7/31/2012 – 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 ) -
- Nassau County, CSEA agree to furlough program, by John Callegari, (7/30 late pickup) Long Island Business News via libn.com
NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y., USA - Nassau County has reached an agreement with its public employees union to implement a voluntary furlough program that is expected to prevent at least a few of the 200 layoffs proposed last week.
The agreement, signed Friday by the Civil Service Employee Association Local 830 officials, allows 5,000 employees to take anywhere from one to 60 unpaid days off each year without penalties affecting their benefits. Employees can only take up to 20 consecutive days off at any given time, and the period of leave must be approved by the employee’s department head.
CSEA spokesman Ryan Mulholland said some employees have already had their furlough requests turned down because of the needs of their department.
The furlough program took effect immediately and runs through Aug. 1, 2013.
A week ago, Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced he would be trimming the county’s workforce by 200 employees as part of a $45 million budget reduction plan. Sixty-two of those 200 slated for layoffs are actually leaving employment via a voluntary early-retirement incentive program, while retirements from the police and corrections departments will also reduce that number. In total, about 100 would have been laid off. All of the measures together would have produced a savings of about $10 million.
Even with the furlough plan, layoffs will likely still be necessary, as the voluntary program will not produce the type of savings needed to close the budget shortfall. But even saving just a few employees made the plan worthwhile to the CSEA, Mulholland said.
Mangano’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
- East Palo Alto City Hall will close 11 days as employees go on furlough, by Bonnie Eslinger, Palo Alto Daily News via San Jose Mercury News via mercurynews.com
PALO ALTO, Calif., USA - East Palo Alto City Hall will shut down 11 times this fiscal year because government employees have agreed to go on furlough for the second straight year to help the city balance its $17 million budget.
"It reflects their understanding of the financial situation, not just of the city but of the region," Interim City Manager Ron Davis said. "They're contributing to the city's long-term stability."
[and avoiding job and consumer-spending cuts in the city.]
With the exception of police, all city employees will take a 5 percent salary cut, most of them in the form of 12 scheduled days off without pay.
Davis said he expects most of the City Hall closures to happen on Fridays, though doors occasionally may be shut a day before or after a holiday. Non-salaried employees have to take 11 scheduled days off and get to pick the 12th furlough day. Salaried employees -- mainly managers -- will be docked 5 percent too but are expected to work when City Hall is closed if they need to.
The same group of about 50 city employees also took a 5 percent salary cut last through furloughs. But instead of closing City Hall then, the city shut down operations two hours early every Friday afternoon.
The switch to full-day furloughs came at the request of the Service Employees International Union, which represents the largest pool of the city's non-public safety employees. Many employees felt taking a full day off would be more convenient, Davis said. "It's one less day of paying for child care, one less day of driving, it's better for staff."
[...Back and forth on the detailed implementation.]
The negotiated contract amendments for the employee groups -- Service Employees International Union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, and department heads and other non-bargaining classifications -- were approved by the city council last week.
Over the weekend, the city's police officers voted to accept a 2 percent pay cut; that deal will go to the council at a future date. Police will not take furloughs.
To eliminate a $1.4 million budget deficit for the 2012-13 fiscal year, East Palo Alto froze three vacant positions and tapped a one-time public safety grant, in addition to obtaining the contract concessions, Davis said.
Email Bonnie Eslinger at email@example.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.
7/29-30/2012 – 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 ) -
- Courthouses to Close Statewide, 7/30 Kentucky Press News Service
FRANKFORT, Ky., USA – Courthouses will be closed statewide and all court services will be unavailable Monday, Aug. 6, as the Kentucky Judicial Branch shuts down for the first of three furlough days in 2012. This will be the first time since Kentucky’s modern court system was formed in 1976 that the Judicial Branch must close courthouse doors to balance its budget. The furloughs will affect only non-elected court personnel, who will be off work without pay as part of the Judicial Branch’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Reduction Plan, according to a state news release.
[But layoffs will be avoided.]
The entire court system will be closed Monday, Aug. 6; Tuesday, Sept. 4; and Monday, Oct. 15. This includes the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, Circuit Court, District Court, Offices of Circuit Court Clerk, the Administrative Office of the Courts and all court services, including Pretrial Services, Drug Court, the Court Designated Worker Program, Court Interpreting Services, the State Law Library and driver license branches.
The Supreme Court of Kentucky has approved two orders that provide guidance on how the statewide court closures are to be implemented. While the two orders provide more detail, below is a summary of what the public and the law enforcement and legal communities should expect on furlough days:
• Trials and other court proceedings will not be scheduled on furlough days as there will be no staff available. Items already on the docket for those days will be rescheduled.
• Driver licenses will not be issued.
• The Supreme Court will suspend its rule requiring pretrial officers to interview a defendant within 12 hours after incarceration. No Pretrial Services staff will be working on furlough days.
• Deputy clerks will not be available to process bonds and no release orders will be issued.
• Existing after-hours protocol will be followed for processing domestic violence orders (DVOs) and emergency protective orders (EPOs).
• Local court designated workers will not be available. The Court Designated Worker Program will have a supervisor available to ensure that law enforcement adheres to its statutory requirements in cases involving the arrest and custody of juveniles.
• Technology Services staff will not be available to recover the CourtNet database in the event the system experiences an interruption in service.
• County offices that share space with the state court system in courthouses and judicial centers will not be affected.
Furloughs are one of several measures included in the Judicial Branch’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Reduction Plan. The 2012 Kentucky General Assembly reduced the total funds available to the Judicial Branch by $25.2 million for Fiscal Year 2013. This included a permanent reduction to the annual base operating budget of $16.2 million and a one-time transfer of $9 million in payroll to the state’s general fund on June 30, 2012. Since the economic crisis began in 2008, the Judicial Branch has sustained repeated reductions to its budget and has cut 282 employees statewide, eliminated court programs and trimmed operating costs at all four levels of the court system to stay within its budget.
The Supreme Court and leadership from the Administrative Office of the Courts will meet in January to determine if additional furloughs and reductions are necessary for the remainder of fiscal year 2013, which runs July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. They will also begin drafting a budget reduction plan for FY 2014, which presents an even greater shortfall than in FY 2013.
- Short Time Work, 7/29 (7/26 late pickup) ARAcityradio.com
LUXEMBOURG - 32 companies nationwide have got their staff working short time. Nearly 4 000 workers are affected.
The economics ministry says there are several large firms among those who've scaled back production. Some have had to reduce output because customers abroad elsewhere are cutting back.
But the ministry says the number of requests for companies to work short hours is starting to fall.
7/28/2012 – 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 ) -
- Cut hours, save jobs - Letter To Editor, by Melvin Craner of Black River Falls WI, (7/26 late pickup) Leader-Telegram via leadertelegram.com
EAU CLAIRE, Wisc., USA - A possible solution to the unemployment situation would be to lower most production work to four days a week (32 hours). Current technology allows this work to be done much faster.
[And current technology requires that remaining employment be spread thinner to keep the same number of customers to buy the output. If employment is spread thin enough for everyone, the lack of jobseekers will move employers to raise pay to get good help, and the economy will upsize and we'll have real growth for a change. So obvious! Too obvious for the experts. But, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, hast thou ordained strength" (Ps.8:2) or in this case, out of the mouths of laymen and amateurs...]
