long demanded a 5-day workweek. Most people work half a day on Saturday [ie: a 5½-day 44-hour workweek]..\..
    Roughly 7,000 unionized workers at Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's largest carmaker, put down their tools for four hours, union spokesman Jang Kyu-ho said. Another 30,000 metalworkers also joined the walkout, said Sohn Nak-koo, a spokesman for the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, an umbrella labor group.... Thursday's walkouts were organized by separate company unions, which will decide independently whether to continue their strikes, Sohn said..\..
    It was the second such strike this week.... The Confederation organized a nationwide half-day strike on Wednesday [7/02] by 54,000 workers, including 35,000 Hyundai employees....

  2. [another labor union shafts itself? -]
    Labor union proposes expanding discretionary labor system, Kyodo 07/03/03 00:55 EDT via AOLNews.
    NAGOYA...- A labor union comprising major electrical equipment makers Thursday [7/03] proposed a significant expansion of a labor system in which employees work at their own pace. The proposal for a so-called "free time system," was put forward at a convention of the Japanese Electrical, Electronic & Information Union (Denki Rengo) in the city of Nagoya.... The union has about 678,000 members..\..
    Under the...system, employees will not simply be paid for the hours they work, but instead for the outcome of their work over a designated period of time based mainly on labor-management agreement. It targets people with white-collar jobs in specialized fields such as R&D and design..\.. A final report on it will be made within the next fiscal year from April 2004....
    The [scheme] raises the prospect of applying a U.S.-[style] labor system that excludes white-collar workers from regulated working hours.... Labor unions rarely make such proposals, considering their general opposition to such a system amid concerns that it may produce unrestricted, long working hours. ...As this system is feared to possibly lead to the death of employees from exhaustion due to overwork, the envisioned plan stipulates some regulations on overtime and work-during-holidays.
    ["Some" regulations on overtime??]
    Bereaved relatives of a man in Kanagawa Prefecture who worked under such a system said that ideally he was to work at his own pace, but ended up working nonstop and eventually committed suicide [Jp: karoshi = death by overwork].
    [So why the heck is a labor union getting involved with this kind of mixed 'blessing,' you may ask?]
    ..\..Officials in industries with a high proportion of white-collar workers believe such a system is more conducive to the nature of the jobs in the industries. Senior Denki Rengo officials said the volume of work done cannot be decided based on the length of time workers sit at their desks....
    [Sounds like these "senior Denki Rengo officials" have stumbled across some unmarked envelopes of mega-yen as they emerged from the men's room at the last labor-management meeting. White-collar consultants have no difficulty with time accountability - it's called "efficiency" and is measured in terms of "billable hours." Any blank checks on people's lives are a leap backwards to the feudal age, and Japan is not long enough out of the feudal age (pre-Meiji) to mess around with this kind of crap. So in terms of just our two Pacific Rim stories today, from the sophistication of the workers, it looks like S. Korea is poised to outpace Japan in labor progress, domestic consumption and marketable productivity aka GDP growth, even though it's starting from the outdated 44-hour workweek level.]

  3. [more on the design of overtime curbs -]
    U.S. unemployment rate surges to fresh 9-year high, by Caren Bohan, Reuters 07/03//03 08:47 ET via AOLNews.
    ...while the economy lost 30,000 jobs, the government said on Thursday [7/03] in an unexpectedly gloomy report on the labor market. The jobless rate climbed to 6.4% last month from May's 6.1%, the Labor Dept. said.... The rate reached the highest level since a matching 6.4% in April 1994....
    [And what was the highest in the early 90s??]
    Across the economy, the length of the average workweek was unchanged at 33.7 hours in June.
    [The standard workweek as used to define overtime should long since have been adjusted downward from its still-in-force 1940 level of 40 hours to spread the technology-diminished "lump" of market-demanded human employment across the entire would-be and should-be workforce, however low the level needed to accomplish that, and however gradual the transition needed to mitigate the inconvenience of employers. Any immediately prorated pay reductions will soon be reversed by the reduction of the "army of unemployed" hitherto constantly depressing wages by their willingness to do your job for less.]
    Factory hours were also steady at 40.2 hours, while overtime remained at 4 hours.
    [Meaning our current overtime design is not doing its job of disincentivating chronic overtime and enforcing the 40-hours-per-week fair share per person of vanishing, market-demanded employment. And besides our downsizing instead of timesizing response to technology, here's the other part of the reason why -]
    Lack of growth in the workweek is a less-than-encouraging sign for the future. When companies are poised to begin hiring, they often increase the hours of the workers currently on their staff first.
    [Growth in the workweek as an encouraging sign for the future?? No, growth in the workweek is nothing but a sign of the bad old past of long-hours, low-pay sweatshops. We need to do anything it takes to skip this stage between us and hiring, between now and new jobs. Because, as Keynes pointed out about the wages-savings-investment-hiring chain, there is often an indefinite pause in the pre-hiring stage(s). Timesizing Phase Two and Phase Three accomplish this goal by completely disincentivating overtime for unaccountable corporate or individual income. If as an employer, you use employees on overtime (OT), you must reinvest every penny of your overtime advantage or profits in OT-targeted training and hiring to make sure no skills bottleneck exists or is developing. If as an employee, you accept overtime, which must never, NEVER be mandatory (employers can use temps, who are now available in every field), you must reinvest every penny of your overtime earnings in OT-targeted training and hiring a al "no overtime alone," even if you have to hire your unemployed sibling-in-law to watch you. Obviously no one's going to do that unless, like the little toymaker, they love their job or have some other qualitative or existential or endogenous reward from it, and that is exactly the situation we want. If you think you need overtime to make a decent living, you will instead be directed to upgrade your skills so you can make the buck you think you need during straight time. Only the economies that quit foolin' around with overtime will move beyond our current water-treading of human progress.]

