7/31-8/01/2011 – 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 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 ) -
- Gran Via Beach Club Best Venue for After Work Cocktails, 8/01 EventPlannerSpain.COM (press release)
MADRID, Spain - From mid-July onwards, the temperature rises, many people work shorter hours and those living in or visiting Madrid are subjected to long hours of stifling heat.
With all these people in mind, the Emperador Hotel's Roof Garden has launched a number of promotions and packages so that those who are not staying at the hotel can enjoy a refreshing dip, in addition to tempting cocktails and drinks.
The Roof Garden is equipped with a terrace-solarium, a 10x15m swimming pool with a maximum depth of 3m, a pool bar offering both a fixed and à la carte menu, chillout areas with Wi-Fi access, and changing rooms with lockers, all with breathtaking views of Madrid.
Mondays to Thursdays, from 2.30pm, the day's fixed menu, plus use of the pool, costs €40. And for those who cannot make it for lunch, there is the option of a refreshing dip and a delicious mojito for only €20, from 6pm onwards.
Thursdays are special. From 8pm, non-guests have free access to the Roof Garden, where they can enjoy the fabulous views of Madrid, while savouring different cocktails and drinks, featuring the Havana Club Bar offering a 50% discount on the second mojito.
In addition, every Thursday until 1 September, the Roof Garden will be featuring Summer Gin & Tonics, the most effective way of refreshing yourself during the summer. Also recommended by Elle, Beefeater proposes a different way of enjoying the classic Gin & Tonic with four alternative flavours: Bee-Tasty (apricot), Dry & Melon Twist (melon), Gin & Ginger (apple) and Bee-Fresh (strawberry).
Barra Havana Club with mojitos, Summer Gin & Tonics and Malibu on the Roof, refreshing cocktails for any occasion...
- British Men Spend Time Doing Domestic Chores, Submitted by Prakash Sharma, TopNews United States via topnews.us
LONDON, U.K. - Men in Britain have started contributing their few hours committing household tasks, reveals a source. The system has undergone a changed; these days along with women even men are performing household tasks, which certainly have reduced the burden of women.
As per a statistic, in past three decades there has been an increase by 60% in the number of men spending time doing household jobs. The statistics from Office for National Statistics reveals that man’s total paid working hours comprise of 38.4 hours per week and a woman’s comprises of 33.3 hours a week.
The time spent by men performing everyday household jobs comes to 2 hours and 28 minutes, whereas, women spends 4 hours 40 minutes. Although the difference in the time given out for domestic chores is large but the working hours among men has increased by an hour since 1970.
Around 180 experts will be meeting at the Oxford University to discuss the statistics of 60 studies made on 25 countries. As per Professor Jonathan Gershuny, Director of the centre for time use research at Oxford University and co-author of a new report, Gender Convergence in Domestic Work, “It wouldn’t surprise me if man overtakes woman in total hours worked. But while men are doing more cooking and home work, they are doing no extra laundry whatsoever. I’m guilty of that, too”.
- Cost of construction - Loss of parking and travel lanes hurts West Franklin businesses, by Zachary Kohn email@example.com, 8/01 Chapel Hill News
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Despite replacement parking, some downtown business owners say the 140 West Franklin project and the closing of town parking lot 5 has cost them money and some employees their jobs.
June sales were down 30 percent from June 2010, said Shawn Whelan, manager of Kildare's Irish Pub at 206 W. Franklin St. He's let 15 employees go and cut hours for nearly all the remaining ones.
140 West Franklin will bring new luxury condominiums, a 120-space underground parking garage, new shops and a public plaza. Both the Town of Chapel Hill and the Downtown Partnership say the project will revitalize downtown and benefit businesses in the long run.
"Development is essential to the survival of any downtown area," said Town Councilwoman Penny Rich.
Some local merchants say they hope the project will bring long-term benefits, but they worry about weathering the short term.
"The construction is scaring people out of Chapel Hill; it's hurting business," said Puan Le, manager of Lime and Basil at 200 W. Franklin St.
UNC sophomore Peter Nguyen, smoking after a meal, said he and his friends still dine at the Vietnamese restaurant but go less often because they can't find convenient parking.
"I think if customers from out of town get a negative experience they're going to go to someone else," said Ken Randby, manager at the Chapel Hill Florist next door. He thinks the lack of parking has discouraged some of his elderly patrons from buying flowers from him.
Rich, who has a catering business, said she sympathizes with the struggling businesses and concedes construction has affected sales. But she also thinks fewer people are going out this summer.
"The real test will be when school starts up again and students return," she said.
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt also extended his sympathies but thinks the town did a great job accommodating these businesses.
"This project was conceived many years ago and should come as no surprise," he said. "The town has replaced this lot with additional parking on the West End."
A new municipal parking lot at 427 W. Franklin St provides 48 new spaces at a rate of $1.25 per hour, with a four-hour limit. The town also plans to add two more lots in the 100 block of South Graham Street later this fall, making nearly 2,000 total parking spaces available in downtown Chapel Hill.
The town also provided 10 additional parking permits to AVEDA behind Granville Towers.
"To say the town has down nothing to accommodate these businesses is extremely unfair," Kleinschmidt said.
Randby agrees there is parking, but he says it's not convenient for his customers.
Rich said that it's unreasonable to think in any downtown setting that you'll always be able to park right next to your destination.
The Downtown Partnership works with a private parking firm to provide valet service at a fixed monthly rate, said Jim Norton, executive director. Kildare's initially declined the valet service, but is now going to sign on.
Antoine Puech, who owns the building that houses the most affected businesses, is concerned about his tenants.
Puech also expressed concern about safety. The construction project juts out into Franklin Street, but he's seen many students walk in traffic instead of cross at the crosswalk and walk on the south side of the street. He said he would prefer to see a covered walkway on the north side of the street along the project fence.
Rich said safety was always a primary concern and that the decision to not include covered walkways was made by the Planning Board, which she said is responsible for making sure nobody gets injured as a result of development.
7/30/2011 – 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 ) -
- What the Government Debt Crisis Means to You, by Sara Murray, Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - "Nobody knows."
That's the short answer experts provide when asked what will happen if the nation doesn't raise the U.S. government's $14.29 trillion borrowing limit by Tuesday. Without raising the limit, the federal government may have to stop or delay payments such as Social Security checks, Medicare benefits and military salaries. It's unprecedented in the nation's history.
Debate over U.S. debt has troops in Afghanistan worried whether they will be paid on time. Video courtesy Reuters.
"This would cause investors here and around the world to doubt, for the first time, whether the United States will meet its commitments," according to the Treasury Department. "That would precipitate a self-inflicted financial crisis potentially more severe than the one from which we are now recovering."
As the weekend began, both parties remained on separate tracks. House Republicans passed Speaker John Boehner's debt plan Friday night, but it is expected to fail in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Senate leaders, meanwhile, said they'd hold a procedural vote on their own debt plan today.
President Barack Obama continued to push for a bipartisan solution, noting that the two parties' plans weren't miles apart. "So there are plenty of ways out of this mess," Mr. Obama said, "but we are almost out of time."
Markets grew more anxious over the government stalemate. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 4.2% for the week. Oil prices fell; gold prices jumped. Bond prices rose as the gloomier economic outlook overwhelmed angst about default. But short-term money markets where banks do business with each other showed signs of strain.
As most Americans ended the workweek, it was still unclear how the government would get through the debt debacle.
Here are answers to questions you may have about what happens if Congress doesn't raise the debt ceiling:
Q: How is this different from a government shutdown?
A: The threat of a short-term government shutdown earlier this year came with consequences that were far less severe. In that case, the federal government had the money on hand to pay its bills, but it didn't have the Congressional authority to spend it. The government announced ahead of time that current Social Security beneficiaries would receive their checks and employees learned whether they'd be furloughed.
That's not the case this time. The federal government has the authority to spend its money, but it won't have enough incoming revenue to cover roughly 40% to 45% of its bills. And it hasn't announced which bills it will pay and which it won't.
Q: When will the federal government stop paying all of its bills?
A: The nation officially hit the debt ceiling in May. And ever since, the Treasury has been using stopgap measures to keep paying its bills. The Treasury says Tuesday is the last day it can ensure the nation will pay all of its bills. Some have suggested that the government might have enough cash for a bit longer. Barclays Capital analysts estimated the Treasury could pay the bills until Aug. 10.
Q: Will I get my Social Security check?
A: It depends on how the Treasury prioritizes its spending. The government will have $306.7 billion worth of bills to pay between Aug 3. and Aug. 31 and is expected to bring in just $172.4 billion in revenue, according to an analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center. Some or all of the bills could go unpaid.
A big test will come Wednesday, when $23 billion in Social Security payments are to go out.
Q: Will the U.S. government pay bondholders?
A: Most experts agree that even if the debt ceiling isn't raised, the Treasury will find a way to make its $29 billion interest payment due Aug. 15. But the government will have to prioritize it over other payments, such as unemployment benefits, payments to Medicaid providers or defense spending.
Q: Will my tuition assistance come through on time?
A: August is one of the highest months for Pell Grant payments, and an estimated $10.4 billion is scheduled to be shelled out next month. August isn't actually the biggest month for tuition assistance disbursements. Most schools haven't begun their fall sessions yet, so September's tuition payments tend to be larger.
Q: What about federal services funneled through state governments?
A: Some federal funding -- payments for roads, schools and Medicaid -- flows through state governments. State officials will have to decide: "Do you want to fill in anything that you don't receive from the federal government?" says Michael Bird, senior federal affairs counsel at the National Conference of State Legislatures.
States could choose to suspend programs temporarily or, if they have enough cash on hand, cover the federal government's share in the short term.
Q: I'm not relying on programs like Social Security, unemployment benefits or food stamps. How might this affect me?
A: A roughly 40% reduction in government spending would be a massive shock to the economy. It's equivalent to about 10% of gross domestic product, says Nariman Behravesh, an economist for IHS Global Insight.
Failure to extend the debt ceiling for about a month would shave 0.6 percentage point from growth in the second half of the year and push the unemployment rate up to 9.6% by the end of 2011, compared to 9.2%, according to consultancy Macroeconomic Advisers.
The situation grows more dire if the government is unable to pay bondholders, which many experts view as unlikely. "This could be another Lehman moment," Mr. Behravesh says, comparing it to the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which rocked the financial system.
If financial markets react by pushing up interest rates to compensate for all the added risk and uncertainty, it will become more expensive for everyone to borrow -- consumers, businesses and the government. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that a one-percentage-point rise in interest rates would add $1.3 trillion to the nation's deficit over a decade.
Write to Sara Murray at email@example.com
- Furloughs to start Friday, (7/28 late pickup) Hawaii Tribune Herald via hawaiitribune-herald.com
HAWAII COUNTY, Hawaii - Most Hawaii County offices that serve the public will be closed on Friday, which will be the first county employee furlough day of the new fiscal year.
Starting in August, the county furlough days will be scheduled on the first Friday of each month.
In a Wednesday news release, the county advised residents to include the furlough schedule in their planning to ensure the county agencies they need will be open when they arrive.
In particular, motorists who need to register their vehicles or renew their drivers licenses near the end of July are urged to plan ahead. County vehicle registration offices will be closed on Friday, which would normally be the last business day of the month.
Hele-On bus service will operate as regularly scheduled, but administrative offices for the bus system will be closed on furlough days.
The Department of Parks & Recreation will not close any pools in July because of the furlough, but pools will be closed for two furlough days in August. Pool users are asked to check with the individual pools to determine the furlough schedule for each facility.
The Aupuni Center and West Hawaii Civic Center offices will be closed to the public on furlough days, and contractors are asked to schedule critical work and administrative requirements around the furlough days.
The county is implementing one furlough day per month as a cost-saving measure under a new two-year agreement between the county and the Hawaii Government Employees Association. The furloughs will save the county an estimated $2.1 million per year.
- A new world of work, and an old way of working, by Thomas Walkom, Toronto Star, A6 ("nice catch" credit to Diane Cox)
[We are starting to get some excellent fog-cutting diagnostic articles - another one will appear on 8/16/2011 in the Boston Globe, A11: Poverty's boiling point, by Simon Waxman. But they mention shorter hours, if at all, only in passing, as here, and have no idea that the time arrangements are central and omni-influential - get your time arrangements wrong and you mess up your whole society because time counts it all, and undergirds any and all accountability of any activity or inactivity.]
TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Imagine a world that is entirely, materially insecure.
It is a world in which people scramble for whatever jobs they can get. When they succeed, they labour long hours with no assured wage.
Their jobs are always at risk. Others are always prepared to do the same for less. Even if workers manage to hang on, their jobs are invariably of short duration — a few months, maybe a year.
Then it's back to the scramble again.
There are, of course, no benefits or pensions. In most cases, minimum wage laws don't apply.
In this world, the sheer struggle for existence dominates. Family life fits in where it can. Culture, education, holidays? Forget it.
Students of history will recognize this world. It is industrializing England during the 19th century or parts of Latin America during the 20th - the world that Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels and later Che Guevara described and critiqued.
But amazingly and tragically, it is also Canada in the 21st century. It is the world for which our governments and institutions say we must prepare because - in spite of creating one of the wealthiest societies in human history - we have no choice.
[Yes, we do. But that choice is ... replace downsizing with Timesizing.]
A pamphlet produced by the Toronto District School Board tells the tale. To its credit, the board operates something called the Next-Steps Employment Centre - a job search program funded by the Ontario and federal governments.
No rational person would object to the idea of helping people find work - particularly in this slump.
But the centre's 10-page pamphlet, "Labour Market," is one of the most honest - and most depressing - descriptions of work in Canada that I've seen.
The pamphlet makes the usual distinction between the old and new worlds of work. But it does so in an unusually unvarnished way.
The old world, it says, was marked by full-time jobs, stable work environments and long-term employment.
The new world, however, is characterized by short-term jobs. You may be on contract; you may be a temporary employee; you may work part-time. But the key is that you will probably be hired for a very short period and then "let go when the work is done."
[Thus guaranteeing as much featherbedding and inefficiency as possible. Truly, the economy that uses the wealthy fraction as the entropy dump may appear efficient and productive but it's all sham, while the economy that uses financially secure free time as its entropy dump becomes unprecendentedly, unimaginably efficient and productive. Another angle - "Give all the extra to us," say the rich, "and we'll get it right back to work creating jobs and spending power." OK, show us the jobs. But pour all the extra into financially secure free time, and you've got a sustainable ticket to a future of further enhancements.]
You will probably have to hold two or three jobs simultaneously for your entire working life.
You will have no pension, no benefits, no vacations, no sick days.
You will be constantly looking for work. "The permanent job, for the most part, is a thing of the past."
How do you find a job? The labour market, the pamphlet says, is like a fish market: You are selling a commodity - in this case yourself.
And just as a fishmonger might wrap his mackerel in a fancy package, so you must make your labour power attractive to prospective buyers.
Constant retraining (what politicians call education) is a necessity in this new world.
[Constant retraining is integrated into Timesizing's Phase Two and Phase Three. It is integrated intimately into the job market. There is always a real job at the end of the training, even DURING the training, because it has a totally market-oriented design where chronic overtime is continuously converted into opn-the-job training and hiring.]
But it never allows you to escape; it just lets you keep up. And you, not your employers, must pay for it.
[And since you can't, you can't - and the nation sinks into third world feudalism and desperation. Unless we get a grip on the surplus of us by shrinking the workweek as much as full employment requires, heading off the monetarist and financier game-playing, and losing the idea of more population being the answer to everything.]
True, the comparisons are deliberately stark. Even in the old world of work, many chose to move around; many jobs were insecure.
But the norm during that golden period of the 20th century [right after the World Wars when there were labour shortages] when workers won their most basic rights was economic security. It was assumed that people had the right to live a life beyond the perpetual search for subsistence. If the chaos of the marketplace intervened, that chaos was tamed.
[Only because of the war-borne labour shortage and any reductions in working hours that took place between 1900 and 1940, when the workweek was again frozen and forgotten. Timesizing and its successor programs do not tame the market - they let it volatilize even further - but they give the individual an increasingly buoyant and watertight kayak to navigate increasing job mobility and market volatility. And the worktime-per-person kayak is repeatedly enhanced with an income-per-person balancing program, then wealth per person, then credit per person....]
Now the market is back with a vengeance.
[Only because the peacetime labour surplus, in the absence of timesizing (=automatic full employment and markets), is back with a vengeance.]
This world of cutthroat competition and insecure work is not new. It may be disguised by new technologies such as the Internet or Twitter. But in essence it is very, very old. It is a world we thought we had conquered.
[We lazily think that human institutions are different and special, bolstered with words like "rights" as in the "right to live a life beyond the perpetual search for subsistence" and "norms" such as the "norm during that golden period..when workers won their most basic rights was economic security." But linguistic packaging does not flout either the laws of evolution or the laws of its economic embodiment, The Market. And just as evolution is not the enemy, but low-ceilinged and unimaginative responses to it (yes, evolution requires a LOT more imagination and even credulity than religion! e.g., little SPELLING CHECKERS at the DNA level??! but religion just pushes all the difficulties and questions off to another big background level and says, THOU SHALT NOT ASK - it is for those who do not want to be told when they have cancer), so The Market is not the enemy (though even Thos. Walkom verges on blaming it), but low-ceilinged, in-the-box, unimaginative responses to it.
[Evolution is like a succession of evolutionary designs. Take stromatolites for instance. They were the latest thing for millions of years. Towers of billions or trillions of specialized "bacteria" (simple one-cells) with layers from inside to out, of differently specialized but mutually complementing jobs. But then came the eukaryotic cell (complex one-cells) where these functions had been miniaturized and farmed out to members of a team of bacteria (mitochondria) who had efficientized to the point of one bacteria per function and formed a much more adaptive unit for the building of "higher" forms of life.
[We thought we had created the "norm" of economic security based on the 40-hour workweek. We pushed the whole fight for shorter workweeks into the background and forgot about it. We forgot about the world of cutthroat competition (aka race to the bottom) and insecure work that we thought we had conquered.
[But a RIGID solution does not conquer a FLUID problem (technological displacement).
(idea of adapting cadences from the gettysburg address here "but we do not long... nor long...")
[Only the economies that have the high-ceilinged thinking and outside-the-envelope imagination to visualize what Reuther in 1964 was calling "fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment" will avoid the massive suffering and talent waste described in the Toronto School Board's pamphlet. But in 100 years? 200 years? every economy will have it. It will then be as obvious and superior to the famed 40-40-40 Plan (40 cents minimum wage, 40 hours maximum workweek, in 1940) as a single eukarytic cell in comparison to what it everywhere replaced, except on a couple of Australian beaches, the six-foot stromatolite.]
7/29/2011 – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Keeping the 40-hour work week from feeling part time, by Tom Fox, WashingtonPost.com (blog)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - I [=we] recently read a blog that posed this question: Based on recent workforce trends, is the 40-hour work week considered part time for white-collar professionals? How does this play out among the federal workforce? What are the implications of these trends if true? - Two under-40 female Department of Energy employees (GS-9 and GS-13)
[The implications are that the population is splitting into ever fewer resentful workaholics and ever more numerous and vulnerable parasites.]
Like private and nonprofit sector leaders, federal leaders are experiencing increased workloads that often make a 40-hour work week nearly impossible to keep. The greater expectations, demands and pace of change affect the public sector just as much, if not more so, than other sectors.
Federal leaders and employees are working on issues that directly affect all of us, from shoring up the economy and the financial system to providing better health care, guarding our borders, protecting the environment, caring for veterans and keeping our food safe. In doing so, many are having a difficult time finding a balance between their work and personal lives.
As a result, it’s important that federal leaders establish workplace expectations that enable both their employees and themselves to get their work done while also allowing for time to consistently recharge their batteries.
Based on my experience working with federal leaders, here are a few ideas to help you and your employees best manage today’s fast-paced environment.
Discover what works. To help you better understand how you’re wired, are you satisfied rather than exhausted after a long day? Or, do you need to balance periods of intense work with periods of intense relaxation? Reflect on the times when you most felt on top of your game, and then work to recreate that experience.
Share your insights with colleagues, family and friends. Next, be intentional and transparent about resetting workplace expectations with yourself, your colleagues and family. If you decide to shift your hours in the office, but maintain availability via a smart phone, let your employees know about the change and your reasoning behind it. You should also encourage your team to do the same within federal rules and regulations.
Schedule time to recharge. To help maintain a work-life balance, it’s important that you find ways to schedule personal time to help you recharge. Whether it’s spending time with your family, going out with friends, or reading a good book, you’re the only one who can set aside that time and commit to fulfilling your personal as well as your professional goals.
Solicit feedback and try new efforts. Make certain you solicit feedback from colleagues, family and friends to learn what changes are working and which ones are not. Be prepared to change your tactics based on their feedback while also remaining resolute to your goals.
[All very lovely, but saving the economy and the concept of work itself in the age of robotization is not a matter of another list of palliatives individuals can use to bandaid the situation, but pressuring together to share the vanishing natural market-demanded employment by cutting the workweek as much as it takes to employ everyone - and get everyone spending again.]
- Shorter hours a part of post office decline, letter to editor by Bill Nourse of Deptford Township, Gloucester County Times via NJ.com
GLOUCESTER COUNTY, N.J. - I have been reading and hearing on the news how the U.S. Postal Service is losing money in its retail-window business.
In my opinion, the postal service is accelerating this problem on its own. For example, the Mantua post office used to be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays.
In the past few months, they changed their opening times to 9 a.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. Saturdays. Although clerks are in the office earlier, the retail window is closed. Of course, not as much money is generated without the front window open.
[The design trick in economies of the future will be to control worktime per person while DEcontrolling worktime per job. We can cut people's workweek and still keep businesses open long hours by having more shifts, and the key management skill of the future will be coordinating shorter and shorter shifts.]
Many customers would stop before work during the week to mail things or get stamps. And on Saturdays, the general public would like to run errands early in the morning to enjoy the rest of the day.
I don’t know if this is happening at other post offices, but the lack of convenient hours sends customers to other places to send mail and packages. Also, many businesses and agencies — such as state motor vehicle offices and some town halls — stay open later one night a week to make it convenient for the public.
The postal managers who make these decisions to force people to private businesses should rethink what they are doing. Granted, the Internet has affected the mail volume, but the retail business is being brought down by the post office itself.
7/28/2011 – 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 ) -
- Newton Falls Paper Mill promises a re-opening, by: Rachael Paradis, YNN via centralny.ynn.com
It was one of the largest employers in the area, but after tough financial times, the Newton Falls Fine Paper Mill had to lay of dozens of employees. While they said they would start production back up, that plan is on hold, at least for now. Our Rachael Paradis has more on what will happen and why mill leaders say they are not ready to give up.
ST.LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. - When the Newton Falls Fine Paper Mill re-opened in 2007 after years of being closed, there was an excitement in the small community surrounding the mill. Dozens headed to work and production was looking optimistic.
However, in the past year, the cost of paper crashed and energy costs went up, making it more expensive to run the mill than profit being made. In December, mill leaders announced for another time that the mill would be closing and about 80 people would lose their jobs.
John Hooper worked at the Newton Falls Fine Paper Mill for more than 30 years and a few months ago, when they announced they were ending production again, he knew lay-offs were coming.
Hooper said, "Disappointment and understanding."
Clifton-Fine Economic Development President Chris Westbrook said, "Shock. At first everyone is shocked."
The mill laid off 80 people and just kept a skeleton crew. Leaders had plans of re-opening in the fall months in 2011, but as time passed, that idea didn't seem possible and word got out that it wouldn't happen.
However, at a meeting Wednesday night, officials made the announcement that the mill had a new business plan in the works and this was not the end.
Newton Falls Fine Paper Mill President Scott Travers said, "Our new business plan is all about reinventing our mill."
While Travers couldn't give specifics, the plan does include keeping the income from state grants [NY State *worksharing program?], finding a cheap energy source and securing new partners. While Travers promises this is the beginning of a new chapter, it's unclear when that date will come.
Travers said, "We're doing everything we can right now to prep the mill for that day, but, I can't give you a timeline."
For the dozens in the community who showed up Wednesday to hear the good news, they know how important this mill is, as it was one of the largest employers in the area.
Westbrook said, "When a big industry like this leaves the area, all the businesses suffer. Some of them will have to close down, shorten hours and then that will have an impact."
The mill is getting a lot of support from the community when it comes to re-opening and many are optimistic that this time around will be bigger and better. The president of the mill says the process of getting partners and down payments on goods has already started and many are hopeful they will head back to work sooner than later.
- Cash-strapped Miami commissioners lower tax rate, employees could face 30 furlough days,
by Charles Rabin & Patricia Mazzei crabin@MiamiHerald.com, MiamiHerald.com
Miami commissioners lowered the city’s property tax rate even as they learned the city’s 2012 budget deficit has jumped to $61 million. For employees, that could mean more than the 22 furlough days the mayor originally proposed.
MIAMI, Fla. - Miami’s budget woes became even more worrisome Thursday, when city commissioners — acknowledging the deficit had ballooned to $61 million — couldn’t reach consensus on how to avoid imposing more than a month of unpaid furlough days on the city’s workforce.
City Manager Johnny Martinez said the unexpected loss of $7 million that had been built into the budget means employees could be looking at 30 or more furlough days during the next budget year that begins in October.
Still, the commission unanimously adopted a lower property tax rate for 2012, leaving them even less wiggle room to fill the growing budget hole and stave off the proposed furloughs when they hold two budget hearings in September. At those hearings, commissioners can lower the rate, but not raise it.
Commissioner Frank Carollo briefly mentioned possibly raising Mayor Tomás Regalado’s proposed property tax rate of $7.57 for every $1,000 of taxable property, but the idea was quickly shot down by the mayor.
“Anything more than what we are proposing, tomorrow I will veto. Then we’ll have to meet again,” Regalado said, reminding commissioners the tax rate is due to Miami-Dade County by Thursday so a combined tax notice can be sent out to homeowners.
“Unbelievable,” said Fraternal Order of Police union president Armando Aguilar, whose troops are being counted on to make concessions that will cut the deficit. “They should have at the very least maintained an open window” to raise the rate if needed, he said.
If the city had left the tax rate at its current $7.67, it would have meant another $3 million for the overall $472.8 million budget. The reduced rate of $7.57 means that the owner of a $300,000 home with a homestead exemption can expect to pay about $30 less this year than they did last year.
Until this week, commissioners had thought they were dealing with a $54 million budget hole, but the number increased when they learned of a court ruling that stopped governments from taxing data plans on cell phones, a windfall they received from state franchise fees. The expected revenue the city won’t receive — and money that must be reimbursed to the state — comes to $7 million.
Despite the gloomy prospects before them, commissioners never seriously thought about raising the tax rate. Carollo grilled Manager Martinez several times, asking where he expected cuts to come from in order to avoid furloughs.
“It’s been two weeks, have you identified anything?” asked Carollo, referring to the last commission meeting. “I think in all fairness, this is a time everything needs to be put on the table.”
Martinez repeatedly side-stepped the questions, telling commissioners they would learn about more options during a private executive session on Friday that will focus on collective bargaining with the city’s four unions.
“There’s going to be a lot put on the table,” Martinez said.
The city manager is hanging his hat on those negotiations to avoid furloughs. The presidents of the city’s two largest unions, police and fire, say they’ve met frequently with city staff the past few weeks and are cautiously optimistic new contracts that would save millions can be worked out by the start of the new budget year.
The city had to fill a mind-boggling $105 million deficit — more than 20 percent of its operating budget — to balance last year’s budget. Most of the cuts came on the backs of those unions.
After negotiations reached an impasse last year, commissioners cut union benefits and perks enough to save the city more than $80 million. Administrators also imposed salary cuts of between 6 and 15 percent on non-union employees last year.
Aguilar, the police union chief, said he has proposed cuts — mostly through pension reform — that would slash more than $9 million out of next year’s budget, and about $30 million over the next few years. Fire union Chief Robert Suarez said he has a plan to shave millions as well. Neither man would go into detail.
Miami’s 4,100 employees learned Thursday that more salary cuts could be looming after Sept. 30 — along with department consolidation and budgets cuts as deep as 10 percent. Any of those moves, however, would cut into the number of proposed furlough days, said Martinez.
Every time the city finds savings of $873,000, it eliminates a potential furlough day, he said.
Martinez told commissioners he could not promise to reduce the furlough number, though his goal is to completely eliminate them. “I only use the word furlough as part of a reference to work from. Our goal is to have no furloughs.”
The 30 or more furlough days would cover only $29 million of the total deficit. The manager’s office has made some recommendations it hopes the commission adopts to fill the rest of the gap.
The proposals include keeping open 372 vacant jobs, including 63 in the police department, putting off capital improvement projects for a year, and not purchasing police cars or new fire equipment for a year. Those would save $14.1 million.
Regalado’s budget is also counting on $2 million in revenues from a red-light camera initiative that greatly underperformed in 2011.
7/27/2011 – 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 ) -
- A work-hours proposal born of tragedy, by Andis Robeznieks, ModernHealthcare.com (blog)
JACKSON, Miss. - Often overlooked in the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education's rollout of stricter resident work-hour limits is a new rule that says, "The sponsoring institution must provide adequate sleep facilities and/or safe transportation options for residents who may be too fatigued to safely return."
Dr. James A. "Buddy" Nobles, a Mississippi obstetrician/gynecologist, says that rule isn't enough. He's pushing to increase "situational awareness" for medical students and residents who follow the “work-hard, play-hard” mentality too enthusiastically.
Urged on by Nobles, the Mississippi State Medical Association last month reintroduced a resolution at the American Medical Association's House of Delegates meeting calling on the AMA to survey medical schools "to assess the topic of serious accidents and accidental deaths among physicians in training."
It was his second try, and Nobles criticized the AMA's response to the first time the resolution was introduced and approved in 2009 as being too focused on the subject of suicide.
"They totally missed the point," he said. "The AMA dropped the ball the first time; hopefully, they'll get it right the next time."
Nobles added that, if the AMA doesn't conduct a survey, he'll do it himself.
Long hours may contribute to the problem, but they're not the main cause, Nobles said, recalling how he once worked a 52-hour shift.
"That's a hell of a lot of coffee," he said, adding that he usually put in 80 hours a week but occasionally worked 120. "At work, you were under fire all the time, and then we'd get out and we'd forget about what kind of things can happen.”
On July 26, 2008, Nobles said, his son, James A. Nobles Jr., a University of Alabama neurosurgery resident, worked 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at his "moonlighting" job and went out later and had a few pitchers of beer with other residents. When he got home early the next morning, Nobles said his son accidentally left the car running when he exited the garage. Returning to the garage, he stumbled, hit his head, fell and succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.
"It's so frustrating as a parent because he had the whole world going for him, and it all ended with one mistake," Nobles said and, "it hasn't gotten any easier," three years later. "His last year of residency would've started this month."
Nobles said his son finished first in his class of 168 medical students at Louisiana State University, but there were seven others from the group who died in accidents.
Instead of relying on anecdotes, Nobles said, he wants a survey done on accidental medical-student and resident deaths and injuries in the past 10 years, and he wants doctors in training to have the cold, hard data.
"It can be just a statement of fact, tell them: 'You're going to be under the gun, and when you want to blow off steam, there will be consequences,' " Nobles said. “Sometimes common sense gets kicked out the window. If you talk to different med schools, they all have horror stories."
- Average EU worker clocked 39.7 work hours, 25 vacation days in 2010, Deutsche Presse-Agentur via MonstersAndCritics.com
BRUSSELS, Belgium, E.U. - An average full-time employee in the European Union worked 12 more minutes a week in 2010 than in 2009, for a total of 39.7 hours, and took 25 vacation days, according to a report released on Wednesday.
The average working week in the EU's 27 member states came to 39.5 hours in 2009. Last year's figure remains below the 2006-07 high of 39.9 hours, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions found.
Employees in 12 countries worked more than the EU average, led by Romania with 41.3 hours a week, Luxembourg with 40.8 hours, and Britain, Poland, Germany and Bulgaria, all with 40.5 hours.
Finns had the shortest weeks, with an average of 37.8 working hours, followed by France with 38, and Ireland with 38.1.
Employees in general worked more hours a week than the average agreed to by the unions, except in four countries - Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Malta.
On the vacation front, Denmark and Germany shared the record of an average 30 days of annual leave set out in unions agreements, followed by Italy with 28 days.
Cyprus and Estonia were at the other end, with an average of 20 vacation days in terms of union agreements.
- Glimpse of the past is a vista on the future - There was that ubiquitous four letter word again, HeraldScotland.com
EDINBURGH, Scotland - “Cuts” were a feature of museums all over Britain said the report published last week. Some of over 25%, resulting in shorter hours, fewer days and staff redundancies. Yet amidst that gathering gloom let’s pause for real reasons to be cheerful. For in just this present calendar year, Scotland will celebrate the opening of three new or dramatically re-invented museum venues.
I’ve just had look at the magnificently refurbished National Museum of Scotland which opens to the public this Friday.
Here is a building which has finally resolved its identity crisis. Formerly it traded under the Royal Museum of Scotland, or, to local cabbies, the Chambers Street museum. That became both confusing and anomalous when the linking Museum of Scotland was built on an adjacent site 13 yearsa ago. Now both comfortably share the same brand, and can cheerfully cross fertilise their wares.
But while the newer museum gained international plaudits for its dramatic exterior, the marvels of its venerable other half lie behind that more daunting Victorian frontage. Two new street level entrances usher you into a vaulted space lined with original stonework running the length of the grand gallery above, and transformed by the simple but effective expedient of lowering the floor by a metre.
One of the bonuses of the enforced three-and-a-half-year closure has been the opportunity for curators to liberate buried treasures – exhibits which lay untroubled by the public gaze in often casually labelled storage crates. The result is that 80% of the artefacts in the 16 new galleries are displayed for the first time.
The intermingling of national innovation and international heritage speaks volumes about generations of globe trotting Scots whose adventures failed to cut their emotional ties to the land of their birth. Pride of place in the grand gallery goes to a quite enormous feast bowl from Papua New Guinea, part of the dowry brought to her Scottish husband by his royal bride. But outwith the obvious Scottish connections, lie serendipitous bequests like the extraordinary collection of world musical instruments collected by Jean Jenkins, wife of union leader Clive, and gifted to Scotland through a personal friendship with a curator.
Perennial favourites remain, not least the animals and fish restored by resident taxidermists, though a dinosaur suffered the indignity of being disassembled then rebuilt by a US team who apparently specialise in that sort of thing.
Opening just before the Festival season, the National Museum should get a well deserved visitor boost, just as Glasgow’s new Riverside Museum of Transport has enjoyed during the Scottish school holidays. Some 300,000 souls went through its doors this past month alone.
Still to come this year, the makeover of The Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, whose new interior has brought fresh light and structural innovation to what were once gloomy interiors. All three of these new beginnings are a tribute to the energy and commitment of people who kept the faith throughout everything the fiscal crisis threw at them. All three projects engaged architects with international reputations. And all three will ultimately repay the public investment in terms of tourist footfall and national reputation.