A similar 20 percent cut in pay would be excessive, but about 10 percent or so would be reasonable, considering the benefit of higher employment figures and less unemployment compensation and other costs.
A three-day [weekend] shutdown on most production instead of a two-day shutdown would even offset climate change to a certain extent.
Similar changes in the past were certainly beneficial. Child labor, excessive work hours and jobs with few or no benefits were mostly eliminated.
- Are there any studies comparing 30-hour workweeks with 40-hour workweeks? (7/27 late pickup) The Workplace beta via workplace.StackExchange.com
SOUTHOLD, N.Y., USA - I just read an interesting article [3/14/2012 #2] about the 40 hour workweek that cited a *paper that summarized approximately 100 years of people praising the 40 hour workweek, but it is always cast as an alternative to longer workweeks. I am curious about the efficiency of even shorter workweeks.
Have there been any studies done to compare a 40-hour workweek with a 30-hour workweek, and the resulting effect on employee productivity and satisifaction?
6 Below 40 hours, you're looking at less than 50% productivity time [how is 39 hours less than 50% productivity time? bad start!]. That might be wonderful for workers, but you're losing time. lots of time [France's 39-hour workweek 1983-1999 lost "lots of time"? again, bad start]. The reason why 50 hours isn't too good [weren't we talking about below 40 hours?] is because of diminishing returns. People seem to be able to work 40 hours without losing too much productivity. Afterwards [= more than 40], it falls off sharply. Thus, you're not really gaining anything from those extra 10 hours. Conversely, with 30 hours, you're losing out on 10 hours of still productive time. submitted as comment because i have zero evidence to back any of this up – acolyte Jul 25 at 17:58
[And zero consideration of the productivity leaps of automation or "lights out" manufacturing or the irrelevance of unmarketable productivity...]
6 I've seen a number of questions specifically asking for research citations to support some assertion. The problem is that research of this type has so many conditions on the measurements and subtle conclusions. That practically begs for misinterpretation at worst and unsatisfying discourse at best. In any case, if you're really asking for research citations, isn't it better to just perform an academic abstract search than to ask on a forum like this? I think in a place like this, it is better to ask about practical conventions and observations when work-hours lengthen or shorten. – Angelo Jul 25 at 20:06
3 I think the question as asked is just to broad. From the FAQ, your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much. This is probably in this category. Further, practical answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Is there a problem you are having that you need a 30 hour week? What is the problem you are trying to solve? Perhaps this question would be more appropriate on skeptics SE. – Chad Jul 26 at 14:27
3 I would urge those interested in this question and its formulation to discuss it on The Workplace Meta or The Workplace Chat, so that it could be edited and voted to reopen by the community when a better fit for SE. – jcmeloni? Jul 27 at 12:36
Closed [discussion] as not constructive, by mhoran_psprep, HLGEM, Chad, Yannis Rizos, jcmeloni? Jul 27 at 12:32. As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.
- Hacking the federal workweek, by Mark Drapeau, (7/24 late pickup) FedScoop.com
Mark Drapeau is the new Lifestyle Editor at Fedscoop. This is his first post.
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - In 1998, renowned science fiction novelist Neal Stephenson wrote an essay called “Why I am a Bad Correspondent,” in which he describes why he spends as little time as possible directly interacting with readers.
“Writers who do not make themselves totally available to everyone, all the time, are frequently tagged with the ‘recluse’ label. While I do not consider myself a recluse, I have found it necessary to place some limits on my direct interactions with individual readers…
Writing novels is hard, and requires vast, unbroken slabs of time. Four quiet hours is a resource that I can put to good use. Two slabs of time, each two hours long, might add up to the same four hours, but are not nearly as productive as an unbroken four. If I know that I am going to be interrupted, I can’t concentrate, and if I suspect that I might be interrupted, I can’t do anything at all…
The productivity equation is a non-linear one, in other words. This accounts for why I am a bad correspondent..If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly.”
Creative workers like artists, writers and software developers need unbroken periods of time in order to make their products. For many, it’s mandatory. Four one-hour blocks interspersed with four one-hour conference calls is very different than a solo creative period from 8 a.m.- 12 p.m and a team brainstorming session from 12 p.m.- 4 p.m.
Paul Graham of Y Combinator fame called these two styles of work — unbroken slabs of time vs. numerous shorter meetings — the “maker schedule” and the “manager schedule” in a classic 2009 blog post.
Graham describes how most of the people who make a tech startup run — programmers — operate on maker time, but how their bosses and the venture capitalists can screw everything up by scheduling a meeting on manager time.
In my experience, startups, large companies, and government agencies are not so different in this respect. People who run things tend to be managers operating on a manager schedule with manager metrics of success, and some of the people who work for them are creatives who wish to operate on a maker schedule but have a hard time doing so (because of the managers).
As a maker within a bureaucracy, you may discover tricks for hacking the managers. At Microsoft, I have discovered that with planning I can block off entire mornings in my calendar for 2-3 days in a row, in order to write things like what you’re reading now or simply relax and think about a tough challenge, feeling comfortable that the nearest meeting on my calendar is hours and hours away.
Another hack I’ve learned is using Sunday for creative work and then taking Friday “off.” I feel perfectly fine about taking the occasional six-hour lunch with friends because I was smart enough to find an unbroken six-hour block of time to actually get something done.
Any creative will tell you that this stuff works. Relaxing your mind and focusing on something is often when you become free to discover insights that really matter and can set you apart as an employee.
“But wait,” you may be saying to yourself, “Mark Drapeau has some kind of special arrangement.” Well, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have flexibility built into my job, but I have to deal with countless meetings and conference calls just like anyone else working in a bureaucracy. The flexibility to hack your schedule lies along a spectrum.
Earlier this month, July 4th fell on a Wednesday, thus many Federal employees worked Monday and Tuesday, had Wednesday off, and then returned to work Thursday and Friday before another weekend. You may call this a Federal holiday; I call this a “natural experiment” involuntarily hacking Federal employees’ calendars from a manager schedule to a maker schedule.
On Twitter, my Microsoft colleague Alfred Thompson tweeted, “2 days of work followed by a single day of holiday and going back for 2 more days of work is just weird.”
In reply, his acquaintance Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, who works on education reform, said, “What if it was the norm? What if we took the mid week day to do deep personal learning each week? Think of what we could [accomplish].”
If you’re an enlightened federal manager, here’s a hack for you: What if you made the first Wednesday of every month “independence day” for your team — a 100% unscheduled day on maker time?
Maybe some people would abuse such a privilege and accomplish nothing. But in the vein of Google’s famous “20% time” where employees can pursue projects they’re personally interested in, I wonder what innovations might come out of a monthly “independence day” during which people could learn a new skill like Python programming or mastering Pinterest, attend an interesting luncheon event outside the office, or just read that strategy book they bought months ago?
Working as I do for the company that actually makes Outlook, you can imagine that Microsoft employees are pretty good at using it to schedule meetings with each other. It’s deceptively easy to get caught up in a series of meetings and conference calls and feel like you had a full day. But the real question is, did you “make” anything interesting today?
Everything I’ve done that I’m proud of, or that people have noticed, has been done on a maker schedule. But working within a manager schedule, I’ve had to hack my life to find the time to make things happen.
What are some of your federal workweek hacks for getting creative things done?