7/03/2003  primitive-timesizing news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. The new wrinkle in South Korea's labor strife, by Hae Won Choi, WSJ, A7.
    SEOUL - South Korea's unions were rattled this week when former labor leader and now President Roh Moo Hyun took a hard line against striking railway workers.... South Korea has long been a hotbed of worker unrest, but labor disputes have surged this year - to 32 in May from 11 in January - due largely, it appears, to union expectations of a sympathetic Mr. Roh. In the latest strike, more than 50,000 members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, the country's largest union group, walked off their jobs yesterday demanding higher wages and a shorter workweek.
    [Again, forget the wages! Just get the shorter workweek. It will eventually give you both because it works with market forces. Higher wages will eventually give you neither because they work against market forces.]
    But [the] shift in the government's stance...has prompted uncertainty about Mr. Roh's labor policies that investors find...worrying.... "What investors are looking for is consistency in policy," said Terence Lim, head of research at Goldman Sachs in South Korea. "They don't like uncertainty."...

  2. [please patronize & buy the stock of our featured timesizers -]
    Heidelberg[er Druckmaschinen]'s 2002/2003 fiscal year shaped by weak economy, press release by HD's Thomas Fichtl (+49 6221 92 47 47 or thomas.fichtl@heidelberg.com, Business Wire 07/02/2003 02:00 Eastern via AOLNews.
    Heidelberg, Germany -...The Management Board of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (FWB:HDD) presented its 2002/2003 Annual Report at [yester]day's Annual Press Conference and also confirmed [retrospectively-]released [additional] details relating to the preliminary figures for the last fiscal year (Apr.1/2002 to Mar.31/2003) published in April this year.... "Heidelberg's business was...affected by the ongoing economic downturn..," stated Bernhard Schreier, CEO.... The operating profit for the period under review was 102m euros (previous year: 356m euros).... Because of the [decrease], the Management...and Supervisory Board[s] will propose...that no dividend be paid for the year under review.
    Comprehensive efficiency-enhancing program approved in 2002
    The earnings power of the Heidelberg Group will be restored in the short- and medium-term through sustainable improvements in the cost structure....
    Reduction in capacity already begun
    By the end of March 2003, Heidelberg had already reduced its staffing levels by around 1,700 employees. In the Web Systems Division, some 700 jobs have been cut at the 3 overseas sites.
    [But presumably those cuts would have been deeper, except that -]
    At the Sheetfed [Division] sites in Wiesloch, Amstetten and Brandenburg, short-time work and an agreement to safeguard jobs have been introduced in the production and production-related sectors. This will reduce the working week to 31.5 hours. This agreement will be valid until the end of Oct/2003.
    [Timesizing, not downsizing!]
    Other cuts in Germany include losses at the Heidelberg site, where around 100 jobs will be cut in administration and around 190 jobs will be affected in marketing by optimizing sales structures....
    [So Thomas, where's the little paragraph at the end that tells us what the company does? You've got the disclaimer, but not the general-description-cum-promotion of the company! Can we assume from the name that the company makes printing-press machinery, and from the disclaimer that it's big in the graphic arts industry? And you cannot refer to the Company merely as 'Heidelberg' in the headline because everybody outside the company will assume you're talking about the City of Heidelberg. You should "schreib zum Duemmsten der Leser" anyway and we may be wrong, but we probably can't claim that distinction. Also, we've seen better formulations of the disclaimer, i.e., that don't imply the management is duplicitous, as in "Even if the management is of the opinion that these assumptions and estimates are accurate...." (why wouldn't they be?!) - ooo, now shoot yourself in the other foot.]
    Contact: *Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG....

7/02/2003  primitive-timesizing & worktime-consciousness news = glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [90,000 to strike for 4-hr cut to 40-hr workweek -]
    Analysis - Roh stares down S. Korea strikers, more tests ahead [for Roh], by Paul Eckert, Reuters 07/01/03 06:23 ET via AOLNews.
    SEOUL...- South Korean president Roh Moo-hyun [supposedly labor friendly!] may have surprised his country by staring down striking rail workers, but skeptics said his young government's populist tendencies left the door open for more militant walkouts.... The union at leading automaker Hyundai Motor said 39,000 members will hold an 8-hour partial strike on Wednesday [7/02] and smaller actions on Thursday and Friday. Also seeking a shorter working week, 90,000 metal workers will walk out on Wednesday..\..
    ["Also" besides the Hyundai union, or "also" besides their other demands? We need clearer writing from you, Paul Eckert.]
    "Not only labour rules, regulations and practices but also the flexibility of the labour market [but not the workweek!?!] and the rights and duties of workers [but not managers!?!] will be raised to global standards," [Roh] said, pointing to a 2-year target to achieve what has eluded his predecessors....
    [Meaning "lowered to global 'standards'," as we transform the whole world into the Third World.]