Perhaps more importantly, all have given new homes and a secure future to collections which too often languished in storage. The National Portrait Gallery will give breathing and archival space to a photography collection, in addition to liberating contextual paintings from the National Gallery. The Riverside Museum, has revitalised the history of an area whose industrial links with transportation evoke so many memories for Scots.
And now, from this Friday, the National Museum of Scotland will let Scots look at the world through the eyes of its intrepid ancestors, and give the visiting world a glimpse of the pioneering, inventive nature of our well travelled nation.
It would be idle to pretend the chill winds of austerity will not blow through Scotland’s cultural quarters. But here are three large footprints walking towards a more confident future.
7/26/2011 – 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 ) -
- France Debates Effect of Overtime Law, by Sebastian Moffett, Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
PARIS, France — French employees have been claiming more overtime since a 2007 law loosened restrictions on working hours, but a pair of economists say workers may not really be clocking longer hours—just reporting more overtime and thus earning more.
President Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 campaign slogan was to let the French "work more to earn more."
[Sarkozy, like many people, has a lot of confused ideas about worktime per person. Working more per person just worsens mutually underbidding surplus labor and desperate unemployment, which depresses wages. If working more made for more pay, the Chinese would be the highest paid in the world because they work 18-20 desperate hours per week - but for peanuts because they're flooding the job market with over 20% unemployment, that's over 200 million people. Sarkozy is just another weak personality who wanted to copy the USA regardless of the timing = its decade of fastest self-destruction - compare like Blair, Howard and still in power strangling his economy by moving the money supply without limit to the tiny population of super-rich, Harper of Canada. Weak people want to suck up to power - even when that power is committing suicide.]
The law—softening what some see as an antiwork culture in France, symbolized by the 35-hour limit on the work week—was aimed at benefiting the economy in two ways: via increased production, and putting more money in workers' pockets to encourage consumption.
[Since when does increased production without marketability mean anything but more excess inventory? - there is absolutely no automatic link between increased production and either increased wages or employment. The mythic link has been disproven time and time again. In tomorrow's WSJ page B1 yet again. Since when does increased hours put more money in workers' pockets? As we said above, if working more made for more pay, the Chinese would be the highest paid in the world because they work 18-20 desperate hours per week - but for peanuts because they're flooding the job market - "please hire me - I'll work for less!" And since when does longer hours encourage consumption? Giving more money to people who already have a job and are earning money does not encourage consumption. What encourages consumption is giving money to people who don't have a job and aren't earning money. The fastest way to encourage consumption is to reduce the workweek as much as it takes to employ everyone and achieve full employment and markets, however short a workweek it takes - wages will be maintained as hours are systemically decreased because the desperate surplus of labor will be replaced by a perceived labor shortage within which employers will have to bid against one another for good jobs.]
In a recent study, however, economists Pierre Cahuc of the École Polytechnique, an elite Paris engineering university, and Stéphane Carcillo, an associate professor of economics at the University of Paris I who is working at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, say that though the reported number of hours worked has increased since then, the French aren't really working that much more.
Instead, they may simply be reporting overtime that would have gone unreported under the more draconian 35-hour law.
Mr. Sarkozy's track record in shaking up the country's stifling[??] labor structure will be a key issue as he heads into next year's presidential election. Softening the 35-hour week, a campaign promise, was one of the first steps he took as president. His economic record also reflects on former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, the new head of the International Monetary Fund.
The 35-hour week, introduced in 2000 by a Socialist government, aimed to reduce unemployment by forcing companies to hire more workers.
[- that is, "forcing" them not to commit suicide but instead to get sustainable by hiring more of their own MARKETS?]
By contrast, the 2007 "Law in Favor of Labor, Employment and Purchasing Power," known as the Tepa law after its French acronym [loi pour le Travail, l’Emploi et le Pouvoir d’Achat], lowered corporate payroll taxes and exempted employees from taxes on overtime hours.
[Actually, any law that lengthens hours per person in the context of automation and robotization (not to mention offshore outsourcing) is antiwork, because it splits the population into a shrinking populaton of workaholics and an exploding population of desperate and vulnerable parasites.]
Since the 2007 law came into effect, reported hours of paid overtime have risen significantly in France. A labor ministry survey showed that overtime hours for full-time corporate employees rose 69% between the fourth quarter of 2006 and the fourth quarter of 2010.
Messrs. Cahuc and Carcillo based their study on a quarterly government survey of 70,000 adults that asks how much people worked and whether they were paid for overtime.
The results showed paid overtime has risen significantly, but overtime hours worked haven't, the economists say.
The study by Messrs. Cahuc and Carcillo says the measure has merely allowed some employers and groups of workers to declare overtime that might previously have gone unreported while paying less tax on those hours.
They suggest that companies and employees have been cooperating to reduce their tax bills when possible. Managers' working hours are often vague, for example, and they often did a lot of unpaid overtime under the 35-hour law.
"This reform has had no significant impact on hours worked," the economists concluded.
The government acknowledges that the law was an incentive for companies and workers to declare overtime hours that they hadn't reported before, a person close to Mr. Sarkozy said, but believes this alone can't account for all the extra hours reported to the labor ministry.
"The 35-hour week was very rigid," the person said. "We made it more flexible."
[What nonsense. The 35-hour week is no more "rigid" than any other fixed number. In fact, with 9.6% unemployment, France's workweek should be adjusted downward to 32, 30, 28 hours or whatever it takes to have FULL employment and maximum domestic consumption per person.]
Economists have praised some measures taken by Mr. Sarkozy's center-right government, including the introduction of a favorable tax regime for entrepreneurs. Since 2009, according to the government, 680,000 people have set up one-person small businesses, taking advantage of simplified administrative procedures and exemption from payroll taxes.
[Very lovely, but entrepreneurs need customers and customers need jobs, and in a high-tech economy you can't maintain a pre-robotics workweek forever without ruining your own markets with downsizing and unemployment and poverty.]
Nonetheless, the president's popularity has declined steadily over the past year.
[Sarkozy did his clueless best to destroy France's world leadership with the lowest official nationwide workweek in the world - and despite the attempt by the jealous UK and US economists to spin it as a failure by taking an irrelevant data window, in 1997 when it was voted in unemployment (chaumage) was 12.6% and in 2001 before the US-led recession hit France chaumage was 8.6% = one percent less unemployment for every hour cut from the workweek (39-35=4 hrs cut). Same results as the USA got 1938-40: 44-40=4 hrs cut, unemployment 19% to 15% (actually 19.0 to 14.6, 1938 to 1940).]
Economic growth is slow, the budget deficit is high and the jobless rate is 9.6%. A report commissioned by the government earlier this year showing France's divergence with Germany over the past decade pointed out France's higher labor costs and a relative decline in French exports.
And Mr. Sarkozy is often criticized by economists for avoiding conflict in policy decisions. His government in March decided not to abolish France's wealth tax—which critics say has discouraged investment and driven some rich taxpayers out of the country—but instead to raise the level of wealth at which people must pay it.
[FINE, rich taxpayers who don't want to pay taxes are rich tax evaders, not taxpayers, and good riddance to such robopathic coagulators and decirculators of the money supply!]
The 2007 labor law was an attempt to avoid a popular backlash by circumventing—not abolishing—the 35-hour week. At the time, unions protested that scrapping the 35-hour week would discourage companies from hiring new staff. But some small businesses say the new measures have helped them keep local jobs.
[1. It's not small businesses that outsource (delocalize) jobs. And 2. Longer hours, fewer jobs and markets, so small businesses that want longer hours are "sh*tting where they eat."]
Eyewear company Atol Les Opticiens says 70% of the 120 employees at its headquarters have been working overtime hours since the 2007 law was passed.
[Chronic overtime is nothing other than bad management. And fostering high unemployment and low wages and weak markets = again, "sh*tting where you eat."]
Philippe Peyrard, Atol's managing director, says the tax-free overtime has allowed Atol to keep its 20-person call center in France, rather than moving it to a lower-cost French-speaking country such as Tunisia.
[A tax on offshore outsourcing may also be necessary for these companies that don't "get" the concept of sustainability and just want to slash and grab, regardless of the effect on the longer term environment for business, including themselves.]
"Sometimes unions say that because of overtime hours, companies don't create new jobs," says Mr. Peyrard. But in Atol's case, he says, it meant the company didn't have to cut jobs in France.
[Ultimately companies "have to" hire their own markets, and companies that can't handle that, like Atol?, "have to" disappear. Want markets in France? Need employ in France.]
Adentis, a software firm based outside Paris, says it offered employees the chance to work during the 10 extra vacation days they had been granted in lieu of taking a shorter working week.
Some 40% took up the offer to work overtime and earn the extra pay, says Managing Director Pascal Thévenot.
[So 60% did not take up the offer. So 60% preferred the extra vacation days or shorter workweek. So the majority were motivated and loyal due to free time, not "the chance to work.]
"It helps motivate staff and make them feel more loyal," says Mr. Thévenot.
[Only a minority, and only at the cost of higher unemployment, downward pressure on wages, and lower consumption per capita. Brilliant. You can always count on some people to vote against their own well-being.]
The government lost €4.4 billion ($6.3 billion) in 2008 in tax receipts because of the 2007 law, the two economists say.
Mr. Carcillo says the law may have helped businesses, allowing them to reward their best workers with lucrative overtime hours. and making working hours more flexible. "It might be positive for productivity—it reduces the cost of work," he said. "But the effect aimed for ["increased production, and putting more money in workers' pockets to encourage consumption"]? We can't see it at all."
[And what's the point of unmarketable productivity?]
"It's a pointless system," says Mr. Cahuc.
[But that's sarcophagal Sarkozy for you.]
- Social Security offices to cut hours by 30 minutes, STMW via Sun-Times Media via WLS 890 am via wlsam.com
CHICAGO, USA - Social Security offices in Chicago and the suburbs will close 30 minutes earlier every day starting Aug. 15 to cut costs.
The new hours are a result of a $1 billion cut in the national Social Security budget. Other changes include no longer mailing paper statements and closing 300 remote service sites across the country.
The 20 Chicago-area offices will be open from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays. They’re now open until 4 p.m.
Many Social Security services are now available online, but people still need to apply in person for Supplemental Security Income, a new Social Security card or a replacement Social Security number, said Doug Nguyen, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration.
[Additional article on this topic -]
Budget Cuts Force Local Social Security Field Offices To Cut Hours - August 15 Field Offices Close 30 Minutes Earlier, by Mary Lu Saylor, AP via Spartanburg NC News Channel 7 via www2.wspa.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Social Security Administration will begin closing field offices nationwide 30 minutes early each day. This change takes effect August 15, 2011.
In the Upstate, the Greenville, Greenwood, Anderson, and Clinton offices will shut down early. In North Carolina offices in Hendersonville and Shelby will be effected [sic for affected].
“While agency employees will continue to work their regular hours, this shorter public window will allow us to complete face-to-face service with the visiting public without incurring the cost of overtime for our employees,” said Michael J. Astrue, Commissioner of Social Security. “Congress provided our agency with nearly $1 billion less than the President requested for our budget this fiscal year, which makes it impossible for us to provide the amount of overtime needed to handle service to the public as we have in the past.”
[Chronic overtime? Bad management and taxpayer ripoff! This deserves to be cut.]
Social Security officials say most services do not require a visit. Anyone wishing to apply for benefits, sign up for direct deposit, replace a Medicare card, obtain a proof of income letter or inform us of a change of address or telephone number may do so by clicking here or by calling 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
- Budget cuts cause layoffs in Morgan County, by Bobby Shuttleworth, 48 News via WAFF.com
DECATUR, Ala., USA - Morgan County sees its first layoffs because of budget cuts.
Wayne Lindley and Alan Green of the county maintenance department explained that jobs are being cut in order to trim the budget 10%.
Two maintenance workers are being laid off, another worker's hours were cut to 32 hours a week.
These are the first jobs to be cut because of the county's tight budget. The Archives Department is cutting its budget by leaving a position unfilled.
"We don't bring in a lot of money - we're a service that we provide for the community so we have to find the money to keep operating. We have certain inflexible costs," John Allison, Morgan County Archivist.
The Archives Department also operates with several volunteers from Narcog, but there is no guarantee those will continue.
Another agency going before the county commission budget talks is the Emergency Management Agency. The way they get their money is a little different from other county agencies.
"We get over half of our budget from other sources, federal government, state government, other entities. What I was able to do is cut 10% off the portion that the county supplies,"said Eddie Hicks, Morgan County EMA Director.
Hicks believes the April tornado outbreak shows just how vital the services are that the EMA provides the county.
He said he's cut the EMA's budget as much as he can without adversely affecting people during an emergency.
7/24-25/2011 – 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 ) -
- Motherlode - Adventures in Parenting - Equal Workloads for Husbands and Wives, by Lisa Belkin, 7/25 New York Times via parenting.blogs.nytimes.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Motherlode got its start with a magazine piece I wrote three years ago about the elusive goal of “equally shared parenting.” Back then I cited the latest figures from the University of Wisconsin National Survey of Families and Households, which showed that the ratio of housework done by women to that done by men was about two to one, that the child care ratio was three to one and that both measurements had been at those levels for decades.
In the years since, I have revisited those numbers in many a conversation here about who does more around the house. Along the way, I wrote about data and anecdotes hinting that perhaps the ratios were changing. Still, it certainly seemed as if society considered the home to be more a woman’s responsibility than a man’s.
I read with keen interest, therefore, the cover story in the latest Time magazine, called “Chore Wars.” In it, the writer Ruth Davis Konigsberg starts with her own assumption that she was clearly weighed down with more of the life/work burden than her husband. Then she takes that assumption apart:
My conviction that I carried a heavier load was validated by similar complaints from my female friends as well as scholarly books and morning TV shows, all reinforcing what has become a global notion that working women — and working mothers in particular — toil much more than their partners. But what we weren’t seeing was that there was a mounting body of evidence that women were not, in fact, workhorse wives picking up their husbands’ slack, that there are several variables in the dual-earner equation, debits as well as credits that need to be tallied in order to take a true measure of who does more. So does that mean my sense of injustice and that of so many other women have all been the result of an accounting error? Thankfully, it’s not quite so simple. But the story of how a woman’s double (or was it triple?) duty of paid work and housework and child care turned into a foregone conclusion even while the data have been telling us otherwise does begin with some math.
Do that math, she writes, and:
… a year and a half into a new decade, it may come as a surprise to you, as it did to me, to discover that on balance, husbands and wives have never before had such similar workloads. According to data just released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, men and women in 2010 who were married, childless and working full time (defined by the bureau as more than 35 hours a week)
[- so if "full time" is defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics as 35.001 or more hours a week, explain to me again why our economists and media CEOs are spinning the French as radical and lazy for having a nationwide 35-hour workweek instead of 40... could it possibly be envy (economists) or control-freakiness (CEOs)? -]
had combined daily totals of paid and unpaid work — which is to say, work at the office and all the drudgery you have to do at home — that were almost exactly the same: 8 hours 11 minutes for men and 8 hours 3 minutes for women. For those who had children under the age of 18, women employed full time did just 20 minutes more of combined paid and unpaid work than men did, the smallest difference ever reported. No, men were not doing the same amount of housework as women, but neither were women pulling the same number of hours at the office as men.
Why, then, the lingering impression among women that inequity exists? There are several possible reasons. First, women are, in fact, spending more time with their children than they did several decades ago — decades in which parenting itself has become more “intensive,” so time spent with children is less likely to be “relaxing.” And even when they are not with their children, today’s mothers are, arguably, more likely to be thinking of them. As Ms. Konigsberg notes:
Time diaries don’t take into account the stress women feel from being household managers, keeping that precisely calibrated family schedule in their heads at all times or knowing what’s for dinner, what ingredients are required and their exact location in the refrigerator.
Also, the historical expectations that women “succeed” at home while men do the same at work mean that even while “men and women alike work hard and feel work-family conflict,” Ms. Konigsberg writes, “that conflict manifests itself in different ways.” As one researcher tells her, “For working fathers, work interferes with family more than family interferes with work,” while for women it appears to be the other way around.
Another measurable reason for why women still seem to think they carry a greater burden, even when facts suggest otherwise, is that women are far more likely to combine “leisure activities” and child care, while men tend to keep their leisure distinct from activities with children. “The obvious cost of this leisure deficit,” Ms. Konigsberg writes, “is that women have less opportunity to relax in a way that recharges their batteries.”
But all of these, she concludes, are pitfalls to be aware of, not reasons to play martyr:
What these new findings mean is that the widespread belief that working mothers have it the worst — a belief that engenders an enormous amount of conflict between spouses — is simply not the open-and-shut case it once was. Quantitatively speaking, we have no ground to stand on. And it’s time that women, myself included, admit it and move on.
- Depleted but not defeated: Precinct 3 constable’s office fighting crime with fewer deputies, by Stephen Thomas, 7/25 Houston Community Newspapers via YourHoustonNews.com
HOUSTON, Tex. - Striving to mitigate prevailing budget constraints and the concomitant downsized force, the Harris County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office aims to work smart as well as hard.
Constable Ken Jones’ approach is somewhat of a law enforcement equivalent of power play defense in hockey. It is not uncommon. The defense simply has to be executed with fewer defenders. A right-sized force would be no less diligent, Jones would tell anyone.
In addition to sustained teamwork with Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s deputies, the Precinct 3 deputy constables pursue several key enforcement objectives, among them a rapport with the community and a presence in the right place at the right time.
For instance, a dialog with business leaders resulted in recent arrests. Deputy constables arrested three suspected copper thieves in a one-week period in mid-July, in part, by developing leads through working with scrap dealers in Huffman and elsewhere, Jones said.
Having a deputy constable in the right place at the right time has contributed to a reduction in vehicular accidents as well, the constable said. Indeed, a deputy working FM 2100 has been writing about 300 tickets a month, he said.
Further, four burglary suspects got nowhere fast on July 20 after the precinct had patrols on target when an alert neighbor called about suspicious behavior in a Crosby subdivision.
“From the time that she called us to the time we made the stop was less than three minutes,” Jones said, drawing applause from guests of the July 21 Crosby/Huffman Chamber of Commerce members luncheon.
Budget cuts impeded the hiring of 15 officers that the precinct lost due solely to attrition, Jones said. Nevertheless, his officers’ willingness to work fewer hours helped avert further depletion by layoffs.
The constable told luncheon guests that he would like to restore the 40-hour work week in the fall. The potential reallocation of retiree salaries, without filling vacancies, would help. In the meantime, selfless personal sacrifice as well as hard and smart work have made a difference.
“By the men and women working 32 hours a week, 15 people short, they’re still catching criminals, still putting people in jail,” the constable said, his remarks applauded again.
[And without the shorter workweek, there'd have been even more jobs lost and they'd be even more people short.]
The constable plans to bolster the force’s reserves, which ideally will augment public safety.
The accomplishments are within budget.
“Right now, we’re the only department that didn’t let anyone go. ... We’re still within our budget,” Jones said. “That’s one thing in 12 years I can simply say. We’ve never gone over budget. So even with a right-at-$2-million cut, we’re still in budget.”
Crosby/Huffman Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Julie Gilbert on July 20 saw the convergence of patrol cars near a Crosby filling station on FM 2100. Asked about the business perspective on the force’s responsiveness, Gilbert discussed how the arrests there illustrated an effort that business leaders, among others, appreciate.
“There were about eight constables sitting right there at the Valero station, and I said, ‘Wow, something is really going on there,’” Gilbert said. “So, they’re coming in the area. That’s great. Wonderful.
“The businesses can’t afford to have air conditioners stolen or copper stolen. ... The chamber is helping Churches United in Caring because they’ve had all five of their units stolen.”
Harris County Precinct 3 deputy constables arrested four suspects in Crosby on July 20, each on a burglary of a habitation charge.
Acting on a 1:39 p.m. tip from a Lake Shadows subdivision resident, who reported that five black males appeared to be attempting to enter a neighbor’s home, deputies arrested four of the five men on whom evidence backed up the charges: Harvey Clark, 22; Walter Clark, 17; Kristopher Smith, 17; and Devon McGowen, 17, according to a statement that Capt. Jon Moore issued July 21.
The investigation determined that the home in Lake Shadows had not been entered, but a home in Newport, the goods of which were identified in the trunk of the suspect car, had been burglarized.
It all started with an alert resident. When the suspects saw the reportee, they ran to their vehicle, a blue Ford Taurus, and left the scene. The reportee contacted the office and followed the suspect vehicle. Precinct 3 deputies made contact with the suspect vehicle and made a traffic stop at the intersection of Foley Road and FM 2100. The five occupants of the vehicle were detained for investigative purposes.
The reportee positively identified the suspects as being the ones who were acting suspiciously at the neighbor’s home.
After obtaining a consent to search, a search of the vehicle was conducted and multiple electronic devices were found in the trunk, along with burglary tools, including rubber gloves, a pry bar and a hammer.
After the subjects were read their rights, they were questioned about the electronics and tools that were in the trunk of the vehicle.
The deputies went to the home that was burglarized and found a broken window and an open window next to it. Deputies entered the home and found that it had been burglarized. The deputies were able to make contact with the homeowner, who left work and was able to identify the electronics in the vehicle as coming from the home. The items were a 32-inch flat screen television, Wii console, Game Boy and miscellaneous Game Boy games.
Anyone who has questions should call the constable’s office at 713-637-0014.
- For travel agencies, specialization key to surviving in digital age, by Dan Zeiger, 7/25 EastValleyTribune.com
TEMPE, Ariz. - In the years after Susan Doyle [not to be confused with chunky singer Susan Boyle] founded Mill Avenue Travel in 1984, her office had 10 employees that did almost all of its business booking airline flights.
Then, the Internet plugged into more homes, and consumer travel sites such as Travelocity, Expedia and Priceline were not far behind, changing the nature of Doyle’s business forever.
Today, almost 80 percent of travelers do some part of their booking online, forcing travel agencies to change their business models to survive. There were 32,000 accredited travel agencies in the U.S. in 1998; that number has shrunk to 9,386, according to a March 2010 survey by the Airlines Reporting Corporation.
“You see fewer brick-and-mortar agencies,” Doyle said. “There were 700 of them in the Valley 25 years ago, and I bet there’s not 150 now. The technology allows you to do it from anywhere.”
To make matters worse, the sluggish economy has hit travel agencies especially hard. Those agents that survive have to specialize.
On its website, Tempe’s Mill Avenue Travel trumpets its ability to plan honeymoon packages and island vacations. Sue Sinclair Travel Center of east Mesa tailors to retirees.
“Customers look for airline fares they like on the Internet, then come out and buy through us,” said the 76-year-old Sinclair, who opened her agency in 1979 and has been in the travel business since 1954. “Most of the time, they don’t want to put credit card information on the Internet.”
And there are always complex vacations that are not as easy to book by oneself, such as a European tour or cruise. Doyle books frequent trips to Italy, where customers do not want to join a large tour group, nor land in Rome with just a hotel reservation.
“I look for hotels that I know will be in a good location for them, put together a proposal that will include cities and transportation between them, and half-day or day-long tours,” Doyle said. “You can do the half-day tour — see the Sistine Chapel, the Coliseum, ancient Rome — and then be on your own.”
To cut overhead expenses, Mill Avenue Travel merged with Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Your Travel Center in 2006.
The merger left Doyle with four in-office employees, but 200 that work from home — a growing trend in the industry. Staci Blunt has operated Chandler-based Vacation Visions from her home office since 2003.
“More and more people do the little bookings on their own,” said Blunt, a 20-year travel industry veteran. “I still get calls about booking a flight to Los Angeles, and I say that I’d be happy to do it, but I would have to charge a service fee. I usually give them tips about doing it themselves, but ask them to keep me in mind when they want to book a vacation package. And people are usually happy to do that.”
In search of new revenue streams, Sinclair started booking motor coach tours and escorted tour groups abroad. She had to reduce the escorting after the recession forced her to cut hours for her six employees.
“Those jobs still needed to be done, which meant I had to do them,” Sinclair said. “It’s harder to get away to (lead a tour) now. The recession has been hard on everyone.”
The species may be less populous, but travel agents will not go the way of dinosaurs because of something a website cannot provide — personal service.
“If you’ve booked online and had a problem, you’ve found that there’s not always someone available to help,” Doyle said. “It’s certainly hard to find someone to do a favor. There’s an inherent benefit in using a travel agent in that you have someone to go to if there’s an issue.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-6301 or email@example.com
- Orlando holds line on property tax rate, by Dan Tracy, 7/25 Orlando Sentinel via articles.orlandosentinel.com
ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orlando City Council Monday approved spending $347.2 million during the coming fiscal year, a budget that would keep property taxes level and avoid layoffs.
The spending plan takes effect Oct. 1.
Mayor Buddy Dyer, in a speech outlining details of the 2011-12 budget, said Orlando "is in the best shape of any major city in Florida."
Dyer said the city is in good shape because in recent years his administrators eliminated 400 positions, did away with cost of living raises, cut hours at community centers, reduced litter cleanup and eliminated many nonessential services.
"This careful planning has kept Orlando on firm financial footing through the toughest days of the recession and into this early period of recovery," Dyer said.
["Good shape," "careful planning" and "firm financial footing" when they're doing exactly the same things that created the recession in the first place?]
Although the council approved Dyer's proposed budget, public hearings must be held in September before it is voted on again and takes effect. The plan is about 3 percent smaller than the current budget.
Dyer was comparing Orlando to the four other cities in Florida with a population of 200,000 or more: Miami, Tampa, St. Petersburg and Hialeah. Jacksonville was not included because its city and county governments are combined.
Orlando has a property tax rate of 5.65 mills, compared with 7.67 for Miami, 6.54 for Hialeah, 5.91 for St Petersburg and 5.73 for Tampa. A mill is $1 per $1,000 of property value.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5444.
- CBI [Confederation of British Industry] sees danger in more workplace red tape, by Brian Groom, 7/24 Financial Times via ft.com
LONDON, U.K. - Business leaders are warning the coalition not to undermine what they see as a new spirit of workplace co-operation by planning legislation that threatens the UK’s flexible labour market.
The CBI employers’ group says the workplace flexibility that emerged during the recession, in which staff accepted shorter hours to save their jobs, is being endangered by a prescriptive approach to employment law.
Companies and workers are both gaining from a “two-way street” on flexible working, according to the EEF manufacturers’ federation, but “recent trends in employment regulation threaten to undermine the benefits that both parties gain from it”.
The CBI, in a joint report with Hays, the recruitment group, welcomed signals from the government on reducing regulation and improving the tribunals system,
[The only regulation government needs is to level the playing field in the direction of maximizing consumer spending per capita by converting overtime into training&jobs to stop market deterioration due to employment concentration (workaholism) and then decrementing the workweek to convert more poverty into markets via employment. Indeed, the purpose of employment is to convert poverty into markets.]
but said ministers were also introducing policies that reduced flexibility.
Those included abolishing the default retirement age without addressing the need for employers to have protected conversations about retirement plans and failing to review the agency workers directive, under which from October temps will get the same pay and basic conditions as permanent staff after 12 weeks’ work.
[Governments can easily get focused on a burgeoning maximum of stifling details instead of looking for the stable minimum of freeing generalities, theoretically just one, so well-designed and centrally positioned in the body economic that all the others can be safely dismantled.]
It said the directive had been “gold-plated” to include extra process costs for employers, not required under European law. The CBI urged ministers in general to use guidance or codes of practice instead of automatically opting for legislation.
The EEF [Engineering Employers Federation], in a separate report with Executives Online, an executive recruitment company, said employers had an increasing need to vary hours and working practices to meet peaks and troughs and respond to innovations and new markets. That could be coupled with staffs’ need for a better work-life balance.
Tim Thomas, head of employment affairs, said employers were happy to support this but the coalition’s plan to legislate for a new system of shared parental leave to be introduced in 2015 was “unnecessary”. The flexible labour market was being “eroded by a mixture of domestic and European initiatives”, he said.
In an EEF survey, a majority of companies said the UK environment did not provide the flexibility they needed. There was particular concern among those with short order books, which tended to be innovative companies in niche markets that the country needed to grow.
John Cridland, CBI director-general, said: “Traditionally when making employment law governments have tried to specify every last detail of what should go on in the workplace. With a strong base of employment rights already in place, we simply don’t need the state telling us how to manage every aspect of basic human relations.
“The government should adopt a simpler approach to future employment law, one which maximises choice for employers and staff and plays up the strengths of our flexible labour market.
Alistair Cox, chief executive of Hays, said: “Endless red tape and legislation prevents employers and employees from being able to capitalise on the vast number of benefits that flexible working offers. It is time these constraints are removed so that we can get more people into worthwhile work.”
[Additional article on this topic -]
Business groups call for 'pause' on red tape - UK growth depends on flexibility gains made in recession, warn employers, 7/25 People Management Magazine Online via peoplemanagement.co.uk
LONDON, U.K. - Two business groups, the EEF [Engineering Employers Federation] and the CBI [Confederation of British Industry], have warned that more legal red tape for employers risks stifling gains in workplace flexibility that developed during the recession.
In separate reports published today, employers praised staff and trade unions for working with them to reduce costs to save businesses and jobs in difficult economic times.
However, the CBI and EEF criticised government moves to ‘gold-plate’ European rights, such as proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to all and the abolition of the default retirement age, as a threat to this ‘progress’.
The CBI’s report pointed to firms such as Jaguar Land Rover and Honda, which successfully negotiated short-time working and pay reductions with their workforces and trade unions to save jobs and reduce costs during the recession. In addition they were able to retain talent for the economic upturn.
Government should build on the success of workplace relations forged during the recession by embedding this flexible approach into future employment law and in its Employment Law Review, the CBI said.
“With a strong base of employment rights already in place, we simply don’t need the state telling us how to manage every aspect of basic human relations,” John Cridland, CBI director-general, said.
Manufacturers’ organisation the EEF called for a red tape “pause” to preserve flexibility and positive employee relations built up during the recession. It also said that bringing in “burdensome” rights on flexibility could undermine good employee relations and damage the agility of businesses to respond to markets changes.
Many companies already have their own policies for flexible working requests from staff, which go beyond current entitlements, the EEF said.
Requests that are outside the scope of the current right to request are dealt with “informally, speedily and cooperatively”.
However, requests made with the force of the statutory right can be “burdensome, slow, overly complex for both employers and employees”.
Tim Thomas, EEF head of employment policy, said: “We don’t want lots of detailed regulation. My message to government would be: ‘Don’t regulate unless you have to’, this fits in very well with flexibility because broadly the more you regulate the less flexible you are.”
Commenting on how managers and unions worked together to agree wage freezes and to implement temporary short-time working, Doug McIldowie, group HR director at global engineering group GKN, said in the CBI’s report: “Those people are still working with us today. They went through a lot of pain but they are still working for the company and are back to working normally.”
Frank Duffy, senior union representative at GKN, added: “If we hadn’t signed up to the short-time working agreement I think we would have certainly lost more jobs.”
Martin Warren, practice group Head of law firm Eversheds, said: “The lesson so far is that both sides have looked for increased flexibility to work out solutions to save jobs.”
7/23/2011 – 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 email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- New Kensington-Arnold school staffing changes in works, By Liz Hayes, Tarentum Valley News Dispatch via pittsburghlive.com
NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. - With five weeks to go before school starts, the New Kensington-Arnold School Board continues to rearrange staff in light of its bleak budget situation.
Recalling a dozen of the 17 teachers furloughed a few months ago was one bright spot on Thursday.
Aside from four kindergarten teachers reinstated by continuing full-day kindergarten, the rest of the teachers will fill positions vacated through retirements or resignations of other staff members, Superintendent George Batterson said.
The positions previously occupied by the furloughed teachers will not be restored except for the kindergarten teachers, Batterson said.
Batterson and Business Manager Jeff McVey indicated the reinstatements do not impact the budget as the positions being filled were in the budget.
Batterson said the eliminated positions saved the district about $2 million.
One staff situation that remains unresolved is realignment of custodial staff.
After pleas from the union representing custodial, maintenance and cafeteria employees, the board postponed a decision on halving four custodial positions in the elementary schools.
Instead of one custodian at each school during the day, for a total of four employees, two custodians each would work a half-day at two schools.
Director of Facilities Mike Orr said the realignment occurred as a result of the resignations of two staff members who worked at Greenwald Elementary and Valley High School.
Orr said those staffers will not be replaced. He is trying to rearrange the remaining staff to cover all of the buildings.
Orr estimated the changes would save nearly $90,000.
Although no one would lose a job in the proposed realignment, Orr and union President Steve Taylor said three other employees' hours would be reduced.
Taylor asked board members and administrators to meet with the union first to determine whether they can find a way to save money while maintaining current hours and duties. Taylor questioned whether the realignment would meet the recommendations of a 2008 study, as board Vice President Wayne Perry suggested.
The board agreed to review the situation.
The board also to reappoint Mike Stone and Mike Spagnolo as monitors of the in-school suspension room. The men would have been paid $25,000 each, without benefits.
Board member Eric Doutt suggested the reappointments, but no other directors agreed.
Among other people hired Thursday:
• Andrew DeAntonio was reappointed as a teacher on special assignment for technology integration. His salary was not immediately available, but McVey said it was the same as last year and will be covered by a federal Title IIA grant.
• School psychologists. Jessica Dirsmith was hired at a salary of $49,500 and Alex Gray was hired at $30,000. Also, Lori Wills Gray was hired to review Individual Education Program (IEP) reports for special-needs students at a cost of $10 per review.
Psychologist Shaun Sperl, who oversees special education for the district, said the staff changes represent an increase of $3,000 over last year's costs, but mean the district will be able to earn more reimbursement money from the state's ACCESS program.
• Three teachers formerly employed by the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit were hired as part of the district's transfer of entities, which means the school district will take over special education classes formerly contracted to the intermediate unit.
The teachers are Donna Baughman at a salary of $68,000; Jenelle Cole at $47,000; and Amanda Johns at $46,000. Since a fourth WIU teacher declined the transfer, the district will hire a teacher.
- Keller school district plans to rehire 25 teachers, By Sandra Engelland firstname.lastname@example.org, Fort Worth Star Telegram via star-telegram.com
KELLER, Tex. -- After planning more than $30 million in cuts, Keller district officials are looking to add back about $5.5 million for 2011-12 because of better-than-expected state revenue.
The district plans to eliminate a second round of furloughs, rehire 25 teachers for one year, spend about $500,000 to supplement bus transportation and restore some funds for campus supplies, technology, summer school and PSAT readiness. Officials also plan to retain more custodians and pre-kindergarten teacher's aides.
Officials said Monday that $2.3 million would be restored from cuts made in anticipation of larger losses in state funds. State budget cuts to education could have been as high as $8 billion but ended up at $4 billion.
Keller's share of the reductions is $13 million for the budget year beginning in September, not the worst-case scenario of $22 million. The district also has a local deficit of $16 million that was handled in a first round of cuts.
Another $3.2 million would be drawn from the fund balance, the district's $52 million savings.
"The fund balance is our rainy-day fund, and it's raining," Trustee Craig Allen said.
