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Timesizing News, August 2009
[Commentary] ©2004-09 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 117, Harvard Sq PO, Cambridge MA 02238 USA 617-623-8080


8/30-31/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Library, cultural events hit by shrinking budgets, by Sarah Bultema, Loveland Reporter-Herald, Colo. via ReporterHerald.com.
    Editor’s note: This is part of a series looking at the effects of government budget cuts on the daily lives of area residents.
    LOVELAND, Colo. - From fruity pie festivals to outdoor reading programs, Lovelanders were able to enjoy a slew of activities, events, art and literature this summer through the city’s Cultural Services Department and the Loveland Public Library.
    Directors of these programs hope community members can do it all again next year — despite nearly $300,000 being chopped from the two departments’ budgets.
    Faced with citywide cuts, the Loveland Public Library and the Cultural Services Department, which operates the Loveland Museum/Gallery and Rialto Theater, are finding ways to make changes behind the scenes that, they hope, won’t affect community members who use the services.
    “We’re going to try our best to make these cuts transparent so that our users and patrons don’t feel a lot of impact,” said Jan Sawyer, theater manager of the Rialto. “We’re getting creative and looking for ways to do things differently.”
    The Loveland Public Library
    The local library needs to cut nearly $139,000, about 4 percent, from its 2010 budget — an adjustment that directors hope won’t be significantly noticed by the public.
    They have decided to ax one currently unoccupied full-time position, which was responsible for shelving books, as well as some hours from another.
    Paid training for staffers will also decrease. Instead, Ted Schmidt, library director, said he hopes new trainees could learn from other staff members — some of whom have more than 30 years of experience.
    Additionally, the library is canceling some of its online database subscriptions, as well as the courtesy letters it sends to remind patrons that their books will soon be due.
    Instead, staffers will send e-mails to those who provide an e-mail address.
    Finally, coordinators plan to buy fewer materials than before, including new DVDs, CDs, books and magazines, which cost thousands of dollars each year, Schmidt said.
    “That’s a really painful one” to cut, he said.
    Yet through it all, the library will not have to shorten its hours or cancel any of the numerous programs it offers to the community.
    Instead, for patrons, the cuts may result in a delay in books and materials being reshelved, less information available through online databases and a longer wait to check out new arrivals and best-sellers.
    Community members recently visiting the library said that won’t present much of a problem.
    “I don’t know if it would affect me,” said Loveland’s Misty Plummer, who was on her laptop computer Thursday at the library.
    “This is my favorite library out of all I’ve been to. ... As long as they don’t get rid of the Internet, (the cuts) won’t affect me.”
    In fact, the Lovelander said if anything, the library’s struggles may inspire her to lend a hand.
    “It might make me want to volunteer,” she said.
    Cultural Services
    The Loveland Cultural Services Department is facing even deeper cuts than the local library, with about 12.4 percent, $156,000, sliced from its budget.
    To deal with it, department directors at the museum have opted to cut funding to a few summer events, which they hope will be funded instead through community sponsorships.
    The Summer Concert Series, held each year at Foote Lagoon, will receive only half the money it did this year. The Cherry Pie Celebration will not be allocated any money at all.
    However, officials are confident these events will carry on with the help and support of the community.
    “It’s an opportunity for businesses to contribute,” said Susan Ison, Loveland’s cultural services director.
    Grants and donations are also commonly used to fund other programs at the museum and could be another way to support the events, she added.
    “We have every expectation we will still be able to have (the events) next year,” Ison said.
    Additionally, the Rialto Theater will eliminate one class, the Creative Arts for Students of Theater. Yet the decision will not leave young actors without an outlet, Sawyer noted, because similar classes are available at the Chilson Center and through the school district.
    “We realized it’s something that can be fulfilled elsewhere,” Sawyer said.
    The theater also will put off buying new equipment that had been allocated in the budget, including a new movie screen to replace the rope-and-pulley system currently in use.
    “We were hoping to upgrade that, but the old screen’s going to have to do for a few more years,” Sawyer said.
    Finally, Cultural Services directors opted to scale back the glossy and colorful printed schedule programs for the Loveland Museum/Gallery and Rialto Theater and cut eight hours from one employee’s workweek.
    Even with the cuts, officials don’t foresee the changes affecting the community’s access to what they’ve traditionally offered.
    “Down the road, if we keep pushing things back, it may have an impact,” Sawyer said. “But we’re going to work really hard in the short term to make sure these cuts don’t impact our users or the community.”

  2. For Worthy Objects, Calgary Herald, Alta., Canada.
    [A little more history -]
    A two-storey house called the "Cottage Hospital" with space for 12 patients opened in 1890 as Calgary's first hospital. The next year, a hospital run by four Grey Nuns from Montreal opened its doors in Calgary. By 1895, the Calgary General Hospital at 12th Avenue and 6th Street had replaced the Cottage Hospital. Mary Birtles headed the General's nursing school, which trained nurses until it shut down in 1974. A century ago, hospitals could survive only on charitable donations from local citizens. It fell to Jean Pinkham, wife of the Anglican bishop, and her Women's Hospital Aid Society, to hold benefits to raise funds. The Herald published this editorial [below] Aug.21, 1909.
    ---
    The entertainment given yesterday, and which will be repeated this evening, and the meeting arranged for tomorrow, are for people who are most deserving. There is scarcely a charitable object to which the public more generously respond than when they are asked to assist hospitals. This is particularly true in the west, where the inhabitants have a more intimate knowledge of hospitals and the good work they accomplish, than in older centres of population where home nursing and care are available.
    There is another phase of hospital work that could very properly be considered, that is, the hours which nurses have to be on duty. The hospital week is divided between day and night staffs. For a whole long heavy day, or an equally exacting night, these obliging women willingly attend the wants of the patient hovering on death as well as the whims of those who are more cranky than ill.
    After 12 hours spent in nursing, there is not very much desire left for recreation, even if there is the time. Rest is what is principally desired and the natural result is that hospital work becomes routine in character, and if not distasteful, at least onerous.
    Unions have reduced the hours of workers of all classes. The hospital nurses have no "eight-hour day" clause to lay before the public. In the case of public servants who have not tried to obtain shorter hours, the general custom in recent years has been to voluntarily give them what others obtain by demands. The case of the hospital nurses might well be taken up when hospital matters are under discussion.
    In the meantime, don't forget that the object of Hospital Sunday is to obtain funds for these popular benevolent institutions in Calgary.


8/29/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Steffes makes layoffs, TMI to cut hours, by Lisa Call, TheDickinsonPress.com.
    One of Dickinson’s biggest employers has cut 15 percent of its staff and another large Dickinson money-maker is cutting employee’s hours.
    In the latest round of layoffs, Steffes Corp., a manufacturing company, laid off 19 machine operators and assemblers on Aug. 18, reducing its staff by 15 percent, said Steffes Corp. President Joe Rothschiller.
    “We would consider every job to have a $50,000 impact on our expense structure,” Rothschiller said.
    Dickinson couple Lindsey and Jeremy Cook were both previously employed by Steffes Corp. Lindsey Cook was laid off in May due to what she was told was “restructuring” and Jeremy Cook, a welder at Steffes for two years, was let go in the latest round.
    Lindsey Cook said the most recent layoffs were given no advance notice and employees showed up, only to find out they no longer had jobs.
    “It was just a ‘sorry, don’t need you anymore' kind of a thing,” Lindsey Cook said.
    Rothschiller said he couldn’t disclose if employees received a severance or any benefits.
    However, Lindsey Cook said neither she nor her husband received any kind of severance package.
    In an effort to avoid any layoffs, Rothschiller said the company previously asked employees to cut hours and workdays.
    “We just couldn’t sustain the employment level anymore and had to make those reductions,” Rothschiller said.
    While Rothschiller said the company hopes those let go are brought back within six months, Lindsey Cook said she and her husband were not guaranteed anything.
    “At some point very soon, there is no where to go but up,” Rothschiller said.
    [On the contrary, there's always further down, especially when employers have not made the switch from downsizing their workforce and markets, to downsizing their workweeks (= timesizing) and keeping their markets, and timesizing further and hiring more potential markets - we've gone from "no free lunch" to "no unemployed markets."]
    The status of the global economy has further scathed the employment market in Dickinson.
    Mary Urlacher, Job Service of North Dakota Dickinson office manager, was unavailable for comment.
    Fellow Dickinson industrial player, TMI Systems Design Corp., has mandated workweek cuts in two of its three factories.
    Beginning the first full week in September, employees in the countertop and cabinetry factories will be required to scale down to 36 hours per week, said Cal Kolling, TMI human resource director.

    The architectural woodwork factory will continue working 40-hour weeks plus overtime.
    “The work that we do depends on what we receive from our customers in the field like the construction projects,” Kolling said.
    Kolling said those in the field have been slower at giving TMI the needed information, attributing the delay to weather or construction slow-downs.
    Hour cuts are temporary, said Kolling, projecting them to last about eight weeks.
    “We are not even sure its going to last that long,” Kolling said. “It might last less than that.”
    Despite the cut in hours, Kolling said TMI’s back log is strong into 2010.

  2. Fawcett: "The Regulation of the Hours of Labour by the State" (abridged) II, by Tom "Sandwichman" Walker, econospeak.blogspot.com.
    In the previous installment, Henry Fawcett chronicled the signal triumph of the 1871 Newcastle Engineers bitter 14-week long strike for a 9-hour day and remarked upon the unprecedented nature of that victory: "The artisans in no previous dispute between Capital and Labour have ever obtained so signal a triumph."
    In addressing the productivity argument, though, Fawcett takes another tack, proclaiming: "...the masters would, in every instance, be compelled to yield..."

    The following may be considered a correct description of the opinions which are widely held on this subject. It is maintained that in many employments, the day's work is a great deal too long, the strain upon the constitution is too severe, and physical strength is so much exhausted that a man is unable to labour hard during the whole time he is at work. It is therefore urged that if the day's labour were shortened, as much or even more work would be done in the shorter as in the longer period; employers would, consequently, be able to pay at least as much for a day's work after its length had been thus shortened.
    Many facts can, no doubt, be adduced in support of this opinion. It can be scarcely denied that in some employments the hours of labour are habitually too long. Some very striking examples can be quoted to show that the shortening of the hours of labour confers a most important advantage both upon employers and employed. More work is done in less time, and the greater productiveness which is thus given to labour enables not only the wages of the workmen, but also the profits of the employer, to be increased.
    Amongst many remarkable examples of the truth of this statement, it will be sufficient to refer to one case which is mentioned by Mr Macdonnell, in his "Survey of Political Economy." He states, on the authority of M. Chevalier, that a manufacturer employing 4000 hands reduced his spinners' time one half-hour per day, and that this reduction, contrary to all expectation, was accompanied by an increase in production of one-twenty-fourth. An admission that this fact is typical of what would generally take place if the hours of labour were shortened, would undoubtedly afford a powerful inducement and a strong justification to the workmen to extend throughout the country the movement which was commenced at Newcastle.
    Such an admission, however, does not, to my mind, supply any argument in favour of a resort being had to State intervention. It has been proved that the workmen can succeed when they have as good a case to urge as they had at Newcastle; and the masters would, in every instance, be compelled to yield, even were it not their interest to do so, when facts can be adduced to warrant the conclusion that the hours of labour prevalent in any particular trade are too long to secure the maximum of industrial efficiency.
    Posted by Sandwichman at 3:34 PM


8/28/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Would Shortening the Workweek Stimulate the Economy? NewsHour via pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk.
    Question during Paul Solman's 'quanda' (Q and A session) from Steve Eppley of Pasadena CA (Ste3ve via Flickr)
    Question: Why doesn't the federal government stimulate the economy by reducing the length of the workweek (the number of hours after which employees receive time-and-a-half pay)? Employers would respond by spreading the work load, which means more hiring and fewer layoffs.
    Wouldn't that be more efficient overall than high unemployment? By tying the length of the work week to the unemployment rate using an automatic formula, a feedback loop could be set up to keep unemployment at a reasonable level.
    [This is exactly Walter Reuther's "fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment" idea embodied in Phase Four of the Timesizing Program.]
    Paul Solman: Because it would seem too radical? Too kooky? Because it wouldn't distinguish between more and less able workers? [but why should it be burdened with this additional performance-review function?] And yet, maybe not such a hare-brained scheme. Another friend of this page, Dean Baker [co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington], wrote the following [excerpt from op ed "Pass the stimulus - then help shorten the work week"] in the New York Daily News in January [1/28/2009 #1]:

    [Dean Baker may turn out to be the fully credentialled economist needed by the shorter hours movement to lead the minimal modification and upgrade of the time-blind illogic and contradictions within contemporary mainstream economics. Add him to the growing list of more-influential allies of the shorter-hours movement, starting with Thom Hartmann - see below on 8/24/2009 #1.]
    "One innovative policy that would provide a quick boost to the economy and jobs - and lasting gains in reduced unemployment - is a tax incentive for shorter workweeks or work years.
    No doubt, such a suggestion will make conservatives howl about liberals attempting to turn the United States into France, where in 2000 the government mandated a 35-hour workweek.
    But I'm not suggesting the government force a shorter workweek; I'm suggesting it create incentives for businesses to make the choice themselves.
    And in any event, there are worse examples to follow than France's on this score. The reduction in the workweek there created new jobs and improved productivity.
    Incentivizing a shorter workweek in the U.S. could take different forms. To qualify, an employer who currently provides no paid vacation might offer all workers three weeks a year of paid vacation, approximately a 6% reduction in work time. Alternatively, employers could cut the standard workweek, say from 40 hours to 36 hours, a 10% reduction in work hours. Or they could offer paid sick leave or paid parental leave.
    How would this help the economy? The tax break would allow the employer to compensate workers for fewer hours up to some limit, say a maximum of $2,500 per worker. That would cut work hours but maintain staffing levels.
    As a result, workers would be getting just as much money as before the reduction in hours - but putting in 10% fewer hours. If workers have the same amount of money, then demand in the economy will be the same. At the same time, firms would then need to hire more workers to meet this demand, since they would be getting 10% fewer hours from each worker.
    Such a tax break would stay in effect for just two years. However, if workers and employers liked the new work schedules, there would be a lasting benefit from this job creation measure."
    [We've only got government support for this so far in terms of the overtime section of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the worksharing programs of about 18 states to provide temporary subsidies to companies that cut hours not jobs with funds from their unemployment insurance system.]

  2. Putnam County sheriff lands grants to rehire deputies, by BOB BLAKE, bblake@limanews.com, 419-993-2077, LimaOhio.com.
    OTTAWA, Ohio — A pair of grant awards, including one for more than $700,000 announced Friday, have officials at one local sheriff’s office looking at bringing back laid off deputies.
    U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced on Friday that the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office has been awarded $703,200 through a program with the U.S. Department of Justice.
    “Hopefully we’ll be able to bring all our personnel back that we’ve got laid off, not only the full-time and part-time but also reinstate the rest of my staff back to a full work week,” Sheriff Jim Beutler said. “Back in April when the county made their 20 percent cuts, that affected my entire staff. We had to reduce our work week from an 80-hour biweekly work week to 72 hours. We cut 10 percent out of everybody there.”
    The funds for the grant were included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Brown said.
    “Improving Putnam County’s law enforcement and crime prevention efforts is essential to maintaining the high standard of living area residents deserve,” Brown said. “These federal funds will help protect our streets and keep our communities safe.”
    The grant announced Friday is on top of another grant for more than $336,000 the sheriff’s office received through the state’s Office of Criminal Justice Services just a couple weeks ago.
    “(The cuts) have decreased our response time. We know our theft rates have gone up, we know there’s been an increase in the drug crimes going on,” Beutler said. “It has affected us all around. Everybody in the office has to take an extra day off for the pay period.”
    No laid off employees have been called back yet, Beutler said. Call backs will begin pending grant acceptance procedures and approval by Putnam County commissioners, he said.

  3. Voestalpine phases out short hours at biggest site, Reuters.com.
    VIENNA - Austrian steelmaker Voestalpine (VOES.VI) is phasing out shorter working hours for around 3,500 staff at its biggest site as capacity rises but reiterated there was still the risk of an economic slump in 2010.
    Voestalpine put around a third of its staff in its steelmaking branch on shorter working hours at the beginning of 2009 as demand for steel products dried up and orders slumped.

    The company said on Friday that the workers at its Linz plant would go back on to full working hours from the beginning of September because the environment had improved. "(This) should not be understood as an indication that a sustained upturn in the economy is assured," Voestalpine said in a statement. "The risk of another economic slump over the course of 2010 still seems to be given." Around 2,400 other group employees in Austria and 3,100 abroad will continue on shorter working hours, it said.
    Voestalpine stuck to its full-year outlook when reporting an expected first-quarter operating loss earlier this month and said there were signs that demand and prices were stabilizing.
    [ID:nLK429225] (Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)


8/27/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Recess in Name Only - What happens in congressional offices when the boss is gone? By Christopher Beam, 8/26 Slate.com via Kleinheider, 8/27 Post Politics via Politics.NashvillePost.com.
    In Washington, only the executive branch takes a vacation. The legislative branch goes on recess.
    The two terms used to be nearly synonymous. While members of Congress traditionally spend the month of August meeting with constituents, fact-finding in the Middle East, or freezing bundles of cash, they leave most of their staff behind. Recess on the Hill is thus a time for short skirts, long lunches, and happy hours that start at 4.
    Not this year. Late Monday night, some congressional staffers were leaving their offices as late as 9 p.m., because when a divisive national issue (health care reform) meets planned legislative downtime (August recess), the divisive national issue wins. The battle over health care—waged in districts across the country by phone, television, e-mail, and town hall—has sucked up what's supposed to be a rejuvenating period between the first week of August and Labor Day.
    It wasn't always this way. In past years, you might have stumbled across a hall party outside a member's office on a Friday afternoon, where staffers could greet the weekend with a brewski (paid for with nontaxpayer dollars, of course). Bars like the Pour House and Hawk and Dove would fill up as early as 5 p.m. One Democratic office may or may not have had a Wii that would get fired up for 18 holes of golf every afternoon.
    But that was 2007. "There's no silliness this summer," says Brad Bauman, communications director for Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio. "This year it's trench warfare—just without ties."
    Still, even in the heat of battle, August is the most casual month. On a baking Tuesday morning, for example, staffers lined up outside the Longworth House Office Building looked more like a high-school lunch line than a congressional army. Jeans outnumbered suits. Sneakers outnumbered loafers. There seemed to be a strict ban on ties.
    Most offices let staffers wear whatever they want. The office of Rep. Harry Teague of New Mexico, for instance, is denim-friendly. "When the congressman isn't here, we can wear jeans," one staffer told me when I poked my head in. Does he know about this flagrant abandonment of professionalism? "I think he knows," she said. The office of Rep. Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania runs a tighter ship—it's because he's a Navy officer, I was told. Staffers have to wear business attire, no matter the month.
    With the lax dress code comes occasional lax behavior. Spend enough time wandering the halls of House and Senate buildings in August, and you're bound to witness the phenomenon best described as "recest." Two congressional staffers were spotted Tuesday in a back hallway locked in a passionate embrace, the gentleman gripping the lady's pearl necklace between his fingers and—NSFW—licking it aggressively. On being caught, the pair disbanded.
    Office decorum can also slip. "August is when people start picking up hobbies," says a former Hill staffer. "You get e-mails like, 'I'm on Season 3 of Melrose Place!' " On Tuesday, I watched a Republican staffer in the Hart Senate Office Building check Facebook, write an e-mail, check Facebook, edit an official-looking document, and check Facebook.
    And whether staffers admit it or not, the hours are shorter. The security guards at Longworth acknowledged as much. Some staffers trickle in as late as 11 a.m. and the exodus begins as early as 4 p.m. Lunches get longer, too—or, rather, lunches exist in the first place. The normally long line in the Senate cafeteria was gone Tuesday. Finding a seat—normally a struggle—was easy. The gift shop was even more deserted. "It's dead," said the cashier, who was polishing watches. They shortened the shop's hours for recess, but apparently not enough. "The time passes so slowly," she said.
    At the same time, staffs shrink. Although a typical House office might have 11 people the rest of the year, it might dwindle to eight or four during August recess, when the member returns to his or her district. A Senate staff of 30 might get cut in half. Sometimes any staff whatsoever is hard to find. When I stopped by Tuesday, the office staff of Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz consisted entirely of two interns. One was huddled in a fleece, writing a letter to a constituent about immigration reform. The other was nowhere in sight but did, I was told, exist. When I peeked into the office of Illinois Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, the front office was empty.
    Where do the staffers go? Vacation, usually. Some offices have a rule that you can take vacation only during recess. Other staffers travel on congressional delegations, either within the country or abroad (although ethics rules make such trips less common).
    Some shops, however, remain full steam. I dropped in on the office of Rep. Yvette Clarke of New York to find things bustling. When I told the staff I wanted to cover the August slowdown, one of them said, "You picked the wrong time to write that!" They were working full days, he said, till 7 or 8 p.m. If I were expecting floor hockey and ping-pong tournaments, another said, "You should try Cannon." (The Cannon House Office Building, that is.)
    The activity level of an office during recess depends on a mix of factors. One is the member's electoral vulnerability: The safer the seat, the more relaxed the staff. It also depends whether it's an election year. Typically, August is a lot more hectic in even-numbered years than odd-numbered. Party matters, too: Democrats in the majority during the final Bush years had little reason to waste their Augusts drumming up legislation that would get vetoed.
    Upending all August-related rules, however, is health care. Thanks to the Democrats' decision not to vote on health care reform until September, August has for many offices been a "recess" in name only. Members are touring their districts, meeting with local leaders and holding town halls—a routine that often requires just as much energy from the Washington staff as when Congress is in session. "There's a perception that when the cat's away the mice will play," says one Democratic staffer. "But that doesn't really happen."

  2. Anchorage mayor asks city unions to cut work week, AP via Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
    ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is asking most city unions to cut the work week from 40 hours to 37 1/2 in a move that could save the city more than $10 million next year.
    "I'm hoping with this broad brush of the workweek changing we can actually preserve public service and a lot of positions," he told The Anchorage Daily News.

    Sullivan asked union leaders Wednesday to respond to his budget-cutting proposals within 10 days. He faces an Oct. 1 deadline to submit a budget to the assembly.
    Anchorage has about 3,000 city employees, most represented by unions.
    Sullivan also told firefighters he won't pick up the option for a second year of wage concessions that the union offered earlier this year.
    Fire union president Tom Wescott said the refusal means the mayor is giving up $1 million in 2010 savings.
    Sullivan said he's worried that a contract extension could cost the city more money in the long run.
    City officials have been struggling to close budget deficits with service cuts, wage freezes and some layoffs. Sullivan is projecting another $25 million shortfall next year.
    Wescott, a fire captain and the head of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1264, said he's worried about additional layoffs next year and maybe closures of some engine companies.
    "I got the sense that regardless of what we do, he's shrinking the fire department and the rest of the city," Wescott said.

  3. US Steel in Serbia will shed up to 250 jobs, 7/7 Reuters via 8/27 ISI - Emerging Markets.
    BELGRADE - U.S. Steel's Serbian unit is to shed up to 250 administrative jobs as demand for its products has plumetted amidst the global economic downturn, the local company's spokesman said on Thursday.
    Under the provisions of a pact with trade unions the lay-off programme will "include between 150 and 250 jobs from our administrative departments," said Nemanja Brkovic, spokesman for U.S. Steel Serbia, the country's top exporter.
    "We believe this is a necessary step to make a more efficient balance between our administrative and production personnel," he said.
    In April U.S. Steel's foundry in Smederevo, some 60 kilometres south of Belgrade, shut down both furnaces, its steel mill and another production line, while maintaining business in hot and cold rolling mills and sheet metal production.
    "The deal is fair and equitable for employees ... and it will help the company to remain competitive in the steel industry," Brkovic said.
    Earlier this year [March] the company had already shortened its working week to [four days] 32 hours.
    U.S. Steel purchased Smederevo's bankrupt Sartid steel mill in 2003 in one of the first major privatisation deals after the ousting of former president Slobodan Milosevic in 2000.
    The company runs three production facilities in central, eastern and western Serbia, with a total workforce of 6,000.
    (Reporting by Aleksandar Vasovic; Editing by Greg Mahlich) Keywords: SERBIA JOBS/ (aleksandar.vasovic@thomsonreuters.com; +381 11 311 42 75)


8/26/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Steelworkers are casting votes to decide whether mill will reopen, Myrtle Beach Sun News via thesunnews.com, SC.
    GEORGETOWN, S.C. --Steelworkers Union members in Georgetown have rejected the latest offer from ArcelorMittal, saying conditions of the offer would not allow them to make a living.
    The exact totals from this evening's vote have not been released, but the move by union members leaves the future of the mill uncertain.
    Steelworkers have shed their green, fire-retardant unforms for summer wear Aug. 26, 2009. The steelworkers are filing in a room one by one to vote on a union contract after the mill has been shut down for more than a month. Local 7898 closed access to the union hall at 3:30 p.m. to all but union members. The votes are being collected in a closed-door room that has the blinds drawn. A yes vote could result in lower wages, but a reopening of the mill. A no vote would mean the union members rejected a lower pay scale and the mill remains closed. Voting is slated to remain open until 6 p.m. Wednesday.
    The future of the Georgetown's steel mill hinges on a union workers' vote tonight.
    ArcelorMittal has approached the Steelworkers Union with a new proposal to have a 32-hour workweek during the economic downturn, said President James Sanderson, of United Steelworkers of America Local 7898.
    A representative for ArcelorMittal could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
    The steel mill in Georgetown will remain closed, according to a statement released today by the steel mill.
    [Brilliant. Another union commits suicide.]
    The local Steelworkers Union on Wednesday rejected the company's offer to reopen the mill if employees approved a pay cut and reduced workweek, during a shortage of orders.
    The exact totals of the votes have not yet been released.
    The future of the Georgetown steel mill is unknown after the local Steelworkers Union rejected an offer Wednesday for reduced work hours and wages in order to reopen the mill.
    Many of the workers said they rejected the offer because they felt the reduced hours and wages would not allow them to make ends meet.
    [Wait till these morons try to make ends meet on zero wages.]
    Unionized workers at a South Carolina steel mill have rejected a company offer that would have reduced hours and wages so the mill could reopen.
    The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports many of the workers said the cuts would not allow them to make a living. Workers voted Wednesday on the latest offer from mill owner ArcelorMittal.
    The company proposal offered workers a 32-hour week and $3.65-an-hour pay cut if there were less than 50,000 tons of steel orders per quarter.
    In the business of steelmaking, a gray-haired work force can be a good thing: Seasoned employees in the mill signify experience and safety, reliability and commitment.
    At ArcelorMittal's tin mill in West Virginia, they also represent a looming problem. As many as half the 1,000 workers in Weirton - average age 57 - are likely to retire before the current contract expires in 2012. And the traditional pool of replacements has vanished.
    Now, the Luxembourg-based company and the United Steelworkers union are working on a way to make sure they're ready for the inevitable changing of the guard. Though still preliminary, talks are under way with community colleges to expand ArcelorMittal's "Steelworker for the Future" training program beyond Indiana and Illinois, to places like Weirton.
    The rejection was announced less than an hour after polls closed at 6 p.m.
    ArcelorMittal had approached the Steelworkers Union with a new proposal to have a 32-hour workweek during the economic downturn, said President James Sanderson, of United Steelworkers of America Local 7898.
    Sanderson said Tuesday, the mill would shut down forever if the offer was rejected. He could not be reached for comment after the results of the vote were announced Wednesday.
    A representative for ArcelorMittal could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.
    If the union members had approved the deal it would have meant the mill could reopen on Thursday. And start making steel in another 6 to 8 weeks.
    A certain shutdown was not the mentioned immediately following Wednesday's vote, but no clear information was released about the mill's future.
    The mill was shut down indefinitely July 10 due to a lack of orders. The company and union failed to come to terms over reduced work hours and pay.
    The company offered a 24 hour work week to employees during tough economic times and a $3.65-per hour pay cut. There also was no guarantee the hours and pay would be restored when the economy improved.
    The temporary layoffs left over 200 workers unsure if they would ever return to work.
    "The membership felt there was no way they would be able to provide for their families," said Sanderson, about the union's rejection of the previous offer.
    The offer would have also allowed 20 people who are eligible to retire right away without having to wait through six months of unemployment for severance, a condition under the current contract.
    During the shutdown, employees have been receiving unemployment benefits including supplemental pay, which equals about 60 percent to 80 percent of their wages depending on their years of service and training classes.
    The current contract is in effect until September 2012.