  2. [and the latest on the German front -]
    BMW, VW resume production after strikes, by David McHugh, AP 07/01/03 12:49 EDT via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Production resumed Tuesday at BMW and Volkswagen auto plants in western Germany that were shut down last week after strikes for a shorter workweek by workers in the east dried up the supply of parts.... The strike, which ended Monday, reduced by 1,800 cars a day the number of cars BMW produced, spokeswoman Heike Mueller said. "How much that cost us, we can't say today," she said....
    [Probably not much, since sales are slow.]
    The union was seeking to cut the eastern workweek to 35 hours from 38. Workers in the formerly communist east have worked the longer hours for the same base pay as workers in the more affluent west because companies in the economically depressed region say they can't afford more.
    [- carefully avoiding even thinking there might be a connection between their concentration of work and wages, and their weak east-German auto demand.]
    The union says it was the first strike it has abandoned since 1954.
    [Stay tuned for a lot more - unless they eliminate all other distracting issues and focus entirely on their one power issue - workweek reduction to reduce the disempowering labor surplus (19% unemployment in the east!) - reclaim their millions of unconfident consumers (19% jobless), and reinvigorate their domestic demand (nobody nowhere can count on exports nowhere no more no how). And a time-blind chancellor preaches the wrong lesson -]
    Schroeder - IG Metall must learn failed strike lesson, Reuters 07/01/03 09:14 ET via AOLNews.
    ...from its failed campaign for reduced working time in eastern Germany [except in the east's steel industry, which did agree to rejoin the west with a 35-hour week by 2009] and move towards wage bargaining at a company level....
    [When a union "learns" to undo its unity, it's kaput. And when a superficially united nation "learns" to preserve disunity (eg: of working hours), it ain't far behind.]
    Unions were having as much difficulty as politicians in recognising that 'reforms' [our quotes] were needed in Germany, Schroeder said.
    On Monday, IG Metall broke off a 4-week strike for a cut in the working week in eastern Germany from 38 hours to the 35 hours standard in the west, after it risked inflicting 'heavy damage' [our quotes - demand for autos is weak] on the country's key automobile industry....
    Speaking at the same..\..economic conference in Berlin.., organised by Schroeder's Social Democrats, Economy Minister Wolfgang Clement...suggested Germany would have to take a long hard look at how much people worked. Responding to a suggestion in a panel debate that German working time was too short, Clement said: "That's certain and it can't last forever."
    [Not with overdependence on exports and the sacrosanct 'free trade' fad, gar nicht! Germany must join the English, Japanese and Korean speaking world's Race to the Bottom!  Misery loves company.]

  3. Thousands of white-collar office workers, pointer blurb (to A2), WSJ, front page.
    ...will become ineligible for overtime pay under federal rule changes being formulated by the Bush administration.
    [OK, well when you put it that way, the changes are bad because there goes any demotivation of employers to work people overtime. However, an overtime design that tries to demotivate employers while motivating employees is also bad. There should be no motivation for anybody to practice overtime and exceed the sacred cap on the workweek. You should only be working overtime if you love your job enough to reinvest 100% of your overtime pay in overtime-targeted training&hiring as a kind of unemployment insurance with premiums in hours, not cash, and there should be zero pressure on you to violate the workweek cap if you've got a life.]

  4. [here's another example of time-blindness in America, the illusion that longer hours are better, that if you're busy, you must be important, etc. etc. -]
    U.S. jobs market likely mired in doldrums in June, by Andrea Hopkins, Reuters 07/01/03 14:15 ET via AOLNews.
    WASHINGTON...- The U.S. job market likely will be mired in the doldrums for a few more months,
    [- American reporters can't generally tell the truth and say 'indefinitely' -]
    pushing the unemployment rate to fresh 9-year highs, despite some signs of hope for the economy....
    [Whisper the big bad news. Shout the little good news.]
    Economists polled by Reuters...expect the unemployment rate to rise to a new 9-year high of 6.2% [6.4 in the event!] from 6.1% in May.... The average workweek is expected to inch up to 33.8 hours from 33.7....
    [This is currently taken as a positive economic indicator, regardless of its flouting the avowed purpose of technology (to make life easer for everyone) and a century and a half of progress in workweek reduction prior to 1940. Do any US economists notice that cheering for lengthenings in the average workweek conflicts with cheering for technological enhancement of productivity?]

  5. [here's more deterioration in the U.S., this time in a company iconic of America, showing a direct relation between downsizing and longer hours -]
    Disney World to lay off 100 carpenters, decorators, Reuters 07/01/03 16:45 ET via AOLNews.
    LOS ANGELES - Walt Disney World is laying off about 100 carpenters and decorators, a spokeswoman said Tuesday [7/01]. The layoffs negotiated with the Craft Maintenance Council union last week amounted to 2.5% of the union's 4,000 members.
    The jobcuts follow a decision in March to cut the hours of maintenance workers, although Disney will [now] increase hours for remaining workers, spokeswoman Rena Callahan said.
    [So stupidly, timesizing undone and replaced with downsizing.]
    The changes in March came as Disney faced a slowdown in themepark attendance, although recent promotional discounts have proved popular, Callahan said. Walt Disney Co.'s themepark had cut hours for many maintenance workers to average of 35 hours from 40 hours per week in March. After the layoffs, the 40-hour week will be reinstated, Callahan said. "In March our goal was to prevent layoffs and manage business wisely during an uncertain time," she said.
    [So what changed to make them embrace layoffs and manage business unwisely?]
    Disney has heavily promoted the park, recently offering 7 days admission for the price of 4 for the first time. The package has proven popular, Callahan said, adding that the offer ended Sunday. "We are seeing good signs. We expect a gradual rather than a radical recovery," she said.
    [Translation: "We took an unprecedented step in deflating our admission price and though there was some response, it was so limited that we now see we are staring into an abyss. We expect no recovery. Quite the contrary. So we can no longer regard our adventure in timesizing as a temporary expedient. And we're pretty clueless about the connection between our actions of downsizing and our own future downsized market. So we're substituting downsizing back in for timesizing, and UNtimesizing survivors back to the 63-year-rigid 40-hour workweek." A brilliant 'tour de suicide.']