The most expensive item returned to the budget is the three workdays for employees. Had teachers, librarians, counselors, nurses and speech pathologists been furloughed for three days, the district would have saved $1.8 million. All administrators and support staff members will still have three days of unpaid leave, saving the district $346,000.
Officials decided that with increases in employee health insurance premiums, they wanted to avoid a further cut in pay, said Mark Youngs, deputy superintendent. "There are also some intangibles in morale," he said.
Administrators also recommended spending $1.4 million to rehire 25 teachers in "high need" areas. Penny Benz, assistant superintendent of human resources, said most would be at the secondary level. Retaining them would help keep students on track for graduation and prevent math and science classes from becoming too large.
"We wanted to step in and reduce those numbers to make sure kids get good instruction," Benz said.
Trustees said they would also support returning $500,000 to campus allocations, for items such as instructional materials, supplies and paper. Superintendent James Veitenheimer said the campus funds were reduced in each of the previous three budgets.
They also favored restoring $450,000 to campus technology to replace the oldest computers and $290,000 to continue offering summer school to at-risk students in kindergarten through fourth grades and in sixth and seventh grades. Another $40,000 was earmarked for diagnostic assessments for eighth- and 10th-graders to improve PSAT and SAT scores.
Administrators also suggested spending $300,000 to retain more custodians. Custodians have already gone from working 260 days a year to 183, a 30 percent cut in pay.
At the Keller Early Learning Center, officials plan to retain three teacher's aides for pre-kindergarten, half of the total, for $66,000. The addition will allow one aide for every 44 preschoolers rather than a 1-to-88 ratio.
The district's 2012-13 budget picture is darker. State cuts are expected to be in the range of $17 million. The district will also lose $4.8 million in one-time federal Education Jobs Funds, money used to rehire 113 employees, most of them teachers.
"Year One is less painful, and Year Two is more painful," Veitenheimer said.
Officials said they would likely use more from district savings to help offset the deeper cuts.
Sandra Engelland, 817-431-2231
- Details released for SEIU tentative contract agreement with Oregon, by
Dennis Thompson Jr., StatesmanJournal.com
OLYMPIA, Wash. State - A contract deal struck late Friday night by Oregon’s largest state workers union closely mirrors the tentative contract agreement reached earlier in the week by the second-largest employees union, according to details released Saturday morning.
However, officials with Service Employees International Union [SEIU] Local 503 pointed out several key differences that they believe will better protect the take-home pay of lower-wage state workers.
“Over the course of the two-year contract, people will not go backward,” SEIU Executive Director Heather Conroy said. “In fact, they’ll go forward.”
Under the tentative agreement, SEIU-represented workers would begin paying 5 percent of the cost of their health insurance premiums in 2012, the same as workers represented by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees [AFSCME] Council 75.
But SEIU negotiated a richer health care subsidy to help lower-paid workers cover the cost of their premium share.
The state will provide SEIU-represented workers a monthly $40 subsidy for people making less than $2,816 a month, SEIU spokesman Ed Hershey said.
That means those workers will have an extra $480 a year through the biennium to help defray what is expected to be between $600 to $900 in premium costs, Hershey said.
By comparison, AFSCME negotiated a $30 monthly subsidy available to people making less than $2,696 a month.
SEIU also did slightly better on unpaid furlough days. Its workers will have to take either 10, 12 or 14 furlough days over the 2011-2013 biennium, depending on their pay level. AFSCME workers will take either 12 or 14 mandatory unpaid days off.
Those concessions to Gov. John Kitzhaber were traded for a package of pay increases that are nearly identical for both unions.
Workers in both SEIU and AFSCME will receive two cost-of-living pay increases, a 1.5 percent raise in Dec. 2011 and a 1.45 percent raise at the end of 2012.
Workers for both unions also will receive one phased-in step pay increase. They will get half of the increase on their eligibility date, and the other half six months later.
SEIU officials also touted a couple of additional concessions they received from Kitzhaber:
Workers would have much more flexibility in scheduling unpaid furlough days than they did the previous biennium, Conroy said.
But more importantly, the union got Kitzhaber to agree that he will not automatically count on furlough days as a way to balance the state’s budget in the 2013-2015 biennium.
SEIU officials were annoyed when the governor crafted his budget assuming that the savings from furlough days taken during the 2009-2011 biennium would continue over the coming two years.
“We did not agree to a dramatic, permanent cut to pay last biennium,” Conroy said. “We agreed to step up and do our fair share to help the state through that biennium, through temporary furloughs. It was meant to be one-time savings.”
The tentative agreement now goes to SEIU's membership for ratification.
- Higher population count helps Somerton's budget, by Cesar Neyoy, Bajo el Sol via YumaSun.com
SOMERTON, Ariz. — A near-doubling of Somerton's population in the last decade is serving to cushion the blows of the struggling economy on the city's budget.
Somerton's population jumped from 7,266 in 2000 to 14,287 in 2010, according to last year's census, and that means the city gets a larger slice of state and federal funds.
For the fiscal year that began this month, city officials have budgeted a $750,000 increase in Somerton's general fund, the account that pays for most of the operations of municipal government.
That means more money for street work and an end to monthly furloughs of city employees. But this year, as was the case the past three years, they won't be getting a pay raise.
This week, the council gave final approval to a fiscal 2011-12 budget of $25.4 million, down from $29.8 million the prior year.
But while the city has reduced its overall budget, its general fund has gone up, city officials said, thanks to a funding formula that gives the city a larger portion of shared state and federal revenues owing to its higher population.
For example, the city's share of the state tax on gasoline and diesel fuel sales is expected to go from $200,000 to $600,000. That money is reserved for transportation-related projects, meaning more money for street construction and maintenance in Somerton.
“If it weren't for that extra revenue (from the census), we would be in trouble with state budget cuts and with a construction industry that still hasn't recovered,” Somerton Mayor Martin Porchas said.
“We are going to continue with conservative spending. We aren't planning on hiring (new city employees), and there won't be salary increases. The only thing we can do is end the furloughs so that employees can get that payday back.”
As part of cutbacks a year ago, the city began requiring each of its employees to one day off on furlough a month.
Porchas said this will be the fourth straight year city employees have done without a pay raise.
“We hope that this year the economy improves, and that next year we will have enough revenue (to give an increase).”
7/22/2011 – 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 ) -
- Views on the news: NHS, final space shuttle flight and Greek debt - Readers tell us why this should be the final frontier for the space shuttle and what competition for NHS services could really mean, Posted by Laura Oliver, James Walsh and Hannah Waldram, The Guardian via guardian.co.uk
MANCHESTER, England - This week, while our readers have been actively discussing the phone-hacking saga across our live blogs and articles, there have been some great conversations happening elsewhere on Guardian.co.uk. To highlight those, we're starting a new series taking some of the most interesting comments left by our readers to find out what news has been getting you talking, from the health service in England to the retirement of the US space shuttle.
The NHS [National Health Service] came back into focus this week with news that the government would open £1bn worth of services to competition from private companies and charities.
RealCmdrGravy works in the private healthcare sector and says:
"The argument here shouldn't be about whether the ultimate provider is a private company or funded directly by the government but how we can improve the oversight and framework within which we expect any service provider to provide an acceptable or excellent level of service and which has the power to intervene effectively whenever that is found to not be happening."
Airstravros shines a light on how charities running services might affect the integrity of the charity itself:
"I've worked for two charities that provided services to the NHS. One offered respite care in a home which was actually owned by the NHS yet charged them a fortune, and the other was a old people's home. Neither did anything overtly wrong but it seemed to me that in both cases staff were paid low wages and did not enjoy the rights that NHS staff have earned through their unions."
PFI school-building scheme
Also announced this week was a new PFI school-building programme, with education secretary Michael Gove acknowledging the "deep disappointment" caused by his cancelling of Labour's own school-building programme. Referencing past controversy and the high hidden costs of past PFI schemes, kvlx387 asks:
"Why PFI [Private Finance Initiative]? It's all very well admitting PFI resulted in poor value for money, but why use it at all? The Government can generally borrow at a far lower rate than industry, so the financing cost of PFI will at best be the same as using government borrowing, at worst, it will be far higher."
[So Britain has got just as stupid as the US with its "charter schools." When it comes to anything that might prevent the funneling of evermore disastrously huge percentages of the money supply into the glacially circulating accounts of the rich, it's like, "We think the system is working, and If It Works, Don't Fix It." But if it can demotivate taxation, the wealthy support it regardless of fixing something that works. Thus depression and dysfunction deepen - thanks to our bubble-dwelling wealthy.]
natejones concurred, citing this surreal example:
"I went to a PFI school this week to run a workshop. We cleared some chairs out of the way and the floor was dirty. So I asked the staff for a broom, so I could sweep the area. Oh no, I'm sorry came the response. It's not like the old days where you could just grab a broom from the cupboard, we actually have to log a call with the call centre in Nottingham, then they send someone to clean the floor... eventually... Madness."
The commenter believes there's an important weakness with the PFI principle:
"Risk transfer to the private sector (i.e. for cost over runs, things going wrong with the building etc) is supposed to be what makes PFI work. However, in practice, the more risk that the private sector take, the higher their borrowing costs are. So any place where there is genuine risk transfer, we (taxpayers) pay through the nose for it, thus making it more expensive than just holding on to to the risks in the first place."
Whether to take a nap in the working day was a divisive issue amongst commenters, raised by news that German unions are calling for lunchtime siestas.
Dalryscum says they have had a daily siesta in his office in Berlin for years:
"Thankfully, my mid afternoon nap has kept me sane, healthy and reduced that sense of animosity you might get when work is seeming to get in the way of what your body is telling you to do. I am starting this as a topic in my office on Monday and shall lead by example!"
Germanlady, a shop steward, also supports the idea saying that workloads have increased with companies not wanting to pay the cost of taking on more staff:
"The utmost concern is now, how to keep the existing workforce healthy, so they can actually work until 67. The 35 hour week is likely to have to go and the workload on the individual has increased sharply after the crisis."
[Guess this means that in Deutschland, as with US Social Security age, retirement age has been pushed back to 67.]
The Greek debt crisis and planned bailout deal provoked this analysis from commenter Koolio:
"I make this the tenth Euro summit where they've announced a triumphant deal and the markets rally on the news. It usually unravels with about three weeks as people realise Greece simply can't repay its debts, no matter how clever you toy with the payment schedules."
barrystar thoughtfully adds:
"There's no doubt that the officials and politicians who created EMU [European Monetary Union] knew that there was potential for a crisis, or tension, of some sort that would need to be resolved by greater fiscal union if the EMU was not to blow apart. Currency union without fiscal union is almost unthinkable over the long-term."
Finally, our widespread coverage of the last space shuttle mission, which concluded with the return of Atlantis on Thursday morning, sparked nostalgia and cynicism in equal measure. Hauntedchippy offers a critical view:
"While I have massive respect for the scientists and engineers behind this project, it is the bureaucrats and politicians who forced this project through even after the true cost and limitations of it became known."
ZOTZ also takes umbrage at the idea that the cancellation of the shuttle program was a misguided decision:
"If we have learned anything from the tragic space shuttle program it is that we should not stick to a flawed plan simply because it is too big to fail."
Thanks for all your comments and discussion on the news threads this week.
- Ramadan can be a great experience for everyone here, (7/23 early pickup) The National via thenational.ae
Summary - So how does Ramadan and the office mix? They mix pretty well.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Ramadan, one of my favourite times of the year, is just around the corner.
Not only will our eating habits change, but certain alterations to office and business owners' lives will inevitably take place.
While many non-Muslim expats will enjoy the privilege of shorter working hours without abstaining from food or drinks, there are certain issues new expat residents in the country should be aware of, to avoid sensitivities with their Muslim co-workers, and business partners.
I cannot ignore that living in a diverse community such as the UAE has taught me numerous life lessons, such as respecting others' beliefs and religions.
However, even after many awareness messages from organisations to their non-Muslim employees regarding the dos and don'ts of this holy month, my friends and relatives still complain about disrespectful "ignorant" acts by their expatriate co-workers at their offices during Ramadan.
One of my friends, who works in a leading government investment organisation, complained about how her Western female manager wore blouses that revealed much of her cleavage, not to mention her tight miniskirts, both which are not respectful to wear during the holy month, especially when most of her team comprises Emirati males.
Another Emirati colleague was furious with an expatriate colleague who kept mentioning he would be going to the kitchen to have his lunch, or would be back in five minutes after having his cup of coffee.
"Not only is he not respecting my religion, but he is also breaking the law. It is illegal for people to mention that in public during Ramadan. If he does that this year, I will report him," says my enraged workmate.
So how does Ramadan and the office mix?
They mix pretty well.
I found if non-Muslims followed the guidelines below, Ramadan in the office was like a nice stroll down the park, and it can serve as a great business opportunity if planned well.
For non-Muslim managers and directors, reserve the early morning hours for meetings, and intellectually demanding tasks, and save the routine tasks for your Muslim co-workers later during the day when their energy level is low.
I am more productive from 8am to midday, and thus likely to complete all of my important tasks during those hours.
Also if your Muslim co-workers seem to have low energy, are in a cranky mood, and do not want to take part in office chats and jokes, this is likely a reflection of a lack of sleep, food and water, and cigarettes for smokers. So do not take it personally.
Ramadan can be fun with the right business event alterations.
Switch business lunch meetings, to Iftar (fast-breaking meal) or Suhoor (late-night meal), business gatherings. Not only will your Muslim colleagues appreciate your consideration and respect for the holy month, but it will be a good chance for non-Muslim co-workers and directors to engage in Muslim activities and culture and get a sense of what is it like to celebrate Ramadan. Most hotels and restaurants set up lavish tents serving buffets until the late hours. However,make sure not to order alcohol with your Iftar meal as that is highly disrespectful.
As for non-Muslim female workers, do not wear revealing fitted clothes in the office. Modesty is key here, especially in front of your Muslim male co-workers.
Smoke, drink and eat in the office kitchen, or wherever your human resource department told you to, and make sure the door is closed. When you do so, avoid mentioning it to your fasting Muslim colleagues. Flagrant violation to these rules will land you in trouble with your organisation.
If you have a business meeting with non-Muslims, avoid setting it up around Iftar time. Accidents usually peak during the hour before sunset as people rush to Iftar and their energy level is at the lowest. So be careful while driving, and instead opt for nighttime or earlier business meetings.
Will Ramadan affect small business owners like myself? You bet it will.
Ramadan is a celebration, and as a business owner, I have a spreadsheet that includes all of my business colleagues' and customers' addresses.
A simple e-mail greeting to my list will strengthen my relationship with them.
Another useful and considerate non-Muslim business owners can take is to send a simple "Ramadan Kareem" message. Doing so is likely to change how your customers think of you, and positively affect their loyalty to your brand.
In addition, many businesses create special products for the holy month. Given that Muslims wear new clothing and exchange gifts during Eid (the day after Ramadan ends), many fashion businesses create exclusive lines celebrating Ramadan and Eid.
The celebration also affects other business areas such as chocolatiers and hotels, with many Muslims ordering trays of chocolates to serve on Eid, and many travelling to different destinations to celebrate it.
For business owners, it would also benefit you to talk to Muslim peers who can provide you with tips on how to tackle this month with the appropriate business promotions.
Finally, do not feel shy to ask your Muslim friends and business partners about Ramadan. They will be more than happy to guide you through its customs.
Manar Al Hinai, an Emirati, is a fashion designer and writer based in Abu Dhabi. She was recently named an Arab Woman of the Year.
[Additional - same topic -]
Nibble at leisure, (7/23 early pickup) gulfnews.com
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - With shorter working hours during Ramadan, you'll probably be spending longer hours at home due to the heat, playing away on that neglected Xbox...or simply wish to watch a DVD.
Popcorn and the takeout tubs of fried chicken and pizza are all easily accessible. Yet, if you wish to enhance your playing and viewing pleasure — and can manage to pull yourself away from the screen for a little while — nothing more satisfying than fresh, quick and tasty food cooked by yourself...
[Another additional pulled from tomorrow - same topic - cuz you're all dying to know how much shorter for how long, right? -]
Ramadan timings for healthcare centres, 7/23 (7/24 early pickup) KhaleejTimes.com
DUBAI, U.A.R. — The Ministry of Health has issued a circular to all the directors of medical districts and primary health care centres to set the official working hours during the holy month of Ramadan. The Ministry has taken into consideration the health care services provided to the UAE residents during the holy month. The working hours will be as follows:
Dubai Medical District
All health centres will receive patients in the morning shifts from 9am to2pm. In the evening shift, Hor Al Anz, Al Ittihad, Al Rashidyia and Al Aweer Health Centres will work from Sunday to Thursday from 8.30pm to 12midnight.
Hor Al Anz Health Centre will work on Friday evenings from 8.30pm to 12midnight and on Saturdays from 9pm to 1am.
Sharjah Medical District
All health centres including Al Riqqa, Al Sabkha, Wasit, Al Rifaa and Al Khalidyia will receive patients from Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 12noon and in the evenings from 8.30pm to 12midnight.
Sharjah and Wasit Health Centres will work on Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to 12pm and in the evenings from 8.30pm to 12midnight. Al Rafaia, Al Dhaid and Al Qaraein centres will work in the morning from 9am to 2pm from Sunday to Thursday. Dibba Al Hosn Health Centre will work from Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 2pm and on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays from 8.30pm to 12midnight.
Al Maleeha, Wadi Al Helw, Al Nahwa, Abu Moosa, Al Madam and Al Thumaid Health Centres will work from 8.30am to 12noon and in the evenings from 8.30pm to 12 midnight. Al Lolooaia Health Centre will work from Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 12noon and on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in the evenings from 8.30pm till 12.00 midnight.
Ajman Medical District
Mushairef Health Centre will work from Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 12noon and in the evenings from 8.30pm till 12midnight. On Saturdays, it will work from 9am to 1pm while the evening shifts will be from 8.30pm till 12midnight.
Al Madina Health Centre will work from 9am till 12 noon and in the evenings from 8.30pm till 12midnight from Sunday till Thursday. On Fridays, the working hours will be from 9am to 12noon while Saturday morning shifts will be from 9am to 1pm and evening shifts from 8.30pm till 12midnight.
Umm Al Quwain Medical District
The morning shift at Al Khazaan Health Centre will be from 9am till 12noon Sunday to Friday while on Saturdays, it will be from 9am to 1pm and 8.30pm to 12 midnight. Al Salma Health Centre will work from Sunday to Friday from 9am to 12noon and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. The evening shift will be from 8.30pm to 12 midnight.
Ras Al Khaimah Medical District
Ras Al Khaimah and Al Jazeera Health Centres will work throughout the week from 9am to 12noon and in the evenings from 8.30pm to 12midnight.
Al Maamoora Health Centre will work from Sundays to Thursdays from 9am to 12noon and from 8.30pm to 12midnight.
Al Munaeie Health Centre will work from 9am to 12noon and from 8.30pm till 12 midnight, Saturday to Thursday.
Fujairah Medical District
Muraished, Al Madina and Kadfa will work from Sunday to Thursday from 9am to 12noon and in the evenings from 8.30pm till 12midnight. On Saturdays, both Muraished and Kadfa centres will work from 9am till 1pm while on Fridays it will be open from 8.30pm to 12midnight.
All other health centres’ morning shift will be from 9am to 1noon and in the evenings from 8.30pm till 11pm. On Saturdays, the morning shifts will be from 9am till 12noon.
Al Badyia Health Centre will work from 9am to 12noon Sunday to Thursday and in the evening from 8.30pm till 11.30pm. Saturday shifts will be from 9am to 1pm.
7/21/2011 – 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 ) -
- U.S. July Philadelphia Business Outlook Report (Text), Bloomberg.com
PHILADELPHIA, Penn. - The following is the text of the Philadelphia area manufacturing activity from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
Responses to the Business Outlook Survey suggest that regional manufacturing activity remained weak in July. The survey’s indicators for activity and new orders, which had turned negative last month, recovered somewhat but are at very low positive readings. Firms indicated that employment grew modestly while the average workweek lessened.
[There you have it, by market forces alone: less workweek per person, more persons employed and spending. This directly contradicts the spinning of France's shorter workweek as a failure (they had to manipulate the data window to do that) and the whole dismissal of worksharing as a "failed approach" by mainstream economists like the now-retired Lester Thurow. How often in history the "professionals" block progress because their "science" needs a "revolution"! - see Thomas Kuhn's "Theory of Scientific Revolutions."]
Indexes for prices show a continuing trend of moderating price pressures. The broadest indicator of future activity improved markedly this month, rebounding from its lowest reading in 31 months in June.
Indicators Suggest Activity Is Near Steady
The survey’ broadest measure of manufacturing conditions, the diffusion index of current activity, increased to 3.2 from -7.7... The demand for manufactured goods, as measured by the current new orders index, improved from last month but suggests flat demand: The index rose 8 points to a reading of zero, and the percentage of firms reporting increases was equally matched by the percentage reporting decreases (28 percent). The current shipments index remained slightly positive but virtually unchanged from June.
Firms’ responses suggest a slight improvement in the labor market compared to June. The current employment index increased 5 points and remained positive for the 11th consecutive month. About 22 percent of the firms reported an increase in employment, up slightly from 14 percent last month. Slightly more firms reported a shorter workweek (21 percent) than reported a longer one (15 percent) and the workweek index was down 7 points.
Price Pressures Show Further Moderation
Diffusion indexes for prices paid and prices received were lower this month and suggest a continued trend of moderating price pressures. The prices paid index declined 2 points, following a sharp drop of 22 points last month. Still, one-third of the firms reported higher prices for inputs this month, and 8 percent reported a decline. Only slightly more firms reported a rise in prices for manufactured goods (18 percent) than reported declines (17 percent). The prices received index decreased 3 points, its third consecutive monthly decline.
Six-Month Indicators Rebound
The survey’s indicators for future activity showed notable improvement this month. The future general activity index increased 21 points but still remained well below average readings in the first quarter. The indexes for future new orders and shipments also increased, 20 and 16 points, respectively. The index for future employment increased more moderately, by 5 points, and also remains well below average readings in the first quarter. More firms expect to increase employment over the next six months (30 percent) than expect to decrease employment (20 percent).
In special questions this month, firms were asked about recent trends in demand for their manufactured goods and to characterize the reasons for any slowing. Slightly over half of the firms indicated that demand had increased recently, while 26 percent indicated that demand had slowed. Of those firms that experienced some slowing, the most frequently cited reasons were increased uncertainty and higher prices for energy, commodities, and transportation. Firms were also asked about their forecast for production in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. The median forecast called for a meager 0.5 percent increase in production, with a large share of firms situated at either end of the range of growth rates. Over 21 percent of the firms expected increases of greater than 4 percent and 18 percent expected decreases of more than 4 percent.
According to respondents to the July Business Outlook Survey, the region’s manufacturing sector remained weak in July. The survey’s indicators suggested flat demand for manufactured goods this month, while shipments and employment grew only slightly. Price measures suggested continued moderation in price pressures. The broadest indicators for future activity rebounded after falling sharply last month and firms are somewhat more optimistic about their hiring plans over the next six months.
- Proposed cuts would devastate Toronto Public Library, CNW Group (press release) via newswire.ca
TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Proposed cuts to Toronto Public Library funding will have negative consequences for a wide swath of Torontonians, three-quarters of whom are regular library patrons, limiting their access to library facilities, services and knowledge, according to the Toronto Public Library Workers Union.
A KPMG report released earlier today suggests the City close library branches, cut hours of operation, and slash programs for children and immigrants.
[Oh no, don't tell me my hometown is getting just as suicidally stupid as Americans! Why do they keep hiring these failed advisors who have presided over the collapse of North American living standards over the past 40 years and are like jackasses who know nothing but how to kick down their own stable? Dopey Schumpeter's "creative destruction" was creative only in the sense of requiring a new start out of nothing. Where are the old-fashioned real conservatives who knew when to label ideas "radical"? We've got more crazy self-whacking ideas regarded as serious proposals today than anything since the Trojans said, "Gee, what a nice big toy horse the Greeks have made for us! Let's pull it inside the walls!"]
Taken together, the consultants hired by Mayor Ford to review library services have proposed cuts totaling approximately $35 million or 20% of the TPL's budget.
"If the KPMG consultant who came up with these ideas was CEO of Tim Horton's [famed Canusky donut chain], he would be fired for closing outlets and reducing hours, measures that would cut into sales and profits. If accepted, the measures proposed today will have a similarly negative impact on the Toronto Public Library," said Maureen O'Reilly, President of the 2,400-member union.
The Toronto Public Library is among the best library systems in the world. It is routinely ranked as the most used library in the world in terms of circulation.
"When you consider that Torontonians and Canadians are among the most avid readers in the world, these cuts make no sense whatsoever," says O'Reilly.
In addition to measures that will choke physical access to the Toronto Public Library, the consultants have proposed cuts that specifically target services for children and immigrants.
"Teaching our children a love of books is one of the most important roles played by the Toronto Public Library. These kinds of programs would be cut if the City accepts these proposals," said O'Reilly.
"We hope that those Councillors who will vote to cut children's reading programs have the political courage to stand up and explain why this is 'gravy.'"
As for Councillor Doug Ford's recent public complaint that Toronto has "more libraries per person than any other city in the world," he is wrong just for Canada. According to the TPL, Toronto has one library for every 28,120 citizens, fewer than Hamilton (one per 21,629); Ottawa (27,527); and Vancouver (27,976). In the U.S., the entire state of Vermont, which has only one-quarter of the population of Toronto, has 30 libraries per 100,000 people, which is 7-1/2 times the library density of Toronto.
"We are concerned that these recommendations are only a starting point," added O'Reilly. "When Mayor Ford and his colleagues get involved, the cuts could be much worse, including privatization of the Toronto Public Library. I think it is significant that the KPMG consultants routinely compare the Toronto Public Library to cities in the United States where outsourcing of entire library systems is a trend."
According to a Forum Research opinion survey of Toronto residents taken earlier this month, three-quarters of Toronto residents disagree with the idea of closing local library branches as a measure to address the city?s deficit (74%), and more than one half disagree "strongly" (54%). When it is their own local branch which is threatened, the proportion of those who "strongly disagree" increases to two-thirds (64%).
Not only are library branch closures off the table as far as Toronto residents are concerned, more than half disagree with privatizing the delivery of any city services (55%), the survey found, and more than one third disagree "strongly" (38%). When the Toronto Public Library is mentioned as a privatization target, seven-in-ten Torontonians disagree (71%), more than one half "strongly" (55%).
"On behalf of Torontonians who love their public library, we are calling on City Council to reject the KPMG recommendations concerning the Toronto Public Library and to keep our library public," O'Reilly said.
For further information: Maureen O'Reilly, 647-206-7457
7/20/2011 – 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 email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Residents taking LV workweek in stride, by Alan Choate, Las Vegas Review-Journal via lvrj.com
LAS VEGAS, U.S.A. - On Fridays since January, when the city of Las Vegas switched to a four-day work schedule for many departments, a smattering of people such as Diana Flores and her family have shown up at City Hall, surprised to find the doors locked.
"We didn't know what time they were open," said Flores, who wanted to reserve a park pavilion but wasn't bothered by the closure. "We just stopped by. It'll be fine. We'll just come back, or go online."
The service she wanted is available over the phone and at locations other than City Hall, and many of the other services affected by the closure, such as paying parking tickets or applying for a business license, for example, can be taken care of on the city's website.
Because of that, the reaction to the city's schedule change appears to be mostly a shrug and an acceptance that tumultuous times forced the city to change the way it does business.
To avoid layoffs and save money, members of the Las Vegas City Employees Association, the largest of the four city unions, agreed to a 5 percent pay cut and moved to a schedule of four 9.5 hour days, with City Hall and some other buildings closed on Fridays.
The closure affected the city's administrative functions. Fire and ambulance, law enforcement and municipal courts remain open all week, and departments such as public works, graffiti removal and parks organized staggered schedules so that services are always available.
"It's actually working out pretty dang good," Councilman Steve Ross said.
Council member Lois Tarkanian was the only one to report hearing any complaints, but only minor annoyances, not big grievances.
"I sometimes have people tell me, 'Why aren't you open on Friday? You should be open on Friday,' " she said.
"I've gotten far less than I expected to. The ones that I had were right at the beginning."
Since the start of the new schedule, the city has maintained a hot line on Fridays to field calls to city. Call volume has remained steady, averaging 205 callers a week. Most of those are for services available online, said city spokeswoman Diana Paul.
The shorter work week for Las Vegas City Employees Association employees saves $5 million a year, part of the $115 million that's been trimmed from city operating expenses since the 2009 fiscal year. So far, closing City Hall and other buildings on Fridays is translating into an 8 percent drop in energy costs as well.
And employees, generally, like the new schedule, even though it comes with a pay cut, said Don King, president of the employees association.
"I think the majority, if they had the option, would want to stay on the four-day work schedule," he said. "We had some people grumble when they first went on it, but once they adjusted, they loved it."
Four-day schedules were previously adopted in North Las Vegas and Henderson, and like other businesses and government agencies that have switched, they've proved popular and even efficient, studies have shown.
Absenteeism decreased, morale improved and the schedule turned out to be a useful human resources recruiting tool.
Even so, former Mayor Oscar Goodman always opposed a four-day schedule, saying city offices should be open as much as possible. His successor and spouse, Mayor Carolyn Goodman, has a similar view.
"It would be wonderful if we could return to a five-day work week to make our services more readily available to our citizens, but we have to be fiscally responsible and there is a definite cost savings to the city going to a four-day work week," she said.
"Once the economy rebounds, I'd have to look to how the workers feel about scheduling and those pros and cons. Ultimately, I hope we can get to the point where the public can access all of the government services online so they don't even need to come down to City Hall."
Contact reporter Alan Choate at achoate@review journal.com or 702-229-6435.
- Royal Oak city workers union takes immediate pay cut, by Catherine Kavanaugh, Royal Oak Daily Tribune via dailytribune.com
ROYAL OAK, Mich., USA — Paychecks will be smaller next week for City Hall employees in the Professional and Technical Association when a new contract full of concessions goes into effect.
[If the unions could think two moves ahead in chess with the kind of strategic thinking their great-grandparents did, they'd be leading the charge for shorter hours for eveyone (and without effort, getting fuller employment and scarcer jobseekers and higher market-determined wages) but many unions are still fighting first or solely for higher pay and other toxic baubles instead of marshaling their last resources on their one huge power issue, which coincides with the single most problem-solving regulation that governments can implement - shorter hours.]
In addition to the immediate 2.5 percent pay cut, the union agreed to six unpaid holidays, health care changes, increased contributions for health care premiums, and mirroring health care in retirement.
The members also will return to a 40-hour work week after a year of four[-day], 36-hour weeks to help the city save money. The shorter work week cut payroll costs for the union, but at a price.
“The administration has to acknowledge that resulted in a reduced level of service to the community,” City Attorney David Gillam said.
This is the second time the union — which is made up of engineering and information systems employees, planners, an appraiser, administrative assistants, and the senior citizens’ activities coordinator and police records supervisor — has stepped up to the plate, Mayor Jim Ellison said.
“I know this is a big sacrifice for these employees at a time when their own costs are continuing to rise,” Ellison said.
The contract covers a two-year period through June 30, 2013. Health care changes will reduce city costs now and keep costs down for retiree health care. Union members agreed to pay 10 percent of their health insurance premiums and to accept changes to their coverage as retirees.
Currently, city employees keep the insurance plan in effect when they retire. Now, if the union agrees to a different plan, the retirees will get the new plan. That’s called health care mirroring and it will provide future savings for retiree health care, Gillam said.
The Professional and Technical Association employees are the first group to agree to concessions for the next two years. They will see a wage freeze in the second year, a decreased pension multiplier and employees hired after July 1, 2011, will make a 20 percent health care contribution.
City Commissioner Jim Rasor described the contract changes as “stunning revisions.”
“It allows us to keep these good professional union jobs at City Hall with a cost and benefit structure we can afford in today’s economy,” Rasor said.
The mayor said the union sets an example for other employees to follow. The city has begun or soon will begin negotiations with all other bargaining units.
Other city bargaining groups that previously agreed to concessions include Executive Department Heads, Department Head/Deputy Department Head Association, Service Employees International Union (Department of Public Service), and Local #2396 of Michigan AFSCME Council 25 (clerical, librarian and building department employees).
7/19/2011 – 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 ) -
- RMT rejects London Underground pay offer, sQuidcard.com
LONDON, England - A transport union has rejected an increased payment offer for employees from the London Underground (LU), it has been reported.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) alliance has turned down the 4.75 per cent rise despite being 0.25 per cent higher than the original suggestion.
In addition, the union has expressed desire for a short-[time] deal, providing shorter working hours for members of staff as well as a flat-rate pay rise for select employees.
After making the offer, London Underground's operating officer Howard Collins has claimed the proposed sum was "fair and affordable".
However, Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, said: "This would leave LU staff vulnerable to real-terms pay cuts in years when the retail price index under-estimates the real rise in living costs."
Last month, Transport for London urged London Underground District line passengers to respond to a questionnaire regarding proposed improvements to the timetable in a bid to reduce delays.
- Doctors given say on unsafe work hours, The West Australian newspaper via au.news.yahoo.com/thewest
PERTH, Western Australia - Hundreds of doctors working in WA hospitals will be asked to document their weekly shifts as part of a campaign to ensure they are not working unsafe hours.
Five years after a similar survey, doctors will be asked to answer an online questionnaire during the week starting August 8 as part of the Australian Medical Association study.
A national survey of more than 550 hospital-based doctors in 2006 found most had work hours and patterns that posed unsafe risks of fatigue, with 62 per cent of doctors in the "significant risk" and "higher risk" categories.
The AMA WA said this year's survey would reveal if there had been an improvement. The group said it was well-established that tired doctors were more likely to make medical errors and be involved in accidents during their everyday lives.
Doctors who complete the survey will get an instant risk assessment of their hours and the AMA has promised to take up any concerns they have with hospital management. The survey coincides with a separate review by the State Government and AMA of the rosters of doctors in training.
A group of junior doctors met Health Minister Kim Hames yesterday to discuss their concerns about the four-hour rule program, which aims to quickly admit or discharge emergency department patients.
It is part of a series of meetings at WA hospitals that were announced by the Government after health groups complained the program was making conditions unsafe for patients and staff, mainly junior doctors, because of pressure to move patients to full wards.
AMA WA president Dave Mountain said young doctors felt strongly about their concerns.
"There is a huge depth of feeling among junior doctors about how the program's been implemented.
"The effect on after-hours rosters and issues of tiredness are very high on their agenda and it's fair to say there is not universal love for the four-hour rule program," Dr Mountain said.
Dr Hames agreed to a separate forum for junior doctors in case they did not feel comfortable speaking in front of hospital administrators.
7/17-18/2011 – 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 email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Sen. proposes work-sharing program meant to save jobs, by Jim Phillips, 7/18 AthensNEWS.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. - With Ohio's economy still limping along, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown last week announced a proposed law that he said could help Ohio companies avoid mass layoffs, by sharing the available work among the employees they have, and topping up their workers' reduced paychecks with federal dollars.