Dr. Mark Drapeau is the Director of Innovative Engagement for Microsoft's public sector business, spanning the government, politics, education, health, and nonprofit sectors. He is the editor of Publicyte.com, their blog about public and civic sector innovation. Prior to joining Microsoft, he was an adjunct professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, a research fellow in science and technology policy at the Defense Department's National Defense University, and a postdoctoral fellow in neurobiology at New York University. He has a BS and PhD in animal behavior and genetics. Mark is a frequent contributor to diverse publications concerning topics related to science and technology.
7/27/2012 – 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 ) -
- 2 Economists Tout 'Work Sharing' Plan, by David Beard, (7/26 late pickup) The Morgantown WV Dominion Post via IvyExec.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A pair of think-tank economists introduced legislators to a new kind of unemployment insurance this week -- insurance that could help strapped employers cut expenses without layoffs, and save the state some money through federal subsidies.
Paul Miller and Sean O'Leary, with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said work sharing insurance has been around for decades, but is not widely known. The feds began pushing it this year through the 2012 Middle Class and Job Creation Act.
So far, 24 states, including neighboring Pennsylvania and Maryland, offer work-sharing insurance.
As Miller and O'Leary explained it, work sharing allows employers to cut the hours and wages of employees without enacting layoffs. The employees then receive partial unemployment benefits to supplement their lost income.
For example, they said, an employer with 100 people needs to cut payroll by 20 percent. Instead of laying off 20 people, it cuts all employee hours by 20 percent -- they work four days instead of five.
The employees still suffer a pay cut, but not as extreme as full unemployment. A full-time worker making $800 a week would collect $400 unemployment while laid off. Under work sharing, the employee collects four full days' pay plus half the fifth, totaling $720.
Miller said this approach isn't right for every employer under every circumstance. It's an option that allows employers to retain their full workforce during downturns, and quickly ramp back up when business picks up. Employers typically tap into work-sharing benefits for limited periods up to six months.
In West Virginia, he said, it could best benefit the mining, manufacturing and construction industries -- highwage jobs where workers would have to see significant cutbacks in hours in order to qualify for partial unemployment under the low earnings statue.
Participation is voluntary, they said. If the state offers it, employers can try it or go the layoff route.
Employers see no change in their unemployment premiums, Miller and O'Leary said. For two years, the feds will fully subsidize all state work-sharing expenses, so the unemployment trust fund won't get depleted. They project the state could save $4 million a year in unemployment insurance outlays during the two-year trial period.
There is no work-sharing bill on the table, legislators said. A joint Judiciary subcommittee heard about it for the first time this week.
Erin Magee, a lawyer with Jackson Kelly, spoke against the idea. She said there's no empirical data from the states that offer it to prove the unemployment trust fund won't suffer.
The Center on Budget and Policy reports that none of the 24 states offering it have yet reported it hurt their trust funds. Work sharing saved 165,000 jobs during the
Magee worried that after the two-year federal subsidy expires, the cost could become a burden to the state.
[That's when you switch from temporary-funding worksharing to sustainable-funding timesizing by, for example, taxing away any incentive to use chronic overtime (OT) as a substitute for hiring and granting a complete tax exemption for reinvesting that chronic OT incentive in OT-targeted hiring, and training whenever needed.]
Magee said the low-earnings statute already exists and is a suitable option.
State code explains it: You would be considered partially unemployed if you have been working full time, but due to business being slow, a breakdown of equipment, or similar reasons, your employer has to reduce your hours during the week. You may be entitled to partial unemployment benefits during this week if you earned less than what your weekly unemployment benefit amount would be plus $60.
With this option, she said, companies can temporarily idle operations and try to ride out the slump. Work sharing assumes jobs will come back, and they may not.
The Dominion Post asked subcommittee cochairman Tim Manchin, D-Marion, if there's been any talk of a bill.
I have an interest in it, he said. There is a lack of data on how well it works, but there appears to be a lot of potential value to it.
- Nassau OKs voluntary furloughs for 5000, by Robert Brodsky email@example.com, Newsday.com (blog)
MINEOLA, N.Y., USA - More than 5,000 Nassau County workers will be able to take unpaid, voluntary furloughs as the county scrambles to close a projected multimillion-dollar budget deficit and unions seek to avoid future layoffs.
County Executive Edward Mangano and the Civil Service Employees Association announced an agreement Thursday that will make nearly 5,000 full-time union employees eligible to take as many as 60 days off a year, with a maximum of 20 consecutive days. The program also will be open to roughly 500 appointed employees, but not to law enforcement.
"I am encouraged [that] CSEA leaders and I [are] moving toward constructive solutions that will protect taxpayers and county positions that deliver important services," Mangano said.
Deputy County Executive Rob Walker said it was too soon to tell how much money the program, which will begin immediately and remain open through Aug. 1, 2013, will save the county or if proposed layoffs, announced last month, can be avoided.
"This program was designed to further mitigate any future layoffs, and hopefully remove the threat of layoffs altogether," said CSEA president Jerry Laricchiuta. "This is a completely voluntary program, but we feel it is something that some members might take advantage of, especially now during the summer months."
Furlough days won't count against employees' personal or vacation days and won't affect their health benefits, according to the agreement. Nassau department heads will have the discretion to approve furloughs, which cannot result in overtime or the hiring of new staff, Walker said.
The furloughs represent another step by Mangano to close the county's 2012 budget gap, which Comptroller George Maragos estimates at $45 million. Voluntary furloughs also were offered by former county executives Thomas Gulotta and Thomas Suozzi in 2001 and 2009, respectively.
Last month, Mangano directed department heads to draw up layoff lists to reduce their personnel spending by 3.5 percent.
The county also offered a retirement incentive to CSEA members this month that will pay departing employees $1,000 for every year of service with the county. A total of 61 employees took the deal. About 40 law enforcement positions also have been lost in recent months through attrition, county officials said.
Earlier this week, Mangano announced a deficit-reduction plan that calls for 100 new layoffs and major cuts to public works projects and departmental spending.
Mandatory furloughs also are possible under a bill the GOP-led county legislature approved in May. The legislation, under court challenge by all five county labor unions, would allow Nassau to reopen labor contracts and reduce its contributions to health benefits.
U.S. District Judge Arthur Spatt is expected to decide the case later this month or in early August.
7/26/2012 – 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 ) -
- Lowest Average Work Week Countries Show Wealth, WIFR.com
ROCKFORD, Illin., USA -- Ten developed countries with the lowest average work week contain a surprising factor. These countries are all among the top 11 countries in terms of wealth.
[And that's because a low workweek avoids a flood of desperate resumes underbidding one another for relatively few high-workweek jobs and, job desperation, low wage levels, low consumer spending, slow circulation of the money supply, unmarketable productivity, lack of profitable investment, coagulation and decirculation of money in the topmost brackets, "wealth" without wealth.]
The list does not contain the United States. America's average worker puts in about 18-hundred hours a year or 34 and a half hours a week.
[So the United States is no longer "the richest country in the world."]
The lowest average work week [at ?? hours] is Germany. At 25.6 hours, Denmark has the highest average wage at nearly $49 per hour. Compare that to the U.S., which comes in an average of just over $30 an hour.
[Don't know many people making $30 an hour or more - this must be averaging-in a relatively few people making really off-the-scale hourly "compensation."]
- UPDATE 1 - ThyssenKrupp cuts work hours at German steel plants - Steelmaker to start shortened hours programme in August, by Kaeckenhoff & Gerlach, Reuters.com
FRANKFURT, Germany - ThyssenKrupp will temporarily curb working hours at its five steel-making facilities in Germany in response to a slowdown in demand, Germany's biggest steelmaker said on Thursday.