  6. [less sweat, more tech rhetoric, but more tech, more sweat reality, due to downsizing instead of timesizing -]
    Less sweat, more tech - A new blue-collar world - Mr. Do's American dream - Refugee's tool-design work is his ticket to middle class; Lamenting loss of U.S. jobs, by Timothy Aeppel, WSJ, B1.
    [The beginning of this series title sounds like an admission that technology does not in fact create more human employment than it destroys. However, the employer-employee power gradient and employee ignorance of their power issue (maintaining a perceived labor shortage by reducing working hours) NEWINGTON, Conn... For Quang Ngoc Do, like many immigrants before him, the path to the American Dream led through factory gates. Arriving in Connecticut as a refugee from Vietnam in 1981 at age 22, Mr. Do took low-wage restaurant jobs to survive. [He soon resolved to] "get into a factory, making something." He did and still does.... When he landed in Connecticut, his first manufacturing job - measuring pieces of wire flowing from machines - paid little more than work at a fast-food restaurant and was numbingly dull [and easily automated?! why isn't this aspect mentioned!?] Watching engineers who maintained the machines, he decided their work suited his mechanical, problem-solving nature, and wouldn't require great language skills. It also happens to be an area where factories were hungry for talent, and still are.
    [Strangely, the U.S. has always relied on Europe for tool&die-making skills. It would be interesting to track down the background of this Achilles' heel in the general labor surplus that American manufacturers have cultivated by automating, downsizing instead of timesizing, and cutting wages based on the resulting labor surplus. Mr. Do somehow found U.S. training in these skills -]
    While working full time in menial jobs, Mr. Do had picked up enough English to attend technical school for tool designing..\.. Mr. Do...earned $62,000 last year as a tool designer....
    Many workers, not just immigrants like Mr. Do, rely on manufacturing as a stepping stone, with its above-average pay and benefits. ...Andrew Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern University in Boston, says immigrants "became the recruitment pool of first resort" for many companies in the 1990s. A big reason: Immigrant workers often show more dedication to their jobs and better work habits....
    [This is Wall Street Journalese for - they're more desperate, less empowered and have lower standards regarding work conditions.]
    Mr. Do leaves home each workday at 7 a.m. to begin the nearly one-hour commute to B&F Design Inc., a small factory in this gritty industrial suburb of Hartford. He designs tools, mostly used to make jet engines. He works in the cramped design room, where he and 16 others hunch over computers.... He's busy working 9-hour shifts and 4 hours on Saturday..\..
    [Let's see. That's presumably five 9-hour days plus 4 hours = a 58-hour workweek standard. No mention of whether he's getting overtime pay or whether he's supposedly "professional, exempt." No alarm about overwork. No alarm about the concentration of a vanishing resource, human employment. And no notice that it's vanishing and in fact that Mr. Do's design work helps it (including potentially his own design activities) vanish.]
    By last year, he had moved up through a series of factories to become a senior tool designed at a plant owned by Dresser Industries, part of [Cheney's government-parasitizing] Halliburton Co., which makes gauges for the oil industry [and will presumably need many more now that Cheney has his teeth deeply into Iraq]. ...Shortly before Christmas [happy Xmas!] he was laid off in a plant downsizing. Mr. Do quickly lfound new work [unusual!] aided in part by a state program for displaced factory workers that paid half his hourly wages during 6 weeks of training on the B&F computers.
    [Has that program survived the recent Cheney-backed domino effect from federal taxcuts to state budget cuts?]
    Even though he's busy [at the moment] working [a 58-hour workweek], he's concerned. The former Vietnam refugee worries about what he considers unfair competition from manufacturers in Asia, particularly China.
    [No awareness of his 58-hour workweek's contribution to "unfair competition."]
    While working at Dresser, he saw Chinese parts cheaper than what the raw materials alone would cost in Connecticut. "There needs to be a wake-up call about exporting jobs," he says..\..
    [Exported jobs translate into cheap imports, a function of the current prevailing "free trade" (when it suits us) dogma.]
    But even as jobs are shifting overseas, the percentage of U.S. factory workers today who are foreign-born is 16%, up from 12% in 1990....
    [Not only is Mr. Do unaware of his own 58-hour workweek's contribution to "unfair competition." He's also unaware of the contribution of uncontrolled immigration to "unfair competition," including his own status as a relatively desperate, non-native-English-speaking immigrant. ]
    ...Mr. Do isn't encouraging his son to enter manufacturing: The teenager is thinking about going into medicine instead.
    [And as we've seen from recent articles on this page, medicine carefully inflates its pay and prevents a surplus of its skills by putting those audicious enough to attempt to enter its Promised Land through a patient-endangering hazing/initiation/gauntlet of 100-120 hour workweeks, now supposedly reduced to the "safer" level of an 80-hour workweek. And as you might imagine, once 'initiated,' many medicos maintain these megahours throughout their careers, health and safety notwithstanding. The Timesizing economic-recovery program devotes an entire separate final phase to what we call the 'population variables' = imports (proxy immigrants), immigrants, and births (delayed immigrants). It is the only economic-recovery program we've ever seen that integrates population variables, Population Connection (nee ZPG) and ecologists in general, take notice! PS: your incisive commentator is also an immigrant, from 'remotest Canada' (SARSville) - one of the few sources of immigrants that has higher work-condition standards than the U.S. (Then why do we come? Not many do, but those who do want to sacrifice the secret good life in Canada {or Iceland, or Scandinavia, or France, or Germany, or many other 'keep-quiet-about-it' countries in Europe} - can't threaten Americans' self-delusion that USA is best! - to speak truth to power, albeit slow-suicide, self-corroding power.)]
    ['Coincidentally' -]
    Manufacturing shrank in June as slump persisted, by Patrick Barta, WSJ, A2.
    [and] ...Chain-store sales came in a tad weaker than expected yesterday...., by Jesse Eisinger, WSJ, C1.