Brown, D-Ohio, admitted during a telephonic news conference Wednesday that there is probably "no silver bullet for the jobs deficit" in the state, but said that his legislation could help keep more workers in their jobs at reduced pay. This, he suggested, would ease the strain on the state's unemployment insurance program, and help to cut down on the drastic fallout from job loss such as home foreclosures.
The bill provides for federal funding incentives, to encourage employers to keep workers on the payroll at reduced hours rather than laying them off. Workers at a company that took part in the program would be eligible for partial unemployment benefits, which the federal government will help pay for, to help keep their paychecks close to what they had been before their hours were cut.
Ohio's state Legislature, Brown noted, could choose to follow the lead of 23 other states that have already enacted their own short-term compensation (STC) programs, but it has not done so. His proposed legislation, if passed, would allow the governor to take advantage of federal funding for an STC program without the state's General Assembly passing a law.
Zach Schiller, research director for the think tank Policy Matters Ohio, explained how the bill would affect a hypothetical worker, earning $750 a week, if the company for which she worked were considering laying off one-fifth of its workforce.
Under the program proposed in Brown's bill, Schiller said, the employer could instead cut all its employees down to a four-day workweek, which would drop the worker's pay to $600.
The worker could then, however, get partial unemployment insurance for the one lost workday which in Ohio, he estimated, would be about $75. This would leave the worker still employed, with a weekly paycheck of $675 as compared to the original $750 much better than having no job and nothing but an unemployment check to pay the bills.
"Most importantly, (the staff) would all continue at work," he added.
From the business' point of view, he suggested, this would be a boon, because it wouldn't have to cut loose experienced employees. If and when the economy picked back up, he said, the company would not have to go through the process of hiring a large number of new, possibly less-experienced people.
Scott Blue is plant manager at Kenworth in Chillicothe, which sells and services trucks. Blue said his company would benefit from an STC program, which would allow it to respond more quickly when the economy perks up.
"The more flexible we can be, the more orders we still retain," Blue said. He noted that while Kenworth's competitors have been laying off large numbers of people during the recession, the Ohio plant's sister plants in other states and countries that have STC programs have been able to retain workers during the downturn and ramp back up quickly when demand increases.
"It's a win-win situation for employees and for the business," he said.
Brown cited federal estimates that in 2009, STC programs in various states helped retain some 165,000 American jobs; in Germany, he said, where work-sharing is well-established, the estimated number of jobs saved in recent years is around 400,000.
In a report issued along with the announcement of the bill, Brown's office calculated that more than 90,000 Ohioans have fallen victim to "mass layoffs" since 2005. These include, the report said, 361 workers laid off when the McBee Systems plant in Athens County shut down in 2005.
A county-by-county unemployment analysis for May, also released by Brown's office, showed Athens County doing better than all its neighbors except for Washington County, though not doing well on a statewide basis, with an unemployment rate of 8.6 percent. Washington's was at 8.0, while the other counties contiguous to Athens showed rates ranging from 9.1 (Hocking) to 12.7 (Meigs).
- Heatstroke deaths quadruple as nation shuns air conditioners, 7/17 (7/18 over dateline) Bloomberg via The Japan Times
TOKYO, Japan - Deaths from heatstroke quadrupled in the early part of summer as temperatures rose and air conditioners were switched off in line with government appeals to curb electricity usage to avoid power blackouts.
From June 1 to 10, 26 people died from heatstroke, compared with six in the same period last year, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The number of people taken by ambulance to hospitals for heatstroke more than tripled to 12,973, with 48 percent in the most-at-risk group aged 65 years or older.
"There's a risk the number of patients will continue to rise if people stop using air conditioners at home," said Yasufumi Miyake, associate professor at Showa University Hospital, who led a nationwide study of heatstroke. "Elderly people are the most vulnerable as they try to tough it out."
Temperatures in eastern Japan, including Tokyo, were 3.8 degrees higher than the 30-year average in the last 10 days of June and the highest since at least 1961, according to Hajime Takayama, a forecaster at the Meteorological Agency. The average temperature in Tokyo in the 10 days was 26.4 degrees, and temperatures in the coming weeks are forecast to be above average, he said.
Japan has shut 35 of its 54 atomic reactors for safety checks after the March 11 earthquake triggered the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, reducing total power capacity by 11 percent. Conservation efforts amid hotter temperatures are raising concern of a repeat of last year, when a record 1,718 people died of heatstroke as the summer heat broke records.
In Yamagata Prefecture, the government asked businesses and families to either switch off air conditioners or raise the temperature settings for two hours between 1 and 3 p.m. on July 7 to conserve power. The government also warned of the risks of heatstroke.
Families were encouraged to stay in one room to cut the number of air conditioners being used and to close their curtains to block sunlight, according to the government website. Consumption on that day dropped 19 percent from a year earlier, exceeding the target of 15 percent, the government said.
"Power-saving also requires sensitivity to heatstroke risk," Prime Minister Naoto Kan said July 8 in the Diet.
Workers at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crippled by the March quake and tsunami are facing heatstroke risk from working in high temperatures in sealed suits that protect them from leaking radiation.
Tepco has about 1,300 workers at the plant. Since March, 27 workers required medical attention for heatstroke or dehydration, said Ryoko Sakai, a spokeswoman.
The company has procured an additional 660 coolant vests worn under the sealed suits to prevent heatstroke, said Hajime Motojuku, a spokesman.
Heatstroke is an escalation of heat cramps and heat exhaustion and becomes life-threatening when body temperature reaches 40 degrees or higher, according to the Mayo Clinic's website. It can lead to brain damage, organ failure and death.
The health ministry has printed leaflets advising people to use fans and air conditioners, drink water and monitor their body temperatures.
Supervisors at construction sites and factories should raise heatstroke awareness and have workers drink water and take salt even if they show no symptoms, the ministry said on May 31. Farmers should work shorter hours, the agriculture ministry said.
Social workers will visit the homes of elderly people to advise them on heatstroke, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said in June. Officials in Bunkyo Ward said they will send out leaflets explaining measures to prevent heatstroke to those over 75 years old who live alone.
The record deaths from heatstroke last year came amid the hottest summer in Japan on record, which date back 113 years, as temperatures peaked at 39.9 degrees on Sept. 5 in Kyoto. About 80 percent of those who died were aged 65 years and older, and almost half were found in their homes, according to the health ministry.
"People who developed severe cases and died were generally elderly people who lived alone who were found too late to treat," said Miyake, who led nationwide studies on heatstroke in 2006, 2008 and 2010. "They are less sensitive and more prone to bear the heat, so they don't turn on air conditioners."
Otsuka Holdings Co., maker of the sports drink Pocari Sweat, says sales of the drink rose 25 percent in April from last year to 2.63 million cases, and rose 12 percent in May. The drink contains electrolyte minerals, including magnesium and sodium, to replenish fluids lost through perspiration, according to the company's website.
[VISIT JAPAN AND DRINK SWEAT!]
Otsuka, which has given annual heatstroke seminars for the past 20 years, has had requests to give talks from companies, schools and local governments a month earlier than usual this year, Risa Date, an Otsuka spokeswoman, said by telephone.
"We feel people are becoming more conscious about the need for rehydration, driven by energy conservation efforts," Date said. "The production lines for Pocari Sweat are in full operation 24 hours a day."
7/16/2011 – 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 ) -
- Cuomo and PEF reach contract deal w/ furloughs, by Jimmy Vielkind, Albany Times Union (blog) via blog.timesunion.com
ALBANY, N.Y., U.S.A. - Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a tentative deal with the Public Employees Federation [PEF] and ordered state officials to rescind layoff notices that went out in previous weeks.
Under the agreement, PEF’s members will be furloughed for nine days: five in this fiscal year, and four in the next fiscal year. There will be no base pay increases for the first three years of the five-year contract, with two percent raises given in years four and five.
Jobs will be protected for the life of the five-year deal.
This is similar to the deal Cuomo’s aides reached with the Civil Service Employees Association. PEF also agreed to increase health care contributions.
Cuomo said the contract will save $75 million this fiscal year. He booked $450 million in savings in the budget adopted in April.
“This agreement reflects the financial reality of the times. I am pleased that we could avoid these layoffs, protect the workforce and the taxpayer,” Governor Cuomo said.
“This was a difficult agreement to reach, but with our members’ jobs in peril and the state’s fiscal hardship we’ve stepped up and made the necessary sacrifices,” said PEF President Ken Brynien. The agreement will preserve our members jobs and careers while bringing long term fiscal stability to the state. We are confident this is the best agreement that could be negotiated in the current environment.”
Press releases from PEF and Cuomo are below:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his administration has reached a five-year labor agreement with the New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF). PEF is one of the largest local white-collar unions in the United States and is New York’s second-largest state-employee union. PEF represents 54,000 state employees.
The agreement mirrors an agreement reached last month with the Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) and includes a freeze on base wages for 3 years and a redesign of the employee health care contribution and benefit system, saving $75 million this fiscal year, $92 million next fiscal year, and almost $400 million over the contract term. If adopted by the state’s other collective bargaining units, the agreement will reduce workforce costs by over $1.5 billion over the course of the agreement, averting PEF layoffs due to the state’s fiscal crisis.
“This agreement reflects the financial reality of the times. I am pleased that we could avoid these layoffs, protect the workforce and the taxpayer,” Governor Cuomo said.
“This was a difficult agreement to reach, but with our members’ jobs in peril and the state’s fiscal hardship we’ve stepped up and made the necessary sacrifices,” said PEF President Ken Brynien. The agreement will preserve our members jobs and careers while bringing long term fiscal stability to the state. We are confident this is the best agreement that could be negotiated in the current environment.”
As a result of this agreement, Director of State Operation Howard Glaser directed agencies to rescind the 20-day layoff notices that were sent out to members.
Base Wages: Under the five year agreement, there will be no general salary increase in Fiscal Year 2011-12; 2012-13; 2013-14. Employees will receive a 2 percent increase in 2014-15 and 2015-16.
Savings: The 2011 wage agreement is $2.5 billion less costly to the state than the 2007 agreement, if adopted through the state workforce.
Health Care System Redesign: The agreement includes a series of reforms in the employee health care system which will save $54 million annually and $248 million over the contract term, for PEF alone.
Health Care Contributions: The agreement includes substantial changes to employee health care contributions bringing public employee benefits more in line with the private sector. The contribution for health care benefits have not changed in 30 years, while the cost of the state’s health care program has increased 100 percent in the past decade. The agreement reflects a two percent increase in contributions for Grade 9 employees and below, and a six percent increase for Grade 10 employees and above. (Under the agreement, for example, the state will pay 69 percent of family coverage for a Grade 10 employee and above, and the employee will pay 31 percent. The prior split was 75 percent state/25 percent employee. For individual coverage, a Grade 10 employee and above will pay 16 percent and the state share will be 84 percent. The prior split was 10 percent employee/90 percent state).
Savings: The PEF agreement results in $42 million in annual savings from this provision, and $193 million over the contract term.
Health Care Opt Out: For the first time, the state is offering an opt-out option. Health care premiums cost $16,600 for family coverage and $7300 for individual coverage. Employees electing to opt out of the health insurance program must provide proof of alternative coverage and will receive $1000 or $3000 for the cessation of individual or family coverage, respectively. This will save the state thousands of dollars for each employee who opts out.
Savings: The opt-out will save $5.8 million annually and $25 million over the contract term for PEF alone.
Health Benefit Redesign: The health benefit plan system of co-pays, deductibles, and programs has been redesigned to encourage healthy choices and control costs of pharmaceutical products. For example, for the first time the plan will cover the use of nurse practitioners and “minute clinics” and encourage employees to use these services when appropriate instead of hospital emergency rooms.
Savings: The PEF savings for this provision are $8.6 million annually and $37 million over the contract term.
Deficit Reduction Leave: Under the agreement, employees will take a five day unpaid deficit reduction leave during fiscal year 2011-12 and four days unpaid leave during fiscal year 2012-13. The value of the days taken not worked will be deducted from employee pay over the remaining pay periods equally during the fiscal year in which they are taken. Employees will be repaid the value of the 4 days from 2012-13 in equal installments starting at the end of the contract term.
Savings: The furloughs will yield $360 million in savings if adopted by all bargaining units.
Performance advances, longevity and retention payments: Performance advances and longevity payments will continue to be in effect. Current employees who remain active through 2013 will earn a onetime retention payment of $775 in 2013 and $225 in 2014 in recognition of working without a wage increase for three years.
Layoff Protection: PEF employees will receive broad layoff protection for fiscal year 2011-12 and 2012-13 arising from the $450 million budget gap. Workforce reductions due to management decisions to close or restructure facilities authorized by legislation, SAGE recommendations or material or unanticipated changes in the State’s fiscal circumstances are not covered by this limitation.
The tentative agreement must be ratified by PEF rank and file members.
Negotiations for the State were led by a special team appointed by the Governor comprising Todd R. Snyder, Senior Managing Director of Rothschild Inc. and Co-Head of Rothschild’s Restructuring and Reorganization group; and Joseph M. Bress, former head of the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations and former Vice President of Labor Relations at Amtrak, under the direction of Howard Glaser, Director of State Operations.
HERE’S PEF’S RELEASE:
PEF has reached a tentative contract agreement with the state
Albany – The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) has reached a tentative contract agreement with the state. As a result of the conceptual agreement, the governor has agreed to rescind the planned layoffs of nearly 1,000 PEF members.
“This was a difficult agreement to reach, but with our members’ jobs in peril and the state’s fiscal hardship we’ve stepped up and made the necessary sacrifices,” said PEF President Ken Brynien.
“The agreement will preserve our members jobs and careers while bringing long term fiscal stability to the state. We are confident this is the best agreement that could be negotiated in the current environment,” Brynien said.
The agreement provides the state with the required savings needed to preserve PEF’s share of the 9,800 jobs targeted if the $450 million in Labor Management Partnership savings were not achieved.
“This agreement reflects the financial reality of the times,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “I am pleased that we could avoid these layoffs, protect the workforce and the taxpayer,” Cuomo said.
“This agreement could not have been achieved without the hard work and dedication of PEF’s contract team made of up union members representing a variety of titles and agencies across the state,” said PEF Contract Chair Tom Comanzo.
PEF is the state’s second-largest, state-employee union, representing 56,000 professional, scientific and technical employees.
- 32-hour work week would be beneficial, letter to editor by Maurice LeBlanc of Midwest City, NewsOK.com
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., U.S.A. - Technology improvements have allowed us to do things better and faster with fewer people, resulting in a high rate of unemployment. Therefore, throwing stimulus money at the problem or rewarding companies with tax breaks for hiring more people has had little impact on the unemployment rate. Americans haven't taken advantage of the most obvious benefit of improved technology, which is more leisure time.
Many Americans are working long hours while an increasingly larger number are on the government dole with nothing to do. Yet I've heard little discussion about a shorter workweek. A 32-hour workweek would result in lower unemployment and significantly reduce social welfare expenditures. This appears to be a better approach than having the employed work harder to support those who aren't working at all.
- He quits journalism to sell you tiao, by Eve Sonary Heng, (7/17 over dateline) TheBorneoPost.com
KUCHING, Borneo - Writers wield great power with the pen which is said to be mightier than the sword but a former newspaperman has happily swapped that power for frying sticks of dough in a wok and is taking the challenges posed in his stride.
Poh Wan Hwa was a reporter for nine years (1997-2006) but quit journalism lock, stock and barrel to set up a hawker stall, selling you cha kuey – also popularly known as you tiao – at the Mile 7 Kota Sentosa bazaar.
Today, his business has expanded to three outlets in Kuching – one each at C121 Coffee Shop, Stutong, Expert food court, Mile 4 ½ and Premier 101, Jalan Tun Jugah. From only one worker, he now has more than 10, and also owns a machine and a van for his operation.
But the 30-something self-driven entrepreneur admits it has not been a bed of roses for him. And by his own admission, it takes a “foolhardy venturesome spirit, wild courage, resourcefulness, perseverance, a bit of luck and good old-fashioned grind” to get him where he is today.
Making his dream come true is all about determination, dedication, passion and a readiness to take risks, he told thesundaypost.
“I took one year to decide whether or not I should start my own business before quitting my reporting job,” he said.
The reason he chose to sell you cha kueh was that there was, at that time, less competition – unlike kolo mee and laksa sold in almost every coffeeshop in the city.
Poh has been operating his you cha kuey stall since October 2006. In 2009, he met his business partner, Iris Wee, whom he describes as full of innovative ideas and very cooperative. They decided to open a company called Bee J Enterprise and their joint-venture is doing well.
“I started out as a hawker in 2006 at Mile 7, Kota Sentosa, with only one worker, selling just one type of you cha kueh, using a single wok.
“It was more or less a one-man show. I could hardly cope alone with things like manpower problems and ingredient preparations. The business also involved long hours. Only after meeting Iris was I able to expand the business and improve the products. I have been working with her for almost two years now,” he said.
These days, Poh uses top quality stainless steel deep fryers to maintain a high standard of cleanliness, hygiene and professionalism.
His menu also offers more choices and among the top sellers are you cha kuey with kaya and butter fillings, otak-otak you tiao, satay chicken, you tiao with mayonese and butter fillings, you tiao with sausage and mayonese and chicken floss you tiao.
Poh does not compromise on quality, using top grade ingredients such as branded cooking oil and flour to produce you tiau that tastes better. Moreover, he has picked up special techniques from a ‘foreign teacher’ to further improve his products.
“It’s an on-going learning process to meet the ever changing expectations and demands from customers,” he explained.
Teamwork is important and with a business partner, he now has more time to innovate and come up with even better offerings.
Poh said they had plans to expand Bee J Enterprise with producing more quality food at affordable prices as the core business.
“We’re looking for a good locality to set up new stalls and launch new products. Along the way, we need good people to team up with us. We only keep minimum wages for ourselves and plough back most part of the profits into expanding the business,” he said, describing diligence, teamwork and doing the right thing at the right time as the pre-requisites for running a successful business venture.
Although he has to sacrifice a lot of his time looking after the business, Poh has no regrets, saying: “This is my interest. I took one year to decide on quitting journalism just to get into this line.”
However, he admitted working as a reporter was the best experience he ever had – with the shorter hours, off days, paid sick leave, annual salary increment, helpful colleagues as well as the opportunity to meet different people everyday.
“Now that I’m self-employed, I no longer have these privileges. Before, whenever I received complaints from readers, I would let the chief reporter handle them. But now, I have to face complaints from customers and solve them myself.”
Poh said his income is not fixed as there are good and bad days plus the long hours.
“I have to wake up at about 3am everyday to start preparing. I have to make a lot of personal sacrifices. But as long as I still am able, I’ll keep going.”
There are many people out there trying to start their own business and be their own boss and inevitably facing many challenges and obstacles. Poh wants to share his experience to help them realise their dream.
Bee J You Tiao can also be found in Facebook and blogspot. Since the company is into wholesale supply, those interested can call Poh at 019-8576910 or Iris at 019-4679393.
7/15/2011 – 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 ) -
- U.S. July Empire State Manufacturing Index (text), by Alex Tanzi, Bloomberg.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., U.S.A. - Following is the text of the Empire State Manufacturing Index.
The July Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions for New York manufacturers deteriorated for a second consecutive month. The general business conditions index remained below zero, at -3.8. The new orders index also remained negative, while the shipments index increased to a level slightly above zero. The indexes for both prices paid and prices received were positive but lower than last month, suggesting that price increases slowed. The index for number of employees fell to a level near zero, indicating that employment levels held steady, while the average workweek index dropped well into negative territory.
[- indicating that there was less natural market-demanded work but at least manufacturers were cutting hours instead of jobs.]
Future indexes bounced up after declining steeply in June -- a sign that conditions were generally expected to improve over the next six months -- but the level of optimism was well below the levels observed earlier this year.
In a series of supplementary questions, manufacturers were asked about changes in sales, employment, and capital spending from 2010 to 2011. Similar questions had been asked in the June and July surveys of 2010. In the current survey, the median respondent anticipated a 6 percent increase in sales and a 3 percent expansion in employment. Capital spending plans, however, were mixed. Considerably more respondents reported increases than decreases in capital spending for 2011, but the median estimated level of spending was down moderately from 2010. On balance, manufacturers indicated that they would be spending more this year than last on equipment (both computer and other), but less on structures. This pattern is similar to the one observed in last June’s survey.
Business Activity -
Weakens for a Second Consecutive Month
Although the general business conditions index inched up four points to -3.8 in July, it was negative for a second consecutive month, suggesting that business activity had weakened slightly. This month, 23 percent of respondents reported that conditions had improved over the month, while 26 percent reported that conditions had worsened. The new orders index was also below zero for a second consecutive month. It fell two points to -5.5, indicating that the volume of orders was down. The shipments index rose ten points to 2.2, and the unfilled orders index fell twelve points to -12.2. The delivery time index rose to 1.1, and the inventories index dropped to -5.6.
Price Increases -
Continue to Slow
The indexes for both prices paid and prices received retreated in July. The prices paid index fell thirteen points to 43.3, posting a cumulative decline of 27 points over the past two months. These figures suggest that price increases, while significant, continued to slow. The prices received index followed a similar pattern. The index fell six points to 5.6, for a cumulative decline of twenty-two points since May. The index for number of employees fell nine points to 1.1, indicating that employment levels held steady [huh??], while the average workweek index declined to -15.6, indicating that the length of the average workweek was shorter.
Future indexes were generally positive and bounced higher after a significant decline last month. The future general business conditions index, which fell thirty points last month, advanced ten points to 32.2, suggesting that on balance, manufacturers expected conditions to improve in the months ahead. The level of optimism, however, was well below the relatively high levels seen earlier this year. The future new orders and shipments indexes also climbed to higher positive readings after a steep decline last month. The future prices paid index fell four points to 51.1, while the future prices received index rose eleven points to 30.0. The future number of employees and average workweek indexes were both positive and higher than last month, indicating that manufacturers expected employment to rise over the next six months. The capital expenditures index was down slightly, to 22.2, and the technology spending index slipped to 12.2.
[So the average workweek sinks...
...while those who still have full-time jobs monopolize megahours of vanishing market-demanded employment -]
- LA Noire lead programmer defends Team Bondi, admits development hardship, by Justin McElroy, Gamasutra via Joystiq.com
SYDNEY, N.S.W., Australia - Team Bondi has caught a lot of flack from ex-staffers recently about unfair work hours in the final weeks of L.A. Noire development. Lead gameplay programmer Dave Heironymus recently defended the company to the IGDA in a letter republished by Gamasutra, explaining that he "didn't want to see [Team Bondi] destroyed by anonymous ex-employees."
Taking a similar stance as studio boss Brendan McNamara, Heironymus says that while employees worked long hours, they weren't being asked to do anything that their superiors weren't also doing. Heironymus also downplayed the 100-hour weeks that some staffers have claimed, saying that he would have discouraged any members of his team attempting to work that much.
However, Heironymus isn't claiming innocence for Team Bondi's management. He writes, "no-one at Team Bondi is under the illusion that crunching is a good way to work and we're actively working to learn from our mistakes for our next project."
[Then there's the horrors in American "healing" -]
- UC Davis researchers find work hours vary widely by physician specialty, could expand gap in access to primary care, HealthCanal.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif., U.S.A. — The amount of time physicians spend on the job can vary widely based on specialty, according to UC Davis research published July 11 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
More than 25 work hours per week separated the most time-consuming specialty of vascular surgery and the least time consuming of pediatric emergency medicine.
Coupled with their previous research on physician pay, the authors note that primary-care physicians (pediatricians, family practitioners, geriatricians and internal medicine specialists) have working hours toward the middle of the range but earn toward the lower end of the wage scale. Together, the outcomes indicate that the gap in access to primary-care physicians is likely to expand.
Dr. Richard Kravitz on hospital rounds with two medical students © UC Regents“It is doubtful that medical students will want to enter primary care if there continues to be such a mismatch between hours worked and wages compared with other specialties,” said J. Paul Leigh, professor of public health sciences and lead author of the study. “Policymakers who make medical payment decisions should strive for better balance.”
Leigh said the current study has important implications for health-care reform, which will greatly increase demand for primary-care doctors who are already in short supply.
“We can expect 30 million more Americans to have insurance soon, and they’ll all need primary-care physicians to help manage their care,” said Leigh. “The results could be an even bigger shortfall in primary-care providers than currently expected.”
In conducting the work-hours study, Leigh and his colleagues used data from a nationally representative sample of physicians in the 2004 to 2005 Community Tracking Survey. More than 6,000 physicians working in 41 different specialties were included. Work hours involved time spent on all medically related activities. Data was analyzed for physicians who worked 20 to 100 hours per week and at least 26 weeks in a year.
In addition to vascular surgery, specialties with work hours that far exceeded the average were critical care, neonatal and perinatal medicine, and thoracic surgery. In addition to pediatric emergency medicine, specialties involving the fewest work hours were occupational medicine, dermatology, and physical medicine and rehabilitation.
“The specialists at the top of the work-hours ladder tend to provide more intensive care, often in hospital settings,” said Richard Kravitz, professor of internal medicine and a study co-author. “Vascular surgeons, for instance, perform highly complex surgeries, often on an urgent basis. The specialists toward the bottom of the ladder, on the other hand, tend to have more controllable hours.”
In general, physicians with the fewest hours care for more stable patients, usually in outpatient settings, or have fixed shifts, said Kravitz, whose research focuses on improving quality of care and patient satisfaction. He added that the study results help explain current difficulties in recruiting physicians into certain specialties.
“Two specialty areas with particular difficulties in meeting population needs are primary care and general surgery” said Kravitz. “Looking at our data, it is easy to understand why. Primary-care physicians have middling hours and low pay. General surgeons work long hours and have middling pay.”
Other trends revealed in the work-hours study included:
* Mean annual hours worked was 2,524, or just over 50 hours per week during a 50-week year
* Women physicians work about 12 percent fewer hours than their male counterparts
* Doctors employed by medical schools work about 6 percent more hours than those employed elsewhere
* Doctors in the Pacific region work 5 percent fewer hours
* No differences were found across physicians of different races or ethnicities
The research letter “Annual Work Hours across Physician Specialties” as well as the previous study, “Physician Wages Across Specialties,” published in the Oct. 25, 2010, issue of the journal, are available by contacting JAMA/Archives Media Relations at 312-464-5262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition to Leigh and Kravitz, other UC Davis study authors were Daniel Tancredi, assistant professor of pediatrics, and Anthony Jerant, professor of family medicine. All of the authors are affiliated with the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research.
The study was funded by National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the UC Davis Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research.
About the UC Davis Center for Healthcare Policy and Research:
The Center for Health Policy Research conducts research on health-care access, delivery, costs, outcomes and policy to improve the practice of medicine, especially primary care. Established as an interdisciplinary unit, the center includes more than 80 health-care researchers who represent disciplines ranging from business management and epidemiology to psychiatry and pediatrics. For more information, visit the center's website.
[Then there's slave labor for young people under the cover-term "internship" -]
- Interning in a down economy, by Jasmine Osby, St.Louis Post Despatch via STLtoday.com
..Deshawn Sutton, an intern at Monsanto and a graduate student at Fort Valley State University in Fort Valley, Ga., records data on soybean germination at a test plot in Maryland Heights, Mo. Wednesday, June 29, 2011. Sutton, who has an undergraduate degree from Alabama State University in Montgomery, Ala., is interning this summer with Monsanto's Technology Group. (photo caption)
ST.LOUIS, Mo., U.S.A. -- For the past month, Liz Renner has spent 32 hours a week interning at Housing and Community Solutions Inc., a nonprofit working to develop affordable housing.
She works on communications, managing Facebook and Twitter accounts, assembling a newsletter and assisting in planning events.
And she does it without pay.
To make money, Renner, 20, spends three days a week working as a hostess at Chili's for $7.50 an hour.
She's among the large percentage of interns today who work for free in an economy where entry-level work has become increasingly hard to secure. Definitive data on intern compensation remains elusive, employers and experts say, but anecdotal evidence would suggest that employers are increasingly taking advantage of the tight labor market to secure free intern labor.
[Still believe that pay depends on hours worked and not pure supply and demand? Labor is a commodity. If it's rare, its price goes up. If it's common, it's price goes down. Today labor is as common as dirt and as cheap as dirt. Capitalism runs worse and worse on a deepening labor surplus + job shortage, better and better on a rising labor shortage + job surplus. How to get that prosperity-creating labor shortage without war or plague? Cut the workweek.]
Internships.com, an online search engine started in February 2010, reports that about two-thirds of its listings both last year and this year offer internships for no pay.
Even so, the experience still represents a long-term value for many young people looking to break into a tough job market, said Mimi Collins, director of communications for the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
According to the association's 2010 Student Survey, about 42 percent of graduates who had completed an internship received a subsequent job offer, compared with 30 percent of students who had no internship experience. Students who have interned also have a 31 percent higher starting salary than students who haven't, according to the association. Collins said the association plans a separate study of how often and how much interns are getting paid.
Victor Sanchez, 23, is the vice president of the United States Student Association, a student-led organization that advocates for student issues on state and national levels. Lower income students may well want to work for credit and experience instead of money, he said, but they don't have that choice.
"Getting credit or getting the letter of recommendation is a great thing, but if the student can't get there because of they can't afford to work with no pay, that's the bigger sticking point," he said.
Still, plenty of students can afford [to] work for free [oh that makes it just fine then - plenty of nonstudents can too, temporarily], and businesses are capitalizing on that demand, he said.
[But it sure ain't gonna grow their markets.]
intern at home
Students who can't afford not to work do have options, said Robin Richards, the CEO of Internships.com. A new kind of "virtual internship" allows some to work online — and on their own schedule — making it easier to secure additional part-time work for pay.
Jaclyn Krus, 19, has been a virtual intern for a month at Powers by Design LLC, a graphic design and marketing company in Sunset Hills. Although she works from home, Krus spends 10 to 15 hours a week interning and says that she may do more work than the typical intern.
"Being a virtual intern doesn't deter me at all," she said. "I feel like I may be doing more for the company, because instead of getting coffee or sorting the mail, I'm only doing what the company needs."
Virtual internships allow both worker and employer get what they need on their own time, said Chris Powers, owner of Powers by Design.
"Especially in a down economy ... we can't really afford to have a full staff," he said. "But we can give back by giving interns professional experience."
Washington University in St. Louis helps its students with an Unpaid Stipend Program, which gives $25,000 in stipends to unpaid interns each year, said Mark Smith, director of the Career Center at the university.
"We don't want students with low incomes to forgo that opportunity because they can't afford it," Smith said.
If a student values the experience more than the pay, they should take the internship and have a part-time job on the side.
But Josh Kaffenberg, a career counselor at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, argued that there is a lot of pressure on students to get internship experience, and that they should get paid for the work they do.
"Experience is really great," he said. "But we live in a time where students are having more and more school debt and need to be paid."
Several local businesses make paying interns a top priority.
worth the money
Monsanto, which has 100 interns in St. Louis this summer, views paying their interns as a benefit to both the student and the company, said Melissa Harper, the talent acquisition and diversity lead at Monsanto.
Monsanto, headquartered in Creve Couer, offers a three-month summer internship program, where pay varies depending on academic discipline and years in school.
"We've found that offering compensation gives us a competitive advantage and helps us attract the best talent," Harper said. "Students also feel more engaged, committed to the company and productive when paid."
Fleishman-Hillard, a global public relations firm with headquarters here, also pays its interns, a rarity since the majority of communications interns receive little or no pay, according to NACE. Each year the firm hires about 10 interns for its three-month summer internship program, where they make $10 to $12 an hour, depending on academic standing. They also offer internships during the fall and spring.
"Internship experience is very important to the development of solid, young professionals in this field, and we believe it's suitable and appropriate to pay these young professionals for the time they spend in our program," said Scott Deitz, senior vice president at Fleishman-Hillard.
Although some nonprofit organizations say they can't afford to pay interns, they give them real life experience that they can't get in the classroom, said Eric Friedman, president of Housing and Community Solutions Inc.
Renner values her experience at the nonprofit more than a paycheck. She's more worried about what she gets paid after graduation.
"Interns need employers just as much as employers need them," she said. "Maybe even more so, because they help determine your future."
7/14/2011 – 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 email@example.com unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Sen. Brown's 'work-sharing' bill submitted, ToledoBlade.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. - U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown Wednesday said he is co-sponsoring legislation that would allow employers who reduce their payrolls to do so through "work-sharing" rather than mass layoffs.
Mr. Brown, a Democrat, told reporters Wednesday that the Layoff Prevention Act of 2011 would allow employers to spread the impact of a business downturn to all employees [and keep them employed - and spending], and that unemployment insurance compensation would make up for part of their lost wages.
He said the Layoff Prevention Act is a partial solution to the sluggish rebound of the economy following the recession.
[But the direction the Layoff Prevention Act takes us in is a complete solution to the sluggish rebound of the economy, which is actually just an up-arc in a continuing downward spiral. There are absolutely no fundamentals for a sustainable rebound except German Kurz-arbeit and other worksharing programs.]
Mr. Brown said 23 states utilize so-called short-term compensation, but Ohio is not one.
[This seems to be written by a pretty sloppy journalist. This approach is actually called "short-time compensation," or worksharing, or shared work. P.S.: How did the once-advanced state of Ohio fall behind like this? Could it have something to do with the corruption of its voting system by totalitarian voting-machine manufacturers like the Dell brothers who run Diebold, and Electronic Systems & Software (ES&S), the two largest electronic voting-machine manufacturers in the nation, both conveniently located in the large central state of Ohio, and both mass producers of totally riggable electronic voting machines (see BlackBoxVoting.org)? These two morons apparently have no clue that large systems need accurate feedback from as many of their parts as possible in order to adapt and survive. These Dell dopes' self-destructive dealings have seriously damaged America - maybe not such a bad thing for the rest of the world considering all the destructive stuff we've been doing under the pretext of "foreign relations" and "foreign aid" - see John Perkins' book, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," 2005.]
The law would allow [Ohio] Gov. John Kasich to apply to the U.S. Department of Labor for participation rather than requiring immediate action by the legislature.
Zach Schiller, research director of the pro-union think tank Policy Matters Ohio, said a company, rather than lay off one-fifth of its work force, could choose to reduce everyone's hours by 20 percent.
An employee paid $750 a week, for example, would be reduced to $600 a week. In Ohio, an employee would get half of his lost income -- in this case $75 -- through unemployment compensation.
He said the law [for state-level worksharing] was introduced in the state General Assembly last year but died because of questions about the cost to the state and the belief that the economy was rebounding.
[So it's better for Ohio companies to keep downsizing jobs and consumer spending? Dumba dumb dumb. A "rebound" would involve growth alias UPsizing, and you ain't gonna get UPsizing from continued DOWNsizing. The only "sizing" that has lots of positive and no negative effects is TIMEsizing, of which worksharing alias short-time compensation is a primitive form. Applied in systematic fashion, it actually maintains and raises employee income because it stops increasing and starts absorbing a state's legions of jobseekers whose over-availability has been pushing down pay.]
"For workers, short-time compensation means a paycheck instead of depending solely on unemployment insurance; for businesses it means the retention of skilled and loyal workers -- avoiding retraining and rehiring efforts," Mr. Brown said.