The "Kurzarbeit" - short work - programme will be implemented from August until the end of this year.
It will affect around 2,170 of the 17,500 workers at the cold-rolling and surface finishing lines as well as coil-coating plants in Duisburg-Hamborn, Duisburg-Huettenheim, Bochum, Dortmund and Siegerland.
The works council spokesman said the programme would reduce output at these facilities by around 30 percent.
Germany's short-work system was used by many struggling companies in the 2008-2009 recession, allowing them to preserve jobs by cutting the hours of employees when usage of plants was low.
The company can then quickly ramp up production to satisfy customer orders if demand picks up. The state compensates the workers for some of the lost hours.
ThyssenKrupp in May had forecast a slump in full-year adjusted operating profit, partly due to weak demand from customers rattled by Europe's debt crisis.
Stainless steel maker Aperam said this week its third-quarter earnings would be weaker with the economic slowdown compounding a traditional summer slowdown.
ThyssenKrupp had planned to reopen in May its blast furnace Number 9, which it closed in January, but decided to shut it for the rest of the year.
The German Steel Federation said early this month that domestic steelmakers might lower their forecast for crude steel production this year after output fell 5.7 percent to 21.9 million tonnes in the first half on the back of shrinking manufacturing activity in Europe.
(Reporting By Tom Kaeckenhoff; Writing by Marilyn Gerlach)
[Fox' version -]
ThyssenKrupp Cuts Working Hours of Steel Europe Staff on Weak Demand, by Jan Hromadko, Dow Jones Newswires via foxbusiness.com
DUISBURG, Germany - ThyssenKrupp AG (TKA.XE), Germany's largest steelmaker by output, said Thursday it will reduce working hours for some staff of its European steel business from August, adding that it expects the reduced working hours to remain in place through the end of the year due to muted demand for its products.
"Against the background of continuing weak orders at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG, short-time working is being introduced from August 2012," said the company in a written statement, confirming comments made by the company's top labor official earlier in the day.
"As things stand at present the company expects that short-time working will have to be continued until the end of the year," the company said.
The comments come as steel makers across the world are struggling with declining orders amid a gradual slowdown of the broader economy. In Europe the headwind for the steel sector are particularly strong due to the sovereign debt crisis in the euro zone.
ArcelorMittal (MT), the world's largest steelmaker by output, Wednesday warned that operating conditions will remain difficult in the second half of the year and that Europe remains its biggest concern, as it reported lower second-quarter earnings because of weak demand.
ArcelorMittal has shut nine out of its 25 blast furnaces in Europe and said it can't rule out further temporary or permanent closures.
ThyssenKrupp said reduced working hours will affect the locations in Duisburg-Hamborn, Duisburg-Hüttenheim, Bochum, Dortmund and Siegerland. Overall, some 2,170 workers out of total staff of 17,500 will be affected by the shortened working hours, it added.
Write to Jan Hromadko at email@example.com
[TK press release -]
Weak orders: ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe to introduce short-time working from August 2012, press release, thyssenkrupp.com/en/presse
Against the background of continuing weak orders at ThyssenKrupp Steel Europe AG, short-time working is being introduced from August 2012. This has been agreed between the works council and the company. Short-time working will affect the locations Duisburg-Hamborn, Duisburg-Hüttenheim, Bochum, Dortmund and Siegerland. The Finnentrop location is initially excluded from short-time working. Over the past few weeks the lower level of capacity utilization has been offset initially using instruments such as flexible working time accounts, leave accounts and repair shifts.
As things stand at present the company expects that short-time working will have to be continued until the end of the year. Currently affected by the temporary adjustment measures are the cold-rolling and coating areas and parts of the hot-rolled processing operations. Once the details of the short-time working plans for August have been agreed with the works councils, some 2,170 out of a total of 17,500 employees are expected to be affected by short-time working. Together with the works councils, the company is looking into carrying out skill-upgrading measures during short-time working.
Phone: +49 201 / 844 535091
Fax: +49 201 8456 535091
Phone: +49 203 / 52 - 4 51 30
Fax: +49 203 / 52 - 2 57 07
7/25/2012 – 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 ) -
- AA ends leaves for 400 flight attendants, AP via Ventura County Star via vcstar.com
DALLAS, Tex., USA — American Airlines thought it had more flight attendants than it needed in February, so it wanted to furlough 500 of them.
Eventually no layoffs were needed because so many attendants took voluntary one-year leaves of absence - more than 400 of them.
Now American needs them back on the job.
The airline is cutting the attendants' leaves in half and ordering them back to active duty by Aug. 15.
American reduced the attendants' ranks because it had eliminated many flights in 2011 and early 2012.
But airline officials said in messages to the attendants Monday that as they looked at scheduling for the fall, "we have more limited crew flexibility that we believe is prudent." They said they were canceling the leaves "to ensure we can continue to provide our customers reliable service."
The proposed furloughs earlier this year were separate from an ongoing proposal by American to eliminate 2,300 flight-attendant jobs as a cost-saving move in its bankruptcy restructuring. American and parent AMR Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in November.
Leslie Mayo, a spokeswoman for the union, said the decision to recall flight attendants from leave was the result of poor planning and was "another reason we need a new management team."
The union, along with unions for American's pilots and ground workers, support a potential takeover of parent AMR Corp. by US Airways Group Inc., which has promised fewer layoffs.
AMR spokesman Bruce Hicks said adjusting staffing levels "is all part of our standard process, and flight attendants who accept voluntary leaves understand the leaves are subject to cancellation based on operational needs."
- Saving money without redundancies – lay off [no, layoffs ARE redundancies] and short-time working, thisisgloucestershire.co.uk
GLOUCESTER, U.K. - I am often asked by clients how they can reduce their wage bill without making redundancies.
This situation often arises due to a downturn in business or some unforeseen circumstance.
In today's challenging trading conditions it also means making changes just to maintain a healthy profit.
[If you're making changes to maintain a "healthy" profit defined during normal conditions in the context of challenging conditions, you are almost certainly making the conditions for yourself and everyone else more challenging.]
Unfortunately, it is sometimes the case that the only measure that can realistically be taken to save the business is the drastic step of making people redundant.
This has to be the last resort, for obvious reasons, but also due to the costs of redundancy payments and of recruitment when business picks up pace again.
It often comes as a surprise to clients that savings can be made without losing valuable people.
One way of doing this is to lay-off employees [no, layoffs lose valuable people] or to put them on short-time working [Brit. for worksharing].
Laying-off an employee means not giving them any work to do for a certain period and, therefore, not paying them.
[So how does this "not lose valuable people"?!]
Short-time working means cutting hours.
[And this CAN be done without losing valuable people.]
It very much comes down to what the contract allows you to do.
If it is written in the contract (express) that you can take these steps then the process is much simpler.
You simply exercise your rights under the contract and the employee is bound to comply.
I am often surprised at the number of professionally drafted contracts which don't have these terms in them. One thing is for sure, it is never too late to introduce such a clause into the contract.
Of course, if an employee consents to a change in their terms and conditions there will be no problem.
Care needs to be taken in presenting the business case to the employee and then consulting with them about what you're proposing to do.
If carried out correctly, most employees will prefer a short-term variation to their hours or pay than face the prospect of being made redundant.