  2. Workweek, hours cut for some Hazel Park employees, by Brian C. Louwers, C&G Newspapers.
    HAZEL PARK, Mich. — Officials in Hazel Park said increasingly tight budgetary conditions have led to a reduction in hours for employees in some city departments.
    According to City Manager Ed Klobucher, a 32-hour workweek — down 5 1/2 hours from 37.5 hours — was implemented on Aug. 14 for about a dozen of the city’s American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 998 working at City Hall, the Department of Public Works and the Hazel Park Police Department.
    “We’re taking the necessary steps to balance our budget,” Klobucher said. “It’s a tough decision. We regret having to make it. We’re doing everything we can to preserve the services we have in the city of Hazel Park.”
    Klobucher said cuts in state shared revenue and a reduced influx of cash from the Hazel Park Harness Raceway, coupled with previously anticipated grant funding that fell short of expectations, led to the need to implement further cuts to balance the city’s precariously tight budget. The budget was approved earlier this summer by Hazel Park Mayor Jack Lloyd and the members of the Hazel Park City Council.
    By reducing hours for some employees, the city will save more than $70,000 for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30, 2010.
    Klobucher said the cuts are likely the last in terms of the city’s clerical staff but that other measures are currently being looked at as potential ways to trim the budget.
    “Unfortunately though, I would expect more cuts due to the fact that revenue sharing has the potential to be cut again. We’re preparing a contingency plan. There likely won’t be any more cuts in terms of clerical staff, they’ve been cut as much as they can be cut, but there can be cuts in other departments. We’ll see what happens with the state of Michigan.”
    While the cuts won’t reduce the hourly rate paid to the affected employees, they will impact the bottom line on their paychecks.
    Kimberly Duberg, an administrative secretary at the Hazel Park Police Department and the steward of AFSCME Local 998, said she’d lose about $500 a month. That said, she wasn’t exactly surprised to learn of the hours reduction.
    “It is what it is, especially with the type of union we are and what’s going on across the board in most municipalities and most businesses in the state of Michigan,” Duberg said. “We’re expecting that because we’re not essential services, we’re not police, fire or DPW. We get hit the most.”
    Duberg said the union’s membership has been whittled away to roughly half its former number over the last seven or eight years. As recently as 2006, Hazel Park’s AFSCME union representing clerical employees had 17 members. They now have 11, tasked with doing their work over just four days.
    “It’s a little easier to swallow, knowing that we’re not saving lives. We’re not first responders. We want to keep them on the streets as best we can,” Duberg said. “We hope that the state wakes up and does something different for everybody.”
    Klobucher said the hours could gradually be increased for affected employees as needed.
    He said the city would continue to staff a payment window at City Hall for at least a few hours on Friday, the day most affected employees would not be working from now on.
    Employees affected by the reduced hours will work a half-hour later Monday through Thursday.
    “We’ve got to make decisions about what’s critically important. We’re going to try to do everything we can to restore their hours,” Klobucher said. “This was truly a last resort.”
    Klobucher encouraged residents needing to conduct business at Hazel Park’s City Hall to do so during the new business hours of 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
    You can reach Staff Writer Brian C. Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586) 498-1089.

  3. Concessions sought are humiliating, letter to the editor by Laura Laister of St. Catharines, StCatharinesStandard.com
    Re: TRW employees should think of the future (letter by M. Fenech, July 14).
    I, too, am a wife of an employee of TRW and I also cried after reading the company proposal you refer to. The concessions TRW is asking its employees to accept are unreasonable and humiliating, which resulted in the resounding 93 per cent "no" vote (had the proposal had even a modicum of fairness, it may have had a chance).
    M. Fenech neglects to mention that since August 2008, TRW employees have been reduced to a four-day work week (a 20 per cent cut in pay) and have been subject to one-and two-day plant shutdowns (without pay) several times a year for the last three years. They have not been awarded a wage increase in eight years, have seen a considerable depletion in benefits and have had to fight to maintain retirement and pension benefits despite upper management being awarded ostentatious yearly wage increases and bonuses.
    It's ironic that the company is asking for more than $9 million in concessions after $10 million was paid in the aforementioned bonuses just this past February. The inability of management to understand this overwhelming statement of unity clearly exemplifies its lack of fairness. TRW employees and retirees can hardly be expected to once again accept contemptible demands for wage, benefit and pension cuts when profits are being pocketed by the company elite.
    Compare this article fragment still on Google News Search but no longer in StCatharinesStandard.com archives as of rethreading 9/26 -
    TRW surviving tough times - [date unknown] St. Catharines Standard - Ontario, CANADA
    ..[August 200]8, the 283 production and maintenance workers at the two plants in St. Catharines had their shifts reduced to a four-day work week, down from five days...
    [This would be a 32-hour workweek - Bruce Hoover, Executive Director of TRW Canada Ltd., played a key role in this timesizing instead of downsizing. Source: Dianne Cox]


8/25/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. TGIThursday - An energy- and money-saving solution that pretty much everyone can get behind: three-day weekends, # Posted by: Ben Jervey on 8/24, GOOD.is/post.
    Workers of the world, unite in giving Utah a round of applause. The Beehive State has made Thursday the new Friday, and by proving the benefits of this condensed calendar, Utah has brought us all closer to the dream of a shortened workweek.
    A year ago, Republican Governor Jon Hunstman announced the Working 4 Utah initiative, essentially putting 17,000 of the state’s 24,000 executive branch employees on a 10 hour a day, four day a week schedule. The goal for the cash-strapped state was energy savings. Now that a full year has passed (we checked in on the program back in April), a clearer picture of the benefits is coming into focus.
    Learning from the lessons of Utah, here are five reasons the “TGIT” (Thank Goodness It’s Thursday) four-day, 40-hour workweek just might make sense:
    1: Energy savings and reduction in carbon emissions
    Closing state offices on Fridays has cut energy use by 13 percent in Utah. Officials hope to bring that number closer to 20 percent as the kinks are worked out (and as they figure out how to actually shut down some of the heating and cooling systems in some of the buildings). Through these energy savings alone, Utah is shrinking its carbon footprint by about 6,000 metric tons. If you add in the gasoline savings from fewer commutes, that number is doubled—to roughly the equivalent of taking 2,300 cars off the road for a year.
    2: Traffic reduction and commuter health
    Of course, as fewer workers commute on any given day, there’s less traffic. But the hour shift for the four-day crew also thins out the traditional rush hours, speeding up travel for everyone. Besides easing the mental burden of traffic, commuters are exposed to fewer airborne pollutants. A California EPA study found that “50 percent of a person’s daily exposure to ultra fine particles (the particles linked to cardiovascular disease and respiratory illnesses) can occur during a commute.”
    3: Budget boost
    There are big savings to be had in operational costs when shaving a day off the workweek. As of May, nine months into the program, Utah had saved $1.8 million. And, according to Governor Huntsman, “the cost savings will only grow if the four-day workweek is granted permanent status” because the state can renegotiate long-term leases and further refine “smarter” energy, heating, and cooling systems in buildings.
    4: Happier, healthier workforce
    Lori Wadsworth, a researcher at Brigham Young University, surveyed Utah workers who’ve transitioned to the 4 x 10 schedule and found that 82 percent prefer it. And, according to Wadsworth, “Utah employees actually show decreased health complaints, less stress, and fewer sick days.” And while absenteeism has dropped, productivity and quality of service have improved—customer complaints, for example, at state agencies like the DMV are down. Early evidence seems to quell the initial fears that 10-hour workdays would “burn out” employees.
    5: Economic stimulus through savings
    It costs money to go to work—commuting expenses like gas, tolls, or public transit fares are obvious, but plenty of workers also pay for five days of childcare every week. Collectively, Utahans are expected to save $5 million to $6 million annually on commuting alone. Thus the four-day workweek has macroeconomic benefits as well, leaving more cash in the pockets of workers.
    While we’ve come to take it for granted, the the Monday-through-Friday, 8-hour workday, 40-hour workweek has only been the standard since 1938 when the Fair Labor Standards Act was passed. It made plenty of sense at the time, and improved the lives of loads of American workers who regularly endured dangerously long hours with scant free time. But, in reality, the Monday-through-Friday grind was rather arbitrary, and as Utah’s experiment has already shown, it could well be time for a rethink.
    So who’s next? Some cities like El Paso, Texas, and Melbourne Beach, Florida are already launching their own T.G.I.T. programs, and a GM plant in Ohio is shifting to the four-day workweek as well. Big states with massive public payrolls like New York (which has a public workforce 10 times the size of Utah’s) and California are also paying very close attention. Said John Harrington, Utah’s state energy manager, “I can’t even name all the places that have called us.”

  2. BASF: Short-time working at Ludwigshafen may end soon, Plastics Information Europe, Bad Homburg via Plasteurope.com.
    BASF (Ludwigshafen / Germany; www.basf.com) says it may end short-time working at its headquarters site in September, as markets stabilise at a low level. In June, the chemical giant introduced short-time working for around 1,000 employees at Ludwigshafen for an estimated four months, staggered over the summer. At the end of July the number was reduced to 300, a spokesman said.
    In Germany as a whole, 2,000 German BASF employees were working shorter hours at the end of June, with the number dwindling to 1,600 in August.

  3. Brazil Congress Considers Shortening Work Week to Generate Jobs, by Maria Luiza Rabello, Bloomberg.com.
    [See also Reuters' version of this story, yesterday #5, below.]
    Brazil’s Congress is considering a constitutional amendment to reduce the working week by four hours in a bid to generate more jobs.
    | Lawmakers in the lower house began debate today on a measure that would cut the regular work week to 40 hours from 44 hours.
    The bill would need to be approved in both chambers of Congress and signed by the president to become law.
    Shorter working hours would generate 2.1 million jobs while increasing production costs by only 2 percent, Artur Henrique, president of the umbrella labor group known as CUT, said in a telephone interview from Brasilia. Brazil’s unemployment rate fell to 8 percent in July from 8.1 percent in June.
    Armando Monteiro Neto, head of the National Industrial Confederation, said the measure would increase labor costs by 10 percent.
    “It is not desirable to increase costs by changing the law when Brazil is just starting to recover from the international crisis,” Monteiro Neto said.
    To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Luiza Rabello in Brasilia at mrabello@bloomberg.net


8/23-24/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Want to Stimulate the Economy? Lower the Retirement Age to 55 Now! by Thom Hartmann, 8/24 CommonDreams.org (tip of the hat to Dave Lanznar for flagging this article).
    [So we are collecting some more-influential allies now in the shorter-hours movement: this guy Thom Hartmann (see brief intro to Thom at the end of this article) and economist Dean Baker (see story above on 8/28/2009 #1 and story on 1/28/2009 #1.]
    One of the most powerful forms of stimulus we could apply to our economy right now would be to lower the current Social Security retirement age from the current 65-67 to 55, and increase the benefits back to where they were in inflation-adjusted 1960s dollars by raising them between 10 to 20 percent (so people could actually live, albeit modestly, on Social Security).
    The right-wing reaction to this, of course, will be to say that with fewer people working and more people drawing benefits, it would bankrupt Social Security and destroy the economy. But history shows the exact reverse.
    Instead, it would eliminate the problem of unemployment in the United States. All those Boomers retiring would make room in the labor market for all the recent high-school and college graduates who are now finding it so hard to find a job.
    If enough Boomers left the job market, it would even flip the current dynamic of too-many-people-chasing-too-few-jobs upside down, and create a tight labor markets. Tight labor markets drive up wages.
    And as wages go up, tax revenues – which are paying for Social Security (among other things) – would increase.
    Additionally, these new-into-the-workforce people can then pay off student loans, buy new houses and cars, and otherwise drive the economy from the bottom up. Which will further increase tax revenues further strengthening the Social Security system.
    To further tighten the job market and drive up wages (and tax revenues), modify the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 – which tightened the labor market and reduced unemployment by establishing the 40-hour work week – to include all hours worked by a person. We could also, like in France, drop the 40-hour maximum-workweek threshold to 35 hours (used by the Mitterrand government to successfully lower unemployment and stimulate the French economy).
    [Mitterand died in January, 1996 and the 35-hour workweek was passed in 1997, so it was actually the Jospin government (full name: Lionel Jospin) that used the 35-hour threshold to successful lower unemployment and stimulate the French economy. Unemployment was 12.6% in 1997 when Jospin was voted in and 8.6% in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France = one percent cut in unemployment for every hour cut from the previous 39-hour workweek = same results as the USA got 1938-40 when we cut from 44 to 40 hours and went from 19.0% to 14.6% unemployment.]
    A final step would be to emulate the rest of the developed world and require by law that every worker get at least two to four weeks a year of paid vacation – further tightening the labor market.

    In Uganda, Joseph Okwakoi gets it. He’s the president of the National Youth Council in that nation, a group that has considerable political power (and an affiliated Member of Parliament, the Central Youth Party’s Joseph Kasozi).
    Earlier this month, Okwakoi called on Parliament and President Museveni to lower the age of retirement for government workers (the country’s largest employer) from the current 60 years of age to 55. This single act would instantly create about 15,000 job openings in the country, which could be filled by currently unemployed young people.
    President Museveni replied that he’d consider it seriously, pointing out that, “The retirement age was actually 55 when we came but because of manpower shortage we put it at 60.” Now that the manpower shortage has eased, wages are falling, and unemployment is rising, he noted, “We shall study it.”
    What Joseph Okwakoi understands is that there is a marketplace for labor. When the supply of labor exceeds demand, the price of labor (“wages”) falls. On the other hand, when the demand for labor is at or greater than the supply of labor, the price of labor – wages – increases.
    This is the main reason why the labor movements of the 18th and 19th centuries fought so hard against child labor; they knew that if children were removed from the labor marketplace, then the supply of labor (the number of people available to work) would decrease and the price of labor (wages) would increase. And, sure enough, that’s exactly what happened – and it began the creation of a blue-collar middle class.
    It’s also why the labor movement pushed for an 8-hour day and a 40-hour maximum workweek. By reducing the amount of labor available from each worker from the average 60 hours a week or so people were working before 1938, the labor market tightened up, increasing the number of people who could be employed and raising wages.
    Of course, this is the exact opposite of American labor policy ever since the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush era. Reagan drove down wages by busting unions (which tighten a labor marketplace); declared an amnesty for millions of then-illegal immigrant workers to increase the supply of labor and depress wages (particularly whacking the carpenters and other construction trades unions); and began the process (completed in a big way by Bill Clinton with NAFTA and GATT/WTO) of dismantling tariffs, taxes, and laws that made it expensive or illegal to export American jobs.
    Reagan also put into the chairmanship of the Fed Alan Greenspan, who openly declared that his most important job as chairman of the Fed was to prevent “wage inflation” – a term which he exclusively applied to working-class people. Greenspan is still preaching that now-discredited and anti-American philosophy he learned from Ayn Rand, in fact.
    Having already largely wiped out the ability of a blue-collar single-wage-earner family to have a middle class lifestyle over the past 30 years, Greenspan now wants to go after white-collar workers by eliminating limits on H1B visas for skilled workers ranging from computer programmers to physicians to scientists. The investor class would always be protected, in the Greenspan world, but the working class – regardless of skill level – should always be the working poor.
    In September of 2007, in an interview on C-SPAN for Book TV, Greenspan said:
    “We pay the highest skilled labor wages in the world. If we would open up our borders to skilled labor far more than we do, we would attract a very substantial quantity of skilled labor which would suppress the wage levels of the skilled, because the skilled are essentially being subsidized by the government, meaning our competition is being kept outside the country.”
    It’s shocking that ideologues like Greenspan, Reagan, and Clinton believe this, but they do. And the only way to reverse the past 29 years of Reaganomics/Clintonomics is to tighten up the labor market again. While a great start would be to pull out of our insane trade treaties and begin again protecting American manufacturers, that will take a decade for the impact to be truly felt even if we were to go back to our 1980 tariff levels today.
    But providing space for a good chunk of the 16 percent of the American workforce over 55 years old will immediately take us to nearly zero unemployment and dramatically stimulate the economy. Then we can begin to bring our manufacturing jobs back home from China and the other important steps (Medicare For All and Card-Check for unionization) to restore the strength and integrity our nation and national economy once had.
    Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program The Thom Hartmann Show. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People: A Call To Take Back America," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle Class and What We Can Do About It," and "Cracking The Code: The Art and Science of Political Persuasion." His newest book is "Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture."

  2. 'Billable hour' under attack - In recession, companies push law firms for flat-fee contracts, By NATHAN KOPPEL and ASHBY JONES, 8/24 WSJ, A1.
    With the recession crimping legal budgets, some big companies are fighting back against law firms' longstanding practice of billing them by the hour.
    The companies are ditching the hourly structure -- which critics complain offers law firms an incentive to rack up bigger bills -- in favor of flat-fee contracts. One survey found an increase of more than 50% this year in corporate spending on alternatives to the traditional hourly-fee model.
    The shift could further squeeze earnings at top law firms. The past 18 months have been brutal for some big law firms as work that hinges on vibrant credit markets, such as deal making, has flat-lined.
    Pfizer Inc., which spends more than $500 million a year on legal matters, says it expects to reduce its domestic law-firm spending by 15% to 20%, largely through flat-fee arrangements. It will pay 16 law firms lump sums to handle various portfolios of work, such as litigation and tax matters. "I have told firms you cannot make your historical profit margins" on Pfizer work, said the pharmaceutical giant's general counsel, Amy Schulman.
    Cisco Systems Inc. has notified its stable of outside law firms that it is vital for the company to move away from the hourly billing structure. Cisco now uses fixed fees or other alternatives to the billable hour for about 80% of its legal work, said its general counsel, Mark Chandler.
    American Express Co. also has stepped up its use of alternative billing arrangements, and "I haven't had one firm in 2009 tell us, no, that they flatly wouldn't entertain something that moves away from the traditional straight hourly model," said the company's chief litigation counsel, Stuart Alderoty. "The paradigm has changed."
    Money spent on alternative billing arrangements has totaled $13.1 billion this year, versus $8.6 billion in the like period of 2008, according to BTI Consulting Group Inc., which surveyed 370 lawyers who work at Fortune 1000 companies. The Wellesley, Mass., firm said that the lawyers reported average cost savings of 15% from using alternative arrangements. It said 63% of the surveyed lawyers planned to increase their use of alternative billing arrangements.
    Companies have long complained that legal fees are inflated by a business model in which law firms have high-priced junior lawyers who must be kept busy billing for work that could be handled more efficiently. With the recession, companies have the leverage to force changes, say some lawyers at both client companies and law firms. "Law firms are more receptive to change because they are in the business of needing legal work," said Daniel Fitz, chairman of the Association of Corporate Counsel.
    Partner profits were down an average of 4% last year at the highest-grossing firms, according to American Lawyer magazine. Their hourly rates have risen to a range of $300 to $1,000. But with the slump, firms have had to dismiss associates, reduce salaries and cut back on hiring of new graduates. "Just like the tech and housing bubbles, there was a legal-profession bubble, and now we are experiencing a correction," says David Antzis, managing partner of Philadelphia-based Saul Ewing LLP, which is doing more fixed-fee work.
    Pfizer could have demanded a discount from firms' hourly rates, Ms. Schulman said, but she hopes for a shift to a system that encourages firms to work more collaboratively with Pfizer and with other law firms that service Pfizer. The flat-fee program "should be something fundamentally different that will last beyond whatever people think they have to tolerate because of the economy," she said.
    Some legal departments have for years experimented with flat fees for certain types of repetitive, predictable work like patent applications. Attorneys say it is doubtful flat fees could ever supplant hourly billing for the most complicated and high-stakes matters, such as an antitrust fight with the government or a particularly tricky corporate merger, where it's too hard to estimate how much effort it will consume.
    In addition, "a client can't expect to have the absolute best team of [trial] lawyers from a firm, and have the lawyers give up all the other work they could be doing on a regular-fee basis, to work 18 hours a day for months of time on a flat-fee engagement," said Barry Ostrager, a Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP partner who handles civil trials.
    Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, a San Francisco-based firm, has tripled the revenue it generates from alternative billing arrangements in the past year, but maintained profitability through efficiencies, said David Fries, chief client-service officer. Software sends an email to lawyers when they hit certain levels of a fixed-fee budget, as a reminder to work efficiently. Financial analysts file biweekly reports analyzing how lawyers' time is being spent. "You find that someone may have spent 200 hours on something" that isn't crucial, Mr. Fries said.
    Orrick has also altered the mix of lawyers it employs, focusing less exclusively on hiring graduates from elite law schools, who can command starting pay of $160,000. It is employing some college graduates who can perform routine tasks at a lower cost.
    Saul Ewing in Philadelphia recently investigated a client's potential corporate acquisition under a six-week flat-fee engagement. The matter was handled about 10% more cheaply for the client than it would have been under a billable-hour deal, said Mr. Antzis, the managing partner. He said "it was still fair to the firm" because "we were incentivized to get done in 10 hours what another lawyer at another firm may have spent 12 hours doing."
    [There is a fundamental economic two-party system, a rivalry between wage workers and piece workers. Wage workers are the quality control and piece workers are the quantity control. Either can be carried too far. Runaway piecework gives employers a blank check on employees' lives when the 'piece' becomes the whole job description. This can so easily be abused as an invitation to time unaccountability and overwork, and economy-slowing labor surplus.]
    At Sidley Austin LLP, Sara Gourley, a partner, said changes made by Pfizer have given her more freedom to put the best mix of lawyers on a legal matter. Pfizer used to have a rule that no lawyer with an hourly rate higher than a second-year attorney's could bill the drug company for legal research. Now that costs are fixed, Ms. Gourley says, she has been able to assign a senior associate to perform Pfizer legal research who could get the answers much more quickly than a junior lawyer might.
    Write to Nathan Koppel at nathan.koppel@wsj.com and Ashby Jones at ashby.jones@wsj.com

  3. R.I. governor to unveil $68m in must-do budget cuts, by Ray Henry, AP via 8/23 BSG, B3.
    PROVIDENCE - State workers in Rhode Island could soon learn whether they will have to stay home without pay as a cash-starved government struggles to balance its budget.
    Governor Don Carcieri, a Republican, plans to decide early this week on a cost-cutting plan meant to trim about $68 million in personnel and operating expenses, a spokeswoman, Amy Kempe, said. One of the options under consideration includes shutting down nonessential government offices to save money.
    Carcieri has not publicly revealed other cost-cutting proposals his office is considering. State officials were working last week to identify which government agencies could close and which must remain open to respond to emergencies.
    Lawmakers in the Democrat-dominated General Assembly mandated the cost-trimming in a $7.8 billion budget they approved in June. Their plan did not explain how the bulk of the $68 million in savings would be met. Carcieri criticized the plan, but signed the budget.
    At the time, leading Democratic lawmakers said Carcieri could get the necessary savings by not hiring state workers and reducing spending on private contractors.
    Carcieri has met with state employee unions over the past several weeks to discuss cost-cutting strategies. They have not reached any agreements, but more talks are expected.
    J. Michael Downey, president of Council 94, which represents about 4,000 state workers, said the union would fight any attempt to shut down state offices.
    [Only half the union movement has ever had a clue about where their power issue lies (eg: cutting working hours to counter with a shortage of labor as worksaving technology creates a surplus of labor).]

  4. The Pink Recovery: Why Women Are Doing Better, by Christopher Caldwell, 8/24 Time magazine via whyboysfail.com.
    A week ago, President Obama touted a newly published report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) that showed the country had lost 247,000 jobs in July. It seemed an odd thing to boast about, but you have to consider the context. The economy was losing jobs at three times that clip when Obama took office in January. So it is possible that we are emerging from the most frightening economic downturn since the Depression. We won’t be the same country when we do.
    One thing that seems bound to change is the relationship between the sexes. Since the recession began in December 2007, the vast majority of the lost jobs have belonged to men. About half are in the heavily male domains of construction and manufacturing. At one point last winter, there were four men being laid off for every woman. The male unemployment rate is 9.8%, the female rate 7.5%. What constitutes “women’s work” today? Well, health care, for one; 81% of the workers are female. According to the report Obama cited, 20,000 health-care jobs were gained in July, while 76,000 construction jobs and 52,000 manufacturing positions were lost.
    A job is a claim on a certain amount of society’s resources and esteem. As men lose that claim, they lose the instruments by which they have traditionally controlled society. A lot of people see that as fitting punishment. There weren’t any women among the high-profile malefactors in last fall’s financial meltdown. Maleness has become a synonym for insufficient attentiveness to risk. Journalists have lately been having a field day with a study by two Cambridge University professors, J.M. Coates and J. Herbert, who sampled the testosterone levels of London traders and found they positively correlated with high-profit trading days. Of course, nobody harped on this research back when housing prices were doubling and people were using their home-equity credit lines to buy third cars. But to paraphrase Richard Nixon’s comment about Keynesians, we are all feminists now.
    In Foreign Policy this summer, journalist Reihan Salam predicted that the “macho men’s club called finance capitalism” would not survive the present economic ordeal. Provocatively–but correctly–he claimed that this male order rests on foundations considerably older than Ronald Reagan’s supply-side revolution. The economic system that FDR shored up was a male one. The New Deal focused on infrastructure at a time when there were not a lot of lady dam builders around. (Salam might also have mentioned the GI Bill, the most effective instrument ever devised for giving a leg up to males in universities and workplaces.) Salam sees Obama’s $787 billion stimulus package as a break with the New Deal. It spends relatively little on infrastructure and relatively much on female-friendly sectors like health care and education. Not to mention aid to state and local governments, where 3 in 5 employees are women.
    Although clichés about the “vulnerability” of women in the economy have been disproved by hard BLS data, we want to believe them. When women lose jobs, the victims are women. When men lose jobs, the victims are, um, women, because they have to make up for that lost male income. The scale of male job losses was evident even when the stimulus bill was passed. That did not stop incoming Congressman Jared Polis, a Colorado Democrat, from warning Obama that “gender imbalance in occupations related to physical infrastructure development means that the direct job creation will benefit mostly men.”
    Men still make up 53% of the workforce, and the percentage of society’s work they do is considerably higher, owing to women’s shorter hours and more frequent sabbaticals for child-rearing. In prosperous times, women may yearn for more time at home. But economic realities have a way of washing away these yearnings. One such reality is the recession. Another is that women receive 58% of the bachelor’s degrees in this country, along with half the professional degrees.
    Should we expect men to cede some control over an economy they have so thoroughly messed up? No. We have no examples of that ever having happened. What we have plenty of examples of–you can see variants of it all over the developing world–is economies in which women do all the arduous work while men sit around smoking and pontificating in coffeehouses and barbershops. For decades, policymakers have been attentive to the flaws of a patriarchal, middle-class, single-earner, nuclear-family-oriented model of family economics–and their attention remains fixed on it. Whether or not that model dominated American society as much as its critics claimed, we are now leaving it behind. Maybe there is a humane model that can replace it. We have not found one yet.
    Caldwell is a senior editor at the Weekly Standard.
    ...One Response to “The Pink Recovery"… Interesting, but misses the point
    1. Anonymous Says:
    August 24th, 2009 at 7:36 am
    The article mentioned the GI Bill. The “new” GI Bill is about to go into effect. It won’t have the impact of the “old” GI Bill because there are far fewer veterans to take advantage of it. Something like 10% of the population was in the military during World War 2. Now it is something like 1%. The “old” GI Bill certainly made it possible for lots of men to go to college and get a further leg up. The “new” GI Bill, within its smaller base of recipients could be expected to have much the same effect, since most of the beneficiaries would be expected to be men, but this time they put in the law that it can be used for the dependents of the veterans, rather than just the veterans themselves. You can bet that, since more girls are graduating from high school, those dependents who will benefit will more likely be girls.
    ...

