6/30/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- 40-Hour Workweek to Apply to Smaller Businesses from Friday, The Chosun Ilbo via english.chosun.com
SEOUL, South Korea - Employees at smaller businesses in Korea will see their official workweek shortened from 44 to 40 hours from Friday.
The labor ministry announced on Thursday that the 40-hour workweek will now apply to businesses with more than five employees, therefore increasing the opportunity for overtime pay. The policy has already been applied to companies with 20 employees or more.
The ministry says that around 2.8 million workers will benefit from the new policy.
[We welcome S.Koreans into the 20th Century.]
- [Meanwhile, Americans are going back into the 19th Century -]
Americans Now Think A 40-Hour Work Week Is "Part Time", by Patricia Laya, BusinessInsider.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Americans consider a 40-hour work week as "part time" in most professional jobs and as a sign of a stagnant career, according to a recent study by the Center for American Progress.
[Call this "progress"?]
The financial reward for working longer hours has increased substantially in the past 30 years, especially for professional men.
[No it hasn't. Nice myth though. Actually, the longer the hours, the greater the labor surplus and the lower the financial reward dba average wage - except for those in the tiny population of super-rich.]
The study, "The Poor, the Professionals, and the Missing Middle" says:
"The long-hours premium is particularly apparent in job categories with the largest earnings inequality within a given group. In other words, hours have spiraled up as men strive to ensure they don’t end up as 'losers.'"
[So people who sucker themselves into longer and longer workhours morph into robopathic creeps with no life. No wonder TPTB (the powers that be) are making so many self-destructive choices.]
On the other hand, while 37 percent of professional men work 50 hours a week or more, the number of middle- and low-income workers working 50 or more hours a week since 2006 has barely changed or lowered, signaling a declining job market and underemployment.
[And thousands of resumes, each tryng to underbid the others, looking for five job openings.]
- Limiting resident physicians' work hours to save lives - New rules do not go far enough to fight fatigue - Sleep deprivation is believed by many to lead to more medical errors and harm to patients, op ed by Lucian Leape & Helen Haskell, (afterhours, so '7/01') Los Angeles Times via latimes.com
LOS ANGELES, Calif., USA - Forty years ago this month, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that sleep-deprived resident physicians reading electrocardiograms made twice as many errors as their rested counterparts. Back then, in 1971, there were no limits on the hours that medical residents could be scheduled to work. Thirty-six-hour on-call shifts were the norm.
Under new rules that take effect Friday, newly minted medical school graduates will start their internships with shifts limited to no longer than 16 hours. However, residents in their second years or above will still be allowed to work 28-hour shifts with little or no sleep.
As a retired surgeon who has spent years working to improve patient safety and as a mother whose child died while under the care of a poorly supervised, exhausted intern, we are frustrated with this lack of progress.
There have been scores of published studies linking sleep deprivation with deterioration in human performance. Much of that research has focused specifically on residents. At the behest of Congress, that evidence was reviewed by the Institute of Medicine in 2008. The institute concluded that "the scientific evidence base establishes that human performance begins to deteriorate after 16 hours of wakefulness," and called for elimination of resident shifts exceeding 16 hours without sleep. It also sought improvements in the organization and supervision of residents, and a strengthening of oversight of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, the professional body that oversees residency training.
The institute's conclusion that extremely long work shifts are unsafe infuriated many leaders in academic medicine. The culture of medical training is attached to the idea that resident physicians must work long hours to gain experience, and it extols the virtues of the heroic, lone physician despite the proven safety of team-based care. But the evidence is clear that little learning occurs after working 16 hours.
Hospitals too are attached to the notion of long shifts, in part because of cost concerns: Resident physicians represent a source of cheap labor, and if their hours were significantly reduced, hospitals would have to pay other providers to step in. But there is another way of looking at this concern: If more reasonable hours would reduce complications and deaths, as many experts believe is the case, the resulting savings could more than make up for this extra cost.
Friday's change in the rules, along with new guidelines for enhanced supervision and training in patient safety, are a step in the right direction. But Congress' core concern — fatigue — remains inadequately addressed.
The accrediting council's resistance to limiting hours for all of the nation's 110,000 resident physicians ignores growing evidence that more humane work hours not only decrease the risk of patient harm, they also improve resident education and morale.
At a round-table at Harvard Medical School last year, 26 experts representing hospitals, medical educators, consumers, patient safety experts, sleep scientists, policymakers, residents and medical students heard from representatives of residency training programs in medicine, general surgery and obstetrics that have implemented the 16-hour limit. Their experiences show that limiting work hours does not unduly burden teaching hospitals and can enhance the educational experience for residents, while also saving lives. The recommendations from this meeting have just been published and offer a road map for teaching hospitals to go beyond the council's requirements to eliminate the extreme fatigue that contributes to medical errors.
Recent studies indicate that medical errors and adverse medical events affect up to one-third of hospital patients and account for as many as 180,000 deaths annually. And in spite of numerous patient safety interventions over the last decade, the number of patients injured by medical care has not fallen. In April, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius launched a program to address preventable medical injuries. We believe that failure to address the resident fatigue factor is one reason there has been little change.
The public, it turns out, shares our view. Opinion polls reveal that Americans reject the view that a doctor's training must include punishingly long hours. In one recently published poll, 80% of respondents said they would ask for a different doctor if they knew the person treating them had been awake for more than 24 hours.
Considering that Medicare pays more than $9 billion annually to train resident physicians, public opinion should matter. Given the accrediting council's reluctance to act, the federal government needs to get tougher. If we are serious about curbing the tide of injuries stemming from medical errors, Medicare should make its funding of graduate medical education contingent on hospitals' limiting work hours. We can't afford to wait another 40 years.
Lucian Leape is an adjunct professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health. Helen Haskell is the founder of Mothers Against Medical Error.
- How to make short work of unemployment - Germany has actually reduced joblessness through the recession - by cutting working hours – We could make it work too, by Dean Baker, The Guardian via guardian.co.uk
The Opel car manufacturing plant in Eisenach, Germany: By enabling companies to cut staff hours rather than jobs, Germany has avoided widespread unemployment since 2008. (photo caption)
WASHINGTON, U.S.A. - Washington always does a superb job of focusing intently on problems that are of little importance.
[Amen to that! It's the famed "Distract the peasants!" strategy. Rome did it with bread and circuses.]
The current, end-of-the-world debt/deficit negotiations is a great case in point. President Obama and the Republican congressional leadership are heatedly negotiating a deal on the deficit that has almost nothing to do with the country's real economic problem: mass unemployment.
[Dean nails it again.]
The whole effort is a ridiculous charade that is intended to fix a problem that does not exist. There is no story of runaway spending or deficits, as everyone who has ever looked at the budget numbers knows. The deficit exploded, beginning in 2008, because the economy collapsed: end of story. Anyone who says otherwise either has never looked at the budget or is not being honest.
[What about the billions that disappeared during the slimy Bush regime, Dean?]
The longer-term deficit story is equally clear: the United States has a broken healthcare system. Since more than half of healthcare costs are paid through government programmes like Medicare and Medicaid, this translates into a budget problem. If we paid the same amount per person for our healthcare as any other wealthy country, then we would be looking at surpluses in the long term, not deficits.
If the economy were otherwise fine, the rest of us could just kick back and enjoy the theatrics. However, things are about as far from fine as they could possibly be right now, with close to 25 million Americans unemployed, underemployed or having given up looking for work altogether. While most of the routes back to full employment through increased demand [ie: "growth"] appear blocked right now (largely because of the deficit fetishism), there is an alternative path. Instead of increasing demand, we can adopt a policy that promotes sharing of the work that is available. In other words, we have the same amount of work, but we have more people working.
[Beautiful. So simple. So clear.]
The model here is Germany. It has used a "short work" policy [Kurz-arbeit] to keep the unemployment rate down – at very low cost to the government. Its unemployment rate today is 0.5 percentage points lower than it was at the start of the downturn, even though the German economy actually has grown less than the US economy over this period.
There are many different packages that fit the short work scheme, but the basic story would be that rather than having a firm lay off 20% its workers, the government encourages the firm to cut their work time by 20%. The government directly replaces 60% of the lost wages (12% of the total wages); it has the company replace 20% (4% of total wages); and leaves the worker taking home 4% less and working 20% fewer hours.
The cost should be about the same as the unemployment insurance benefit that workers would have received if they were laid off, but the short work policy keeps them employed. This has two major benefits. From the standpoint of employers, they have workers available whose hours can be quickly increased if demand picks up. This saves them the need to find and train new workers.
From the standpoint of workers, this keeps them employed and tied to the workforce. They maintain their skills (Germany also offer training subsidies that can be used in many cases), and they don't run the risk of becoming unemployable as a result of long-term unemployment. This is especially important in the US context where a large share of the unemployed have now been without work for long periods. If nothing is done to increase employment soon, many of these workers may never find jobs again.
Interestingly, this programme was started by a Social Democratic minister in the unity government that was in power in 2008. But Angela Merkel, too, has embraced it, and the conservatives are as supportive of the policy as the Social Democrats.
It's worked for Germany but this would not, in fact, be a new policy for the United States. Twenty states now have short work programmes tied to their systems of unemployment insurance. But it is not widely used. The problem is that these schemes are poorly publicised and overly-bureaucratic. Ideally, congress would change some of the conditions that make short work less desirable than conventional unemployment insurance for more employers and employees. The most important change would be to turn it into an employer tax credit that is tied to reducing average hours by a specific amount, while keeping the number of employees constant. This would avoid the problem of having to specify months in advance how many hours each worker would work.
There is also no reason that the extended benefits that are available for the standard unemployment insurance programme should not also be available for the short work programme. Certainly, there is no public interest served by encouraging unemployment over shorter hours.
We must constantly remind the folks who make economic policy that the reason so many people are out of work is because the policy-making types didn't do their jobs. Every day, they should feel the need the repair the damage caused by their incompetence. Short work is one route that can get us back towards full employment.
- Manroland ends short-time work at Offenbach site, [7/01 postdated?] GraphicRepro.co.za [Zuid Afrika?=SouthAfrica]
OFFENBACH, Deutschland - After nearly three years, a successful reorganisation and an improved order intake will allow the site in Hesse to return to normal working hours.
Solid orders and a good project situation as well as the consistently implemented reorganisation have resulted in a significantly improved economic situation in the first two quarters of 2011 at Manroland AG’s Offenbach site. The good level of utilisation will allow the site to end its short-time work as of 1 July, 2011. The sheetfed sector, located in Offenbach, benefits in particular from the positive economic development. The webfed sector has also seen a greater willingness for investments on the part of customers.
Enormous employee commitment and demand-oriented product innovations have been the main drivers behind the success of recent months. Customers from around the globe also expressed strong interest in new products and features presented at the Sheetfed Summit in May. With updates covering the whole product range, Manroland will now embark on the next phase of economic recovery.
‘Putting an end to short-time work sets a clear signal that we are moving ahead. Our internal measures have proven to be effective; coupled with a strong market performance, this allows us to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead with much greater optimism,’ stated Dr. Markus Rall, member of the executive board Sheetfed Printing Systems Business Sector and Production.
6/29/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Council passes budget with 4-day work week - Citizens say city has not done enough to become more efficient, threaten to not support Measure S, by Justine Frederiksen, UkiahDailyJournal.com
UKIAH, Calif. - Despite members of the public urging it not to, the Ukiah City Council Monday approved a $58 million spending plan for the next fiscal year that includes closing the city's administrative offices every Friday.
"The revenues aren't there anymore to operate the way we have," said City Manager Jane Chambers. "I welcome anyone to walk through city hall and show me 14 to 25 people I can lay off and offer the same amount of services I do now."
Chambers said closing the city's offices Fridays and moving employees to a 36-hour work week will save $1 million and represents a 10 percent pay cut rather than an attempt by staff to have three-day weekends.
"No employee is looking forward to taking a 10-percent pay cut, me included," she said. "In my mind, it's giving the community one more year of full services before catastrophic cuts."
Members of the public who addressed the council Monday said the city should be working harder to find efficiencies.
"It's pretty clear we have a case of the tail wagging the dog," said resident Ross Liberty. "I think you need to take care of employees, but it is the duty of this board to seek efficiencies, not service cuts. Don't do less, do more with less."
Liberty said when Measure S -- a half-cent sales tax increase -- passed in 2005, he understood the city's commitment was "the money would go toward public safety, and (that the city) would work toward finding efficiencies. I think the latter has been forgotten. I don't think this council has done two shakes toward finding efficiencies."
Resident Dick Selzer echoed those sentiments.
"The very clear understanding (about Measure S), at least on my part, was that it was just a stop-gap measure, and the city would be looking at cutting expenses," Selzer said, adding that the city might see a change in support when Measure S is up for renewal. "I gotta tell you, you guys haven't been doing your job. You may think you have, but you haven't."
Selzer said he disagreed with the idea that the city needed to do more with less, however.
"You need to do a whole lot less with less," he said. "You don't need to say yes' to the whims of every person; you need to learn to say no, we don't have the money.'"
Resident Judy Hatch suggested that city staff work shifts such as 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. to give residents a chance to conduct business after they get off work, while Lee Howard said it would be a "huge waste" to have crews working four, nine-hour days in the winter time.
Mayor Mari Rodin bristled at the intimation that the city had not worked to find efficiencies.
"I am certain that those who just spoke are uninformed," Rodin said. "It is an insult to the hard work of the staff and City Council not to include what the staff has done so far. We are as bare bones as we can get. To say that we haven't made two shakes toward cuts is inaccurate."
Liberty addressed the council again, saying "this entity doesn't do the heavy lifting it takes to make efficiencies -- it's not fun and it's not sexy," explaining that he has seen city employees spend an hour picking up two bolts because they "swapped story after story," and seen others spend half an hour at Starbucks after clocking in at 7:30 a.m.
Chambers said "we have absolutely eliminated $5 million in costs over the past three years, and I would be happy to walk through those numbers with anyone from the public. But have we examined each and every aspect of service delivery? No, and I think that's the point we're now getting to."
Chambers said the council will begin those sorts of policy discussions today during a special meeting at the Ukiah Valley Conference Center with "Strategic Service Planning Process" on the agenda. The workshop begins at 5 p.m. in the Chenin Blanc room.
Vice-Mayor Mary Anne Landis said she didn't understand the connection between the budget plan and "people saying they won't support Measure S," and Council member Doug Crane responded.
"I think I can make the connection," Crane said. "I believe I heard them say the effort has been needed the past three years and hasn't been done. I believe they are telling us loud and clear that unless we figure out how to do more with less, they will ... stand up and resist renewing this measure."
"If we do not do this, we will be blowing through money at a very significant rate until the council decides what to do," said Chambers. "I don't know what I've been doing if I haven't been tackling this."
"We're at a point where we have to make a decision," said Council member Benj Thomas. "We have to move forward, and as a stop-gap measure, the budget we're proposing will carry us through."
The council then voted 3-1 to approve the budget, with Crane, who spoke out against the four-day work week, casting the dissenting vote. Council member Phil Baldwin was absent.
Justine Frederiksen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 468-3521.
- OUR VIEW: City workers, citizens getting the short end, Fall River Herald News via heraldnews.com
FALL RIVER, Mass. - Faced with an unenviable decision next week on whether to continue Friday furloughs in exchange for ongoing 8 percent pay cuts or opening the door to as many as 40 layoffs, members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3177 may have trouble choosing.
While the decision will be tough for the AFSCME workers, it was also apparently a tough one for Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan. When questioned several weeks ago by The Herald News about whether he would prefer a five-day workweek or continued furloughs for AFSCME workers, the mayor couldn’t answer.
But Flanagan may have unintentionally tipped his hand this week, when The Herald News learned that all city department heads, supervisors, and nonunion workers would be returning to full-time hours — and 100 percent salaries — by working on Fridays.
Although City Administrator Shawn Cadime said the extra funding for the return to a five-day workweek had already been “built into the budget that way,” the Flanagan administration failed to mention that rather significant detail during budget presentations to both the City Council and The Herald News.
Cadime sent Flanagan’s directive in an email Monday to the personnel who — starting July 8 — will be required to report to work on Fridays for the first time in the two years since the Correia Administration instituted the furloughs. The Flanagan Administration could not provide an answer as to the cost of the return of the 30 nonunion personnel, even though they claim it was “built into the budget.”
Although managers will be working on Fridays, the citizens and taxpayers of Fall River who foot the bill will not have access to Government Center, unless the AFSCME membership votes to go back to full-time hours, necessitating layoffs.
If not, the building will stay closed on Fridays, as it has since the four-day workweeks began in mid-2009. While the Friday closure was expected to save $100,000 a year in utility costs, savings to that extent never materialized. Returning all city personnel to their offices every Friday will surely negate even more of the meager savings. Has that been figured into the budget?
And wasn’t Friday work expected all along of salaried staff? When former Mayor Robert Correia instituted the four-day workweek, it was with the expectation that he and his salaried staff would take the pay cut but were still expected to continue to work five days a week. Other managers had been “on call” on Fridays. For his part, Flanagan reiterated that policy last year after he fired an information technology worker who refused to take the pay cut. If that’s a condition of employment, then the salaried, nonunion personnel should still be working or available on Fridays, shouldn’t they?
When it comes down to it, Flanagan’s move to switch to the five-day workweek for managers means a pay raise for what’s already expected of them. While it offers managers a catch-up day for work without having to deal with the public or support personnel, it provides little benefit to the citizenry.
When Flanagan presented his draft fiscal 2012 budget to The Herald News several weeks ago, he explained that he would be giving the AFSCME union workers an option of “choosing their own destiny.” Trouble is, the mayor has never specified exactly how many of those union members would face the layoffs and which positions would be affected.
AFSCME’s members include 235 support personnel, including Government Center clerks, cashiers, inspectors, police dispatchers, water treatment operators, laborers, EMTs/paramedics and library assistants, among others. The union just wrapped up negotiations on a new contract through 2014, retroactive to 2008.
Unlike other union personnel who were spared from pay cuts or furloughs under Flanagan’s fiscal ’12 budget approved by the City Council last week, the AFSCME workers are the only city workers to take a major hit. And unlike previous years, Fall River’s entire AFSCME membership — rather than the eight individual units — will have to take a vote without really knowing the consequences.
If AFSCME workers do not approve the concessions, then a significant number of city services will suffer as a result of the large reduction in workforce of “retail level” positions, which often directly serve the public. While it is unclear exactly what the mayor’s intentions are or were for the change, he comes across as deceptive by attempting to keep the five-day workweek restoration under the radar.
In previous years, most — but not all — AFSCME units, along with the vast majority of managers, accepted the 8 percent wage concessions. While some managers had to work “off hours” more than others, Flanagan and his management personnel had, and have, a responsibility to get the job done — regardless whether it could be done in a four-day workweek. They should have continued to share in the sacrifice being asked of the personnel they supervise. Unfortunately, that concept seems to have escaped the Flanagan Administration.
- Irish work week among shortest in EU, by Ciara O'Brien, IrishTimes.com
DUBLIN, Eire - Full-time employees in Ireland have the second-shortest [average] working week in Europe, according to a new study.
The European Labour Force Survey for 2010 showed staff working in Ireland spend 38.4 hours at work per week compared with an EU average of 40.4 hours.
Workers in Denmark had the shortest working week at 37.7 hours, while those in the UK had the longest at 42.2 hours.
Employees in Austria, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic all worked more than 40 hours per week.
On average, men worked longer hours than women at 41.1 hours compared to 39.3 hours.
In Ireland, men worked an average of three hours longer per week at 39.9 hours, compared with women at 36.6 hours.
The survey was compiled by the European statistics agency Eurostat.
- Most people happy with working hours, by Colin Brinsden, Sydney Morning Herald via news.smh.com.au
SYDNEY, Australia - Jack in the proverb "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" was unlikely to have been Australian.
Most Australians are happy with the number of hours they work each week and believe they are achieving the right work/life balance.
But a new report also found that nearly a quarter of workers would prefer fewer hours on the job to be able to participate in recreational and social activities or just have free time.
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The Australian Bureau of Statistics latest social trends survey, released on Wednesday, found that in 2007 65 per cent of the workers aged 15 years or older felt they were working close to their preferred number of hours.
However, 14 per cent of those surveyed between April and July 2007 wanted to work more hours, while 21 per cent would prefer to be working fewer hours, deemed as overemployed.
A key concern for spending too long at work was that it causes a work/life imbalance, the effects of which include fatigue, stress and relationship breakdown.
"Overemployed workers were more likely than other Australian workers to always or often feel rushed or pressed for time, and to feel that their work and family responsibilities were rarely or never in balance," the bureau said.
Still, the bureau points out that since mid-2007 there has been a slowdown in economic activity, and legislative changes introduced in 2009 were designed to make it easier for some workers to reduce their weekly working hours.
"Given these two developments, the proportion of Australian workers who are overemployed may have eased since mid-2007," it said.
The two major occupational groups that were most likely to experience overemployment in 2007 were managers (38 per cent) and professionals (26 per cent).
Of professionals, those who are medical practitioners (45 per cent), school teachers (38 per cent) or legal professionals (32 per cent) were most likely to have been overemployed.
Among managers, 52 per cent of those in medical education, health or welfare services were likely to have been overemployed, compared with 39 per cent of chief executives, general managers and legislators, and 34 per cent among farmers and farmers managers.
In 2007, there were 10.3 million people employed - compared with 11.4 million as of May 2011 - 70 per cent in full-time work.
The average hours worked in all jobs was just over 37.2 in 2007, while nearly 20 per cent worked 50 hours or more.
The average weekly household income in 2007 was $1006.
In February 2011, the average full-time weekly wage was $1288.
6/28/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Coastal Voices: Start sacrifices at the top, by Dave Mason, (6/27 afterhours = 6:36pm) Daily Triplicate via triplicate.com
DEL NORTE, Calif. - Recently The Daily Triplicate reported city and School Board budgets that will cut positions or pay, respectively.
Currently both the Del Norte County Employees Association and the Sheriff’s Employee Association are in negotiations with Del Norte County about proposed cuts to employer contributions to employee retirement, as well as all other terms of our contracts.
This week, County Administrative Officer Jay Sarina told all of the county employees that employee concessions were necessary to balance the budget, and that he was unable to reach an agreement with the associations, implying an impasse in negotiations.
We were always willing to consider the county’s proposed cuts as part of our overall contract negotiation. The CAO also said that if we do not concede, he will recommend to the Board of Supervisors that most workers be reduced to 35 hours a week (the equivalent of a 12.5 percent cut in pay), along with layoffs in law enforcement and detention facilities.
[Here's workweek reduction as a threat, which only works if you prorate pay so it gets reduced too - tough to do when you reduce the workweek on a citywide, industrywide, statewide or nationwide basis cuz you're fighting market forces that are reacting to a lessening flood of resumes and a new situation of employers bidding against one another for good help.]
A cut of this magnitude to public services will have a dramatic negative impact on our community.
Our employees have always been willing to help the county to make ends meet. We took work furloughs in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. And our workers are willing to continue sacrificing to help the county make ends meet, because they know how much our community depends on public services.
Whether you take your kids to county parks for Cub Scout camp, ask the county to tear down a burnt-out house, seek child support from your ex, call a county sheriff’s deputy to report a crime, seek mental health counseling for yourself or a relative, or just drive down a county-maintained road, everyone depends on the services that the county provides.
We know that what we do every day matters to keeping this community healthy and strong. And we do it gladly, because our families live here too.
The cuts the CAO is proposing are irresponsible. They would cripple our county departments’ ability to operate. On top of that, the impact on the people providing the services will be appalling. It is an embarrassment already that so many county workers are paid so little that they qualify for public assistance, that even with insurance many cannot afford to buy medicine or pay the deductible for medical treatment.
Some cannot even buy food for their kids on the paychecks the county gives them for working hard every day to make our community a better place to live, and depend on food stamps to feed their family.
If these cuts go through, there will be dozens more foreclosures and longer lines for food at Rural Human Services and social services.
What we are asking the county to do is make sure that this year, members of the Board of Supervisors take the same pay cuts that we take, unlike past years where they have given themselves pay increases while we make sacrifices.