Rob Nichols, a spokesman for Mr. Kasich, said the administration would review the bill.
Mr. Brown said every dollar spent on short-term compensation would return $1.26 to the gross domestic product.
Scott Blue, plant manager of Kenworth Truck Co. in Chillicothe, applauded the proposed legislation. He said Kenworth was able to retain orders at sister plants in states with the short-term compensation policy while competitors had to forgo orders because they had made layoff decisions.
- Layoff Employee or Reduce Work Hours? Brown's Bill Would Give Business Flexibility, by George Nelson, Youngstown Business Journal via business-journal.com
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -- Under the authority given to states under a proposed new law, as an alternative to laying off workers, businesses could seek to reduce hours for their employees who could then supplement their lost wages through unemployment benefits, U.S. Sen. Brown announced Wednesday.
The legislation, the Layoff Prevention Act of 2011, would give governors the authority to set up such programs, with approval from the U.S. Department of Labor, rather than getting approval through the state legislatures. Currently, 23 programs have such short-term compensation programs in place.
"There are two ways basic ways to increase employment: increasing output, thereby increasing demand for labor, or -- less preferably but not unimportantly -- dividing up the existing work among more workers," Brown, D-Ohio, told reporters during a conference call.
["He's a true believer in the Fixed Lump of Labor Fallacy" (LOLF), shriek the superficial thinkers, meaning a large number of mainstream economists - "Everyone knows there's an infinite amount of work to be done!" But in what timeframe? - they never specify, so we're left to assume "sooner or later" or infinity. Well, Brown and other worksharers are not talking about "sooner or later" or infinity but NOW, when work (not "labor"!) is neither growing nor fixed but shrinking. And even if it were infinite, there isn't an infinite willingness or ability to pay for it, so it's hobby, not work. Every nitwit economist who parrots this LOLF sneer should get laid off so he has the opportunity to see for himself just how "infinite" work is these days.]
"Employers want to do right by their employees -- many do everything that they can before laying off employees that have been loyal to them -- but to prevent further devastating layoffs employers should have the flexibility to initiate short-term compensation programs and mechanisms."
Such programs prevent business disruption and skill erosion by allowing businesses to keep employees on the job at reduced hours, and the employees can receive partial compensation for their lost wages through the unemployment insurance system, Brown said. "With fewer workers unemployed, then that's less of a burden on the [unemployment insurance] system," he remarked. He also cited a Labor Department report that such programs saved about 165,000 jobs in 2009.
A study by Policy Matters Ohio showed that if Ohio had such a plan in place in 2009, as did 13 other states, 23,000 Ohioans would have participated in the plan, reported Zach Schiller, research director, who joined Brown on the call. If an employer wanted to implement such a program by reducing work days to four days per week rather than laying people off, he explained, an employee who earns $750 per week would see that pay go to $600.
"But that day you weren't getting paid for you would be eligible to receive unemployment compensation, which in Ohio would amount to $75," he said.
"Short-term compensation means employees can depend on a paycheck instead of living solely on unemployment insurance," Brown remarked. "It means their standard of living goes down slightly but it's better than a plummeting of their standard of living when they're laid off and they're receiving only unemployment benefits as contrasted to their regular wage."
"During business downturns, the more flexible we can be, the more orders we still retain," said Scott Blue, plant manager at Kenworth Truck Co. in Chillicothe, who also joined the conference call. Competitors operating under the mass-layoff model had to make such decisions "well in advance of the day they actually affected the layoffs," but Kenworth's sister plants in Washington, Texas and other areas with short-term compensation programs in place could be more flexible and accept orders much closer to the point at which they had to decide whether or not to lay anyone off, he explained.
"Not only is it a good thing for the company in terms of retaining employees and retaining skills that we've invested in from a training standpoint, it also allows us to be more competitive in the marketplace," Blue said. Additionally, such a program would put Ohio on the "same playing field" with states that already have them in place. "It's a win-win situation for the employees and for the business," he remarked.
During the question-and-answer segment of the call, Brown criticized Republicans for their lack of willingness to compromise in the ongoing debate over raising the debt ceiling. "It's not going to be 100% their way," he said. "They won the election in 2010. They didn't win the 2008 election and this has to be a compromise and I'm very willing to compromise." While he wants to vote to raise the debt ceiling, he said he wants to make sure it's not done by raising the Social Security retirement age, cutting benefits to Medicare beneficiaries, "or cutting the heart out of food stamps or Pell grants for college students," he added.
The "most troubling" aspect of a proposal put forth by U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to give President Obama authority to raise the debt limit "is that we would do this again in six months and again in six months," he said.
"To me there are two reasons our economy is not growing. One is the lack of consumer demand and that's why we want to find ways to get dollars into people's pockets as this proposal will do," Brown said. Also, businesses and consumers "don't have the confidence that we'd like them to have and to inject this much uncertainty in our economic system again in six months and again in six months is just irresponsible and wrong-headed," he said.
- The Case for Working Less - Why recent bad economic news means it's time to change how we work, by Boston College professor Juliet Schor, X-Ray Issue 28 via xraymagazine.ca ("nice catch" credit to Jane Blanchard Gibson of Ottawa & SCM of Canada & Justice Dept.)
BOSTON, Mass., U.S.A. - 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 United States 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.
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 group of people at the expense of nearly everyone else.
But these days, it's hard to get a hearing for the view that the wealthy countries remain wealthy, 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 programs, budget cutting, 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.
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. In the wealthy countries, many of the jobs lost in the 2008 downturn will not re-appear.
The revolution in information technology has made many jobs unnecessary, raised labour productivity, and undermined a good swathe of the labour market, as firms introduce radical technological and product innovation. (And some of the jobs are being created in low wage countries.)
This is familiar territory, as it has been occurring since the 19th century. The buggy and barrel makers are long gone. Toll takers and the workers in DVD factories are on their way out. So too are household tax accountants and retail check-out clerks.
Historically, market economies have absorbed this displaced labour in two ways. The first is the creation of jobs in new industries making new products. The 20th century brought automobile workers, higher education administrators and medical personnel.
But new jobs, spurred on by growth in GDP, are only half the story. The other mechanism for maintaining balance in the labour market has always been reductions in hours of work.
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 the 1930s depression.
Between 1870 and 1970, hours of work fell roughly in half. These countries have re-balanced the labour market by re-distributing work to make its allocation fairer. We need shorter hours because it is unrealistic to count on growth in GDP to absorb all this current and future ‘surplus’ labour.
Rich countries just never grow that rapidly. So the austerity economics that says work longer and retire later has it exactly wrong.
But even if GDP growth could solve the unemployment problem, it shouldn't, because the cost in GHG emissions 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 too shorter hours of work provide a dividend. They are associated with lower ecological and carbon footprints. Countries that work more pollute more. That 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 unequal 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 is Professor of Sociology at Boston College. Her most recent book is "Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth" (The Penguin Press 2010) and writes regularly at "Economics and Society" where this article first appeared.
[Juliet is yet another ECONOMIST who has been driven out of academic economics by the unsustainably time-blind economists of the moment. You'd think the most quantitative of the social sciences (economics) would center on the Great Quantifier (time) but oh no, it's preoccupied and corrupted by coddling its wealthy supporters and maintaining such of their myths as: "You can redistribute any percentage of the money supply, however large, to us in any percentage of the population, however small, and the economy will function better and better because we will immediately invest that money and it will create jobs!" - to which the rebuttal, of course, is: So WHERE ARE THE JOBS?? (And "China" is NOT an acceptable answer because they still have at least 20% official+hidden unemployment and desperate poverty. If "China" is the answer, the question must be, "How can humanity get more miserable with time blindness?")]
7/13/2011 – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- Part-time hours, full-time rewards, by Augusta Dwyer, Toronto Globe and Mail via theglobeandmail.com
TORONTO, Ont., Canada - Last year Kori LeBlanc, a clinical site leader for Toronto General Hospital’s pharmacy department, received an offer she couldn’t turn down: collaborating on research into new cardiac disease treatments. The project, she said, had “the potential to have quite an impact on how we care for patients.”
The part-time position was a wonderful opportunity, but she was already employed full time. So she asked her boss, Olavo Fernandes, the University Health Network’s director of pharmacy, about job sharing – an arrangement now offered by about 20 per cent of Canadian firms, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
[Worksharing (temporarily funded from unemployment insurance system) and timesizing (sustainably funded from, e.g., an overtime tax) are really about incrementally trimming the workweek to allow full employment and markets as more human employment is taken over by automation and robotics. Jobsharing is a sudden jump to half of an unreduced 40-hour workweek split between two people, but it's a useful transitional step.]
Mr. Fernandes found a member of Ms. LeBlanc’s own team of pharmacists to partner with her. Christine Malmberg, who was already working part time to spend more time with her children, was promoted to do half of Ms. LeBlanc’s job. In place for about a year now, the arrangement – despite the challenges inherent in dividing a management role – is working well.
Mr. Fernandes’s readiness to accommodate Ms. Leblanc reflects the position of an increasing number of employers, said Glen Grant, a consultant at Langley, B.C.-based Human Resources FX. “As different generations look at new opportunities,” he said, “they have more employees coming to them and saying ‘Look, I’d like to cut down to four days a week,’ or whatever. They are good employees, they are dedicated, they understand the business, and it’s a great way to be able to keep them.”
In some ways, job sharing means the best of both worlds. If a full-time salary is not a concern, the appeal for employees is obvious, opening up the possibility of achieving a better work-life balance and spending more time with their families. It allows them to participate in other meaningful activities, as in Ms. LeBlanc’s case, or they can study or start a small business.
At the same time, as Mr. Grant points out, such employees “have an education and experience and they want the rewards of maintaining all that, as opposed to stepping out completely. It allows them to be pro-active and co-operative within a corporate environment and engage in that, but still have the balance.”
Job-sharing has traditionally proliferated in sectors like teaching, nursing or public administration. But, according to Mr. Grant, “One of the biggest changes is that it’s actually getting into leadership, management and supervisory roles.”
This can bring a whole new level of challenges. “In a leadership role, there isn’t a finite box around what that entails,” agreed Ms. LeBlanc, who now works as site leader two and a half days a week. Rather than a simple question of time and tasks, “you have responsibilities to the program,” she said.
As a result, job sharers need to communicate well with each other, including on their days off, to make sure bases are always covered. For Mr. Fernandes, this means they ought to lay out and document the terms, “and clearly communicate [them] to peer leaders and the team as well.”
Both human resources professionals and job sharers agree it’s crucial that both workers get along. “That’s one of the biggest things,” said Mr. Grant.
“One person can’t dominate the other,” said Mr. Fernandes, who is now opening another position in his unit to job sharing. “They have to make an effort to understand each other’s personalities.”
Aside from keeping a valued employee on staff, companies can benefit from a broader array of talents, background and perspectives. Both Mr. Fernandes and Ms. LeBlanc said that, with job sharing, one and one adds up to more than two. “Our productivity is greater,” said Ms. LeBlanc. “With two minds and two people looking at things, there is a synergy to the advantages of having two people doing one job.”
Employers may also see a decrease in absenteeism, as part-time workers tend to schedule appointments for the doctor or dentist on their days off. During vacations and holidays, there is no need to bring in a temp or retrain another staff member.
“The final thing is the recruiting perspective,” said Mr. Grant. “If 40 hours is all you’re able to offer, you are reducing your eligible potential work force. If you offer full-time and job-sharing opportunities, your market increases.”
After 15 years in human resources management, Hannah McKinnon of *Pooling People Inc. is convinced that work sharing is a great idea. “I believe there are a lot of people out there who would jump at the chance of doing it, and would be so motivated they would blow your socks off,” she said.
Her business focuses on a niche aspect of work-sharing. “Its a business-to-business online community that brings overstaffed and understaffed companies together so that they can more effectively share their human resources,” she said, either through temporary lending or permanent transfer. Companies can purchase a membership, find either staff or corresponding employers, and make sharing arrangements set down in a contract.
Ms. McKinnon said she got the idea from her father, an architect, who noticed the burden on his company when project delays translated into idle staff. “And when people don’t have enough work,” she said, “they know that their boss knows that they don’t have enough to do. They start feeling insecure and start looking for a new job.”
But when the pace picks up again, those workers will be needed. “Meanwhile, the borrower gets a directly referred person, with no agency or recruitment costs,” she said.
Ms. Malmberg agreed that more employers should consider job-sharing arrangements. “I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity,” she said. “Employers should not just assume it’s not going to work because it’s never been done.”
- Commission gives employees option of 32-hour work week, by Clif Knight, (7/14 early pickup) HartselleEnquirer.com
MORGAN COUNTY, Alab., U.S.A. - Morgan County Commission is giving employees whose salaries are paid from the general fund the option of reducing their workweek from 40 to 32 hours per week as a budget-reduction measure for fiscal 2011-2012.
“We’ve circulated policy forms to eligible employees and asked for them to be returned to the Human Resources director not later than Tuesday, July 19.” said Commission Chairman Ray Long. “This is strictly voluntary and there will be no change in benefits for those who sign up. Participation would be mandatory for one year. On average, we’d save $6,000 in salary for each one who opts to work a shorter week.”
“There has been some interest expressed in having the option of working fewer than 40 hours and we’ll know how many employees choose that option when we hold our next budget meeting on July 21,” Long stated. “We’ll also begin meeting individually with department heads to review and evaluate their budget requests.
He said other options being looked at are a 371/2 hour workweek with a potential savings of $600,000 or a 35-hour workweek with a savings of $1.2 million.
“We’re faced with a $2 million revenue shortfall in this year’s budget,” Long pointed out. “That’s because revenues are less than what was anticipated and operational costs are higher than what was budgeted. The bottom line is we‘re going to have to find ways to reduce last year’s budget by about 10 percent in order to balance the budget for 2011-2012.”
- Menlo Park cops to work 100 fewer hours under new contract, by Diana Samuels, Daily News via MercuryNews.com
MENLO PARK, Calif., U.S.A. - Early morning patrols of Menlo Park's streets will remain lighter than a month ago under terms of a new deal the city struck with its police union to save about $340,000 a year.
The Menlo Park Police Officers Association ratified a tentative two-year contract that calls for 28 officers to work about 100 fewer hours each year and contribute more to their retirement plans. The agreement was released Tuesday and is scheduled to be approved by the city council on July 26.
The police officers' previous contract, which expired on June 30, was too "burdensome" because of the economic recession, according to a city staff report.
Menlo Park police officers earned an average of about $131,000 in salary, overtime and other compensation in the 2010-11 fiscal year, according to city records.
As first reported by The Daily News in May, the police department developed a new schedule effective June 19 that cut hours for patrol officers from about 2,184 per year to 2,080. The change aligned their schedules with those of sergeants and other officers who already worked a standard 40-hour work week, or 2,080 a year.
Police chief Bryan Roberts said in May that he has the discretion to adjust officers' schedules, and although union representatives indicated that a reduction in hours goes beyond a "schedule change" and should be considered part of negotiations, they agreed to the change.
Patrol officers generally work 12-hour shifts for four days and take the next four days off. Under the new system, one of those 12-hour shifts is reduced to an eight-hour shift approximately every other week. The reduction in hours is equivalent to a 4.8 percent pay cut.
Police Cmdr. Lacey Burt said officers who work 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. now come in at 10 a.m. for their "short day" while officers who work 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. would leave earlier, at 2 a.m. As a result, the period between 2 and 10 a.m. now has one fewer officer on patrol, or six instead of seven.
Both Burt and Officer Aaron Dixon, president of the police union, said while the system does work, they are fixing some "kinks" and trying to figure out how to juggle officers' different schedules.
Residents won't notice a difference in police response and there are enough officers on duty to keep residents safe, Burt and Dixon said.
"We didn't do this before we did a workload analysis and looked at our calls for service," Burt said. "Basically, it was structured around officers taking their short days when we didn't have a lot of calls for service."
Besides getting their hours docked, officers will contribute an additional 3 percent of their salary toward the CalPERS retirement fund, saving the city about $148,000 each year. They already paid 9 percent into the retirement fund.
The city also will establish a "second tier" retirement system for new hires, raising the age at which they can begin receiving pension payments from 50 to 55.
No raises are included in the new contract.
"We worked together with the city to reach an agreement that meets their budgetary needs," Dixon said. "We feel good about doing our part for the city."
Email Diana Samuels at email@example.com.
7/12/2011 – 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 ) -
- Where Have America's Jobs Gone? - Hiring at McDonald's; Wireless Networks' Job-Killing Effect; One Machine Doing The Work of Three, by Justin Lahart & James R. Hagerty, WSJ, B1.
[Sound the trumpets and hautboys! This is something I never thought I'd see. The Wall Street Journal debunking the myth that "technology creates more jobs than it destroys." Guess they finally had to face the Big Question, "Where are the jobs?" They did everything right, right? They gave all the money to the richest 30,000 Americans who were supposed to be job-creating like banshees. They pumped in technology like banshees. So, what's wrong? - "where are the jobs?" What's wrong is those two myths. Technology does NOT create more jobs than it destroys and you gotta replace job destruction with workweek reduction or you kill off your own markets and economy. IT'S NOT OPTIONAL. You do it or your economy splits into workers and drones - the workers are too overworked to spend and the drones are too poor, sick, desperate and/or alienated to spend. The wealthy might as well be painting targets on each others' backs with these dumb myths.]
NEW YORK, N.Y. - There are many reasons U.S. companies give for their lack of robust hiring—from weak consumer spending to uncertainty over the direction of government policies on debt and spending.
But a closer look at hiring provides a more nuanced picture. Some industries have significantly boosted employment over the past year while others continue to shed workers. To be sure, even those adding jobs are hiring far fewer than would be needed to put America's 14.1 million unemployed back to work.
Manufacturing has been adding jobs since the start of 2010 due in large part to the sharp rebound in automobile production at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC that has filtered to suppliers. On the flip side, just about anything to do with housing, from furniture makers to hardware stores, remains depressed. Homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc., of Horsham, Pa., plans to bring its total employment to 3,300 by Oct. 31. But that is less than half of its peak of about 7,000 in 2005.
"It's very incremental and deliberate re-hiring," said Jon Downs, senior vice president of human resources for Toll. "We aren't in a wholesale hiring mode."
Over the past year, private employers have added 1.7 million jobs, but the net result of 659,000 cuts in government jobs—about a half of them temporary Census workers—mean total U.S. payrolls were up by only 1 million in that span. That leaves the country with 7 million fewer jobs than when the recession started in late 2007.
Here's what it looks like on the ground in some industries that are among the biggest job gainers and losers over the past year:
Restaurants and bars
More than 9.3 million Americans work in restaurants, about one in every 10 employed, and the industry has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak hiring environment. Food service has added nearly 216,000 jobs since December 2009, when the industry's employment bottomed out in the recession. The 2.1% job growth that restaurants have experienced in the year ending June from a year ago is more than twice the nation's 0.9% job growth rate.
Of course, restaurants continue to hire even as the overall economy remains dismal because the work tends to be low-paying, either minimum wage and part-time, or both.
[And there it is again - shorter hours in the worst possible way - piecemeal, insufficient to prevent downsizing let alone raise wages by soaking up all the long-term unemployed, and no benefits. How else can we pauperize our consumer base and wipe out marketable productivity (=the only kind that counts) and sustainable investment?]
Consider McDonald's Corp. The burger giant hired more than 62,000 people on a national hiring day in April. "McDonald's and its franchisees continue to receive applications and hire thousands of people every day, whether for short-term work experience or a life-long career," said Danitra Barnett, Vice President of Human Resources for McDonald's USA.
The job growth is expected to continue: Industry estimates suggest the sector will add 1.3 million jobs in the next decade.
Companies that cut and shape metal for cars, airplanes and other products generally have had a rebound in jobs and orders over the past year. Robert Akers, chief operating officer of the National Tooling and Machining Association, said orders have been particularly good from aerospace and medical equipment makers. Employment is up 77,800, or six percent compared to a year ago, according to the Labor Department. Some metal-fabrication companies also are scrambling to replace baby boomers who retired during the recession. In a recent survey of association members, about 45% said their order backlogs had increased since this year's first quarter, while 20% were down.
Growing investments by oil, gas and other energy-producing companies have fueled orders at General Carbide Corp., a maker of tungsten carbide parts and tooling in Greensburg, Pa.
Mona Pappafava-Ray, president of the family-owned company, said her work force is up by about 60 people, or 40%, since 2009. But Ms. Pappafava-Ray has noticed a slowing in orders recently-she isn't sure whether it's just a summer lull or a real drop in demand. "At some point there is going to be a pullback."
—James R. Hagerty
Corporate investment in new technology have produced decent job growth in key areas of the tech sector over the past year. Jobs in computer systems design, which includes professionals who design, install and program computer systems, rose by about 70,000 between June 2010 and June 2011.
In June alone, the category added almost 6,000 professional jobs, one of the largest increases of any area.
Accenture PLC, which puts together computer systems for global corporations, said it is on track to hire some 5,000 people in the U.S. this year out of 66,000 global hires.
"We are anticipating and planning for similar results next year," said John Campagnino, head of global recruiting for Accenture, whose fiscal year ends Aug. 31.
Many startups are on a hiring tear as they receive large infusions of venture capital in the latest tech boom. Foursquare, which raised $50 million in June and makes a wireless application for smartphones, said it would add 25 employees this year to its 75, mostly software engineers.
—Spencer E. Ante
The U.S. has bled telecom jobs as cell phones have transformed the way people communicate. Americans are relying less and less on the hard-to-maintain copper lines that link homes to the national telephone network, and more on mobile phones and fiber-optic connections, which are easier to keep running.
Telecommunications employed 869,900 people in June, 28,400 fewer than a year before and about 560,000 fewer people than a decade ago, according to the Labor Department. At Verizon Communications Inc., for example, 11,900 wire line employees took buyouts in 2010—a year when its number of wired access lines dwindled to 26 million, compared to 31 million at the end of 2008.
"There's going to be, hopefully a stabilization period where we're now back to a stable employment base that we can continue to grow," said Marc Reed, Verizon's executive vice president for human resources. "But at this point in time, there is a disconnect between the legacy of where we've been over many, many years versus the competitive realities of the marketplace."
Printing jobs have continued to dwindle, off 4.5% from a year ago, in part because digital competition has reduced demand for newspapers, magazines and books, said Ron Davis, chief economist for Printing Industries of America, a trade group based in Pittsburgh. The business of printing labels, wrappers and packaging remains strong, he said, and direct-marketing, catalog and brochure work has been resilient.
But the printing companies that have survived tend to be very efficient and need fewer workers.
"Business is better but it's not back where it was," said Ralph Moore, owner of Commercial Printing Co. in Raleigh, N.C., which prints office stationery, newsletters, booklets and other items. He has kept his staff level at 22 and figures he could expand his output as much as about 25% without new workers. Using digital printers, the company now can do some jobs with one person that used to require two or three. Mr. Moore invested about $150,000 earlier this year to install a faster digital printer.
—James R. Hagerty
In building construction, slight job gains in commercial and industrial construction are being swamped by losses in residential, where foreclosures, tight credit and depressed prices have taken a toll. In June, residential and commercial building companies employed 1.2 million workers, down 15,900, or 1.3% from a year earlier, according to the Labor Department.
"We're down about as skinny as we can get and are focusing all of our efforts on increasing sales and completing construction for the buyers that are out there," said Brent Anderson, vice president investor relations at residential home builder Meritage Homes. "It is tough to add people when our sales aren't increasing," he said. Meritage expects to build between 3,500 and 4,000 homes this year, down from a peak of 10,000 homes in 2006.
Write to Justin Lahart at email@example.com and James R. Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org
- >Lower Merion issues 'Smart' cards for parking, by Cheryl Allison
email@example.com, Main Line via mainlinemedianews.com
LOWER MERION, Wales - Lower Merion Township already has a hit on its hands with the “10 Minutes Free” option on its new parking meters.
Now it’s getting ready to make another “Smart” move toward more user-friendly parking in its business districts.
A committee of the board of commissioners last week recommended advertisement of an amendment of township code to permit the use of Smart Cards as a form of payment for parking.
If adopted as expected next month, the township’s Parking Services Department could begin selling the pre-loaded cards by as soon as September, said Director Tom Pintande.
The capability to take Smart Card payment was a side-benefit of purchasing new meter heads last year to replace older models that Pintande said likely would not meet state recertification in 2011. Earlier this year, the new meter heads were installed in all of the business districts.
With the Smart Card, shoppers and other meter users will be able to preload the card with up to $100 in value, avoiding the need to carry coins.
(A $100 maximum is recommended, Pintande said, for the protection of the purchaser. Money on lost or stolen cards will not be replaced.)
The other advantage of the cards, Pintande explained at a meeting July 6, is that if a customer does not use all of the time put onto a meter, the remainder can be refunded to the card.
Pintande said the cards will be available for purchase at the Parking Services Department office at the Public Safety Building, 71 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, during regular business hours, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
A $5 fee will be charged at the initial issuance of the card, but it can be reloaded with no additional fee. That’s to encourage users to reuse the cards rather than discarding them when funds are depleted.
Pintande said they will work this way: When a customer inserts the card, time can be added to the meter in half-hour, 25-cent increments. When the user returns to the meter, he or she can insert the card again, and any unused time will be added back onto the card.
The 10-minutes free function can still be activated by pushing the button before inserting any payment.
Commissioners were glad to see the Smart Card feature moving forward. Their only questions were whether the cards could eventually be sold at other locations than Parking Services, so that they would be more conveniently available at other times.
Pintande said he would look at that option, after an initial period to get the program up and running.
At the same time the Smart Card option is added, Pintande said the parking code would also be amended, to allow for the use of dollar coins as a payment option. A long-discontinued option of using tokens will be deleted from the code.
At the same time the changes in meter options are being implemented, Pintande proposed changes also in Lower Merion’s municipal permit lot operations.
The township until now has sold six-month permits for lots in Ardmore, Bryn Mawr and Bala Cynwyd-Merion for $210.
Responding to changes in the economy, Pintande said he is recommending several other options to suit the needs of users, often employees of downtown businesses.
Because more workers are part-time or assigned for shorter hours these days, he said, there is a need for more flexible arrangements. He proposed sales of permits on a monthly, weekly or daily basis, saying these options may be “more convenient economically” to users.
[= shorter hours' parking repercussions.]
The recommended charges are $40 for a monthly permit, $10 weekly and $2 daily.
The permit lot changes are also proposed for advertisement and action in August, so that, if they are adopted, the shorter-term permits could also be available, like the Smart Cards, by September.
7/10-11/2011 – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- 40 Hour Work Week, 9-5 Era A Thing Of The Past, by Devetta Blount, 7/11 WFMY News 2
GREENSBORO, N.C. - When was the last time you or anyone you know, actually put in a 40 hour work week?"
[IF you still have a full-time job, that is!]
According to the Center for American Progess, the era of a 9-to-5 work week appears to be coming to an end. Higher-level workers are increasingly being asked to put in 50 hours or more a week, effectively working an 8-to-6 work week at the very least, while lower income workers are often forced to work fewer hours but at jobs with irregular schedules.
The Center for American Progress reviewed dozens of studies from the previous 30 years to understand the changing work/life struggles of the country's labor force.
Driving these changes, as the center explains it, are companies turning lower-level full-time jobs into part-time employment to cut costs, savings that come at the expense of workers -- and their families -- losing the traditional schedules and financial benefits that come with full-time employment. Some 38% of men in professional and management positions worked at least 50 hours a week between 2006 and 2008 up from 34% who worked those hours 30 years prior, based on government studies cited in the report. Women in higher-level positions experienced an even steeper change, with 14% working 50 hours or more in 2006 and 2008 compared to just 6% who did between 1977 and 1979.
These longer work schedules, which the center describes as being "ramped up versions" of what full-time employment once meant, were found to be particularly common on the higher end of the income ladder. "Many of the highest-paying and highest-status professional jobs require very long hours -- and, in today's 'winner take all' economy, turning them down can extract a sharp wage penalty," the researchers write in the report. Much has been written about the number of Americans forced to work longer hours in the aftermath of the recession, as companies cut their payrolls, but as the literature reviewed in this report shows, many higher-level professionals were in danger of becoming workaholics long before that.
One Harvard study published in 2006, for example, found that a fifth of those in the top 6% of income earners actually worked 60-hour weeks on average. On the other hand, lower-level workers are facing the opposite problem. The percentage of men in low-income professions who worked 50 hours a week was cut in half during the previous 30 years, despite the fact that these workers often want to put in more hours to build up their income. To make matters worse, though they work fewer hours, their schedules tend to be more irregular, with two thirds of couples that earn less than $50,000 a year having at least one spouse who works hours outside the traditional 9-to-5 schedule (i.e. nights and weekends).
This change in schedules for high- and low-level employees not only has the potential to cause added stress while at work but according to the report, it also has the potential to cut into the time these people would otherwise spend taking care of their households. Even the companies themselves may not benefit in the end from pushing more inconvenient work schedules. As the center points out, one survey found that workers would be 30% less likely to quit their job within the first two years if they had flexible schedules. However, since their schedules are getting worse, not better, companies may have to confront higher turnover and the added financial burden that comes with replacing employees.
Despite the changes to the nation's overall work experience, there are plenty of companies that do provide flexible schedules and other perks to lighten the burden of a heavy work week.
[Additional article to really make you sick -]
New Rules Limit[??] Resident Work Hours - A new set of rules will limit the number of hours first-year [physician trainee-]residents can work, by: Jessica Grogan, 7/11 MDnews.com (press release)
CHICAGO, Illin. - The rules, issued by the nonprofit Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), limit first-year residents to 16-hour shifts. Second- and third-year residents are still be allowed to work 28 hours at a time, but they cannot take on new patients in the last four hours of their shift.
[28 HOURS??? Taking on existing patients after being awake and on-duty 24 HOURS??? This is the best reason for moving to Europe!]
The new rules went into effect on July 1 and are intended to prevent medical errors that attend to result from sleep deprivation.
Some groups, including the Institute of Medicine (IOM), feel the new guidelines are not strict enough.
In its report, “Resident duty hours: Enhancing sleep, supervision and safety,” published January 2009, the IOM made several recommendations regarding resident work hours, including:
* Resident physician shifts should be no more than 12 to 16 hours.
[12 to 16 HOURS??? - that's a disgrace to science and health. It's disgusting. It's dangerous for patients and trainees. It shows how totally out of line and just plain SICK the culture of American physicians has become. Do the hominids coming up with these figures have any clue what monsters they've turned into?]
* A minimum of 10 hours off duty should be scheduled between each shift.
* Residents should not be scheduled for the maximum number of hours. The scheduler should anticipate that emergencies can occur that require residents to stay longer than their scheduled shifts.
* Hospitals should consider the effects of multiple consecutive night shifts and adequate time off after night work when making schedules.
While the IOM believes more work needs to be done to address fatigue in residents, the organization believes the new rules are a step in the right direction. However, some disagree with the new rules.
Many of those [really sick megalomaniacs?] in the medical field who are opposed to the new rules feel that working long hours ensures residents gain ample [malpractice?] experience and that while limiting shifts for new residents is a way to ease them into the profession, residents in their second and third years need to learn to manage the fatigue [oh please, how about preventing the fatigue] they will likely encounter during their regular clinical practice, when work hours are not regulated.
The argument has also been made that residents are a source of inexpensive labor, and that limiting the number of hours they can work means hospitals will have to pay other providers to step in [and streamline training?]. According to an analysis by UCLA, limiting the number of hours residents can work will cost hospitals and clinics nearly $250 million in the first year [unless they actually learn some management skills].
When residency program directors across the country were surveyed before the new rules took effect, a majority of respondants worry the changes will affect physician education. [Scared of an actually healthy education instead of a sadistic initiation rite?]
Of the nearly 500 respondents from various medical fields, 87% feel that the shortened shifts will cause a disconnect between residents and their patients [whaaat?]. Residents will have more handoffs [presumably meaning shorter shifts, a management coordination issue] and may not see the full progression of a patient’s care [they won't see it if they're sleepwalking anyway].
[Good God, American medicine is totally psychotic and sociopathic. Beam me up, Scottie - there is no intelligent life here!]
Seventy-eight percent of respondents worry the new guidelines will compromise graduates’ competency in several core areas defined by the ACGME — patient care, medical knowledge, interpersonal and communications skills, and professionalism.
Some survey respondents also wonder if the new rules will really reduce residents’ fatigue as they are designed to do. Sixty-five percent of program directors feel the limits will have no effect on fatigue, while 6% believe the restrictions may even increase fatigue.
Experts agree that more research will need to be conducted in order to determine how residents are affected by the new rules.
“This will probably not be the final iteration of recommendations that are set in place,” said Darcy Reed, M.D., M.P.H., in a Mayo Clinic press release. “Obviously patient outcomes are of the utmost importance, but training the future workforce of excellent physicians also is in patients' interests. I believe we'll continue to see these policies evolve.”
- Manufacturers are adding jobs as business picks up, By Brian Boyd
email@example.com, 7/10 SouthCoastToday.com
NEW BEDFORD, Mass. - Written off as dead by many, manufacturing is in fact alive and well.
It's even gaining a little more energy after suffering through the worst of the recession. The New Bedford area's manufacturing sector, which produces everything from golf balls and men's clothing to catalytic converters and o-rings, has added an estimated 700 jobs since a low point nearly two years ago.
Rebounding sales have buoyed local companies such as Precix Inc., the former Acushnet Rubber Co., which makes fuel seals and o-rings in New Bedford.
"In some cases, we are so busy we have actually turned some new customers away because we can't keep up," said David Slutz, the firm's president and chief executive officer.
It employs 312 workers, up from 195 during the dark days of late 2008 and early 2009, and it could be up to 330 by this fall, he said.
The manager of the New Bedford Business Park says a number of manufacturing tenants have either enjoyed an upturn in the past year, with some even beating pre-recession sales.
"A handful of manufacturers experienced a sharp increase in sales by introducing a new product, entering new markets, or obtaining new significant customers," said Thomas G. Davis, executive director of the Greater New Bedford Industrial Foundation.
On the other hand, several businesses in the park rely on the construction industry, which is still slumping, he said.
Manufacturing has been one of the bright spots as the country slowly recovers from the worst recession since the Great Depression. The country's manufacturing sector has expanded for 23 consecutive months, while the services sector has grown for 19 consecutive months, according to the Institute for Supply Management.
This doesn't mean the sector will employ as many people as it once did. Manufacturers survive by specializing in high-end products and keeping a tight lid on costs through automation and management practices.
"The story is often told we don't make anything in this country anymore, (that) our manufacturing industry is dead," said Dr. Michael Goodman, associate professor and chairman of UMass Dartmouth's Department of Public Policy. "That is not really true. We make more — and more different things — than ever before. We just make them with a significantly smaller number of workers."
The number of manufacturing jobs was declining before the downturn. From 1990 to December 2007, the beginning of the recession, jobs in the New Bedford area fell by more than a third, from 16,100 to 9,900, according to data provided by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
As the recession forced companies to cut back, local manufacturing jobs bottomed out in August 2009 at 8,400 before making a partial recovery. The number grew to 9,100 in May, the latest month for which local numbers are available, an analysis by the Boston Fed shows.