  5. Recession breeds vacation angst, by DARRELL SMITH, McClatchy Newspapers via 8/24 San Luis Obispo Tribune via sanluisobispo.com.
    It's a rare summer when Phyllis Davenport misses the annual reunion in her family's east Texas hometown. But this July, the single mom and her teenage daughter stayed home.
    As a 25-year veteran of California's Department of Motor Vehicles, it wasn't a matter of having enough vacation time stockpiled.
    The real barrier: anxiety about money, especially after a third furlough day that has squeezed Davenport's budget ever tighter and slammed the brakes on her Texas travel plans.
    "With the furloughs, I can't afford to take vacation," Davenport said.
    "I felt it was more prudent for me to save my money instead of using a credit card to have a vacation I couldn't afford."
    For employees navigating an uncertain economy, taking summer vacation time is no day at the beach. With furloughs, pay cuts and the specter of layoffs hovering overhead, vacation angst can be both financial and emotional.
    Some worry whether they can afford to take a vacation or fear there won't be a job waiting when they get back. Others wonder whether it's wise to be absent from the office too long.
    Others feel guilty about taking a vacation when so many colleagues have lost their jobs.
    But the stresses of today's workplace are exactly why workers should take a break, said Eric Winegardner, a vice president at employment Web site Monster.com who specializes in workplace issues.
    "Now is the time you should be taking time off. You need a break," said Winegardner, speaking at a recent Sacramento job fair.
    As it is, it's hard to persuade U.S. workers to take time off.
    With an average of 14 days a year, Americans earn far fewer vacation days than their counterparts in countries such as France, Italy and Canada.
    But even so, nearly one-third of working adults in the United States typically do not use up all of their earned vacation, according to travel Web site Expedia.com's annual Vacation Deprivation Survey, which tracks global vacation habits.
    Here in the West, the trend is even higher 40 percent of employed workers usually do not take all of the vacation they've earned.
    Some, like community relations adminstrator Traci Goularte, and her husband, Tony, a bank manager, are taking shorter stints off work by bookending their vacation days around a weekend, such as a recent four-day jaunt to Disneyland with their 2-year-old son.
    The couple say they don't plan to take another break until the winter holidays. Traci Goularte said she's extremely mindful of how an extended vacation would affect her co-workers.
    "You want to make sure you're taking time away, but not too much time because you want to be up to date with your work when you return," she said.
    Some employees - 38 percent of women and 28 percent of men - say they feel guilty about taking vacation, according to the Expedia.com study.
    They shouldn't, said David Kaplan, chief professional officer at the Virginia-based American Counseling Association.
    Getting away from the office, he said, could actually help preserve your job.
    "If we don't take vacation time, we get burned out," Kaplan said. "The classic sign of burnout is a lack of interest. You're more likely to get fired for (that) than asking for vacation."
    If you're concerned about being absent, discuss those concerns with your employer. Most companies want their employees to take a break, for reasons of both morale and money, experts say.
    "From an employer's perspective, there's a financial impact to this," Winegardner said, referring to the accumulated vacation hours that can sit on employers' books as a liability.
    Indeed, large vacation balances "can become a financial liability" for a company, whether it's shelling out weeks of vacation pay or cashing out an employee's vacation hours if they leave the company, said Debra Squyres a director at San Leandro, Calif.-based TriNet, which provides human resources services to small businesses.
    "The goal is to design paid leave so only so many hours carry over from year to year," Squyres said. "It accomplishes the company's financial goals, and if (employees) are not taking adequate time off, their productivity will decline."
    At Surewest Communications, accrued days off are capped to keep companywide vacation hours at manageable levels while encouraging employees to take a break.
    "It's a very strong incentive to take vacation time. You don't want to stop accruing, so it keeps people motivated to take time off," said Karlyn Oberg, Surewest's vice president of administration.
    Surewest employees are discouraged from cashing out unused vacation time. But, in the current economy, more employees have asked about the option, Oberg said.
    Officials at United Parcel Service are also adamant about their vacation stance.
    "We insist that people take their vacation. It's earned and we expect it. Taking time away from work is important," said Neal McLens, human resources manager for UPS' East Bay Region.
    McLens even tied vacation to the economic recovery, saying refreshed workers will be ready to pounce when the recession lifts.
    "This economy will (recover)," McLens said, "and we want our employees ready for that turnaround."

  6. FACTBOX - Brazil mulls reducing work week to 40 hours, 8/24 Reuters.com.
    [See also Bloomberg's version of this story, tomorrow #3, above.]
    Brazil's lower house of Congress, the Chamber of Deputies, will debate on Tuesday a proposal to reduce the legal work week by four hours to 40 hours.
    [It would be nice to be able to welcome the great nation of Brazil into the 20th century.]
    Industry leaders have criticized the proposal, which is backed by labor unions, saying it will increase the cost of doing business in Brazil.
    Here are the main facts about the proposal:
    * The constitutional reform proposal would slash the amount of hours employees are expected to work to 40 hours a week from 44 hours, without reducing pay. It would apply to the public and private sectors.
    * It would increase overtime pay to 75 percent of a regular hourly wage from the current 50 percent.
    [Error: This approach to disincentivizing overtime still incentivates employees, and disincentivates employers less and less as "full time" benefits are added to employee compensation packages.
    We recommend a confiscatory tax on corporate overtime profits (the money companies save by overworking existing employees instead of hiring additional employees) to re-level the playing field between employed and unemployed, and then a complete tax exemption when OT profits are reinvested in hiring (and OJT where needed). This is Phase Two of the Timesizing Program.]
    * Business leaders want to delay the debate, arguing the proposal would increase labor costs and harm Brazil's international competitiveness at a time when Chinese goods and services are winning market share from Brazilian firms.
    [One word: TARIFFS - No advanced economy today got where it is with free trade and without protectionism, regardless of the rhetoric.]
    * Some industries, like steel, may be forced to implement an additional work shift in factories to make up for the shorter work week, experts say.
    [That's the whole purpose - to move closer to full employment and a fully activated domestic consumer base.]
    * Brazilian Labor Minister Carlos Lupi and leading labor unions back the proposal, which some supporters say could generate as many as 3 million new jobs.
    * The reform proposal has been stalled for 15 years due mainly to opposition from influential business lobbies.
    [Too often short-sighted and self-strangling in terms of downsizing instead of timesizing. And in case you still haven't connected the dots, downsizing your workforce downsizes your consumer base and is the opposite of growth, which would be UPSIZING. Downsizing the workweek, by contrast, gives more employees more money, more rest, more focus, more free time to shop...]
    * Following Tuesday's public hearing, the head of the Chamber, Michel Temer, is likely to announce when the bill will be put to a vote.
    * The proposal, which was passed by an ad hoc committee in June, must be approved twice by a plenary session of the Chamber with a three-fifths majority before it goes to the Senate.
    * The government has an ample majority in the Chamber but only a narrow majority in the Senate.
    (Reporting by Raymond Colitt; editing by Paul Simao)


8/22/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Embracing Change - The new office reality - Many changes in the workplace may be here to stay, by Julekha Dash, (8/21, modified 8/24) Baltimore Business Journal via Bizjournals.com.
    Bob Lucido once had his own office with plenty of room for a conference table.
    Now, the Fulton real estate agent shares with his marketing assistant a cubicle a third the size.
    As Lucido watched new home builders scale back their inventories, he pulled the plug last year on the new home sales and marketing company he started in his kitchen in 1991 and went to work for RE/Max in Howard County.
    “Closing my business was the most difficult thing I had to do,” Lucido said. “It [was] embarrassing and humbling.”
    To get back into direct sales, he made door-to-door pitches in Turf Valley to demonstrate to his RE/Max sales team that no one is “too good” to get back to the basics and start over again. Not even someone who once trained salespeople for home builders in 14 states and signed the paychecks of 300 employees.
    Still, Lucido considers himself lucky. He shut his business before it bled too much cash and racked up massive debt.
    “Things were at their peak, and life couldn’t get better,” Lucido said. “And then the world changed.”
    Specifically, the business world. The crash linked to what some gloom-and-doomers have called the Great Recession has left business executives and owners feeling vulnerable and insecure. Afraid of running out of cash, leaders of companies small to large lashed out at their costs.
    If they didn’t lay off employees — and help push Maryland’s unemployment rate above 7 percent — they cut or froze their salaries. If they didn’t pull the plug on matching 401(k) funds, they eliminated or contributed less to employees’ health care benefits. And if they didn’t cancel the lavish summer picnic with all-you-can-eat crabs, they held it in their backyards and served hot dogs and burgers.
    These are lean times at businesses throughout Greater Baltimore and the rest of the country. More than 40 percent of business leaders say they will employ fewer staff in three to five years compared with the number they employed prior to the recession, according to a Watson Wyatt Worldwide survey released this month.
    All this change — and the threat of more to come if the economy does not rebound soon — has created an awkward vibe in office buildings from Howard to Harford and all spots in between. Employee morale has suffered. Managers are stressed to meet their bosses’ bottom-line demands. Some employees are afraid to voice their concerns or weigh in with feedback for fear of retribution.
    Meanwhile, just about everyone is working more hours these days, as layoffs and new responsibilities lead to an increased workload. Perhaps now more than ever employees are living for the weekends — unless they have to work Saturday and Sunday, too.
    But there is something to be gained from these changes, said Greater Baltimore business leaders interviewed for this story. Staff productivity is up, as employees are working feverishly to avoid being another casualty of the recession.
    As a result, some employers are relishing an uptick in new business. If this is more than a temporary blip, if this is sustainable growth, perhaps some of the perks and benefits shed to cut costs will return. But don’t count on it. Some things just won’t ever be the same in the office.
    “It’s a new, more frugal marketplace,” said Mark Thistel, owner of private transportation company Freedom Services Inc. “That was an unsustainable economy, based on a lot of shenanigans that were temporary. It’s a better business climate today, even though it’s difficult for me.”
    Sharing the pain
    About one-third of U.S. companies reacted to the recession by cutting staff, according to Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Another two-thirds have frozen hiring and salaries in the past year. One in 10 employers shortened their workweek to cut costs.
    [Here's a testimonial to how confused people are about time these days - didn't this reporter just say above that "just about everyone is working more hours these days, as layoffs and new responsibilities lead to an increased workload"?]
    Columbia architectural firm Arium AE froze salaries and stopped contributing to employees’ pension plans. The moves saved $200,000 since last fall, said Tim Sosinski, Arium’s CEO. The company also has laid off six employees in the past year — or about a quarter of its work force — after losing work.
    But shedding staff and crimping pay and benefits are not the only ways employers have cut costs. Some are delaying planned expansion, lopping off underperforming pieces of business or renegotiating everything from office lease deals to supplier contracts.
    For Beverley Francis, president of the Columbia Foundation in Howard County, saving money meant backing out of a plan to move her organization into a larger office space.
    Prior to the recession, the nonprofit was set to move into space twice as large as its current 980-square-foot digs. But after shopping around for commercial space, she realized that paying twice as much, or about $4,000 per month, was not worth it. After all, the foundation’s assets dropped from $15 million in 2007 to $12 million in 2008.
    “We are in the business to make grants to nonprofits that are relying on us to support their existence,” Francis said. “While it would have been nice to move into a bigger facility, it is not a priority.”
    So Francis and her staff are enduring the inconveniences of cramped space. In a storage closet that doubles as the Columbia Foundation’s breakroom, Francis has packed stacks of paper, a small refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and peanut jars.
    She would love to have an office for her six part-time employees. But for now, she is OK with making her accountant work in the conference room and kicking her out when she needs the space for meetings.
    Freedom Services’ Thistel held the line on costs by holding his company picnic in his backyard. He served hot dogs this year rather than hosting a catered party and spent $1,200 — less than one-third of what he spent last year.
    After freezing salaries for his employees this year, Thistel did not want his employees to think he cares more about a party than their paychecks. He froze salaries after business dropped 15 percent during the first quarter. That is a major change for employees who were used to getting pay raises when company revenue grew 10 percent to 20 percent every year for the past 14.
    “Everyone is used to every year getting paid more,” Thistel said.
    The new employee
    No group has been affected more by the recession than the employees of companies of all shapes, sizes and industries. In Maryland, more than 66,000 of them have been laid off since December 2007, when the recession started.
    For the more than 2.5 million remaining in the state’s work force, the rules of engagement have changed. Many of them — regardless of tenure or job title — are looking over their shoulders, wondering if they are going to be the next to be handed a pink slip. Others are so focused on preserving their employment, they rarely say a word unless it’s at the urging of a manager.
    Layoffs at Arium AE affected its employees’ morale and put some on edge.
    “It was a very scary winter and spring,” said Robin Sanders, an architect at the firm who fights to restrain the tears as she talks about the layoffs.
    She has witnessed other downturns during her 21 years at the company. But this time, many senior employees were let go, forcing her to ditch the conventional wisdom that the last one hired is the first one fired.
    Besides, she is older now, in her “mid-40s,” with a bigger mortgage and bills to pay. Her clients and friends at other architectural firms are in the same boat. If she were to lose her job, there would be few places she could go.
    Even now the 22-person firm is holding onto more employees than it needs to complete its projects, Arium’s Sosinski said. And Sanders knows this.
    “These are tough times and you’re faced with choices,” Sosinski said. “I want to keep this team together.”
    Employees at Arium have fewer client projects than a year ago. The architects also are designing more office interiors than new hotels and office buildings like Canton Crossing as new construction has come to a halt amid a tanked commercial real estate industry.
    Facing the threat of losing their jobs, employees are not speaking up as readily as they used to, said John McDermott, who was laid off last year from the Web design firm E.magination Network LLC.
    “Now is not the time to put yourself out there,” he said. McDermott is now a self-employed technology consultant who sees the fear among many employees in his industry.
    Employees do what they are told to do and “as they are told to do it,” he said. A director at a finance company, at a company McDermott declined to name, said he didn’t like the company’s strategic direction but refused to share it with his managers for fear of losing his job like others have in the industry.
    Measuring results
    Skittish employees can be motivated employees. And it’s that motivation that business managers and owners are tapping into in hopes of generating more revenue as the economy churns through typically slower summer months.
    Regardless of how managers are going about it, it’s all about the bottom line.
    Some employers in the region are asking all employees on staff to look for new business opportunities — not just the folks whose job titles include sales and marketing.
    Joe Geier, president of financial planning firm Geier Financial Group in Marriottsville, this month announced a plan to offer bonuses to any employee who can generate new business leads. Despite working primarily with high-paid professional athletes, the company’s assets under management are down 20 percent this year.
    Employees like the idea as a way to bring in more business, but adding new job responsibilities can be difficult for some to handle, said Julie Keller, Geier’s executive assistant.
    “It’s a hard thing to do because not everyone is comfortable going out and selling,” Keller said. “People want to keep their jobs, so everyone is going to pitch in what they can.”
    Getting new clients and keeping existing ones remains the top priority for many companies. But in a recession, that means bosses and managers are asking their staff members to do whatever it takes to get a job done.
    Michael Spinosa, managing partner of Columbia’s Unleashed Technologies LLC, started guaranteeing clients that if the company doesn’t finish their medical software systems on time, it will cut its price by 3 percent.
    The result is that employees watch the deadline more closely and will work on weekends if they fall behind.
    “It’s really cool because nobody wants to let anyone down,” said Spinosa, whose two-year-old company employs five and pulls in $1 million in sales.
    Meanwhile, some managers are creating new processes that they hope will produce more results from their employees.
    Engineers at Alliance Engineering Inc. are now required to document each sales call as well as any follow-up sales calls they make to prospective clients, President Jim Burnette said. He also holds Friday morning meetings during which employees talk about potential leads for the 80-person company, which has offices in Baltimore and Richmond, Va.
    “We’re trying to make sure nothing falls through the cracks,” Burnette said.
    Wave of the future
    Cost cutting. New revenue treasure hunting. Increased pressure on the bottom line.
    All of this has an upside, too, some managers say. Productivity is up.
    Fewer jobs go unfinished around here, managers said. The majority of people work more than 50 hours a week these days, according to NFI Research.
    “Nobody is saying, ‘Oh that’s not part of my job description,’ ” said Arium’s Sosinski. “It’s a great spirit actually.”
    Jim Robinson, president of Sykesville advertising agency Punch, recalled a situation in which the firm’s senior art director, Chris Sheesley, spent a recent weekend devising a direct mail ad campaign for client Celebrity Cruises because he knew the week ahead was going to be hectic. Some of Robinson’s employees even e-mail ideas for new campaigns at 11 p.m.
    And while the economy recently has shown small signs of improvement, and forecasts call for some cost-cutting measures to be reversed, Greater Baltimore’s business leaders and employees do not expect oscillations in the economy to undo many of the changes their offices have made as a result of the recession.
    Many corporate executives and business owners are growing accustomed to their revamped surroundings and enjoying the advantages of their cost-cutting ways.
    “The public has learned a very hard lesson,” Alliance Engineering’s Burnette said. “You can’t live beyond your means.”

  2. Vietnam successfully maintains its investment appeal, by Wittaya Supatanakul, BangkokPost.com.
    For the past decade, Vietnam has been one of the most attractive countries for investment, with its fast-growing economy, large and inexpensive workforce, abundant resources and raw materials, as well as privileges for investors. Despite drawbacks such as lack of infrastructure, the determined government has managed to lure large investors with generous tax benefits and other incentives.
    However, in light of a domestic economic crisis in 2007 and the current global slowdown, many wonder whether Vietnam can still work its magic.
    The Pho crisis: The mid-2007 shock, named after the national cuisine, was caused by various factors such as high inflation and the trade deficit, a weak currency and exchange-rate speculation, and rising savings interest rates. Its stock market index fell by 68%, from 1,170 to 370 points, while property prices plummeted by 30-50%.
    However, with centralised authority under the one-party system and sound decisions by policymakers, Vietnam bounced back impressively. The exchange rate stabilised and interest rates came down to a reasonable 7% for savings and 10.5% for loans from 18-21% earlier.
    Increased import taxes on luxury products, such as cars (from 60% to 83%), cut inflation from 23% to 10.27% in just one year. Although slow, property and stocks have been recovering, with the index rising from 370 points in March 2007 to 458 in July this year.
    The Hamburger crisis: Not long after suffering its home-brewed crisis, Vietnam was hit hard by the global economic downturn that originated in the United States. The "Hamburger crisis", however, seems to have caused less damage in Vietnam, even though it derives 70% of its GDP (similar to Thailand) from exports. While the Thai economy contracted by 7.1% in the first quarter, Vietnam's grew by 3.9% and the government targets 5% for the year.
    The Hanoi government is working to alleviate the impact of the crisis. While countries such as Thailand and Taiwan are handing out cash and coupons to consumers to spur spending, Vietnam instead exempted personal income tax for the first six months of 2009, which cost it US$382.7 million.
    For the business sector, the government offered industrial SMEs a subsidy of 4% on loan interest to buy raw materials and for working capital for 2009, and subsidised loans to build assets will be extended until 2011. It cut corporate income taxes for SMEs to 30%.
    Also helping business has been the managed float of the dong. Each day the central bank sets a rate that commercial banks can adjust up or down by 5%. The bank has lowered the rate by 1-5 dong a day, allowing it to direct the rate to some degree. As result, the dong has weakened 6% against the dollar this year, compared with a 2% gain for the baht.
    Investment benefits in Vietnam: The Vietnamese market is a large one, with 86 million people in the country and 3.2 overseas Vietnamese who last year sent US$8 billion back to their relatives at home. Its large workforce of 46.5 million is another significant draw. Hard working and fast learning, Vietnamese workers are considered quality human resources at relatively low wages. Depending on the location, the minimum wages can be $53, $60, or $67 for a 48-hour work week, plus 17% of wages paid to the government for social welfare.
    Most importantly, it also offers outstanding tax benefits for foreign entrepreneurs. Public and private companies all pay profit tax of 25%, but the businesses with promotional privileges may pay only 10-20% for up to 15 years. In addition, the entrepreneurs may receive full tax exemption for two to four years, starting from the first year of profit, and another 50% exemption for the next four to nine years.
    Investments in undeveloped areas may be exempted from land-lease fees for 11 years, while large projects and certain encouraged businesses, including high-tech, health care and education, may directly request special privileges on case by case basis. Some foreign companies, such as Taiwan's Formosa Group and the chipmaker Intel, are receiving a tax exemption of 10 years and a low tax rate of 10% for 50 years.
    Vietnam seems to have many drawbacks when compared to Thailand. Its lack of infrastructure and supporting domestic industries can increase costs, while laws are often unclear and unreliable due to frequent changes. Businesses also have trouble finding skilled middle and top managers, and face high land and office lease expenses.
    However, even with these disadvantages, Vietnam and its incentives have proven irresistible and have secured some large foreign investments. Formosa, for example, is investing in a US$7.9-billion steel smelting plant in the northern province of Ha Tinh, and plans a petrochemical factory that will be worth US$12.4 billion and create 9,000 jobs.
    Prospective investors: In general, investors with large projects or businesses encouraged by the government should seriously consider Vietnam. As Thailand is largely discouraging foreign investment in its property sector and China has stopped attracting more SMEs, investors from these two sectors may also find Vietnam a more welcoming place.
    Some businesses in labour-intensive industries, such as textiles and apparel, have already moved their production bases from Thailand to Vietnam to enjoy lower costs, while various Thai products, ranging from Red Bull energy drinks to Tiffy flu medicine, have successfully penetrated the Vietnamese market and seem to have a future there as well.
    Vietnamese consumers perceive Thai products as having good quality at affordable prices, so Thai producers should not have trouble finding distributors, although they do need a systematic and continuous marketing plan. For more details, investors should consult the Board of Investment or the Thai Business Association of Vietnam at http://www.tbavietnam.org.
    Wittaya Supatanakul is a retired general manager of the Vietnam office of Bangkok Bank Plc, where he spent more than 10 years. He and is currently an adviser to the BoI's CLMV (Cambodia/Laos/Myanmar/Vietnam) projects and an eminent speaker at investment forums regarding Vietnam.


8/21/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. (Can't Stop) Endlessly Spouting Chapman II, by Tom "Sandwichman" Walker of Vancouver, EconoSpeak.blogspot.com.
    In 2001, the Government of Queensland [Australia] further summarized Sandwichman's summary of Chapman's theory [see Sydney Chapman in bibliography] in its submission to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission's Reasonable Hours Test Case. At 400 words, it's the shortest comprehensive summary of Chapman's theory I know of.
    5.2.1 Theoretical review
    The study of the relationship between work intensity and fatigue owes much to S.J Chapman's theory of the hours of labour, where in 1909 Chapman demonstrated market failure in the determination of working time. This argument initially involves the establishment of a concept of 'optimal hours'. The main points of this argument can be summarised as follows:
    * a mass of evidence indicating that reductions in hours of work had not led to proportionate declines in output;
    * in modern industry fatigue was increasingly less physical in nature and more a combination of psychological and physiological as a result of specialization and increased need for mental concentration;
    * the reduction of hours allowed better-rested workers to produce as much or more in the shorter hours;
    * the total value of the output would initially rise as the working day increased but eventually the total output as well as the output per hour would decline as the working day became so long that it prevented adequate recovery from fatigue for workers;
    * this is the case because, beyond a certain point, each additional hour of work would be contributing to the output of the current day's total output but at the expense of the following day's output capacity; and
    * the intensity of the work involved would dictate the point at which total output begins to fall and thus the length of the 'optimal' working day.
    The second half of this argument explores whether the free market can arrive at the 'optimal' length of day, and can be summarised as follows:
    * the maintenance of a long-term optimum by employers would require short-term restraint;
    * each individual employer could never be certain of reaping the benefit of their restraint as another firm could potentially entice the employer's well-rested workers away with a wage premium;
    * therefore the optimal output work time is a form of investment without equity;
    * simultaneously, Chapman assumed that workers would choose a longer working day than was prudent (although not as long as the working day preferred by employers), primarily because of a general short-sightedness that would mean workers would consider their immediate earning capacity more than their long term earning capacity;..
    [and as peacetime labor surplus deepened, because workers would have less and less choice in the matter of the length of their working days]
    * the outcome in a free market situation would therefore be one where employers and employees acting in self-interest would each tend to select a working day that was longer than the 'optimal' hours.

  2. Reduced work week could be win-win, by Leonie Kennedy, Coff's Coast Advocate, NSW, Australia.
    JUST about everyone is time poor nowadays, and many employees complain about not having enough time for families, friends and personal interests - therefore the offer of voluntary four-day weeks or nine-day fortnights might be well received.
    Don't forget that people appreciate having choices, even if they are unpalatable ones. So the offer could be a reduced work week and there is some value to both employer and employee.
    In cases where redundancy really is necessary, or there is natural attrition, consider covering the needs of your business by redeploying and retraining an employee from another area.
    This can be a win-win proposition - the employee gains job security and development, and the employer can avoid or postpone the needs for expensive recruitment.
    Additional benefits include the maintenance of employee morale and respect for management, and the retention of the company's knowledge assets - those carried between the ears of skilled and experienced employees.
    Instead of viewing employees as cost centres on legs it is also wise to enlist them as your allies in the fight to cut costs. After all, they actually work on the front lines of your business so they should be able to make suggestions on how to improve efficiency.
    When thinking about retention, don't forget it applies to customers as well as employees. It won't help you to cut costs if your total business is shrinking due to customer attrition. It's critical to retain existing customers and fuel growth by finding new ones.
    This is perhaps the most important reason for retaining skilled and experienced employees - they will drive your organic and new business growth, and in that way secure the future of your company for you.


8/20/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. 'Save our salaries!' editorial, Las Vegas Review-Journal.
    Some political demonstrations are so transparently self-serving, so disingenuous on their face, it's astonishing they're carried out in the first place.
    But there were the exceptionally well-paid, unionized workers of Clark County picketing outside their downtown offices Monday, chanting, "Save our services!" There they were again Tuesday, packing the County Commission chambers (on their own time, we're assured), wearing their purple Service Employees International Union T-shirts, no less.
    County officials have been forced to cut social services spending, among other expenses, because of a state money grab, the painful recession and, most importantly, the unsustainable growth of employees' wages and benefits. As businesses lay off workers, reduce hours and cut costs in response to revenue declines, the county is still handing out pay raises to public employees thanks to the long-term contracts they negotiated with the SEIU and other bargaining groups.
    You can imagine the union's brain trust planning this week's events: "We've got to divert attention from the financial burden our members' salaries are putting on the county's finances. Let's demand sacrifice from others and protest the budget cuts we're largely responsible for!"
    What's next? Malpractice lawyers rallying at the Capitol for more affordable health care? The SEIU members might as well have chanted "Save our salaries!"
    Among their cost-cutting suggestions to commissioners: switching county operations to a four-day work week and allowing unionized staff to have three-day weekends, laying off management and raiding the capital improvement reserve to restore some social services -- which would, as a coincidental benefit, preserve every union job.
    On Tuesday, commissioners were gracious and respectful to the rank-and-file who've helped deliver so many election victories. And they thanked the union for agreeing to reduce their promised pay raises by a couple of percentage points (while still keeping raises that private-sector workers can only dream about in this economy). But commissioners were appropriately realistic about the county's gloomy financial outlook -- and the viability of the union's suggestions.
    Commissioner Larry Brown chided the union for offering no evidence that the county is fat at the administrative level, and he told the SEIU audience that county government can't disregard infrastructure needs to save jobs that are no longer needed. Managers have cautioned that swiping capital funds to cover operational expenses would be a one-year fix that leaves the county with one less safety net for next year, which is expected to bring worsening revenue shortfalls.
    "I think the people have to come first, not the projects," social worker Richard Long said at Monday's rally. "That's the rule of government: to provide services to the community."
    No, the primary purpose of government is to protect the rights of its citizens -- not to seize and redistribute their wealth through high-paying bureaucracies charged with delivering "services."
    The SEIU -- and every other Nevada government union -- should remember that the next time its members rally in support of their own paychecks.

  2. Assembly catering staff fear pay cuts are on the horizon, by Martin Shipton, Western Mail via WalesOnline.co.uk.
    CATERING workers at the National Assembly fear they may be facing cuts to their working hours and wages, following a summer trial during which the workers’ canteen has opened for a shorter period.
    Their supporters among the political support staff believe any cuts affecting the low paid workers’ living standards would be unacceptable, given the pay rise of up to 21% awarded to Assembly chief executive Claire Clancy last year.
    One worker, who runs the shop adjacent to the canteen, has already been told her hours will be cut and others working in the canteen and the Senedd coffee shop fear their hours may also be affected.
    Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney Labour AM Huw Lewis, chair of the Assembly’s child poverty expert group, said he was deeply concerned about cuts in staff hours.
    He said: “The Labour-led Assembly Government is leading the way in terms of investing our way out of this recession – protecting jobs and protecting Welsh workers.
    [Unless they're investing overtime profits in overtime-targeted training and hiring and converting overtime into jobs, their "investment" is unsustainable. And isn't there already a *Welsh government program to help in such a situation?]
    It would be shameful if that were undermined by an Assembly Commission decision cutting the hours for workers here who already work damn hard for relatively little reward.
    [But wouldn't cutting their hours alleviate their "already damn hard work"?]
    “I have also heard tales of worrying developments regarding the cleaning staff in the Assembly. I will be taking these issues up with the Assembly Commission and party leaders in the Assembly this week.”
    An Assembly spokesman said: “As part of ongoing contract monitoring and management we have discussed the feasibility of operating the same levels of service during recess periods when the number of staff working in the office reduces significantly and parts of the service periods are very quiet. Accordingly, we have introduced a trial until September 11 of changing the restaurant hours. This has not resulted in any change to contracted hours.
    “In addition, we have also reviewed the opening hours of the shop in line with the numbers of customers using the service towards the end of the service periods. This has resulted in a change of contracted hours for one member of staff which is being managed by the contractor in line with normal procedures.
    “There was never any intention to extend those hours into term time – it would be misleading to suggest otherwise. And even in the trial period no worker had their contracted hours reduced.
    “This year the income received by the chief executive will drop. She is no longer entitled to a bonus and her income in 2009/10 will drop by £2,000 compared to 2008/09.”