The most recent salary survey showed that compared to other jurisdictions, county workers are underpaid 10-25 percent across the board. Therefore we are also asking the county to promise to pay our workers a living wage when the general fund recovers.
Sacrifice should be an emergency measure, not standard operating policy. When it is necessary, it should start at the top.
[We associate the idea of "All sacrifice together, starting at the top" with shorter-hours "poster firm" Lincoln Electric of Cleveland.]
David Mason is chapter president of the Del Norte County Employees Association and county code enforcement officer.
- Aubry to Run for French Presidency, by Gabriele Parussini, Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
PARIS, France—French Socialist leader Martine Aubry, who implemented the controversial 35-hour workweek, said Tuesday that she has the best chance to defeat President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year's elections, as she declared her candidacy six weeks after the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn left the country's largest opposition party struggling to find a front-runner.
Ms. Aubry joins an increasingly crowded field of Socialist presidential hopefuls, which includes former first secretary François Hollande and Ségolène Royal, who lost to Mr. Sarkozy in 2007. A heavily contested race adds to the risk of infighting within a party which last won a presidential election in 1988.
"Today, I'm taking before you the commitment to victory in 2012," Ms. Aubry said in a televised address. "I want to give back to France her strength, her serenity, her unity," she added.
Ms. Aubry starts the race as a favorite alongside Mr. Hollande, with polls suggesting that both of them would outvote the incumbent president in next May's presidential election. An Ipsos poll published June 23 showed that both Mr. Hollande, at 32%, and Ms. Aubry, at 30%, would trounce Mr. Sarkozy, who would garner only 19% of the vote.
"Her candidacy was widely expected since it became clear Strauss-Kahn wasn't going to run," said Emiliano Grossman, a professor at Sciences Po University in Paris. "The biggest risk I see now for the Socialist Party is infighting."
The Socialist Party has an inauspicious track record on unity. In 2008 the party was torn apart when Ms. Aubry, vying for the secretary post against Ms. Royal, won by a few votes out of over 250,000 ballots cast, and the defeated camp called for new elections and complained about fraud.
In 2007, after Ms. Royal won the primaries, defeated candidates dragged their feet to support her in the presidential campaign. And right after the electoral defeat, Ms. Royal and Mr. Hollande, who had been a couple for almost 30 years and have four children together, broke up.
But the French Socialists want to move beyond the infighting and diverging options to ultimately stand behind a single candidate and ultimately take the Elysée, the president's residence.
"We're confident that the winner of the primaries will have a substantial lead over other candidates, and that will make it easier for him or her to bring together the party," Benoit Hamon, the party's spokesman and an ally of Ms. Aubry, said in an interview. "Ms. Aubry's legitimacy stems from having re-united the party after the defeat of 2007."
Other candidates are relieved that Ms. Aubry, who has been keeping the party wondering whether she would run, is finally entering the fray. "She's not going to be protected by her status of party secretary now," said Stéphane Le Foll, the head of Mr. Hollande's campaign. "She's just a candidate like others."
Ms. Aubry, who represents the left wing of the party, was a key player in bringing about France's 35-hour working week, a reform that was first proposed by former president François Mitterrand in his 1981 election campaign and has been a centerpiece of France's political debate for over a decade, until Mr. Sarkozy modified it and voided much of its substance during his mandate.
Another key measure adopted by Ms. Aubry in her stint as Employment and Solidarity Minister was universal-health-care coverage, a social-welfare program that reimburses medical expenses through social security to all those legally resident in France for more than three months.
The daughter of Jacques Delors, a former Socialist finance minister and one of the founding fathers of the European Union, Ms. Aubry started her political career under Mr. Mitterrand in 1981, working at the Labor Ministry and at the Social Affairs Ministry. After graduating from Sciences Po Paris in 1972, she went on to the elite school École Nationale d'Administration, where she took classes with World Trade Organization chief Pascal Lamy and Alain Minc, an advisor to Mr. Sarkozy.
Navigating French politics' highs and lows, Ms. Aubry, who has been minister twice and is now mayor of the northern town of Lille, can boast of a stint in the private sector as a top manager at glassmaker Pechiney between 1989 and 1991.
Ms. Aubry has already tried to defuse the risk of a war within her own political camp. "The [Socialist] candidates aren't enemies, they're comrades who defend what they believe is good for their country," she said in an interview broadcast on France 2 last month.
The party's primaries, which will be held in two rounds on Oct. 9 and Oct. 16, are open to all registered voters. According to the Socialist Party, 11,000 polling sections will be set up, and the party is setting the bar to call the elections a success if one million voters cast their ballot.
Prior to his arrest in New York on May 14 on sexual-assault charges he is contesting, Mr. Strauss-Kahn had been expected to resign his post at the International Monetary Fund this year to seek the Socialist nomination for president. He had been widely seen as the front-runner to beat Mr. Sarkozy in the presidential elections.
6/26-27/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- The Engines of Growth - Forget the familiar big global brands. Germany's economy is powered by a legion of smaller companies, by Brian Blackstone & Vanessa Fuhrmans, 6/26 Wall Street Journal, R4.
[Well, it's buried on page 4 and it's buried toward the end of the article, but at least it's there. We were very afraid that the time-blind of Wall Street would get through an entire eight-page section on Germany without mentioning the secret Cinderella strategy that Deutschland borrowed from 1840s and 1930s America = cutting hours not jobs dba work-sharing, auf deutsch *Kurz-arbeit (short work), but that despite Wall Street's and the federal government's scorn and neglect, has spread to nearly half the states.]
LANGEN, Germany — If you buy a subway ticket in Germany or smoke a cigarette in the Middle East, odds are pretty good that Kirsten Schoder-Steinmüller's handiwork is involved.
If you have old fillings in your teeth, new light bulbs in your lamp or dollar bills in your pocket, you might want to thank Horst Linn.
Mr. Linn and Ms. Schoder-Steinmüller run two of the Germany's 3.5 million small and midsize businesses collectively known as Mittelstand, which together have powered this country's export-driven economy for more than a century.
Germany's recovery from the global recession has been among the fastest of major economies, surging at a 6.1% annualized rate in the first quarter of 2011 alone. Its budget deficit is a small fraction of those in the U.S., Britain and Japan. Whereas the U.S. faces chronic unemployment, Germany's jobless rate is at a 20-year low.
While German business is associated abroad with global brands such as Siemens, Daimler and SAP, this economic renaissance is actually grounded in hidden champions such as Schoder GmbH and Linn High Therm GmbH, companies that employ anywhere from a couple of dozen to several hundred workers and that count their revenue in the millions, not billions.
Mittelstand are dominant global players in valuable niches that are largely invisible to the average consumer—tools, parts and components—niches that nevertheless are critical to the manufacturing process. In Schoder's case, these include metal face plates for electrical machines including bus and subway ticket dispensers, and high-tech engraving tools that can stamp logos on everything from car parts to cigarette papers. Linn High Therm's super-hot industrial and laboratory furnaces, once used to cast tooth fillings, now help produce materials used in light bulbs and for numerous other applications.
"Mittelstand is the backbone of the economy," says Volker Treier, chief economist at the German chamber of commerce and industry, DIHK, based in Berlin.
[Actually, no, the economic power of Germany stems from a much more available phenomenon, the strategy of cutting hours instead of jobs and manipulating the workweek instead of the workforce. Not even the Germans know what they are doing right, especially their as-timeblind-as-us economists.]
Small and midsize companies make up nearly 80% of private-sector employment in Germany, the world's fourth-largest economy, and 98% of its 350,000 exporters. Mittelstand companies ship products to, on average, 16 different foreign markets.
Their philosophy: "We are always looking for niche markets," says Ms. Schoder-Steinmüller in a small conference room a stone's throw from her factory floor in Langen, just outside Frankfurt. Her grandfather started Schoder in 1924 by engraving numbers and letters on early typewriters.
As Germany's economy evolved, so did Schoder. From the 1950s to 1970s, it moved away from typewriters and started engraving serial numbers on car parts, mostly for German auto makers. It also started to produce steel face plates for machines. Under Ms. Schoder-Steinmüller, who has run the business since her father retired in 2003, the company has gone even more high-tech. In addition to stamping logos on cigarette papers for clients in the United Arab Emirates, she uses state-of-the-art milling machines to build parts for high-strength lids on gas turbines. A potential new business: engraving on lipstick.
Twenty years ago, sales were almost entirely in Germany. Now, exports make up around 20% of Schoder's €10 million ($14.3 million) in annual revenues. "I am looking for steady increases of our sales," she says.
Though most Mittelstand are family owned and thoroughly rooted in old economy products, such as machine tools, many firms operate in a mode not unlike high-tech start-ups.
"We have to constantly innovate, and we have to do it smarter and faster than competitors that have the benefit of a lower cost base," says Mr. Linn, the 66-year-old founder of Linn High Therm, an industrial and laboratory furnace maker in the northern Bavarian town of Eschenfelden.
Mr. Linn founded the company in 1969 with a small loan and a 550-square-foot rented workshop. He quickly developed a brisk business in manufacturing laboratory furnaces used to cast dental crowns and cavity fillings.
Linn High Therm long ago exited that market, which is now flooded with hundreds of low-cost manufacturers. But it has continued to enter and dominate new and highly profitable niches, such as furnaces for making the fluorescent materials used as an anti-counterfeiting measure in bank notes, and in energy-saving light bulbs. The company has more than 90 registered patents to show for its strategy—nearly three for every four of its 125 employees.
Keeping community roots strong is common to Mittelstand, and goes a long way in explaining how Germany has remained an export powerhouse, despite its relatively large manufacturing base and high labor costs. Experts credit cooperative labor-management relations at companies like Schoder and Linn High Therm with shielding German workers from the worst of the 2008-2009 recession that pummeled other labor markets in Europe and the U.S.
"There is a personal relationship," says DIHK's Mr. Treier. "Firms are embedded in their regions," he says.
But there are other reasons for those tight bonds as well. During the recession, "we couldn't afford to [lay people off]," Mr. Linn says. "Once you lose your highest skilled people, you never get them back."
Ms. Schoder-Steinmüller tells a similar story. Her business took a big hit even before the recession, when a single client canceled a large number of orders. Like many other Mittelstand, she got help from a government program known as *Kurz-arbeit that subsidizes companies that cut hours, not staff. To get by, she also suspended a bonus program with a promise to repay workers once profits returned. She cut costs elsewhere by reducing office cleaning and using some of her idled factory workers to make deliveries, all in order to "keep these people on board as long as possible."
Keeping her 70-person staff intact "cost me a lot of money," she recalls.
Finding fresh, highly skilled workers amid a growing shortage of German engineers and technicians is one of the Mittelstand's biggest challenges. Ms. Schoder-Steinmüller uses an apprenticeship program to ensure a steady source of skilled labor. Mr. Linn says during the recession he snapped up a handful of engineers who had lost jobs elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in light of Germany's falling birth rate, Mr. Treier, from the chamber of commerce, wonders "whether Mittelstand have enough sons, daughters and friends to run these companies down the road."
On that, Ms. Schoder-Steinmüller and Mr. Linn appear covered. Mr. Linn's son will soon take the reins of his company, and Ms. Schoder-Steinmüller hopes one of her three daughters will someday join her firm.
Mr. Blackstone is a reporter for The Wall Street Journal in Frankfurt. Ms. Fuhrmans is a reporter in the Berlin bureau of The Wall Street Journal. They can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Job jugglers, on the tightrope, by Hannah Seligson, 6/26 New York Times, Bu1.
NEW YORK, N.Y. — When someone asks Roger Fierro “What do you do?” — which he knows is shorthand for “Where do you work?” — he laughs. Then he says, “I do everything.”
Mr. Fierro, who is 26, has four jobs: working as a bilingual-curriculum specialist for the textbook publisher Pearson; handling estate sales and online marketing for a store that sells vintage items; setting up an online store for a custom piñata maker; and developing reality-show ideas for a production company. So far this month, he’s made about $1,800.
Whereas most 9-to-5ers have some kind of structure in their lives, each workday can be wildly different for him. On a recent day, he worked on and off from 7 a.m. to midnight, making business calls, working on the piñata store’s Web site and visiting the vintage store, among other things. (To maintain his sanity, he made sure to schedule some “me” time from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8.)
“I have eight million things going on,” said Mr. Fierro, who lives in the West Town area of Chicago. “It’s exhausting. Sometimes I just want to take a nap.”
Some portions of the population — especially young, creative types like actors, artists and musicians — have always held multiple jobs to pay the bills. But people from all kinds of fields are now drawing income from several streams. Mr. Fierro, for one, has a degree in international studies and Latin American studies at the University of Chicago.
Some of these workers are patching together jobs out of choice. They may find full-time office work unfulfilling and are testing to see whether they can be their own boss. Certainly, the Internet has made working from home and trying out new businesses easier than ever.
But in many cases, necessity is driving the trend. “Young college graduates working multiple jobs is a natural consequence of a bad labor market and having, on average, $20,000 worth of student loans to pay off,” said Carl E. Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers.
“There are two types of people in this position: the graduate who can’t get a full-time job, and the person whose income isn’t sufficient to meet their expenses,” he said. “The only cure for young people in this position is an economic recovery of robust proportions.”
An entry-level salary often doesn’t go very far these days. According to a study by the Heldrich Center, the median starting salary for those who graduated from four-year degree programs in 2009 and 2010 was $27,000, down from $30,000 for those who graduated in 2006 to 2008, before the recession. (Try living on $27,000 a year — before taxes — in a city like New York, Washington or Chicago.)
Many earn even less than $27,000. Maureen McCarty, 23, who graduated from American University in 2010 with a journalism degree, makes $25,000 before taxes as managing editor of TheNewGay.net, a blog focusing on gay issues, with no benefits like health insurance or a 401(k). The salary doesn’t cover her expenses, so she often baby-sits five nights a week for six families in the Washington area.
Without the baby-sitting jobs, she says, she couldn’t afford to live in Adams Morgan, a hip neighborhood in Washington, or take a vacation: “I’m working in online publishing, an industry that is struggling to monetize, so if I want to do anything fun, like take a trip to New Orleans, I have to have additional income.”
Juggling jobs has its perils. “I do sometimes get my schedules mixed up and will double- or even triple-book myself,” Ms. McCarty said. Maintaining a social life can be challenging, and it might consist of “dragging a friend along while I run errands on a Saturday.”
“Sometimes I do get burnt out from all of the juggling, but caffeine, for the most part, keeps me going,” she said. “I try when I get to that point to take some time by myself even if it’s just 30 minutes during lunch.”
All told, Ms. McCarty says, she works 75 to 80 hours a week, a schedule more typical of investment bankers or lawyers aspiring to make partner in a firm — but for just a fraction of the pay.
Between her salary at TheNewGay.net and the $5,000 she makes at her various baby-sitting jobs, Ms. McCarty has a pre-tax income of $30,000, or about $2,500 a month. More than $700 a month goes to the apartment she shares with two roommates.
Some months, however, when she doesn’t have enough baby-sitting jobs lined up, Ms. McCarty has to make that “horrible phone call” to her parents to tell them that she can’t make her rent.
Louise Gassman, 28, has a rotating schedule of multiple jobs: as an actress; as an assistant to dance instructors at the Circle in the Square and Juilliard schools; as a baby-sitter; and in a variety of administrative roles and as a spinning instructor at SoulCycle, an indoor cycling studio in New York.
Ms. Gassman’s monthly income, which can vary greatly depending on whether she books an acting job, ranges from $1,800 to $4,000. Some months, almost all of her income goes to the $1,450 rent on her 290-square-foot studio on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Whatever is left after essentials goes toward paying off her remaining $16,000 in college loans.
“I worry about money all the time,” Ms. Gassman said. “I live on a really tight budget, and I live paycheck to paycheck.”
Periodically, the accountant who cuts her check at SoulCycle reminds her that someone her age should be putting away $300 a paycheck for retirement, an amount that is sometimes almost half of her pay. “I’m like, retirement?” she asks. “Then I have the ‘Oh my God, Oh my God’ feelings.”
Ms. Gassman has come up with creative ways to save money. She has a policy not to spend $5 bills and instead puts them in a Tupperware container. So far, she’s been able to use this cash to pay for a new air-conditioner, for three plane tickets, and for her dog to be neutered.
Mia Branco, 23, says she is always worried about money, even though she also works four jobs. She is the house manager at the Discovery Theater at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, teaches drama and music at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Md., supervises the box office at the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company and works as a nanny.
Ms. Branco says she logs 40 to 50 hours a week, including travel time, and takes home $1,300 in a good month.
Still, Ms. Branco, who graduated magna cum laude with a degree in musical theater from American University in 2009, says she feels lucky to be employed at all. “The majority of the jobs I have right now are because people were laid off and they didn’t want to hire back full-time employees,” she said. “My willingness to have a hodgepodge schedule makes me more marketable.”
But very few part-time employers offer health insurance, and job jugglers tend to worry: What happens if I become really sick or get into an accident?
At least Ms. McCarty is covered through her parents under the new health care law that allows anyone under 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance.
Mr. Fierro still receives insurance from a teaching job he used to have, but it runs out in August. He doesn’t know what he’ll do after that.
Ms. Branco pays $89 a month for very basic health insurance that has a high deductible, the kind of plan that she says makes her “bank on not getting sick.”
Ms. Gassman, who does not have health insurance and hasn’t had a physical since 2004, says she is extra careful when crossing the street because anything medically catastrophic is simply not an option right now. “I can’t afford to get hit by a taxi,” she said.
On the brighter side, when or if these job jugglers get on a career path, they may offer an attractive skill set: they are expert multitaskers, hyper-organized and often very knowledgeable in technology. Having multiple jobs is an exercise in mental dexterity.
Ms. Branco says that because of her four jobs, which require skills as diverse as developing lesson plans and mastering an online ticketing system, she has become more adept at dealing with a wide range of people and situations: “I’ve learned to be very adaptable, because one day I’m corporate, the next day I’m start-up, and the next day I’m nonprofit.”
Mr. Fierro describes himself as “MacGyver.” He might have to transport some furniture, “read and synthesize documents, find obscure bits of information on Google and give presentations in Spanish, all in one day,” he says.
But beware: Too much multitasking makes it harder to sustain attention, according to Kirk Snyder, an assistant professor of communications at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, who researches the changing workplace values of Gen Y.
“I think being focused on more than one professional pursuit at the same time makes it easier to give up on those pursuits that take more effort or have a longer payoff curve because there are always other options to focus on,” he said.
More damaging, however, may be the economics. A national study by the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies found that young women who worked primarily in part-time jobs did not make higher wages in their 30s than in their 20s.
“The study was clear. Women don’t benefit wage-wise from working part time,” said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University and a co-author of the study. The reason is that part-time jobs generally provide fewer training opportunities and often don’t put workers on a track for advancement.
More college graduates are working in second jobs that don’t require college degrees, part of a phenomenon called “mal-employment.” In short, many baby-sitters, sales clerks, telemarketers and bartenders are overqualified for their jobs.
Last year, 1.9 million college graduates were mal-employed and had multiple jobs, up 17 percent from 2007, according to federal data. Almost half of all college graduates have a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.
The goal for most, Mr. Sum said, is to be upgraded to full-time jobs. “That is where there is the most payoff for a college degree,” he said.
But full-time jobs don’t suit everyone. Ms. Gassman, for example, has been offered a full-time job at SoulCycle, complete with full benefits, but she doesn’t want it. “I wouldn’t be able to go on auditions in the middle of the day,” she explained. “Of course, it stresses me out not to have health insurance, but what is my choice? Work in an office and be unhappy? Being happy is a superhigh value to me.”
Mr. Fierro is much happier now than when he was working as a bilingual reading specialist for a public school in Chicago. “I was working 12 hours a day and making $38,000 a year and it wasn’t making a dent in the $120,000 in loans I had to pay off. Plus, I was miserable.”
Mr. Fierro, who calls himself an “aesthetic consultant,” would ultimately like to create his own line of merchandise, along the lines of Marc Jacobs. He is optimistic that he is more likely to achieve his goal by working on many projects than if he held a traditional job.
Ms. Branco says that while she is often exhausted and hasn’t had two consecutive days off in months, she isn’t ready to commit to one employer. “The jobs are allowing me to wander and figure out what I really want to do,” she said.
Professor Snyder at Southern Cal doesn’t see multiple job-holding as a trend that will disappear anytime soon.
“The likelihood of this generation devoting their professional life to just one job or career at the same time is simply counterintuitive to their worldview,” he said. “I think we would be seeing this generation pursuing multiple jobs and careers at once even in a robust economy.”
Still, is job-juggling really sustainable, particularly when the next stage of life hits and there may be a mortgage and children?
Ms. McCarty doesn’t think so. She is looking for an end to her 80-hour weeks and meager paychecks. “I don’t want to be 30 and working a bunch of small jobs so I can pay my bills,” she said.
- 7 tips for getting more done in fewer hours, by Jessica Stillman, 6/27 GigaOm.com
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - With the ability to work whenever we wish, web workers face ever-increasing work hours. We slip in “just one email” after dinner or fail to resist the pull of our smartphone before our morning workout. But one blogger is arguing that longer hours actually usually mean less productivity.
Writing on Freelance Folder, Lexi Rodrigo cites Parkinson’s Law as the underlying rationale for her argument. The principle, first recognized in regard to the ever-expanding British civil service in the 1950s, declares that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”
For web workers, the principle means that however many hours we allot ourselves to work, we will find activities to fill them. And the opposite, Rodrigo contends, is equally true. Limit your hours, and the time it takes you to complete tasks will shrink to accommodate the new boundaries. Set yourself a deadline and you’ll feel more urgency, more adrenaline and less perfectionism.
Rodrigo backs up her ideas with arguments that would be true for a baker or cobbler, but there’s evidence that quantity does not necessarily translate to quality, especially for knowledge workers. Happiness-at-work expert Alexander Kjerulf, for instance, has rounded up research that shows that knowledge workers “are the most productive when they work 35 hours a week” and “productivity decreased by half after the eighth hour of work.”
So how can we shorten our workdays? Rodrigo offers several suggestions, many of which are classic time-management techniques that we’ve covered before. But three of her ideas are particularly pertinent.
1. Keep your deadlines challenging but realistic. A too-generous deadline won’t make you more productive. On the other hand, a deadline that’s impossible to meet is counterproductive as well. When you feel you’re too late for something, it can de-motivate you from working faster and more efficiently. So you want a deadline that puts pressure on you but that is still humanly manageable.
2. Reward yourself for meeting deadlines. Imagine all the other things you could do if you had a shorter workday. You could go to the gym, hang out with friends, play video games, work on your novel. What would you do if you didn’t have to work? Plan to do some of that after your work is completed every day. And I mean put it in your schedule … Type it into your Google calendar. That’s the only way it will get done.
3. Stick to your deadlines — but remain flexible. Of course, deadlines only work if you actually stick to them. Yet at the same time, you need to have some flexibility. Unexpected things come up, often through no fault of yours. If it’s necessary, adjust your deadline.
These tips merge well with some that we’ve talked about before:
4. Select work hours that are the most efficient for you.
5. Schedule breaks and time off.
6. Avoid going online before breakfast.
7. Mark the end of the day and finish on time.
- Eborcraft furniture makers returns to full-time working, by Mike Laycock, 6/27 The Press, York via yorkpress.co.uk
DUNNINGTON, Yorks., England – Staff at one of York’s oldest manufacturers have resumed full-time working – and have even been working overtime – after fresh orders came in.
The Press reported last month how 28 production staff at Eborcraft furniture makers, based at Chessingham Business Park in Dunnington, had been put on short-time working in response to the downturn in the economy, with a couple of employees who had been taken on as temporary staff also being made redundant.
Managing director Chris Williams said then that short-term working was only a temporary measure, intended to protect the long-term future of the business.
He said it had actually lasted only four weeks, after which it had been possible to get employees back to full-time work, with additional overtime in the past fortnight.
He said the idea of short-time working as an alternative to redundancies had first been mooted in 2008, after it became clear the banking crisis could affect the market, and staff had been fully in favour and had remained so.
He said such flexibility was essential for the business, which manufactured high-quality veneer furniture such as office desks, boardroom tables, reception desks and cabinets to order for the commercial sector.