It also saves the employer both redundancy sums and the cost of recruiting when business heads up again.
Simon welcomes comments or questions on this column at email@example.com.
7/24/2012 – 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 poison pill in Oklahoma’s work-sharing program, by "Barrett," (7/23 late pickup) Oklahoma Policy Institute via okpolicy.org
TULSA, Okla., USA - Persistent long-term unemployment has been one of the more insidious facets of the recent recession. As employers face declining demand for their products and services, a consequential reduction in their need for workers has left many without jobs.
Layoffs are an all-or-nothing response to low demand, one unfortunately encouraged by the traditional unemployment insurance system. As stated in Bloomberg News:
Here’s the problem: If you cut 10 percent of your workers, they qualify for unemployment insurance, but if you keep all your workers and cut their hours by 10 percent, there’s no parallel insurance. By treating the two actions differently, the government tilts the playing field toward cutting people rather than hours.
There is an alternative solution: “work-sharing” programs that allow employees to voluntarily reduce their wages in exchange for partial unemployment support. This kind of program already exists in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s work-sharing legislation includes an unprecedented and needlessly restrictive condition that keeps this tool away from almost every employer in the state.
Under a work-sharing agreement, an employer will reduce hours for all employees in a unit – typically by 10 to 50 percent of normal hours worked – in place of layoffs. The employer will also reduce wages, but employees will be able to retain the benefits and privileges associated with steady employment. State labor commissions will then compensate employees for a portion of their lost wages with unemployment insurance support. Work-sharing programs have been lauded by economists and policymakers from both parties as an effective way to help employers and employees alike better handle economic changes without resorting to expensive and disruptive hiring\firing cycles.
Recently passed federal legislation lends further support for these programs. The Layoff Prevention Act of 2012 provides a three-year, 100 percent payment of state funds distributed to workers in qualifying programs, in addition to extensive support and encouragement for new state plans.
Work-sharing programs have been implemented in 24 states, and Oklahoma enacted a work-sharing plan in 2010 as a response to the Great Recession. Seventeen programs were available before the recession began and they have been credited with saving 166,000 jobs in 2009 alone. Yet Oklahoma’s program has not saved a single job in over two years.
The limits on which businesses can enroll is where Oklahoma’s program goes terribly astray. In most states, a company must enroll a minimum of two to five employees, or 10 percent of all employees, in a reduced wage plan. However, Oklahoma law requires that a qualifying company must regularly employ one-hundred or more workers. Additionally, a minimum of fifty employees must have their work hours and associated wages reduced by at least 20 percent.
This high firm size requirement eliminates work-sharing eligibility for almost 95 percent of all Oklahoma companies and the minimum employee number further limits work-sharing implementation for nearly every company in the state. Due in part to this needlessly restrictive eligibility requirement, not a single employer or worker has used the Oklahoma program.
When asked about Oklahoma’s minimum firm size requirement, one officer at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission suggested it was a necessary measure to prevent unemployment fraud. Of particular concern was the type of firm-wide fraudulent collusion that may be more easily committed in very small organizations. While fraud prevention should be a serious concern for any tax-funded program, restricting a program to only 5.4 percent of potential users hardly seems a reasonable response.
Minimum employee requirements have not been raised above five workers in the 23 other state work-sharing programs, some of which have been in place for over 24 years. Programs typically also allow work-sharing programs to be applied for a company sub-division, such as a particular manufacturing group within a corporation. The minimum enrollment requirements are then assessed at the unit level and other operations within the company are unaffected.
Effectively implemented work-sharing can reduce the most painful effects of economic contraction, but the Oklahoma program comes with a built-in repellant. It is very much in the spirit of this state to band together during hard times and share the burdens of a turbulent economy with their co-workers. It is also good for business, since employers can more easily preserve their investments in recruiting and training workers. But for Oklahoma to see these benefits, the Legislature needs to re-examine the limiting provisions in this program.
- Implementing Work Sharing Could Help Both Business and Workers During Economic Downturns, wvpolicy.org
CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - In times of economic uncertainty, employers are sometimes forced to lay-off their workers to cut costs and stay profitable. Lay-offs hurt employees and can cause businesses to lose experienced workers. Instead, companies can use work sharing, a voluntary program that allows employers to use unemployment benefits to retain their workers and avert lay-offs. Work sharing has already been adopted in 24 states and the District of Columbia. If implemented in West Virginia, work sharing could be particularly helpful to the mining and construction industries which have both faced employments ups and downs during this past recession.
Today, the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy is releasing Reducing Layoffs: How Work Sharing Can Help Workers and Businesses in West Virginia which describes how work sharing could help industries in West Virginia.
[See whole report below under 7/22-23/2012 #1.]
"Work sharing would allow West Virginia to use its unemployment insurance system to prevent layoffs, helping both businesses and their employees during economic downturns. With the new federal incentives available, adopting work sharing is a no brainer for West Virginia," stated Sean O’Leary, Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy and an author of the report.
Work sharing allows employers to reduce the hours and wages of their employees who can then augment their paychecks with unemployment insurance. By doing so, employers avoid laying off employees and workers can continue to receive more pay than had they been laid off. Employers still cut costs during economic downturns without losing valuable trained employees. Employees remain attached to the workforce.
State unemployment funds are used to pay for this benefit. In addition, the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act provides temporary federal financing of state work sharing benefits to encourage and promote program adoption and use. If West Virginia were to adopt work sharing, it would be reimbursed one-half of the amount of benefits paid to individuals, with participating employers paying the other half, for two years.
Work sharing is a voluntary program for employers so if it were to become law in West Virginia, only employers wanting to opt in would be enrolled.
The West Virginia legislature is studying work sharing during the 2012 interims.
The full report is available at www.wvpolicy.org or by calling 304-720-8682 [or immediately below on this webpage in 7/22-23/2012 #1].
The West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy (www.wvpolicy.org) is a public policy research organization that is nonpartisan, nonprofit, and statewide. The Center focuses on how policy decisions affect all West Virginians, especially low- and moderate-income families.
Contact: Sean O’Leary or Paul Miller, 304-720-8682, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
7/22-23/2012 – 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 ) -
- Reducing Layoffs - How Work Sharing Can Help Workers and Businesses in West Virginia, by Sean O’Leary & Paul Miller, 7/22 West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy via wvpolicy.org
The authors thank Michael Moore and Russell Frye with Workforce West
Virginia for their input. They also thank Nicole Woo of the Center for
Economic and Policy Research for her technical assistance.
Thanks also go to Ted Boettner, Linda Frame and Elizabeth Paulhus for
editing and formatting the report.
This report was supported by generous grants from
the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
and the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.
CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA - Table of Contents
Section One: What Is Work Sharing?
How Does Work Sharing Operate?
How Is Work Sharing Financed?
How Is Work Sharing Different from Partial Unemployment Insurance?
History of Work Sharing
Section Two: The Impact of Work Sharing
Participation in Work Sharing
Work Sharing Abroad
Section Three: Why Work Sharing Works
Why Work Sharing Works for Employers
Why Work Sharing Works for Employees
Why Work Sharing Works for the Economy
Costs and Concerns
Section Four: Conclusion
List of Figures and Tables
Figure 1. Partial Unemployment Results in Larger Work Reductions to Qualify
Than Work Sharing
Figure 2. States That Have Enacted Work Sharing Programs
Figure 3. Weekly Participation in All Work Sharing Programs in the U.S.