  3. All work and some play, by Orna Coussin, Ha'aretz, Israel.
    Should workers across the world take off the whole month of August? This was the question the Financial Times posed to several experts a few weeks ago. "Anglo-Saxons should relax and adopt the French way," advised Corinne Maier, author of "Hello Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn't Pay" (Orion, 2005). Maier reminded British readers that many French companies close during August, sending their employees on a month-long vacation. Nevertheless, French workers' productivity is higher than that of their American counterparts (who, as a rule, get only one-quarter of the vacation time given in France).
    "August is perfect for laziness. If the senior staff takes a holiday in August, it won't make any difference as far as business is concerned. But in terms of happiness and health, huge progress will be made," she told the paper.
    Is it possible, and would it be worthwhile, to turn the steaming month in question into a common, annual vacation? Is it time to consider whether we want to carry on with the American method and work until we collapse from exhaustion? Perhaps it is preferable to reduce the number of working hours, take more leave and - like the French - relax a little bit.
    Israel's Annual Leave Law of 1951 accords employees a minimum of 10 vacation days a year. The European Union stipulates a minimum of 20 days off, not including holy days and festivals. Finland and France have upped the annual minimum to 30 days. In practice, in various countries, the number of vacation days increases with seniority at work. (The European data are based on a recent comparative analysis by Mercer, the international temporary employment company.)
    The French add 10 holidays and commemorative days to their 30 days of leave per year; thus, all told, employees get at least 40 days off. In Finland the total number with those extra days reaches 44; in Denmark it's 35; and in Germany, 34. In Israel there is a total of 18 such days: the minimum of 10 plus eight for the Jewish holidays, which constitute mandatory leave days (Shavuot, Yom Kippur, the first and last days of Sukkot and Passover, and two days for Rosh Hashanah), as stated in the Law and Administration Ordinance (1948).
    Even if they wanted to, most local workers would not be able to take an annual leave that would include the entire month of August. Not only do they not have sufficient vacation days, they are also not free to choose when to take their days off. Attorney Maya Zahor, who heads the clinic for working women's rights at the Hebrew University's Faculty of Law, notes that the employer often determines when employees go on leave in the country. This norm exists in many European countries as well, with the only requirement being that the boss give workers advance notice. In fact, Israeli employers rarely do that.
    Zahor says the local custom is especially problematic for women: "Altogether, from the working mother's perspective, 10 vacation days a year is [insulting]: If you take into account children's school holidays, including the religious holidays and the August vacation [when few activities for children are available], your annual leave ends long before you can decide how you want to spend it." Nevertheless, she adds, mothers should fight not for more vacation days, but rather for a reduction in the number of hours they work every day, which is a critical problem.
    It is interesting to recall that the International Labor Organization (ILO), which first convened in Washington, D.C. in 1919, set a new standard. It limited industrial laborers' work to eight hours a day, or a maximum of 48 hours a week. That decision was made following a series of protests and demonstrations by workers throughout the United States that began at the turn of the century and led to a wave of dramatic changes in attitudes regarding work and workers.
    A century ago, of course, the norms were dismal: Workers toiled in surroundings that were detrimental to their health, there was no limit to the number of hours they could be made to work, their rights to breaks, meals and other amenities were not honored, and consequently they were not paid for overtime.
    Today, the ILO reports that one out of five workers around the world - some 600 million men and women - still works more than 48 hours a week. The organization checked employment policies and practices in 50 countries. Peru leads the list in work loads: Half its laborers work more than 48 hours weekly. In Korea, Thailand and Pakistan, the percentage of people working such hours exceeds 44 percent.
    According to the same ILO study, Israel is among the developed countries where a shorter work week is common. Nonetheless, Israel, along with Britain, is a leader in this category, with 25 percent of workers putting in more than 48 hours a week. The two are followed by Australia (20 percent), Switzerland (19 percent) and the United States, where 18 percent of employees exceed the maximum standard of hours set by the ILO (not including people who hold more than one job to make ends meet).
    Stuck in traffic
    According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, local men work, on average, 42 hours a week (seven hours a day, six days a week), while women work an average of 30.5 hours a week. There are, however, significant differences among the economy's branches. Men who work in industry put in an average of 44 hours a week, and women, 36.5 hours. In commerce, men work, on average, 45 hours a week, and women 34. A particularly long work week is the norm in high-tech, which employs some 250,000 men and women. In that sector, the average work week for men is 46 hours, and for women 40. In any event, compared with the French work week, which by law cannot exceed 35 hours, the average Israeli work week is very long; by Israeli law it is not supposed to exceed 45 hours.
    Israelis are not only used to working long days. They also tend to spend a good deal of time traveling to and from work. As a consequence, they have little time left to be with their families, or for spiritual, sports or other activities.
    Sixty-two percent of Israeli employees drive private cars to work. The remainder rely on public transportation (16 percent), walk (13 percent), or use transportation provided by their employers (6 percent); very few (3 percent) get to work on bicycles or motorcycles (according to data from the nonprofit organization Transport Today & Tomorrow). Around the world people spend, on average, 40 minutes getting to work. In Israel, however, the traffic jams along the Ayalon highway, Highway 4 and other routes leading to the central Dan region hold people up a minimum of one hour a day - in each direction.
    Israelis' attitudes toward work and leisure hours are influenced by American rather than European culture. In a recent survey on how people spend their time, the U.S. Department of Labor recently reported that, on average, Americans work 7.9 hours daily. They sleep, on average, for eight hours, watch TV for three hours, engage in household chores for two hours a day, and are involved in preparing and eating food for two more hours. That leaves them about an hour for so-called spiritual development. Recent Israeli research reveals similar trends.
    In British philosopher Bertrand Russell's essay "In Praise of Idleness" (1932) he maintained there was no reason to work more than four hours a day. "When I suggest that working hours should be reduced to four, I am not meaning to imply that all the remaining time should necessarily be spent in pure frivolity. I mean that four hours' work a day should entitle a man to the necessities and elementary comforts of life, and that the rest of his time should be his to use as he might see fit," he wrote.
    Russell believed that such a schedule would allow people who are curious about science to comfortably indulge in that pursuit, painters would be able to develop their talents without starving, and writers could devote their time to producing more literary works without feeling compelled to churn out sensational best-sellers in order to make a living. In such a world, journalists too would have time to travel the globe, adapt to various surroundings, gather information, study and delve into subjects for many hours a day - for their pleasure and personal edification, free from time constraints and the need to work for a living.


8/19/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. So you think London's expensive? It isn't any more - The capital has slid to number 22 in the most expensive cities to live, thanks to a slide in the value of the pound, by Catherine Boyle?, London Times Online.
    For Londoners who pay at least £3 for a pint of lager, it might be surprising to hear that the capital city has fallen down a league table of the world’s most expensive cities, sliding from second to 22nd.
    The precipitous slide in the pound from the heady heights of $2.11 in November 2007 to $1.41 in January this year has triggered a sudden drop in the price of living in London, according to research by UBS, the investment bank. Oslo is now the world’s most expensive city, followed by Zurich, Copenhagen, Geneva, Tokyo and New York, the study found.
    If the recent rebound in the value of sterling were to go on to reach $1.70, London would move back up the rankings to become the fifth dearest city.
    Other big fallers include Moscow, Mexico City and Seoul, where the cost of living was also hit by currency devaluations and, in the case of the Russian capital, falling oil prices.
    The cheapest cities are Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Delhi and Mumbai, according to the UBS calculations, which are based on a basket of 144 goods and services.
    Within these categories, London residents suffer because their rail travel is the most expensive. A second-class, one-way ticket for a 125-mile rail journey costs £58.69 — double the fare in some other Western European cities.
    Daniel Kalt, head of economic research at UBS Wealth Management Research, said: “The exchange rate has had an extraordinary impact and the weakness of sterling will help boost the UK economy.
    “While prices in London have come down, rents are still high despite the collapse of the property market.”
    Oslo tops the league because of its strong currency and its relative strength during the global economic crisis. Residents also pay some of the highest taxes and social security contributions in the world. The gap in the cost of living between Eastern and Western Europe has not narrowed quickly, despite the huge changes in the former communist bloc.
    The basket was roughly 35 per cent cheaper in the cities of Eastern European EU member states than in their Western counterparts — down from 38 per cent in 2006. UBS expects a catch-up in prices to take more than a decade.
    And, as the pound falls, Eastern European workers in the UK will have to work harder to send the same amount home. Polish people with a job in London have to put in an extra hour and a half each month, compared with 2006, to send home £200.
    Someone earning the average wage in Zurich and New York can afford an iPod nano after nine hours of work, while employees in Mumbai need to put in 20 nine-hour days, or about a month, to purchase the same music player.
    Tokyo workers have to spend only 12 minutes at their desks before they can buy a Big Mac for lunch, while their counterparts in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, have to work for more than two and a half hours.
    However, going out for a meal is an expensive business for the average resident of Tokyo, where a three-course dinner without wine comes to an average of £53, compared with £33 in London.
    Prices for postage stamps and cleaning services showed the greatest variation, with stamps almost 90 per cent more expensive in some cities than others.
    Employees in Asian and Middle Eastern cities are spending much longer at work, averaging 2,119 and 2,063 hours per year respectively. The treadmill is at its most demanding in Cairo, where the average employee clocks up 2,373 hours per year, followed by Seoul with 2,312 hours.
    In contrast, French workers are at their jobs for much shorter times. Staff in Lyon and Paris put in, respectively, 1,582 and 1,594 hours per year.

  2. INTERVIEW - UPDATE 2 - Brazil unemployment down, work week to be cut, by Raymond Colitt and Natuza Nery, Reuters via Forex Pros.
    * Labor minister says Brazil jobless rate to keep falling
    * Lupi sees July unemployment rate at 7.9 pct to 8 pct
    * Lupi to push cut in work week to 40 hours from 44 (Recasts, adds details, critic, context)

    BRASILIA - Brazil's jobless rate fell in July and the government will push for a four-hour reduction in the work week despite opposition from business leaders, Labor Minister Carlos Lupi told Reuters on Wednesday.
    The unemployment rate fell to between 7.9 percent and 8 percent in July from 8.1 percent in June as part of a broader economic recovery this year, Lupi said.
    "It will continue falling," he said in an interview in the capital Brasilia.
    [Only if he cuts the workweek.]
    Lupi is more optimistic than most economists, although he was among the first to correctly forecast a growth in payroll jobs early this year.
    The jobless rate likely crept up to 8.3 percent last month, according to the median estimate of 24 economists surveyed by Reuters. Estimates ranged from 7.8 percent to 9 percent. Brazil's statistics agency IBGE will release the official jobless data on Thursday.
    Employers in Brazil took on a net 138,402 payroll positions in July, the sixth straight month of gains, the government said on Tuesday.
    Signs of a recovery from recession in Latin America's largest economy have been growing, with most economists expecting gross domestic product to have grown in the second quarter and to end the year with near zero growth.
    Lupi expects the year-end jobless rate to fall to 7.6 to 7.7 percent.
    He also said he would help push the bill reducing working hours to 40 from 44 hours through Congress, despite the economic crisis and opposition from business leaders who say it would hurt Brazil's competitiveness.
    [Not too logical when the developed world is on 40 hour weeks. Export competitiveness wouldn't matter to Brazil if they activated their own huge potential consumer base by cutting the workweek. Note that South Korea is in the middle of a seven-year cut from 44 to 40 hours a week similar to what Brazil is contemplating.]
    Salaries would remain unchanged under the bill, but overtime rates would rise to 75 percent from 50 percent over normal pay.
    [Still a poor overtime design because it marginally disincentivates employers and actually greatly incentivates employees to work overtime instead of yielding to additional employees and a lower unemployment rate.]
    "I'm in favor. It's a necessary advance for a modern society," said Lupi, arguing that workers would be more productive if they clocked fewer hours on the job.
    Lupi will defend the bill next week in a hearing of the lower house of Congress, where the bill has been approved by an ad-hoc committee. The government has an ample majority in the chamber but only a narrow majority in the Senate. Lupi said he was confident both houses would pass the measure.
    "I want to see senators announce they will vote against workers," he said defiantly.
    [Hey, US senators do regularly, but then US is committing suicide more quickly than Brazil.]
    The National Industry Confederation, the country's largest industry group, warned last week against a reduction of the work week amid the global economic crisis, saying it would hurt businesses.
    [..having learned nothing from history.]
    Opposition legislators joined the criticism.
    "It's a mistake. It will hurt the Brazilian economy and increase the cost of formal labor," Luiz Paulo Vellozo Lucas, a deputy of the centrist opposition PSDB party, told Reuters.
    [Centrist?? Sounds more like moronic rightwing.]
    Most of Brazil's work force is not registered with the labor ministry and belongs to the vast informal economy.
    Labor unions have marched in the streets of Brasilia in favor of the work load reduction.


8/18/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Can Obama Order Federal Furloughs? Washington Post.
    Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley wants President Obama and federal employees to take a 15-day furlough. (AP photo caption)
    Chicago shut down most city offices on Monday in an effort to save more than $8 million by year's end amid the economic slowdown. Mayor Richard M. Daley has made several cuts to the city budget and has forced himself and some city workers to take a 15-day pay cut. In doing so, he recently suggested that President Obama and federal workers do the same.
    "I hope every federal employee from the president all the way down takes 15 days without pay to turn that money back to taxpayers' use, because they're getting laid off, they're getting cut back, there are no jobs out there," Daley said earlier this month.
    The mayor's office did not return several calls for clarification and comment (maybe because of the city shutdown?) but Chicago Sun-Times reporter (and Eye friend) Lynn Sweet notes that Daley "has often rallied against [groping for "railed against"] Washington, no matter who is the president."
    Still -- is a 15-day federal government furlough doable? Not really, according to experts.
    "As long as funding is appropriated, it’s not possible to force federal employees to take furloughs," said Donald Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy and a leading expert on the federal government. "As long as funding is available, they couldn’t force people to do it."
    Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service cautioned that a furlough is "exactly the wrong thing to do and it reinforces the misconception about how important the federal workforce is to addressing our problems."
    [Huh??? He must mean the misconception about how UNimportant the federal workforce is, because he goes on to say it's important...]
    He noted that the 1995 federal government shutdown "horrified" Americans, because "they weren’t getting the services they needed and wanted."
    "Government’s more important now than it’s ever been, because it’s central to solving so many of our problems," Stier said.
    Kettl and Stier agreed however that Daley's decision to shut down his government demonstrates the serious financial condition of several state and local governments. The financial strain placed on local leaders is something the federal government will have to address in order to shepherd in a full economic recovery, Kettl said.
    "The feds can’t just deal with federal issues if they expect a broad economic recovery across the country. This is the sleeper that’s sitting out there that we’re going to have to try to debate somehow."
    Not surprisingly, federal employee unions also frown on furloughs, noting that forcing workers to stay home won't end all associated costs.
    "Rents on buildings leased by the government would still have to be paid, and the government’s share of health care premiums would continue, to name just two continuing expenditures," said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
    "Federal managers should be able to manage their budgets to avoid the need for any furloughs," she added.
    So what do you think? Is Daley right to suggest that President Obama institute a furlough to save federal dollars?
    Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
    Comments
    ...
    Instead of a 15 day furlough, how about switching to a 36 hour work week with four 9 hour shifts.
    Posted by: ggwbike | August 17, 2009 6:00 PM

  2. Flex Time: A Recession Triple Win, By Sylvia Ann Hewlett, HarvardBusiness.org via Bloomberg.
    Tough times are the right time to formalize flexible work schedules. Remote work options, staggered hours, reduced schedules and mini-sabbaticals are often seen as work perks for the fat years, one of the first targets of corporate belt-tightening. But as research in my forthcoming book Top Talent: Keeping Performance Up When Business Is Down (Harvard Business Press; October 2009) shows, companies that treat time as currency have tapped into one of the secrets to surviving in a recession.
    With brutal job cuts leaving shell-shocked survivors struggling to handle radically increased workloads, the need for flexible work arrangements is going through the roof. Yet it's becoming harder and harder to take it. According to a survey from the Center for Work Life-Policy, face-time pressures more than doubled between June 2008 and December 2008, from 22% to 55%. Professionals worried about their job security are chaining themselves to their desk 12 hours a day to prove they're indispensable. As one manager explained, "Working remotely from home looks less 'dedicated' even though most people work even harder at home, and, interestingly, are more often available."
    Women are especially hard-hit. 80% of the 5.1 million people who have lost their jobs in this recession are men, leaving many working wives and mothers as the sole breadwinner. Since women shoulder a disproportionate load of family responsibility and generally earn 20% less than men, it makes sense for employers to find ways to help them to perform at their peak.
    Leading-edge companies realize that committing to flex or revamping existing policies in tough times is a triple win. Flexible work arrangements allow organizations to cut payroll costs without large-scale staff reductions. Furthermore, at a time when 73% of managers surveyed for Top Talent reported feeling "demoralized," taking the stigma out of asking for time off boosts employee engagement and helps retain top talent so the firm can quickly gear up for new business when the economy turns around.
    Who's pointing the way?
    In January 2009, accounting giant KPMG unveiled its new Flexible Futures program for its 11,000 UK-based employees. The options include: a four-day workweek and a 20% reduction in base pay; a four- to twelve-week sabbatical at 30% base pay; a combination of the two options; or sticking with the status quo.
    Positioned as a way for the firm to "come together" in tough times, Flexible Futures is already seen as a winner. "We were trying to deal with reality but also give employees some control over their own destiny," says Rachel Campbell, head of people for KPMG Europe and the architect of Flexible Futures. To date, 85% of KPMG's UK-based employees have signed up. The most popular choice is option #3 which features both a shorter workweek and a sabbatical — which gives some sense of how time-starved professionals are these days. According to Campbell, the company looking at a potential savings opportunity of up to 15% of payroll costs.
    Similarly, Booz & Company's new Partial-Pay Sabbatical aims to increase employee engagement as much as cut expenses. The global consulting firm had an unpaid sabbatical program in place for many years, but 2009 marks the first time that company-approved breaks have been made available to all of its nearly 4,000 employees — not just consultants — with pay as well as a guaranteed job when they return. The sabbatical can range from a minimum of one month to a maximum of 12, during which employees receive 20% of their base salary and full healthcare benefits. To make the program even more attractive, Booz offers "salary smoothing," so that a sabbatical-bound employee may opt to have 20% deducted from his or her salary during a period before the break rather than get substantially reduced paychecks.
    Since the program's launch in April 2009 in the United States, some 20% of 1,000 U.S.-based employees have signed up, with the average request for three months off. (In Europe, the uptake has been 32%.) The company encourages employees to use their break to relax, advance their education, spend time with family, volunteer with a charitable organization and even take on another job part-time (so long as it's not at a competing firm). Many women have tacked their sabbatical time on to their six-week maternity leave; one employee is working in his area of expertise to improve his industry knowledge; another is working for the Peace Corps. Says Michelle Koss, who heads Booz' HR department in North America, "It will be interesting to circle back with employees and hear stories about how they benefited" from their breaks.
    Using time as currency will continue to provide sizable returns as a talent lure when the economy picks up. A recent CWLP study of baby boomers and Generation Y workers found that an overwhelming percentage of both sexes in both age groups valued flexible work options: 87% of boomers and 89% of Gen Ys rated flexibility an important consideration in choosing an employer.
    Isn't it time for more companies to make time for time-outs?

  3. Gig Harbor cuts more jobs, by Brent Champaco, TheNewsTribune.com.
    Don’t be fooled by the late-summer picture postcard views and idyllic sailboat scenery. Times are tough in one of the South Sound’s most affluent suburbs.
    [Only because the afflluent have lost all common sense, think money is purely a collectable not an exchangeable, and think they should "have it all" regardless of the deterioration of everything around them.]
    The City of Gig Harbor announced Tuesday that it will cut six positions to help fill a $1.9 million budget shortfall.
    The cuts include the public works director, the building inspector and a vacant police officer position. They are the latest step the city of 7,100 has taken over the last year, as a slow construction and development market slashed projected tax revenue.
    The city also plans to switch to a 36-hour workweek and close the Civic Center on Fridays, Mayor Chuck Hunter said.
    The city’s operating budget for next year will be about $11 million – down roughly 15 percent from 2009.
    Gig Harbor is not the only Pierce County suburb to be hit hard by the recession. Last month, Milton laid off three of four employees in its community development department and this week decided to outsource those duties to Fife. Edgewood officials are scrambling to close a $750,000 budget gap.
    In Gig Harbor, hard times arrived just when the city was planning for a building boom after the 2007 opening of the second Narrows bridge. The north end of the city has developed more slowly than expected. In December, Quadrant Homes said it had suspended building and selling its 120-lot neighborhood off Borgen Boulevard, called The Ridge, after building just 14 homes.
    Tuesday’s announcement came less than a year after the city said it was eliminating 10 positions. It ended up saving about half those jobs by reducing expenses in other areas, such as $400,000 in equipment, training and other administrative costs.
    It also required each of its 87.5 employees to take a furlough of eight days this year.
    The latest round of layoffs was unavoidable, city officials said.
    “We’ve looked under every rock,” City Administrator Rob Karlinsey said. “There’s nowhere left to cut.”
    Tax revenue continues to fall. Sales tax overall is expected to be down about $1 million by year’s end, or 17.5 percent from last year, Karlinsey said. Retail sales taxes are down about 16 percent from last year, Hunter said.
    Revenue from construction and development, which accounts for a fifth of all the city’s tax dollars, took an even bigger hit. For example, the city collected $224,000 in development service fees such as building inspections through July. That’s a 66 percent drop from what was collected at the same time last year.
    Gig Harbor had issued five new commercial building permits as of August 2008. It hasn’t issued any this year.
    It issued 52 permits for single-family homes last year. This year it is down to 12.
    Hunter said the city is still issuing permits related to planning, which suggests landowners want their land ready to sell or develop when the economy recovers.
    Staff looked at ways to generate money to close the shortfall, including raising taxes and fees – everything from a public admissions tax to an increase in the utility tax.
    Hunter said officials didn’t want to take that approach.
    “When the economy’s weak, it just gets back to our citizens,” he said. “I don’t think it’s time to raise taxes. The city has just got to tighten its belt.”

    brent.champaco@thenewstribune.com

  4. Schwarzenegger sued by psych techs - Union says forced furloughs are illegal - Contends governor violates state labor code, Central Valley Business Times.
    Sacramento, Calif. - The union representing some 7,000 psychiatric technicians at state hospitals, developmental centers and prisons is suing Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, contending the governor’s order for them to take days off without pay is illegal.
    The lawsuit is filed in Sacramento Superior Court.
    The lawsuit says the governor has violated the state’s labor code in forcing the furloughs.
    In addition, the state is only paying psychiatric technicians for 32 hours out of a 40-hour workweek, a violation of the labor code, the suit says.
    It also contends that state departments are not complying with Mr. Schwarzenegger’s own court-approved executive order requiring employees to take unpaid furlough days off work.
    [This may be true, and timesizing works better when everyone is included, regardless of how 'indispensable' their jobs.]
    Mr. Schwarzenegger implemented a third furlough day instead of the 5 percent pay cut he originally proposed, creating a violation of collective bargaining law, says the lawsuit.

  5. Grand Bahama Shipyard Workers Irate Over Reduced Workweeks, by Vanessa Clarke, The Bahama Journal.
    [They're actually irate, and rightly so, over management insensitivity in replacing them with expatriate labor.]
    The Grand Bahama Shipyard’s decision to place workers on reduced workweeks has left scores of employees fuming.
    The company says it did what was necessary to avoid massive layoffs and insists that the reduced workweek will come to end in September. However, some of the workers say they do not believe that the company will keep its word.
    The reduced days began in July.
    Mervin Wright, who heads the Grand Bahama Port Authority Workers Union, recently held a meeting with the workers in the shipyard’s parking lot.
    There, they were told that they would have accept the deal offered by the company in light of the current economic climate.
    The workers said in July they were told that they had to take one week off. However, they claimed that the company was still bringing in expatriate workers to fill positions.
    During the impromptu meeting the workers discussed whether should follow the company’s request that they take more time off.
    "The GB Shipyard says that it needs to cut back because of the recession, but it has been bringing in foreign workers every week since then. We had to take time off in the beginning of July – one week off without pay and now management is saying that we have to take an additional three days off without pay," one worker speaking under condition of anonymity said.
    "Yet last week, they brought a lot of foreign workers in."
    The worker said that the union has already informed employees that the offer is non-negotiable – either the workers take time off or the company will be forced to close down.
    "I feel like when Bahamians start taking time off, there should be no more expatriates coming into the country to work. The job should be for Bahamians. They are saying that the people that they are bringing in have more expertise than Bahamians, but yet they are not training the Bahamians to have this expertise. It seems like they can do anything that they want and they get away with it," another worker told The Journal.
    "The union is telling us that we have to comply with the company because these are tough times. We recognize that these are tough times and we need our jobs, but we shouldn’t be held hostage for the job. We feel with the proper training Bahamians would be able to do these jobs, but they are not training us."
    The Journal contacted Carl-Gustaf Rotkirch, chairman and CEO of Grand Bahama Shipyard late Monday who said that he was disappointed that the workers could not understand that the company is trying to avoid massive layoffs.
    "I am a bit disappointed because we have worked very hard to try and resolve this issue as much on the management side as on the employees’ side. We of course consider this to be an unfortunate situation where we don’t have enough work for everybody, but we have tried to make such arrangements so that the suffering would be as little as possible for everyone," Mr. Rotkirch said.
    "I think perhaps there may be some misunderstandings out there," he said.
    Mr. Rotkirch said that his company has recently been feeling the effects of the global economic crisis.
    "As you know, the general global recession has affected most of the industries, both in Grand Bahama and in the rest of the world. Of course, we have unfortunately not been untouched by that," he said.
    "In an attempt to do it in such a way that we don’t need to apply massive layoffs, we negotiated an arrangement with our employees which meant that we would have had kind of a rotating layoff system where we have one week off during a four-week period. That period has now come to an end."
    He said that the company is in discussions to see how both sides should proceed so that they could both win.
    "But [the reduced workweek] is going to be essentially more or less ended within a few weeks. The work at the yard will pick up from roughly the first week in September and after that we will have quite a good workload during the rest of the year," explained Mr. Rotkirch.
    He explained that a few expatriate workers have been brought in early to help with the workload, which is expected to increase next month.
    He also said that there are certain trades where there are no tradesmen available in the Bahamas.
    "The total numbers have been kept the same and the fact is that a few of them have been brought in a bit early in order to make sure that we are prepared] for the busy period, which begins in September onwards," Mr. Rotkirch.
    He also explained that the shipyard provides opportunities for Bahamians to be trained, adding that there are some 35 young Bahamians currently participating in the shipyard’s apprenticeship programme.


8/16-17/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Furlough days tough on wallet, but a nice break - All Chicagoans get taste when city workers take Monday off - It's a lot better than getting personally acquainted with the well-established concept of "layoffs", 8/16 Chicago Sunday Sun-Times, 6A.
    I am declaring this the Summer of the Furlough. It might actually turn out to be the Year of the Furlough, but it's early yet, and I know some still seem intent on turning 2009 into the Year of the Death Panel, so I don't want to jump the gun.
    By all rights, I probably shouldn't try to engage in trendspotting at all. That's Roeper's turf, so my declaration should be viewed as entirely unofficial.
    Still, at the start of 2009, furlough was a word mainly used to refer to extended vacation for members of the military and early release of prison inmates.
    By this point, though, tens of millions of Americans unfortunately have come to know furloughs firsthand as unpaid days off work -- meant to save their employers money and save themselves or co-workers from unemployment. Furloughs are one of the distinguishing characteristics of this recession.
    Having recently completed my own eight required furlough days, I'm sure I can speak for many furloughed workers when I say that the extra time off is nice, but the paychecks are a real bite in the shorts.
    Just the same, I'm grateful to be drawing a paycheck, which was the whole idea. It's a lot better than getting personally acquainted with the more well-established concept of "layoffs."
    All Chicagoans will get to know furloughs in an entirely new manner on Monday, when the city introduces its first "reduced-service day."
    Time for mushroom-hunting, biking
    City Hall, public libraries, health clinics, and most city offices will be closed as affected city employees are given the day off without pay, the first of three reduced-service days planned for 2009. The other two are the Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve.
    The third was originally supposed to be New Year's Eve, but they decided to move it up.
    Police and fire will be at full strength on Monday, but your garbage won't get picked up. Think of it as a holiday without any parades or anyone drawing time-and-a-half.
    For most city workers, this is only a portion of the furlough days they must take this year, and, for that, they have my sympathy, although furloughs still strike me as one reasonable solution to the city's financial problems, at least to the extent those problems are temporary.
    I have to admit that I personally didn't find the furloughs to be an entirely unpleasant experience.
    By sprinkling them out over the last few months, I felt like I had my most well-paced summer in a long time. For the first time in years, I didn't look up on the Fourth of July and realize another summer was passing me by, nor am I surprised that the end of summer is fast upon us, even though I never took a real vacation.
    When you're giving up a day without pay, though, you're reluctant to spend that day doing anything that costs you money.
    But I had a great time early in the summer with a long-overdue mushroom-hunting outing with one of my brothers, finding enough delicious morels to make Sun-Times outdoors writer Dale Bowman jealous, not that he'd ever let on.
    Later, I worked in a wonderful bike ride with my other brother on the Hennepin Canal trail, a historical treasure that I'd always wanted to see firsthand and would recommend to you, though the next time I'll be smart enough to bring a fishing pole.
    Time for overdue chores
    I even managed to use a furlough day to paint a bathroom, and my wife can attest how hard it is to get me to bite off those types of chores on a normal day off.
    I don't mean to minimize the fact that, for many people, furloughs are a huge financial burden, even if preferable to being laid off.      
    One furlough day per week from a normal five-day work week amounts to a 20 percent pay cut, and even if that's over a short period of time, it requires some adjustment.
    "It's really an effort to do a PR job on rolling back income," said Joel Goldhar, professor of operations and technology managment at IIT's Stuart School of Business, who sees the use of furloughs as a logical outgrowth of the supply of labor exceeding the demand for it -- a condition he foresees continuing.
    As furloughs move into their second year at many businesses, it will be interesting to see if they continue to be looked upon as an acceptable temporary fix or morph into a new reality of permanent salary cuts.
    All things considered, I preferred the Summer of the Macarena.