He said the family firm, which was established 116 years ago, was always having to move with the times, investing in state-of-the-art cutting, drilling, assembly and finishing processes.
[Dis here 'he said' is gettin' monotonous! Hey Mike, j'a sleep thru English composition or somepin?!]
It was currently working on a contract to make reception desks for car dealer showrooms across the country. The market was still tough but orders were steady, he said.
Mr Williams said the veneers, about 0.7 mms thick, came from trees such as oak, maple, cherry and black walnut, and were mainly supplied from managed forests in the USA.
He said they were first cut into shape and then pressed and bonded onto material such as Medium Density Fibreboard (MDF) and chipboard, before being sawn, drilled and assembled, with thousands of pieces of furniture made each year.
The Press - Comment
Welcome news on the jobs front in York: one of the city’s oldest manufacturers has resumed full-time working.
Last month, 28 production staff at Eborcraft furniture makers in Dunnington were put on short-time working. It was a temporary measure, designed to protect the firm’s long-term future while minimising the need for redundancies.
Now, thanks to fresh orders, those staff are back working full time – and have even been doing overtime.
[Overtime is the path to more customers IF it's converted into jobs - say, if a company trains or crosstrains to develop a '"swat team" of versatile employees.]
In the context of the overall jobs market in York and North Yorkshire, this is a small step, but a welcome one.
We hope it is a sign of better things to come.
- Small firms likely to start hiring again -- SFA survey, 6/27 Siliconrepublic.com
DUBLIN, Eire -- For the first time since the Small Firms Association’s (SFA) quarterly sentiment survey began in 2009, more companies have indicated they would take on new staff in the next three months than let people go.
Some 23pc of the 592 companies surveyed expect to recruit temporary staff in the next three months, with 15pc of respondents expecting to recruit permanent staff in the same time frame.
The proportion of respondents implementing layoffs (3pc) and short-time working arrangements (8pc) now stand at their lowest levels since the series began in the first quarter of 2009.
The percentage of companies implementing compulsory redundancies (3pc) has dropped significantly since 2009, when more than one in five companies (22pc) indicated they would be implementing compulsory redundancies in the next three months.
“The overall survey results show a continuing improvement in the sentiment of small business owner-managers; however, many remain under serious pressure,” said Patricia Callan, director of the SFA.
“The Government’s Jobs Initiative and, in particular, the halving of the lower rate of employer’s PRSI has been well received by small businesses and they are now responding with real job creation. The Government must continue to improve the competitive environment in which small businesses operate, cutting costs wherever it can. This is the only way to solve the jobs crisis”.
- Jobs under threat at Smedley factory, 6/26 Matlock Mercury via BakewellToday.co.uk
MATLOCK, Derbs., England - Around 60 jobs could be axed at John Smedley mill.
The factory, which employs more than 400 people, launched a 30 day consultation period last week.
Workers and union representatives met with bosses yesterday – after the company announced that due to worsening trading conditions and a difficult economic situation, they could be forced to make 60 full time redundancies.
This could see 40 jobs go at the Lea Bridge site and a further 20 lost at the Clay Cross factory.
A spokesman for trade union Community, which is representing the workforce, said: “The company wants to invoke a clause allowing short time working in an effort to avoid job losses.
“All due, they say, to deterioration in trading conditions.”
The factory is discussing flexible working practices, reducing working hours, voluntary and compulsory redundancy.
Bosses anticipate that redundancies could be made across various departments.
Ian Maclean, managing director, said: “John Smedley Limited has survived as an independent, family owned, company for over 225 years through many challenging periods of economic uncertainty.
“Today, we find ourselves trading in the most difficult economic conditions in the last 40 years.
“Our intention is to face these challenges positively and do everything we can to protect the future of our company, on which so many jobs depend.
“I am confident that our restructuring proposals, which we will discuss fully with our employees, will ultimately make us a stronger business for the future.”
After the consultation period the firm will be meeting with each employee whose job may be at risk.
Sean Redgate of union Community, said 36 manual workers were set to made redundant at Lea and four office staff.
He said: “I have spoken to branch officials and they say orders have dropped. The company has looked at other ways to save money but the fact is the financial situation means there is going to be job losses.
“We have been assured this is going to be a one-off hit.”
John Smedley Limited is the oldest manufacturing factory in the world.
[Established when? 1786?]
It has been manufacturing the finest knitwear from cotton and merino wool since 1784, in Lea.
Is your job at risk? Have you worked at John Smedley for a long time?
To contact us email email@example.com log on to our website, www.matlockmercury.co.uk or comment on our Facebook page.
- Saudi mulls cutting work hours for private sector - Plan involves reducing work to 36 hours a week during Ramadan, Emirates 24/7 via emirates247.com
JEDDA, Saudi Arabia - Saudi Arabia is considering cutting work time for the private sector to 40 hours from 48 hours a week in line with a royal decree to limit daily work time to a maximum eight hours, a newspaper said on Sunday.
Quoting what it described as informed sources at the ministry of labour, 'Okaz' Arabic language daily said the plan also involves reducing work to 36 hours a week during the fasting month of Ramadan.
“Cutting work time will be a positive step as it will allow workers to have more rest and become more innovative,” the paper said, quoting Mutlaq al Hazmi, director of the business division at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
But the paper quoted an expert at the chamber as saying such a move could have adverse effects on productivity in the private sector.
“We should not compare our workers with those in the advanced countries,” Isam Zayed said. “Unlike here, workers in those countries are punctual and strictly abide by work timings…they also work non-stop during the work hours.”
[Yeah sure. This sounds kinda naive and innocently objective-about-oneself at first - wow, they're running down their own people - but then you think of the back story - the Saudis themselves rarely work - they bring in foreign workers - a class distinction arises - so this could just be running down a "lower" class, "our workers." And it gets worse - sometimes they seize their passports so they can't return home and their status (especially that of Philippina maids) devolves to that of slave laborer.]
6/25/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- [Some Americans have too few working hours -]
Napa Valley College students face limited course, job prospects, NapaValleyRegister.com
NAPA, Calif. - Finals are done and summer is slowly coming on, but forget what the Hollywood movies say. Most Napa Valley College students won’t be heading for beach destinations or Vegas vacations.
While the beach and Vegas are alluring, many students have to work paying jobs and get into necessary summer classes.
There is fierce competition in the minimum-wage job market. Some employed students are lucky to get 30 hours a week, if they can get jobs at all.
Jessica and Mariah Barrera are sisters, both students at Napa Valley College. Mariah is taking a couple of classes over summer, but Jessica is taking a break from school to work. Neither plans a vacation.
Jessica works at Home Depot, which increased her hours for the summer. She would have liked to try another job, but “the job market is really bad and it’s hard to get hired now,” she said. “I find it discouraging.”
The desire for more work, but few offers, is a recurring theme among students. Mariah Barrera continues to look for another job to supplement the limited hours she gets as a customer service representative at Kohl’s department store.
She is taking more classes at school. If work at Kohl’s is limited, she intends to work on her credits.
Mariah Barrera has a positive attitude toward the college’s reduced class offering this summer, the result of cutbacks in state funding. Indirectly, this tight economy may have made her a better student, she said, adding that with classes harder to come by, no one wants to get into a course and not do well.
Paul Everett, a carpenter, is a business major who went back to school to find a stable career. He said he feels the weight of the recession because people aren’t spending money to fix or redesign their homes.
Allie O’Shaughnessy is a business major who works the front desk at a local hotel. Unlike others, she sometimes finds her hotel hours too abundant.
“People at the hotel are flooding in because of summer. So I’m constantly busy at work. It makes it hard to find time for homework or put 100 percent of my focus into it,” she said. “I’m tired a lot.”
As for snorkeling trips to Cabo or European explorations during the summer, O’Shaughnessy said, “Oh, no, no. Time is hard to get off and money is hard to have a lot of. Vacations will be a day thing, like trips to the beach, and definitely not overnight.”
O’Shaughnessy went into the summer semester not knowing if an accounting class she needs will be offered. She said the situation is frustrating and could delay graduation and the onset of careers in which she can earn real money.
Citlali Calderon-Hurtado is experienced with waiting for classes at Napa Valley College. Calderon-Hurtado waited more than two years to get accepted into the nursing program that begins in August.
“I have a lot of friends who are trying to get classes and go back to school,” Calderon-Hurtado said. “They’re having a hard time getting in. At the beginning of the semester, there are tons of people lining up (at the front office) to get into English and math.
“I am happy I was accepted into the nursing program and started when I did so I don’t have to worry about that.”
English major Larissa Creiglow agrees that a lot of time is wasted waiting for class. “Pretty much to get into the classes you need to get into, you need to sign up the day when registration begins and then sometimes you don’t even get the class,” she said.
She strives for classes that are needed to transfer to four-year schools, rather than worrying about non-credit classes.
“Not that non-credit or non-transferrable classes like gym and painting are a waste of time, but if they’re not getting you toward the goal of graduating or transferring to a four-year college, it seems like less of a priority,” she said.
- [Other Americans have too many working hours (another version of yesterday's article) -]
Report Paints Dark Picture Of Resident Doctors' Work Hours, SmartAboutHealth.net
BOSTON, Mass. – A new report released in the U.S. has painted a very bleak picture in terms of the work hours that resident doctors are put through, with the report stressing that the length of time they are expected to work is very dangerous to their own health and the health of their patients.
The research included in the report was headed up by Dr. Lucian Leape from the Harvard School of Public Health, and focused on resident doctors in the U.S.
More specifically, a heavy focus was placed on new rules for resident doctors and the residency training they will go through starting on July 1st of this year.
The idea was to review the work hours they are put through, their supervision, as well as overall safety.
What researchers found is that these new rules that will go into effect on July 1st do very little to help the resident doctors in terms of working hours.
1st-year residents will be expected to work a maximum of 16-hours straight. Those who have more than 1-year under their belt though can work up to 28-hours straight.
[It's the sicksick martyred-diva culture of American physicians - who can't even heal themselves on the most basic levels of health, like getting enough sleep.]
These are very long stretches of time to be put through work, to the point where it can be dangerous to the health of the resident, as well as patients.
The authors of the report have put out a series of recommendations to try and help resident doctors.
They include a 16-hour cap on all resident doctor shifts, as well as improved supervision, more focus on fatigue management with these residents, among other benefits aimed at improving safety.
The report has been published in the journal Nature & Science of Sleep.
[We couldn't make this up if we tried!]
- [Meanwhile, prosperous Germany shortens hours (= worksharing or in German, Kurzarbeit) to prevent layoffs - and floundering England still cuts jobs first and considers shorter hours (or in British, "short-time working") for later -]
Tank Track firm Astrum set to shed jobs, by Owen McAteer, TheNorthernEcho.co.uk
STANHOPE, England - A tank-track manufacturer, forced to make redundancies when the recession hit construction, is set to shed more jobs following cuts in the UK defence budget.
County Durham engineering firm Astrum, Weardale[Valley]'s biggest employer with more than 260 staff, yesterday said it was facing up to 25 potential redundancies, as well as possible short-time working, as it looked to reduce its cost base.
The Stanhope, company, which makes the metal tracks tanks and earthmoving machinery run on, said its UK business had been hit by October's Strategic Defence and Security Review.
The review will see an 8per cent cut in Ministry of Defence (MoD) spending over four years.
Astrum said it hoped to achieve the cuts through voluntary means and unions said they would work with the firm to keep job losses to as minimum.
In 2009 Astrum made around 30 redundancies after its commercial sector business, based upon earthmoving and transportation vehicles for construction and mining, was heavily affected by the downturn.
But the firm's fortunes appeared to be improving when it took on 15 staff after securing a two-year extension to an MoD contract in February last year to supply the metal tracks for vehicles, including the Challenger 2 tank, worth £30m and with the option of a further two years.
Last night managing director Phil Kite said: "The public spending review and resultant Strategic Defence and Security Review have meant demand from the MoD has reduced and this combined with our range of defence products providing excellent durability and value has meant we have seen less UK business."
Ironically the business has enjoyed a growth in exports, which increased from 23per cent to 33per cent of turnover in the last twelve months, and total revenue rose by 10per cent to more than £30m.
Mr Kite said: "Our strategy is to develop a sustainable export business and in this regard we have been successful
"However demand from our UK market for 2011 has fallen and we must ensure we remain competitive.
"We are pleased with how our commercial business has recovered from the recession and we will continue to invest in our export driven strategy which has proved to be successful.
"At the same time we need to restructure our business based upon maintaining our competitiveness and the right mix of skills.
"We regret the impact that this will have on our employees and we are working with them and our trade unions to mitigate these proposed job losses."
Jimmy Skivington, regional organiser with the GMB, which represents some of the site's workers, said: "We will be seeking a meeting with the company as soon as possible to look at alternatives to redundancies."
6/24/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Excerpt - Work Sharing: The Quick Route Back to Full Employment, MRzine via MonthlyReview.org
WASHINGTON, D.C. - There are two basic ways to increase employment: increasing output and thereby increasing the demand for labor, or dividing up the existing work among more workers. . . . Work sharing is not a new idea. The idea of shortening work time to create more work has a long history. . . . [I]n an economy that is operating well below its potential -- and projected to remain so for much of the next decade -- work sharing may be the most viable way of bringing the economy back closer to full employment.
Germany is the model in this respect. It has aggressively promoted a policy of work sharing, along with other measures aimed at persuading employers to retain workers. As a result, its standardized unemployment rate now stands at 6.7 percent, 0.4 percentage points below the rate at the start of the downturn. This remarkable achievement was not due to superior economic growth. Through the fourth quarter of 2010, the growth rate of Germany's economy since the start of the downturn had actually lagged somewhat behind the growth rate of the United States. The fact that Germany's unemployment rate had fallen, while the unemployment rate in the United States had risen by 4.4 percentage points, was entirely due to different labor-market responses to the downturn. . . .
Though Germany's experience with reducing work hours as an alternative to unemployment has been remarkable, it is important to note that most of the reduction in work hours was not brought about by the formal short-work program. The OECD (2010) estimated that only 25 percent of the reduction in hours worked in Germany was the result of the formal short-work program. It attributed 40 percent of the reduction in work hours to employer agreements with unions or work councils, 20 percent was the result of reduced overtime, and 20 percent came about through tapping work-hour accounts.
While the role of the short-work policy was clearly important, this was in the context of a larger commitment to preserving employment. The overwhelming majority of the workers in short-work programs in Europe are men, disproportionately in their middle age... Workers in medium- and large-sized firms are far more likely than workers in smaller businesses to be enrolled in short-work programs. The construction and manufacturing industry accounted for a hugely disproportionate share of the workers in short-work programs, although they also accounted for the bulk of the job loss in the recession, so the concentration of covered workers in these sectors may be more a function of the pattern of job loss than the nature of the programs. By education level, workers with college and advanced degrees were under-represented, as were workers without secondary degrees. . . .
Based on the German experience, it is possible that employers will view shortening work hours as preferable to layoffs, even with little or no additional subsidy from the government. German employers have been very supportive of the country's short-work policy in large part because they recognize the advantage of having workers on their payroll whose hours can be increased quickly when demand grows, rather than being forced to spend the time and money hiring new workers.
However, there are other features of Germany's labor market, that do not exist in the United States, that make short work more attractive there. First and foremost, Germany has a far higher union coverage rate, with approximately 43 percent of its workers covered by collective bargaining agreements compared to about 13 percent in the United States. This means that employers in Germany would typically have to negotiate layoffs with a union -- they would not have the option to unilaterally lay off workers. Also, firms with more than 250 employees are required to have a works council that would also play a role in any layoff decisions.
In addition, Germany has employment protection rules that do not allow employers to dismiss most workers at will. This means that most German employers have a strong incentive to develop plans for reducing work hours in ways that are most acceptable to their workers.
These [incentives] do not, for the most part, exist in the United States. At the same time, [some] employers in the United States do recognize the benefits of keeping their incumbent workers on the job, rather than being forced to hire new workers when demand increases. Even in the United States there was a substantial reduction in the length of the average work week in every sector of the economy, indicating that employers did not adjust labor demand exclusively through layoffs.
If a better advertised, more generous, and less bureaucratic system were in place, surely [US] employers would be more likely to take advantage of the option of short-work compensation. . . . Work-sharing programs would create an institutional structure that pushes toward less work per worker, countering the current bias towards longer hours created by the fixed-cost nature of benefits such as healthcare insurance. If this leads to a reduction in labor supply (measured in hours) from the portion of the workforce without college degrees, this could lead to upward pressure on their wages, which would help to reverse some of the rise in wage inequality over the last three decades.
[AND help to reverse some of the decline in domestic consumer spending, marketable productivity and sustainable investment! Eventually Dean will move on to mentioning these connections and translate the incentives for the worksharing approach right into the self-interest of US CEOs and investors.]
- Experts call for lighter resident workload to protect patients, by Julian Pecquet, The Hill (blog) via thehill.com/blogs
WASHINGTON, D.C. - New rules on residency training that take effect July 1 "stop considerably short" of guaranteeing the patient safety, healthcare experts argue in a new article that calls for shorter hours for residents.
The 26 experts say residents should not work more than 16 hours without sleep and recommend tying Medicare training funds to work-hour compliance. The recommendations are detailed in the latest issue of the online journal Nature & Science of Sleep.
"The current system amounts to an abuse of patient trust," report co-author Lucian Leape said in a statement. "Few people enter a hospital expecting that their care and safety are in the hands of someone who has been working a double-shift or more with no sleep. If they knew, and had a choice, the overwhelming majority would demand another doctor or leave."
Key recommendations in the report include:
• Limiting all resident physician work hours to shifts of 12 to 16 hours;
• Making work-hour compliance a condition for getting Medicare graduate medical education (GME) dollars;
• Identifying in real time when a resident physician's workload is excessive and additional staff should be activated;
• Requiring attending physicians to supervise all hospital admissions;
• Mandating in-house supervision for all critical care services, including emergency, intensive care and trauma services; and
• Making comprehensive fatigue management a Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal.
The recommendations go on to note that "fatigue is a safety concern not only for resident physicians, but for nurses, attending physicians and other healthcare workers."
6/23/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Albany reaches a deal with its largest union - A three-year wage freeze, furloughs and new insurance costs, by Danny Hakim, New York Times A19.
ALBANY, N.Y. — The state’s largest public-employee union, acknowledging the pressures on government workers around the nation, agreed on Wednesday to major wage and benefits concessions in a pact to avoid sweeping layoffs.
The five-year agreement between Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, and the Civil Service Employees Association, includes a three-year wage freeze, the first furloughs ever for state workers and an increase in the amount employees must pay toward their health insurance.
Savings would amount to $73 million this year, and as much as $1.6 billion over five years, if other labor unions representing public workers agreed to similar concessions. Absent those agreements, there could still be layoffs of some public workers, the Cuomo administration said.
The agreement was announced as the governor and lawmakers negotiated over a number of issues in the waning hours of the legislative session. Senate Republicans had not decided on Wednesday night whether to allow a vote on the most contentious issue, the proposed legalization of same-sex marriage.
The negotiations between Mr. Cuomo and the union, which represents about a third of the 186,000 state workers, were largely free of the public rancor that accompanied efforts to reduce spending on labor in New Jersey and Wisconsin.
“I want to applaud C.S.E.A. for understanding, truly, the situation that the state is in,” the governor told reporters on Wednesday night. “The union really stepped up and helped the state out at a very precarious time, from a financial point of view.”
In a statement, Danny Donohue, the president of the union, said, “These are not ordinary times, and C.S.E.A. and the Cuomo administration have worked very hard at the bargaining table to produce an agreement that balances shared sacrifice with fairness and respect.”
The deal is subject to ratification by union members, who will vote by mail over the next several weeks. It would provide pay raises of 2 percent in the fourth and fifth years of the contract.
Mr. Cuomo, facing shrinking resources because of the recession, had earlier in the legislative session won approval of a state budget that depended on a $450 million cut in labor costs, either from layoffs or union concessions.
He had also proposed reducing pension benefits for new government workers; that proposal is unlikely to be approved in this session, but will be a potential flash point going forward.
Edmund J. McMahon, director of the Empire Center for New York State Policy, a research group that favors reduced government spending, called the deal a mixed bag.
On one hand, Mr. McMahon said, the agreement was not an effort at significant transformation, like that tried by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who sought to end collective bargaining for many public-employee unions. On the other hand, he said, the New York deal marked a sharp departure from the state’s previous four-year labor contract, which put in place base wage increases of 3 percent a year for the first three years and 4 percent in the fourth year.
“In Wisconsin, they tried to change the rules,” Mr. McMahon said, adding, “If you’re negotiating within the rules of the game, this is probably the best deal you can get.”
Under the terms of the deal announced on Wednesday, lower-paid employees — those whose salaries start at about $33,000 or less — will have their share of health care premiums rise to 12 percent, from 10 percent, for individuals. More highly paid employees will have their share rise to 16 percent. The cost of family health coverage will also increase; for more highly paid employees, for example, the share will rise to 31 percent, from 25 percent. State officials expect that, as in the past, the health care changes will also apply to retirees, a potentially critical part of the overall savings.
In addition to taking a five-day furlough in the current fiscal year, employees must take a four-day leave in the year after, though the second-year furlough will be repaid at the end of the contract term.
Employees who remain through 2013 will earn one-time bonus payments of $775 in 2013 and $225 in 2014 — such one-time payments do not compound over time like salary increases, which increase long-term cash costs for the state and the burden on the pension system.
In addition to the wage and benefits concessions, the union also agreed to an overhaul of the disciplinary procedures for state employees accused of abuse or neglect of the developmentally disabled. The state and the union will develop a series of punishments for employees who commit disciplinary offenses in an effort to end the seemingly random punishments handed out by arbitrators to employees in the past. And there will also be an overhaul of the current arbitration panel and higher pay in an effort to recruit better arbitrators.
The Cuomo administration had pressed for the changes after a series of articles in The New York Times examining the treatment of the disabled in group homes and state-run institutions. Among the newspaper’s findings: The state has retained workers who committed physical or sexual abuse, rehired many workers it had fired, shunned whistle-blowers and rarely reported allegations of abuse to law enforcement officials.
While employees represented by the Civil Service Employees Association averted layoffs, the Cuomo administration is still negotiating with a number of other unions, including the Public Employees Federation, which represents 56,000 employees and is the second-largest union of state employees. The state has put forward a July 15 deadline for layoffs in other unions if an agreement is not reached to reduce their wages and benefits.
The Public Employees Federation has had more contentious talks thus far with the Cuomo administration, going so far as to post the administration’s negotiating position on the Internet, but its position was weakened by the agreement announced on Wednesday.
Ken Brynien, president of the Public Employees Federation, issued only a brief statement, saying his union “stands ready to meet with the state’s negotiators to reach an agreement.”
- Life lessons for our modern families, HeraldSun.com.au
MELBOURNE, Australia - The longer children spend in childcare, the less satisfied parents are with work and life, Australia's biggest study of families has found.
And mums and dads are most content when their youngest child is aged under 2, the research reveals.
As families struggle with the cost of living, women are working longer and returning to work earlier, leading to longer stints in childcare.
This is placing increasing stress on mums as they juggle work and family, says the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia [HILDA] survey -- Families, Incomes and Jobs report, released yesterday.
The number of women returning to work while their child was aged between eight and 11 months has rocketed up from 5 per cent to 11 per cent over the past 10 years.
"But life and job satisfaction for men and women decreases the more hours their children are in formal care, especially if they are aged over two," said HILDA researcher Diana Warren.
"It could be because it adds to the stress of the day, getting the children organised for care, dropping them off before work."
She said men's satisfaction levels dropped when their children spent 30 hours or more a week in care.
The research, by the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, tracks 7000 households and more than 12,000 respondents.
Single parents experience more stress than those with partners but, overall, women struggle with higher levels of parenting stress than men, it found.
Interestingly, fathers who work between 45 and 54 hours a week were happier with their life than those who worked 35 to 44 hours.
But the same could not be said for women, with mothers working less than 35 hours a week more satisfied than those working more.
Mother of two Lynette Duffy, 38, whose daughter, Mikaela, 3, is in childcare two days a week, agreed with the findings.
She said she was not as happy when she had both Mikaela and son Ethan, now 6, in care three days a week while in the office.