"New Bedford is more reliant on manufacturing" than the state as a whole, said Robert Clifford, a policy analyst at the Boston Fed who researched the local numbers.
Manufacturing jobs account for 13.7 percent of the area's workforce, compared to 7.9 percent statewide.
Exports, a good indicator of demand for manufacturing, are also on the rebound. While local export data isn't available, total Massachusetts exports jumped 11.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year. That follows a 16.8 percent decline from 2008 to 2009, according to Clifford.
Local manufacturers said they have managed to survive the downturn and find new opportunities.
The Acushnet Company, the Fairhaven-based maker of Titleist golf balls that employs more than 1,800 people in the area, has looked to new markets as the recession cut into American's discretionary spending.
"While it appears that the U.S. economy is starting its recovery, the main barometer that drives the golf ball industry is rounds of play, and that category continues to decline in the U.S.," said Jerry Bellis, president of Titleist Golf Balls, in a statement.
However, opportunities overseas have helped the company sustain and even increase slightly its staffing levels in the past couple of years, he said.
Defense contractor Lockheed Martin, which employs 340 in Marion secured several contracts from the U.S. Navy this year and expects to hire up to 15 new assemblers/technicians over the next several months.
"This year we are seeing an increase in our Polaris commercial contract manufacturing business as well as in our other program areas that serve our Department of Defense and international military customers," said spokeswoman Tracy L. McNeil in a statement.
Some small manufacturers are thriving as well.
Davico Mfg., a New Bedford business that makes replacement catalytic converters, saw its sales jump 20 percent last year and it expects to do at least as well this year. It employs nearly 60 workers, up from 35 last year, said Ray Surprenant, the company's president.
Davico adheres to a philosophy known as "lean manufacturing," emphasizing cost controls.
It strives to be nimble, training its employees in different aspects of production so they can be flexible and react faster to business changes than their competitors.
New workers start wielding finished products and graduate upstream to earlier stages of production, Surprenant said.
"You can put people where they are most needed and maintain the quality of the product, he said.
The company is open to employee suggestions for managing costs. The approach differs from the top-down model of traditional manufacturing, he said.
Increased productivity also makes a difference. Precix has boosted its productivity over the last decade.
The company used to make less than $100,000 in sales per employee. Today, it makes $150,000 in sales per employee, in part due to automation, new product mix and other changes, Slutz said.
"We can get more sales out the door with fewer employees, and that's how you survive," he said.
Since the company makes components for commercial aircraft and cars, it only has to compete with other businesses with the same degree of specialization.
"If you're not a niche-based manufacturer, you're not going to survive in North America," Slutz said. "You really want to focus on higher end products that have a lot of material content, not as much labor content, because obviously we're competing with labor all over the world that is a lot (cheaper) than our labor."
Suit maker Joseph Abboud Manufacturing manages to succeed in New Bedford by focusing on high-end men's clothing. It would be difficult to make less expensive clothing in the United States, said Anthony R. Sapienza, chief executive officer of parent company JA Apparel Corp.
The factory, which employed 575 people in 2006, had to lay off many of those workers and shorten hours when the recession battered the men's apparel business. Its workforce fell to 325. But starting last year, business began picking up, allowing the company to hire many people back. It now employs about 450, according to Sapienza.
Since the company does make its products here, it can boast of that fact in its marketing. Sapienza said customers who are wary about the quality of imported products are attracted to American-made goods.
"Made in USA has real cache that we as company intend to continue to market and see as brand attribute and a source of strength," Sapienza said. "We think the (New Bedford) factory is weapon we can use against competitors."
The days of having one or two massive businesses employ most people in a community are gone, and they are not likely to return. Instead, the key for the New Bedford is to attract and retain multiple manufacturers.
As long as it can provide skilled workers, the region can be competitive, thanks in part to lower real estate costs and its proximity to Boston, Providence, and the shipping lanes of the Atlantic Ocean, Goodman said.
"Smaller and medium-sized firms need to be cultivated, and to extent they succeed, they need to be retained in the area," he said.
- Unions Should Concede Shorter Hours, by Jim O'Neill, 7/11 The Hartford Courant via articles.courant.com
HARTFORD, Conn. - Here's a new concept, a state employee concession plan that everybody can understand: guarantee jobs for a shorter workweek.
[Here's the essential timesizing "wheel" being reinvented again - it's such common sense that it will eventually prevail, despite the inertia of the old Protestant work ethic "work hard to get ahead" and the ignorance of the change robotization has already made and the confused superstitions about the time dimension and the desire for time to stay part of the unchanging woodwork of life...]
In reading the now failed agreement between the Malloy administration and the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition, I was amazed at how complicated they made it for members, including me, to read. Here are a few quotes from the agreement:
"For individuals retiring on or after Sept. 2, 2011, the early retirement reduction factor shall be changed to six percent for each year before the individual would be eligible to take unreduced Normal Retirement.
"The parties will meet and discuss a modification to the Breakpoint that will be effective for service earned on and after July 1, 2013. The revised breakpoint will be designed so that the pension amount for individuals earning under the current breakpoint will be increased.
"The parties have agreed that the current practice for five (5) year reviews will continue and OJE adjustments may be resolved for jobs which the Union believes have substantial changes in duties through interim bargaining and, if necessary, arbitration (rather than through the Master Evaluation Committee)."
No kidding. Six percent of what for who? I thought a breakpoint was something to do with tennis. Ooooh! I wonder who is on the Master Evaluation Committee and if they have a secret handshake.
Most of us state employees were provided with virtually no reliable information by our unions before rumors spread of compulsory colonoscopies, retirement penalties and having our health plan changed into a mongrelized version of a nationalized health care plan from a third world country.
The health care plan sounded like another step toward Big Brother with menacing language including, "Participants who choose not to adhere to the requirements of the Health Enhancement program will be given appropriate notice and opportunity to improve." Then what? Get fired? Be confined to a fat farm until we lose enough weight to rejoin society?
Sure there was talk of job security, but with lots of caveats in the same sort of unfathomable wording as the examples above.
It simply came down to the membership not really trusting the union leadership. This was self inflicted because union heads did not have meetings prior to negotiations to see what members were willing to offer up, or what we could live with. A lot of bright suggestions would have been made, but union leadership was sure it knew what was best for us. Oops!
Without the need for a whole lot of complicated language here's how we can come to an agreement in short order. We, the unionized employees, get real job security. The administration gets what was already negotiated in the agreement except with no change in health benefits and only one adjustment to pensions and that based on a two-year pay freeze everyone would endure. To achieve the needed saving unions would agree to immediately implement a 35-hour workweek for state employees.
So, I estimate the two-year wage freeze (retroactive to July 1) would generate $138.8 million in this fiscal year and $309.5 million in the next. Pension savings in the two years would be $69.3 million and $71 million. Further savings of $90 million from technology initiatives and $180 million from the unions' budget savings initiative would be realized. Finally, putting all state workers who are not already on a 35-hour workweek on the reduced schedule would save $482.5 million in each of the next two years. This all adds up to $1.8 billion in savings over two years.
To my fellow state employees I ask, "What do you say?" Give up some money, get a little more time with the family, no worries about heath care and pension changes, share the sacrifice and keep our fellow union members working. I'd vote for this straightforward, easily understood plan. I hope you will too. OooRah!
Jim O'Neill is a 24-year state worker and is a legislative liaison for the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. He is a member of the Administrative and Residual Employees Union.
- Hubs a 'pioneering new way of working', 7/11 South Devon Herald Express via thisissouthdevon.co.uk
TOTNES, Devon, U.K. - A pioneering new way of working as part of a major transport project could make Totnes the first green travel community in Devon.
The county council wants to site the first shared work 'hub' to be built in Devon in the town as part of a £5million package of projects to encourage sustainable transport across the county.
A meeting is due to go ahead in Totnes at the Royal Seven Stars Hotel on Tuesday to discuss the development of work hubs in Devon.
Research commissioned by Devon County Council explored the potential for Work Hubs in key market towns – Barnstaple, Totnes, Ilfracombe, Exmouth, Axminster and Newton Abbot.
The greatest demand was in Totnes, where 74 businesses expressed a strong interest and talks are already going on to secure a work hub facility, with significant interest from the private sector, Transition Town Totnes and the Dartington Hall Trust.
Part of the £5million Government funding for sustainable transport schemes designed to support transport schemes, cut congestion and help economic growth – which was confirmed last week – could also go towards more sustainable travel for Totnes including providing electric bikes, better community transport and travel awareness campaigns.
A major sustainable travel consultation process has been going on in Totnes for the last few months with the aim of turning the town into a pilot which could be rolled out across the county.
John Carter, South Hams councillor for planning, economy and community said: "Work hubs provide an environment which encourages business collaboration and networking. This concept of sharing ideas and services [and underused employees and cross-training a la *Pooling People?] will work very well in Totnes, where businesses have demonstrated a demand for such a facility."
The county aims to use the Government cash to make better use of the existing transport network as well as promoting sustainable travel behaviour and support the local economy.
Countywide initiatives include better co-ordination of bus services with trains, the development of travel plans with employers, improved cycle parking at transport interchanges and clearer signing for walkers and cyclists. There will also be targeted schemes in Newton Abbot and the surrounding area, including Kingsteignton, Exeter, Exmouth and the surrounding area and Totnes and its surrounding parishes.
In the Newton Abbot and Kingsteignton area the funding will be used to build on investment in the cycling and walking network.
Some will be spent on cycle for adults while commuters will be encouraged to make the most of the Connect 2 cycle link. Integration between bus connections and walking and cycling links will be improved, and traffic management on main routes will also be reviewed to ease congestion.
7/09/2011 – 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 ) -
- First Automated Library System In Southeast Opens In Oceanway, FirstCoastNews.com
[Automation vs. jobs.]
JACKSONVILLE, Fla - Getting library materials just got a lot easier for residents of Oceanway.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today at the Oceanway Community Center.
Residents go online to order their materials from the library, then the books or other items are dropped in a locker at the center. Patrons put in their library card PIN number, the locker opens and off they go.
City Councilman Ray Holt says it is a way to expand services while the library had to cut hours and people. Holt says if this service is used a lot it could lead to building a new library in Oceanway when the city's financial situation improves.
Resident Tavares Ricks says he thinks it's a good idea. " I go to the library across the river a lot with my son. This will save me a lot of time ," said Ricks.
First Coast News Photojournalist Mike Bunker went to the ribbon cutting ceremony...
- [So worksharing (shorter hours) vs. automation -]
Legislation Introduced to Reform UI System, (7/08 late pickup) HR.BLR.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) have introduced legislation to reform the unemployment insurance (UI) system by encouraging short-time compensation, also known as work-sharing.
The Layoff Prevention Act of 2011 promotes work sharing, which allows employers to avoid layoffs by reduce their workers’ weekly hours and pay. Employees who participate in the program would receive a portion of UI benefits to make up for lost wages.
In a press release, Senator Reed said the act will allow companies to remain competitive by lowering costs and keeping a skilled work force, as well as benefit employees by allowing them to keep their jobs and health benefits.
“With fewer workers unemployed, there is less of a burden on the Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits system,” notes Congresswoman DeLauro.
There are currently 23 states in the United States that have similar programs.
Here are the specific provisions of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2011, presented by DeLauro and Reed:
Offers Temporary Federal Financing
States with approved work sharing programs receive federal financing for 100% of work sharing benefits paid to workers. This financing program is available for up to 3 years.
States with existing work sharing programs automatically receive 100% financing for 2 years and are eligible for a 3rd year once their program is approved.
States without work sharing programs can take advantage of a federal program that would provide employers with access to work sharing and states with federal financing for 50% of work sharing benefits. This financing is available for 2 years.
Provides Additional Incentives
States with approved work sharing programs are eligible for grants for implementation and improved administration and larger grants for promotion and program enrollment efforts.
Contains Limitations Focused on Long-term Employment
Employers cannot participate if their workforce is employed on a seasonal or temporary basis.
Enhances Work Sharing
Requires the Department of Labor to:
1. update model legislative language to help states develop and enact work sharing programs;
2. consult with employers, states, and others to improve the administration of work sharing;
3. provide technical assistance and guidance to states; and
4. survey states and employers to determine challenges to enacting work sharing.
- [Local example -]
Jones County jobless rate among best in state - Officials credit number of jobs in area, By David Owens, email@example.com, Laurel Leader Call via leadercall.com
LAUREL, Calif. - Despite national and international economic turmoil, Jones County has fared considerably well in the area of employment. The county, with an unemployment rate of 7.9 percent, has the fifth lowest rate in the state.
However, as Mitch Stennett, president of the Economic Development of Jones County, points out there are still many left unemployed.
Using statistics from the Mississippi Department of Employment Security Commission (MESC), Stennett said the 7.9 percent unemployment equates to roughly 2,450 people without jobs.
“That’s almost double that of 2001,” he said. “The most recent month is better than last year’s rate of 8.5 percent and 2,560 people unemployed, but there’s fewer people shown as employed by well over 1,000 from 2001.”
A decade ago, Jones County had a 4.6 average annual unemployment rate with only 1,330 people unemployed, according to the MESC.
Stennett said a “silver lining” is that Jones County has consistently topped the state and national averages throughout the recession.
“Since January of this year, Jones County has seen an increase in the number of employed people by 980, according to MESC reports,” Stennett said. “It has to at least show a very positive trend, even with the knowledge that our total labor force increased by 790 people during that same period.”
According to Labor Market Reports, Jones County’s best year for employment in the past decade was 2007, when 31,010 people were employed, and there was a 4.7 percent unemployment rate.
Stennett said the county experienced its worst year in 2010 when it had an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent and 2,560 people were unemployed.
“2011 could be close to last year, but we have over half the year left to try and see more improvements and we’re trending much better so far,” he said.
Stennett noted that the sectors that have gained the most jobs are construction and accomodations/food service. He said the recent additions of the Bok Homa Casino near Sandersville, Raising Cane’s in Laurel and other small businesses have also helped.
“We have faired so well over a period of time because we’re pretty well diversified in Jones County,” he said. “We have manufacturing, service and retail all pretty well split out. A lot of public buildings are going up so that helps the contractor employment.”
The Jones County Chamber of Commerce has also hosted about 6 or 7 ribbons cutting per month since the first of the year. Stennett said that shows small businesses are also growing.
“It’s all good, but we could be a lot better,” he said. “We hope to see better things to come.”
Phil Hosey, branch manager for the WIN Job Center in Laurel, said Jones County has consistently had a low unemployment rate thanks to industry leaders such as Sanderson Farms, Howard Industries and Masonite.
“Over the last several years, we’ve been in the top 10 counties in the state,” Hosey said. “That reflects that we have stable employment in Jones County and surrounding counties. The poultry plants, Masonite and Howard Industries are strong as far as employment is concerned.”
Hosey said he believes the economy is continuing to improve.
“Especially from my perspective in Laurel, one of the things we look at at the WIN Job Center are how many people we place in a job,” he said. “That number is significantly better this year than last year. There’s more hiring activity going on this year.”
That growth in the private sector is also a trend nationwide. In a release issued Friday, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said the country has experienced 16 straight months of private sector job growth with more than 2.2 million private sector jobs added during the time frame.
“Our economic recovery is being, and needs to be, carried by the private sector,” Solis said. “But we need to see businesses do more to employ American workers. Many companies have had a great year and are sitting on large piles of capital. It is critical that they begin to turn their profits into jobs for the American people.”
According to numbers released for June, the private sector added 57,000 jobs, but federal, state and local governments cut a combined 39,000 positions, resulting in a total gain of 18,000 non-farm payroll jobs. The national unemployment rate edged up to 9.2 percent.
Solis encouraged Congress to reform the unemployment insurance system so more states will participate in work-sharing programs. She said the programs allow employers to avoid making layoffs during lean times by instead reducing some workers’ hours, while states make up a portion of their lost wages through their unemployment funds.
“Work-sharing is a proven job-saver, but fewer than half of all states utilize it,” she said. “These programs saved more than 265,000 jobs in the previous two years alone. Work-sharing helps businesses retain skilled workers in whom they’ve invested time and money; it keeps workers on the payroll so they can keep their skills fresh and provide for their families; and it saves taxpayers money by reducing the number of people seeking full unemployment compensation.”
- 40-Hour Dashed, by John Harrison, (7/08 late pickup) Portfolio.com
WASHINGTON, D,C, - Dolly Parton once landed a hit record with the words “nine to five, what a way to make a living.” But like the singer’s natural bust line and hair color, that once standard working routine may soon be a thing of the past.
The Center for American Progress reports that the era of the 9-to-5 workday is nearing an end, as high-income workers are asked to work more and low-income workers are asked to work less. By extension, Americans may soon bid farewell to the once traditional 40-hour work week.
Companies cutting costs by turning full-time, low-income positions into part-time jobs are driving the changes, according to the organization. The report, released last Friday, cites a government study showing the percentage of low-income, male professionals working 50-hour weeks has been sliced in half in the last three decades. Their schedules also tend to be irregular, as two out of three couples making less than $50,000 a year now have at least one person working outside the traditional 9-to-5 schedule.
The study also showed that both men and women in professional and management roles work 50-hour weeks more frequently than 30 years ago. Often, these high-level workers are required to put in extra hours to compensate for the decreasing number of full-time, low-income employees—thus broadening the divide between the workload of high- and low-income workers.
[And thus concentrating the natural market-demanded employment on ever fewer people and leaving more people with smaller or no paychecks and the economy with weakening consumer spending and a surer trip to the dumpster of permanent unspinnable depression. Emergency worksharing and permanent timesizing are no longer a luxury option but an urgent necessity.]
The change could cause added stress for workers, according to the report, as well as cut into the time they would otherwise spend managing their households [or spend shopping and maintaining consumer spending and economic dynamism]. Employers also might be adversely affected, as unreasonable schedules drive workers to quit their jobs at a higher rate, leaving companies with the added financial burden of replacing employees.
On the bright side, with more variance in workers’ schedules, perhaps rush hour traffic may become a thing of the past, too.
[Lao Tzu would call this Straining to Find a Silver Lining, and say, Don't bother - we're hearing enough lullabies.]
7/08/2011 – 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 firstname.lastname@example.org unless otherwise initialed ) -
- The Layoff Prevention Act of 2011 Introduced, compensation.blr.com
[Synopsis of the newly introduced U.S. federal worksharing law -]
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. - Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) and Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) have introduced legislation to reform the unemployment insurance (UI) system. The Layoff Prevention Act of 2011 encourages short-time compensation, also known as work-sharing, which allows employers to avoid layoffs by reduce their workers’ weekly hours and pay.
Employees who participate in the program would receive a portion of UI benefits to make up for lost wages.
In a press release, Senator Reed said the act will allow companies to remain competitive by lowering costs and keeping a skilled work force, as well as benefit employees by allowing them to keep their jobs and health benefits.
“With fewer workers unemployed, there is less of a burden on the Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits system,” notes Congresswoman DeLauro.
There are currently 23 [individual] states in the United States that have similar programs.
Here are the specific provisions of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2011, presented by DeLauro and Reed:
Offers Temporary Federal Financing
States with approved work sharing programs receive federal financing for 100% of work sharing benefits paid to workers. This financing program is available for up to 3 years.
States with existing work sharing programs automatically receive 100% financing for 2 years and are eligible for a 3rd year once their program is approved.
States without work sharing programs can take advantage of a federal program that would provide employers with access to work sharing and states with federal financing for 50% of work sharing benefits. This financing is available for 2 years.
Provides Additional Incentives
States with approved work sharing programs are eligible for grants for implementation and improved administration and larger grants for promotion and program enrollment efforts.
Contains Limitations Focused on Long-term Employment
Employers cannot participate if their workforce is employed on a seasonal or temporary basis.
Enhances Work Sharing
Requires the Department of Labor to:
1. update model legislative language to help states develop and enact work sharing programs;
2. consult with employers, states, and others to improve the administration of work sharing;
3. provide technical assistance and guidance to states; and
4. survey states and employers to determine challenges to enacting work sharing.
- On summer Fridays, more are giving work the slip — with bosses’ blessing, by Marc Fisher, WashingtonPost.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - It’s another sunny summer Friday afternoon, and at 2:30 the Beltway is jammed, the Bay Bridge is backed up and the grass at Farragut Square downtown is crammed with office workers enjoying a very long lunch.
What no one seems to be doing is actually working on a workday.
From government employees who stretch their flextime into three-day weekends to private-sector businesses that adopt summer hours because they realize nothing is getting done on Friday afternoons anyway, a growing number of Washington area residents are enjoying a workweek that ends on Thursday evening or midday Friday.
The shift has occurred despite the dreary economy and in the face of widespread anxiety about job security, according to economists and academics who study labor trends.
In an informal survey of personnel directors at Fortune 1000 companies conducted for The Washington Post by the Corporate Executive Board in Rosslyn, nearly half said their business has instituted a compressed workweek during the summer or is considering doing so, often by allowing workers to put in longer hours Monday through Thursday in exchange for taking off all or part of Friday.
“We see companies moving in the direction of giving employees flexibility over when they work,” said Brian Kropp, managing director of the board’s Corporate Leadership Council, which advises businesses on management and strategy. “Taking every other Friday off is much more effective than ice cream socials or company picnics. The gift of time is the most precious gift you can give an employee, and it pays off in employee engagement.”
[= a great sentiment, though much in this article is just flextime and compressed workweeks, not the free time and reduced workweeks that have historically got the unemployed hired and raised consumer spending.]
At SpeakerBox Communications, a public relations firm in Tysons Corner, chief executive Elizabeth Shea created a summer-hours option seven years ago, allowing employees to work an extra half-hour Monday through Thursday in exchange for ending their workweek midday Friday every other week all summer.
“The extra half-hour doesn’t feel painful, especially in the recession, when people felt the need to work extra hard,” Shea said, “and this helped them feel rewarded for that extra work.”
As a service company, SpeakerBox has to remain available to customers, “but in the summer, there’s less likelihood that our clients are going to need us to accommodate them on a Friday afternoon,” Shea said.
The National Geographic Society’s downtown offices are closed alternate Fridays all summer. The organization’s “Green Fridays” program, launched in 2008, was intended to save energy, but workers, who add one hour a day to their schedule the rest of the week during the summer, say the policy has also been a morale boost at the nonprofit organization that has resorted to layoffs because of declining membership.
The idea of an early quit is top of mind for many office workers who head to Farragut Square for the weekly Farragut Friday gathering of many of Washington’s food trucks. As the trucks line the square, some workers have already finished their job for the week while others are stretching their lunch hour, hoping to slip back into the office and then right out again.
Najla Haywood, who works at a downtown consultancy, doesn’t get Friday afternoons off, but “fortunately,” she said, “I have a boss who doesn’t care that much about face time as long as the work gets done.” At a previous job, Haywood did get off early on summer Fridays, and she wonders why more employers don’t offer the chance to trade longer days the rest of the week for early quits on Fridays.
Many economists share that puzzlement. Although Americans, on average, work longer hours now than just before the recession hit — a Corporate Executive Board survey found workers reporting a 10 percent increase in hours between 2007 and this year — “productivity would theoretically increase if you ratchet back the hours people work,” Kropp said. “But companies are not willing to take that bet right now for fear that in the short run, a shorter week would mean less output.”
Still, academic evidence in favor of shorter hours is consistent, including a 2009 Harvard Business Review report that demonstrated improved efficiency and heightened creativity when workers were required to take time off rather than be “always on.”
It’s not just employers who can be leery of shortening the workweek. Workers who fear losing status — or even their job — if they are not always around are often suspicious of the idea. Americans top global surveys in the portion of workers who don’t use all of their vacation time. In a study of 20 major nations, the United States was the only one with no legal requirement for some paid vacation. About a quarter of U.S. workers have zero paid time off, said John Schmitt, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in the District.
Many workers “don’t want to be seen as slackers, or they worry that if they do go on vacation, they’ll have double the stress when they come back to all that piled-up work,” said John de Graaf, a documentary filmmaker who has focused on Americans’ struggle to balance leisure and work. In a forthcoming book — “What’s the Economy For, Anyway?” — de Graaf cites academic work showing that both blue- and white-collar workers need both short breaks and longer vacations to prevent burnout.
Although summer hours are primarily seen in professional and white-collar workplaces rather than in manufacturing or retail, there may be some benefit for the U.S. economy as a whole if shorter workweeks became more widespread, Schmitt said.
Especially in times of high unemployment, if employers spread the available work among more employees, that would reduce some people’s income but could make a noticeable dent in joblessness, Schmitt said. The net result might be increased productivity and a happier workforce, a win-win for management and labor.
Employers are generally allergic to any government mandate of shorter or more-flexible workweeks, but many businesses are happily moving in that direction on their own, said Marc Freedman, executive director for labor law policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce .
“In Washington, there’s no such thing as a normal eight-hour workday,” Freedman said. “I’m here till 7:30 on a regular basis, so if I take off on a Friday afternoon in the summer, it’s not a big deal. Of course, if you run a restaurant, you can’t do that.”
Freedman said employers get nervous about “anything that sounds like ‘Thou shalt,’ but shorter hours could have some benefit, and we support the idea as a good-practices initiative.”
- US unemployment rate jumps to 9.2 percent, (7/09 early pickup) BNO News Netherlands via Channel 6 News Online NYC via channel6newsonline.com
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The United States' unemployment rate jumped to 9.2 percent, as the country gained a total of 18,000 jobs in June, the U.S. Labor Department (DOL) said Friday.
"Our nation's labor market experienced slower growth in the month of June," said DOL Secretary Hilda L. Solis, as the June 2011 Employment Situation report showed that the U.S.' private sector added 57,000 jobs, although federal, state and local governments cut a combined 39,000 positions.
With June, the U.S. has had 16 straight months of private sector job growth, which has added more than 2.2 million private sector jobs during this span.
"Our economic recovery is being, and needs to be, carried by the private sector," Solis added. "But we need to see businesses do more to employ American workers. Many companies have had a great year and are sitting on large piles of capital. It is critical that they begin to turn their profits into jobs for the American people."
President Barack Obama has advocated for common-sense investments in areas like infrastructure, transportation and manufacturing that would bolster the country's recovery in order to pursue long-term employment solutions, Solis continued.
"We must make investments in our roads, bridges, and most especially, in the education and training of our people," she said. "Congress needs to show leadership and send a signal to the markets that Republicans and Democrats are capable of putting aside their differences to act on behalf of the American worker."
Solis underlined that lawmakers must quickly come together to approve a plan to raise the debt ceiling to avoid a crisis of confidence. In addition, the DOL Secretary said Congress could immediately keep workers on the job by reforming the unemployment insurance system so more states would participate in work-sharing programs.
"These programs allow employers to avoid making layoffs during lean times by instead reducing some workers' hours, while states make up a portion of their lost wages through their unemployment funds," Solis stated, adding that work-sharing was a proven job-saver, but fewer than half of all states utilized it.
According to Solis, these programs saved more than 265,000 jobs in the previous two years alone, while work-sharing has helped businesses retain skilled workers in whom they have invested time and money.
"It keeps workers on the payroll so they can keep their skills fresh and provide for their families; and it saves taxpayers money by reducing the number of people seeking full unemployment compensation," Solis concluded.
- Vacationing in Europe minus the expensive hotels, by Ashok Krish, (7/09 early pickup) Daily News & Analysis via DNAindia.com
MUMBAI, India - Europe is among the better vacation spots in the world. For starters, it’s only half a unit of Deep Vein Thrombosis away. A flight to the US is a full unit of DVT in cattle class.
European cities, unlike American ones, have superb public transportation systems. They also, again unlike their US counterparts, have histories. You can walk into a small, hole-in-the-wall cafe in Amsterdam that was founded in the 16th century. America, on the other hand, was busy founding their own country by slaughtering natives back
then. Cities like Vienna, Munich and Brussels have a specific kind of quaint charm that a Houston or
Don’t get me wrong. I love quite a few American cities, like LA, New York and San Francisco, but European cities are like Barbie dolls while American ones are like GI Joe action figures.
While one can fly into Europe without any serious cattle class damage to arms and legs, it will cost an arm and a leg to stay in Europe. Good things come in small sizes (like European cities) and insanely high prices. A hotel room that is slightly larger than a closet will cost well over 100 euros (Rs6300) per night. So for most folks, it’s the cost of hotels that rules out Europe as a vacation spot. But thanks to the internet, an interesting new revolution is brewing and it’s starting to worry the hotel industry a little bit now.
I recently took my family to Brussels and Amsterdam for a 10-day vacation and I was pointed to a new site called *airbnb.com by, well, of course, online friends. The concept is quite simple. Europeans tend to be outdoorsy people. They also work only 35 hours a week and take frequent vacations (a habit that has vastly profited the Indian IT industry whose minions work 10 hours a day and have absolutely no life whatsoever).
What this means is that they often keep their apartments locked up while they go about their outdoorsy activities. Further, students who rent apartments also tend to go back to their hometowns to wash their clothes and eat home-cooked food during holidays. What these new breed of people-powered booking sites do is let folks rent their entire apartments (or rooms) out for those periods. And compared to the scarcity of hotel rooms in Europe, the high population density has resulted in a good amount of what is called BNB (Bed’n’Breakfast) capacity.
It cost me 40 euros a night to rent an entire apartment for 6 days in Brussels. The best part — one can look at photos of the entire apartment before booking so I ensured that I wasn’t going to be holed up in a bachelor’s shack, finding underwear, beer bottles and iPod charging adapters in various stages of decomposition in every corner of the house.
The girl who rented out this apartment even left a fully stocked fridge. And I did what every responsible internet citizen must do: I left her apartment a highly positive feedback. In the internet era, five-star reviews beat five-star hotels anytime.
Slightly techie, moderately musical, severely blogging, timepassly tweeting
[So. We can have it the European way, which was the American way till 1940. Or we can have it the new American way -]
- Jobless College Graduates Struggle Under Ongoing Recession, Huffpost College via HuffingtonPost.com
This story was reported in collaboration with our partners at Patch.com.
NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Seventy-five job applications. Forty cover letters. Twelve interviews. Zero job offers.
Since graduating from Wellesley College four years ago, Kayla Calkin, 25, has yet to get a break.
In May, Calkin completed a master's degree in public policy from George Washington University. Like so many her age, she believed a graduate degree might guarantee a more stable future.
Calkin now works as a full-time nanny in Washington, D.C., while continuing to scour for an eventual dream job in politics. Her two degrees make her overqualified for [the] basic, entry-level position.
"I guess I'm overqualified to work on Capitol Hill, but I'm not overqualified to watch one-year-olds play in a playground," said Calkin, who tries to remain optimistic despite an uncertain future. "It's a scary, scary time."
Calkin is hardly alone in her quest to find decent work amidst a bleak job market.
According to a report released earlier today by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, June's unemployment rate ticked steadily higher from 9.1 to 9.2 percent. Combined with a rising jobless rate and news that only 18,000 jobs were added to the economy in the last month, many recent graduates fear the worst is not yet over. For 20-somethings hoping to jumpstart their adult lives, the economic "recovery" is starting to feel endless [or startless?] and euphemistic.
College graduates still fare better than their peers with only a high school diploma, but even their job prospects show signs of fatigue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Population Survey, the unemployment rate for college graduates between the ages of 20 to 24-year-olds soared five percentage points in the past month -- from 7.1 percent in May to 12.1 percent in June, compared with a three percent jump during the same period last year.
"It's terrible. I've never seen a recovery like this," said Andrew Sum, a professor of economics at Northeastern University. Sum is particularly concerned for recent graduates, whose fate depends on strong job growth. He says a minimum of 125,000 jobs must be added each month in order to keep pace with population growth -- a growth requirement approximately seven times larger than the 18,000 jobs added last month.
"Today's report is really bad but last month's was bad and the answer is that this recovery has just come to a grinding halt," said Sum. "There's really no growth happening."
Carl E. Van Horn, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University recently looked at what happened to college graduates who finished school between 2006 and 2010. Of these, only half found full-time jobs.
Van Horn now worries for the approximately 1.5 million 2011 graduates vying for those same slots.
"You have another class of graduates that are facing not only a difficult labor market but competition from the previous three, four and five years of young graduates also clamoring to find their way into the labor market," said Van Horn. "The continued weak recovery will mean more graduates finding themselves in part-time jobs and contingency jobs and jobs that are far below their level of education."
Sum advises young people in search of work to continue casting a wide net. Van Horn cautions recent graduates to resist the temptation to see graduate school as a guaranteed refuge during rough economic times.
"Not every graduate program leads to a guaranteed job. You likely already have debt and you're going to incur more debt and what's it going to translate into down the road?" asked Van Horn. "While it's okay to major in cultural anthropology, understand that you may not end up as the next Margaret Mead. You may end up as the manager of a Sports Authority."
Since graduating from the University of Tampa in 2009, Jeff Swederski, 26, is learning to adjust his expectations.
Swederski currently works at a Walgreens in Tampa, Fla., where he alternates work as a photo specialist, cosmetics consultant and pharmacy technician.
"It's a little sad," said Swederski, who owes $60,000 in student loan debt. He also works part-time at a local law firm, filing papers and answering phones. The two jobs are barely enough to make his rent and monthly loan repayments. "The jobs I have -- I certainly didn't need to go to college in order to get them."
An increased debt load is a burden for many job seekers searching for any work they can find.
During more robust economic times, Yvonne Kline, 30, began studying for a Ph.D. in communications. She quickly racked up $138,000 in student loan debt. She still hasn't finished her degree at the University of Southern Florida. And, while her doctoral dissertation is still pending, her loan payments start next month.
Kline is looking for work in human resources, advertising or marketing. In the mean time, she makes ends meet by teaching community college classes in three different counties, and teaching a contortion class for pole dancers at Rock N Body Pole Studios in nearby Bradenton, Fla.
For now, money worries loom above all else. "My loans are coming due this month and I am going to call them and hopefully get it deferred," said Kline. "I am going to be paying that debt off for a very long time. That's not dischargeable debt either -- I can't file bankruptcy and get rid of these loans."
Debt worries aside, many 20-somethings struggle to make a modest, living wage.
Jeffrey Dalrymple, 26, of Westfield, N.J., took on a work-study job at Saint Peter's College library while an undergrad, becoming a library assistant following his graduation in 2008.
Working 32 hours a week at $16,000 a year, the job was seen as a stepping-stone toward an eventual career as a full-time librarian or museum curator.
But unable to secure a better job, Dalrymple remains at Saint Peters -- and without benefits, he's barely scraping by.
"I think a lot of people in my generation have it tough," said Dalrymple. "We are entering into a workforce [ie: job market] that is virtually dead. The economy is on the verge of collapse."
[Kate: Not to mention the student loans... (Phil: And she would know...) ]
Explaining the situation to his parents' generation is an entirely different challenge. Dalrymple can't help but take their reaction personally: "My family sees that it's my fault that I am in the predicament that I am in now."