  2. The economy: a Seattleite's report to the nation - Hey, we're hanging in there, 8/16 Seattle Times.
    To all my friends around the country, regarding your question: "How's the recovery going in Seattle these days?"
    Oh, it's going just great! Ph.D.s are looking for work outside the Home Depot, PCC is doing workshops on "Cooking with Grass and Other Backyard Delicacies," the population of cats is diminishing rapidly, and I-5 was closed last week for a citywide block party.
    Boeing is using their runway-maintenance vehicles as a fleet of ice-cream trucks. Microsoft is having a blowout blitz on all of their discontinued 2007 software (as-is, as usual), Starbuck's introduced Instant Water, and Whole Foods changed its name to Half Foods.
    The Mariners merged with Ivar's last week, and Chase (nee WaMu) is offering grilled sandwiches at ATMs throughout the region.
    As an incentive to create jobs, Mayor "Nickels for the Poor" Greg Nickels introduced a 20-hour workweek, which, of course, for Seattleites means that no work is being done anywhere.
    The floating bridges have sunk, Seattle is cut off from the rest of the world, and the once-friendly citizens of Redmond and Bellevue have taken up arms against each other. Nordstrom's is supplying uniforms for both sides.
    The physical climate has changed as well -- Safeco Field makes the NOLA stadium look like child's play. They are turning out the lights tonight, and iCurfew starts in five minutes, so I have to go.
    Ramen awaits!
    Fondly,
    Jobless in Seattle.
    [So despite Bill Gates' way off-target attempt to save the world thru MicroSoft, he's not even saving his hometown.]
    -- Tom Lewis, Seattle

  3. Council to use shorter working weeks to save jobs, 8/17 ('8/19'?!) PersonnelToday.com, UK.
    Cherwell, UK - A council asking its staff to work reduced hours or take unpaid leave to save jobs has been applauded by industry experts, who predict other councils will follow suit.
    Cherwell District Council is thought to be the first local authority to ask its staff to work less hours or take time off without pay, to limit expected job cuts. The council aims to save £2.6m over the next three years, and has written to staff asking them to consider reduced working hours and unpaid leave, as well as voluntary redundancy and retirement.

    The body is also encouraging staff to tell them about their career development hopes over the next few years so this can be factored into planning considerations.
    Anne-Marie Scott, Cherwell's head of HR told Personnel Today: "If people have planned to retire in two years time, it will be useful for us to know that now so we can build into longer term plans. If people want to work part time maybe for a year or two while the children are small, we are willing to consider that."
    Private sector firms including KPMG, Jaguar Land Rover, JCB and Ryanair all opted to reduce working hours or implement pay freezes earlier this year in a bid to save jobs and hang on to key talent.
    Cherwell's decision to implement a similar strategy has been welcomed by Gillian Hibberd, president of the Public Sector People Managers' Association, who predicted the approach will "spread" nationwide.
    "I think it's brave and innovative," she said. "Cherwell is being very responsible in the approach it has taken. The good thing is it has given people choices and I am impressed with the way it has a future eye on talent and skills retention by asking people to talk through future plans and aspirations. One of the dangers is people with skills can leave an organisation."
    Joan Munro, national adviser for workforce strategy at the Improvement & Development Agency agreed. She said: "In the last recession when councils were downsizing they lost a lot of skilled staff and had to pay a lot of money to buy them back as consultants We welcome an authority that's been imaginative and is trying something different."
    However, HR experts have warned that money-saving measures like reduced working hours and pay freezes may only stall inevitable job cuts, if the economy recovers at a slower pace than first expected.

  4. Tower Semiconductor returns to 5-day week - Tower fired hundreds of employees and was on a four-day workweek to cut costs, by Adi Ben-Israel, 8/16 Globes Publisher Itonut via Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com.
    ISRAEL - Specialty foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. (Nasdaq: TSEM; TASE: TSEM) has switched from a four day working week to a schedule of alternating four and five day weeks, a week after publishing good financials and announcing several major deals.
    Migdal Ha'Emek-based Tower fired hundreds of employees as it sought to cope with the economic crisis, and now has about 1,000 employees. The company had been on a four-day workweek to cut costs.
    The company is now working at 70% production capacity compared with 40% in the first half of 2009. In the first stage Tower will work a five-day work week every other week.
    Sources at Tower have told "Globes" that the major order won from Intersil puts the company on the map. He said, "Since publication about the contract last week we have received many emails and enquiries from other companies."


8/15/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Without help from reserves, budget-cutting could get ugly in Hernando County, By Barbara Behrendt, (8/16?) St. Petersburg Times via Tampabay.com.
    BROOKSVILLE — Ask employees at the Hernando County Government Center about the impact of declining tax revenue, and the likely answer will include a heavy dose of anxiety.
    County workers are switching offices to use space more efficiently. Employees unsure of their futures are signing up for early leave. Private companies are being given the chance to take over government functions.
    Downsizing is in full swing.
    Around the rest of the county, the impact of the budget cuts may not be so obvious — proof to some that the tales of government waste were true.
    Some of the cuts over the past two years were cushioned by using reserves collected when the economy was better. Money has been shifted in some cases. A number of jobs have gone unfilled. Operational expenses have been trimmed.
    But the days of relatively painless spending reductions are over, according to County Administrator David Hamilton.
    If the past two years of scaling back did indeed slim down a bloated operation, the next round is going to slice into muscle and bone.
    "We've held back from cutting things that bring out the crowds,'' Hamilton said last week. "But we're running out of these options.''
    Even as the final scurry is on to finish the 2009-10 budget by the end of next month, Hamilton has been thinking about the future, which is expected to bring even worse financial news.
    Tax revenue will fall even lower as property values continue to slide. By how much, "I just don't know yet,'' said Property Appraiser Alvin Mazourek.
    Faced with that uncertainty, Hamilton wants to lay it all on the table.
    And the big question that needs to be answered, he says, is this: What services do residents want from county government, and what are they willing to pay for them?
    Hamilton said the ultimate decisions will be up to county commissioners. But the county's leaders need to have that conversation — even if it means unpopular discussions about possible increases in taxes and fees, or revisiting the issue of a separate taxing unit for the sheriff.
    "We have to have the honest debate about the price of government, given the times we are in,'' he said.
    • • •
    Soon after Hamilton came to Hernando County in March 2008, he was talking about plans to downsize county operations.
    Well aware of the tumultuous outcry from residents demanding tax cuts during the 2007 budget season and seeing the economic free-fall under way, he was mentioning consolidation, early leave, cutting costs and making county government smaller and more efficient.
    While talking about those goals, he was also putting out a series of fires. Personnel issues erupted in his first weeks on the job, adding to the public sentiment that county government was out of control and in need of a big change.
    Hamilton jumped into the fray, firing some employees, disciplining and motivating others, sending a message that misbehavior would not be tolerated.
    He made it clear there would be fewer top-paid workers running the operation. He emphasized that he would no longer put up with projects that were started but never finished — on what he called the "infinity plan.''
    "There was a disconnect with the public between what we were doing for the price they were paying,'' Hamilton said.
    Then he began the restructuring, cost-cutting and downsizing that the economic downturn was forcing on the county's operation.
    Hamilton believes — or at least hopes — what has been done so far has restored some credibility to county government. Now it's time to find out what the community will support.
    Next year, some tough choices must be made, he says.
    • • •
    "There is a point in time (in cutting the budget) when the vital services that the public expects'' will be at risk, Hamilton said. "I believe we're about at that point.''
    So the question to the community could be whether it would be willing to pay a fee to use county parks, an idea shot down by sports leagues last year.
    Should library services cut hours again after burning through grant money to help out in the short term?
    How often should county parks and roadway rights of way be mowed and maintained?
    Will the county cannery again risk closure if private funding cannot be found next year?
    Should there be shorter hours for government offices? Furloughs for employees?
    What would be lost by privatizing county recycling, courthouse security or government broadcasting?
    All of those questions have been kicked around during the past few months of budget discussions, which have centered on making up a $10 million revenue shortfall in the general fund and a similar shortfall in the Utilities Department.
    But one thing commissioners didn't talk about was increasing the property tax rate to a level known as the "rollback rate'' — a levy that, despite falling property values, would generate the same amount in revenue as the previous year.
    In the general fund alone, that would have raised another $7.5 million this year.
    Next year, Hamilton said, "the rollback needs a broader discussion.''
    User fees should also be back on the table, he said.
    So should the separate taxing unit to fund the operations of the sheriff.
    The separate unit for law enforcement was discussed but shot down by the commission this year. Sheriff Richard Nugent has said he would be willing to take any criticism if such a unit is created and a tax increase is needed to provide the desired level of public safety service.
    The sheriff's portion of the budget is debated every year. This year, county officials are still holding their collective breath to see whether Nugent brings them a budget that reduces spending $2 million from last year, the county administrator's recommendation.
    • • •
    Hamilton's plan is to get through the budget process this year, and then bring ideas and options for the future to the community and the commission beginning in January.
    "This year, we've still been working in the reactive mode and not the proactive mode. But now I've been here long enough to get a feel for the place,'' Hamilton said. "We've been able to show a willingness to cut and to build credibility. Now it's time for us to go out and discuss this with the public.''
    As for the difficulty of bringing up ideas such as raising taxes or fees in a year when two of the three commission seats are up for election, Hamilton said he will leave that up to the political process after residents have made it clear what they expect from their county.
    "In an election year," he said, "obviously everyone will be interested in what the people are interested in.''
    Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

  2. Staff's Lo pay - Airline cuts GBP11m wage bill - Staff asked to take unpaid leave or work shorter hours, By Kathleen Nutt, Scottish News of the World via http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/scottish.
    [GBP = Great Britain pounds]
    SCOTS airline Loganair is asking staff to take unpaid leave or work shorter hours as it battles the recession.
    Workers have been asked to choose between the two options as the carrier tries to cut its GBP11million wage bill to survive the slump.

    The Glasgow-based firm - which this year announced pre-tax profits of GBP4.2m during 2007/8 - held discussions with 109 pilots and 66 cabin crew.
    And one pilot said: "If this is what it takes, then taking unpaid leave is something we'd all support.
    "If it stops us from having to shed jobs then we'll back it. The downturn won't last forever and these measures will help us see out the worst."
    The airline - whose planes use the livery of partner Flybe - flies 21 aircraft throughout the Highlands and Islands and also runs a service between Aberdeen and Cardiff.
    Passenger numbers rose by 2.5 per cent to 528,000, helped by the Scottish Government's air discount scheme, which gives residents in Caithness and the Northern and Western Isles a 40 per cent discount on air fares.
    But chairman Scott Grier warned: "We are aware that with the UK economy slowing, and uncertainty over fuel costs, the coming financial year will be more challenging."
    In June, British Airways asked 30,000 staff to work for nothing for a month to save the struggling airline.


8/14/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Local leaders learn to make do with less, By Mark Schlueb, Orlando Sentinel via Sun-Sentinel.com.
    ORLANDO, Fla. - If you need any more evidence that times are tough for cities, look no further than the Florida League of Cities conference held in Orlando this week.
    As municipalities across Florida cut services, furlough workers and shed employees, the workshops and discussions their elected leaders are attending share a common thread: doing more with less.
    Their topics included "30 or More Ways to Reduce Your City's Expenses," "Employee Pay and Benefits, Furloughs and Layoffs" and "Innovative Ways to Deal with Vacant and Foreclosed Property."
    "Everybody is struggling," league president Carmine Priore said Friday.
    [except the top 30,000 Americans who have more money than they can invest sustainably let alone profitably. How do we centrifuge the huge congealed money at the top? Engineer a general labor shortage by Timesizing, instead of continuing the job shortage by downsizing.]
    "And we don't think it's over. It's going to continue."
    The Village of Wellington, where Priore is vice-mayor, is an example of the steps municipalities are taking to cope with what he calls a "perfect storm" of financial trouble.
    Wellington has seen its property values drop from $7.2 billion to $6.1 billion in a year. To cope with the drop in tax revenue, the city instituted a four-day workweek and two-week unpaid furloughs for employees, offered early-retirement incentives for workers to leave and cut hours at public parks and other facilities.
    Attendance is down about 25 percent at the annual conference, which concludes today at the World Center Marriott.
    The tight budgets are the result of property tax reforms passed by the Florida Legislature in 2007, further reforms adopted by voters in the form of constitutional Amendment 1 last year and the state's housing bust.
    "Back to basics" is now the motto for local governments, Apopka Vice-Mayor Bill Arrowsmith said.
    "When you're looking at the services you provide to citizens, you have to look at what you can live without," Arrowsmith said.
    The conference offered a resource center where politicians could learn how to apply for grant funding from nonprofit groups and the state and federal governments. There were briefings on how cities can tap into federal stimulus funds.
    And the conference's exhibit hall was crowded with vendors touting the supposed savings and efficiency of their products, such as garbage collection, electric meters and street bricks.
    Some cities have already voted to raise their property tax rates. Tallahassee Mayor John Marks said his city has taken a preliminary vote to increase its rate to pre-Amendment 1 levels. And Tallahassee, like many Florida cities, has already tried its only other option.
    "Cuts, cuts and more cuts," Marks said.
    Mark Schlueb can be reached at mschlueb@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5417.

  2. Brazilians Demand Land Reform, Shorter Working Hours, Latin American Herald Tribune.
    SAO PAULO - Students, unionized workers and members of grassroots groups held marches in Brazil's major cities Friday to press demands for land reform, shorter working hours and the resignation of a senior politician accused of corruption.
    Thousands turned out for protests in Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and other urban hubs.
    Despite a large police presence, the march in Sao Paulo unfolded in an almost-festive atmosphere.
    One of the protest organizers, CTB union Vice President Nivaldo Santana, said Friday was a "national day of struggle."
    "The weight of the (economic) crisis cannot fall on the shoulders of the workers," he told Efe at the event in Sao Paulo. "The labor and grassroots movement are fighting in defense of employment, wages and rights, for a reduction in the working day."
    Yet, many of the signs carried by marchers referred to the case of Senate President Jose Sarney, a former head of state mired in a massive scandal arising from allegations and nepotism.
    And some went beyond the demand for Sarney's resignation to call for the abolition of the Senate and a move to a unicameral Congress.
    Leandro Recife, a leader of the small Socialism and Freedom Party, described the Senate as "the most backward of Brazilian institutions" and Sarney as the country's "most archaic" politician.
    Protesters in Sao Paulo and other cities also wore surgical masks to symbolize their demand that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's government suspend the patent of Tamiflu, the medication given to swine-flu patients.
    "The Brazilian government must take all measures within its reach to defend the working population and the people ... and free the remedy for everyone," union official Santana told Efe.


8/13/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Workers adjust to the new F-word: furloughs, by Patrick May, San Jose Mercury News.
    "Furlough Fridays" for John Krumm may as well be called "Food Bank Fridays."
    Along with 210,000 fellow state government workers, the driver and safety clerk for the Department of Motor Vehicles is helping California balance its battered budget by taking an unpaid day off from work three Fridays each month. But he's not going to Project Open Hand's kitchen to volunteer.
    "I go to save money and get food for my table," says Krumm, describing a still-life tableau of his furlough handout:
    "Couple pieces of chicken. Some fruits and vegetables. Beans, milk and cheese. I'm losing $450 each month from my paycheck, so I'm watching every penny," he says. "And if they make us take off any more days, I won't be able to afford my rent."
    As private and public employers seek to whittle down overhead while skirting the heavier costs of laying off and rehiring staff, millions of workers are being poked and prodded with America's hottest management tool.
    "Furloughs make sense, because if you have a good employee, you want to do whatever you can to keep them," says labor lawyer Michael S. Bernick, former head of California's Employment Development Department under Gov. Gray Davis. "But while they may help reduce layoffs, they have their other side - for most workers, taking a 10 to 20 percent pay cut is a big hit."
    Furloughs can also create huge workload back-ups as well as raise sticky legal questions for employers who try and force exempt workers into unpaid leaves. And critics like San Francisco State University professor John Sullivan say the management tool could actually end up causing more workplace problems than they solve. "If you cut everyone's pay," he says, "you'll drive away your top performers and end up with mediocre people."
    As the new F-word makes the rounds of the water-cooler and cocktail-party circuit, it seems everyone from auto workers to bridge inspectors to newspaper reporters are being forced to take unpaid leave as companies try to stay afloat and governments slash budgets. Firm numbers are hard to come by, according to economist Stephen Levy, who says that in the private sector at least, "as long as sales start to pick up slightly, we're probably at the peak of layoffs and furloughs right now."
    But in an economy where 6.7 million jobs have disappeared since the recession began in December 2007, and as private wages and salaries continue to fall each month, no one's betting against the prospect of more furloughs. In fact, six percent of employers surveyed by the consulting firm Watson Wyatt Worldwide say they will force mandatory furloughs within the next 12 months, while nearly one in 10 of those asked say they expect to implement a shortened workweek over the same time frame.
    And while nearly half the state governments have instituted or proposed furloughs, it may have been California's historic embrace that moved them onto the front page. In addition to planned layoffs, California hopes to save $3 billion over 17 months by sending home state employees the first three Fridays of each month. Using the tool for the first time to bridge its gaping deficit, Department of Personnel Administration spokesman Lynelle Jolley says furloughs were the best fix for a dire situation.
    "With the state in a precarious position, we needed to conserve cash immediately," she says. "The layoff process can be quite lengthy, but with furloughs we can achieve savings immediately. We were desperate."
    State governments seem to be taking a page from industries like heavy manufacturing and airlines, which historically have furloughed employees when business slowed. In Silicon Valley, temporary shutdowns have been a common practice, often a year-end tradition at many high-tech firms.
    Mark Perry, a computer programmer with 30 years experience in the Valley, says state workers are now "getting a taste of real life that we've known for years in tech. They've been sort of sheltered.
    "I was with Intel, Fairchild, 23 different companies, and I was furloughed at about half of them until business turned around," says Perry, laid off in 2003 from Applied Materials. "The first time it's a bit of a shock, because you depend on a certain amount of income. But gradually you learn to treat it like you're on a pretend vacation. You kind of expect it and build it into the salary you think you're making.
    "Furloughs," says Perry, "train you not to live paycheck to paycheck."
    A lot of affected employees are conflicted: having a job is great — but taking a pay cut to keep that job stinks. First-timers like John Krumm are struggling with furlough shock.
    "I think it's a shame," says Krumm, who works at a San Francisco branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles. "You've already cut our pay by 14 percent, and if you add another day, you're up to 18 pecent. People working here will now be making less than they made when they started 10 years ago."
    For a couple employed by the state, the furloughs can be devastating. Krumm says "a lot of my colleagues at the DMV are filing for bankruptcy. A lot of them have a partner or husband who works for the state," which is a double whammy for the family budget.
    While most experts stress the positive impacts of furloughs over layoffs, no one says they're a panacea. They punish lower-paid workers disproportionately; they can torpedo workplace morale; and workers whose pay has been cut make for lousy consumers, saving more and spending less, hampering a quick economic recovery.
    Forced to downsize by his boss to a three-day work week, San Jose real estate professional William Huey says his furlough threw him off kilter, "because I'd had this structured routine and suddenly everything changed. On my days off, I had to think 'What am I supposed to be doing today?'"
    Even though his three days eventually turned into a layoff, Huey does see some benefits to mandatory time off. "In retrospect,'' says Huey, who used his forced-leave to help his wife start a private Chinese-language school, "it was as if I'd been allowed to leave my job gradually, because having that time off gives you the chance to explore other ideas you may want to try. The furlough,'' he says, "was like the severance package I never got in the end."
    Yet for Rick Binger, furloughs became a powerful if painful management tool to save his San Francisco-based catalog marketing firm and, hopefully, will ensure his six staffers all have jobs when the recession recedes. In February, faced with a virtual collapse of his business, Binger had his employees take a month off without pay. When new business didn't materialize, the furlough grew even longer until work picked up and employees started coming back to their jobs in July.
    "I told everyone I was really sorry, but I just didn't have any work so there was no income coming in," he says. "My hands were tied. Everyone sacrificed, and I think they knew that as hard as this was, it was better than being laid off."
    The use of furloughs, says Binger, "enabled me to survive over those four months."
    Others, though, say furloughs create more problems than they fix. Sullivan of San Francisco State University, is not only a passionate critic of the practice, but he's now being forced to take a furlough himself as part of the college system's efforts to cut costs.
    "I ask employers, 'Why are you doing furloughs?' and they say, 'because the other guy is,'" he says. "But they're a fad and they don't really save money. It's the poorly managed companies that use them, not places like Microsoft or Google."
    Sullivan says the smarter route would be better planning, a greater push for productivity gains — and the corner-office fortitude to let heads roll.
    "Managers are chicken to make the tough decision and let you go. But that's what a great manager does."
    "When you cut time and not workload," he says, "you've really compounded the problem you had to begin with."
    Just ask Krumm. DMV offices on Monday mornings after a Friday furlough have been described on online forums as a circus-like crush of humanity, with drivers lined up out the door to reach clerks whose workloads have been stacking up since Thursday.
    "After awhile,'' says Krumm, "they have to stop people from coming in the door because otherwise we'd be in violation of the fire code."

  2. Union offers state pay freeze proposal - The administration continues to pursue cuts through furloughs, By Richard Borreca, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
    At least one of the Hawaii Government Employees Association bargaining units is asking for no salary raises or pay grade increases during a new contract.
    But the state administration is seeking 14 percent cuts achieved through job furloughs.

    Tuesday was the deadline for the HGEA and administration to submit their proposals to an arbitration panel. If an agreement cannot be reached, the matter would go to arbitration in September, meaning a neutral party would decide on a new contract for HGEA employees.
    Both sides would be bound by the decision, which is expected by December.
    A new working contract for the state's largest government union will be decided by an arbitration panel.
    Public employee unions in Hawaii facing pay cuts and furloughs have gotten larger raises over the last four years, and after investigating the results may surprise you.
    The union asked that professional and scientific employees of Unit 13 continue to accumulate service toward seniority if no pay grade increases were allowed. Also, the union is requesting that a supplemental agreement must be negotiated to carry out furloughs.
    HGEA included a proposal for a 32-hour workweek, but a spokeswoman said the proposal was made early in the bargaining process and "in all likelihood, this proposal will be removed prior to arbitration."
    The state is proposing that state workers take a 14 percent pay cut though furloughs, put in overtime restrictions and reduce sick leave benefits.
    Yesterday, Georgina Kawamura, state budget director, warned that although the state has been able to end the fiscal year with an $8 million balance, the state needs to cut the existing $10.4 billion general fund budget by $658.9 million over the next two years to avoid running out of money.
    "I hate doing this, but when you have the reality of no money, what are you going to do? "Kawamura told a joint hearing of the House and Senate finance committees yesterday.
    Needed budget cuts already identified include $62 million in construction projects for educational facilities, $12.6 million in specific appropriations and $42 million in Medicaid benefits, Kawamura said.
    If Hawaii's economy continues to falter, Kawamura warned that in fiscal 2011-13 the state will need to cut an additional $500 million from the budget.
    At the same time, legislators said yesterday the Lingle administration is making a mistake by aiming at getting most of their budget savings through labor union pay and benefit cuts.
    "It is a dangerous assumption. We need to look at all options," said Rep Marcus Oshiro, House Finance Committee chairman.
    "We are beginning to look at where we can cut back on certain projects, where we can reduce some services or where we can find funds for services," Oshiro said.

  3. Barrister to barista: The rise of part-time Britain - Hidden toll of unemployment revealed as workers cut hours and take temporary jobs in attempt to avoid the dole queue / Bank of England warns that economic recovery will be 'slow and protracted', By Sean O'Grady, Independent.co.uk.
    Britain's army of unemployed number almost 2.5 million, the highest in almost 15 years, with almost one million younger people out of work.
    While shocking by many standards, the figures released by the official statisticians yesterday were, if anything, slightly better than had been expected. The unemployment rate stands at 7.8 per cent, up from 5.4 per cent this time last year, or around 750,000 more out of work.
    A more worrying trend is the emergence of an increasingly large group of the hidden unemployed – totalling more than 1.6 million – who are being pushed into taking shorter hours, temping or going into part-time work in an attempt to avoid the dole queues.
    Data released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday showed that another 220,000 joined the ranks of the unemployed in the three months to June 2009, taking the total to 2.4 million. However, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits, the "claimant count" has shown a moderating trend; still upwards, but at a slower pace than in recent months, suggesting that the rate of growth in joblessness is moderating, at least for now. An extra 25,000 people claimed job seeker's allowance in June, taking the total claimant count to 1.6 million.
    The news came as the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, indicated that the economic recovery, which may already be under way, will be so feeble that few people will notice the difference between the coming upturn and the previous recession. He said the challenge of fixing the "fragile" banking system meant that Britain is condemned to a "slow and protracted recovery" he said.
    There are now 928,000 jobless young people, and 472,100 18 to 24-year-olds claiming jobseeker's allowance. Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince's Trust, commented: "Youth unemployment now costs the state £3.4m per day in jobseeker's allowance. But this is just the start of a long and downward spiral, which all too often leads to crime, homelessness or worse." Millions of school leavers and graduates will inflate the total still further over the summer.
    Most economists expect the unemployment total to rise to over three million by the time of the next election.
    Figures released by the bank of England and the ONS yesterday indicated a growing number of what might be dubbed the "shadow unemployed," backing anecdotal evidence that the UK's liberalised labour market has both helped keep the official jobless totals low, while pushing many into a twilight world between traditional jobs and casual, insecure and poorly paid work. Pay rises in this recession, for example, are much lower than in previous ones, which Mr King said yesterday had helped save jobs, at least temporarily: "There is some evidence that real pay has been more flexible and that has enabled employment to stay stronger than would have been the case had we been back in the days of the late 1970s and early 1980s."
    The Bank of England also estimates, for example, that some 223,000 people are working short hours at the moment "for economic reasons," that excludes those choosing to do so to bring up a family, say, or care for someone. That number has been greatly inflated by the recession, almost doubling since 2008. The ONS' labour market statistics also reveal that there are 426,000 people currently temping because they cannot find a permanent position, up by a quarter on this time last year; and a further 964,000 working part-time who say they are seeking full time posts – up 40 per cent on a year ago.
    [There is an easy solution: redefine part-time as "full-time" a la timesizing.]
    There has also been an increase in the number of people declaring themselves students and self-employed, some of whom may, in reality, be practically speaking unemployed. The fact that none of these groups are eligible for benefits also means that they remain away from the claimant count numbers, which have generally been more optimistic. There is also the professional made redundant who finds themselves in casual bar or café work, for example – a sort of "barrister to barista" phenomenon – to consider.
    Susan Yallop, a director of Adecco, the employment agency, explained: "As the job market continues to alter, so too must candidates, their expectations and their approach to seeking employment; the key is flexibility. This means that candidates might need to be willing to broaden their horizons and consider jobs that may fall outside of their original target."
    'I was even turned down for a job at McDonalds'
    The lawyer who can't find work as a temp: Paul Singh
    Paul Singh, a 35-year-old Londoner, got a law degree from Queen Mary's University and later trained as a barrister. He was made redundant from his £60,000 a year job at a London recruitment firm six months ago and has since been too "over-qualified" to find a new job, even at McDonald's.
    "In my last job, I managed three junior consultants and was answerable to the managing director. Now prospective employers tell me I'm too senior to employ. I used to earn £40,000 per year minimum. That made £60,000 after bonuses. Now I am looking at temporary jobs which are offering £6.50 per hour. I even applied to McDonald's and they turned me down. But I am optimistic. From what I hear, things could be starting to turn. Companies have seemed reluctant to release any cash they had because they were worried about the wider economic situation.
    "Somebody must require staff somewhere, the problem is that there is so much competition and firms are looking for very specific types of experience. Even then, many are employing the cheapest option, regardless of experience."
    'My earnings have halved but I won't go on the dole'
    The manager who became a temp: Maureen Yole
    Maureen Yole was once responsible for outsourcing more than 200 temporary jobs to employment agencies, now she is struggling to get work through one herself.
    The 51-year-old, from Manchester, was earning about £30,000 a year before she took a voluntary redundancy package.
    Now, she said, she is willing to accept work for less than half of that figure.
    "My salary, after bonuses were added, was more than double of some of the pay cheques I am willing to look at now – around £9 per hour," she said.
    "I hope Adecco will be able to place me in a similar position to my old job but I am realistic and I don't think it will happen. The most important thing for me is not to go on to benefits.
    "I was employed by a large American firm in December 2007 when they decided they needed a presence in the UK. I was given a building site and told they needed a fully functioning office.
    "I was responsible for recruitment of staff. I used to use Adecco to find temporary staff, now I am signed up with them myself."
    'It's monotonous work and the pay is far lower'
    The engineer who became a temp: Jessica Burke
    Equipped with two engineering degrees, Jessica Burke graduated with a £28,000 job offer designing IT systems and programming robotic arms on car production lines. Six years later, she is temping for less than £14,000 a year.
    "My generation entered into a buoyant job market. My peers were able to land jobs where we could earn up to £35,000 a year.
    "The economic boom allowed me to move quickly into a project management role, eventually starting my own business as an IT and engineering consultant.
    "I could earn anything up to – and even above – £50,000. But towards the end of last year you could sense the downturn. Work started drying up and there was a notable lack in start-up businesses that required my services.
    "Now I'm doing a fairly monotonous admin and data-entry role. The pay is far lower than when I first temped 13 years ago. When I'm interviewed for temp roles, people are quick to judge me as overqualified or unsuited. That said, there are few experiences that build character and make you truly understand the value of money."