She resigned from her full-time job 18 months ago and now got to spend more time with her children.
"At the time it was manageable but life is a bit more relaxed now. You can't put a price on spending time with your children."
6/22/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- WHEAT to cut hours, services, by Karen Nugent, Worcester Telegram via telegram.com
CLINTON, Mass. — WHEAT [Wachusett Health Education Action Team] Community Services will cut hours and services starting July 1.
Executive Director Jim Sheehan said decreases in funding combined with last winter’s storms and cold have forced changes.
The new office hours will be from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday.
[So the old hours were what, 9:30am-5:00pm?]
In addition, financial assistance with rent and utilities will be “cut significantly until further notice,” Mr. Sheehan said.
Services and hours at the WHEAT Food Pantry, Community Café and Hidden Treasures Thrift Shop will remain the same.
Mr. Sheehan said the Clinton-based human services agency, which also serves Berlin, Bolton, Lancaster, and Sterling, has lost federal funding two years in a row.
And last week, he learned that a major funding source was decreasing its grant from $81,500 to $56,500.
Mr. Sheehan said to absorb those losses, the entire administrative staff will get salary cuts, along with the decreased service hours.
Donations for the last 12 months have also been down, he said, including thrift shop donations of furniture, clothing and household items. As a result, the shop fell $17,000 below its expected earnings.
The annual Walk for Hunger on May 28 was another disappointment, falling well below last year’s numbers of walkers and sponsors. Even the annual U.S. Postal Service food drive, which brought in 5,000 pounds of groceries to the WHEAT pantry last year, decreased to approximately 2,000 pounds this year.
“I want to be clear, I know that everyone is hurting these days,” Mr. Sheehan said. “And WHEAT is not alone in experiencing such losses. But this year has been particularly challenging, and we are faced with having to make difficult decisions in order to keep afloat.”
He said residents never before seen at WHEAT have asked for help with rent and utility bills this year, and annual programs such as holiday toy distributions, Thanksgiving turkey give-aways, back to school programs, and the prom dress project had surges in the numbers of families registering.
He emphasized that the need for donations is year-round.
“We are an agency that focuses on local families. The folks we help are not halfway around the world, as great as that need is,” Mr. Sheehan said.
Donations can be sent to WHEAT, care of Jim Sheehan, 500 Main St., Clinton MA 01510.
Call (978) 365-6349 for information, or to volunteer.
To donate items to the thrift shop, drop them at the 180 High St. store.
- No return to flight schedules yet, (6/23 across dateline) ABC Online via abc.net.au
HOBART, Tasmania, Aussie-taRailey-ya - Airlines are reducing the backlog of passengers affected by grounded Tasmanian flights but the frustrations for air travellers continues.
Virgin had hoped to resume flights to Hobart by late this afternoon but has announced they will not begin until tomorrow at the earliest.
However, flights to Launceston have resumed.
Virgin's Colin Lippiatt says the company remains committed to reducing the backlog from Hobart.
"Either with additional services above and beyond normal schedule or larger aircraft operating with more seats," he said.
Both Jetstar and Qantas are expected to resume flights to Hobart later this afternoon.
Jetstar's James Aanensen says the national backlog of 60,000 passengers is falling.
Tiger has announced its Melbourne to Hobart flight will leave at 6:20pm as scheduled.
The Spirit of Tasmania has made available an additional 110 seats on today's crossing from Devonport to Melbourne to assist stranded airline passengers.
Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin flights to and from New Zealand have been cancelled for the day.
Tasmanian hotel operators are worried about the impact of cancellations.
Steve Old from the Hotels Association says operators are having to cut hours for casual staff.
"A lot of our members are reporting that they're starting to lose 15 to 20 rooms a night which is a real worry for the industry at the moment, especially through our notoriously quiet winter, " he said.
"So it is impacting on us hard.
"There's been people saying that they're hoping that obviously people are getting stuck in Tasmania but it appears to be less people getting in here than what are getting stuck here."
6/21/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- New unemployment compensation law provides workshare plan, by Robert Swift, Scranton Times-Tribune via thetimes-tribune.com
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Businesses and employees will be able to negotiate work-sharing programs to avoid layoffs and control unemployment compensation costs under changes to Pennsylvania's unemployment compensation system.
The measure signed Friday [6/17/2011] by Gov. Tom Corbett continues extended jobless benefits for thousands of Pennsylvanians and implements cost savings to help pull the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund out of the red.
With the work-sharing program, Pennsylvania joins 21 other states that have put these mechanisms in place to potentially spread the pain of economic hard times among the work force.
[Pain, shmain - it minimizes the downturn by saving jobs and consumer spending instead of maximizing the downturn by traumatizing and pauperizing consumers with layoffs and wage stoppage. The bad news is how clueless this reporter is (and many of his colleagues), spinning the only sustainable, non-war and nonp-makework solution negatively. The good news is that there are now 22 states that have worksharing programs, and we thought there were only 20 - maybe they counted D.C. or we didn't count New Hampshire? Maybe we'll get 50% (25 states) by the end of 2011, though we didn't by Dec/2010.]
Basically, the law allows employers and employees to voluntarily develop plans to avoid layoffs by reducing the hours worked by employees "across the board" who would in turn receive pro-rated unemployment compensation benefits for those lost hours.
Employers could reduce normal weekly hours by 20 to 40 percent under a plan. The affected employees would be eligible to receive unemployment compensation benefits in proportion to the reduction in hours.
"It's another tool for a company to use while we continue to have a downturn in the economy," said Sen. John Gordner, R-27, Berwick, sponsor of the law.
While it's too early to say how many work-sharing programs will come into existence, Mr. Gordner said a company that sees its business fluctuate depending on what contracts it lands is a good candidate to try this approach.
The new law puts some parameters on work-sharing programs. Employers and employees are left to negotiate a plan, but it will need approval from the state Department of Labor and Industry to take effect.
Employers must agree not to lay off employees during the term of the plan and not hire or transfer new workers to the affected work unit. In a unionized shop, the plan would have to be approved in writing by a collective bargaining representative.
The concept of work sharing or short-time compensation programs dates to the 1980s when a federal law encouraged their use by the states. Supporters say it saves jobs and enables employers to keep trained and skilled workers.
The then Democratic-controlled House approved a work-sharing bill last year and a GOP senator last amended it into the unemployment compensation bill last month.
"It is something that certainly labor was supportive of and the chamber was accepting of," said Mr. Gordner.
Contact the writer: email@example.com
- Maximum working hours regulated for 38 industries in Taipei, Radio Taiwan International via english.rti.org.tw
TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Taipei City Government has passed a draft bill governing the maximum daily working hours for 38 different industries.
The revisions came on Tuesday following complaints of extra long working hours in sectors like the hi-tech, medical and security industries.
Under the draft bill, the maximum working hours per day is 12 hours, including overtime.
[Welcome to the 19th century, Taipei!]
The city's labor department chief, Chen Yeh-shin, said the revisions do not violate the labor law as employers and employees have the freedom to ink an agreement concerning working hours and the number of days off.
Chen also said the city government took the health of workers into consideration when it decided to cut the working hours.
It is expected that the new regulations will go into effect by the end of July at the earliest.
[At least they're getting a grip on this. Here's what happens if you don't - from the supposedly civilized country of England -]
- Employees see wages cut, hours increased, by Josh Hall, Simply Business knowledge via simplybusiness.co.uk
MANCHESTER, England Eng-land, Across the At-lan-tic Sea... (from "Hair" the musical) - Employees across the country have seen their pay frozen or cut, while their working hours have been increased.
This is according to a new ICM/Guardian poll, which has found that as many as one in five workers have found themselves working longer hours since the recession began.
Meanwhile many employees have endured pay freezes – which, with rising inflation, can amount to significant real terms pay cuts.
Some 16 per cent of those surveyed said they had received pay cuts since the start of the recession. Nearly a quarter said they expect to receive either a pay freeze or a cut each year during the next three years.
The increasing precariousness of many employees’ situations has led many commentators to suggest that the UK now faces a sustained period of industrial action.
[Get going, you muts, and for godsake, focus on your power issue = shorter workweeks, in tune with higher technology as the robots keep taking over human working hours, and quit shooting yourselves in the foot by focusing on disempowering and unsustainable sops (without shorter-hour labour "shortage") like higher pay and benefits.]
Unions including the NUT and PCS have already voted to walk out on 30 June, in what is widely expected to be the first day of a lengthy battle between unions and government on issues including pension rights.
[The only parliament in the supposedly civilized, supposedly intelligent U.K. that has a worksharing program is *Wales - and coincidentally, they're the best singers too.]
6/19-20/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Top 500 firms book stellar sales amid boom, 6/20 The Local.de
BERLIN, Germany - Germany’s top 500 companies are booming, lifting their sales by nearly 12 percent last financial year, the largest rise in more than a decade, a survey has found.
Daily Die Welt’s annual company ranking, “Germany’s Top 500,” reported on Monday that carmaker Volkswagen is far and away the revenue king, earning €126.9 billion last financial year, a rise of 20.6 percent.
Fellow automaker Daimler came in second place with €97.8 billion, a jump of 23.9 percent. Utility company Eon has the third highest revenue with €92.9, a rise of 13.5 percent.
The 500 largest firms all have earnings of more than €1 billion. In 2009, during the dark days of Germany’s worst post-war recession, the same survey recorded an average sales slump of 8 percent.
The latest boom is the greatest since 2000, when the top 500 grew their sales by an average of 17.1 percent. Last year's exact rise was 11.8 percent on average.
Chemical firm BASF had the fastest growth, with 26 percent, reaching €63.9 billion, jumping from tenth to sixth place.
The survey also shows that the top 500 grew their global workforces by an average of 2.9 percent. Employment growth is well below sales growth because most firms didn’t lay people off during the depths of the crisis but rather used schemes like Kurzarbeit, putting them on shorter working hours.
[Thus enabling consumer spending to continue and maintain sales throughout.]
The state that houses the headquarters of most big companies is North Rhine-Westphalia with 144. These companies have a combined turnover of €1.24 trillion. Bavaria is second with 91 firms and Hesse third with 75.
- School District of Lancaster lays off 77 employees as it tries to make up for funding cuts - Cuts in staff are deepest in decades and include teachers, librarians, secretaries and cafeteria workers, by Brian Wallace email@example.com, 6/19 LancasterOnline.com
MCCASKEY, Lancaster County, Pa. - More than 75 School District of Lancaster [SDL] employees last week learned the news they've been dreading — their jobs are being eliminated.
SDL notified 52 members of its teaching staff and 25 support staff members that they are being furloughed for the 2011-12 school year.
[Here's the problem with the term "furlough" (job pause button) = it can blend into, and get confused with, the term "layoff" (job elimination).]
For some of the workers, Monday was their last day on the job.
The cuts are part of the nearly $7.5 million in personnel and program reductions SDL plans to implement to offset the loss of nearly $8 million in state funding in next year's budget.
The furloughed employees include librarians, teachers, teachers' aides, cafeteria workers, secretaries and other staffers.
The layoffs are the most widespread in decades and extend "to all levels at all buildings," said Mark Holman, SDL's human resources director.
The district also is cutting several administrative jobs and might eliminate about 90 custodial positions by "outsourcing" its janitorial services next year.
[Kiss your county goodbye, Lancastrians!]
The final cuts will be determined when the school board votes June 30 on next year's budget.
Implementing the furloughs has been "very, very difficult and very emotional," Holman said.
"If you work beside someone each and every day, and you're the person who's staying and they're going, it's very emotional," he said. "Our schools are really like little families."
The furloughed teachers are members of Lancaster Education Association, and the support workers belong to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The layoffs were implemented based on seniority, with the least experienced employees the first to be furloughed.
Under the terms of their union contracts, some of the workers were offered other positions within the district for which they were qualified. They also have the right to be recalled to fill future SDL openings for a period of two years for teachers and 15 months for AFSCME workers.
Teachers' union president Dave Calender said the cuts are the deepest he can recall in his 24 years with the district. Teachers "are doing as well as could be expected under the circumstances," he said.
"I think everyone's heart is heavy in terms of understanding that different colleagues are not going to be here" next year, Holman said. "It's a difficult time."
District officials declined to identify the furloughed employees by name or specific position, but Holman said they include nine librarians.
SDL plans to eliminate its library science program next year, which would leave most school libraries staffed by aides.
The district has retained five librarians to staff the McCaskey High School campus libraries and oversee the operation of libraries at the district's 19 other schools.
In addition to the nine who were furloughed and the five who were retained, four librarians have retired and two have accepted other positions within the district, Holman said.
SDL also plans to eliminate nine dean of student positions at its elementary schools and 15 coordinators of small learning communities at McCaskey and its four middle schools.
Holman would not say how many of those staff members, all of whom are teachers' union members, have been laid off or accepted other positions with the district.
For some of the support staff members, Monday — the last day of classes for students — was their last day on the job. Others will remain on the payroll through June 30, the end of the fiscal year.
The laid-off teachers will continue to be paid until Aug. 22, Holman said. Both employee groups are eligible for unemployment compensation and can purchase health insurance from the district through COBRA.
A decision on the fate of custodians is expected later this month, when the school board considers a proposal to "outsource" district custodial services.
Four companies have submitted bids, and AFSCME also has offered concessions in next year's contract in an attempt to match the cost savings of outsourcing, which district officials estimate at $750,000 to $1 million per year.
If the district were to hire an outside contractor, the custodian positions would be eliminated and it would be up to the company to decide whether to hire the displaced workers.
SDL currently employs 519 support staff members and 963 teachers.
- Barela might run for Congress again ... School reform? First we need parenting reform, nested article by Emanuele Corso with comments by qofdisks et al., 6/20 (6/16-21) NMPolitics.net
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - We are presently witnessing an historical moment of truth as one state government after another begins a budget massacre. Getting the axe first will be the softest target of them all – public education.
Aside from the obvious, immediate damage this does to public education, it shows how deep the belief in education goes in contemporary American society. The “real” social value of education to the public and to politicians these days is revealed – when budget cutting is the current issue, education gets it in the neck first. The only reasonably intelligent question that can be asked is, “Why?”
One possibility is that education is no longer as valued a part of the national belief system as it once was. Education seems to no longer be held as an investment in the future, but more of a fungible line item in a strained budget.
Why should it be this way? Here are some of the arguments being expressed:
* Has education made getting a job easier or even possible?
* Teachers are merely putting in their time to retirement.
* Teachers have too much prep time.
* Schools have too much vacation time.
* Teachers are paid too much and there are too many of them.
* Kids aren’t learning how to read as well or as quickly as the new “experts” tell us they should, and that is, no doubt, the fault of teachers.
* Schools, we are told, need the guidance of “experts” like Jeb Bush of Florida and Hanna Skandera in New Mexico, neither of whom has a background in education. Apparently they don’t need experience or background. I suppose we could all be grateful they aren’t interested in doing brain surgery.
Easier to pick on teachers
Why have public schools and teachers become the soft target of the moment? One reason, I believe, is because schools are simply vulnerable to this sort of attack; they are easy to criticize and difficult to defend. Not all kids learn at the same rate nor do they all have the same motivations to learn – they are not production-line widgets; hence, their achievement progress is not uniform.
Children too often come from homes where parents are more interested in big screen TVs, sports, recreational activities – anything but learning. Research has shown that many children come from homes where there are scant if any reading materials at hand.
Oh, and let me suggest one more reason – parents’ lack of interest in assuming responsibility for their kids’ performance in school.
If politicians and the new educational experts were to pick on parents the way they pick on teachers, it would be a parlous situation for their political ambitions. If the new self-anointed experts spoke up about curriculum and instruction, it would be too obvious that they don’t know what they are talking about.
So, the response is to require more testing and pick on teachers – much easier. Imagine, if you can, one of these politicians standing up before an audience of parents and saying, “These are your children, dammit, and you are responsible for them.” Not in this lifetime, I assure you.
Where can we go from here? We cannot even begin to discuss school reform until we deal with parenting reform. How can we convince parents that they are the front lines of education? I would suggest one first step would be to stop the politically motivated rhetoric.
Next, stop the eye-wash and propaganda about testing. Seriously, folks there is no better indication that you don’t know what you are talking about when you promote more testing as educational reform. An experienced classroom teacher is never not testing. Never!
Next we need political leadership that instructs – yes, instructs – the public about their role in the process of educating their young. (See above.) We need public dialog that elevates teachers and teaching to the same level as firemen and cops.
Have you ever heard a politician mouth-off about firemen and policemen on a par with what we hear about public schools and teachers? I doubt it.
Teachers, for their part need to get their backs up and start educating the public – not just parents, but the body politic.
Teachers, weed out the deadwood
Teachers also need to clean up their profession and weed out the deadwood. Stop hunkering down and denying the obvious – there are ineffective, lazy people in the teaching profession, and teachers and their unions are the only ones who can properly get rid of them.
Be proactive, get over the notion that protecting the deadwood protects you – it does not. In fact, you will all look better when you give those guys the boot.
When I was a member of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, I never saw a bad carpenter protected by anyone. The best were separated from the good, the good from the bad, and the bad eliminated. It wasn’t the employers who enforced the standards either, it was the union.
The carpenters and joiners are a strong and respected union because they insist on excellence. If they can do it, so can the American Federation of Teachers (AFT). Come on Randi*, get with it!
(* Randi Weingarten, AFT president.)
Emanuele Corso has been a New Mexico resident for over 30 years. Prior to that he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, where he received his doctorate in education policy studies. He taught “Schools and Society” and “School Reform” to graduates and undergraduates. He holds two master’s degrees and a bachelor’s in mathematics. He is currently working on a book, “Belief Systems and the Social Contract,” which he started when he was teaching at Wisconsin. You can find him online at siteseven.net.
qofdisks June 16, 2011 • 11:47 pm
I agree with JusticeP and want to acknowledge his vital contribution to the discussion. Modern educational academics present this horrible dilemma of mal-nutrition as a major factor in learning disabilities and behavioral problems. No solution of reform is complete without nutritional reform of our food supply and food culture and habits. Sodas and fast food are making us into idiots. The perfect looking food and overly processed pap available to most people is depleted and harmful for our health including our mental health. Our food supply is toxic.
Single payer health care would have created a vested social interest in fostering optimum health for all.
As for involving the parents in their children’s education? We need to institute a shorter work week at higher pay so parents can have enough time and energy to raise their kids, be involved with the community and master a fine art or craft. Children used to work and play side by side with family adults. Now, every one grabs a pop tart in the morning and goes their separate ways until late evening when mom picks up some fast food on the way home from work. She gets home and the TV and video games are raging and everybody eats by themselves each to their own media.
You talk about deadwood teachers? Perhaps, but modern teachers are working 12 plus hours a day with impossible work loads that cannot possibly do your child’s education justice. Parents cannot possible keep track of their own children’s learning as the teacher does not have the time to communicate what is going on to the parents. Most parents cannot even help their kids with their homework much less even be informed that the kid even has homework.
Yes, Joseph Cummins, we have too many children for our resources to sustain and educate. Given our nation’s backward thinking assault on women’s health and choice it is no wonder. Could you believe the bragging of extent of prolific progeny of the Republican candidates in the debate? They have no clue how their excessive breeding is actually immoral.
ched macquigg June 17, 2011 • 10:32 am
...It would appear there is consensus; we need to “fix” parents. How? Tell me how we are going to fix parents. Are you going to throw the bad ones in jail? Where’s the money for that? Are you going to fine them? School can educate orphans, and well; if they chose to. The system is broken. Trying to fix parents while not fixing the system is nuts...
qofdisks June 19, 2011 • 5:48 pm
Ched asks,”It would appear there is consensus; we need to “fix” parents. How? Tell me how we are going to fix parents.”
I just told you how. We need to cut work hours in half. Think about it. Children need a parent at home to see to their needs and to keep track of what they are doing at all times. Moms used to stay home and work that full time plus homemaker job. Now, both sexes work so the hours need to be cut in half so that Americans, as a whole, are working outside the home as much as before moms went to work. Kids need more time from their parents. Communities need more time from citizens. Too many work hours is degenerating our civilization.
ched macquigg June 20, 2011 • 1:01 pm
qofdisks, "We need to cut work hours in half."
As long as we can put solutions on the table we can’t possibly fund; I would like to see a teacher for every child.
qofdisks June 20, 2011 • 1:14 pm
How about those billions in profit and CEO compensations that can very well afford to support a decent civilization? This is not just a Government funded proposal but a Government mandated proposal. The people of this nation is losing ground while just a few privileged can afford to properly raise their children.
Time is what children require. Cutting hours in half while raising wages would end our unemployment problem and mitigate our parenting problem.
ched macquigg June 20, 2011 • 3:53 pm
qofdisks, "How about those billions in profit and CEO compensations that can very well afford to support a decent civilization?"
I think it is fair to say that cutting the work week in half would cost many trillions of dollars, not billions.
[Did it cost trillions or even just billions of dollars as we DID it between 1840 and 1940 (80 to 40 hrs/wk)? Apparently not. On the contrary, by absorbing wage-depressing labor surplus, it centrifuged the huge lethargic concentrations of money in the tiny richest population and maintained and raised wages, AND consumer spending so what the wealthy had left could readily be put back into circulation by investments in MARKETABLE productivity.]
I really cannot see how your plan is workable.
[Take a look at how the U.S. established and reduced the workweek 1938-1940, the Timesizing program, and all the places it's happened already, and all the states and countries that are implementing "Timesizing 101" = work sharing.]
More importantly, are you justifying your planned confiscation of billions in profit and CEO compensation based simply on your assertion that they “can very well afford” to have their property (money) redistributed to the less fortunate, or is there some real justification you can point to?
[Absolutely. You seem to assume that money can be concentrated in an unlimited large percentages among a subpopulation of an unlimited small percentage. Do you suppose that as we approach 90% of the money supply in the hands of 0.01% of the population that we will still be able to perceive anything resembling an economy in the litter of 290 million starved American corpses? If that is not what you are assuming, then specify your limits and how you propose to enforce them. Workable limits were enforced throughout history by general labor shortages that got employers bidding against one another for good help. These shortages arrived by wars (such as WWs I and II which yielded "wartime prosperity"), and plagues (such as the Black Death which yielded the middle class and a proto-economy), and workweek reduction (1938,39,40: hours 44,42,40; unemployment, rounded: 19,17,15%).]
Also, how would you guarantee that everyone with half a work week “off”would spend their newly found free time on their kids? What are you going to do with those who don’t – arrest them? fine them?
[You don't have to guarantee a desirable outcome and trying to guarantee it is oppressive. But you do have to make it possible. That is basic.]
You seem to be assuming that every bad parent who doesn’t spend time with their kids, doesn’t because they are “working”. It is an unfounded assumption; some are just bad parents.
[She's not assuming that at all. This is unsupportable attribution and a lapse into disrespectful argumentation. She's just assuming that the majority of parents who don't spend time with their kids are working and there are plenty of studies over the past 10-20 years that support this generalization.]
qofdisks June 21, 2011 • 1:43 am
One working adult USED to support a large family. The main thing that has changed is the wealth distribution is so far out of whack that jobs that USED to pay a living wage are subsistence for one person NOW. Less fortunate? It USED to be that if an adult worked full time, they could support a large family. That fact is no longer the case not because we cannot afford it, but that society is being looted. Reasonable fortune and financial security USED to be available to those who worked and learned. Now, hope for our children’s future is dying. You have a completely absent sense of what prosperity means. Your sense of entitlement for the multi-generational rich especially is a perversion of what this nation was founded upon. Prosperity means that our civilization is a high culture one. People before profit would go a long way towards “fixing” parenting. When are we going to really put our children first? Can you at least acknowledge that parenting takes more time than our present corporate culture allows? Can’t you see that our children will continue to degenerate until balance of time and wealth is restored?
ched macquigg June 21, 2011 • 6:59 am
qofdisks, "When are we going to really put our children first? Can you at least acknowledge that parenting takes more time than our present corporate culture allows? Can’t you see that our children will continue to degenerate until balance of time and wealth is restored?"
Our disagreement is not over whether parenting takes more time than parents have.
[Yes it is.]
Our disagreement, I think, is over whether that is the end of the public education paradigm where we should spend our energy and resources.