7/01/2003  primitive-timesizing & worktime-consciousness news = glimmers of strategic hope - new fronts in Singapore and Mexico adding to those in Japan, Korea and Germany -
  1. [southeast Asia leaps to the fore in timesizing -]
    Singapore Airlines, Dow Jones via WSJ, B5.
    ...and its pilots reached an agreement allowing the airline to cut wages, Singapore's Ministry of Manpower said. The deal, which was announced just as the Industrial Arbitration Court was to begin hearing the two sides, allows the airline to cut the wages of its pilots by between 11 and 16% beginning in July. Pilots, like the 6,000-strong cabin crew staff [sic], also accepted two days of unpaid leave every month until March 31, the Ministry of Manpower said.
    [Hmm, assuming, generously, that there are (52x5)/12= 21.7 workdays per month, 2 days a month means a 2/21.7= 9% timesizing. Let's assume it substitutes for roughly a 9% downsizing. We don't know how many pilots there are but we know there are 6000 "cabin crew staff," so this timesizing has saved 9% of 6000 = 540 jobs plus unspecified.]

  2. [& a little primitive timesizing in Mexico we didn't hear about before, also from the WSJ of all places -]
    Volkswagen AG - Reduced production in Mexico blamed on weak export sales, Dow Jones via WSJ, B5.
    ...Earlier this year, the company extended its annual Easter vacations from one week to two to cope with lower demand for is vehicles..\.. VW's central Mexico plant turned out more than 25,000 vehicles in May, roughly 85% of which were for export....
    [Timesizing, to avoid downsizing. But not enough timesizing. But this business of production almost entirely for export is prosperity-at-risk. No wonder they later "had" to lay off 2,000.]

  3. [then there's the current poor design of what to do about overtime, here flailed at by clueless American pols -]
    Democrats protest changes to overtime [OT] rules, by Steven Greenhouse, NYT, A19.
    42 Democratic senators and more than 100 Democratic House members urged the Bush administration yesterday to withdraw proposed regulations that they said would eliminate overtime pay for millions of workers.
    The lawmakers made their plea on the final day of a 90-day comment period in which the administration received tens of thousands of criticisms of its proposals, which are the first effort to update overtime regulations since 1975.
    [Use of the word "update" is pure presumption when no net gains are being made to spread around the highly concentrated human employment. The Timesizing program deals with overtime and overwork even before touching the length of the workweek. A related AP article -]
    Business groups support OT pay changes, by Leigh Strope, AP 06/30/03 21:58 EDT via AOLNews.
    WASHINGTON - Business groups gave their support Monday for a Labor Dept. proposal to drastically change overtime pay rules, saying the current regulations are confusing and have prompted too many lawsuits....
    [And Reuters' entry -]
    Unions protest U.S. overtime proposal, Reuters 06/30/03 19:52 ET via AOLNews.
    WASHINGTON - About 150 union members protested Monday outside the U.S. Labor Dept. against a proposal they charged could cut overtime pay of millions of workers. Union leaders said police, retail workers, journalists and healthcare workers would be among those affected. "The 40-hour workweek and overtime pay are the legacy of some of the greatest uprisings of workers in our history to demand they be treated with respect and dignity," said Richard Trumka, secretary and treasurer of the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor federation....
    [And what a disgraceful history the AFL-CIO has since they sold their birthright, workweek reduction, for a 'mess of pottage' = FDR's sops of makework (WPA, CCC, NRA, TVA...) and eventually the socialist foursome (soc sec, unemployment insurance, workmen's comp, minimum wage). By 1935 FDR realized his mistake in blocking the effectively low but overly rigid 30-hour workweek bill in 1933, so he set a workweek cap in 1938 at the overly high 44-hour level. Even overly high, it cut unemployment from 19 to 17.2% the next year. He brought the workweek down 2 hours a year for the next two years and reaped 2% less unemployment each time. Then Lend Lease and World War II took over the burden of unemployment reduction, and the workweek has been blocked at 40 ever since.]

  4. Medical students mark historic work hours reform with call for whistleblower protection, public accountability, US Newswire 06/30 17:11 via AOLNews.
    On the eve of what has been hailed as the greatest change in medical education in decades, the American Medical Student Assoc. [AMSA] warns of limitations in new regulations designed to reduce physician fatigue.
    While the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) has proposed work hour standards that will go into effect July 1, 2003, AMSA asserts that the new guidelines lack independent oversight and enforcement, as well as whistleblower protections for residents who report suspected violations. In addition, ACGME guidelines allow for averaging of the 80-hour week over four weeks and exemptions above 80 hours for individual residency programs. By these 'standards' [our quotes] many physicians-in-training will continue to have 100-hour workweeks.
    [The ACGME was trying to head off legislation, but AMSA pushed for the legislation and they're still pushing for it -]
    AMSA's 40,000 medical student and resident members urge Congress to pass the Patient and Physician Safety Protection Act of 2003, introduced by Sen. Jon Corzine (S.952) and Rep. John Conyers (H.R.1228). "Federal legislation is necessary to close loopholes in the new regulations and protect patients from medical errors made by resident physicians working long hours with little sleep," says Lauren Oshman, MD, MPH, National President of AMSA. "Patients have a right to know how long their doctor has been awake, but ACGME regulations would provide no public accountability to patients."...
    Contact: Braden Hexom of AMSA, 703-620-6600x211, lad@amsa.org, [or visit] *amsa.org.