8/12/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. HGEA proposes four-day work week, Honolulu Advertiser.
    The Hawaii Government Employees Association's final contract proposal that was issued this week calls for no raises, a 60/40 employer split in worker health benefits and a four-day work week "with no adverse impact on compensation, benefits and working conditions."
    The union clarified on its members-only page today, however, that the plan for a 32-hour, four-day week at the same pay as a current 40-day week was submitted at the start of negotiations last year and that "in all likelihood, this proposal will be removed prior to arbitration."
    The online statement added: "The proposal has nothing to do with the current state of negotiations and discussions regarding furloughs."
    The Lingle administration, which at this point also represents the four counties, the Judiciary and other employers of HGEA's 29,000-person workforce, is maintaining that it wants to implement a wage reduction of up to 14 percent.
    Monday was the deadline for both sides to submit final written proposals to an arbitration panel that is scheduled to begin talks Sept. 4. A decision by the panel is expected by Dec. 21.
    In calling for a 60/40 split in employer/employee contributions toward health benefits, which the Lingle administration opposes, HGEA noted the health benefit issue cannot be decided by the arbitration panel and must be decided by the Legislature. That could delay a resolution until January, when the Legislature is next scheduled to meet.
    The state is facing an estimated $786 million budget deficit through June 2011. Gov. Linda Lingle has sought to save $688 million through labor cuts.
    The administration originally proposed to furlough workers three days a month in an effort to help cut the deficit, but a Circuit Court ruling last month said furloughs for union workers should be subject to collective bargaining.
    The administration last week delivered written layoff notices to about 1,100 state workers who were told they will lose their jobs in November.
    The HGEA had previously proposed a 5 percent pay cut to help balance the budget but made no mention of the pay cut in the written proposal submitted to the arbitration panel.

  2. Republicans at round table get dose of reality - Legislators, business owners come together, By Rob Varnon, Connecticut Post.
    While members of a union-backed political party paraded in tuxedos in a mock protest outside Alloy Engineering Tuesday, local Republicans in the Legislature confronted sobering news from businesses concerned about higher taxes and other government policies affecting them.
    Alloy Engineering is down seven full-time people and has gone to a four-day work week.
    AllPhase Construction, which employed 100 people last year, is down to 50.
    EDCO Industries had 20 employees working three shifts; now it's down to eight working one.
    PMT group had 130 in Bridgeport; now it's got 70.
    Businesses owners from the region told a Republican delegation led by Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, R-Fairfield, and House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, their concerns about how the state budget stalemate will end and their problems with some state policies. The event was organized as a round-table discussion and listening session. A similar event was held in Stamford in the morning.
    "We're at a tipping point," McKinney said, opening the discussion and describing the state's budget problem as a pitched battle over taxes and spending cuts. He and Cafero described the meeting as a dose of reality from which they hoped to galvanize more support for Republican proposals to cut back spending to 2007 levels instead of placing more burdens on business people such as those around the table, who create 80 percent to 90 percent of the jobs in the state.
    While this was going on inside, the Working Families Party's "Billionaires for Budget Cuts," a group that has been staging protests against Republican proposals by dressing up in ball gowns and high fashion, and offering mocking support, was demonstrating outside. The group supports a Democratic-led proposal to increase taxes on individuals with adjusted gross incomes of $500,000 or more. However, when asked if any of the business owners and executives make that, no one inside Alloy raised a hand. And the issue of the so-called millionaires tax was not a major part of the discussion.
    Kris Lorch, president of Alloy, kicked things off by stating that when expenses outstrip income in her household, her family has to cut spending.
    "I don't think the state should be any different," she said. "We're all in this together. You can't spend your way out of this."
    The fiscal stalemate occurred after Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell vetoed a budget passed by the Legislature, which the Democrats control.
    There are two proposals on the table to address the situation. A Democratic proposal would raise state taxes by $1.8 billion, while Rell's proposal would increase them by $391 million. Republicans in the Legislature, being so few in number, have had little success pushing their plan for no tax increases.
    State Sen. Dan Debicella, R-Shelton, pointed out that Arizona was voting on a budget this year that would cut income and corporate taxes in an effort to grow the tax base in the future. The Arizona proposal would reduce several taxes but increase sales taxes.
    Several business people at the table said they could increase their profits by moving out of state, but remain here because they are committed to their communities and workers.
    Newman Marsilius III, president and chief executive of PMT in Bridgeport, voiced concerns about longer-term problems affecting the state.
    He said his electricity bill is $580,000 and his property tax bill is $246,000.
    "I've given up on Connecticut," he said.
    Dave Cremin, of Stratford-based Stratton Industries, had the most positive report. He's hiring people, but like PMT, he's concerned about the cost of electricity and the ability to attract the highly skilled workers he needs to compete.
    The manufacturers at the table pointed that out on several occasions, saying that they are competing in a global marketplace and that adding more costs just adds to their headaches. They also expressed concerns about higher health care costs.
    Most of the issues, including electricity costs, affordable housing and finding talent, are not new.
    Paul Timpanelli, president and chief executive officer of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and one of the three registered Democrats at the table Tuesday, said the overriding issue isn't the budget crisis.
    "This is about structural problems in the state of Connecticut," he said.
    During the discussion, Cafero asked each business leader what a 30 percent corporate tax increase would do to his or her business. To varying degrees, the response was that it would cause more pain.
    However, House Speaker Chris Donovan, D-Meriden, said in a phone interview that the latest Democratic proposal was more in line with Rell's, which would in effect be a corporate surcharge boosting the rate by 10 percent.
    Donovan, who was not at the round table, said the issues that were discussed there are being discussed everywhere. He said the situation has become difficult because of a drop in revenues, most notably from Wall Street problems that resulted in reductions in bonuses for many Fairfield County residents and, thus, a reduction in income taxes for the state.
    Donovan said lawmakers thought they were addressing some of the business concerns in legislation that was vetoed, including the budget proposal. He said a program to allow small businesses and municipalities to get health care coverage at a much lower price than they are paying in the private market was vetoed.
    There is a fundamental disagreement over what can be cut out of government, he said.
    "I was at a meeting with mental health care professionals who asked why we spend money to preserve land," Donovan said. Others ask why the state stock rivers and lakes with fish, he added.
    "There are things we want to cut that Jodi doesn't want to cut," he said.


8/11/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Productivity rises more than expected in 2Q, By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, The Associated Press.
    [This article obsesses about something totally and completely irrelevant = "productivity" - which is meaningful only in the phrase "marketable productivity" - and when you achieve higher absolute productivity by cutting employees instead of trimming hours and maintaining pay, you're simply chopping your own markets and guaranteeing that your absolute productivity gains will soon be rolled back for lack of markets.]
    WASHINGTON — Productivity surged in the spring by the largest amount in almost six years while labor costs plunged at the fastest pace in nine years. The results point to a recession losing steam [not at all - they are meaningless blips], but they do not bode well for the unemployed or those forced to work shorter weeks who were hoping for more hours.
    The Labor Department said Tuesday that productivity, the amount of output per hour of work, rose at an annual rate of 6.4 percent in the April-June quarter, while unit labor costs dropped 5.8 percent. Both results were greater than economists expected.
    Productivity can help boost living standards because it means companies can pay their workers more, with those wage increases financed by rising output. However, in this recession, companies have been using their productivity gains from layoffs and other cost cuts not to hire again but to bolster their profits.
    The result: Many companies have been reporting better-than-expected second-quarter earnings despite falling sales.
    Businesses producing more with fewer employees means millions of unemployed Americans likely will continue to face a dismal job market. Some analysts also worry that companies' aggressive cost-cutting could make it hard to mount a sustainable recovery. That's because a lack of wage growth and a shortage of jobs will likely depress consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of economic output.
    [Bingo.]
    In a second report, the Commerce Department said wholesale inventories declined for a record 10th consecutive month, falling 1.7 percent in June. That was nearly double the 0.9 percent decrease economists had expected.
    But in an encouraging sign, sales rose 0.4 percent for a second straight month. The first back-to-back increases in a year boosted hopes that businesses will begin to ramp up production to meet rising demand.
    On Wall Street, stocks fell after the mixed economic reports and on comments from analyst Richard Bove of Rochdale Securities who wrote in a research note that bank earnings won't improve in the second half of this year and that many companies will post losses. The Dow Jones industrial average lost about 90 points in morning trading and broader indices also fell.
    The 6.4 percent jump in productivity followed a 0.3 percent increase in the first three months of the year that was revised downward from an earlier estimate of a 1.6 percent gain. The revision partially reflected the annual benchmark revisions of economic data connected to the gross domestic product.
    Economists had expected productivity to surge in the second quarter as businesses continued to lay off workers and trim the number of hours being worked by their remaining employees amid the nation's worst recession since the end of World War II.
    [- thus demonstrating the total irrelevance or rather counter-productiveness of "productivity" gains bought at the cost of markets for that productivity in terms of downsized employee-consumers.]
    The nation's total output of goods and services, as measured by the gross domestic product, fell at an annual rate of 1 percent in the second quarter. That was a much slower rate of decline than the previous two quarters when the economy shrank at the fastest pace in more than a half-century.
    Many economists believe the recession is on the verge of ending. Should the economy start to grow in the second half of this year, some companies might boost employment — if demand for their products showed a sustained increase.
    Still, the leaner work force should help keep productivity rising in coming quarters although the gains are not expected to be as large as the jump in the spring.
    "Before the recession of 2001, productivity typically fell in recessions because companies waited too long to respond to the downturn," Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a research note.
    Among those reporting second-quarter profits due partly to layoffs and other cost cuts were Internet company Yahoo Inc., which saw earnings grow 8 percent, and automaker Ford Motor Co.
    The 6.4 percent jump in productivity at an annual rate was the biggest quarterly gain since a 9.7 percent surge in the third quarter of 2003.
    The 5.8 percent decline in unit labor costs followed a revised 2.7 percent dip in the first quarter and was the biggest quarterly drop since a 7.7 percent decline in the second quarter of 2000.

  2. Short Time Compensation Program helps workers whose hours are cut, By Paul Ivice, Stuart News.
    STUART, Florida — When the Houston Cuozzo Group began closing on Fridays, its employees became eligible for a little-known pro-rated unemployment compensation program.
    The four-day work week meant a 20 percent reduction in work hours and pay for the dozen employees of the Stuart-based landscape design firm.

    Office manager Rhonda Reed said she and the other Houston Cuozzo employees get about one-third of their lost wages back through the *Short Time Compensation program, administered by the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation.
    "I do feel I am making an investment in the company," Reed said, "but it was indicated they would make it up to us when the company gets back on track."
    The Short Time Compensation Program was created by the Florida Legislature in 1983 to help businesses to keep their workforce intact while reducing labor costs. Not surprisingly, the program has become more popular in the past two years.
    More than 8,300 workers statewide for 321 businesses, mostly manufacturing and construction companies, have received Short Time Compensation benefits so far this year, said Denishia Robinson, a spokeswoman for Florida's Agency for Workforce Innovation.
    Last year, about 5,900 workers statewide from 132 companies received benefits. In 2007, it was 1,100 workers from 41 companies.
    Full-time employees whose work hours are reduced between 10 and 40 percent are eligible for program benefits. The employer is eligible for the program if work hours for at least 10 percent of the total staff or within a particular unit are reduced.
    The theory behind the partial unemployment program is that employers avoid the expense of recruiting, hiring and training new workers. Meanwhile, employees keep their jobs. Employers who may also use the program as a transition to layoffs, allowing the employees to work at reduced levels with an opportunity to seek another job before the expected layoff.
    The one-day-per-month furloughs that Martin County and Fort Pierce employees must take is a reduction of about 5 percent in their work hours and paychecks – not enough to qualify for Short Time Compensation.


8/09-10/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Summertime summit in Seattle to dissect Americans' lack of vacation time, By Richard Seven, Seattle Times.
    Ever since the middle class began taking vacations in the mid-19th century, Americans have wrestled with questions of how much vacation is enough and how to leave work completely behind.
    Those and other issues will be batted around at this week's National Vacation Matters Summit at Seattle University.
    The agenda lists presentations on everything from the impact of workplace stress on coronary health to why Americans who get paid vacation time use relatively little of it.
    The roster of presenters includes cardiologists, psychologists and representatives of organized labor, academia and environmentalism, as well as the travel and tourism industries.
    John de Graaf, co-founder and executive director of Take Back Your Time, a Seattle nonprofit that preaches that time can and should mean more than money, organized the event.
    "The goal is to bring people together to brainstorm on how we can get Americans to better understand that vacation matters," says de Graaf, an author and freelance film producer. "I am not advocating slacking. That's not the point. We're just totally out of balance in this country."
    De Graaf recently helped draft a bill mandating paid vacations that was introduced in Congress by Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla.
    The Paid Vacation Act of 2009 would require one week of paid vacation at companies with at least 100 employees. Three years after passage, the bill would extend the one-week vacation mandate to companies with at least 50 employees, and require two weeks for companies with 100 employees. Workers must have worked 1,250 hours in a year to be eligible.

    A 2007 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that the United States is the only advanced economy in the world that doesn't guarantee its workers paid vacation. A quarter of American workers don't get any paid annual vacation; those who do average about two weeks a year.
    But the vacation issue is not just about providing vacation for everyone. It's also about getting workers to take what they've earned. A 2009 survey commissioned by travel site Expedia.com found that a third of employed U.S. adults "usually" do not take all of the vacation days they receive in a year.
    When asked why not, 11 percent of respondents said they were banking their time in hopes of getting money back for unused vacation days. Other top responses involved the hassle of scheduling days off or not being able to coordinate their days off with those of a spouse.
    Meanwhile, 37 percent of respondents said they regularly work more than 40 hours per week.
    Cindy Aron, a former University of Virginia history professor and author of an exhaustive history of the American vacation, "Working at Play," notes a circular logic.
    "What made people middle-class in the 19th century was not only the sort of work they did and the sort of homes in which they lived, but the sort of values to which they aspired: hard work, sobriety, self-control, discipline," she says. "Adhering to these values were what allowed them to accumulate the resources to become middle-class and to take vacations. Being on vacation threatened to undermine those values."
    De Graaf's proposed law, which figures to languish behind more pressing legislation, attracted immediate disdain from political conservatives and business interests. Opponents complained such legislation is "one more step toward socialism" (and "becoming France"); is too expensive for employers; and an obstacle to America's competitiveness in the world economy.
    They also said the legislation is unnecessary because most American workers already get paid vacation time.
    De Graaf was taken aback by the intensity of the opposition because he was criticized by the other end of the spectrum for pushing a too-modest proposal.
    Some see this as an odd time to push for paid vacation. Unemployment is high, jobs are being outsourced, companies are under stress to do more with less, and employees find themselves working harder to make ends meet while facing cutbacks, unpaid furloughs and the threat of job loss.
    But Michelle Rupp, owner of NRG, a 12-employee Seattle insurance-brokerage company, feels this is the best time to talk seriously about vacations.
    "The profit-only model in corporate America is not working," she says. "Plants oil their machines and turn them off at night. We don't run them 24/7. So why do businesses feel they shouldn't help their workers rest and recharge?"
    Rupp's company, started by her father in the early '70s, has won national awards for bringing flexibility to the workplace. The company also starts workers at two weeks paid vacation and awards an additional monthlong paid furlough every five years.
    Rupp is rigid about one thing: When her employees take vacations, they must take at least a week. That's the minimum that she believes is necessary to feel disconnected from work. She believes rested workers are better workers.
    "I'm just carrying on what my dad did," she says. "He got it."
    De Graaf learned the value of free time as a kid hiking through Yosemite National Park with his father. At 14, he went backpacking with friends for two weeks. As a high-school senior, he hiked and camped with a buddy for six weeks. Those experiences stuck with him, and he continues to take wilderness excursions with his own son.
    In 1994, de Graaf coproduced a PBS documentary called "Running Out of Time," which solidified his thinking. He joined the voluntary simplicity movement but felt the need to go past anti-consumption and efficiency messages. He felt time was the missing — or disappearing — link. Along with colleagues, he started Take Back Your Time to give a "policy dimension" to the simplicity movement.
    "I recall a class at the University of Wisconsin in 1968 in which the professor said automation and technology would create a crisis of too much leisure time.
    "I told myself that's a problem I could deal with," he says. "But that leisure crisis never came."
    Richard Seven: 206-464-2241 or rseven@seattletimes.com
    If you go
    The National Vacation Matters Summit will be held Monday through Wednesday at Pigott Auditorium, Seattle University campus. Registration costs $50 for the full conference, $25 for students. Most of the presentations will be on Tuesday. Details: www.timeday.org/
    We're number 11!
    According to a study commissioned by Expedia.com, the average number of vacation days* employed adults will receive in 2009:
    1. France 38 days
    2. Italy 31 days
    3. Spain 30 days
    4. (tie) Germany 27 days
    Austria 27 days
    6. Great Britain 26 days
    7. New Zealand 21 days
    8. (tie) Canada 19 days
    Australia 19 days
    10. Japan 15 days
    11. United States 13 days
    * Based on the mean of all employed adults, including those who get no vacation time.

  2. [Law]suits question after-hours demands of email and cellphones, by Michael Sanserino, 8/10 WSJ, B1.
    Two recent lawsuits raise a question that many employees and employers have deliberated: Should hourly workers be paid for time spent responding to work calls or emails while off the clock?
    The federal suits highlight the legal issues sparked by the proliferation of personal technology as well as the blurring of work and free time.

    Last month, three current and former employees sued T-Mobile USA Inc., claiming they were required to use company-issued smart phones to respond to work messages after hours without pay.
    In a March suit, a former CB Richard Ellis Group Inc. maintenance worker seeks pay for time spent after hours receiving and responding to messages on a work-issued cellphone.
    "This is about 'What is work?'" said Dan McCoy, an employment lawyer and partner at Fenwick & West LLP who isn't involved in either case.
    The two cases come amid other disputes over when employees should be paid. A California appeals court recently reinstated a suit by employees of medical-technology provider Lincare Inc. seeking compensation for time spent answering customer questions by phone while on call. Lincare didn't respond to calls for comment.
    Greg Rasin, a partner at Proskauer Rose LLP, a New York business law firm, said the recession may spawn wage-and-hour disputes as employers try to do the same amount of work with fewer people.
    The federal Fair Labor Standards Act says employees must be paid for work performed off the clock, even if the work was voluntary. When the law was passed in 1938, "work" was easy to define for hourly employees, said Mr. McCoy. As the workplace changed, so did the rules for when workers should be paid.
    Subsequent court decisions have interpreted the law to require some hourly employees to be paid for putting on and taking off work uniforms, like police gear, and for time spent while booting up computers, said Audrey Mross, a partner and head of the labor and employment division at Munck Carter LLP in Dallas.
    More recently, workers and their advocates have sought to apply the law to cover time driving to and from assignments off company property.
    With smart phones, which typically provide Internet access and email as well as voice calling, "the boundaries become much more permeable" and work is difficult to monitor, said Christina Banks, a senior lecturer at the University of California Berkeley and president of Lamorinda Consulting LLC.
    The use of pagers once raised similar issues. The Labor Department has said that workers generally don't have to be paid for carrying pagers, unless they get buzzed so often they can't use on-call time for "personal pursuits." Ms. Mross said there have been few significant court rulings on the issue.
    Analysts say such disputes are growing as cheaper technology puts these devices in the hands of more workers.
    "It used to be only the partner in the law firm or the executives at the companies that had access," said Brent Pelton, a partner at Pelton & Associates PC, the firm representing the T-Mobile workers.
    The current and former T-Mobile employees say they were required to use company-issued smart phones to respond to work-related messages, including customer complaints, after hours without pay. When the workers reported the hours to management of the cellphone company, the lawsuit says, the employees were told nothing could be done and they should expect to work extra hours as part of T-Mobile's "standard business practices."
    In a statement, the company said it complies with wage and hour laws, but doesn't comment on pending litigation. The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
    In the CB Richard Ellis case, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, John Rulli, a former maintenance worker for the commercial real-estate services company in Muskego, Wis., said he wasn't paid for after-hours time spent receiving and responding to messages on his cellphone.
    In the suit, Mr. Rulli said he was handcuffed to his phone because the company required him to quickly respond to messages at any hour.
    CB Richard Ellis declined to address the specifics but said in a statement, "We believe this complaint is without merit and are contesting it vigorously." The company said it complies with employment laws.
    Nola Hitchcock-Cross, a partner at Milwaukee's Cross Law Firm, which is representing Mr. Rulli, said technological advancements have created a class of workers that is perpetually on call.
    Mr. McCoy said employers should adopt policies to regulate smart phone use outside the office. Managers should contact employees sparingly, and make sure they are paid for responding, he said. "There is a practical approach to this," he said.
    Write to Michael Sanserino at michael.sanserino@wsj.com

  3. Why unemployment won't rise this time - It appears Australians are working fewer hours, which beats losing their jobs, by Ross Gittins, 8/10 The Age via business.theage.com.au.
    THE unemployment rate's refusal to rise isn't as good as it looks. But when you think through the unfamiliar issues, you see that the pluses outweigh the minuses.
    This is a strange recession that's not proceeding in the way economists expected it to, going by the economy's behaviour in previous recessions. And there's nothing stranger that the behaviour of unemployment.
    The long-running fall in job vacancy advertisements, combined with earlier signs of weakness in confidence and activity, led economists to expect a reasonably rapid rise in unemployment.
    But we learnt last week that the rate for July of 5.8 per cent was no higher than for the previous month, which was up just a sliver from the 5.7 per cent rate in March.
    Why is unemployment rising so slowly? Because the level of total employment is virtually unchanged in the past year. (The rise in unemployment since July last year is thus explained by the growth in the labour force, particularly young people leaving education and being unable to find a job.)
    But if it all sounds too good to be completely true, it is. ''Total'' employment comprises full-time employment plus part-time employment, and it turns out that a fall of about 190,000 in full-time jobs has been offset by a similar rise in part-time jobs.
    That's not a good deal. It means that, overall, fewer hours are being worked and being paid for. And new figures published by the Bureau of Statistics confirm that the total number of hours worked per month fell by 3 per cent over the past year.
    Fewer hours of paid work mean households have less income to spend - which is hardly good news for the strength of consumer spending over the rest of this year.
    To put the problem another way, although we've had little rise in unemployment over the past four months, we've had a big rise in under-employment - people not being able to work as many hours as they'd like to.
    (To date, however, we haven't had much of a fall in the rate at which people of working age are participating in the labour market, either by working or actively seeking work. This says we haven't yet had a great increase in ''hidden unemployment'' caused by a rise in the number of ''discouraged jobseekers'' leaving the labour market.)
    The most popular explanation among economists for the slow rise in unemployment and the lack of decline in total employment is that rather than laying off some of their staff, many employers are preferring to put all of them on shorter hours. This would show up in the statistics as a fall in full-time employment but a rise in part-time employment.
    Note that no one can prove from the figures that this is the dominant explanation of the phenomenon. It could be that the fall in full-time employment is largely unrelated to the rise in part-time employment.
    But the fact that an unusually high proportion of the additional part-time jobs are going to men (who account for most of the loss in full-time jobs) makes me suspect there's a fair bit of truth to this explanation.
    It's also consistent with what a lot of employers are telling the Reserve Bank when it does its informal ''liaison'' consultations with big firms and industry groups.
    Why would employers change their behaviour in this way? Perhaps because, having so recently grappled with shortages of skilled labour, employers are more anxious about hanging on to experienced staff. It may also be that older employees, conscious of the inadequacy of their superannuation savings, are more resistant to the idea of being bundled off into involuntary early retirement.
    The interesting but unfamiliar question that arises is: is this a helpful or unhelpful development?
    Let's say an employer of 100 workers faces a choice between laying off 10 of them or cutting everyone's hours by 10 per cent. His reduction in total hours worked would be the same and the reduction in his wage bill would be much the same. (Actually, there are quite high costs in the short term associated with making workers redundant.)
    So what difference does it make? From an equity perspective, it's fairer to spread the burden of the fall in demand for the employer's product equally between all workers than to pick 10 per cent for lay-offs.
    But what about from a macro-economic perspective? If the decline in wage costs and wage income is the same either way, what difference does it make?
    You can argue that, on balance, the job-sharing (or burden-sharing) approach is better. For one thing, having fewer workers spending months or even years out of work reduces the cost to the economy (and the individual worker) from ''hysteresis'' - the atrophication of skills and motivation.
    For another, it's not just a question of how much income workers have to spend, it's also a question of how they change their spending behaviour in response to loss of income.
    I think you can argue that 10 unemployed workers are likely to cut their combined spending by more than would 100 workers suffering what they expect to be a temporary 10 per cent cut in income - more so if the 90 remaining workers in the first case fear they too may get the chop.
    But perhaps the biggest difference would be in the effect on the psychology of consumers and business people generally. Increases in underemployment get far less publicity than increases in unemployment.
    If you believe that news of rising unemployment - or, more powerfully, stories on the TV news about mass lay-offs at factory X, complete with footage of upset workers streaming out the gates - makes people more anxious about losing their own jobs, and thus more inclined to tighten their belts, then the job-sharing alternative is better.
    The point is, ''confidence'' is such a powerful determinant of the severity of recessions that the less you do to shake it the milder the recession will end up being.
    That's true even if the apparent avoidance of higher unemployment isn't as good as it looks.