[A non-sequitur to switch to Chet's fuzzy hobbyhorse.]
I am of the opinion that schools can help children educate themselves regardless of their parents. If we concede that only students with certain parenting situations can benefit from public schooling, then only those students will benefit. By all means, do whatever we can to help parents be better parents. But that is an entirely separate issue from making schools as useful as they can be to all students regardless of their home lives.
The current system is manifestly flawed. It can be fixed. It can do a better job for all students. It would be easier to fix public education (over which we have at least some control) than to fix an entire generation of parents (over whom we have no control at all).
[Millions of parents in Germany, France, Netherlands, and Scandinavia are being given the financially secure free time to be better parents. Germany leads the largest economies with its "short work" (Germ: " Kurz-arbeit"). This is far from "no control at all." Time-blind Americans like Chet are stretching further and further to excuse the disaster that the United States of America is becoming, because American rhetoric about "freedom" and "liberty" has lost the central insight that the most basic kind of freedom, the kind without which the other freedoms are inaccessible or meaningless, is financially secure Free Time. With a frozen and forgotten workweek at the 1940 pre-computer level of 40 hours, the once-great USA has made the majority of its 300,000,000 population as common as dirt and as cheap as dirt. We have ringside seats for the decline and fall of the American empire. All because we have forgotten the Ford-Reuther paradox - Ford: "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - Reuther, "Let's see you sell them cars." Spread the yet-to-be-automated work and un-"saved" wage "costs," or die of withering markets.
"qofdisks" (queenofdisks?) has done a great job of spotlighting America's central neglected weakness and appears to have no need of a champion, though backup is usually welcome. She(?) and ched have had/are having a debate that deserves to "go viral" on the Internet. We've done our part on timesizing.com 6/19-20 (3d entry under hope du jour) even though the debate has continued into 6/21. "ched" has provided a remarkable demonstration of the prevailing "common sense" in North America, colossally unaware of the history of its own American workweek and of what's currently going on in Europe. qofdisks has even alluded to the connection between the concentration of natural market-demanded working hours on people working more hours for less money, and the unlimited concentration of the money supply on an ever smaller percentage of Americans, who are far beyond what they can spend and now that they're vacuuming the spending power out of their own foundational consumer base via the employee basement, are beyond what they can even INVEST sustainably, since that would require massive MARKETABLE productivity to invest in - but they're weakening that vital marketabilty. Europe doesn't fully realize what it's doing right, but it's still doing a lot more of it than our only 20 US states who have work-sharing programs to help companies and employees cut working hours instead of jobs (and markets!).]
- Reducing working hours can benefit the economy and the environment, by Juliet Schor, 6/20 The Manchester Guardian via guardian.co.uk
In the first in our 'living sustainably' series, Juliet Schor reflects on the role of work time reduction in a sustainable economy.
LONDON, England - The economic news of the last few weeks has not been encouraging. In Europe, the various national debt crises remain unresolved, with a continued monopoly of banker-friendly austerity programs, and their predictable consequences of rising unemployment and stagnation. Debtor countries are being forced into the same financial orthodoxies that prolonged the depression of the 1920s and 30s, so we shouldn't be surprised at the failures they will bring. More recession may also be the future of the countries enforcing these once-discredited policies, as weak demand across the region represses consumer demand, investor confidence, and government spending.
In the US the details are different, but the main story is the same. The country is experiencing continuing mass unemployment (25 million Americans remain unemployed or underemployed), further collapse in the housing market and an extremist political movement determined to slash all government spending directed at the people who are most likely to spend: the poor, the unemployed, and the middle classes.
[Ah, some time between now and her "The Overspent American" book (1997?), Juliet has realized that you don't have to fight over-consumption in a spiraling downturn = a crisis of under-consumption.]
The outlook among wealthy countries is for more economic "weakness," a conclusion supported by the plummeting stock markets of recent weeks.
Protecting bankers' and creditors' interests above all else is foolish economic policy. It enriches one [tiny] group of people at the expense of nearly everyone else [- and the economy at large - and that tiny group of people themselves who have diminishing marketable productivity to invest in]. But these days, it's hard to get a hearing for the view that the wealthy countries remain wealthy [huh? - needs clarification], that we can solve our economic problems without making most people worse off, and that we can also do it while addressing the much larger challenge we face: climate change and growing ecological devastation.
So what's the alternative to slashing government programmes, budget, and more concentrated wealth at the top? The centerpiece of a new approach is to re-structure the labour market by reducing hours of work.
[Juliet, this is easier to "sell" if we present it, not as "new," but as tried and true (as you in fact do in the next paragraph about 1870-1970, which btw, should be 1840-1940 (or -1970 if you insist), because we'd generally won the ten-hour day by the end of the Civil War in 1865 and were switching to fighting for the eight-hour day, according to Roediger & Foner (R&F), pp.81-81.]
That may seem counter-intuitive in a period when the mainstream message is that we are poorer than ever and have to work harder. But the historical record suggests it's a smart move that will create what economists call a triple dividend: three positive outcomes from one policy innovation.
The first benefit of hours reductions is a significant reduction in unemployment.
[Who cares about unemployment? The central banks certainly don't any more. How about carrying this right forward to consumer spending and marketable productivity and sustainable investment?!]
Maintaining balance in the labour market has always been through reduction in hours of work.
[Good Lord, Juliet, no it hasn't. It's been through wars and plagues for many more centuries than through reduction in hours of work, which just started seriously in the 1840s.]
Without the advances of a shorter workweek, vacation time, earlier retirement and later labour force entrance, the economies of the OECD would never have attained the "golden age" of high employment that prevailed after the1930s depression.
[Omigawd, this makes it sound like the 1930s depression somehow gave rise to the golden age of high employment, when in fact that "golden age" was begun by the establishment and reduction of a nationwide workweek max 1938-40 and rammed home by high workforce mortality and disability of World War II. Hopefully Juliet will edit this in future speeches to something like: "that prevailed during and after WW2."
So yes, the OECD economies would indeed have attained high employment without all theses advances because World War II created, in the most stupid, extreme and wasteful way, the magic labor shortage which alone makes capitalism run smoothly. Shorter workweeks are just the intelligent, waste-free, controllable, predictable, and market-oriented way of achieving "wartime prosperity" without the war.]
Between 1870 and 1970, hours of work fell roughly in half.
[No they didn't. They fell roughly by one third, 60 hours to 40. By 1870, we were already down from 1840's six 13&1/2-hour summer days to six 10-hour days year-round in factories (fully achieved by 1888, R&F,p.x) and had refocused on the fight for the 8-hour day (R&F,p.81).]
These countries have re-balanced the labour market by re-distributing work to make its allocation fairer. We need shorter hours [because of repeated waves of worksaving technological innovation and] because it is unrealistic to count on growth in GDP to absorb all this current and future "surplus" labour. Rich countries never grow that rapidly. So the austerity economics that says work longer and retire later has it exactly wrong [ie: reversed].
But even if GDP growth could solve the unemployment problem, it shouldn't, because the cost in GHG emissions [full name?] is prohibitive. North America and Europe have already blown their carbon budgets and until we re-structure energy systems, growth isn't reconcilable with responsible emissions levels. Here..shorter hours of work provide a [second benefit]. They are associated with lower ecological and carbon footprints. Countries that work more pollute more. That [=They do so] both because their scale of production is larger (the GDP effect) and because time-stressed households and societies do things in more carbon intensive ways than societies in which time is more abundant. Longer hours of work lead people to travel, eat, and live faster-paced lives, which in turn require more energy.
The third benefit of shorter hours is the time itself. As a growing movement of "downshifters" attests, short hour lifestyles allow people to build stronger social connections, maintain their physical and mental health, and engage in activities that are creative and meaningful. Time is especially valuable in rich countries where material needs can be met for everyone, and deprivation is caused by mal-distribution of income and wealth.
So that's the triple dividend: reduce unemployment, cut carbon emissions, and give people quality of life. Austerity economics says we can't afford to work less. A serious reading of our economic history suggests we can't afford not to.
Juliet Schor's research focuses on trends in work and leisure, consumerism, the relationship between work and family, women's issues and economic justice.
'Living sustainably' was the title of a multi-disciplinary conference held at Mary Ward House in London on Wednesday 15th June, hosted by the research group RESOLVE at the University of Surrey. In a series of posts over the next five days, contributors to the conference reflect on different aspects of the challenge of sustainable living.
[And of course, Juliet is the mother of the latest restart of the shorter-hours movement, with her 1991 book, "The Overworked American," drawing crucially on Ben Hunnicutt's 1988 book, "Work Without End."]
- LegCo to debate a motion on expeditiously implementing the formulation of standard working hours, 6/20 7thSpace Interactive (press release) via 7thspace.com
HONG KONG, HKSpec.Admin.Region, China - The following is issued on behalf of Legislative Council Secretariat:
The Legislative Council (LegCo) will hold a meeting on Wednesday (June 22) at 11am in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building. During the meeting, Members will debate a motion on expeditiously implementing the formulation of standard working hours.
[So do HongKong LegCo members have *Lego sets on hand for relaxation?]
The motion, to be moved by Hon Ip Wai-ming, states: "That after many years of striving by the labour sector, the Minimum Wage Ordinance formally came into force this year, marking a great step forward for labour rights and interests; yet, minimum wage and standard working hours must complement each other in order to be able to maximise the effect of protecting grassroots workers and facilitating Hong Kong's economic development; in this connection, this Council urges the SAR Government to, having regard to the well-being of employees at large, spare no efforts in making preparations for enacting legislation on standard working hours and expeditiously implement the relevant tasks, including:
(a) to set a deadline and timetable for conducting studies on regulating working hours;
(b) to establish a 'study group on legislating for standard working hours' comprising representatives of the Government, employees and employers;
(c) to regularly hold discussions in the Panel on Manpower of the Legislative Council, and report to the Labour Advisory Board on the progress, so as to strengthen the Legislative CouncilÂ¡Â¦s function of monitoring the Government on the one hand, and increase the transparency of the relevant work on the other, with a view to enabling the public and the labour sector to know the progress of the studies;
(d) to proactively ascertain the views of the trade unions of various industries and the relevant stakeholders on standard working hours; and
(e) through various forms of publicity and education, to increase the public's knowledge and understanding of standard working hours."
Hon Wong Sing-chi will move an amendment to Hon Ip Wai-ming's motion.
Dr Hon Lam Tai-fai will move a motion on safeguarding the room for business and development of small and medium enterprises.The motion, states: "That after the financial tsunami, European and American economies have not yet fully recovered, and market purchasing power has yet to revive, in addition, the US dollar has remained weak, the exchange rates of Renminbi, etc ., have kept rising, rents and raw materials prices have continued to soar, causing operating costs to increase substantially and making the business environment of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) very difficult; what SMEs worry more is that if regulatory legislation is enacted in the future, they may easily contravene the law inadvertently, be oppressed by large enterprises bringing private litigations against them, and they need to bear heavy compliance costs and litigation fees, thus dealing a severe blow to their business and development, and producing inestimable negative impact on the overall economic development and employment in society; in this connection, this Council urges that when enacting cross-sector regulatory legislation, the Government should completely exempt SMEs from the scope of regulation, so as to effectively safeguard consumer interests as well as SMEs' room for development and sustainable competitiveness."
Hon Wong Ting-kwong, Hon Albert Chan, Hon Ronny Tong, Hon Wong Yuk-man and Hon Fred Li will move separate amendments to Dr Hon Lam Tai-fai's motion.
On Bills, Members will resume Second Reading debate on the Legislation Publication Bill and the Stamp Duty (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2010.If the Bills are supported by Members and receive their Second Readings, they will then go through the Committee Stage and be read the Third time.
Members will also ask the Administration 20 questions on various policy areas, six of which require oral replies.
The agenda of the above meeting can be obtained via the LegCo InfoFax Service (Tel: 2869 9568) or the LegCo website (www.legco.gov.hk).
Please note that the agenda is subject to change, and the latest information about the agenda could be found in the LegCo website.
Members of the public are welcome to observe the proceedings of the meeting from the public galleries of the Legislative Council Chamber. They may reserve seats by calling 2869 9399 during office hours. Seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Members of the public can also listen to the meeting via the web broadcast system on the Legislative Council homepage.
Source: HKSAR Government
6/18/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Senate bill would allow teacher furloughs, YourValleyVoice.com
AUSTIN, Tex. – Teacher furloughs and salary cuts would help schools deal with a loss of funding under a bill approved by the [State] Senate on Monday.
SB 8 [State Bill 8, probably the 8th this year], by Plano Senator and Education Committee Chair Florence Shapiro, is intended to give districts new flexibility in handling labor costs as the state looks to an education funding cut in the next two years.
The bill would allow districts to furlough teachers, that is give them unpaid leave, on non-instructional days. This provision remains in effect only as long as education funding remains below the 2010-2011 levels. Shapiro said it is not her intent that this become the new model of labor management in public schools, and will only apply while the current funding crisis continues.
The bill also offers a number of other tools to help districts cope with a loss of state money. It removes the current salary floor for teachers, and does away with the "last-in-first-out" policy when terminating teachers. The bill will also void the contract of any teacher that doesn't keep up to date with certification requirements.
- Gov't to consider changing public-sector working hours to spur domestic demand, Yonhap via KoreaHerald.com
SEOUL, South Korea -- The government will consider changing the working hours of public-sector employees and splitting up the long school winter vacation into several breaks in an effort to spur domestic demand, officials said Saturday.
The measures were among a package of proposals discussed at a meeting of Cabinet and other top government officials that President Lee Myung-bak presided over to brainstorm ideas on how to stimulate domestic spending to help small businesses and other lower-income people, they said.
[Aha, AT LAST a link in the news between the workweek and the consumer base, worktime per person and domestic spending, over which every economy has more control than when casting itself on the mercy of foreign consumer spending, as in "the US consumer has saved the world" = not any more. And may we also infer a connection between overlong working hours and domestic consumer spending that is below, often far below, its potential?!]
The two-day meeting, which began Friday, was organized as ordinary people increasingly perceive that the fruits of the country's economic growth are out of their reach.
Such perceptions are believed to be behind the waning popularities of Lee and his ruling party, ahead of next year's parliamentary and presidential elections.
One of the key proposals discussed calls for moving up the office hours of government officials and public-sector workers by one hour to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. from the current 9 a.m.-6 p.m. so that they will have more time with their families and spend more.
Also discussed was breaking up the long school vacation in water to create spring and fall breaks and encouraging government officials and public firm workers to take more leave of absence, officials said.
Some participants proposed restricting the business hours of large discount stores to help smaller neighborhood supermarkets, but no consensus was reached on the proposal as other participants voiced concern it would be going against market principles, officials said.
Other proposals discussed included providing greater tax deductions on credit card use at traditional markets and suspending the operation of cafeterias at public buildings more often to encourage workers go out to spend at nearby private restaurants, they said.
"Each ministry put forward various ideas during the meeting," a finance ministry official said on customary condition of anonymity.
"We will announce specific policies later this month after looking into whether these ideas are workable."
6/17/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Steel fabricator furloughs 72 at Berlin shop, by Sara Young-Knox, UnionLeader.com
BERLIN, N.H. — In a community that has faced hard times, Isaacson Structural Steel Inc. seemed at times to be an oasis in a desert, so when word came that the company on Tuesday had temporarily furloughed 72 shop workers, it sent jitters through Androscoggin Valley.
According to Steve Griffin, ISSI co-owner, people can relax, those workers will be back in the shop on Monday.
ISSI, a privately held multi-million-dollar business, has enough work to keep the workers employed for some time to come. Griffin would not say why the company furloughed the workers. When asked if the company had had a glitch in its cash flow, he declined to comment.
“We have a good backlog,” said Griffin, “We’ve been doing some really big projects.”
The company’s front office employees were not furloughed. ISSI fabricates the steel skeletons of buildings, working on the steel at its shop on Jericho Road just outside of Berlin’s urban core. It has provided the steel infrastructure of large construction projects throughout the Northeast.
ISSI was one of the subcontractors on the Berlin Federal Correctional Facility, providing the steel.
“ISSI used 3-D modeling extensively to coordinate details with the precast concrete wall panels and to allow the project’s units of measure to be easily translated between metric and imperial units,” it says on the company’s website. The company did the steel work on the 20-story addition to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
More recently, ISSI worked on the Russia Wharf redevelopment in Boston. Part of that project included fabricating a 200-foot steep spire at the Berlin facility and shop coating it with a special four-coat paint system.
The company, founded in 1960 by Eli Isaacson, is an AISC certified structural steel fabricator. Owners Griffin and Arnie Hanson bought the company in 1997, and, Griffin says, have grown the business considerably. Griffin and Hanson are natives of Androscoggin Valley, and returned to their hometown after successful business careers elsewhere.
The company’s influence far outweighs its payroll. Griffin and his wife, Cindy, are large and steady contributors to local organizations and events, as is the company. ISSI encourages its employees to get involved in the community, and sponsors a team for the Special Olympic’s annual Penguin Plunge.
Every spring second graders from the area’s elementary schools get a tour of the shop and offices in Berlin as part of an annual Safety Day. The children, after being instructed on safety issues, are given helmets and goggles before going in the shop, where they get to watch, from a safe distance, the sparks fly as welders work on long I-beams.
For Republican candidates, ISSI is a must-stop. A strong supporter of Republican gubernatorial candidate and Berlin native Bruce Keough in 2002, in subsequent elections Griffin supported Gov. John Lynch’s reelection. Griffin has also served on the board of statewide organizations.
When the bio-mass plant was first proposed at the old pulp mill site in Berlin, Griffin was against it, but he has since become a strong supporter as some of the details of the project have changed.
No other ISSI personnel were available for comment.
- Servant's work hours, leave not to be at whims & fancies of master anymore, Economic Times of India via economictimes.indiatimes.com
NEW DELHI, India - Over four million domestic workers could look forward to better work conditions with India endorsing a global treaty protecting them, but employers need not worry about unrealistic terms of employment as the country has insisted on deciding on specific details like terms of contract and working hours depending on feasibility.
"We definitely support an international agreement protecting domestic workers, but norms should not be thrust upon us and countries should be free to decide on nuances such as terms of contract and working hours," a government official told ET.
The International Labour Organisation , or ILO, passed the domestic workers convention with a large majority of member countries, including India, voting in its favour on Thursday in Geneva. The new convention would ensure domestic workers enjoyed conditions "not less favourable" than other workers and made governments responsible for ensuring they understood their rights, preferably through written contracts.
It would also protect them against physical abuse. The document offers domestic workers a full rest day every week, and prevents employers requiring domestic workers to remain with an employer's household during their annual leave or rest days. The convention has to be ratified by member countries to become operational. India and some other countries, including Spain, pointed out to the ILO that information on terms and contracts for domestic workers have to be considered within a country to ensure feasibility of implementation.
On the issue of hours of work and periods of rest, India and some other countries said that given the specific nature of the work performed and services provided by domestic workers, regulating it may require a tailored approach. Civil society organisations in India working with domestic workers are hopeful that the international convention would nudge India into framing a legislation regulating hiring of domestic workers and ensuring suitable working condition for them.
"The ILO convention will certainly help better the condition of domestic workers in the country as all member states including India will have to ensure minimum working condition for them and accord them protection," said Kamal Chand from Domestic Workers Forum , a Delhi-based NGO.
Chand, who helps organise domestic workers in groups to have collective bargaining power, said the government would now have to work on a national legislation for domestic workers and would also feel pressured to include domestic workers in the sexual harassment bill.
The domestic workers convention was approved at the 100th International Labour Congress of the ILO with states, labour unions and employer representatives voting 396 in favour and 16 against it with 63 abstentions. According to the ILO, Asia, including the Middle East, is way behind other regions in terms of providing domestic workers with suitable working condition.
In a statement released on Friday, the ILO said that 95 percent or more of domestic workers in Asia receive salaries that are below the minimum wage and do not have a limit on their weekly hours of work.
6/16/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- What Is A "Workweek", And Why Should You Care? by John E. Thompson, Fisher & Phillips LLP via JD Supra (press release) via jdsupra.com
ATLANTA, Ga. - Many compensation policies and similar documents refer to wages for non-exempt employees in the context of a "week", a "pay week", a "pay period", "the schedule", an "overtime week", or some other ambiguous word or phrase. But the timeframe that matters under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act is a term-of-art: A "workweek". For instance, with few exceptions, FLSA overtime pay is due for a non-exempt employee's hours worked over 40 in a single workweek, which is not necessarily the same thing as the calendar week or an employee's scheduled week or pay period.
An FLSA workweek is a fixed, regularly-recurring period of 168 hours – that is, seven, consecutive, 24-hour periods – that the employer expressly adopts in order to maintain FLSA compliance. FLSA recordkeeping regulations require covered employers to select and document at least one such workweek. The workweek can be set to begin on any calendar day and at any time of day, but thereafter the employer must apply that workweek in complying with the FLSA.
If an employer has not designated and documented a workweek, or if it computes pay based upon some timeframe other than the applicable workweek, this can lead to non-compliance. As an illustration, for the overwhelming majority of employees whose overtime must be determined on a workweek basis, the FLSA's requirements are not satisfied by paying overtime based just upon the number of hours worked over 80 in a two-week period or upon worktime exceeding 86.67 hours in a semi-monthly period.
What the workweek is can also affect what pay is due to an employee who must be paid on a "salary basis" in order to qualify for a particular FLSA exemption. For example, the FLSA "salary basis" exemption principles say that the salary need not be paid for any workweek in which the employee performs no work. However, to decide whether these are the circumstances, one has to know what workweek applies to that employee in the first place.
- Airbus Seeks to Defuse German Angst Over Jet Work Distribution, by Brian Parkin, Bloomberg.com
BERLIN, Germany - Airbus SAS is seeking to defuse a threat by Germany’s government to withhold development aid unless the planemaker agrees to fairer work-sharing between Germany and France, two people familiar with the plan said.
[A different kind of German worksharing, but hopefully the German and other governments are finally getting wise to the grotesque parasitism of these giant corporations. Governments don't need to strain for 40-hour jobs. They just need to referee the reduction of the maximum workweek - as short as it takes to achieve full employment and a maximum domestic consumer base and velocity of currency circulation.]
Christian Scherer, the Airbus head of strategy and future programs, will visit German Deputy Economy Minister Peter Hintze tomorrow in Berlin, and possibly new Economy Minister Philipp Roesler, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The government has complained that Airbus’s German factories were given less work than France on the long-range A350 jet, slated for service in 2013, they said.
With the A350 heading for initial assembly by yearend, the government is shifting attention to programs that aren’t likely to start until the next decade. Germany has already pledged 1.1 billion euros ($1.56 billion) toward the A350, or one third of the contribution made together with France and the U.K. Should Germany fail to gain a proportionally bigger role in future planes, some contributions could be withheld, the people said.
Airbus’s next all-new aircraft program probably won’t come until the middle of the next decade, when the airframe maker starts work on a replacement for its existing A320 series. Late last year, Airbus decided to offer A320s with a choice of new engines that promise to boost fuel efficiency and extend the life of the aircraft by a decade or more.
Scherer’s visit tomorrow coincides with one by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss a rescue package for Greece. The press office of Germany’s Economy Ministry didn’t return calls today. Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath declined to comment.
Airbus needs the loans to help pay for jigs and machine tools as it begins production ahead of the A350’s maiden flight in 2012. The world’s largest maker of commercial aircraft is developing the 300-seat A350 to compete with Boeing Co. (BA)’s smaller 787 Dreamliner model and the bigger 777.
A350 development costs amount to about 11 billion euros, and of the 3.3 billion-euro loan, France’s portion is 1.4 billion euros.
To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Parkin in Berlin at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Benedikt Kammel at firstname.lastname@example.org
6/15/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Gibson Transport approved for work-sharing through Honda slow down, New Tecumseth Free Press via madhunt.com
ALLISTON, Ont., Canada - The prolonged parts shortage that forced production cuts at Honda of Canada Manufacturing (HCM) has also had direct impact on the ancillary operations that feed the automakers assembly lines.