Figure 4. Half of Washington’s Work Sharing Participants from Construction and
Figure 5. Layoffs in West Virginia Concentrated in Mining, Construction and
Table 1. Work Sharing Helps Maintain Income
Table 2. Work Sharing Is Not More Costly Than Unemployment Insurance
Table 3. Work Sharing Has Not Impacted State UI Trust Funds
Table 4. Participation in Work Sharing Varies among States
Table 5. Work Sharing Could Have Saved More Than 1,200 Jobs in West Virginia in 2009
Table 6. European Nations Have Higher Work Sharing Participation Rates
Than the U.S.
Table 7. Financing Work Sharing Provides Big Return to the Economy
West Virginia’s economy, similar to other states, experiences many ups and downs. The peaks and
valleys of the state’s economy as it moves through recessions and recoveries can be hard on the state’sworkers and businesses. As the economy slows, workers often lose their jobs and face hardships as they
seek new employment. Once the economy begins to grow again, businesses often struggle to replace
the experience and skills of the employees they lost during the bad times. This struggle can prolong the
pain, making it more difficult to rise out of a recession.
The recent national recession was no different for West
Virginia. The worst economic downturn since the Great
Depression officially began in December 2007, although
it took nearly a year for the recession’s impact to be felt
in West Virginia. The impact of the downturn on West
Virginia was severe. Between September 2008 and February
2010, West Virginia lost approximately 25,300 jobs. For
nearly a year and a half, West Virginia lost an average of
1,490 jobs a month.1
Recovery from the recession has been slow. It took nearly
two years for West Virginia to regain most of the jobs that it
had lost during the recession. The gains have come slowly,
with less than 1,000 jobs added per month on average.2
The slow recovery and weak job growth have meant the
sustained high unemployment for the state. Unemployment
peaked at 8.5 percent, more than double its pre-recession
rate. Since the end of the recession, West Virginia’s
unemployment rate has remained elevated, with more than
57,000 workers remaining unemployed.3
While the recovery has dragged on, those who are
unemployed are finding themselves without work for
longer periods of time. The share of unemployed workers
who have been without work for more than six months has
grown from 19.7 percent in 2008 to 43.8 percent in 2011.4
The effects of this long-term unemployment can have a dire
impact on these workers’ wellbeing and their futures.
West Virginia’s construction and manufacturing workers
have been particularly affected by the recession and have
yet to see a full recovery. More than 8,000 construction jobs
were lost in the state during the recession, and fewer than
3,000 have come back. Manufacturing has fared even worse,
losing 9,000 jobs, with no signs of recovery.5
With the recovery remaining weak, a little-known policy
has emerged to help businesses weather economic
downturns and keep their workers employed. Work
sharing (also known as short-time compensation) is an
unemployment insurance benefit intended to keep job
losses from happening in the first place, allowing businesses
to retain their workforce during recessions and avert layoffs.
Work sharing gives businesses the option of reducing thehours and wages of their employees instead of laying them
off. Workers with reduced wages and hours are then eligible
for partial unemployment benefits to help make up the lost
Work sharing benefits not only the employer and the
employees, but the state as a whole. Work sharing deters job
losses, reduces turnover and unemployment, helps workers
maintain their wages, and reduces the effect of long-term unemployment.
Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have a
work sharing program, and the federal government has
recently taken action to make work sharing easier for states
to adopt. Multiple countries worldwide have also benefited
from work sharing, especially Germany.
Section One of this report describes the basics of
work sharing and how it is different from traditional
unemployment insurance, including how it typically is
funded. This section also includes a history of work sharing
in the United States, and the new work sharing provisions
that were included in the recent Middle Class Tax Relief and
Job Creation Act.
Section Two examines the impact work sharing has
on unemployment, showing results from the states and
countries that currently have a work sharing program. This
section also projects what impact a work sharing program
would have in West Virginia.
Section Three explains the benefits of work sharing to
employers, employees, and the state when the economy
weakens. It also examines some of the costs and
shortcomings of work sharing.
Section Four concludes.
Section One: What Is Work Sharing?
As unemployment levels remain elevated, and with tens of thousands of West Virginians out of work,
work sharing may be a useful policy tool to help the state retain its current workforce and weather
future economic downturns.
Work sharing is an unemployment insurance benefit that promotes job retention. Work sharing allows
employers who need to temporarily cut costs to reduce the hours and wages of their employees, rather
than enact layoffs. Affected employees are then eligible for partial unemployment benefits to supplement
their reduced paychecks. Work sharing programs are voluntary; employers who wish to use work
sharing must submit a plan to their state’s unemployment agency, detailing the work reductions and the
number of layoffs averted. The voluntary nature of work sharing allows it to be used by the businesses it benefits the most. Typically, work sharing is used for about six months.
How Does Work Sharing Operate?
To understand how a work sharing program functions,
imagine a business with 100 employees. During an
economic recession or other drop in consumer demand,
a business may need to cut its payroll costs by 20 percent
until business picks back up. Normally, the business may
lay off 20 employees in order to cut its costs, reducing its
weekly payroll hours from 4,000 to 3,200 (100 employees
x 40 hours, reduced to 80 employees x 40 hours). Those 20
employees would then collect full unemployment insurance
benefits until they find another job or are rehired by their
employer when demand picks back up.
Under a work sharing program, the business would have the
option of reducing its employees’ hours by 20 percent (one
day out of a five day work week), instead of laying them off.
Employees would receive their wages based on four days
of work, and would collect 20 percent of the total weekly
unemployment insurance benefits that they would have
collected if they were unemployed for a full week.
By laying off 20 employees, the business could reduce its
labor costs to 3,200 hours a week (80 employees x 40 hours).
Under work sharing, the business is able to achieve the
same result (100 employees x 32 hours) without any layoffs.
While work sharing benefits do not fully replace lost
income, the employee’s take home pay is much higher with
work sharing than it is with unemployment insurance.
Typical weekly unemployment benefits are equal to abouthalf of an employee’s weekly wages. Work sharing allows
affected employees to maintain a much higher level of
income. This not only helps the workers maintain their
wages, it also helps maintain their spending in the economy,
potentially shortening a recession.
Table 1 outlines three scenarios for a manufacturing
employee who earns $20 an hour. When fully employed,
he earns $800 per week. Laid off, his weekly earnings
fall to $400 per week, the amount he would be eligible to
collect in unemployment benefits. Under work sharing,
working four days per week and collecting one-fifth of full
unemployment benefits, his weekly income is $720, 80
percent higher than if he had been laid off. By maintaining
income, work sharing helps prevent the economic hardship
for workers and their families that joblessness can create.
Table 1. Work Sharing Helps Maintain Income
Employment Type nbsp; Weekly Wages Unemployment/Work Sharing Benefits Total Weekly Income
Full-Time Employed $800 $0 $800
Laid off/Unemployed $0 $400 $400
Work Sharing (1 day/wk) $640 $80 $720
Source: WVCBP analysis of state work sharing provisions.
How Is Work Sharing Financed?