  5. [and more -]
    States consider closing historic sites, by Kathryn Masterson, AP 06/30/03 01:30 EDT via AOLNews.
    ...Serious budget shortfalls have historic preservation programs across the country fighting for survival, according to the National Trust, an advocacy group for historic preservation. Historical societies are trying to absorb the cuts by reducing the number of days that sites are open, cutting tours and even contemplating the closing of some attractions....
    After Minnesota's governor promised not to raise taxes to fix that state's deficit, funding for the Minnesota Historical Society was cut by 16%, meaning a third of its staff would have to be laid off. The agency said 7 sites would have to close, but private efforts and donations gave the homes, pioneer villages, farms and forts for a reprieve. They will stay open this summer, but will likely have higher admission prices, reduced hours or fewer programs, state officials said....
    [Here we see timesizing as a strategy of last resort - which should be first, middle and last resort = worksharing, and getting real about the impact of technology on the economy. At present we're hyping productivity with robotics, and cutting our ability to sell all the additional stuff by downsizing our workforce = our consumer base.]
    The Illinois preservation agency went from a 7-day-a-week operation to 5 days a week at more than 50 historic sites; Lincoln's tomb in Springfield IL is the only site not affected.... The agency chose to reduce all hours instead of closing some sites because they didn't want to discriminate....
    [Compare timesizing to reduce everyone's hours instead of firing some employees, because the employer didn't want to discriminate.]
    "It's a serious budget problem...," \said\ Michael McBride, the curator at the Whitefield House in Connecticut.... "But it's not the Depression...."
    [Stay tuned....]