In particular employees at Nissin, Simcoe Parts Service, Trailwood, Russell Security, and Warren Gibson Transport, have also had their shifts and hours scaled back in concert with HCM's schedule, in some cases layoffs, though the extent is not known because the companies don't comment on personnel matters.
Gibson Transport has been approved for the *federal work-sharing program which "is designed to help companies facing a temporary downtown in business avoid lay-offs by offering Employment Insurance ... income support to workers willing to work a reduced week while the company undergoes recovery .... employers can retain employees and avoid expensive re-hiring and re-training costs," according to the program's web site. It means no layoffs, and EI income supplements without the waiting period.
The most recent information about HCM's schedule is that production is anticipated to resume "normal" schedules in August, except for the 2012 Civic producing plants in Alliston and Indiana.
- £4m aid for tsunami-hit companies in Wales, SouthWalesArgus.co.uk
CARDIFF, Wales - Welsh firms whose business has been adversely affected by the Japanese tsunami and earthquake are to be given financial help.
Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Skills Jeff Cuthbert has announced £4 million will be available for companies that have had to re-introduce short-time working due to the supply issues as a result of the Japanese disaster.
Caerphilly AM Mr Cuthbert said a number of businesses in the European Social Fund convergence area of Wales had been adversely affected.
"Through this support, businesses will be able to utilise any short-time working arrangements to develop the skills of the workforce,’’ he said.
"The Welsh Government is keen to support companies and workers who were competitively viable until encountering these difficulties. This scheme will enable companies to have the right training so they are in a position to respond when business improves in the future.’’ The money to firms will come from the re-opened *ProAct scheme - originally launched in January 2009 to support businesses suffering from the recession that had introduced short-time working.
Since its inception, Welsh Government officials say ProAct has supported more than 10,400 individuals in more than 250 businesses and has a funding commitment of more than £27 million. The scheme closed for new applications at the end of March.
Aberdare-based Nissin Showa UK, which supplies car parts to Honda, was one of the companies benefiting from the last round of ProAct and is likely to apply again.
It received support to allow 145 employees to undertake training during a downturn.
General business manager Paul Enoch said: "ProAct allowed us to keep on staff and provide them with valuable training during a difficult time for the business. The training has allowed us to look forward with more confidence.
"Its great news this scheme will now be re-opened to assist businesses that have been affected by the Japanese earthquakes.
"Events like these cause problems to many businesses and are totally out of their hands.’’ Around 45 Japanese companies are located in Wales - employing about 9,000 people.
[Another story on this today -]
Help for firms hit by Japanese earthquakes, NewsWales.co.uk
CARDIFF, Wales - A Welsh Government scheme is to help companies whose business has been disrupted by the Japanese earthquakes.
Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert, today announced that £4m will be available for companies that have had to re-introduce short time working due to supply issues because of the quakes.
He said: “We are aware that a number of businesses in the ESF convergence area have been affected by the recent events in Japan.
“Through this support businesses will be able to utilise any short time working arrangements to develop the skills of the workforce.
“The Welsh Government is keen to support companies and workers who were competitively viable until encountering these difficulties. This scheme will enable companies to have the right training so that they are in a position to respond when business improves in the future.
“I am delighted we are once again able to move quickly to support Welsh businesses to come out of a difficult period stronger.”
The scheme ProAct, the first policy of its kind in the UK, was launched in January 2009 to support businesses suffering from the recession and who had introduced short time working.
Aberdare-based Nissin Showa UK, who supply car parts to Honda, were one of the companies that benefited from the last round of ProACt and are likely to apply again.They received support to allow 145 employees to undertake training during a downturn.
Nissin Showa general business manager, Paul Enoch, said:“ProAct allowed us to keep on staff and provide them with valuable training during a difficult time for the business. The training has allowed us to look forward with more confidence.
“It's great news that this scheme will now be re-opened to assist businesses that have been affected by the Japanese earthquakes. Events like these cause problems to many businesses and are totally out of their hands.
"That’s why ProAct is so valuable to help Welsh companies come out stronger from such a downturn.”
Companies wishing to apply for ProAct support can contact the Business Skills Hotline on 0845 60 661 60 for further information or an application form. The scheme will be open for a period of three months for new applications.
- Spanish labour laws: Working time and leave, Expatica Spain via expatica.com
MADRID, Spain - Read Expatica’s comprehensive guide to the leave you are entitled to while working in Spain and the maximum number of working hours per week. Updated May 2011.
The organisation of working time (maximum weekly or daily working hours, rest time during the working day, annual holidays, public holidays, paid leave and overtime) is regulated by Law (Statute of Workers’ Rights); the working day is regulated by agreement between workers’ and employers’ organisations or in contracts.
The normal working hours must average 40 hours per week maximum of actual work, calculated on an annual basis.
The actual number of normal working hours may never exceed nine per day unless a collective agreement or an agreement between the company and workers’ representatives establishes a different distribution of daily working time, which must, in any event, respect the rest time between working days.
Employees under 18 years of age may not do more than eight hours of actual work per day, including hours allotted to training, where applicable, and the hours worked for different employers if they work for more than one employer.
Working hours may be distributed irregularly throughout the year under the terms of a collective agreement or an agreement between the company and the workers’ representatives provided the minimum periods of daily and weekly rest are respected.
At least twelve hours must elapse between the end of one working day and the start of the following working day. When the duration of the continuous working day exceeds six hours, a rest period of at least 15 minutes must be allowed during the day.
Workers are entitled to a minimum weekly rest time of one and a half uninterrupted days, which generally include Saturday afternoon or, where applicable, Monday morning, and the whole of Sunday.
In the case of workers under 18 years of age, the rest period is a minimum of thirty minutes and must always be allowed when a duration of the continuous working day exceeds four and a half hours. The duration of the weekly rest time for people under 18 is a minimum of two uninterrupted days.
Night work and shift work
All aspects of this work pattern are regulated and subject to time restrictions. Under-18s may not carry out night work (or activities declared to be unhealthy, dangerous or distressing).
Overtime is considered to be hours of work carried out over and above the maximum number of normal working hours. Workers may work a maximum of 80 hours overtime per year, which does not include overtime compensated with rest time, or work carried out to prevent or repair extraordinary and urgent damage. The latter is obligatory for the worker and must be paid as overtime.
Overtime at night is prohibited, except in duly-specified and expressly authorised special activities. It is also prohibited for people under 18 years of age.
Overtime may be remunerated or compensated for with equivalent paid rest time.
If the worker works for fewer hours per year than the general company working hours, the restriction on hours is reduced proportionally.
Reduction of the working day for family reasons
Workers are entitled to a reduction of their working time, with a proportional reduction in wages, if they are directly responsible for a child under six years of age, people with disabilities or family members in certain specific circumstances.
Holidays may be agreed individually or collectively and may not be less than 30 calendar days. Holidays cannot be replaced by financial compensation. When workers with casual or temporary contracts cannot take the legal minimum holidays because they do not work for the company during holiday periods, they will receive a pro-rata payment for the holidays with their wages.
The holiday schedule is fixed in each company. Workers will be aware of the relevant holiday dates at least two months prior to their commencement, and if there is disagreement they may present a claim to the employment tribunal.
Paid leave is subject to notice and subsequent justification to the company, workers may take paid time off for some of the reasons listed below with the number of days allowed:
* Birth of child or death, accident or serious illness or hospitalisation of relations, 2 calendar days or 4 if required to travel.
* Moving house, 1 day.
* Women are entitled to one hour off work each day for breastfeeding a child under nine months of age, or half an hour if taken at the start or the end of the day. This time off may be taken off either by the mother or the father if they both work.
* Meeting public and private obligations (jury service, appearance in court, etc.), as long as necessary.
* Performing trade union or workers' representative activities: as established by law or collective agreement.
* In every case, the worker must inform the employer in advance and justify his or her absence to be able to enjoy the right to take time off work.
*Public holidays are set on an annual basis: There are 14 per year, two of which will be local holidays. Christmas Day, New Year's Day, 1 May (Labour Day) and 12 October (Spanish National Day) will in any event be observed as national public holidays. Any public holidays falling on a Sunday will, in any event, be transferred to the Monday immediately following.
For the purposes of labour law, the performance of jury duties is treated as an unavoidable public and personal duty.
Other forms of leave
This refers to time off work without pay that must be requested by the worker and may be granted at the discretion of the employer, but must always be set in an individual or collective agreement. Periods of unpaid leave are not regulated by law.
This protects a workers temporarily unable to work and in need of medical assistance due to illness or accident. In such cases the worker will be paid at least 60 percent income. The employer normally pays the worker this temporary sick pay, and is then reimbursed by the Social Security department. The maximum period of such leave is 18 months, after which the situation must be reviewed.
A temporary invalidity
A worker who is unable to work and in need of medical assistance for any of the following reasons: common illness or work-related illness, accident (whether work-related or not) or periods of observation for occupational diseases is being protected by law and can apply for a temporary invalidity.
Maternity and paternity leave
Maternity leave for a woman will last 16 uninterrupted weeks, which may be extended by two weeks for multiple births for each child from the second child onward. This period may be taken at the discretion of the person concerned, provided that six weeks fall immediately subsequent to the birth.
Irrespective of this obligatory post-birth time off for the mother, if both parents work, the mother may opt for the father to take a specific uninterrupted portion of the leave subsequent to the birth.
Extended leave of absence
Extended leave of absence means a situation where the employment contract is suspended at the employee’s request and may be eith compulsory or voluntary. If it's the latter, at least one year’s service in the company is required. The right to keep the job is not recognised, but priority is given when there is a vacancy. The duration is between two and five years.
Extended leave of absence to care for members of the family
Maximum duration of three years to care for each child. Employees are also entitled to leave of absence of one year, which may be extended by mutual agreement, to care for a blood relation or relation by marriage up to the second degree or similar, who for reasons of age, accident or illness cannot look after themselves and do not perform paid work.
6/14/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Germany's Merkel says supporting Arab democracy after revolts means creating jobs for youth, AP via WashingtonPost.com
GENEVA, Switzerland — German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday that freedom and democracy can only prosper in the Arab world if young people receive jobs that provide them with a dignified livelihood.
European governments have expressed concern in recent months at the possibility of thousands of job-seeking young men from Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab states flooding across the Mediterranean.
“We want that in those countries, too, freedom and democracy can develop well. This will be inseparably linked to providing sensible perspectives for the many young people who are prepared to work,” Merkel told a U.N. labor meeting in Geneva.
Germany plans to support job creation in North Africa by providing opportunities for young people to gain training and qualifications “so they can work in their own countries,” she added.
Her speech echoed a warning by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who earlier Tuesday warned that labor migration from the Mideast was among the top challenges workers face so far in the 21st century, together with the pressure from climate change.
Merkel, whose country has come through the financial crisis economically healthy, told the International Labor Organization’s 100th meeting that Germany had benefited from a government-backed plan for companies to reduce working hours.
The government pumped billions of euros (dollars) into a so-called “Kurzarbeit” — or “short work” — program that allowed companies to hang onto experienced workers during the downturn, and then lengthen their shifts again when the economy recovered.
Germany’s unemployment rate stood at 7 percent in May, far below that of most European countries, despite high labor costs.
“We realized that we couldn’t let the ties between workers and employers be cut during a difficult period,” Merkel said.
At the same time, people deserve to work in dignified conditions, she said, recalling the “barbaric” practice of forced labor instituted by Nazi occupiers during World War II.
Merkel said she hoped the labor meeting would approve a new pact to protect domestic workers — such as cooks, nannies and cleaners — around the world. The Domestic Workers Convention is scheduled for approval Thursday but has faced opposition from some African and Asian countries wary of granting labor rights to tens of millions of informal workers.
- Canada Post Strike Continues To Spread, ECanadaNow.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - In these days of economic hardship, most people are feeling the crunch in their pocketbooks. However, as members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers continue their strike, more people throughout Canada are feeling it in their mailboxes as well.
Members of the Canadian Union of Postal Workers decided to strike in order to protest increasingly cut hours. With budgetary constraints, Canada Post workers have had less full time opportunities, which severely limits their ability to make money and stay healthy on the job, according to employees.
With this platform, the union designed a rotating strike, with workers scheduled to protest one day in changing locations throughout the country. One of the most recent area to face the strike was Corner Brook, where postal workers took to the streets from Sunday to Monday. This week, the strike hits the cities of Montreal and Toronto, with an estimated 15,000 workers leaving their posts in protest.
Workers continue to maintain that the well being of the 50,000 postal workers across the country is in jeopardy with current cuts in place. The Canada Post suggests the loss in revenue due to the strike is already near 65 million dollars. Negotiations are still underway.
6/12-13/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Contractor hands out furloughs as Navy work dries up, 6/12 KitsapSun.com
BANGOR, Kitsap County, Wash. — For the first time in its almost six-year history here, Navy base operations contractor EJB Facilities Services is forcing furloughs on its workers.
[We doubt these "forced" employees would prefer layoffs.]
General Manager Robert Parker said less work from the Navy is the reason.
At the moment, he said, "the workload we're getting from the Navy is low."
A first furlough day took place in May, another was Friday and a third is planned for June 24.
About 300 hourly workers with EJB are being affected by the three forced unpaid days off. Salaried workers are not as affected.
EJB has a total workforce of 365 workers, making it the sixth largest private employer in Kitsap County, according to a ranking from the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance.
Margaret Hess, director of WorkSource of Kitsap County, said that of the many defense contractors with a local presence, this is the first instance of furloughs she's heard of in recent times.
"We're not aware of any of the federal contractors doing furloughs or payoffs," she said.
EJB workers do the day-to-day running of the bases at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor and all the other local Navy bases, as well. They do tasks like allowing people into the base, maintaining and repairing equipment, keeping the utilities running smoothly, and managing hazardous-waste programs.
Essential services still will be covered.
"We're not abandoning our responsibilities," Parker said.
The workers will retain their benefits including health insurance during the forced days off.
Parker declined to say how much the Arlington, Va.-based defense contractor is saving with the local employment cuts.
He also said that after the June 24 furlough day, the company's leaders will decide whether more unpaid days, if any, were required.
"It all depends on how much work the Navy gives us week to week."
Parker also said company leaders are investigating whether workers with reduced hours can qualify for unemployment, but at this point, it's an unknown.
Workers are having different reactions to the reduced hours and shrunken paychecks.
Some are enjoying an occasional day off as the weather improves. The company has scheduled the days around weekends so that employees can have three days off in a row.
Said Parker, "We're trying to make it as painless as possible."
Others are missing the money.
EJB took over area base operations in October 2005 after it outbid the holder of that contract, IAP World Services, formerly Johnson Controls. Previous base-operator contractors included Pan Am, United Airlines and Flight Safety. It is among the biggest defense contractors that have a presence in Kitsap County.
- Longer work hours. Happier marriage? 6/13 ThinkStock via WSJ via WTOP.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new study finds that a heavier workload at the office could mean a happier marriage.
The results of a recent study show that men and women as are as different as Venus and Mars on this subject.
According to the study, reported by The Wall Street Journal, when women have heavier workloads at work, their husbands pitch in more with the housework.
On the flip side, a heavier work day for men resulted in a less than happy home life for everyone.
The study found that wives were more affected by their husbands' workloads than men were by their wives' workloads.
The four-year study published in the Journal of Family Psychology followed 169 newlywed couples...
WTOP's Kathy Stewart contributed to this report...
- Cuts to Community Health Centers may affect thousands, by Bill Morem firstname.lastname@example.org, 6/13 San Luis Obispo Tribune via sanluisobispo.com
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - A proposed $800,000 budget cut for Community Health Centers of the Central Coast could lead to the closure of two of its 17 countywide clinics, cut hours in half at four others and leave more than 5,000 uninsured and underinsured individuals without health care if the plan is approved by the county Board of Supervisors.
Supervisors are tentatively slated to hear the issue at 10:30 a.m. today in board chambers.
The county may pare its contribution to the program to $2.2 million from $3 million annually because San Luis Obispo County Public Health Services faces a $2.5 million cut in general fund money in the fiscal year starting July 1, according to Health Agency Director Jeff Hamm.
The county contracted with CHC in 2004 to take over six county-run medical clinics after the Board of Supervisors closed San Luis Obispo General Hospital.
As part of that contract, CHC assumed coverage for county residents who qualify as patients under the County Medical Services Program.
That means, legally, the county has to ensure services to medically indigent adults — people who have low incomes, limited assets and a medical condition that requires treatment — if they qualify under federal poverty guidelines.
With the closure of General, the county initially underwrote CHC to the tune of $5.1 million a year. That amount has been whittled to $3 million as of this fiscal year.
Paradoxically, the number of patients that the clinics have been serving has been growing during that time to include more underinsured and uninsured patients — not just those who qualify under federal guidelines.
According to CHC officials, their patients are:
• 48 percent covered by CenCal Health Medi-Cal.
• 16 percent covered by Medicare.
• 13 percent covered by private insurance.
• 4 percent covered by Children’s Health Disability Program.
• 4 percent covered by CMSP.
The remaining 15 percent are those who are uninsured and don’t qualify for the above-mentioned programs.
District 2 Supervisor Bruce Gibson acknowledged that even as the county’s grant to CHC has grown smaller in recent years, the nonprofit’s operation “has expanded and is now holding steady.”
“If we do reduce their grant amount, they may well have to reduce their services somewhat,’’ Gibson said.
“However, the closures suggested in (CHC’s) letter to Jeff Hamm (the county’s public health officer) are wildly out of proportion to the proposed reduction,” Gibson added.
The current threat to funding for uninsured patients came in a March 18 letter from Hamm, who wrote, “The county can no longer afford to subsidize the provision of care to other low-income, unsponsored” patients who don’t qualify for or don’t have coverage under federal poverty guidelines for CMSP.
Hamm also said he hoped future discussions will produce an agreement that “allows CHC to continue to be the provider of primary and related medical care services to the county’s medically indigent adult population.”
Ron Castle, chief executive officer of CHC, said it can no longer maintain $5.1 million in contracted services with only $2.2 million in funding.
Instead, he requested “$2.5 million to serve the needs of the CMSP population and $1.5 million to secure the original contracted services allowing CHC to keep all facilities open for all uninsured county residents.”
In 2010, CHC provided 335,846 clinic visits for 74,285 patients, with about 24,000 of those patients being uninsured.
The CHC’s funding worries are further exacerbated by an anticipated $1.5 million cut in state funding and a $1.6 million reduction in money it receives from CenCal Health, which in 2008 started managing coverage for San Luis Obispo County residents covered by Medi-Cal.
The grants from the county equal about 5 percent of CHC’s 2010 operating budget of $58.5 million.
Gibson said that, because of the economy and the state and federal budget situations, “there’s a limit in terms of what the county can give CHC in the way of a grant. … The budgetary situation doesn’t allow us to do much more than care for the CMSP patients.”
That said, he believes CHC is going too far in its proposed cutbacks.
Closing Cambria’s CHC clinic, for example, doesn’t make financial sense, Gibson said, because, “my last look at the numbers show it to be clearly in the black — because it has a large percentage of Medicare and insured patients. I have asked for updated financials to be provided.
“I believe the CHC threat in closing the Cambria clinic is nothing more than a negotiation ploy,” he said. So is a CHC postcard campaign under way for the past week, he added, which is “raising baseless fears in their patient population. I’m very concerned and disappointed in the approach.”
The CHC campaign, called “In your 2011-2012 budget hearings, make my Health a Priority,” began June 2.
“Five days later,” said Kena C. Burke, CHC’s government relations officer, “we have received more than 600 postcards from patients and community members, with comments such as: ‘I really need this help. Do you want me to go to the ER?’ ‘Where would I go to get help? We need CHC.’ ‘Without CHC, I would not be alive with my health problems.’ ”
The postcard campaign is “counterproductive,” Gibson said. “Running radio spots attacking our health care director … they’re playing a very unprofessional game.
“We’ve had a very good partnership with CHC,” he added, “but they haven’t adapted to the changing reality of government funding.”
Staff writers Kathe Tanner and Cynthia Lambert contributed to this report.
6/11/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Colton classified employees accept furloughs, by Ryan Hagen firstname.lastname@example.org, 909-386-3916, San Bernardino Sun via sbsun.com
COLTON, Calif. - Classified employees have agreed to take five furlough days during the 2011-12 school year in exchange for a promise of no layoffs, calling the deal a win-win.
"Our membership has always helped our district in times of need, and now they've helped us keep all our jobs," said Nick Ramirez, president of the union that represents about 950 classified employees.
Members of California School Employees Association 244 - which represents Colton Joint Unified School District employees who are not managers, teachers, counselors or nurses - approved the agreement Thursday by a vote of 152 to 89.
District negotiators offered the deal in May, but it must be approved by the Board of Education before it becomes official. That vote is scheduled for Thursday, said district spokeswoman Katie Orloff.
District officials and employees should be proud of the offer, said Board Member Randall Ceniceros.
"This is a very compassionate bargaining unit," Ceniceros said. "The (union) leadership has made every effort to negotiate with the district and save jobs, especially in this down economy."
The district laid off 72 teachers, counselors and nurses to help it shave $10.5million from its 2011-12 budget.
In May, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a revised budget plan that returned $7.7million the district had expected the state to take. Since then, school board members have said they plan to re-hire some of those employees, and CSEA and teachers unions have been separately negotiating contracts.
The classified union's actions contrast with the Colton teachers union, which has accused the district of dishonest bargaining, and with the classified employees' union for the San Bernardino City Unified School District. That union rejected a plan Wednesday that would have included nine furlough days, fearing that district would further decrease pay by reducing the number of months they work.
"Probably the difference is we've always had a good working relationship with our district," Ramirez said. "It's the trust factor. I know San Bernardino's been misled a few times, so they're pretty leary of their school board and administration."
- Kitchen firm jobs in Devizes in danger, by Lewis Cohen, ThisIsWiltshire.co.uk
DEVIZES, Wilts., U.K. - Workers at elite kitchen manufacturer Canburg in Devizes have been told their jobs could be at risk.
Up to 39 redundancies could be made at the group, which includes Smallbone of Devizes and Mark Wilkinson Furniture, after the current economic downturn hit sales of luxury fitted furniture.
Staff at the manufacturing base at Hopton Industrial Estate were told last Friday of the company’s financial problems and 98 per cent of them agreed to short-time working from this week.
A spokesman for Canburg, which was formed by businessman Leo Caplan to buy the troubled Smallbone Group in March 2009, said: “The economic downturn is affecting our business and we need to identify ways to implement a reorganisation to reduce our cost base.”
The company, which employs 208 people at Hopton, met officers of the GMB union on Tuesday morning to discuss the redundancy process.
Union officer Andy Prendergast said: “The business is going through a redundancy consultation because sales don’t match the size of the business.
“As part of the consultation they are required to give a number of the redundancies they are looking at and they put it at 44 throughout the group. We have managed to negotiate that down to 39 and we hope we can reduce that number still further.
“We never like to see redundancies affecting our members but we recognise that the company is going through difficult times and must make decisions to safeguard as many jobs as possible.”
In 2009 Mr Caplan pledged to retain as many of the 400 jobs as possible, but within a few weeks more than 80 staff had agreed redundancy terms.
A worker who did not want to give his name said: “We should know by July 4 how many of us will be going. We have known for some time that the company has had financial problems, so this has not come as a surprise.”
Canburg also includes Brookmans in the Midlands, as well as showrooms all over the UK and beyond.
Redundancies will affect all the company’s bases.
6/10/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Ballot measure would require Denver businesses to provide paid sick days, by Beatrice Santa-Wood, Colorado Independent.com
DENVER, Colo. - A municipal ballot initiative has been introduced that would require Denver employers to provide their employees with paid sick days.
Denver workers would receive up to nine days of sick leave each year. Smaller businesses with ten employees or less could cap the benefit at five sick days annually. The initiative is backed by the Campaign for a Healthy Denver, part of Family Values at Work. The ballot initiative is supported by a coalition of over 40 community organizations.
Erin Bennett, Colorado director for 9to5, part of the National Association of Working Women, is spearheading the campaign.
“We’ve tried to get this passed through the state legislature in the past, but it didn’t work. We began to think of alternative strategies and we decided to take it to a municipal level, a tactic that has worked for places like San Francisco and Milwaukee,” she said.