Work sharing benefits are paid from the same state
unemployment trust funds from which regular
unemployment insurance benefits are paid. State
unemployment trust funds are funded by employerpaid
taxes. The tax is based on the size of the employer’s
workforce and the employer’s experience rating (layoff
history). Work sharing benefits that are paid out are charged
to the employer and reimbursed the same way as regular
Paying out work sharing benefits puts no more strain on
a state’s unemployment trust fund than paying out full
unemployment benefits (Table 2). Imagine once again a
business with 100 employees earning $20 an hour. If the
business were to lay off one-fifth of its employees to reduce
costs, 20 employees would be collecting $400 each in
unemployment benefits per week, for a total of $8,000. If
the business instead opted to reduce its work week from five
days to four, achieving the same one-fifth reduction in costs,
then all 100 employees would receive $80 each in work
sharing benefits per week, which would also total $8,000. In
both scenarios, the total amount of benefits paid out is the
same, but under work sharing all 100 employees remain on
Table 2. Work Sharing Is Not More Costly Than Unemployment Insurance
Employment Type Employees Affected Weekly Benefits per Employee Total Weekly Benefits Paid
Layoffs 20 $400 $8,000
Work Sharing 100 $80 $8,000
According to a study commissioned by the U.S. Department
of Labor, the impact of work sharing programs on state
unemployment trust funds is minimal. In addition to
not costing more than full unemployment benefits, work
sharing benefits were as least as fully experience-rated
as other UI benefits. This means that employers who
participate in work sharing programs were just as likely to
pay back the trust fund through unemployment taxes or
direct reimbursements as employers who use the regular
unemployment insurance system.6
In a recent survey of states with work sharing programs,
none of the state unemployment agencies reported a
negative impact of work sharing in their state’s UI trust
fund. In fact, New York reported that work sharing had
saved its trust fund more than $500 million (Table 3).
Table 3. Work Sharing Has Not Impacted State UI Trust Funds
Connecticut No major impact
Iowa No negative impact
Maryland Benefits paid through UI trust fund;
employer is charged for the benefits
New Hampshire No negative impact on fund
New York As of 2009, total savings to UI trust fund have
been in excess of $521 million.
Rhode Island N/A
Texas No net impact
Washington Short-Time Compensation employers do not
have a negative impact on UI trust fund.
Source: Indiana Institute for Working Families.
How Is Work Sharing Different from Partial Unemployment Insurance?
While similar to partial unemployment, work sharing
allows more flexibility for employers, while helping all
levels of wage earners. But while all states have some form
of partial unemployment, not all states have work sharing
programs. Like work sharing, partial unemployment allows
a worker to collect some unemployment insurance while
still on an employer’s payroll, but only when the worker’s
hours and pay have been significantly reduced, particularly
for high wage earners.7
Workers can collect partial unemployment benefits if their
hours have been reduced and they are earning less than
their “weekly benefit amount,” which is based on previous
earnings. The amount of benefits a worker can receive is
reduced by the amount they earn from working during
their reduced work week. If a worker’s earnings in a reduced
work week exceed his or her weekly benefit amount, then he
or she is not eligible for any partial unemployment benefits.
This restriction keeps many high-wage earners from
qualifying for partial unemployment without large
reductions in their work week (Figure 1).8 For example,
workers earning $10 an hour would have to cut their hours
by at least 40 percent before they are eligible for partial
unemployment benefits. For workers earning $30 an hour, a
75 percent reduction is necessary before they are eligible for
partial unemployment. However, under state work sharing
programs, a worker’s hours can be reduced by as little as 10
percent, regardless of wages, to qualify.
By offering benefits for smaller reductions in work hours,
work sharing is a more effective tool at preventing layoffs
than partial unemployment, particularly for high-wage
earners. For example, the median hourly wage in West
Virginia was $13.46 in 2011.9 This means that most workers
in the state would receive more wage income from a work
sharing arrangement than taking partial unemployment.
Work sharing is also more effective at keeping an employer’s
workforce intact than unemployment insurance. For
example, a manufacturer who wishes to use partial
unemployment to slow down production in response to an
economic recession would be forced to reduce his workers’
hours by at least 50 percent, assuming the workers earn
an hourly wage of at least $20, in order for the workers to
qualify for partial unemployment. When faced with such a
significant reduction in work hours and earnings, workers
will generally look for another full-time job. This means
that workers are less attached to their employer when
they receive partial unemployment benefits than they are
when they receive work sharing benefits. Moreover, partial
unemployment is beneficial for lower-wage industries such
as tourism than for higher-wage good-producing industries
Figure 1. Partial Unemployment Insurance (PUI) requires Larger Workhours Reductions at Every Wage Level to Qualify For than Work Sharing (WS)
Hourly Wage % Hours Reduction for PUI % Hours Reduction for WS
$7.25 40 10
$10.00 40 10
$15.00 50 10
$20.00 50 10
$25.00 65 10
$30.00 75 10
History of Work Sharing
The basic idea behind work sharing has been in existence in
the United States longer than the unemployment insurance
system itself, which the federal government encouraged
states to adopt with the Social Security Act of 1935. During
the Great Depression, the President’s Redeployment
Agreement (PRA) of 1933 directed employers to shorten
their work weeks, which spread the availability of jobs. The
PRA also raised hourly wages in order to offset the impact
of the shorter work week. This idea of shortened work
weeks to prevent layoffs is the foundation of work sharing.10
In 1978, California became the first state to use its
unemployment insurance system to support a work sharing
program, followed by Arizona and Oregon in 1982. The
federal government introduced a temporary, national work
sharing program in 1982 with the Tax Equity and Fiscal
Responsibility Act, and the Department of Labor (DOL)
published model legislative language and guidelines.11
During the three-year temporary national program, eight
more states created work sharing programs. Once the
national program expired, the state programs continued,
and the DOL allowed new states to use the expired
guidelines to create programs. However, the DOL did not
promote work sharing programs.12
Work sharing programs were permanently authorized
by Congress with the Unemployment Compensation
Amendments of 1992. However, the DOL did not develop
new model state legislative language and did not provide
guidance to the states.13
Because of the lack of guidance by the federal government,
participation in work sharing programs has remained low.
Ambiguity created by the 1992 law has curtailed the federal
government’s promotion of work sharing. The 1992 law did
not authorize some aspects of state law in existing work
sharing programs, putting many state programs out of
compliance. As a result, the DOL has neither promoted nor
provided guidance for work sharing, nor has it challenged
state programs that may have been out of compliance.14
It was not until 2012 that the federal government took
major steps to promote work sharing. The 2012 Middle
Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, which recently
extended the payroll tax cut and federal unemployment
assistance, also updated and clarified work sharing
provisions in federal law, designed to expand its use.15
The 2012 Act provided a new definition for work sharing
programs, and provides for a transition period for states
with existing programs to meet the new definition. Key
elements of the new definition include:
• Employer participation is voluntary.
• Employers reduce employee hours in lieu of layoffs.
• Employees whose hours are reduced by at least
10 percent but not more than 60 percent are not
disqualified from unemployment compensation.
• Employees receive a prorated share of the
unemployment benefits they would have received if
• Employees meet work availability and work search
requirements if they are available for their work
week as required.
• Eligible employees may participate in appropriate
training approved by the state UI agency.
• If health and retirement benefits are provided,
employers must certify that those benefits will not
be reduced due to participation in the program.
• The employer must submit a written plan to the
state UI agency describing how it will implement
requirements of the program, as well as an estimate
of the number of layoffs that would have occurred
without the program.