  6. [but back home in Germany, cars are selling so bad that it was easy for carmakers to outlast strikers -]
    Tough times humble German labor - Industrial union's defeat may signal further erosion of workers' influence, by Thomas Sims & Christopher Rhoads, WSJ, A9.
    [Tough times have brought the world to labor's feet - if they connect the dots between themselves and the consumer base. Only ignorance and disunity humbled German labor.]
    Germany's labor unions, once powerful enough to practically bring down the nation's leaders, have tumbled to their weakest position in the past half century.
    [But only because it's a recession and labor is needed even less than usual.]
    Over the past weekend, one of Germany's largest unions threw in the towel fight for shorter working hours for workers in the former East Germany....
    [Never mind it's the only non-lethal way of keeping your markets during the age of robotics.]
    It was the first time since 1954 that the IG Metall union of metalworkers and engineers failed to eke out even a minor victory, highlighting the waning influence of unions in Europe's largest economy and likely signaling further weakening to come.
    [If German labor doesn't smarten up, near-sighted CEOs will completely gut their consumer base and ruin Europe's largest economy, just as Japanese CEOs have done the last 12 years and American CEOs are well along on.]
    ...Schroeder announced plans to accelerate taxcuts...in an attempt to inject new life into Germany, slashing the top tax rate to 42% from 48.5% next year instead of in 2005.
    [The should give them more of what they don't need in a hurry - less consumption and more orphan investment - just like Japan and U.S.]
    The combined events prompted Bank of America yesterday to e-mail a note to clients titled "A little German Revolution."
    [Devolution, more like.]
    Martin Werding, head of social policies & labor markets at Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, [funny how much the near-sighted CEO patronage of 'research' institutes can slant and limit their research]
    said the union's defeat reminds him of...the U.K...in 1979...the "Winter of Discontent," when workers and employers lost sympathy for unions after prolonged strikes and high wage increases.
    [which would have kept maintained effective consumer demand and its dependent industrial and financial markets - as it was...]
    Eventually, unemployment rose, unions lost their leverage [further], and the government enacted legislations that stripped [them] of their power.
    [and the British economy has been in the toilet ever since, just like Japan. But expectations are considerably lower now, so they can declare repeated victories over much smaller and shorter upticks.]
    Mr. Werding expects IG Metall's defeat to "have far-reaching consequences, but it will take some time to see what it means."
    [Doesn't take a minute to look over at Japan, and 6.4% unemployment in the U.S., on top of uncounted welfare, 600,000 homeless, 5.5 million ' disabled,' and 2.1 million incarcerated. And all this triumphalism about union defeat is strangely silent about the fact that the union won the 35-hour workweek by 2009 in the steel industry.]
    ...Yesterday, IG Metall, which was fighting to cut the workweek in easter Germany from 38 hours to the western level of 35 hours, began negotiating at the company level for a step-by-step reduction in the workweek....
    [Apparently Germany has been going through the same kind of union disempowerment as in the U.S., and all because the unions didn't forget about everything else and just concentrate on their one and only power lever - retaining a perceived shortage of labor by timely reductions in the workweek as human labor was displaced by technology. Once the labor movement around the world lost its all-points strategic focus on that goal, it became useless to deeper human progress and began to be pushed aside to a well-deserved bit part, too ignorant of its own sustainable self-interest to grow.]
    At the height of union power, the legendary labor boss Heinz Klunker won wage increases of more than 10% for his public sector and transportation union during the peak of the oil shortage in the early 1970s. The battle so weakened Willy Brandt, German chancellor at the time, that it added to pressure for him to resign in the aftermath of a spy scandal.... In recent years, Germany's unions have struggled as the economy slumped and as [the manufacturing] industry - the traditional base of union members[hip] - gave way to services.
    [Same grim pilgrimage as here - while CEOs, economists and analysts chanted "technology creates more jobs than it destroys," workers no longer needed in agriculture fled to manufacturing and no longer needed in manufacturing, fled to services. Now services are automating and nobody yet 'gets' the technological imperative = spread the vanishing human work or sink into depression.]
    Unions are also merging to stay afloat. Two years ago, five unions representing various corners of the service sector...joined forces under the name ver.di, which calls itself "the largest union in the free world" with about 3m workers.
    [Well, unless it gets totally focused on Reuther's " fluctuating adjustment of the workweek" against unemployment, unemployment is going to continue to go up and it's going to be "the largest dinosaur in the 'free' world" - free for any superficial but not the most basic freedom that all the rest depend on, free time. If unions want to be remotely useful, they must forget about all the trimmings = higher wages, more benefits and worst of all, more overtime - and focus powerfully and singlemindedly on labor-empowering full employment via work-spreading via an automatically unemployment-controlled workweek - and overtime-to-training&hiring conversion.]
    ...Schroeder is moving ahead with a spate of 'reforms' [our quotes] that include cutting the nation's generous unemployment benefits.
    [Same crap as in the USA - deny there's a shortage of jobs and just tighten the screws on the unemployed and those on welfare as if treating the symptoms will cure the disease. The only ones that need the screws tightened on them are overtimers and overworkers. They're the ones monopolizing any modern nation's most precious vanishing natural resource = naturally market-demanded human employment.]
    Unions are also being blamed for a rise in German unemployment. Despite Germany's weak economy, IG Metall won a 4% wage increase a year ago for its 2.7m members. Since then unemployment has risen to 10.7% from 9.7%.
    [Only if the unions forget about the frills of wages&bennies and concentrate on employment for everyone by pitting work-spreading via shorter workweeks against unemployment will they avoid these silly charges.]
    ...In eastern Germany, unemployment is a steep 19%..\.. Part of that is a result of the high wage increases, says Joerg Hinze, an expert on the German economy with the Hamburg Institute for International Economics....
    [The only way that would be true would be if employees getting the 4% wage increase were already spending all they could, as when you give top executives a 4% wage increase.]
    ...Mr. Hinze says, "More and more people are realizing that the high demands are leading to less employment - not more."
    [If unions don't share, e.g., work, they're no better than top executives who don't share. And even though top executives' unsharing is a lot more devastating to the economy than middle and lower classes' unsharing, the ones controlling the media are going to make sure that absolutely everybody else shares before they do.]
    For some, the sea change goes beyond the current economic weakness.
    [No, just beyond any of the popular economic analyses of the current economic weakness.]
    "This is not a normal recession," says Kurt Lauk, president of the economic council of the Christian Democratic Union, the more-conservative opposition party. "This is a deep structural crisis of the society." During recent years, it was possible to "camouflage the problems and say it wasn't so bad," Mr. Lauk says. "But now the situation is untenable and that has become obvious to everybody."
    [You wish! We doubt if even Kurt Lauk takes the next step to say, you can't get economic growth out of downsizing your workforce/consumerbase in response to technology and upsizing the wallets of those who are already spending all they can. It ain't about investment once the national income gets sooo concentrated it's sucking the markets away from the productivity it wishes to be invested in.]
    Also unusual, unions are no longer showing a united front....
    [Well that's the end of such "unions" - unity is all they've got, and if they lose that, they're gone. If they can't unite on their one and only power issue, full employment via worksharing, they're useless.]
    The pressure [on unions] to change has never been so great as now," Huburtus Schmoldt, the head of the Mining, Chemical and Energy Union, said in an interview. "The same methods we used before no longer work," he said, referring to the unions' push for ever higher wages that has made German workers uncompetitive compared with those in other [3rd world!] countries....