The Denver city clerk has approved the title and petition papers and the Campaign for Healthy Denver needs to collect 4000 signatures to get the issue on the ballot this November.
With 300,000 employed workers in Denver, in 2010 the average Denver employee worked about 35 hours a week according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the campaign, nearly 100,000 employees in Denver lack paid sick days.
“This is a really important issue because 40 percent of Denver workers don’t have access to paid sick days, which means many people have to choose between taking care of themselves or going to work.” Bennett said. She also said that this is a public health issue, especially for members of the service industry.
“The numbers of those without sick days in the service industry is as high as 70 percent, a number which is really alarming, for a group of people who work with food.” Bennett said.
There are about a dozen small and medium sized businesses that have joined in support of the initiative. Bennett says that this early in the campaign they have met little opposition.
Denver Chamber of Commerce spokesperson Kate Horle was cautious when speaking of the initiative. Though it has not released any statement for, or against it, the Chamber has reservations. Horle said that she had not read the initiative yet, and much of the organization’s opinion would depend on the language.
“In this economy we’re really focused on getting people back to work and this mandate could challenge that.” She said.
“When companies can develop their own benefit plan it helps create a competitive edge that a lot of workers are looking for.” Horle said she thinks that it is important that regardless of the success of this measure, employers invest in human capital to help build up Denver’s economy.
“I think this is important not just for public safety, but it’s also for job protection” Said Bennett.
Similar measures recently were signed into law in Connecticut and already exist in cities like Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
- California's Saint Agnes Lays Off, Cuts Work Hours of 150 Employees, by Sabrina Rodak, Becker's Hospital Review via beckershospitalreview.com
FRESNO, Calif. - Saint Agnes Medical Center in Fresno, Calif., is laying off or cutting work hours of 150 employees to combat reduced reimbursement and other financial challenges, according to a Business Journal report.
Twenty-one employees will face reduced hours and 129 will lose their jobs completely. Nancy Hollingsworth, Saint Agnes' interim president and CEO, said the staff downsizing will not affect patient care, according to the report. The fired employees will receive separation packages based on their years of service and employment status.
Saint Agnes notified the Employment Development Department of the cuts this week.
6/09/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- How Geography Explains Economics For Germany and the US, by Derek Thompson, TheAtlantic.com
NEW YORK, N.Y. - Is there a German word for the mix of confusion, envy and regret one feels when facing a lesser ally who's starting to look a superior? Because that word would be useful for describing the media's reaction to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with President Obama this week.
Across cable networks and mainstream newspapers, commentators asked: What can we learn from this juggernaut across the Atlantic, with lower unemployment, higher growth, and enviable manufacturing economy? We could talk about work sharing, health care cost sharing, and higher income sharing through greater taxation.
[It's enough to talk about work sharing. It is by far the most powerful reason on the list and can be considerably extended.]
All of these factors contribute to Germany's healthy economic growth, even as some of its neighbors are collapsing under debt crises. But I want to reach back. Way back. Let's talk about state lines and geography.
The United States is a 3.79 million square-mile country separated from the world's largest economies by two oceans, one on each side. Befitting a large, geographically isolated country, we have a rich and self-sufficient consumer culture. The American wallet is the most powerful component of the world economy. Americans earn lots of money, save very little of it, and spend the remainder on stuff we make or import. We make and import quite a lot.
At 137,847 square miles, Germany is a dense country the size of Montana with a population three times the size of Texas and an economy almost twice the size of California. Befitting a dense, thriving economy wedged between France, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe, Germany's merchants aren't afraid to sell across country lines. Germany's notoriously high savings rate makes them even more dependent on demand from foreign companies and consumers.
"Smaller companies in the United States are satisfied with huge size of the North American continent and market," Dr. Tim H. Stuchtey, director of the Business & Economics Program at American Institute For Contemporary German Studies, told me. "I think the size of your home market makes small companies lazy about exports. "Since [Germany's] home market is not big enough, companies have to go abroad."
If you're a small manufacturer in Berlin, it's not a big deal to sell in Denmark. If you are a small company in Iowa, it is a big deal to sell in Japan. When I spoke with Mark Rice, the chief executive of a rudder manufacturing company in Baltimore, MD, for an article in the National Journal, he described to me the harrowing experience of competing for a bid in South Korea without help from an export agency to explain international business customs, licensing rules, and export law. For many U.S. manufacturers and service firms, selling outside the country is outside the business model.
Geography can shape culture and economics, but it is not destiny. The Rhine didn't force Germany to adopt work sharing. The Pacific Ocean doesn't prevent the U.S. from broadening its support and financing for exports. This is merely to point out that landscapes and state lines can have a surprising impact on the cultural and economic assumptions we take for granted.
- For flexible working hours, find job in Finland or Sweden, IndianExpress.com
NEW DELHI, India - Want a flexible work schedule? Look for a job in Finland and Sweden and avoid countries such as Japan, Greece and Armenia.
According to a study by Grant Thornton International, 92 per cent of companies surveyed around the world rated Finland as the country which provides the maximum flexibility at work.
Sweden came second with 86 per cent, followed by Australia with 85 per cent.
Interestingly, Thailand is the only Asian country which made it into the top 10, with 85 per cent of companies offering flexible work arrangements.
According to human resource experts, the companies which provide the option of flexible work hours to employees perform better than their counterparts with regular 9-5 jobs.
The survey conducted among more than 7,700 businesses in 39 countries found "Finland, Sweden and Australia as the countries with the highest percentage of companies offering flexible work arrangements, while Japan, Greece and Armenia were the lowest."
Other countries which provide flexible working hours are New Zealand, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ireland.
The countries that showed the least amount of flexibility in work arrangements were Japan, Greece and Armenia. Only 18 per cent of Japanese companies permit these kind of work schedules. Greece was second with 26 per cent and Armenia has 35 per cent.
Apart from Japan, three other Asian countries – Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan -- also featured in the list as among the countries with the least amount of flexibility in work.
Other countries in the list are Poland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Russia.
- Sequoia Union High School District Approves Furlough Days, by Austin Walsh, Patch.com
SEQUOIA, Calif. - The Sequoia Union High School District Board of Trustees on Wednesday night approved shortening the work year for all district employees by two days next year through work furloughs caused by a budget deficit.
The two days off will be August 22, 2011 and January 9, 2012. Classes will not be in session either day due to previously scheduled breaks.
The district has already approved $5.03 million in budget balancing actions, including eliminating 33 full-time jobs, in an attempt to close its deficit going into the upcoming year.
Under Wednesday night's approval at the Board of Trustees meeting at the district office in Redwood City, the work year will be shortened to 185 days.
No district employees will be paid for the furlough time off of work.
In addition, the board members approved a new contract with the district teachers union after months of negotiations.
According to a district report, the contract will feature previously agreed upon step and column pay increases, but no new raises for teachers.
The Sequoia District Teachers Association began negotiating with the district administration in last winter, and reached an agreement the last day allowed for contract discussions, according to Greg Gruszynski, union representative.
"It took a long time, there were frustrating moments, but I felt it was a positive experience," said Gruszynski.
He thanked the administration and staff for collaborating with teachers during the negotiations, and for working out a deal that he said he believed was fair for both sides.
Regarding agreement on the furlough days, Gruszynski said it was a difficult for the union to accept.
"This was not an easy thing," he said. "But they were a result of cuts in funding from the state."
An overwhelming majority of the teachers union favored ratifying the contract, he said.
Ultimately, Gruszynski said he was happy with the final terms of the contract, and the process leading up to the board's approval. And also said the process should set a standard for future negotiations.
"We, as the teachers union, feel it is a good example of collective bargaining," he said. "I believe this is an example of the way we need to proceed."
Trustee Chris Thomsen thanked the bargaining teams of both the district and teachers union for being able to agree upon a contract during a difficult economic environment.
"The biggest asset the district has is its teachers," said Thomsen. "And we want to support that is every way we can."
He said he was disappointed that the union had to suffer pay cuts due to the furlough days.
But he agreed with Gruszynski in regards to hoping that these negotiations set a precedent for future bargaining.
"I hope the spirit of cooperation endures," said Thomsen.
Trustee Alan Sarver attributed the drawn out negotiation process to the bargaining teams updating terms in the contract that needed to be addressed, rather than rolling over the previous contract, as was done during the previous negotiation.
He also expressed appreciation to the bargaining teams for coming to an agreement that each side deemed fair.
"Thanks for the work both sides put in," said Sarver.
Trustees are expected to approve the district's final budget document for the upcoming fiscal year at the next board meeting on June 22.
In other business, the board welcomed newly hired Assistant Superintendent Morgan Marchbanks. She will replace Francisca Miranda, who is retiring. Marchbanks served as the principal of Sequoia High School from 2000 to 2009.
6/08/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Furlough Fridays on tap for Lemon Grove, by Karen Pearlman Karen.Pearlman@uniontrib.com; (619) 293-1829; Twitter @karenpearlman, SIgn On San Diego News via San Diego Union-Tribune via signonsandiego.com
LEMON GROVE, Calif. — City Hall will be closed every Friday starting in July as part of a money-saving move approved Tuesday by the Lemon Grove City Council.
“We’ll save $113,000 doing it this (coming) year,” said City Manager Graham Mitchell of the Friday closures. “It’s the equivalent of a pay cut of 5 percent in salary for the majority of employees.”
[But they're all in it together and it's prevented more layoffs.]
The city employs 68 staffers, but the furloughs will not affect firefighters.
Lemon Grove has closed its doors on alternate Fridays this year after closing shop every Friday in 2009-10.
The Fiscal Year 2012 budget, also passed on Tuesday, shows a decrease in salary costs of $371,000 over anticipated costs this year. The savings come from the furlough program as well as a restructuring of City Hall, a reduction in overtime for the Fire Department and no cost of living increases.
The budget eliminates five positions — grounds supervisor, recreation services director, assistant recreation services director, recreation services assistant and recreation services specialist.
It also added three new positions — community services superintendent, marketing specialist and facilities coordinator.
- Canada Post announces service reductions due to strikes; work hours to be cut, by LuAnn LaSalle & David Paddon, The Canadian Press via google.com/hostednews
TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Canada Post and the union representing most of its employees are turning up the pressure on each other and the public, as their negotiators grind away with little sign of movement at the table after nearly a week of rotating strikes.
There will be 13 communities hit by 24-hour strikes on Thursday — the most since walkouts began last week — and the postal service is preparing to reduce mail deliveries to three times a week starting Monday.
Canada Post will also cut staffing levels at its mail sorting plants and pay unionized letter carriers only for the three days they work, Canada Post spokesman Jon Hamilton said in an interview Wednesday.
"This is all as a result of the 50 per cent drop we've seen in our volumes in the last five days due to the union's rotating strike activity," Hamilton said.
"We can't keep our costs the same while we've seen our business drop by half. We need to take action now to avoid significant losses that would harm our financial self-sustainability."
Union national president Denis Lemelin said Canada Post's announcement wasn't all that surprising and wouldn't change the union's negotiating strategy.
"That's what they expect for next week, but (it's) only Wednesday," Lemelin said. "We'll see what happens tomorrow at the table."
Lemelin said the union told the federal mediator Wednesday evening that it wanted to meet with Canada Post and present a response to the company's latest proposals.
He said CUPW chose 13 smaller locals for Thursday's strike "because we want to address the issue of jobs in the community and expansion of services to the community in smaller places in the country."
The communities are: Labrador City, N.L., Acadie-Bathurst, N.B., Summerside, P.E.I., Ste-Therese and Ste-Jerome, Que.; the Ontario cities of Thunder Bay, Hearst, Brantford and St. Thomas, Flin Flon, Man., Vernon, B.C., and the territorial capitals of Yellowknife, N.W.T. and Whitehorse, Yukon.
Canada Post's spokesman said the strikes have had a disastrous effect on customer confidence.
"While the union has had rotating strikes in certain communities, their activity has caused Canadians from coast to coast to lose confidence — hopefully temporarily — in our ability to deliver and therefore are putting a lot less mail into the system," Hamilton said.
One of the companies that has been affected by the strike is Birds & Beans, an organic coffee seller that has seen its online orders plunge and its administrative headaches grow because of the upheaval at Canada Post.
"Our volume is down because people aren't even coming to our site because they think they're not going to get their stuff shipped," Madeleine Pritchard, who owns the Toronto-based business with husband David.
Pritchard said their business has switched to couriers because of the uncertainty but their systems aren't electronically integrated for such things as shipping notices and tracking.
She noted that entering information the old-fashioned way is adding "more time and errors" and increasing expenses by several hundred dollars per week.
"I could stand the several hundred dollars a week if it weren't for all of the other pain," Pritchard said.
The president of a CUPW local in Edmonton — one of two cities where strikes were held Wednesday — said that mail volumes in their plant hasn't dropped by as much as the company says.
"People are saying, actually, that there's still mail being moved and we haven't seen the reductions that Canada Post is claiming as a result of the strikes," Bev Ray said from Edmonton. "We have not seen a 50 per cent drop."
Ray did say that fewer parcels were being shipped and those that were being sent were being diverted to courier service Purolator, in which Canada Post owns a major stake.
Hamilton said Canada Post stands by its numbers and repeated the company's position.
"We have up-to-date counts on the amount of mail and parcels and all that in the system. But all you would have to do is walk through any of our facilities and you could see quite clearly that we are dealing with a lot less mail than we normally do," Hamilton said from Ottawa.
He also repeated the company's position that the strikes aren't necessary because union and Canada Post negotiators continue to talk — although there hasn't been much progress and many issues.
"The union keeps saying they're having rotating strikes because the want to get the company to the table. We're at the table," Hamilton said.
"But we're not at the table to discuss adding a billion dollars of labour costs over the next four years, we're not at the table to discuss stopping any efforts under way to modernize this company and secure our future. That's not what we're there to talk about. We're there to talk about generous terms and conditions for the next four years that will make our employees better off than they are today."
Canada Post has said its latest offer includes annual wage increases that for current employees would bring the top wage rate to $26 an hour, job security, no changes to a defined benefit pension plan, medical benefits and "generous'' vacation leave that tops out at seven weeks per year.
Future hires would get a starting wage of $19 an hour, rising to a maximum $26 an hour, up to six weeks vacation and a defined benefit pension by age 60.
Rotating strikes began last Friday in Winnipeg and have since been held in Hamilton, Montreal, Moncton, N.B., Victoria, Calgary and Edmonton.
- Companies Consider Furloughs to Reduce Labor Costs, by Deanna Hartley, (6/08/11 reissue of 8/31/09 article)Talent Management magazine via talentmgt.com
CHICAGO, Illin. - As a result of the recent economic upheaval, a growing number of companies have resorted to furloughs as a strategic cost-cutting measure.
As a result of the recent economic upheaval, a growing number of companies have resorted to furloughs as a strategic cost-cutting measure.
"A furlough is a tool an organization can use to reduce its labor costs; it typically associates reduced pay with a reduction in time worked," said Tom McMullen, U.S. reward practice leader for Hay Group.
"For most organizations, labor costs are typically the No. 1 or [No.] 2 item in an organization - particularly in service-intensive industries such as hospitality, retail, restaurant, etc.," he said. "So having some leverage in terms of how organizations can reduce labor costs without laying off good people and mortgaging their future is a real benefit to the organization."
In some cases, organizations use mandatory furloughs to save on labor costs.
"A classic example of this is a mandatory plant shutdown in the automotive industry, during which they might do a bit of retooling [and] conducting of safety inspections, but the significant majority of employees are off," McMullen said. "It's often around the Fourth of July or during end-of-year holidays when they shut the plant down. Everybody is required to take time off."
Another route companies can take is to implement a reduced workweek furlough.
For instance, companies may have a rotating schedule where they ask a certain percentage of the workforce not to work on certain weeks, or they ask all employees to take several days off a month. "This time off would also be commensurate with a reduction in salary," McMullen explained.
Most employers admit to using furloughs as a temporary solution, but their scope has expanded recently due to the cloud of economic uncertainty that hangs over many organizations.
"Furloughs used to be limited to manufacturing companies that have been shut down, but we've seen over the last year or more - with the downturn of the economy and companies struggling for actions that go beyond layoffs and restructuring - furloughs have become an attractive option to restructuring and layoffs as a way for organizations to keep the people they need but also [cut] labor costs down," McMullen said.
Often, it isn't just the company that benefits from furloughs.
"While there are obviously employer benefits to furloughs in terms of reducing labor costs, a furlough can be attractive to some employees as well," McMullen said. "Many come to a point in their lives where additional time off can be quite valued - for example, being able to take a month off in the summer or before kids go back to school is not only a win for the company, it's a win for the employee as well."
However, there are several considerations employers need to bear in mind prior to implementing furloughs.
Wages for employees in jobs exempted from the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, cannot be reduced below the minimum wage. Further, employers should strive to provide advance notice of furloughs, as there are some state labor laws that prescribe minimum notice periods.
"For employees who are exempt under the FLSA, employers can't allow work to happen when they're on furlough," McMullen said. "There's a risk that if an employee checks his BlackBerry or computer for work purposes during a furlough period, he can theoretically make a claim that he should be paid for that day. So some organizations seize BlackBerrys and work computers and cut [employees] off from voice mail to ensure they don't do any work during the furlough period."
6/07/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when any economy that's still around in 50 years will have long made it first and foremost - ( [commentary] by Phil Hyde firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Finley Says Federal Budget Means Good Things for Norfolk, by Ashley Degroote, CD98.9 via cd989.com
NORFOLK, Ont., Canada - The federal budget is out and our local M-P Diane Finley says it will protect jobs from being lost by extending the work sharing program that has already protected 500 jobs in this area.
Finley says in the economic action plan they’ve created over 5 hundred and 40 thousand new jobs across Canada, many of which were in Haldimand Norfolk.
Finley says it will also help seniors and provide additional support for families with disabled or long terminally ill members. She says there’s also support for people who want to go to College or University for either full time or part time.
[Related story -]
Highlights of 2011 federal budget, Postmedia News via calgaryherald.com
New since the March budget:
- $2.2 billion to Quebec for harmonization of federal and provincial sales taxes;
- Elimination over three years of $2 per vote subsidy to political parties;
Measures announced in March: Taxes, jobs, and the economy:
- A "helmets to hard hats" program to help veterans transition into jobs upon returning home;
- Elimination of tax incentives to oilsands projects to raise $15 million;
- A $450 tax credit for volunteer firefighters;
- Extension of the worksharing program in areas of Canada hardest hit by recession;
- Temporary tax credits to small businesses hiring;
- An additional $300 tax credit to Canadians caring for dependants beginning in 2012;
- Changes to corporate taxes to increase tax revenues by $2.85 billion over the next six years.
For families and homeowners:
- A $400-million, one-year extension of the Eco ENERGY Retrofit program;
- Children's Art Tax Credit, up to a max of $500 per child.
- Guaranteed income supplement for 680,000 seniors of up to $600 annually for singles and $840 for couples:
- Elimination of mandatory retirement age;
- Additional $10 million over two years to New Horizons for Seniors Program;
For students and schools:
- Loan forgiveness for doctors (up to $40,000) and nurses (up to $20,000) serving in rural areas;
- $100 million to establish a Canada Brain Research Fund;
- $20 million over two years to support young entrepreneurs;
- $228 million over three years to fund repairs and maintenance to federal bridges in Greater Montreal.
- $148 million over five years to maintain federally managed bridges, dams and infrastructure across Canada;
- Legislation to ensure $2 billion in annual infrastructure funding from gas tax revenues.
- $150 million for the construction of an all-season road between Inuvik and
Tuktoyaktuk; n $107 million spread over two to five years for crime and safety measures.
Federal budget deficits, surplus
The federal government is forecasting a steadily shrinking deficit and a return to surplus by 2014-2015...
- Crow Tribe lays off 150 people, BillingsGazette.com
BILLINGS, Mont. - Flooding on the Crow Reservation claimed more victims, as costs from the natural disaster have forced the Crow Tribe to lay off 150 workers.
"We had to pay people to go out and help with trying to get people from their homes in isolated areas and getting food back and forth," Crow Personnel Director Kayle Howe said Tuesday.
The unexpected costs weren't the only reason for the challenging fiscal picture, Howe said. A decrease in income from mineral leases and other revenue shortfalls had caused the executive branch to cut full-time employees to 32 hours a week, he said.
[Actually, they could have survived much better by keeping everyone employed for as short a workweek as necessary. And native American tribes are theoretically the best subjects for this strategy because they have a natural solidarity, but at least the hours cuts they did do obviated even more layoffs. Unfortunately, with this kind of copying of the white man's stupidity, human Crows are a lot less sustainable than their namesake crows in nature.]
The layoffs happened on Friday, Howe said, and workers whose jobs have been cut are being notified as quickly as possible. He said most of those laid off were among the most recently hired, and acknowledged at least some of the people won't be eligible for unemployment.
"Like everybody else, we're faced with the dilemma of releasing people from their jobs," he said. "The administration and the officers are very sorry for having to take this action."
Howe said the tribe is trying to recoup money it paid to workers who helped with the flood-rescue efforts, but said that could take a while.
Back in August 2009, the tribe had to lay off 200 people due to revenue shortfalls and the unexpected costs of two elections that came in the aftermath of the death of then-Chairman Carl Venne.
Workers who were most recently laid off are paid out of the general fund, Howe said. They include positions such as clerical and grounds workers.
The tribe employed about 815 people before the layoffs. Howe said those laid off have expressed their frustration with the situation.
"Hopefully we'll get it straightened out and get the money back and get them back on board," he said.
6/05-06/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when it needs to be front and center, and still *dismissed by economists and business schools.
Excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- Work-Sharing is Not a Solution to the Unemployment Problem, by Tino Sanandaji, 6/6 WallStreetPit.com
[Here's a collection of all the naivete of mainstream economics relative to worktime economics. Distracted by travel at the moment, we leave it to our readers to pick out the glaring weaknesses in this argument. Hint - he ignores: the effects of output-giantization per employee via automation and robotization, the variety and leakiness and politicization of unemployment definitions, the hidden unemployment of welfare and disability and homelessness and prison and client-less self-employment and suicide... And basically Tino, if long hours make for more jobs, show us the jobs. We'll show you ours: the USA cut the workweek in half between 1840 and 1940 and there were plenty more jobs. US cut from 44 hours to 42 to 40 in 1938,39,40 and even official unemployment went from 19.0% to 17.2 to 14.6, roughly one percent less unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek. France went from 39 hours to 35 between 1997 and 2001 and unemployment went from 12.6% to 8.6 before the US-led recession hit France in the summer, roughly one percent less unemployment for every hours cut from the workweek. You maintain that big populations with uncontrolled workweeks don't have more unemployment? Have you been to India and seen the Luddism? Have you been to China and seen the over 20% unemployment? - that's over 200,000,000 people. ]
CHICAGO, Illin. - Among the European left, it is common to demand legislation which mandates that each worker may work maximum 35-hour or even 30-hours per week. The French Socialist President managed to pass this reform a decade or so ago. The idea is that forcing workers to work fewer hours will lead to more jobs for the unemployed, and also that this is good for workers.
One implicit assumption here is that workers do not know their own best [best what?] or have no power over hours worked [without unions or intelligent CEOs, they don't], and prefer the government [to] force them to work less [wrong but irrelevant]. Another assumptions underlying this view is that jobs are like stones on the ground or chairs around a table, there is a fix number of jobs in the economy (exogenously determined, somehow) [how? simple: is a company/economy downsizing or hiring? Note the US needs 300,000 new 40-hour/week jobs per month just to keep pace with population], and if one person works more, someone has to work less.
[It's the number of natural, market-determined working hours on offer at a given moment that is fixed, or rather, shrinking, in more and more corporations and industries, and indeed, the waves of downsizing in the last forty years demonstrate this, as does the pressure on surviving "full time" employees to work longer hours, as does the proliferation of part time employment (fewer hours are happening anyway).]
In fact other than the extreme short run and during periods of economic crisis, this view is wrong. Economists view jobs as a matching of a resource (time and knowledge of the worker) with a firm which demand this resource to produce things. This is why we don’t observe a bigger population causing higher unemployment.
[Never mind China's over-20% unemployment and India's ubiquitous luddism.]