8/8/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. More firms cut hours, not jobs - Hundreds tap program that makes up lost pay; not all workers embrace the idea, By Julie Forster, Pioneer Press, Minn.
    Although a recession had taken hold, Red Wing Shoe Co. enjoyed record sales in 2008. It shipped more shoes during its fiscal year, which ended in November 2008, than any time in its 100-year history. Workers took home their biggest profit sharing checks ever.
    A year ago, Roger Spindler, 55, a leather cutter who had worked at the Red Wing plant in the picturesque Mississippi Valley for 36 years, was clocking regular 12-hour shifts to meet demand for the workmen's boots he helped make.
    The economic slowdown was taking hold, however, battering the auto, oil and construction industries and along with it the jobs of plumbers, pipe fitters, drill crew members and roofers. Orders for Red Wing's boots declined.
    So has Spindler's overtime. Eventually, work slackened on the regular shifts, and his supervisor regularly encouraged him and other workers to take off early.
    By February 2009 the company's inventory swelled as retailers slashed theirs. In March, Red Wing Shoes was running out of warehouse space. Chris Zylka, director of manufacturing, knew something had to give.
    For most employers, this is where layoffs come in. U.S. businesses have been shedding jobs at a staggering rate; the nation's jobless rate was 9.4 percent in July. Minnesota's 8.4 percent jobless rate in June was a 26-year high.
    Red Wing, too, had turned to job cuts in the past when demand slumped. That just didn't seem smart anymore, though. Management wanted to retain its workforce, betting sales would eventually pick up.
    32-HOUR WORK WEEK
    The privately held company operates plants in Minnesota, Missouri and Kentucky and employs 2,100 hourly and salaried employees. In addition to the Red Wing brand, the company also makes boots sold under Carhartt, Vasque and other names. The company doesn't disclose financials, but a spokesman said sales were more than $450 million in 2008. Hoover's estimates sales were $471.5 million for the period.
    Red Wing's 430 production workers at its Minnesota plant have skills perfected over many years crafting boots in more than 100 widths and sizes to exacting standards, working efficiently. "We have very skilled workers; we didn't want to lose them," said Dave Murphy, president and chief operating officer at the privately held company.
    As an alternative to layoffs, management proposed scaling back workers' weekly hours to 32 and applying to the state to offset the lost wages with unemployment benefits. Workers, who are represented by the United Food & Commercial Workers, agreed.
    "It's really making the best in a difficult economic time," Zylka said. Though workers lost 20 percent of their weekly hours, federal stimulus dollars that boost unemployment checks temporarily reduce the loss in pay to an estimated 5 percent per week.
    SHARED WORK
    Minnesota is one of 18 states in the nation that offer companies and their workers an option called Shared Work as a way to avert layoffs, allowing participating companies to retain workers for when demand picks up.
    Even though many employers don't know about the program, nor is it marketed, the number of companies doing it has skyrocketed in recent years. When it first started in the mid '90s, the number of participating companies was "miniscule" according to the state. Only recently have the numbers grown. Last year, 55 companies joined the program. Today there are 423 active plans and close to 13,000 workers at companies around the state receiving unemployment while working reduced schedules. "Those are record numbers," said Tom Romens, who oversees the program for the state.
    With a change in law last week, which makes the program less restrictive and more flexible for companies, Romens expects that there will be a spike in new plans.
    The program works best for companies dealing with a temporary fall in demand and is not meant to stave off the inevitable such as a permanent layoff or plant closing. "Some employers have commented that we understand when an employee is laid off, they lose benefits and they lose everything so this, in their mind, is a more humane approach to dealing with production slowdowns," Romens said.
    DEEPER CUTS AVERTED
    Dura Supreme, a kitchen cabinet maker in Howard Lake, entered the program from March 2008 to February 2009, betting at the time that the recession would not be so long and severe as it has been. As production plummeted with the housing market, the company reduced schedules for its 530 production and hourly administrative hours by eight hours per week. The idea was to scoop up market share from ailing competitors. Not foreseeing the depth of the recession at the time and that the whole market would shrink so much, the company ended up laying off 120 workers in February and April and lost another 60 or so through attrition.
    If not for reduced hours, "We would have gone deeper, and we would have done it earlier, and more people would have been hurt as a result of it," said Steve Michel, director of human resources. Even now the company — still hoping to grab business from competitors — is carrying more than 100 people with health benefits than it needs to meet current demand.
    Dura Supreme is going back into the program in September, and workers will once again be able to collect unemployment.
    While it sounds like a simple solution for companies looking to retain workers amid dropping sales, it's not. Red Wing's story illustrates how complicated it can be.
    DIVIDED WORKFORCE
    Don Frandrup has worked for Red Wing for 33 years. As a leather cutter he quickly cuts multiple pieces in various sizes from a large cowhide as he would in piecing together a jigsaw puzzle at top speed. He needs to quickly analyze the leather with its scars and imperfections and figure out what pieces to cut for high quality on the top of the boot and which pieces should be cut for inside the boot. At $3 per square foot, the company loses a lot of money if he's wrong, and the boots have to be sold as factory seconds.
    Frandrup, 52, has lived through up and down cycles. High on his union's seniority list, he figured the company would resort to layoffs as it has in the past, cutting from the bottom first. "I figured that's the way it would go, the same way it's been done for 100 years," he said as he took a short break from his job on the factory floor. When the workers voted on whether to open up the union contract, to allow for shorter workweeks, Frandrup voted no.
    The company proposed the plan to the union's executive board in March. Employees would work eight hours less per week but retain their benefits. When the executive board decided against it, not wanting to divert from their contract or upset the union seniority system, supervisors immediately hit the production floor talking to workers about the plan.
    After employees learned of it, Spindler, who is the local union president, tried to get his work done but was constantly interrupted by his fellow workers. One would say we need the Shared Work program. The next person would say we better not go into the Shared Work program. Workers became emotional and divided. The workforce was in "turmoil," as Spindler put it. Words were exchanged on the factory floor as emotions ran strong.
    At a heated union meeting to discuss the proposal, there was shouting and crying as those with the most seniority called for layoffs as opposed to a reduction in hours. The junior people who feared losing their jobs spoke out, wanting to take the company's proposal.
    "I don't know if it was the most heated meeting I've ever attended in my 36 years, but it was right up there," said Spindler, who voted against the company's proposal because he didn't want to deviate from a contract he had spent many difficult hours negotiating.
    Bill Lee, 30, who has worked for the company for five years, called the meeting "pretty intense." He saw first hand how divided the workers were. With low seniority he feared for his job, worrying about how as a first time homebuyer he could cover the mortgage and provide for his newborn and two year old should he be laid off.
    For the company, the question boiled down to this, said Murphy: "Do we weather the storm together or take other actions that make some people winners and others losers."
    The reduced hours plan is what Murphy calls the best alternative to layoffs and allows the company some breathing room. He would only say that year over year sales were off in the low double digits and declined to be more specific about the company's revenue.
    To be sure, while he could operate at the current size with 2,100 employees for years while freezing salaries and cutting everyone's workweek, he's not sure it's the right way to operate if demand doesn't rebound. He's balancing the needs of all with the question of whether he's operating at the right size for a prolonged downturn or whether layoffs may be in the offing. "It's a question we are asking ourselves today as we create next year's business plan."
    BETTER THAN LAYOFFS
    Red Wing's plants in Missouri and Kentucky are non-union. They are operating differently in the downturn: In Missouri, which has Shared Work, workers have reduced hours. In Kentucky, there is no such program, and the plant has had multiple production line shutdowns.
    In Red Wing, after the union approved Shared Work in a close vote, the reduced hours started in May. The program runs for a year. Since the federal stimulus bill gives everyone who receives unemployment an extra $25 per week in pay, and they pay no federal or state taxes on the first $2,400 in unemployment benefits, Zylka says the hit to pay has been minimized and for this year at least, the corresponding reduction in pay amounts to about 5 percent.
    Lee is relieved. Reduced hours and an unemployment check are "way better than getting laid off."
    And though Spindler voted against it, he admits that for the majority of people it was the best way to go. "The junior people need jobs, and they need insurance, too."
    Julie Forster can be reached at 651-228-5189.

  2. Program has clunky reasoning, op ed by Edward L. Glaeser, Boston Globe, A11.
    CAN IT REALLY be good environmentalism to bribe people to go out and buy new cars?
    [So whoever claimed that the cash-for-clunkers program was good environmentalism? This is the first of the nonexistent straw men that the mighty Glaeser sets up to knock down so easily, because they don't exist.]
    The cash-for-clunkers program encourages Americans to swap old, less fuel-efficient cars for new, more fuel-efficient models. One side effect of the program is that new car owners will surely find it more appealing to drive in their snazzy new cars. A better way to reduce carbon emissions is to make driving more, not less, expensive.
    [Anybody hear anything about reducing carbon emissions from the proponents of this program?? (not that we support any specific-industry support by government, forced by special interests from taxpayers without their approval.]
    When gas prices spiked last year, the MBTA experienced record ridership numbers, an increase of 21 million people over 2007. Estimates suggest that when the cost of travel increases by 10 percent, car traffic decreases by 3 percent. Subsidizing more fuel-efficient cars lowers the gas used for each mile of travel, but it encourages driving and discourages public transit use, car pooling, and living at higher densities close to jobs. Can Congress ever stop supporting sprawl?
    The cash-for-clunkers policy seems based on the mistaken view that the number of miles traveled is independent of the price or pleasure of driving. I call this the "lump of travel fallacy,'' which is one of a family of lumpy errors that all assume things will stay fixed when they won't.
    [This is based on the "lump of labor fallacy." which is a fallacy imputed to worksharers by conventional economists who soil themselves by setting up a non-existent straw man, easy to knock down, in slandering worksharers as true believers that there's a fixed amount of employment that needs to be divvied up and spread around, when actually there's a shrinking amount of market-demanded employment in any recession that needs to be spread around, and managers who respond to worksaving technology by downsizing instead of timesizing pretty much guarantee that recession will be constant, regardless of lack of a smooth-line graph, thus providing upticks where conventional economists can repeatedly cry "recession over!" despite joblessness and weakening markets.]
    The lump of travel fallacy misleads leaders into thinking that billions spent on highways will eliminate congestion.
    [No it doesn't - leaders want to accommodate more vehicles with billions spent of highways and head off total gridlock. Is Glaeser really suggesting we should stop spending money on highways - without giving people an alternative?]
    Yet economists Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner have compelling evidence that shows car travel increases essentially one-for-one with the amount of roads.
    [But do Duranton and Turner ever do anything useful and argue for public transportation and passenger trains?]
    The original lump fallacy is the "lump of labor fallacy.''
    [This slanderous piece of sophistry was polished over the decades by unthinking conventional economists inconspicuously corrupted by their usual source of income, wealthy alumni donors and CEOs. It functions as a quick way to pre-empt discussion of the only strategy that has ever brought sustainable economic prosperity without war; namely, spreading around the immediately available, natural, market-demanded employment regardless of how short a workweek that may take. These sneering social "scientists" insult themselves with their use of ridicule and their a-priori refusal, out of hand, to discuss an economic strategy that has been central in economic history - not that American economists, at least, have any particular respect for anything beyond their breathtakingly unrealistic econometric models, let alone history. And what they seem to be substituting is much more clearly a fallacy; namely, the assumption that the workweek should remain at the same arbitrary, historically accidental level forever (40 hrs/wk) regardless of wave after wave of worksaving technology - when the level of the workweek has certainly changed, generally downward, since 1776 (80-84 hrs/wk, longer in summer, shorter in winter, depending on daylight).]
    This fallacy holds that there is a fixed amount of work to be done in society,
    [On the contrary, workspreading holds that there is not a fixed but a shrinking amount of work to be done in societies heading into recession, because work in the sense of employment requires PAY, and though the amount of imaginable work may be infinite, the amount of paid work in a society en route to recession is not fixed and stable but unstable and shrinking. How could anyone "hold" that the amount of remunerable employment in the economy is fixed or stable in the face of daily downsizings and rising unemployment?! - and notice the sneerer's attempt to ignore these glaring objections by his switch to the simpler world of sociology, with words like "work" and "society." Outrageous manipulation!]
    so restricting working hours will reduce unemployment.
    [Restricting working hours per person in a lower direction did reduce unemployment in the USA from 1776 to 1940, and across the world. Is this unthinking Harvard economist Edward Glaeser seriously suggesting that we should go back to an 80- or 84-hour workweek, as we had before the industrial revolution and gas&electric lighting - and before we started "restricting working hours" to reduce unemployment. Speak up, you idiot savant. You insult your mind and your "science" with every word.]
    Encouraged by this logic, European polities have long restricted work hours.
    [European polities know nothing and care less about this "logic" because they were facing shrinking private-sector employment, not some sneerer-imagined "fixed lump" of employment misnamed "labor." Europeans may well have been encouraged in this direction by the hundreds of companies and agencies who cut hours instead of jobs every day in every recession, effectively reinventing this "wheel" spontaneously, generally primitively, and mind-bogglingly diversely. And Glaeser is apparently completely ignorant of, or disregarding of, the even longer restriction of work hours by, never mind Europe, by the American polity from 1776 to 1940, when the USA restricted work hours per person to half of what they'd been in their unrestricted state at the beginning of this 164-year period, considerably over two thirds of American history. Again we ask, does this sophist seriously want us to go back to that unrestricted state of 80-84 hour workweeks? - because if he does, the advent of gas lighting in the 1840s demonstrated that employers will lengthen workweeks in the context of artificial lighting once natural lighting removes the natural restrictions of working hours that were in place prior to the 1840s.]
    The history of Europe's labor markets illustrates that more regulations makes hiring less attractive and reduces the total amount of work done in a society.
    [Glaeser has the nerve to cite history??! What a joke. His narrow selectivity is breathtaking. He has no standing. We point out that the advent of the 35-hour workweek in France between 1997 and 2001 prior to the US-led recession enabled France to dismantle regulations and free up hiring.]
    Subsidizing high-mileage cars to reduce carbon emissions is a bit like subsidizing low-calorie foods or low-tar cigarettes in order to reduce obesity or lung cancer. If the amount of cookie consumption was constant, then a lower-calorie cookie would lead to thinner waistlines. But if someone makes a less fattening, delicious cookie, I'll want to eat plenty of them. Anyone who thinks that the proliferation of diet foods should have made Americans thinner was suffering from the "lump of food fallacy.''
    A similar "lump of smoke fallacy'' implies that healthier cigarettes reduce lung disease. Cigarette smoking initially dropped sharply after the alarming 1952 Reader's Digest story "Cancer by the Carton.'' Cigarette companies responded with filtered cigarettes, which were perceived as being healthier. The reassured public began smoking more than ever; extra cigarettes eliminated any health gains that might have come from the filters.
    But now the government is implementing a transportation policy, and the lump of travel fallacy seems to be on the march. We should expect more driving from someone who is induced to buy a newer, more pleasant car that is cheaper to drive. No one should be surprised when the stimulus package's jolt to highway spending increases driving. Some leaders seem to think that subsidizing high-speed rail will offset this cash for cars, but subsidizing travel means more travel and more carbon emissions. The best way to get people to ride trains is to impose appropriate taxes on carbon and congestion charges.
    If the government is desperate to subsidize something, it should focus on the greening of urban buses. With public bus lines, the number of vehicle miles can be kept constant. Better bus service in the urban core encourages high-density living. Unlike new cars or inter-urban rail lines, which transport the prosperous, buses are disproportionately used by the poor. The cash-for-clunkers policy actively reduces the supply of old cars available for lower-income buyers, but environmental policy need not be regressive.
    Good policies ensure that subsequent behavioral responses work toward the policy's aims, not against it. If America wants to fight global warming, a carbon emission tax makes more sense than car subsidies. Doling out cash for ailing car companies may be popular, but that doesn't make it right.
    Edward L. Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard University, is director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston.


8/07/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Officials must cut even more from Champaign County budget, By Tom Kacich, Urbana/Champaign News-Gazette.
    URBANA, Illinois – After already carrying out $2 million in budget cuts, Champaign County department heads now will have to trim another $815,000 from their budgets for the fiscal year beginning Dec. 1.
    That was the bad news delivered Thursday night to the county board's finance committee by County Administrator Deb Busey.
    "Revenues are not performing as well as we initially anticipated when we came up with the goal of 6 percent in budget cuts earlier this year," she said.
    Overall, the cuts will mean about $3 million lopped from a county general fund budget that this year totaled about $33 million.
    Board Chairman C. Pius Weibel said the newest round of cuts would "likely" mean some sort of job cuts, with furloughs, layoffs and a shortened work week all up for discussion.
    "We're looking at salaries and money, which means jobs," he said. "It's a big challenge, particularly since everyone worked so hard to make the 6 percent budget cut, and now we have to cut about 2½ percent more. It's like, what do you cut when you have nothing left?"
    Busey said the first round of cuts in next year's budget included everything from deferred purchases and reduced travel and training to cutting 10 to 12 full-time positions.
    The next round could include a four-day business week at both the county courthouse and the Brookens Administrative Center. That option already has been seriously reviewed by officials, including Presiding Judge Tom Difanis, according to Busey.
    "The idea was we would not cut employee hours but would have expanded hours on the four days we'd be open, something like 8 to 6 or 8 to 6:30," Busey explained.
    [So there's no weekly hours reduction on the table here. It's the furlough discussion that's significant.]
    But when the savings were calculated, they amounted to only about $60,000, she said.
    "That doesn't seem like a terribly significant saving for all the changes that would be required to go to a four-day work week," she said.
    Likewise, $815,000 in cuts would require every county employee to take 10 furlough days, a sum Busey said is "not realistic because you can't expect 24/7 operations to go to furlough days."
    Under its contracts with employees unions, she said, the county can impose layoffs.
    "I'm not saying that that's what we're doing," she said. "It's a possibility."
    The budget shortfall is the worst that Busey has seen in her 30-plus years with the county.
    "The last time it was close to this bad was in the early '80s, and I don't think it was this bad," she said. "It's going to end up being 8½ to 9 percent being cut in one year. I've never seen it like this."

    [So reverse the income gap and tax the rich - what's the big deal?]

  2. Local cuts could follow state budget impasse, By Mary Spicer, Meadville Tribune,PA.
    With paychecks for approximately 77,000 state workers finally on the way, it may appear to a casual observer that the anxiety level surrounding Pennsylvania's long-delayed state budget has dropped significantly.
    For many in Crawford County, however, the wait goes on. And on.
    "Just because state employees are getting paid, everyone has a false sense that things are back to normal," Linda Bennett, executive director of Meadville's Center for Family Services, said Thursday. "They're not — and it's going to get worse. I'm glad state workers are getting paid, but this budget delay is still affecting so many human services."
    Funding for countless state programs was not included in the partial budget bill signed into law by Gov. Ed Rendell on Wednesday — and the local people who make those programs happen are calling on state legislators for help.
    Ironically, the budget impasse comes at the same time people who have never asked for help before are asking for help because of layoffs, Bennett said. In June, for example, Center for Family Services provided cash assistance for 22 families — a total of 47 individuals. For August, the center has received approximately 75 calls seeking cash assistance.
    "This is a nightmare for our providers and our consumers," David Crowe, the county's human services director, agreed during a Thursday interview.
    Earlier in the day, Crowe brought Crawford County commissioners up to speed on the current fiscal plight of human services in the county.
    So far, all county employees — and some vendors — are being paid. However, a long list of vendors — including the agency's landlord at Crawford Business Park, the Economic Progress Alliance of Crawford County — aren't. "These people are operating without remuneration — and I can't do anything about it," Crowe said, referring to the site that houses many county employees.
    During the course of a year, more than $20 million in state and federal funding comes into the county through Harrisburg to fund various programs. Crowe listed CHAPS, Stairways, Bethesda Children's Home and Hermitage House as just a few of the larger provider groups in the county whose payments for contracted services have also stopped.
    While Crowe hasn't heard of any providers about to close their doors, "if all of a sudden somebody is not going to be able to provide services because they can't afford to, plans have to be made to provide those services," he said. "I've asked the county to be patient with us — and maintain the number of people we have so we can maintain our case-management services," Crowe said. "If that's not there, we have nothing."
    Meadville's Center for Family Services isn't talking about closing any doors — but the cutting off of payments from the state meant that tough decisions had to be made during a Wednesday night board meeting. "We carried on as usual in July," Bennett said. "We just made do. But now we can't. We just don't have the cash flow."
    The individual in charge of the center's homeless assistance grant was laid off Wednesday. Starting next week, Bennett's five-day work week will be reduced to three. The hours of the part-time employee handling the center's Best Foot Forward program have been cut from 20 hours per week to 15.
    In June, the center's Meadville facility and six satellite pantries provided 1,221 boxes of food to assist a total of 3,069 individuals countywide. That's 219 more boxes — and 515 more people — than June 2008. "We're going to run out of food by the end of the month — if not before," Bennett said "Then what are we going to do?"
    For Bennett, a bright spot remains. "Thank goodness United Way is still supporting us," she said. "We can still help some people, but the bulk of what we do was funded by the state."
    Childcare providers serving families qualifying for subsidized care through the state-funded Child Care Information Services program are also feeling the pinch. Judy Ventresca, executive director of YWCA of Meadville, the organization that administers the CCIS grants for Crawford and Venango counties, told Crawford County Commissioners during their Tuesday work session that the YWCA has increased its line of credit with a local bank so the CCIS offices themselves can remain open and operational — but the organization will not be able to pay its providers until the budget impasse ends. Ventresca said she knows of 17 CCIS offices in Pennsylvania not paying their providers for services rendered in July — "and no providers will be paid in August."
    At Meadville's Little Champs Child Development Center, one of five centers operated by Child Development Centers Inc. of Franklin serving approximately 600 children, business is proceeding as usual, even in the absence of CCIS payments. In fact, all five centers — the other four are in Venango County — are doing just fine, according to Finance Director Tom Horner.
    "We're fortunate that we have some working capital that will sustain us through (the budget delay)," Horner said Thursday. "I think the state is going to remain open. The funding will come through."
    Like Center for Family Services, Meadville's Cornerstone Child Care is already taking preemptive actions. "We have to have volunteer days off unpaid until the impasse is worked out," Curriculum Director Erica Deeter said Thursday. "We'll save a little bit here and there on paying our staff."
    They will, she added, continue to maintain the required student/staff ratio. "We should be OK until the end of September," she estimated, noting that approximately a quarter of their 45 to 50 children are funded through CCIS.
    Mary Spicer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at mspicer@meadvilletribune.com.


8/06/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. All county employees take pay cut to save jobs, Amador Ledger-Dispatch, Calif.
    All Amador County Employee Units have agreed to participate in the 36 hour work week plan, which results in 10 percent unpaid furlough for employees.
    The combined effect of this 10 percent reduction in employees' pay has allowed the county to avoid laying off a proposed 26 positions. While all employees, including law enforcement, have agreed to take 4 unpaid hours of furlough time each week, county services, including public safety, will not be jeopardized or degraded.
    The board of supervisors along with the county administrative officer and elected officials expressed their appreciation to all employees for the unity they have shown.
    "It is a great example of our most senior employees reaching out to protect those who are less senior within each Unit," said Board Chairman Ted Novelli.
    Since March 2007, the county has been taking steps to prepare for this economic downturn. Included was a soft hiring freeze, then a hard hiring freeze, an early retirement incentive program, a voluntary layoff incentive and the layoff of six positions earlier this year. As a result of those measures, the county has reduced its workforce by almost 20 percent from a high of 460 to the current 374 employees.
    "The real effect of layoffs is far reaching," said CAO Terri Daly. "There is the loss for the individual and their families and the effect on the community as a whole, including businesses. As an employer, layoffs represent the loss of valuable assets. Employees, who have been hired, trained and have gained valuable experience within the organization, are a very costly resource to shed. I appreciate the board of supervisors leading the way in this cost-cutting effort by reducing their own salaries."
    "We also thank the community for supporting county employees in this effort," said Chairman Novelli. "This 36-hour week will pose an inconvenience to the public and we appreciate their understanding and cooperation during these very tough times."
    Future adjustments to the budget will be made when the state's budget is complete. "At that time we will revisit our budget and make cuts or adjustments as needed," Daly said.
    Details for specific departments or buildings are available on the county's Web site at www.co.amador.ca.us.

  2. Jackson Lab expanding as sales rise - MDI lab breaks ground on new building, By Bill Trotter, Bangor Daily News, Maine.
    BAR HARBOR, Maine — Citing figures they say demonstrate that The Jackson Laboratory is emerging from the economic slump, lab officials broke ground Wednesday for a building expected to help the lab expand one of its more profitable products.
    The importation isolation building, which is being funded in part by a $4.7 million grant from the taxpayer-supported Maine Technology Asset Fund, will provide space for many of the lab's reproductive services. The grant is paying for half of the building's construction; the lab is funding the rest, lab officials said.
    Charles Hewett, Jackson Lab's chief operating officer, said the lab's mouse sales have recovered since the global economy went into a tailspin last fall. Besides conducting its own research on human disease and medical conditions, the lab breeds millions of mice each year that it ships to other research laboratories around the world.
    Hewett said that since June 1, the lab's revenue from reproductive services is 7 percent ahead of where it was this time last year. This has helped restore work hours for lab employees whose hours were cut last fall as a way to reduce operating costs, he said.
    "That is a very promising sign," Hewett said. "All of our employees are back to a 40-hour workweek, and we're very excited about that."
    The lab laid off 55 employees in March because of the poor economy, but with more than 1,300 employees it remains Hancock County's largest employer and one of the largest in eastern Maine.
    May was the best month ever for the lab's reproductive services revenue — more than $700,000, he said. By next year, he said, such revenues are expected to have grown overall by another 20 percent.
    Rob Taft, the lab's director of reproductive services, said that over the past three to five years, since the lab began in earnest to offer such services to other laboratories and scientists, Jackson Lab has brought in more than $7 million to the state.
    Aside from the $4.7 million going toward the new building, the Maine Technology Asset Fund has awarded the lab another $2.1 million to renovate some of the lab's mouse facilities so they meet scientific standards, according to Jill Goldthwait, the lab's director of government relations.
    Hewett, Rick Woychik, the lab's president and CEO, and a handful of other officials donned hard hats and wielded gold-painted shovels as they dug soil in a work area that already has been cleared and fenced off.
    About 100 employees are expected to work in the new building, but not all of those will be new hires, according to lab officials. The building is expected to include space for cryopreservation storage, lab and support areas, mouse distribution facilities and a personnel locker room.
    The three-story, 22,500-square-foot building is being constructed by Consigli Construction Co. of Portland. Located next to the lab's new information technology building on its Route 3 campus, the facility is expected to be completed by November 2010 and operational by the next spring, lab officials said.


8/05/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. "Cash for Clunkers" Puts US Car Market Back Up Over China's to No.1, ChinaStakes.com.
    The rebounding US auto market looks like it may jump back in front of China's, which has been the world's largest auto market for the past several months. The US government's "Cash for Clunkers" stimulus plan, offering rebates to those who trade in their gas-guzzling older cars for new fuel-efficient models, began to see some effect last month, boosting car sales in the US in July to a high in the past 11 months. Judging from this, total US 2009 car sales may reach 11.5 million cars, possibly putting its car market back in the world No. 1 spot. The Chinese market is expected to turnover 11 million new cars this year.
    In July, 0.998 million cars and light trucks were sold in the US, down 12.2%, year on year, but the highest sales in the last 11 months.
    Some auto makers' sales have curbed the decline in the US market. Ford sold 164,995 cars last month, up 2.4%, year on year, the first positive growth for the company since November, 2007. Sales of Hyundai and Subaru have maintained good momentum, growing 9.0% and 34.2%, year on year, respectively.
    Other companies' sales are still dwindling. GM and Chrysler sales dropped 19.4% and 9.4%, respectively, to 188,156 and 88,900 in July, their lowest levels since the beginning of the year. Toyota's sales decline has begun to slow. In July, volume dropped 11.4%, year on year, to 174,872. The "Cash for Clunkers" plan contributed about 30,000 to 32,000 car sales to the company.
    The "Cash for Clunkers" plan, launched by the Obama administration at the end of July, was originally funded with $1 billion, and ran through that in a week. Another $2 billion was added to keep it running until its planned expiration on November 1, but there is a move in Congress to extend it even further.
    The Department of Transportation says Ford's Focus is the first choice of consumers taking advantage of the plan, while Toyota says the Corolla and Prius account for 40% of the company's total sales stimulated by the plan.
    And lower inventories now have car makers thinking of production increases. Hyundai said yesterday that its factory in Alabama had resumed a five-day work week, having cut working hours since the middle of last October. Optimists believe that since raw material suppliers and car component makers will also increase their production, the increase in car production will positively influence the whole economy. AK Steel and Alcoa predict they will benefit.
    Many auto industry analysts believe the industry, aided by favorable policies, may have reached bottom and is now starting to recover. George Pipas, head of sales for Ford, said yesterday that annual car sales based on the production in July would be over 11.5 million.
    China's auto market overtook that of the US to be the world's largest in January this year. Even in May and June, a traditionally slack season for the market, China's auto market still saw relatively strong sales. Figures for China's auto market in July will be released this week.
    According to several companies that have already revealed their sales, the July situation was better than it usually is. July sales by Shanghai GM grew 60.6%, year on year, to 56,489. Sales by SGMW grew 90.7% over the same month last year to 87,925.
    "The rebound in the domestic auto market is mainly led by the economic rebound and proper policies," says Dong Yang, secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. "As auto finance, M&A and restructuring, and the policy of old cars for new ones will continue to be implemented, the market will maintain good momentum in the second half of the year."
    The world status of China's auto market is still not solid, as it only became the world's largest when the US market was in decline. To reach its mature strength, many analysts think it still needs at least four to five years.

  2. Unions warn of recession's hidden effects, by AMY MUSGRAVE, Business Day, South Africa.
    TRADE unions are warning that the effect of the recession on workers is much worse than the picture painted by last week's Labour Force Survey from Statistics SA.
    Solidarity said yesterday that while the recession continued to erode employment, "short time" or the reduction of work hours was fast becoming an added burden for workers.
    Spokesman Jaco Kleynhans said there were 608000 employees in SA who had previously worked more than 45 hours a week, but who were working shorter hours since the second quarter of last year.