7/7/2011 – 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 ) -
- Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on unemployment insurance reform legislation,
PR Newswire-USNewswire (press release) via prnewswire.com
[This is huge. If the biggest economy gets moving on this superhighway of progress, the world has the best chance of gearing up to faster evolution on a scale similar to the transition from physical to biological sciences (RNA,DNA) and the transition from biological to social sciences (hominids,language). Among the largest economies, Germany is still in the lead with the most successful nationwide implementation of cutting hours, not jobs&markets - they call it Kurzarbeit /koortsARbite/ - and France is still in the lead with the lowest nationwide workweek ceiling - they call it trente-cinq heures (35 hours) though their clueless president (Sarkozy) has been weakening it by attacking overtime enforcement - for the lead-up to this point, see *CEPR and other worksharing overviews (8/11-12/2010 #1 and 2/24/2010 #2 and 6/16/2009 #1),]
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. -- Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement regarding the introduction of federal legislation to reform the unemployment insurance system:
"I am pleased that Sen. Jack Reed and Rep. Rosa DeLauro have introduced legislation to reform the UI system to benefit both workers and employers across the U.S. The legislation put forward promotes short-time compensation (STC), also known as 'work-sharing.'
"Work-sharing is a true win-win for workers and businesses, and an important tool for helping support our economy during tough times. It enhances our social safety net by providing prorated unemployment insurance benefits to individuals whose work hours are reduced in lieu of layoffs. STC keeps workers on the job, keeps their skills sharp and allows businesses to maintain their investment in workers. Additionally, STC helps businesses avoid the cost of recruiting and retraining workers, and keeps them well-positioned to scale up production when business picks up again.
"STC has received strong bipartisan support in a number of states, including Pennsylvania, which recently passed its own STC law. President Obama and I strongly support STC, especially in tough economic times. That's why the president's 2012 budget included a proposal designed to provide employers with immediate access to a temporary federal STC program, and encourage states to adopt and expand use of STC programs.
"The president's budget recommended, and the bills introduced include, a two-year federal STC program. This federal initiative would provide employers in states without their own STC programs immediate access to the benefits it provides. States that have approved shared-work programs could receive up to three years of federal funding. The budget proposal also would provide states with the resources they need to jump-start STC programs, and deliver their benefits effectively to businesses and their workers.
"We are at a critical time, and millions of Americans remain unemployed. I appreciate Sen. Reed's longtime commitment to promoting STC as a common-sense approach to keep people working and businesses running. For workers, their families and the broader pace of our economic recovery, Congress should give these proposals worthy consideration."
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
Connect with DOL at
- The End of the 40-Hour Workweek, by Seth Fiegerman, (7/06 late pickup) The Street via Minyanville.com
Some workers feel pressure to put in 50 hours or more, while others face night and weekend hours, a report shows. (photo caption)
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. - The era of a 9-to-5 workweek appears to be coming to an end.
Higher-level workers [or just, employees with benefits] are increasingly being asked to put in 50 hours or more a week, effectively working an 8-to-6 workweek at the very least, while lower-income workers are often forced to work fewer hours but at jobs with irregular schedules [or just, jobs without benefits], according to a comprehensive report from the Center for American Progress, which reviewed dozens of studies from the previous 30 years to understand the changing work/life struggles of the country's labor force.
Driving these changes, as the center explains it, are companies turning lower-level, full-time jobs into part-time employment to cut costs, and savings that come at the expense of workers -- and their families -- losing the traditional schedules and financial benefits that come with full-time employment.
Some 38% of men in professional and management positions worked at least 50 hours a week between 2006 and 2008 up from 34% who worked those hours 30 years prior, based on government studies cited in the report. Women in higher-level positions experienced an even steeper change, with 14% working 50 hours or more in 2006 and 2008 compared with just 6% who did between 1977 and 1979.
These longer work schedules, which the center describes as being "ramped up versions" of what full-time employment once meant, were found to be particularly common on the higher end of the income ladder.
"Many of the highest-paying and highest-status professional jobs require very long hours -- and, in today's 'winner take all' economy, turning them down can extract a sharp wage penalty," the researchers write in the report.
Much has been written about the number of Americans forced to work longer hours in the aftermath of the recession, as companies cut payrolls, but as the literature reviewed in this report shows, many higher-level professionals were in danger of becoming workaholics long before that. One Harvard study published in 2006, for example, found that a fifth of those in the top 6% of income earners actually worked 60-hour weeks on average.
On the other hand, lower-level workers are facing the opposite problem. The percentage of men in low-income professions who worked 50 hours a week was cut in half during the previous 30 years, despite the fact that these workers often want to put in more hours to build up their income. To make matters worse, though they work fewer hours, their schedules tend to be more irregular, with two-thirds of couples earning less than $50,000 a year while having at least one spouse working hours outside the traditional 9-to-5 schedule (i.e., nights and weekends).
This change in schedules for high- and low-level employees not only has the potential to cause added stress while at work, but according to the report, it also has the potential to cut into the time these people would otherwise spend taking care of their households.
Even the companies themselves may not benefit in the end from pushing more inconvenient work schedules. As the center points out, one survey found that workers would be 30% less likely to quit their job within the first two years if they had flexible schedules. However, since their schedules are getting worse, not better, companies may have to confront higher turnover and the added financial burden that comes with replacing employees.
Despite the changes to the nation's overall work experience, there are plenty of companies that do provide flexible schedules and other perks to lighten the burden of a heavy workweek. To find a few of the best options out there, check out this roundup of the companies with the healthiest work/life balance.
- French Socialist Primary Field Takes Shape Sans Strauss-Kahn, by Amiel Ungar, Arutz Sheva via israelnationalnews.com
PARIS, France - While the prosecution authorities are going to drop charges against Dominique Strauss Kahn, and a vast majority of Frenchmen consider him exonerated and a victim of the Americans, most French voters surveyed do not want him to run in the Socialist primary scheduled for October.
The best indication that Strauss will not be running is that most of his allies have announced their support for one of the five declared candidates.
Given the unpopularity of French president Nicholas Sarkozy, the left in France has a good chance of retaking the presidency for the first time in 17 years. During that interval it did form the government between 1997-2002. Since in all probability the Spanish Socialists will lose next year's election, this will elevate a victorious socialist candidate into the leadership of the entire European left.
The two front runners are the current party secretary and the Mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, and Francois Hollande who preceded her in that post. According to the polls, if the election were held now, both would beat Sarkozy.
Aubry is the daughter of Jacques Delors, who served as finance minister under Francois Mitterand and spent two terms as president of the European commission. He was considered presidential timber but elected not to run. She made her mark as the minister of Employment and Solidarity in the gauche pluriel -pluralistic left governments of Lionel Jospin, where in an effort to reduce unemployment, France went to a 35 hour workweek.
This "achievement" is double-edged. On the one hand, it has endeared her to left of the party who believe that the government can continue to ameliorate conditions irrespective of global competition. It constitutes a liability amongst voters who consider such policies irresponsible or utopian. Aubry is strong among the party's left wing as well as among some past heavyweights, such as former Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and former culture minister Jack Lang.
Hollande commands the support of many elected mayors and legislators. He is considered more of a centrist than Ms. Aubry, although both are"Enarches"-- graduates of the elitist ENA, National School of Administration.
The socialist mayor of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, who endorsed Hollande said Francois "Hollande has always been a Social Democrat " In the jargon of the European left, the term Social Democrat has usually been reserved for more pragmatic and less ideological politicians. Ries was elected mayor in a strongly Catholic region that has traditionally been a bastion of conservatism and he would prefer Hollande to be seen as the centrist for that reason.
The distinction may prove significant in the party primaries. The French Socialist primary is an "open" primary meaning that you do not have to be a registered socialist in order to vote and therefore the polls show that one out of every five Frenchmen intends to vote in the primary.
The advantage of an open primary is precisely the fact that it will attract wider participation with the expectation that those who participate in it and chose well, will stick with the victorious candidate in the general election.
The disadvantage with the open primary is that it can be contaminated by voters from other parties who will want to influence the results. The presumption is that this factor will work to the advantage of Aubry, as voters from the still sizable far left will vote for her in the primaries.
- The Sunday imperative - Shortening the work week will undoubtedly have the downside of hurting economic output, editorial, Jerusalem Post via jpost.com
[This imagination-challenged editor may be right about more fundamental freedom (in terms of more free time) hurting production, but more free time will help productivity (production per hour per employee) and more free time will help creativity (you need some detachment to see the obvious and make creative connections).]
TEL AVIV, Israel - Admittedly, pleasant memories of leisurely Sundays have something to do with this paper’s position in favor of a five-day workweek. The editorial board, made up as it is of Anglo immigrants, shares the idiosyncrasies of the “Old Country” complete with regard for the amenities of a two-day weekend. Now the idea to make Friday a workday (until a few hours before sundown), and turn Sunday into a day of rest, which was first raised a decade ago, probably not by coincidence by fellow Diaspora Jew Natan Sharansky, is once again being proposed.
This time two Likud MKs – Ze’ev Elkin and Yariv Levin – have submitted private “Sunday” bills and veteran fiveday- week campaigner Vice Premier Silvan Shalom is pushing for legislation as well.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has tapped his economic adviser, Prof. Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council, to look into the matter, which seems to indicate the weight Netanyahu will give to the potentially negative economic ramifications of a shorter workweek.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has already publicized his opposition to such a move, citing economic factors such as the need to pay overtime to tens of thousands of state employees – particular in health care – who will be forced to continue to work on Sundays.
Shortening the workweek will undoubtedly have the downside of hurting economic output. A study conducted in 2002 by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce found that losing just two weekly work hours – a loss of 200 million aggregate man hours a year – would result in a 5 percent drop in output.
Israelis, however, already work many more hours on average than citizens of most other industrialized countries.
In 2008, the average Israeli worked a total of 1,943 hours, the eighth highest of 36 industrialized countries around the world.
South Korea topped the list with 2,256 work hours a year, followed by Greece. The OECD average in 2008 was 1,764, in the US it was 1,796 and in the UK it was 1,652. Productivity, not long working hours, is what guarantees economic strength and a higher standard of living. Greece is perfect example of a country whose citizens work long hours but which has nevertheless failed to avoid a major economic crisis.
In contrast, workweeks have fallen significantly in the US and even more so in Europe, since the mid-20th century, primarily due to increasing levels of productivity.
[That's baloney. Workweeks for fulltimers have risen significantly in the US since 1970, as documented by Juliet Schor in her 1991 book The Overworked American, and as a matter of fact, as documented by the preceding article directly above. Get your facts straight, JPost editors!]
By raising GDP per capita, Israel could easily accommodate a shorter workweek without suffering a drop in total output.
[Uh, didn't they just say the opposite, e.g., in the subtitle?!]
A two-day weekend would also be a boon for recreation industries such as sports, music and domestic tourism. And the timing of the new initiative coincides with the impact of changing demographics – increasing numbers of religiously observant Israelis thanks to relatively higher birth rates – providing a fresh economic incentive for a Sunday that would encourage this sector to spend money on cultural activities, sporting events and at the malls.
It should come as no surprise, therefore, that hoteliers, the Manufacturers Association and the Chamber of Commerce have come out in favor. According to Yediot Aharonot, so has Bank of Israel Gov. Stanley Fischer, another immigrant who undoubtedly misses Sundays.
Transforming Sunday into a second day off would also alleviate religious tensions. Shabbat is now the only full day that Israelis do not work. For the more traditional-minded who adhere to the strictures of Jewish law, there is no day that can be set aside for leisurely activities – such as traveling, shopping, going to sports events – that are enjoyable but which would entail the desecration of Shabbat.
Many secular Israelis, understandably, concentrate all of their consumer activities on the one day they have off, creating in the process a 24/7 consumer culture diametrically opposed to the religious and social ideal of a true day of rest for both rich and poor. Turning Sunday into a second day off would make it easier to invest Shabbat with the meaning envisioned by the Torah, the prophets and Jewish tradition, so befitting a Jewish state.
Admittedly, Muslims, who make up about 16% of the population, might be adversely affected. Friday, their day of rest and worship, would become a regular work day. But the 1951 Rest Law already safeguards the right of Muslim workers to rest on Friday. If necessary, additional legislation could be passed to ensure that Muslims’ religious rights are protected.
It is time to take steps toward a five-day workweek, not just because a bunch of immigrants – and numerous Israelis who have lived abroad for any length of time – have brought to Israel blissful memories of leisurely Sundays spent with friends and family.
Transforming Sunday into a second day of rest is also eminently feasible from an economic standpoint and conducive to alleviating religious tensions. By all standards, Sunday off is an imperative.
7/06/2011 – 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 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 ) -
- Saving money means less time for school, by Sam Dillon, New York Times, A14.
SAN DIEGO, Calif., U.S. - After several years of state and local budget cuts, thousands of school districts across the nation are gutting summer-school programs, cramming classes into four-day weeks or lopping days off the school year, even though virtually everyone involved in education agrees that American students need more instruction time.
[- as the super-selfish super-rich bunker down deeper in their gated and crenellated castles, coagulate and decirculate the currency and plunge the nation back into feudalism. Simple, fast, market-oriented correction? Change the job shortage into a job surplus by repackaging work from 40 hrs/wk per person to 36 (4x9), or 35 (5x7), or 32 (4x8), or 30 (5x6), or 28 (4x7)... And btw, a big co-relate of better-off economies today is the quality of their education system in years past.]
Los Angeles slashed its budget for summer classes to $3 million from $18 million last year, while Philadelphia, Milwaukee and half the school districts in North Carolina have deeply cut their programs or zeroed them out. A scattering of rural districts in New Mexico, Idaho and other states will be closed on Fridays or Mondays come September. And in California, where some 600 of the 1,100 local districts have shortened the calendar by up to five days over the past two years, lawmakers last week authorized them to cut seven days more if budgets get tighter.
“Instead of increasing school time, in a lot of cases we’ve been pushing back against efforts to shorten not just the school day but the week and year,” said Justin Hamilton, a spokesman for the federal Department of Education. “We’re trying to prevent what exists now from shrinking even further.”
For two decades, advocates have been working to modernize the nation’s traditional 180-day school calendar, saying that the languid summers evoked in “To Kill a Mockingbird” have a pernicious underside: each fall, many students — especially those who are poor — return to school having forgotten much of what they learned the previous year. The Obama administration picked up the mantra: at his 2009 confirmation hearing, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared, “Our school day is too short, our school week is too short, our school year is too short,” but its efforts in this realm have not been as successful as other initiatives.
“It feels like it’s been pushed to the back burner a bit,” said Jeff Smink, a vice president at the National Summer Learning Association in Baltimore.
The most ambitious federal program in this realm is part of a $4 billion effort to overhaul 1,150 failing schools, in which each is required to select an improvement model that includes a new schedule increasing learning time. In the Denver suburbs, for example, Fort Logan Elementary School has used the federal money to add four and a half hours of instruction per week.
But an interim report on the program in 10 states found that several districts visited by federal inspectors were out of compliance. In Reno, Nev., for example, officials found that Smithridge Elementary School was using the 15 minutes it had added each morning for breakfast, not academics. District officials in San Francisco, the report said, “believed that Everett Middle School extended the school day by an hour six years ago and due to this reason was not required to implement any additional time.”
In a separate report scheduled for release on Thursday, the National Center on Time and Learning, a Boston group that advocates expanding instruction time, acknowledges that an “untold number” of schools nationwide have reduced their hours and days, often by furloughing teachers. But the report also says more than 1,000 schools and districts have expanded their schedules, and highlights many examples.
In Pittsburgh, for example, $11 million in federal stimulus money is being used this summer to provide 5,300 students — more than twice the 2,400 enrolled last year — 23 additional days of math and reading instruction in a camplike atmosphere that converts some of the city’s museums, recording studios and even bicycle-repair shops into classrooms.
In the small town of Brandon, S.D., near Sioux Falls, some 65 teachers and principals plan to work without pay this summer to keep alive a summer school program that would have otherwise been canceled because of cuts in state aid.
And in Chicago, which has had one of the shortest school days of any major urban system, Mayor Rahm Emanuel won powers last month to impose a longer day and year. Mr. Emanuel is working with school authorities to add time for the fall term.
But each of these seems to have a counterexample.
Across Oregon, districts have been negotiating furlough days with teachers’ unions. In April, for instance, the local union agreed with the 17,000-student North Clackamas district, south of Portland, to six unpaid days off in 2011-12, leaving students with 168 days of class. Many of Oregon’s 200 districts have cut similar deals. The average number of days teachers are scheduled to be with students next year fell to 165 from 167 this year, according to a survey by the Oregon School Boards Association.
Oregon sets minimum annual instructional hours — 990 hours for ninth grade, for example. Most states set minimum days, and several that do — including Arizona, California and Nevada — have lowered the bar amid belt tightening. Nevada’s new law, signed in June, allows as few as 175 days, down from 180.
California made the same cut in 2009, but last week dropped the minimum to 168 for any district where revenues fall short of projections during the 2011-12 school year. Hawaii, mired in red ink, shortened its 180-day school year to 163 days in 2009, shuttering schools on many Fridays. But lawsuits and widespread protests last year persuaded lawmakers to restore the school year to 178 days.
Last month, North Carolina lawmakers moved in the same direction, raising the state’s minimum to 185 days of instruction, up from 180. But since the legislature provided no additional financing, some education officials there were less than thrilled.
The 2,800-student Balsz elementary district in Phoenix adopted a 200-day calendar starting in 2009-10, drawing on a local tax levy and a decade-old state law that increased financing by 5 percent for districts that meet that threshold. “Parents love it,” said Jeffrey Smith, the superintendent. And Mr. Smith said the results were palpable: after one year of the new schedule, reading scores jumped 43 percent in Grades 5 and 6 and 19 percent in Grades 3 and 4.
And if many students groan at the notion of spending more time in class, some have warmed to it.
Rubi Morales, for instance, said that when she started six years ago at the Preuss charter school in San Diego, which has seven hours of class (instead of the typical six) 198 days of the year, she resented returning to her gritty neighborhood in the evenings to find all her friends roughhousing in the streets.
“They were doing fun stuff, and I’d be getting home and doing homework,” recalled Ms. Morales, 18, who is headed to the University of California, Berkeley, this fall. “Now I see all those study hours paid off.”
- Public sector shake-up: pensions are only the start, by Richard Ehrman, First Post via thefirstpost.co.uk
LONDON, U.K. - ast week's walk-outs by teachers and civil servants over public sector pensions had been billed as one of those seminal struggles between the unions and the government that neither side can afford to lose. In the event, it was a bit of a damp squib although more strikes are threatened for the autumn.
Even if it does come to a fight, there can be little doubt that it is the government who will win. This is not to say the NHS personnel, teachers, local authority workers and others do not have a case when they complain that the rules on pensions are being changed halfway through the game.
But as everybody knows and most accept - the rules have to change because, compared to even 20 years ago, the playing field is unrecognisable.
Lives were shorter then and the demography more favourable, meaning there were more workers to support each pensioner.
[What utter nonsense that ignores the armies of robots installed in factories everywhere that, with wider work sharing among humans at shorter hours, are making this outdated calculation totally irrelevant. There are entire factory systems today called "lights-out manufacturing" that have no human employees, so they don't even have to turn the lights on. These damn commentators have their brains stuck in the 19th century.]
Generous pensions could also be justified because pay was lower in the public sector. This is no longer true, and has not been for a while.
[Oh sure. Watch your economy tank when you attack the biggest-percentage spenders - seniors. Not that mandatory retirement at any age is sustainable, but worksharing and timesizing will have to repackage our diminishing not-yet-automated-or-outsourced market-demanded employment and make it as easy as it should be in the age of robotics for everyone to support themselves at any age, however "old."]
According to the latest official figures, workers in the public sector now earn an average of eight per cent more than their private sector counterparts. They tend to work shorter hours as well. When many in the private sector hardly have any pension provision at all, this makes the public sector's privileged position even less tenable.
[Do we detect a disapproving tone when THIS IS WHAT GIVES YOU AN ECONOMY. Ever heard of the 70% of the economy that is consumer spending? = a percentage that is weakening everywhere as national money supplies are redistributed to the super-richest tiny percentage of the population who can't possibly spend it. Isn't this what we used to praise government for = leading the way to a better future? Isn't this commentator recommending exactly what we used to criticize Communism for = reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator? Why not talk about ways to raise the private sector? How? By lowering the supersuperhigh newly-right-off-the-charts topmost sector and abandoning this dizzy idea that you can redistribute any percentage of your money supply (M1) however large, to any percentage of your population, however teensy-tiny, and you'll have a better economy because "that money will immediately get invested creating jobs." If you believe that, SHOW US THE JOBS!]
But while the government looks set for victory on pensions, it may be about to lose another even more important battle.
For decades now, Labour and Conservative governments alike have been saying that, if standards are to improve and costs contained, then the old monopoly model of the public services has to change.
Most observers agree, but that has not stopped the unions fighting all such notions, tooth and nail. Tony Blair complained that his battles with the public sector had left scars on his back, and Gordon Brown did not even try. Now it is the coalition's turn, and a White Paper on 'Open Public Services' is expected at any moment.
Writing in the Daily Telegraph in February, David Cameron gave us a flavour of what he had in mind:
"We will create", he promised, "a new presumption backed up by new rights for public service users and a new system of independent adjudication that public services should be open to a range of providers competing to offer a better service...
"Instead of having to justify why it makes sense to introduce competition in some public services as we are now doing with schools and in the NHS the state will have to justify why it should ever operate a monopoly."
It was radical stuff, but it was also five months ago. Since then the White Paper has been delayed at least twice, and we have had the U-turn on NHS reform.
Tackling the NHS is always particularly difficult, not least because the Royal Colleges, which wield such influence in the medical world, invariably act like trade unions when it comes to reform. Nevertheless, the ease with which they saw off the ill-starred Andrew Lansley's plans hardly bodes well for the coalition's wider ambitions to reshape the public services.
The word is that, following their disastrous showing in May's elections, the Liberal Democrats have insisted the proposals in the White Paper be toned right down, much as the NHS reforms have been. Some Conservative ministers, preoccupied with their own departmental concerns, seem happy to go along with them.
For the unions, who hardly have a presence beyond the public sector these days, such an outcome would be a significant victory. For the government, which still has to show it can curb the deficit without slashing popular public services, it might buy peace in the short term but at a heavy cost down the line.
Unlike pensions, this really could be one of those struggles which neither side can afford to lose.
- Northumberland firm Renolit invest £10m in machinery, by Chris Knox, nebusiness.co.uk
CRAMLINGTON, Northumberland, U.K. - Northumberland-based uPVC sheet-maker Renolit has invested around £10m in new machinery which it said will increase its turnover and help it to grow its sales into lucrative export markets.
Cramlington-based Renolit has recovered from a tough trading period in late 2008 and 2009, when a shrinking order book forced the firm to put its 215 staff on short time working.
The German-owned firm has since seen a recovery in its UK operation, which should hit sales of £36m by the end of the year, up from £33.5m during the height of its problems.
The firm is upgrading the Cramlington factory, including the investment of £5m into a new calender machine, used to turn uPVC resin pellets into decorative sheets which are sold to window, kitchen and bedroom furniture manufacturers across the globe.
The investment comes as the firm continues to upgrade one of its current calender machines, on which it has spent £5m in recent years.
The upgrades, which will see the firm decommission one of its older machines next year, will help to increase production at the site by between 10% and 20%.
The firm hopes to add its current 245-strong workforce and grow its sales by 5% by the end of the year. In addition, an unused office block at the site has undergone a £300,000 refurbishment, including the introduction of a new boardroom and a showroom in which to showcase some of its products.
The firm’s UK headquarters have been based in Station Road, Cramlington, for 45 years after being based in Willington Quay for 20 years.
Managing director Dr Derek Taylorson said: “By late 2008 and into 2009, we found customers were de-stocking and we were nervous of making new orders.
“However, many of them returned to the market quickly. With the help of the investment we are now in a position to increase our output, which will hopefully lead to new jobs.”
While the firm is finding success in overseas markets, it said that domestic sales were still struggling, with the UK’s slow moving housing market and lack of consumer confidence preventing it from growing more quickly.
The firm usually ships two-thirds of its annual output overseas, but said that this had increased lately as a result of the difficult UK market.
The Cramlington site also imports products from its sister companies for sale into the UK, including a large number of roofing and waterproofing products from Renolit in Belgium.
Dr Taylorson said: “The UK market is still proving tough for us. However, we are looking to counter this by increasing our overseas sales.”
7/05/2011 – 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 ) -
- How to fix unemployment, by David D. Jones of Warminster Township, phillyBurbs.com (blog)
WARMINSTER TOWNSHIP, Penn. - The nation ought to take a page from World War II to fix unemployment.
During that time, some large companies, instead of letting people go, cut everyone's work week by one hour per day. Therefore, instead of a 40-hour work week, employees for that company worked 35 hours a week.
If implemented today, all employees would lose some pay, granted, but almost everyone would have a job if this idea caught on.
The difference is that during WW II, everyone worked together for a common cause. This should be true today, also, but, alas, it is not. And God forbid that company executives should have to give up a portion of their multimillion-dollar-a-year pay checks to make this country a better place.
The economic philosophy of the U.S., which is every man for himself, contrary to World War II, is a selfish philosophy, and in the final analysis that old adage is true: What goes around comes around, for companies as well as individuals.
- A Conversation with Senator Brubaker: General Assembly Takes Action to Reform Unemployment Compensation Law, by Sen. Mike Brubaker (R-36), Boyertown Berk Montgomery Newspapers via berksmontnews.com
HARRISBURG, Penn. - As part of recent legislation to extend federally funded unemployment benefits to 45,000 state residents, the General Assembly passed a number of important reforms to the state’s unemployment compensation law. This legislation included the most significant unemployment compensation reforms in more than 20 years and is estimated to save the system more than $940 million over the next eight years.
The new law includes several important provisions for employers, including a requirement for automatic relief from compensation charges for employers when it is later determined a former employee does not qualify for benefits. The legislation also creates a new shared work program that allows employers and employees to agree to reduce work hours instead of eliminating jobs. The program would allow employees participating in a shared work plan to receive unemployment benefits for their lost time. Both of these measures are expected to help employers create and retain jobs.
The new law does not reduce benefits for current recipients, but rather makes commonsense changes to the system to create future savings. The measure limits the maximum number of benefit weeks to prevent claimants from qualifying for more weeks of benefits than the number of weeks they worked. The law increases the amount of wages needed to earn a credit week from $50 to $100 and increases the minimum weekly benefit from $35 to $70. Minimum benefit amounts and wage requirements had not been updated since 1980.
One of the most important reforms is a requirement for recipients to participate in an active job search. Unemployment benefit recipients would be required to search for work through the state’s Career Link system. The measure also caps the maximum weekly benefit for claimants in future years and provides a partial offset for those who receive large severance payments in addition to unemployment compensation.
These reforms are designed to ensure fewer abuses of the system and pay down unfunded liabilities in the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund. Additional reforms will be necessary in the future to protect the solvency of this fund, but I am thankful that the General Assembly has taken the first steps toward strengthening and protecting the system for future generations.
- Teamsters' Push For Shorter Hours May Leave Drivers Very Short On Pay, Posted by LaborUnionReport, RedState.com
[Here we have one of America's suicidal radicals conservative clothing and reeking with sarcasm - but s/he starts off well -]
WASHINGTON, D.C. - It is axiomatic—a given, if you will—that unions do not like workers to work overtime. Sure, they’ll do it, but if unions had their druthers, the work week would be limited to 40 hours—in some cases unions prefer 35 hours. The reasoning is simple, the fewer hours worked, the more employees an employer must employ and, in a workplace where unions can require dues, the union makes more money.
How serious are unions about restricting overtime? Consider this:
According to the constitution of the International Association of Machinists, “Members shall discourage the working of overtime, in order to further the opportunities for full employment, a living wage, and a 40-hour workweek [Art. K, Sec. 3].” Translated: More members equals more dues.
Here’s a simple example: Say a company has four employees and each works an average of 10 overtime hours per week and time and one half. If a union has the ability to restrict those four employees from working overtime, the employer has to hire one more employee (at 40 hours).
For the employer, rather than paying the four workers at time and one half, it may be a break even (depending on the other ‘loaded labor costs’ such as benefits and fringe benefits).
For the union, it is a win, as the union suddenly gets a new member, plus his dues and initiation fees (which can run in the hundreds or thousands of dollars).
For the employees who lose their overtime, they get to spend more time with their families…trying to figure out how to pay the bills.
On June 14th, the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Investigations, Oversight and Regulations held a hearing on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed rule on Hours of Service for commercial truck drivers. At issue is the FMCSA’s proposal to return to pre-2003 hours that a truck driver can be behind the wheel—from the current 11-hours per day back to ten hours, and the current 34 hours rest period back to 50 hours at week’s end.
The return to pre-2003 hours is something the Teamsters have been lobbying for since the regulations were changed.
The Teamsters have been fighting the regulation since it was first issued in 2003. It raised the number of hours truck drivers can spend behind the wheel from 10 to 11 consecutive hours each shift, and from 60 to 77 hours of driving each week. The rule cut off-duty rest and recovery time at the work week’s end from 50 or more hours off duty to as little as 34 hours off duty.
Publicly, the Teamsters and a menagerie of liberal think tanks and activist organizations have used ‘safety’ as their rallying cry for rolling back the hours of service for drivers. This is despite the fact that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s data shows improved truck safety since the rules were changed. According to witness James Burg of the American Trucking Association:
Truck safety has improved to unprecedented levels since 2003 when the basic framework for the current hours of service regulations was first published. The numbers of truck-related injuries and fatalities have both dropped more than 30% to their lowest levels in recorded history. For instance, between 2003 and 2009:
* The number of truck-involved fatalities declined from 5,036 to 3,380 (33%)
* The number of truck occupant fatalities declined from 726 to 503 (31%)
* The number of truck-involved injuries declined from 122,000 to 74,000 (39%)
Despite the improvement in truck safety, the Teamsters and their allies have pushed the Obama administration to cut drivers’ hours. In late 2009, the Obama administration agreed to revisit the rules in what some considered a ‘backroom deal.’
An agreement between the Obama administration, the Teamsters Union, and safety advocate group Public Citizen to revamp existing truck driver “hours of service” regulations was pushed by the White House to quell concerns over the controversial nomination of Anne Ferro as Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator, according to a trucking industry executive....
The trucking executive noted that the full committee announced it had approved Ferro’s nomination the day after news that the FMCSA would revisit the hours of service rule was made public. Her confirmation by the full Senate seems assured, the executive said. The executive added that the trucking industry was not party to the agreement and was “totally surprised” by the announcement.
According to the backroom deal, the Department of Transportation agreed to have the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publish a new proposed rule in the Fall of 2010, and finalize a rule by July 2011.
If the Teamsters succeed in reducing the amount of time drivers can spend behind the wheel, predictably, it will result in smaller trucking companies having to add more drivers.
As Paul James, President, Rex Oil Co testified at the June 14th hearing:
A one hour reduction as proposed would have negative impacts on drivers and small business petroleum transporters. First, the reduction would hurt drivers. Short haul petroleum drivers are largely paid at an hourly rate. Reducing their maximum daily drive time would also reduce their paychecks. Thus the proposed reduction unnecessarily penalizes drivers and would reduce their overall standard of living.
With the one hour of drive time, combined with the increase of rest time from 34 to 50 hours, if the Teamsters are successful, drivers could see their hours (and incomes) cut by as much as 25%.
Meanwhile, the increased costs to trucking companies from possibly having to add trucks—not to mention drivers—would increase substantially, requiring many smaller firms to either raise their rates, delay deliveries, or go out of business.
For those non-union companies who can survive, the additional drivers make for a target rich environment for the Teamsters. More importantly, however, would be the immediate positive impact to the Teamsters’ bottom line if unionized companies are forced to hire new drivers. Those new drivers would, in many cases, be required to become Teamster members and, as a result, the Teamsters would reap the initiation fees, as well as the membership dues.
7/03-04/2011 – 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 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 ) -
- Canadian firm makes hay while the sun shines - in Germany, by TAVIA GRANT AND ERIC REGULY, 7/03 Toronto Globe & Mail via CTV.ca
BISCHOFSWERDA, Germany - Arise Technologies Corp. launched in 1996 with the goal of creating Canada’s leading solar energy company.
Over the next decade, the Waterloo, Ont.-based company went public on the Toronto stock exchange and secured about $40-million in funding.
But while it had raised some money and had a great deal of ambition, it lacked the means to turn its idea into reality – it had no factory location in mind, much less enough financing to build one.
That all changed in May, 2006, when a German agency made Ian MacLellan, the founder and chief technology officer of Arise, an offer he couldn’t refuse: It would help finance and build the company’s first solar factory. For Arise, it meant a fortune in savings. For the Germany Trade & Invest group, it meant adding a new player to its rapidly expanding alternative energy industry – Europe’s largest.
A mere 19 months after the offer, a factory in Bischofswerda, a picturesque town in eastern Germany near Dresden, was churning out photovoltaic cells, which convert a free source of energy – sunlight – into electricity. “We couldn’t have done this project this fast anywhere else,” he say, referring to the generous incentives available to foreign investors.
Since then, the factory, with 150 employees, has added a second production line. A third is coming this year as demand for PV equipment rises at triple-digit rates as alternative energy subsidies roll in and PV costs fall. “Germany has a real commitment to manufacturing quality,” Mr. MacLellan, 54, says. “It made real sense to expand here.”
Mr. MacLellan is in awe of German industrial efficiency. Indeed, Arise has tapped into a country that is flourishing.
The jobless rate in Europe’s largest economy is the lowest since reunification in 1991, with unemployment falling for 24 months in a row. Business confidence remains near record highs thanks to strong exports.
It’s a stark contrast to economic woes rippling through the south. Both the German government and the International Monetary Fund recently boosted their forecast for economic growth this year. The country is the world’s second-largest exporter and one of the most productive places on the planet.
Some of the reasons for the country’s health may be transitory – a weak euro, for one, has helped make Made-in-Germany goods much more competitive when sold abroad.
But plenty of evidence suggests Germany’s manufacturing might has legs. That success makes it a worthy case study for Canada. For one, its army of small and mid-sized companies – known as the Mittelstand – think globally, an approach Canadian firms have not yet embraced. Apprenticeships are widespread, to ensure young people get top-notch, on-the-ground training. Perhaps most importantly, Germans are not ones to rest on their laurels.
In the ultimate symbol of Germany’s global prowess, industrial efficiency itself is becoming a key export.
Several factors explain the country’s strength. Germany has diversified its customer base well beyond the United States. China became the country’s largest non-European customer at the end of last year, a shift that brings huge benefits for the likes of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW), Siemens and BASF SE.
As well, the country happens to be producing precisely what the world – and emerging markets in particular – are hungry for. It’s not just autos and industrial machinery (though cars are a big part of the story). The country’s factories are churning out luxury goods, consumer products, nanotechnology, biotechnology and clean tech.
“German companies are producing high-technology goods and its cars, chemicals and capital goods are exactly the goods that are in demand in China and other emerging markets,” said Andreas Rees, chief German economist at UniCredit Bank AG in Frankfurt.