The French experiment with 35 hours workweek was therefore doomed to fail, since it ignored fundamental economics. In fact this is exactly what happened. Unemployment did not decrease, firms had all sorts of problems, and the reform was ultimately abandoned.
[All nonsense. The 35-hour workweek succeeded in cutting 1997 unemployment of 12.6% to 8.6% in 2001 before the US recession hit France. It was abandoned only for naive political reasons pushed by Sarkozy who was so "intelligent" he wanted to copy the USA in its decade of fastest self-destruction.]
The Swedish left has learned nothing from the French failure. Consequently the envirimentalist Green Party and the leftist Socialist party still demand that the government forces workers to work fewer hours, promising that this will lower unemployment.
To evaluate this claim, let us graph average hours worked per worker and the unemployment rate among developed OECD countries. I look at 2007 before the crisis, although the results are identical if we pool 1997-2007 to get rid of some of the business cycle.
As you see, there is no relationship whatsoever between unemployment and average hours worked. Germany, France and Belgium with their short workweeks and long vacations have high unemployment.
[Because they're not afraid to count it more fully and they have a lot less hidden unemployment.]
Countries with many hours worked, such as the United States and Japan have comparatively low unemployment (remember this is before the crisis). One thing that may surprise readers is that workers in Italy and Greece work lots of hours. I have seen the same phenomenon elsewhere. What you have to remember is that this is hours worked for those who work. Greece and Italy have lots of people (mostly women) out of the labor market, but those who have jobs work long hours. Furthermore, these are comparatively poor countries, and workers in poor countries tend to work more hours, because they value money over time.
The demand for fewer hours pushed by unions in Europe is to large extent a result of extremely high marginal taxes, rather than reflection of the true wishes of the workers. If you only get to keep 35% of a negotiated wage increase, but 100% of more vacation days, the choice may be different than what the worker would do in an undistorted economy where he got to keep everything he earned.
I know this is a provocative statement for many, but because of high taxes, I believe many Swedes if given the choice would actually prefer to get 10-20.000 kroner ($1100-2200) in their pockets than have one additional vacation week. This is approximately the true full economic cost of the vacation for a typical worker, of course higher still for a high-skill worker.
Since we are on the subject, let me point out that the often heard claim that Americans only have 2 weeks of vacation is a myth. According to calculations by Harvard professors Alberto Alesina and Edward Glaeser, Americans on average take 3.9 weeks of vacation per year.
The Green party is wrong that their reform would lower unemployment. They are however honest and acknowledge that reducing hours worked would lower income and tax revenue. However some in the European left -including the Swedish Socialist party – promises voters that Sweden can go from a 40 hours to 30-hours workweek without any wage cuts! Even before I went to college to study economics I remember I found this claim absurd, a sign that the extreme left in Europe lacks economic common sense.
Income comes from production. How can society cut hours worked by 20-25% without lowering production? The left argues that this can be done by lowering firm profits.
Even disregarding the fact that cutting hours worked would lead to less investment
and capital moving out of the country, firm profits are too small to finance the utopia of socialists. In Sweden, as well as the United States, total corporate profits are only about 10% of GDP, and therefore not enough to finance such a reform. In addition, if production goes down tax revenue will also go down, hurting the poor.
Lowering hours worked is sometimes popular among workers, although decreasingly so in Sweden with the increasing realization among the public that the Swedish economy has too few hours, not too many. The popularity of cutting hours has been taken as evidence that this is a good reform. However, when polled, people are simply asked if they would enjoy work fewer hours, whereas the correct question should be “would you want to work fewer hours and have your wage cut dramatically?”.
This is a version of the Fiscal Connection, good poll questions should explicitly link costs-with benefits of the choice asked about, because ordinary people will usually not make the connection themselves.
- Statistics show Southern Europeans work longer than Germans, 6/05 AlbuquerqueExpress.com
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The German government has been told a statement by Chancellor Angela Merkel is wrong about statements that workers in Greece, Spain and Portual are lazy.
[Merkel is another demonstration that a lot of Germans don't even know what they're doing right or understand that the Protestant or Puritan work ethic is history in the age of robotics. It's work smart, not hard, and spread the work and wages to fund consumer spending, or watch your workaholic economy wither and die for lack of an anchoring domestic consumer base and employment basement. The survivor economies of the future will guarantee full employment and maximum domesic consumer spending by cutting the workweek as deep as that may require, and of course, automatically converting overtime into training and hiring.]
The German government has been informed that a statement made by Chancellor Angela Merkel was wrong, when she said workers in Greece, Spain and Portual were not as driven as German workers.
Last month Ms Merkel said Southern Europeans work less and shorter hours than Germans.
But a report published by a French bank has challenged her statement, saying Germans work less on an annual basis and throughout their lifetimes.
The study, based on OECD and Eurostat figures, said a German's average annual work duration of 1,390 hours was substantially lower than for a Greek at 2,119, an Italian at 1,773, a Portuguese at 1,719 and a Spaniard at 1,654.
[If Merkel had any sense, she'd be boasting about how efficient and productive Germans are, and how free they are with more financially secure free time, instead of going back 200 years and trying to boast about long hours = inefficiency.]
The study added that although the legal retirement age is older in Germany, the Portuguese and Spanish work longer.
[So they work later in life illegally?]
Their real retirement ages are 62.6 and 62.3 respectively, against 62.2 for Germans.
6/04/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when it needs to be front and center, and still *dismissed by economists and business schools.
Excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- Unpopular cuts part of budget city plans to adopt Wednesday, by DAVID GARRICK email@example.com North County Times, North County Times via nctimes.com
ESCONDIDO, Calif. - After four months of petitions, protests, debates and compromises, the City Council is scheduled on Wednesday to adopt Escondido's first balanced budget in five years.
The council has made firm decisions this spring on many elements of a $74.3 million spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1, such as cutting the annual arts center subsidy from $645,000 to $461,000 and saving $1.1 million by forcing city employees to pay their own pension contributions.
But programs still hanging in the balance include the East Valley library branch, which could be completely closed or possibly reduced to a neighborhood computer lab, and the Escondido History Center and Escondido Arts Partnership, which could lose their entire annual subsidies.
"There are some touchy issues we still have to talk about," Councilwoman Olga Diaz said last week.
Proposed recreation cuts prompted protests this spring, but council members decided last month they'd be willing to allow the recreation department to run a deficit in order to spare the city's skatepark and two pools.
And the proposed budget the council will debate Wednesday includes a projected $178,000 recreation deficit, but the money will come from a $450,000 recreation reserve instead of the city's general operating fund.
The $178,000 shortfall is down from the roughly $850,000 recreation deficit the city has been running in recent years. Much of the gap will be closed by charging higher fees for programs and for the use of facilities, which recent city surveys indicate residents are willing to pay.
"We're making a transition from subsidized recreation to cost-recovery recreation," said Mayor Sam Abed, contending that declining revenue and increasing pension costs make it impossible for the city to continue taking losses on recreation programs.
The projected $74.3 million in expenditures for the new fiscal year will be paid for with a projected $74.3 million in revenue, which means the city will not use any of its $32 million in reserves to balance the budget.
Each of the past four years, the council has adopted budgets that used millions in reserves to achieve balance.
For example, last June the council agreed to use $4 million in reserves to balance the books when it adopted a $75 million spending plan coupled with a revenue projection of $71 million.
Roy Garrett, a local resident who organized the recreation protests and helped get more than 2,500 people to sign a petition opposing the cuts, said he's relieved the recreation department will apparently survive mostly intact.
But Garrett criticized the council last week for not spending some reserves to spare the library branch, the history center in Grape Day Park and the Escondido Education Compact, a nonprofit that works with local schools.
"This seems like an unnecessarily harsh budget based on the reserves we have," Garrett said. "There comes a point when the council should accept the success of its efforts to bring the budget more into balance and start compromising. If they just ease off a little bit, they'll have the community behind them."
Garrett said an example would be a recent offer by donors to keep the library branch open by providing the city $96,000 ---- half of the branch's annual operating costs.
Instead of embracing the offer, council members have balked at a demand by donors that the council commit to keeping the branch open in subsequent years without further donations. Council members have said a better plan would be keeping only the branch's computer lab open, which would cost roughly $75,000 per year.
Abed said spending reserves to save programs would be unacceptable, explaining that the city has spent $22 million in reserves since the economic downturn began sharply reducing city revenue in 2007.
Those deficits occurred despite dozens of employee layoffs, reduced library hours and many other cuts that have lowered annual city expenses by nearly 18 percent since 2007, from $90 million to $74 million.
Councilman Ed Gallo agreed with Abed, expressing pride that the new council majority, which includes Marie Waldron and Mike Morasco, had found a way to balance the budget after years of multimillion-dollar deficits under previous councils.
"I'm not sure exactly what the final budget will look like, but I know it's going to be balanced," Gallo said.
Balance not guaranteed
Councilwoman Diaz also supports a balanced budget, but said there's no guarantee that expenses won't outpace revenue in the coming fiscal year.
She noted that labor unions have balked at paying their pension contributions, a key component of balancing the budget for next year, and that no agreements on that proposal have been reached.
In addition to paying the city share of pension contributions required by the state pension system, the city has been paying either all or most of the employee share for several years.
Another uncertainty in the budget is that it assumes sales tax and property tax will continue a slow rebound that began this year. City budget officials have projected that sales tax revenue will increase from $24.7 million to $26 million in the new fiscal year, and that property taxes will go up from $20.3 million to $21 million.
And despite a survey indicating recreation users are willing to pay more, it's possible the fee increases will depress demand enough to create a significant recreation deficit.
Diaz said she was also uncomfortable with totally wiping out the history center's $56,000 subsidy, the arts partnership's $56,000 city contribution and the education Compact's $32,000.
Diaz and Waldron suggested those subsidies be phased out over multiple years at the council's last budget hearing on May 11, but they couldn't secure a needed third vote.
The arts partnership needs city funding to remain eligible for grants, and the history center keeps Grape Day Park bustling by sponsoring events, Diaz said.
Wendy Barker, the history center's executive director, said the city cut would reduce the center's overall budget by roughly 25 percent and require layoffs and shorter hours. She said the center might also have to close on Mondays.
"It's disappointing when the council has stressed how important Escondido's rich history means to the community, but it looks like that's the way they're going to go," Barker said.
Abed said the nonprofits need to raise more money from donors.
"You've got to pick and choose what to pay for as a city," he said. "It's tough to recommend money for those groups, because it would have to come from somewhere else."
- 'Horrific' plans to cut hours at Lillington library face criticism, Leamington Spa Today via The Leamington Spa Courier via leamingtoncourier.co.uk
LEAMINGTON, Warks., UK - “SHOCKING” plans to slash library opening times in one of Leamington’s most deprived areas have been condemned.
Warwickshire County Council has proposed cutting opening hours at Lillington library from 37.5 to 20 hours per week in a 27 per cent cut to the service’s budget over three years.
At Leamington town council last week, Cllr [Councillor] Sarah Boad called to keep hours as long as possible, and urged community groups to move in and help.
Insisting the Mason Avenue library was well used, she said: “Parts of Lillington are the most deprived in the district. Having a library with the ability to borrow books for free is very important.”
Cllr Boad (Lib[eral] Dem, Crown) criticised the county council’s decision to charge computer users, a move she said had led to fewer visits, while Cllr Susan Ingleby (Lab[our], Clarendon) called the plans for Lillington “shocking”, adding: “It’s a place that needs all the educational facilities it can get.”
Cllr Mota Singh (Lab, Willes) asked how it was possible to justify cuts of £2 million in a budget of £7.4 million when there was higher unemployment and greater need for libraries.
And citing a Guardian article in which writer Alan Bennett described library cuts as “a form of child abuse”, Cllr Roger Copping (Lib Dem, Manor) said: “There is a need for social mobility., The downgrading of our library system by 25 per cent is too much.”
Representing the county council, principal librarian Paul McDermott said a number of libraries were “unsustainable” in their current form.
Adding that the county council would welcome any discussion to keep branches open longer, he said: “The proposals are proposals at the moment. I accept it seems Lillington has had it pretty harsh.”
The consultation will end on Thursday June 9. www.warwickshire.gov.uk/libraryconsultation
6/03/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when it needs to be front and center, and still *dismissed by economists and business schools.
Excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- Eagle Ford boosts railroad activity, by D. Hendricks email@example.com, MySanAntonio.com
SAN ANTONIO, Tex. - Wherever oil and natural gas comes out of the ground, plenty of people make money, from the landowners and investors to the drilling equipment companies and crew workers.
So do the companies that provide services to those people. The railroads are among those companies, and they are grateful for the new South Texas oil-and-gas play known as the Eagle Ford shale.
Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific Corp. [U.P.] has reopened a nearly dormant switching yard near downtown, has reactivated short lines in South Texas and has organized two new business development units, one to track down new customers and another to assist existing customers with their expanded needs stemming from the Eagle Ford.
U.P. has not only rehired all the Texas workers it furloughed during the 2007-09 recession, it now is hiring new workers in Eagle Pass, Laredo and San Antonio, including for the re-opened East Yard in San Antonio, which already has added about 25 employees.
U.P. is looking for train crews, yard support workers, shuttle drivers and managers, perhaps between 50 and 75 additional workers in all, said Raquel Espinoza-Williams, a U.P. corporate relations and media director.
The East Yard was used only for storage during the economic downturn but in January regained its role for lining up cars to transport materials.
The Gardendale Railroad, about 75 miles south of San Antonio and not far from Three Rivers, operates a spur of about 1,600 feet of track that connects to a U.P. track. The short line closed in the mid-1990s but is operating again. The Gardendale Railroad, owned by Iron Horse Resources, is building another 30,000 feet of track.
What's being hauled? Mainly sand and pipes. Sand is used in the water/chemical mixture used to fracture shale rock, a process that shakes loose the oil and natural gas. Pipes are needed for drilling and for transporting oil and gas.
The sand comes from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas, Espinoza-Williams said. The pipes originate from California, Arkansas, Louisiana and other states, she added.
U.P. also is hauling rock needed to make roads necessary to access remote drilling sites, she said. U.P. also is transporting crude oil to gulf coast refineries from the drilling sites.
The increased activity showed up in U.P.'s first-quarter results. Sand, rock and pipe shipments rose 9 percent from the same quarter in 2009, to 263,000 railcars.
Port San Antonio's East Kelly Railport also is seeing higher activity, due partly to Eagle Ford activity. In the fiscal year 2010 that ended last Sept. 30, 2,594 railcars were delivered to the railport. After only seven months into the current fiscal year, as of April 30, the number already had reached 2,532 railcars.
“We attribute this growth to a general improvement of trade as part of the (economic) recovery and also new business related to energy exploration, increased demand for ... sand and pipe,” said Paco Felici, the port's public information officer.
The Eagle Ford shale is at least a 20-year play. The increased logistics activity, and the jobs that go with it, are not likely to go away anytime soon.
- Ministry set to enforce summer working hours, by Mutib al-Awwad, The Saudi via SaudiGazette.com.sa
HA'IL, Saudi Arabia: The Ministry of Labor has issued circulars informing the Saudi Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the summer working hours law ahead of its introduction on July 1.
The law bars work in sun-exposed conditions from midday to 3 P.M. for the entirety of July and August, and the ministry has reiterated that the measure will be strictly imposed.
The only exceptions to the law are workers at oil and gas companies and emergency maintenance workers, all of whom are required instead to “take the necessary measures to guard against harm from the sun’s rays”.
The law also stipulates that employees are to work no more than eight hours a day or 48 hours per week, depending on each company’s schedule policy. Those hours are reduced in Ramadan for Muslims to six and 36, but can be increased to nine a day or reduced to six depending on the nature of the employee’s work, its inherent dangers or repetitiveness.
Offending companies will be subject to fines of between SR3,000 and SR10,000 for each offense, or closure for up to 30 days or permanent closure, or both fines and closure.
The summer sun working hours law for the private sector was announced by the Ministry of Labor last year, but has only been brought into effect this year in order to give firms time to adapt their work plans and avoid disrupting operations.
– Okaz/Saudi Gazette
6/02/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when it needs to be front and center, and still *dismissed by economists and business schools.
Excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (firstname.lastname@example.org) unless otherwise initialed -
- Kate Moss Changes Wedding Date... - Tom Ford mentioned more details about those nasty letters, Jezebel.com
... PARIS, France - Tom Ford mentioned more details about those nasty letters Yves Saint Laurent sent him when Ford took over ready-to-wear at the French label in an interview with CNN.
Says the designer, "I have letters that he wrote to me about it, you know: 'In 13 minutes on the runway you have destroyed 40 years of my career.'
"I am really happy I have them — they are written in his own hand. When I'm 85, maybe I'll put them in a book — if anyone cares."
Ford first spoke publicly about the hand-written hate mail and the tempestuous situation between himself, Saint Laurent, and Pierre Bergé in The Advocate in 2009: "They would call the fiscal police, and they would show up at our offices.
'You are not able to work an employee more than 35 hours a week.' They're like Nazis, those police. They'd come marching in, and you had to let them in and they'd interview my secretary. And they can fine you and shut you down.
[Those were the bad old days of the overtime police in France. Much better to design the top of the workweek as an overtime-to-jobs conversion threshold rather than an absolute cutoff.]
Pierre was the one calling them.
I've never talked about this on the record before, but it was an awful time for me. Pierre and Yves were just evil. So Yves Saint Laurent doesn't exist for me. I have letters from Yves Saint Laurent that are so mean you cannot even believe such vitriol is possible. I don't think he was high when he wrote them either."
- Unions and employers reject gov't draft reforms, CTK via Prague Daily Monitor via praguemonitor.com
PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Czech trade unions and employers rejected yesterday the government-proposed pension and health care reforms and they will also demand the introduction of "kurzarbeit," Jaroslav Hanak, chairman of the Confederation of Industry, has told journalists.
"Kurzarbeit" is a system where work hours in companies faced with problems are cut short and the state compensates the employees for a part of the lost wages.
The unions and employers will table the issue at a meeting of the tripartite, in which also the government is represented, to be held at the end of this week or at the beginning of next week, Hanak said.
He said kurzarbeit is in the interest of both employees and employers.
"We will call on the government to immediately prepare analyses and legislative steps for the fastest possible introduction of it," Hanak said.
"We have been striving for it for several years. I suppose that the government will eventually start doing something after our joint pressure now," Jaroslav Zavadil, chairman of the umbrella Bohemian and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS), said.
The working out of an analysis of introduction of shortened work hours was one of 38 anti-crisis measures on which unions and employers reached agreement with then caretaker government of Jan Fischer in February 2010.
Supporters of the system argued then that it is more advantageous for the state to make the payments than to pay out unemployment benefits.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek (TOP 09) said he has nothing against such an analysis, adding it will be used in further procedure.
Hanak said there is no need for introducing a second pillar within the pension reform.
According to the government draft, people could send a part of their social insurance they pay to the state pay-as-you-go system to individual accounts with private pension companies.
Hanak said the state pillar and the existing pension private schemes must be reformed.
Turning to health care, Hanak said the reform should be preceded by an analysis of where money is disappearing in the system.
"We believe that it is first necessary to put order in health care," which relates to the purchase of apparatuses, medicine policy and construction investment without corruption, and only then do the reform," Hanak said.
"Unfortunately, (the government) starts at the end, with financial participation of patients, and the above mentioned things are not being solved," Zavadil said.
"We will demand that the reform be withdrawn," Zavadil said.
In spite of fundamental agreement, the unions and employers disagreed on the number of hospitals in the country. Employers say there are too many of them while unions disagree.
The unions staged a demonstration against the government draft reforms in Prague's Wenceslas Square in May. It was attended by more than 40,000 people.
Now unions are planning a strike in rail, road and municipal transport.
They will declare it unless they reach agreement on the reforms with the government by June 10.
6/01/2011 – news bits about the timesizing alternative to downsizing, reinvented thousands of times every day in every recession by mainly mid- and small-size companies, but still an afterthought when it needs to be front and center, and still *dismissed by economists and business schools.
Excerpting and [commenting] by Phil Hyde (email@example.com) unless otherwise initialed -
- A crucial test for consolidation in city and county, editorial, Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Can Sacramento city and county leaders actually make good on a common-sense move to save money and offer better service?
We're about to find out, and the answer will set an important precedent.
Officials from the city, county and Sacramento SPCA plan to start detailed talks this week about the nonprofit taking over the city and county animal shelters.
The potential payoff to all three could be significant.
SPCA leaders are interested after a consultant told them that such a merger could "dramatically enhance" care for animals in the county. Fewer dogs, cats and other animals would be euthanized, and more would be adopted.
Meanwhile, city and county officials are trying to escape from a downward spiral in their animal care agencies. Budget and staffing cuts during the recession have forced shorter hours and fewer services, and there's little reason to expect much improvement soon.
After slashing $1 million and 10 positions since 2007-08, the city's proposed 2011-12 budget calls for trimming another $157,000 (to $2.9 million) and 1.5 positions (to 31.5). The county's proposed 2011-12 spending plan would keep animal care stable at $3.7 million and 29 positions, but that's down from $5.1 million and 33 positions two years ago.
Consolidation wouldn't end government's duties altogether; the city and county would continue picking up stray and injured animals, for instance. Now, about 45,000 animals come into the three shelters combined each year.
The county boasts a state-of-the-art, $23 million shelter that opened in October 2009, while the city shelter has a very nice cat adoption area.
It's possible that one of the three shelters might be closed eventually, or turned into a holding facility while the others focus on adoptions.
All those sorts of details need to be worked out. The transition would be complicated – far more so than the SPCA's contracts with Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, Folsom and Rancho Cordova.
The touchiest issue is sure to be exactly where a big chunk of the savings and efficiencies would come from – replacing government employees at the shelters with SPCA workers, who tend to be paid less and receive fewer benefits.
Will City Council members and county supervisors, who would have to sign off to make the merger happen, stand up to squawking employee unions?
Officials hope to hammer out an agreement by Jan. 1, with the change fully complete by July 1, 2012. Depending on the timing, the city and county could get some savings in the 2011-12 budgets now under discussion.
Especially in these ugly budget times, local governments should focus on essential services like public safety and let go of programs that can be done equally as well or better by the private or nonprofit sectors.
Animal care has long been identified as the most obvious, and perhaps easiest, area for a merger. If these negotiations don't succeed, it's difficult to imagine progress in other areas.
So this will be a telling test of whether consolidation can work in Sacramento – of whether bureaucracies can really give up turf and of whether the politicians have the willpower to follow through.
- Hours cut at Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head library branches, by Kyle Peterson firstname.lastname@example.org 843-706-8147, Hilton Head Island Packet via islandpacket.com
BEAUFORT, S.C. [pronounced BYOOfert - we kid thee not!] - Three Beaufort County libraries will cut a total of 66 hours from their weekly operating schedules to reduce the burden on shorthanded staff.
Beginning Monday, hours at the Beaufort, Bluffton and Hilton Head branches will drop to 40 per week. The three branches will operate on schedules crafted after analyzing traffic patterns.
Staggered hours will allow residents to check out or return books at a neighboring library if the closest branch is closed, said library director Wlodek Zaryczny.
The cuts won't save the county money but will make library hours compatible with current staffing levels, county administrator Gary Kubic said. He estimated it would cost an additional $800,000 a year to fill vacant positions and fully staff the libraries during their current operating hours.
Zaryczny said a hiring freeze and attrition have reduced staff by about 30 percent over the past several years.
"Our aim and goal is to continue to provide the best services possible to the community," he said. "Without the reduction in hours, we would not have been able to do so."
Bernie Kole, president of Friends of the Beaufort Library, said he is urging residents to speak at County Council about the importance of library funding. But until additional dollars are allocated, he said, reducing hours might be "inevitable."
"You can only produce so much with so many people," he said.
Zaryczny said he hopes economic recovery will allow the county to restore lost staff and hours, "but I can't tell you at what point that would occur."
Kole said Friends groups raise money for libraries, but donations aren't enough to cover reductions in taxpayer funding.
"We don't have that kind of buying power," he said. "The hole is getting too big for the private sector to fill."
The Lobeco branch, currently operating at 40 hours per week, and the St. Helena branch, operating at 22.5 hours per week, will not be affected by the changes.
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