    The figure was correlated by Solidarity researchers who obtained raw data from Stats SA.
    "This figure indicates that the effect of the economic crisis on workers is underestimated.
    "People are earning less money, but they still have the same (bills)," Kleynhans said.
    A working week of 45 hours or more is considered to be the norm for full-day employees who work at least nine hours a day.
    Kleynhans said that the Labour Force Survey showed that 4,691,000 South Africans worked more than 45 hours a week in the second quarter of last year.
    According to the latest figures for the second quarter of this year, the number of employees who worked more than 45 hours a week in the past year dropped more than 13% to only 4,083,000.
    In addition, the figure declined by more than 198000 people, or 4,6%, in the last quarter alone.
    The survey also revealed that the economy shed 267000 jobs in the second quarter, while the recession forced another 302000 people already jobless to stop seeking work.
    The Congress of South African Trade Unions has estimated that up to 1-million people could lose their jobs by the end of the year, saying that the latest figures confirm its view that the country is in the throes of a national unemployment emergency.
    Standard Bank economist Shireen Darmalingam said last week she thought another 400000 jobs could be shed before the expected upturn, and T-Sec economist Mike Schussler believes that a total of 700 000 jobs will be lost.
    Kleynhans said yesterday that the significant drop in the number of employees who worked more than 45 hours a week could mainly be attributed to companies' efforts to buffer the effect of the economic pressure on their cash flow.
    Also, the move was often an attempt by companies to avert retrenchments.
    "Although the implementation of shorter working days and weeks instead of retrenchment is welcomed, it nevertheless places tremendous pressure on South African workers. The payment of overtime is a big part of the income of workers, and that has stopped. Now they are working less hours as well," Kleynhans said.
    The metal and engineering industry was especially hard hit with short time. Last year, almost 40600 employees were affected by short time, while 1663 notices limiting hours were issued between February and April this year.
    President Jacob Zuma will address the media today on the country's plans to mitigate the effects of the global financial crisis.
    musgravea@bdfm.co.za


8/04/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Spending Rises on Higher Gas Prices as Income Slips, by JEFF BATER, Wall Street Journal.
    WASHINGTON -- Consumer spending in June climbed, but the gain seems to have been driven by rising gasoline prices. Meanwhile, the income of Americans took the largest tumble in four years during June, reflecting the rising unemployment that is challenging the economy as it struggles out of recession.
    Personal income decreased at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.3% compared to the month before, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Wages and salaries and transfer payments both fell.
    The drop, the biggest since 2.3% in January 2005, was a payback for May income increasing 1.3%. Federal government stimulus of the economy had driven the surge, involving a large sum of transfer payments, including temporary benefits for older people. The 1.3% gain marked a revision down from an originally reported 1.4%.
    Spending increased 0.4% compared to the prior month. Adjusting for inflation, though, spending dipped by 0.1%. U.S. Energy Department data show retail gas hit a 2009 peak, at $2.69 a gallon, the week ended June 22. The last time inflation-adjusted spending rose was in February, up 0.1%, echoing recent reports on lackluster spending by consumers.
    Economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires forecast a 1.2% decrease in income during June and 0.3% gain in spending.
    Spending in May rose 0.1%, revised down from an originally reported 0.3% gain.
    Disposable personal income -- income after taxes -- fell by 1.3% in June. Disposable income rose 1.6% during May.
    Without government support, personal income is under pressure as the US workweek gets shorter.
    [The Wall Street Journal is advocating government, ie: taxpayer, support of personal income of all Americans?? It would make sense considering the government support Wall Street leeched out of corrupt politicians and powerless and impoverished taxpayers for their million-dollar bonuses recently. But smarter would be to systemically reduce the workweek and convert overtime into jobs and training on a scale massive enough to reduce the general labor surplus - and then wages and spending and markets and marketable productivity and sustainable and profitable investments would return, gradually, naturally by market forces, diversely, healthily.]
    In a report showing the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 9.5% in June, the Labor Department said the average workweek for production and non-supervisory workers on private non-farm payrolls fell by six minutes to 33 hours -- the lowest since records began in 1964.
    The bad job market is endangering a U.S. recovery. A key report last week said the economy slumped April through June by 1.0%, much less than over the winter. But the data showed consumer spending decelerated in the spring. Spending is a big part of the economy. While analysts foresee the economy rising in the current, third quarter, fear for jobs will likely keep wallets tight and hinder the expected growth the rest of the year.
    The data Tuesday showed personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income was 4.6% in June, the Commerce Department said. It was 6.2% in May, 4.7% in April, and 3.7% during March.
    An important price gauge eased in June. The price index for personal consumption expenditures excluding food and energy, year over year, rose 1.5%, after climbing 1.6% in May. The Federal Reserve watches this core PCE index closely for signs of inflation pressures. Fed officials define their statutory goal of price stability as inflation of 1.5% to 2%.
    The core PCE increased 0.2% in June compared to May; after rising 0.1% in May.
    The PCE price index rose 0.5% in June compared to May. It rose 0.1% in May compared to April. Year over year, the PCE price index was down 0.4% in June, after a 0.3% drop in May.
    But inflation watchers remain vigilant. The Fed and the federal government have pumped out a lot of money to revive the economy. The efforts could backfire, unlocking inflation and pushing interest rates higher.
    Write to Jeff Bater at jeff.bater@dowjones.com

  2. Fatigue, sleep disorder led pilots to doze during flight - A go! airplane with 40 people aboard overshot Hilo airport, by Gary T. Kubota, Honolulu Star-Bulletin.
    An undiagnosed sleep disorder and an early morning schedule were contributing factors in a captain and first officer falling asleep and flying 40 passengers 30 miles past their destination in Hilo, the National Transportation Safety Board said.
    The board said yesterday that the 53-year-old captain flying go! Flight 1002 suffered from undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea and that consecutive early morning start times contributed to his and a 23-year-old first officer's falling asleep on Feb. 13, 2008.
    Sleep apnea causes an individual to have small awakenings during sleep due to breathing difficulties, disrupting rest and causing fatigue.
    "The fact that both pilots fell asleep during the midmorning hours, a time of day normally associated with wakefulness and rising alertness, indicates that both pilots were fatigued," the board said.
    The captain and first officer were suspended and did not return to work, an airline spokesman said.
    The board's findings come as the Federal Aviation Administration is planning to rewrite rules for pilot flight and duty time.
    FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said his agency is looking at changing the rules based on recent scientific research.
    The captain said that before Feb. 13, 2008, he had flown eight legs on Feb. 11 and 12, for a little more than nine hours each day, the board said.
    The duration is within federal guidelines limiting two pilots to fly no more than 10 hours during regional flights.

    But the captain, who had applied for temporary assignment in Hawaii in search of relief, said he found the work no easier because he had to fly eight legs per day with few breaks, the board said.
    He said the eight-leg schedule reduced his ability to obtain coffee, eat and smoke cigarettes, the board said.
    The board noted that according to a 1998 report, pilots who reported for work before 6 a.m. had "significantly shorter total sleep time, impaired sleep quality, and impaired performance."
    The flight left Honolulu at 9:16 a.m. for Hilo. When an air traffic controller instructed the flight to change radio frequencies at 9:40 a.m., there was no response, the board said.
    The controller continued to try to contact the flight crew more than once but received no reply even after the Bombardier Inc. CL-600 flew past Hilo at 9:55 a.m., it said.
    The board said that at 9:58 a.m., when the flight was about 30 miles southeast of Hilo, the captain called the controller, and the controller asked whether the flight crew was experiencing an emergency.
    "No, we must have missed a handoff or missed a call or something," the pilot said.
    The board said the captain had undiagnosed severe obstructive sleep apnea, discovered during a medical evaluation shortly after the incident.
    "This condition likely caused him to experience chronic daytime fatigue and contributed to his falling asleep during the incident flight," the board said.
    The board said in addition, Feb. 13 was the third consecutive day that both pilots started duty at 5:40 a.m.
    "This likely caused the pilots to receive less daily sleep than is needed to sustain optimal alertness and resulted in an accumulation of sleep debt and increased levels of daytime fatigue," the board said.
    A Hawaii spokesman for go! referred questions to parent company Mesa Air Group in Arizona, which did not return phone calls.

  3. Shorter hours a two-edged sword for workers, News Finance Labour via iol.co.za.
    Shorter working hours place pressure on workers, trade union Solidarity said on Tuesday.
    "Although the implementation of shorter working days and weeks instead of retrenchment is welcomed, it nevertheless places tremendous pressure on South African workers, who now receive smaller salaries but still have to pay the same monthly expenses," Solidarity said in a statement.
    "There are 608 000 employees in South Africa who previously worked more than 45 hours per week but who have been working shorter hours since the second quarter of 2008," Solidarity said.
    It said the reduction of employees' working hours was largely part of an employer's strategy to ensure cost saving.
    "Several companies have already implemented measures involving shorter working days or working weeks, often in an effort to avert looming retrenchments.
    "A working week of 45 hours or more is considered to be the norm for full-day employees who work at least nine hours per day," the union said.
    It added that the metal industry was the main culprit when it came to short-time.
    "As far as short-time is concerned, the industry has been under immense pressure.
    "In 2008, nearly 40 600 employees were affected by the implementation of short-time, while 1663 notices of short-time were issued from February to April this year, which has affected almost 47 200 employees in the industry," Solidarity said.
    - Sapa


8/02-03/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. Sidney Zion, writer who crusaded to reduce doctors' hours, dies at 75 - A grieving father who spurred changes in medical training, by Robert McFadden, 8/03 NYT, A20.
    Sidney Zion testifying in 1986 about the death of this daughter (photo caption).
    Sidney Zion, a journalist and author who turned his daughter's death at New York Hospital in 1984 into a crusade that led to national reforms in the training, workload and supervision of young doctors, died on Sunday afternoon at Calvary Hospital in Brooklyn. He was 75 and lived in Manhattan.
    [Oy, the ironies of modern secular life - Zion died at Calvary!]
    The cause was bladder cancer, said his son Adam Zion.
    A confidant of writers and power brokers in New York, Mr. Zion was a federal prosecutor and criminal lawyer early in a many-sided career that included jobs as a legal reporter for The New York Times and columnist for The Daily News and The New York Post. He helped found a magazine and wrote a novel, a book on gangsters, a volume of essays and a biography of the lawyer Roy Cohn.
    Rumpled and Runyonesque, a habitué of Gallagher's, Elaine's, Sardi's and other celebrity watering holes, Mr. Zion was a loud, cigar-smoking, storytelling die-hard New York Giants fan who railed against what he called fitness fascists, passionately defended Israel and counted horse-players, mobsters, actors and politicians among his friends.
    But his life was transformed on the night of March 4, 1984, when his 18-year-old daughter, Libby, a Bennington College freshman with a history of depression and cocaine use, was admitted to New York Hospital with fever, chills and agitation. Her condition was not diagnosed, but two interns gave her a painkiller and sedative, a plan approved by phone by a senior clinician who had treated members of the family, and Ms. Zion was tied down to prevent injury. She died eight hours after admission.
    The case raised troubling questions about the long hours and workloads of interns and residents in teaching hospitals, and about their supervision and the prevention of medical errors. Mr. Zion, then a columnist for The Daily News, and his wife, Elsa, a city official and former publishing executive, sued the hospital and four doctors, charging gross negligence in their daughter's death.
    They also campaigned for greater supervision and workload limits on interns and residents, who often put in 100 to 120 hours a week and 36 at a stretch. The case generated newspaper and magazine articles, television specials, an intense debate in the medical community and a book, "The Girl Who Died Twice" (1995), by Natalie Robins.
    In 1987, a grand jury rejected medical "murder" charges that Mr. Zion had called for, but said hospital errors may have contributed to the death. The hospital admitted some errors and was fined $13,000 by the State Health Department. In 1989, the state limited interns and residents to 80 hours weekly and 24 hours consecutively, and said senior doctors must be in hospitals at all times. Similar standards were mandated nationally in 2003 by a council that accredits graduate medical schools.
    In 1995, a jury returned a mixed verdict in the Zion case, saying that the hospital was not to blame but that an intern and two doctors had contributed to her death by giving her a drug that could be fatal for patients taking antidepressants. It imposed $750,000 in damages, but cut the award in half, saying Ms. Zion was equally to blame for not telling doctors that she had taken cocaine and prescription drugs. The trial judge later threw out the finding that Ms. Zion was half responsible for her death, but kept the award at $375,000.
    Sidney Zion was born in Passaic, N.J., on Nov. 14, 1933, a son of Nathan and Anne Zion. His father was a dentist in Passaic, where the boy grew up. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and in 1958 from the Yale Law School.
    In 1963, Mr. Zion married the former Elsa Ruth Heister. She died in 2005. Mr. Zion is survived by his sons, Adam, of Brooklyn, and Jed, of Los Angeles, and two grandchildren.
    Mr. Zion practiced criminal law in northern New Jersey in the late 1950s and in the early 1960s was a federal prosecutor in New Jersey. In 1962, Victor Navasky, a colleague who later became editor and publisher of The Nation, asked him to write a parody of the journalist Murray Kempton for his satirical magazine Monocle's newspaper-strike parody of The New York Post, called The New York Pest. It was his springboard to journalism.
    In a roller-coaster career, Mr. Zion was a reporter for The New York Post, a legal affairs correspondent for The Times, co-founder of the short-lived magazine Scanlan's Monthly and at various times a columnist for The SoHo Weekly News, New York magazine, The Daily News and The New York Post. He also wrote for The New York Observer, The Nation and the Op-Ed page of The Times.
    In 1971, working freelance, Mr. Zion called a radio talk-show host in New York and revealed what he said was common knowledge in media circles — the identity of Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst, as the source of the Pentagon Papers, the classified study detailing Washington deceit in Vietnam, then being published by The Times and The Washington Post. Many journalists regarded the disclosure as a breach of professional ethics, and Mr. Zion said he was a pariah among colleagues for a time.
    Mr. Zion completed and published "The Autobiography of Roy Cohn" (1988) two years after Mr. Cohn's death. Mr. Cohn, a friend of Mr. Zion's, had incurred the enmity of the left by prosecuting Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were executed for espionage, and acting as chief counsel for Senator Joseph R. McCarthy during his Communist witch-hunt years.
    Mr. Zion also wrote "Read All About It! The Collected Adventures of a Maverick Reporter" (1982); "Markers" (1990), a novel about reporters, lawyers and mobsters; "Trust Your Mother but Cut the Cards" (1993), a volume of essays; and "Loyalty and Betrayal: The Story of the American Mob" (1994).
    In the early 1980s, Mr. Zion owned Broadway Joe, a steakhouse and hangout for theater people on West 46th Street.
    With his free-flowing celebrity chatter, political gossip, media scuttlebutt and Mafia stories, he was often likened to Damon Runyon, the newspaperman and short-story writer of the 1930s and '40s, whose Broadway characters included wiseguys and dolls, mouthpieces and scribes: Sidney Zion's kind of people.

  2. Incidents at jails linked to [mandatory] overtime, by Matthew Spina, 8/02 BuffaloNews.com.
    When the U.S. Justice Department revealed beatings and brutality against the inmates in Erie County's two jails, an insider offered an explanation:
    Overtime.
    Not just overtime, but mandatory overtime burning out the staff.
    "The effects of mandatory overtime need to be looked at with regard to how inmates are treated," said a veteran Holding Center deputy who asked to remain unidentified because he was speaking publicly without permission.
    Deputies exhausted by double shifts are locked inside New York's second-largest pretrial detention facility for up to 16 hours a day with the dangerous, the deranged and the innocent desperate to be free.

    Like many problems with Erie County's jails, mandatory overtime and its financial and psychological spin-offs seem to never go away.
    The Justice Department, in a blistering 50-page report, recites serious examples of physical punishment against inmates by deputies in the Correctional Facility in Alden and especially the busy Holding Center in downtown Buffalo.
    The Justice Department said Holding Center inmates have been beaten inside an elevator chosen because it has no working security camera. A pregnant inmate was thrown to the floor and kicked. A boisterous inmate had a sheet tied around his neck with the threat of a hanging.
    Are such incidents common?
    "They occur," the deputy said. "I am not saying they occur very often. You can blame the deputies all you want. But I would blame supervisors, the administration, the county.
    "Fatigue will affect judgment. The general attitude is a negative one. You are there to get through your shift. If you were going in for just eight hours, your attitude would be different.
    "Everybody's tired," he said. "Everybody's working a second shift. It definitely has an effect. The professionalism is less.
    That's human nature."
    Mandatory overtime or not, Mary Jo Alessio says it's no excuse for the treatment given her son two weeks ago.
    The 24-year-old … not being identified because his case is still under way … was jailed after a crystal methamphetamine rage, his mother said. He then fought with deputies during a court appearance upon learning the judge wanted to hold him another week, she said.
    She said she later learned of the details of his beating for acting up in the courtroom. Alessio said her son told her that he was brought inside a shower room, stripped and beaten by deputies who addressed him with him gay slurs.
    "If this was an isolated incident, I might be treating this a little differently. But it is not an isolated incident," Alessio recently told The Buffalo News after reading about the Justice Department report.
    She said that once her son's case closes, she will file complaints with the sheriff's Professional Standards Unit and the state Commission of Correction.
    Alessio, a registered nurse who says she has worked in institutions, does not want to file a lawsuit.
    "This is not about vengeance," she said. "It is about doing the right thing for the people of Erie County. Period. This has to do with educating people about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and drug withdrawal. I am not sure a civil lawsuit could really effect that type of change."
    Sheriff Timothy B. Howard over the past two years was given about 55 new full-time posts to fill in his Jail Management Division, swelling its full-time force to about 730 across both the Holding Center and the Correctional Facility, which have a combined daily inmate population of about 1,600.
    Early this year, Howard won a huge ruling when the state's highest court agreed he could move inmates between the Holding Center and Correctional Facility without regard to the labor jurisdictions of the unions involved. The Teamsters guard pretrial inmates, and members of the CSEA guard sentenced inmates at the Correctional Facility.
    Still, with continuous turnover in the staff, vacancies are common. Overtime spending is on pace to again bust this year's budgeted amount, just like it does almost every year, according to figures from the Erie County comptroller, whose auditors issued a report on jail overtime in 2007.
    The Holding Center combines an aging, inefficient 1930s jailhouse with a more efficient 1980s expansion. On the newer floors, one deputy can watch several inmates. On the older floors, the layout is fractured. Sight lines are shorter.
    The Holding Center administrators, responding to state Commission of Correction concerns about suicides,
    staff nearly 20 constant-observation posts. While there's a debate as to whether all are necessary, they eat up a lot of overtime.
    [If we keep going in this direction, we'd be smarter to put Kevorkian kits in every cell and not just on life row.]
    Suicides still happen. One occurred in the Holding Center on March 31, 2008, and another a month later … as the Justice Department was delaying its visits to the Holding Center and Correctional Facility at the request of the new Collins administration.
    The federal investigators wanted to examine the county's suicide-prevention efforts, among other things. But Howard and County Executive Chris Collins later barred the Justice Department from the jails and stopped cooperating with its probe … on the advice of County Attorney Cheryl A. Green.
    The Justice Department report says deputies have been pitted against one another; jail deputies witnessing inmate-on-inmate violence have either looked the other way or refused to intervene; deputies have recruited inmates to mete out discipline on others in exchange for favors.
    A Holding Center inmate in April 2006 was beaten unconscious and suffered a collapsed lung and broken ribs when beaten by deputies, the Justice Department said. The inmate said the incident began when he tried to air out his cell from the odor of other inmates' defecation and vomit.
    Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz predicts the county's lockout and the federal report will bolster inmate lawsuits against the county. The Holding Center has already generated a number of costly lawsuits, some of which highlighted the mandatory overtime.
    In the death of Holding Center inmate Michael Bennett in 2002, caused by traumatic asphyxia when he was being subdued by deputies, the Commission of Correction's Medical Review Board faulted the Holding Center's medical response and found the vmedical staff work too many hours … as many as 30 overtime hours a week.
    "Such an excessive overtime burden may be expected to impair the performance of health care professionals," the Medical Review Board said. Erie County paid $1 million to settle the wrongful death lawsuit filed in the Bennett case.
    mspina@buffnews.com


8/01/2009  bits and pieces of the timesizing solution in the news, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, organizations and governments despite being *dismissed out-of-hand by many economists and business schools - with excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (PH) unless otherwise initialed -

  1. As payrolls shrink, so do hours on job, by Sean F. Driscoll, Rockford Register Star via BusinessRockford.com, ILL.
    ROCKFORD, Illinois — The average workweek for most of the country's rank-and-file employees has decreased by 48 minutes since the recession began.
    Had it not, the unemployment rate would be much higher.
    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonsalaried production workers — roughly four-fifths of the U.S. work force — clocked an average 33-hour workweek in June. That's the lowest since 1964, when the BLS began tracking the figures.
    In fact, if Americans were still working those 48 minutes, the same amount of work would be getting done with 3.3 million employees, which would push the nation's unemployment rate up to 11.7 percent, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

    [Yep, the Wall Street Journal inadvertently endorses timesizing, not downsizing - see original article on 7/03/2009 #2.]
    Patricia Lee, public relations director with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, said many of the group's 2,300 members have done some fancy footwork to lessen the number of job cuts they have to make.
    "They're cutting back hours, doing more flex hours as well as hour reductions, all in the name of keeping staffs employed," she said.
    "Sometimes these creative measures are all they need to do. In other cases, they aren't. But they are losing fewer workers and hanging on to workers longer because of using other techniques to cut costs."
    [Finally they're getting smart - or less suicidal anyway.]
    Less hiring, fewer cuts
    A January survey by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas showed that 24 percent of companies surveyed had cut hours to save costs. Seven percent had gone to a four-day workweek, and 6.7 percent had instituted furloughs.
    "Many companies cannot cut their payrolls as deeply as they have in previous downturns, simply because they did not do as much hiring during the most recent expansion," CEO John Challenger said. "As a result, they are forced to find alternative ways to keep their costs down. Companies that have thus far avoided job cuts may not be able to do so for the entire length of this recession, but by reducing costs in other areas, they may be able to limit the size of the cuts."
    [Well, if they don't keep avoiding job cuts, they will simply guarantee that the recession gets more and more lengthy.]
    As the recession has continued, more people have sought second jobs. Temp firms say they've seen more people inquiring about moonlighting opportunities to replace income lost from cut overtime or shortened workweeks.
    [That's why we have Phase Three in the Timesizing program, mandatory reinvestment of individual overwork earnings in OW-targeted hiring, but only after there are plenty of higher-wage job options for people thanks to Phase Two's mandatory reinvestment of corporate overtime profits in OT-targeted hiring, so people hurtin' can make the 'buck' they need within straight time, however short a workweek that involves. (And the shorter the workweek, the more overtime and the more OT profits and the more market-determined OT-targeted job creation.)]
    "We see two or three people a week whose budgets were built on overtime," said LoRayne Logan, owner of Rockford staffing firm Workplace. "They've lost that and need supplemental income."
    [These are the system-suicidal people who will be forced to switch to higher-wage jobs instead of monopolozing our most precious vanishing resource, natural market-demanded working hours, regardless of how many other people go jobless and how fast a tailspin that throws the overall economy into. In many situations, 40-hour workweek legislation is totally disregarded. Notice this story tomorrow from Florida -]
    Overtime pay complicates Pasco Fire Rescue layoffs debate, by Jodie Tillman, 8/02 St. Petersburg Times via Tampabay.com.
    ..Federal law recognizes that first responders routinely work well over the typical 40-hour workweek and doesn't start counting overtime until after 53 hours...
    [If there is such a federal law, it contradicts the overtime section of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and encourages sloppy skills and under-hiring among first-responder managers. However, if it also requires comp time within 6-12 months, no problem.]
    Need to work vs. want to
    The workweek's shortening has been sharp since December 2007, when the recession began,
    [True.]
    but the hours of an average workweek have been steadily declining since the 1960s.
    [Not necessarily true - Americans have been working more hours per year, a whole extra month of work since the 1960s, whether that came from the disappearance of vacation or whatever - see Juliet Schor's "The Overworked American."]
    Fred Rezazadeh, business and economics professor at Rockford College, said that's not necessarily a bad thing.
    "The workweek reduction can be a result of prosperity [and technology], in addition to the economic crisis," he said. "The long-term trend has been downward movement. Usually if incomes are high and wages are high, some people prefer to work fewer hours."
    [Ah, what's this guy been smoking? Real wages have been getting lower across the past 40 years. Back then, one parent could still support the family. Now that's history, except for the growing number of impoverished single-parent families.]
    The recent drop, however, is certainly indicative of cost-cutting measures.
    "My intuition, although I don't have exact data [that's for sure], is, with massive layoffs we have salaried employees working more hours," he said. "This data is also limited to the production sector, and businesses have cut back, and they are not recovering strongly enough to have them work more hours."
    Reach staff writer Sean F. Driscoll at 815-987-1346 or sdriscoll@rrstar.com.

  2. Employees agree to reduced hours, South Devon Herald Express via thisissouthdevon.co.uk.
    A NEWTON Abbot company has put 'some' of its 100 employees on reduced working hours to help the firm ride out the recession.
    Shop-fitters Benbow Group Ltd, based at Bradley Lane, confirmed yesterday that some of the workforce were working reduced hours by mutual agreement as a short-term fix to avoid redundancies.
    The shorter working hours started two weeks ago.

    The firm fits shops, leisure centres and offices with high-quality bespoke joinery and architectural metalwork.
    The company operates across the UK, but the majority of its clients are London based. The firm has also carried out operations in Europe and the Middle East.
    Managing director Nigel Roberts said: "Some people are working reduced hours, but not the whole company. This is a short-term arrangement. It was not done on a voluntary basis, but was done by mutual agreement.
    "This is a preferred alternative to making individuals redundant. We want to hold the company together rather than select some people to be made redundant."
    It is the first time in the firm's 23-year existence that this type of action has been taken and bosses say it is a direct result of the recession.
    So far all members of staff working reduced hours have been paid for a full working week.
    But Mr Roberts said the firm was 'confident' it would be a short-term measure.
    "We have orders we have not been able to get on with because of factors beyond our control. We are also working hard to secure more orders and we hope things will be back to normal in the near future." he said.

  3. First, the good news - The economy has probably seen its worst [not], but a strong recovery may be too much to ask for, (London) Economist magazine, 45.
    AT THE beginning of June Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank, set out its latest forecasts. Though the worst of the downturn had probably passed, he said, the euro-area economy would be unlikely to grow until the middle of 2010. Just a few weeks later Mr Trichet looks too gloomy. Figures published on August 13th are likely to show that GDP shrank again in the second quarter, but that this will probably be the low point.
    More timely indicators suggest the economy has started to grow again. Businessmen are cheerier. The gauge of German business sentiment published by Ifo, a research institute in Munich, rose in July to its highest level for seven months. Confidence in France increased for a fourth straight month, according to a survey by INSEE, the national statistics agency. The brighter mood reflects orders and sales. Euro-zone industrial output rose in May for the first time since September. A broader index, based on surveys of purchasing managers in manufacturing and services, was much stronger in July.
    This revival of animal spirits counts because so much of the downturn owed to a collapse in business spending. Firms slashed their capital budgets and pared back stock levels when their export sales collapsed. Foreign demand is now returning. Euro-zone exports to China rose by over 40% between January and June, according to Goldman Sachs. Shipments to India have also picked up. Orders in Germany are improving as its capital-goods firms benefit from infrastructure spending in Asia. The fresh signs of life in America's housing market raise hopes that recession is lifting in Europe's biggest export market.
    Consumers are also perking up, though compared with firms they had barely cut back. In the year to the first quarter, the worst period for the economy as a whole, consumer spending in the euro area fell by 1.2%, less than in America and far less than in Britain. That figure conceals a split: consumption in Germany was stable, and in France, it grew; but in Italy and Spain it fell off sharply. Spending in the euro zone as a whole has since strengthened, though the North-South divide remains. Retail sales picked up in Germany in April, and again in May, but faltered in Spain and Italy. In France household spending on manufactured goods jumped by 1.4% in June. Government incentives to support new car sales by offering cash for old ones have tempted buyers into showrooms. Spending power has also been boosted by falling consumer prices.
    Three (modest) cheers
    A revival in trade, business optimism and resilient consumers: that combination promises modest growth this quarter. There may even be some pleasant surprises in the next few months. Germany's economy could bounce back faster than expected, because its cuts in business investment and stocks have been so savage.
    But the good news ends there. One worry is that more pain is due in Spain, Italy and elsewhere. The surprisingly large fall in second-quarter GDP in Britain is a blow to its euro-zone trading partners. It is also a warning that recovering from housing and credit busts is hard. Spain and Ireland were big sources of euro-zone demand, before their housing busts. Spain will soon find it harder to offer fiscal support to its economy. Italy's exporters are struggling with high wage costs and a strong euro. Eastern Europe, once a fast-growing market, is also sickly.
    The longer-term fear is that unemployment will drag the economy back down. The risk is greatest in countries where job cuts have so far been modest.
    [What a completely insane and backward excuse for reasoning.]
    Compared with Spain, where a nasty construction bust has already put many out of work, the jobless rates in France and Germany have barely responded to lower output (see chart). German job losses have been stemmed by a *government scheme that subsidises the wages of those on short-time working [from the unemployment insurance fund?]. Around 1.4m workers are receiving the short-time allowance. The reduction in labour supply [more importantly, the reduction of the wage-damping labor surplus] because of the scheme is equivalent to some 400,000 full-time employees.
    [So SAY IT! = 400,000 full-time jobs have been saved! - and the de-activation and waste of 400,000 consumers and their dependents has been avoided. Many countries and US states already have worksharing programs to cushion the transition.]
    Such schemes cannot last for ever.
    [Yes, they can - if companies and governments let go of the previous permanent but arbitrary level of the workweek and adjust it downward to reflect current technology levels as transmitted through current un(der)employment levels, and thereby stop burdening the temporary-unemployment insurance fund (aka temporary-jobseekers' allowance fund) and start drawing on a permanent 100% tax on corporate overtime profits with a 100% exemption for reinvestment in overtime-targeted training&hiring. So we exchange the permanence of the workweek for mandatory corporate overtime-to-jobs conversion via the reinvestment of overtime profits in training&hiring. (OK, I guess I need a dedicated webpage on the easiest transition from temporary worksharing to permanent timesizing.) The astronomical congealings of the money supply in the hands of the topmost 100th of 1% of the population are the diverted overtime profits that should be automatically reinvesting throughout the economy in overtime-targeted training&jobs.]
    Car firms and their suppliers have been among the keenest users of short-time working, anxious to keep skilled staff. Yet unless demand for cars stays high after "cash-for-clunkers" incentives fade, the car industry in Europe will need fewer workers.
    Similarly, labour hoarding in France also comes at a cost.
    [Ohmygawd! The anonymous idiots writing for the Economist have actually found a soundbyte to slur jobsaving and skillset saving! What a pack of suicidal morons! Are they going to excuse this too with the fatuous and faith-based Schumpeter Copout, "creative destruction"?]
    French firms in aggregate still spend more than they earn, despite cuts in investment. Action taken to bridge that gap while financing conditions are still tight would include job cuts. As in Germany, that process could be slow and rely more on hiring freezes than lay-offs, says Julian Callow at Barclays Capital. But it would weigh on consumer demand all the same. Although Europe shows signs of recovery, there are plenty of reasons to fear it will not be a robust one.




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