    [Repeat - FORGET WAGES!!! - get the full-employment based perception of labor scarcity and market forces will take care of wages and benefits. "Seek first full employment, and all these things will be added unto you." Full employment is "the pearl of great price," the one thing that you sell everything else to gain because that one thing contains everything. Of labor's traditional goals, higher pay and shorter hours, higher pay alone results in neither while shorter hours alone results in both. When will labor wake up? Here's the Times version -]
    Schroeder's economic plan is aided by a union and his party, by Mark Landler, NYT, A4.
    In Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's long uphill battle to resuscitate the German economy, he has been thwarted at every step by two seemingly immovable obstacles: Germany's deeply rooted labor unions and Europe's unforgiving laws on government budgets. After last weekend, neither seems quite as daunting.
    On Sunday, Mr. Schroeder announced that his Cabinet would accelerate a sweeping taxcut to revive lackluster consumption...
    [like Bush, Schroeder is going to have trouble getting more consumption by "slashing the top tax rate to 42% from 48.5% next year instead of in 2005," in other words, giving more money to those who already have more than they need to spend - but of course, standard economists can't connect those dots -]
    winning support even from economists who fret that the cuts will cause Germany to breach an EU cap on the size of its budget deficit for a third consecutive year.
    The same day, Germany's largest industrial union announced that it would abandon strikes in eastern Germany, acknowledging that the public had turned against its campaign for a shorter workweek....
    In good times, Germans might have been sympathetic to the union, which sought to reduce the workweek of easterners from 38 to 35 hours, bringing it into line with that of their western counterparts.... In a survey last week by the polling firm Dimap, 70% of Germans said the strike was hurting the eastern German economy....
    [Never mind the second-class citizenship of east Germans, and the astronomical unemployment rate of their unshared overlong workweek. Of course, timesizing would not help the overtight rules of the EU or the premature common currency. Here are a string of related or source newswires -]
    Analysis - Tax cut new start for Schroeder, German economy, by Emma Thomasson, Reuters 06/30/03 08:11 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- It was no coincidence that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder chose the home of a 19th century Prussian reformer...for a special weekend meeting of his cabinet..\..to announce taxcuts he hopes will be the salvation of the German economy and his own political future....
    [Quite the contrary....]
    Just as significant as the extra taxcuts agreed at the retreat was a decision by the once mighty IG Metall engineering union, prompted by no small amount of arm twisting by Schroeder, to call off unpopular and 'damaging' [our quotes] strikes in eastern Germany....
    [Gerhard picked the wrong side.]
    Andreas Rees, an economist at HVB Group, said in a research note he saw only "limited expansionary effects" from the taxcuts [a nice understatement], but added: "This last weekend may mark a decisive turning point in German economic history."...
    [Yeah, from too-slow-to-notice decline to noticeably rapid deterioration.]
    The decision by IG Metall to call off strikes for a shorter working week for engineering workers in the depressed former communist east that had 'hurt national car production' [our quotes - production was selling slowly anyway, compare VW/Mexico story] was just another sign of the diminishing power of Germany's unions....
    Schroeder narrowly scraped back into power 9 months ago, but as the German economy has ground close to a halt and unemployment has soared to post-war [WW2?!] highs, his popularity has tumbled....
    Analysis - German strike rout could end sector wage deals, by Fiona Shaikh, Reuters 06/30/03 08:11 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- Germany's IG MEtall engineering union faces a leadership crisis after its first strike defeat in 50 years [49 actually], a blow some commentators say could sound the death knell for sectoral wage agreements in Germany. IG Metall called off month-long strikes on Saturday after the breakdown of 16-hour talks aimed at settling a dispute on working hours in east Germany. IG Metall had demanded a cut in the working week to 35 hours standard in the west....
    [How ridiculous! The nerve of them former Communists to think they deserve the same living standards as the elite in former West Germany! Now "western Germany" can keep them as pets, their own little slice of the Third World, quasi slaves.]
    Analysis - German strike rout could end sector wage deals, by Nick Tattersall, Reuters 06/30/03 11:06 ET via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Europe's biggest carmaker Volkswagen and luxury peer BNW were gearing up to restart production of their best selling models on Monday after strikes by east German workers ended over the weekend. The stoppages, called off on Saturday after the unions failed to win shorter hours for engineering workers in the former east, hit production of two of Germany's best-loved auto exports - VW's ubiquitous Golf and BMW's 3-series. Germany's car industry, which accounts for 10% of total industrial output, was hit hard by union IG Metall's campaign for the former communist east's 310,000 engineering workers to have their working week cut from 38 hours to the 35 standard in the west....
    German income tax cuts win cautious welcome, by Clifford Coonan with Dhara Ranasinghe, Reuters 06/30/03 13:10 ET via AOLNews.
    BERLIN...- German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's programme of sweeping income taxcuts was broadly welcomed on Monday but analysts said tax relief must be matched by reforms if they are to boost Europe's largest economy. The taxcut move came as fears of more damage to the German economy faded with the failure of strikes by engineering workers in the former communist east over a shorter working week....
    [Outrageous! Here's another skeptic on the taxcuts (apparently Germans are smarter than Americans) -]
    Ruediger Pohl, the head of Germany's IWH thinktank, one of Germany's 6 top economic institutes, said the taxcuts were based on too-optimistic 2004 growth forecasts of 2%. "There is no question that there will be some stimulus. [NO question??] But I don't expect it to bring a big economic upswing," Pohl said....
    [No kidding.]
    "I still think the German cycle is predominantly an export cycle and other domestic factors are driving domestic consumption, like job insecurity, long-term demographic trends and, in terms of corporate profits, the euro," he said.
    Germany union defeat could advance reform, by David McHugh, AP 06/30/03 14:47 EDT via AOLNews.
    FRANKFURT...- Workers [wimps!] filed back through plant gates Monday in east Germany after the country's heavyweight industrial union abandoned a strike for a shorter workweek - its worst setback in almost 50 years [now that's more accurate!] and a boost for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's efforts to shake up the stagnant economy....
    ["Sew the wind, reap the whirlwind."]
    The IG Metall manufacturing union, Germany's most militant, last abandoned a strike in 1954. Union leaders called off the job action over the weekend after employers refused to budge on the union's demand to cut eastern industry's workweek from 38 hours to 35. With the public worried about the stagnant economy and jobs, strike leaders found themselves out of step with the public and even with some officials in the union's leadership.
    [Disunity in a 'union'? Lethal.]
    The union's bloody nose was widely viewed as a plus for Schroeder, a Social Democrat [apparently about as 'social' or 'democratic' as U.S. Democrats] who is trying to raise economic growth by cutting back Germany's expensive welfare state - over objections by his labor allies....
    [What is it about work sharing that makes politicians try it LAST?]
    "IG Metall was too stubborn. They did not have the opinion of the population on their side,
    [or rather any sophisticated PR consultants]
    and also not the opinion of the political leadership,"..\..said economist Rolf Kroker at the Institute of the German economy, an economic research group....
    [But near-sighted CEOs had sophisticated PR consultants, and they also had the political 'leadership.']
    The union said it was time for workers in the east to work the same 35 hours western workers do for the same base [or as the NYT translates it, "basic"] pay. Companies say the longer week cuts labor costs
    [what good is labor without markets, and what significance has labor 'face time' in the age of robotics?]
    and argue the area's depressed economy won't support more.
    [not without more consumers, who occasionally might just need actual jobs, however many, or few, hours per week.]
    In fact, workers at many companies in the east have already broken away from regional wage agreements and agreed to work 39 or 40 hours to save jobs
    [what a laugh - concentrating work further - working more hours per still-employed person, when there isn't enough non-robotic employment to employ more than 82% of the workforce in the east already]
    in a region where unemployment - about 18% - is twice as high as in the west....
    [Though, actually, we'd heard 19%.]

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