Challenges persist. The euro is on its way back up, a shift that is sure to pressure German and other European manufacturers. Chinese demand could wane, and competition from higher-quality Chinese manufacturers is growing. Demand from southern Europe is shaky. And, like its neighbours, Germany is also facing an aging population and needs to attract immigrants to fill gaps in the labour force.
The country is far from complacent. Confidence is still strong, though it’s ebbed from highs earlier this year. Companies large and small continue to go global. At the same time at home, investments in innovation, research and development remain robust.
Diversifying into new markets and finding niches aren’t the only reasons for the country’s success. Difficult decisions made a decade or two ago are now bearing fruit.
Germany may be the continent’s engine now, but just a decade ago it was the sick man of Europe.
Reunification saw a flood of East Germans move west. The jobless rate spiked to nearly 12 per cent in 1997 and was only slowly drifting down. The economy was stagnating. Manufacturers were fleeing the country to set up lower-cost operations elsewhere.
The country needed to do something – and the route it chose was none too popular. German businesses began to ruthlessly keep a lid on wage increases. And in 2003, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder introduced a series of social security and labour reforms aimed at making the labour market more flexible and boosting Germany’s position in the world market.
First, employers could shorten the work week, and workers could get part of their lost hours paid by the government (a system called *"Kurzarbeit," similar to Canada’s federal *work-sharing program). Second, some unions agreed to flexible hours that vary with demand while salaries are smoothed out. Third, more short-term contracts give companies flexibility to meet demand – sparking growth in temp agencies such as Randstad and Manpower.
“If you put these three together, you are very flexible,” said Olaf Wortmann, Frankfurt-based national economist at VDMA, country’s body for local machinery and industrial equipment manufacturers. During the last recession, “many companies had fears, but not existential problems. And then they could react all of a sudden to the increase in demand.”
The reforms came at a cost. Consumer spending dried up, job insecurity swelled and protests rocked the country. By early 2005, more than 5 million Germans were unemployed and the jobless rate had shot back up past the 12-per-cent mark, eroding the power of unions to negotiate higher wages.
“They were really painful years,” said Volker Treier, chief economist at the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce.
Meantime, a flood of German companies off-shored production to Eastern Europe, Russia and the Ukraine – helping German firms lower costs, limit wage gains and become more competitive. Other countries paid the price. Wage restraint helped Germany win market share at the expense of southern Europe, economists say.
By 2006, the country’s fortunes began to turn. Labour reforms, years of tepid wage growth and investments abroad had helped Germany regain competitiveness – factors that explain the country’s current resiliency, observers say.
German companies today are much more globally focused than their peers, including Canadian firms. It’s not just large companies moving abroad; 98 per cent of Germany’s 350,000 exporters are small and medium-sized enterprises. A typical small exporter is active, on average, in 16 international markets, according to the DIHK.
Apprenticeships are another reason for Germany’s success. Young people typically spend three-and-a-half years on the job, and get qualifications that are valid across the country and for any German company overseas. The program is so successful it explains why the country’s youth jobless rate is so low (at 8.1 per cent compared with, say, 44 per cent in Spain) and why other countries like Turkey and Spain are seeking to emulate it, says Mr. Treier.
Training young people and collaborating with universities is spurring innovation at Kuka AG, a robotics maker which employs about 6,000 people. “Students learn and give us ideas around innovation. Also, the students of today are our workers for tomorrow,” spokesman Gert Butter says.
Peter Loescher, CEO of Siemens, Europe’s largest engineering firm, rattles off reasons for Germany’s might: mid-sized companies have been expanding globally for decades; companies collaborate closely with universities and research institutions; Germans produce what the world wants; it has a strong engineering culture, and a flexible labour market.
To that list, Marcus Breitschwerdt adds an openness to adapting. The German president of Mercedes-Benz U.K. and who formerly led the firm in Canada, said “There is this capacity of German decision-makers to look around and to openly take the best from wherever they find it,” he said in an interview from Stuttgart. “They are people who support a really open exchange of talent, resources, trade and commerce.”
It’s fair to say that Arise owes its manufacturing success to Germany.
When it started out, Arise didn’t have a penny of profits or revenue (it is still losing money) because it had no factory. Its first big break on the factory front came in March, 2006, when a German PV magazine carried a story on Arise. It was read by the Germany Trade & Invest team, which decided the ambitious little Canadian company should put down roots in Germany. It tracked down Mr. MacLellan at a PV conference in Hawaii two months later and made its pitch.
The German government agencies had a lot to offer. The biggie was a €25-million ($35-million) grant to cover half of the factory’s construction cost. But that’s not the only reason Arise chose Germany, Mr. MacLellan says.
The other selling points were help in site selection, an educated work force that did not demand outrageous incomes and, crucially, construction expertise. “We built the factory in eight months,” he says. “The Germans understood what we wanted because they had built so many PV factories before.”
Germany’s cornucopia of incentives have created the world’s biggest PV market, measured by installed capacity. (In 2010, Italy and the Czech Republic ranked second and third, with China taking 10th spot.) Germany Trade & Invest says the PV industry invested €19.5-billion in Germany in 2010 alone and that the PV makers located there had sales of €12.2-billion that year. Industry employment reached 107,800 in 2010.
Some of the industry’s biggest players – Sovello, First Solar and Sunfilm, among them – have set up shop in Germany. Arise makes all its PV cells in Germany and has no plans for a Canadian PV factory. Its total PV cell production has reached 25 million units, valued at $150-million, over three years.
For the solar industry, Germany may not be sunny forever. There is no doubt the generous “feed-in tariff,” the main German subsidy for renewable energy generation is, by design, coming down and will eventually be eliminated. Its phase-out could make Germany a less attractive market for solar energy installations, and hence solar energy companies. The industry hopes that falling subsidies will be more than offset by falling manufacturing costs.
Austerity programs could trim construction grants, like the ones used by Arise to build its PV factory. Finally, China is coming on strong. It is using financial incentives and the lure of inexpensive labour to attract PV companies. Mr. MacLellan says Germany could lose its competitive advantage to China, though he says the “Made in Germany” label gives any product a competitive advantage, allowing it to snag a premium price.
Arise has no plans to leave Germany, however, and its expansion is testament to its loyalty. After all, Germany gave Arise a manufacturing presence that it couldn’t build at home.
- Steinitz comes out in favor of five-day work week - Netanyahu to decide fate of 5-day work week in fall, By GIL HOFFMAN, 7/04 Jerusalem Post via jpost.com
Steinitz, Sa'ar spar with Shalom over longer weekend; finance minister warns making Sunday a day off is "too extreme a step."
TEL AVIV, Israel - Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Monday came out for the first time in favor of initiating a five-day work week [instead of current 5 1/2 days: Su-Th+1/2F]. But Steinitz issued serious opposition to Vice Premier Silvan Shalom's idea of making Sunday a day off, as it is in the United States.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed a committee on Monday to examine whether Israel should adopt a five-day work week like the United States and the rest of the Western world.
The committee, which will be headed by National Economic Council head Prof. Eugene Kandel, will consider [three choices:
1] Vice Premier Silvan Shalom's proposal for Israeli workers to have off on Sundays [4 1/2 days: Su-Th+1/2F=4x8.5+4=38 hours, counting the extra halfhour Su-Th mentioned in Haaretz' article below],
 Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz's idea of eliminating the current half day of work on Fridays [5 days: Su-Th, 40 hours], and
 the status quo that is promoted by Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar [Su-Th+1/2F: 5 1/2 days, 44 hours].
[That's probably what's bugging them - the fact that on June 30, South Korea finished climbing down from its 44-hour workweek over the last seven years and is currently all down to a 40-hour workweek - so Israel has suddenly become isolated in outdated official workaholism. Not that all the 40-hour putzes actually respect their 40-hour maximum...]
The three Likud ministers, who all see themselves as future prime ministers, sparred on the issue at Monday's Likud faction meeting. At the end of the meeting, Netanyahu, who arrived late [probably watching them through a one-way mirror] announced the formation of Kandel's committee, which will release its findings when the Knesset returns from its summer recess in October.
"There are good arguments on all sides of the issue," Netanyahu told the MKs, declaring neutrality until the committee issues its findings.
Likud officials speculated that Netanyahu might be unlikely to support giving Sundays off, because the idea is being promoted by Shalom, who is his Likud rival. A press release from Netanyahu announcing the formation of the committee conspicuously made no reference to Shalom.
But a Likud MK close to Netanyahu said the Shalom factor was balanced out by the fact that the prime minister was aware that the idea of shortening the work week was originally promoted by Natan Sharansky and Yuli Edelstein, with whom Netanyahu is on good terms.
"If the decision is made on a professional basis, I am sure it will pass, because it's so right for Israel's economy and society," Shalom said. "The formation of the committee is a step in the right direction."
In the Likud faction meeting, Steinitz warned that making Sunday a day off was "too extreme a step," because workers are already unproductive on Fridays, so they would be left with a four-day work week [M-Th]. He said the price of paying overtime to state employees like those in the health care system for working on Sundays would be astronomical.
Steinitz said it was more right for Israelis to have Fridays off, because of the Jewish identity of Israel and the Muslim sabbath. His associates said he would also consider having the work week end a couple hours earlier on Thursdays.
When Steinitz asked Shalom sarcastically why he didn't promote a shorter work week when he was finance minister, Shalom said the government was toppled before he could.
Shalom's associates said Steinitz did not understand the proposal properly. Coalition chairman Ze'ev Elkin, who has proposed giving Sundays off in a private member's bill, said giving off Fridays would not solve the problem of religious consumers being left out of the weekend marketplace at a time when the Sabbath-observing population is growing.
However, Elkin still welcomed Steinitz's backing for shortening the work week. He called Steinitz's proposal "revolutionary."
[A measly two hours less than the seventy-year-old 40-hour workweek "revolutionary"? Oh, please.]
[Another version -]
Netanyahu to consider shortening Israel's work week to four days - PM considers making Sunday another day off, Friday would be a work day until noon, By Jonathan Lis, 7/04 (7/05 early pickup) Haaretz.com
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday he was prepared to consider shortening Israel's work week to four days and lengthening the weekend.
"It is impossible to stop the train now that it has left the station," Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, who had proposed the move, said yesterday.
[Oh, I donno - Sarkozy has done a pretty good job on France's 35-hour workweek by attacking overtime enforcement and failing to implement automatic overtime-to-jobs conversion.]
"We must move to a long weekend as soon as possible, in keeping with all the developed world states."
Netanyahu said at the Likud faction meeting yesterday that he had appointed Professor Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council and economic advisor to the prime minister, to look into the possibility of canceling Sunday as a work day and turning it into another day off.
According to the plan, Saturday and Sunday would be holidays and Friday would be a work day until noon.
Kandel is expected to set up a committee consisting of all the relevant ministries to examine the proposal's implications. Netanyahu said the issue was a complicated one and required serious examination from several angles, economic, social, religious and ideological.
Shalom's initiative was recently endorsed by the Israel Manufacturers Association, Chambers of Commerce Presidium, the Union of Local Authorities, Hotel Association, the teachers unions, the National Economic Council and the director-general of the Prime Minister's Office.
Two Likud Knesset members, Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin, submitted private bills about introducing a long weekend. Their move was intended to force the cabinet to make a decision to advance the initiative.
Shalom proposed the weekend would be on Saturday and Sunday, while the work-week would be from Monday to Friday noon. In exchange for the longer weekend, we will work half an hour more per day.
One of the reasons for the proposal was the absence of a "real" weekend in Israel, like in the rest of the Western world. More than 75 percent of the world's population and 100 percent of the developed world's population have adopted Saturday and Sunday as their days of rest.
Shalom said the shift would be good for Israel's economy, exporters, stock exchange traders and high-tech companies. Contrary to the general assumption, moving to a long weekend would not reduce the work hours, he said.
[So 40-2= 38 hours but 38 is not less than 40?]
The move will also lead to a five-day school week, which would mean introducing a long school day and providing lunch at school, he said.
A long school day would remove the restrictions on many working women, enabling them to advance to senior executive positions.
In addition, a long weekend would help to develop leisure and culture activities, with youth movements and community centers able to hold activities for school children on Sundays.
- What's holding women back? Sunday Life via The Islander via theislanderonline.com.au
KINGSCOTE, South Australia - There are times when it feels as if Australia is the natural habitat of the successful woman. In September 2010, for instance, when our female governor-general swore in our female prime minister. Or last month, when Gina Rinehart, the mining magnate who has trebled her personal fortune to a cool $10 billion over the past 12 months, officially became the country's richest person. We've got women running our banks, editing our newspapers, heading up our scientific bodies and leading our academic departments. Even the word Australia (provided you're reading in Latin) is feminine.
Then somebody meows at a female government minister, or suspends a young female military cadet just as she learns that her sex life has been broadcast over the internet by her male colleagues. And you have to wonder whether we're doing as well as those super-successful women's achievements might suggest.
Look beyond those few glitteringly powerful women leaders and glum statistics present the broader picture. Just a quarter of Australian MPs are women; for university professors, the figure is also about a quarter, and for company board directors, it's only about 10 per cent. (It's not just at the senior levels that women get a raw deal, either: across the country, women working full-time earn 17 per cent less than men [colleague Kate says it's something like 35% in the US] - the equivalent of working an extra 63 days for the same pay.)
Diversity gives an organisation more perspective on the world, and it's also good for profits: the US organisation Catalyst found that Fortune 500 companies with high levels of female management perform, on average, more than 30 per cent better than those with the lowest. So why, when there are women at the top of virtually every Australian profession, are their overall numbers still so small?
"It's madness - not just in terms of fairness and equity, but also in terms of productivity and increasing our national competitiveness - not to be better utilising the leadership abilities of Australian women," agrees Kate Ellis, the federal government's Minister for the Status of Women. And the very top jobs, she believes, are not the only ones we should be looking at. "I think it's really important that we also focus on women's promotion right through the middle ranks of organisations into middle management, into senior management."
Ellis's ministerial powers are vital to redressing the balance, but she readily admits "legislation alone can't bring about change". The tangle of issues that challenge women's career progression is much too complex for that.
Straightforward misogyny still exists, although to a great extent it has withered in the face of years of legislation. "Early in my career, I think it was just assumed that if you were the woman coming into the room you'd be making the cups of tea for everybody," says Katie Lahey, a director of David Jones and the managing director of executive-recruiting firm Korn Ferry (Australia and New Zealand). "I think that's changed now." But subtle, often unintended gender bias still exists: "Companies still encourage golf days when the majority of women don't play golf, so they're excluded from those sort of things."
Naseema Sparks, who holds three directorships and is former managing director of M&C Saatchi, insists that "women are very well respected in leadership positions - there just aren't that many of them". But she also describes the kind of casual pre-meeting conversations that leave out those who don't, for example, follow the AFL - more often women than men.
Nicknames also allow stereotypes to creep in. "Julia Gillard has joined the throng of wonderful women who have been called 'Iron Ladies'," says Lucy Taksa, the head of Macquarie University's business department. "Of course, we know Margaret Thatcher. There's [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel, 'the Iron Frau'. Vice premier Wu Yi was referred to as the 'Iron Lady of China'. Liberia's president, Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, and her cabinet were called the 'Iron Ladies' ..." Then there are variations, like former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the "Titanium Lady".
Female leaders' nicknames often mix masculine and feminine elements, says Taksa. "Women [leaders] are in a really awkward position," she says. "If they adopt some of the masculine traits, they get criticised for being masculine and less than women. But if they don't, they are not conforming to our expectations of an assertive, 'masculine' model of leadership."
To make matters worse, how women are perceived isn't always a reflection of the way they act - as US researchers discovered when they asked students at Columbia Business School to appraise the CV of entrepreneur Howard Roizen.
Roizen is the kind of director every ambitious company wants. He's worked for Apple, launched his own software company and been a partner at a venture capital firm. He's outgoing, an incredible networker (Bill Gates is a personal friend), and described by colleagues as a "catalyst" and a "captain of industry". The students judged him to be effective, likeable and someone they would hire. The only thing is, Howard doesn't exist. Heidi Roizen, on the other hand - the CV's real owner - does. But students who read Heidi's CV judged her more selfish and less hireable than Howard, even though she was viewed as equally effective.
Underlying this sort of judgment, says federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, is a "belief barrier", to which mothers are susceptible. "We believe that good mothers are always with their children. It doesn't matter what you're doing when you're there - if you're with your children, that's what a good mother looks like." In addition, she says, we believe the ideal worker "is available 24-7, has no visible caring responsibilities and is usually male".
"Structural barriers", such as the cost of childcare or provision of parental leave, also matter, Broderick says. But "workplace barriers", the cultural issues of how business is done, are more awkward: "The really senior jobs are only done one way. That is, you have to be there not just five days a week but more than that."
Sparks, who has one adult son, agrees that bringing up a child while forging a career was at times very difficult. "Mums will always feel an element of guilt: we're not doing enough, we're doing too much, we're overcompensating ... Bringing up a child, and travelling a lot, having a senior-level career, is actually quite hard." Katie Lahey believes not having children gave her "flexibility in terms of workplace hours". Twenty or 30 years ago, she points out, women "either decided to have a career or children, whereas what we're encouraging women to do now is to try to manage both."
Motherhood doesn't necessarily hold women back, points out Anne Ross-Smith, professor of management learning at Macquarie University. "If you look at the demographics of women who have made it to senior positions - well-known women in this country - some of them have families and some of them don't." But she agrees that "the complexities of the domestic sphere" have a huge influence on working life.
In Australia, women spend an average of over five hours a day on cooking, cleaning, gardening, childcare, making cups of tea for elderly relatives and other unpaid tasks. For Australian men, it's around half that time. And I'd be willing to bet my last squeegee that while childless couples spend less time on unpaid work overall, most women still do more than their partners.
But before we rise up in fury at this injustice, women should remember we can be part of the problem. Mothers, Ross-Smith says, are often "unwitting accomplices" in the domestic patterns which distract them from their careers. She describes interviewing a businesswoman about why she didn't ask her partner to collect the children from school. "Her answer? 'Well, I'm the mother, and actually, mothers are expected to do that.'" For single women, things are perhaps easier; for single mothers, even more complicated. But for women with partners, the message is clear: if you want an equal footing with men at work, you may need to modify your sense of duty at home.
"When we talk about gender equality, we need to recognise that that's about men's experiences and opportunities as well as women's opportunities," Ellis says. "We hear all the time from Australian men who would like to play bigger roles in the unpaid work, bigger roles in their households and with their families. But they feel there's a stigma about them accessing flexible work - that it's seen as a lack of ambition if they choose to go part time."
While men struggle to pull back from office life, many women have the opposite problem, says Ross-Smith - "a reticence, a reluctance to put yourself forward". An interviewee, a senior woman working in the public sector, once told Ross-Smith, "We call it 'girl disease'." She's used the term ever since.
Girl disease, reticence, lack of confidence or simply being "risk-averse" - while nobody interviewed for this article considered women to be innately less ambitious than men, everybody recognised the phenomenon. But it's clear women want senior roles, Ellis argues. "Last year, we opened 70 positions in partnership with the Australian Institute of Company Directors," she says. "Across Australia, we had 2000 applications from women who believed that they were ready to go on a board."
Measures are already in place to help get women into leadership roles. ASX-listed companies have already been asked to set targets for female directorships, and small improvements have been made - from 8 to 10 per cent. Whether something stricter is needed is still a controversial question. Lucy Taksa highlights Norway, where companies must meet a 40 per cent directorship quota. "But in the universities, where there are no quotas, their percentage of women professors is basically the same as ours." Naseema Sparks, however, believes "the heavy hand of government and legislation could be counterproductive" - the line Ellis also takes.
Mentoring is more widely accepted. "Women tend not to do the asking, they tend not to put their hands up [for promotion]. So often they need champions and advocates to push them through," says Claire Braund, executive director of the advocacy group Women on Boards. "Performance counts for about 10 per cent of getting promotions, image is about 30 and exposure is about 60. One of the key things we say to people is that you need to be networked."
Ross-Smith suggests businesses appoint a supervisor to encourage talented women to apply for senior jobs; simpler and "much cheaper". For Lahey, it's vital that women in business speak up. "If I go along to an event and I find there are no women speakers, I always say to the event organiser, 'Don't you think it looks strange in this day and age to have no women on that panel?' ... And when [organisers] ring women, women have to be prepared to say, 'Yes, I will be on that panel.' It's a two-way street."
In fact, it's more like a complex motorway interchange: strong government legislation is essential, as is transparent business practice which allows women to fulfil their potential. But to change the face of our workplaces, the balance of domestic life for both men and women also needs to change.
Unsurprisingly, both Ellis and Broderick highlight legislative advances, such as government monitoring of companies and a new amendment to the Sex Discrimination Act to help men take advantage of flexible working hours. Some governments are taking things much further: in Sweden, 60 days of a couple's parental entitlement must be used by the father. But we're unlikely to see such measures in Australia any time soon. "It's not the role of government to be dictating how people raise their families and how they spend time with their children," Ellis argues.
If women with children are to take senior roles, then flexible working hours clearly matter. Some suggest senior men should be encouraged to work shorter hours and spend time with their families.
"But who gets them to do it?" Ross-Smith asks.
[Who gets them to do it? Other senior people who want to have sufficient markets of wage-earning consumers unlimited workweeks controlling legions of 24/7 robots aren't going to do it no matter how much money those few make. As Walter Reuther retorted to Henry Ford's "Let's see you unionize these robots!" - "Let's see you sell them cars."]
"The organisation can put policies and practices in place, but unless organisational members enact those policies and practices, then you're not going to get the cultural changes that are necessary. And the idea of some outsider coming in and imposing a cultural change that will suddenly send senior males home at six o'clock is a rather simplistic way of thinking about things. It's a bottom-up change."
It's also a household-out change. The fact that men earn more than women for doing the same jobs is a huge stumbling block. But having it all - a successful career and a happy home life - doesn't have to mean doing it all. Do you need to do the dishes and pick up the kids, or do you need to talk to your partner about how it gets done? Do you need to ask for a raise or put yourself forward for that promotion?
And what about the old-fashioned sexism - the catcalling and other playground tactics? The Penny Wong approach of shouting back is, in the short term, pretty effective. But in the longer term, women need to put themselves forward for senior jobs. "We want people not to even notice anything unusual about the gender of our leaders and I think increasingly that will be the case," says Ellis. As Australia's youngest ever minister of either sex, she probably understands that better than most. "If you work hard and you do a good job, maybe it makes things easier for people who come after you who may not fit the mould."
7/02/2011 – 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 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 ) -
- State cuts millions from Montgomery County schools, By Kassia Micek, YourHoustonNews.com
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Tex. - The approved state budget will cut millions from Montgomery County schools.
Concluding its special session, the Texas Legislature approved the final budget figures in Senate Bill 1 Tuesday night and cut $4 billion from education funding statewide.
“It started out at $9.7 billion and got whittled down to $4 billion,” Texas Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, said of education cuts. “ … It was a good compromise.
“We minimized the reduction in funding to school districts, but gave them flexibility to handle them, so they can save teachers jobs. I think it’s going to turn out fine.”
Montgomery ISD expects $7.8 million in cuts broken down as $3.1 million for 2011-12 and $4.7 million for 2012-12, Superintendent Jim Gibson stated in an e-mail to The Courier.
“While the final state budget figures won’t require any changes to the district’s budget since administrations have been staying on top of the process, the reduction in funding will change things,” Gibson stated.
However, some changes are necessary to reduce spending, such as no cost of living increases, no additional teachers for the additional students, and reduction in district-level administrators, secretaries, maintenance staff, lead transportation staff members, police officers, curriculum coordinators, athletic trainers and technology support staff members.
All department budgets will be cut by 20 percent and all campus budgets will be cut by 15 percent, Gibson stated. Trustees recently approved changes to cut or reduce the number of stops that buses make requiring students walk further to and from their homes to the bus stops.
Willis ISD Superintendent Bret Jimerson was out of the office and did not have information readily available regarding how much of a hit the district will take on state funding.
“We’re going to do what we need to do,” he said. “We need to tighten our belt.”
Those cuts add up to $11 million for Magnolia ISD, split between $4.9 million for 2011-12 and $6.1 million for 2012-13, Superintendent Todd Stephens said.
“That’s very close to what we had anticipated,” he said. “We’re still in the budgeting process.”
The district previously reduced personnel in anticipation of state cuts and, Stephens said, it may be able to bring back “a small number.”
New Caney ISD is looking at a loss of approximately $3.7 million during the next two school years, said Clisty Vaden, business and finance director. That figure is broken down to $2.3 million in 2011-12 and $1.4 million in 2012-13.
“It’s a relief knowing we can go forward,” she said of receiving the final figures.
“ … This is kind of the numbers we were looking at in recent weeks.
Conroe and Splendora school districts did not reply to request for information by deadline.
As a companion bill to SB1, Senate Bill 8 allows school districts the use of furloughs, mandatory time off without pay, and reduction in pay for all professional employees, not just teachers, Eissler said.
“That saves teachers jobs,” Eissler said.
SB8 allows districts to implement a furlough program and reduce the number of days of service otherwise required by not more than six days during a school year, and reduce the salary of an employee who is furlough in proportion to the number of days by which service is reduced. A furlough program must subject all contract personnel to the same number of furlough days, according to the bill.
If a district wants to implement a furlough program, the Board of trustees must host a public meeting to allow employees the opportunity to express opinions, according to the bill.
SB8 also allows for the reductions in salaries of classroom teachers and administrators.
“Any pay reductions have to be spread among the school district except the lowest paid (hourly) employees,” Eissler said. “A school district can’t just furlough teachers or can’t just reduce the pay of teachers.”
Montgomery ISD does not plan to take advantage of options on SB8 for during the next two years but it may become necessary after the next two years because the Texas Legislature failed to address the structural deficit that exists as a result of the performance of the Business Margins Tax that was created to make up for the lost revenue, when property tax rates were reduced in 2006 from $1.50 to $1,” Gibson stated.
Because of program changes made to reduce expenses, Magnolia ISD is prevented from furloughing any staff, Stephens said.
NCISD also will not implement furlough during the next two years.
“New Caney is a growing district, which will he3lp us,” Vaden said of the need to hire additional teachers for additional students.
Previously, education funding accounted for 57 percent of the state budget, but this year that percentage increased to 60 percent, Eissler said.
“I think it’s safe to say education is the top priority of the state,” Eissler said. “ … We spent more on public education in the next biennium that the last biennium.”
- Duquesne City schools OKs budget; teachers furloughed, By Mary Niederberger, (6/29 late pickup) Pittsburgh Post Gazette via post-gazette.com via Pennsylvania.StateNews.net
DUQUESNE CITY, Penn. - The state board of control overseeing the Duquesne City School District approved a $14 million final budget, with no tax hike, that calls for the furlough of 19 teachers.
The furloughs were approved at Tuesday's meeting and teachers who attended the meeting found out whether or not they were on the furlough list when it was read publicly.
Board of control chairman Juan Baughn, a special assistant in the state Education Department, said the board had deep regret about the furloughs but had no choice given the financial situation in the district.
The final budget is contingent upon the anticipated restoration of about $2.75 million of the $4 million in state funds Gov. Tom Corbett proposed cutting in his budget in March.
That amount has been included in a state Senate version of the budget that has circulated this week. Mr. Baughn said he was confident the Legislature's budget would restore the funding.
Mr. Baughn was also hopeful the district would receive some additional federal funding. He said if any extra money came to the district, some employees could be recalled.
The budget also calls for the furlough of four custodians as of Sept. 1 if additional funds are not received. Also furloughed were the parent liaison and the technology specialist.
The board presented a chart that showed class sizes, after the furloughs, would range from 20-25, which Mr, Baughn said was similar, if not smaller, than other districts in the Mon Valley.
The final budget restores the extracurricular activities for students in the K-8 Duquesne Elementary/Middle School and sports teams for the 2011-2012 school year, which is expected to be the district's last.
Earlier this year, officials from the state education department said for the 2012-2013 school year, K-8 students would begin to attend another school district or districts on a tuition basis. That change will require action from the state legislature.
High school students in Duquesne have attended either East Allegheny or West Mifflin Area high schools since Duquesne High School was closed in June 2007.
In a related matter, the board approved the dissolution of the intergovernmental agreement it had with the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and the education department that called for the AIU to manage the district in return for an annual payment of $300,000.
Mr. Baughn said Duquesne will use that money to support its own in-house administration.
The 19 employees furloughed include: two kindergarten teachers; one each, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth grader teachers; one mid-level math, science and English teacher; one drama/theater arts teacher; one music/band teacher; one math coach; two reading intervention specialists; three Success For All facilitators; and one library/media teacher.
Mary Niederberger: firstname.lastname@example.org; 412-851-1512.
- Furlough end comes too late to tell workers - A deal to extend a UPW pact does not leave enough time to notify city employees, by Gregg K. Kakesako, Honolulu Star-Advertiser via staradvertiser.com
HONOLULU, Hawaii, USA - The city's six refuse convenience centers were closed Friday because workers thought they were supposed to be on furlough, a city spokeswoman said.
Negotiators for the city and the United Public Workers agreed Thursday night to extend existing wages and benefits but to end two years of Furlough Fridays while negotiations for a new contract continue.
However, the agreement came too late to notify some members of UPW's Unit 1 who work for the city and were already scheduled to be on furlough.
At least one UPW sewer employee at the city Department of Environmental Services said he was told by his supervisor Thursday afternoon that he was not to work on Friday.
Louise Kim McCoy, city spokeswoman, said the only city operations that were affected were the six refuse convenience centers at Ewa, Laie, Wahiawa, Waianae, Waimanalo and Waipahu. They were closed for bulky trash drop-offs but will be reopened today. No other city operations were affected.
McCoy said there may have been other city employees who did not show up for work, but did not have a count.
About 1,780 Unit 1 workers are assigned to four city agencies — Environmental Services, Parks and Recreation, Facility Management and the Board of Water Supply — but they were on a staggered furlough schedule and not all of them were supposed to be off duty at the same time, McCoy said.
Workers who did not report to work will be given administrative leave with pay, she said.
"It didn't seem fair to have them come unless we were sure that the furlough was going to end," McCoy said.
City UPW employees will continue to work under the wages and benefits of a contract settled in June 2009 while negotiators work on a new pact.
McCoy said furloughs for all city workers, including UPW members, ended Thursday.
State and county government workers have returned to a regular five-day workweek after two years of furloughs. Government offices, schools and other public facilities were closed at least twice a month. The furloughs were instituted as a way to deal with budget deficits.
The last official Furlough Friday for state employees was June 24.
Furloughs for county workers on Kauai ended in January and April for those on Maui. Furloughs ended last month for Hawaii County employees.
In April the Hawaii Government Employees Association, the state's largest public-sector labor union with 28,124 members, announced a tentative two-year contract agreement that includes a 5 percent pay cut, an increase in health care premium payments and an increase in time off. However, HGEA's 1,561-member Unit 9 of registered professional nurses rejected the proposed contract.
Besides the UPW, labor negotiations still continue with the State of Hawaii Organization of Police Officers and the Hawaii Fire Fighters Association.
Dayton Nakanelua, UPW state director, did not respond to inquiries about the furlough mix-up.
7/01/2011 – 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 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 ) -
- Vital signs - Germany's job market is in better shape than America's, Wall Street Journal, A1 graph caption.
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA - Germany's June unemployment rate was 7% [thanks to worksharing hourscuts instead of jobcuts], making it the lowest on records going back to 1991, shortly after East and West Germany unified.
That compares with a U.S. May unemployment rate of 9.1% [except that] if Germany measured jobs the same way as the U.S., its unemployment rate would be about a half-point lower [6.5%].
- County parks to shorten hours, by Karissa Minn, SalisburyPost.com
SALISBURY, N.C., USA — Starting today, tightening budgets will cause Rowan County’s parks to close a bit earlier and its libraries will skip some annual events.
Earlier this year, the county asked each of its departments to make a 4 to 5 percent budget cut, adding up to a reduction of more than $2 million for the county budget. It was up to the department heads to decide how to make those cuts.
When contacted by the Post, several departments said the reductions will stretch them thin but should not affect services they provide in the coming year.
But the Parks and Recreation Department and Rowan Public Library have made some changes the public will notice.
Library Director Jeff Hall said the library is reducing some of its programming in fiscal year 2011-12, which begins today.
“We will not be doing Salisbury-Rowan Reads program this summer,” Hall said. “It’s a one-day reading festival we hold in each of the municipalities.”
In addition, Rowan Public Library will not hold the Jackie Torrence storytelling festival in Granite Quarry this year or be one of the sponsors of the Summer Reading Challenge.
Hall said the library also reduced money spent on supplies and audiovisual materials and eliminated one part-time position at the circulation desk.
Don Bringle, county parks director, said the Parks and Recreation Department cut one maintenance position by not filling it after an employee retired.
In addition, Dan Nicholas Park will no longer offer discounted or free camping to senior citizens but will honor any reservation made before today.
“We also are closing our parks earlier throughout the year beginning July 1 on weekdays, Monday through Friday,” Bringle said. “On Saturdays, Sundays and holidays we’ll be maintaining normal hours.”
From June through September, the parks will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. From January through May and October through December, park hours will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attractions open at 10 a.m. and close one hour before the park closes.
These hours do not apply to Dunn’s Mountain Park, which will no longer be open on Wednesdays, or Eagle Point Nature Preserve.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
- Dalton library to cut hours, by Charles Oliver firstname.lastname@example.org, The Daily Citizen via daltondailycitizen.com
DALTON, Ga., USA - The Dalton-Whitfield Library will cut its hours of service later this summer due to budget cuts.
Starting Aug. 1, the library’s hours will be :
• Monday: Closed (currently open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
• Tuesday through Thursday: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (same as current hours)
• Friday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (same as current hours)
• Saturday 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (currently 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
• Sunday: Closed (currently closed)
“We and the board have really agonized over these choices,” said Joe Forsee, director of the Northwest Georgia Regional Library System, which is headquartered in Dalton. “We talked about what other libraries have done, which is essentially to go to the schools’ model where they are open Monday through Friday. But for the person who works a shift in a plant, if we cut all the evening and Saturday hours, when will he be able to get in? We feel like this is the best compromise we can make.”
The library had a fiscal year 2011 budget of some $433,000, according to Forsee, coming from the state, Whitfield County, the city of Dalton and local school systems. The board hasn’t set the library’s 2012 budget (the fiscal year begins today), but Forsee said the library faces combined cuts of $116,000 from the state and county. City and school funding will remain the same.
The library will also be cutting two positions this week.
“One of our librarians has decided to retire early, and we will not fill that position. And one of our part-time people who has run our computer lab on Saturday has decided to not stay on as well,” Forsee said.
The library has lost almost half its positions over the past several years.
“When I came here we had 22 full-time equivalents in the combined local and regional library staff. That was actually about 25 or 26 people because some of them were part time,” Forsee said. “We now have 12 full-time equivalents. We haven’t filled most positions as they came open for about three years. We’ve shifted people around and tried to make cuts in ways that people couldn’t see. But you can only do that so many times.”
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