• The employer’s plan must be consistent with
employer obligations under applicable federal and
In addition, the Act also includes a mechanism for the state
to seek approval for existing provisions in state laws that are
not covered by the new definition.16
In order to spur development of new and existing work
sharing programs, the Act also provides temporary federal
financing of state work sharing benefits to encourage and
promote program adoption and use. A state like West
Virginia that does not have a work sharing program can
enter into an agreement with the Secretary of Labor to make
work sharing benefits immediately available to employers.
With an approved agreement, the federal government will
reimburse states for one-half of the amount of benefits
paid to individuals, with participating employers paying
the other half. The federal government would also pay for
all administrative costs. This temporary federal financing
is available for two years. States are eligible for a full 100
percent reimbursement from the federal government once
they enact their own work sharing program. Combined,
federal reimbursements under both options (50 and 100
percent) are available for up to three years.17
If West Virginia took advantage of the federal financing for
work sharing, it could potentially save up to 2.5 percent
of its UI costs or $4 million annually while the financing
is available. The state could save even more if it quickly
qualifies for 100 percent financing. Nationwide, states
could potentially save more than $1.7 billion annually in UI
Also included in the 2012 Act is $100 million in grants
available to states to make work sharing programs more
efficient and effective. These grants can be used for startup
and implementation, administration, and outreach to
employers. States have until December 31, 2014 to apply for
Today, 24 states and the District of Columbia have enacted
work sharing programs (Figure 2). Maine, Michigan and
New Jersey are the newest states to implement work sharing
programs, and Louisiana has enacted a program but has
yet to implement it.20 Currently the 2012 Ohio Legislature
is considering the adoption of work sharing, with support
from Republicans, Democrats, and the Ohio Chamber of
Figure 2. States That Have Enacted Work Sharing Programs as of January 2012
[map shows 24 states colored to indicate worksharing programs; namely, the 22 states listed above in Table 2 plus Michigan and New Jersey - and since Jan/2012, Illinois and Ohio have passed worksharing legislation]
Source: Recreation of map from CLASP, accessed at http://www.clasp.org/resources_and_publications/publication?id=1038&list=publications.
Section Two: The Impact of Work Sharing
While relatively unknown and little used in the United States, work sharing has proven successful at
preventing layoffs and lowering unemployment in other countries, as well in the states where it is more
heavily used and promoted.
Participation in Work Sharing
Despite ambiguity in federal law and a lack of promotion,
work sharing participation increased during the recent
recession and proved effective at saving jobs. Participation
in state work sharing programs jumped from approximately
12,000 participants in January 2007 to more than 153,000
participants in June 2009. As of October 2011, participation
had fallen to approximately 38,000, still more than double
pre-recession levels (Figure 3). By keeping workers attached
to their jobs, the Department of Labor estimated that work
sharing programs saved 165,000 jobs in 2009 and another
100,000 jobs in 2010.22
Work sharing programs on averageDespite ambiguity in federal law and a lack of promotion,
work sharing participation increased during the recent
recession and proved effective at saving jobs. Participation
in state work sharing programs jumped from approximately
12,000 participants in January 2007 to more than 153,000
participants in June 2009. As of October 2011, participation
had fallen to approximately 38,000, still more than double
pre-recession levels (Figure 3). By keeping workers attached
to their jobs, the Department of Labor estimated that work
sharing programs saved 165,000 jobs in 2009 and another
100,000 jobs in 2010.22
Work sharing programs on average covered 0.17 percent
of private sector employees, but participation in work
sharing programs during the recession varied (Table 4).
For example, Texas had a take-up rate of only 0.06 percent,
while Rhode Island’s take-up rate was 0.86 percent, more
than 14 times higher. Work sharing benefits ranged from
0.2 percent to 3.5 percent of total unemployment benefits in
the states with work sharing programs in 2009.23
Figure 3. Weekly Participation in All Work Sharing Programs in the U.S.
in Number of Workers Participating
1Q07-2Q08, hovering mostly below 20,000
3Q08-2Q09, rapid rise to peak just above 140,000
3Q09-4Q11, gradual decline to around 40,000
Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research Data from U.S. Department of Labor.
Table 4. Participation in Work Sharing Varies among States
States with Work Sharing Take-up Rate (2009) Work Sharing Benefits As % of UI Benefits
Rhode Island 0.86% 3.5%
Connecticut 0.39% 1.6%
Kansas 0.39% 1.3%
Vermont 0.37% 0.9%
Oregon 0.31% 1.2%
Washington 0.29% 1.9%
California 0.25% 1.9%
Missouri 0.25% 1.0%
Iowa 0.18% 0.7%
Massachusetts 0.18% 0.4%
Minnesota 0.18% 0.5%
New York 0.14% 0.5%
Arizona 0.11% 0.5%
Arkansas 0.10% 0.2%
Texas 0.06% 0.4%
Maryland 0.03% 0.2%
Florida 0.03% 0.2%
All States 0.17% -
Source: Upjohn Institute.
Overall, 0.12 percent of the labor force was covered by
work sharing [across all] the states with a program. A work sharing
program in West Virginia in 2009, covering 0.12 percent
of its labor force [of 804,821], would have covered approximately 945
workers. If West Virginia had take-up rates comparable to those in
Rhode Island rather than only the average [of all states with work sharing], the program would
have covered nearly 4,900 workers. Since, on average, each
work share participant is equal to one-fourth of a full-time
equivalent (FTE) job,24 work sharing could have saved more
than 1,200 West Virginian jobs in 2009 (Table 5).
Table 5. Work Sharing Could Have Saved More Than 1,200 Jobs in W.Va.
in 2009 [based on R.I.'s experience]
Source of Take-Up Rate Avg Wkly Employees Covered by Work Sharing Work Share FTE Jobs
All States 946 236
Rhode Is. 4,877 1,219
Source: Authors' calculations.
Work Sharing Abroad
While work sharing programs in the United States have seen
limited success, the renewed support for work sharing is in
large part due to its success in other countries. Currently,
25 of the 33 countries in the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD) have some type
of work sharing program.25 During the recession, many of
these countries saw much more robust participation in their
programs than the United States (Table 6). These programs
saved hundreds of thousands of jobs in the countries where
it was used.26
Germany has been work sharing’s greatest success story.
It has aggressively promoted its work sharing program,
which is evident in its high take-up rate. As a result
of its work sharing program, as well as other policies,
Germany actually saw an increase in employment during
the recession. Despite a steeper drop in GDP than in the
U.S., the unemployment rate in Germany remained stable
during the recession and is lower now than it was before the
Table 6. European Nations Have Higher Work Sharing Participation Rates Than U.S. [or Canada]
Country Take-up Rate
Czech Republic 1.44%
United States 0.17%
Source: Upjohn Institute.
Work sharing’s impact is greatest in industries in which it
is easy to reduce hours and modify work schedules, such
as manufacturing, construction, and mining. For example,
nearly half [20%+29%] of the participants in Washington State’s work sharing
program were from the construction and manufacturing
industries (Figure 4). [Rhode Island would be more relevant - but data not available?]
Figure 4. Source Industries of Washington State’s Work Sharing Participants
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services 13%
Wholesale Trade 10%
Retail Trade 8%
Other Industries 20%
Source: Employment Security Department, Washington State.
West Virginia’s mining, construction, and manufacturing
industries could benefit from a work sharing program.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 65
percent of the mass layoffs (layoffs of 50 or more workers
in a five-week period) have come from the mining,
construction, and manufacturing sectors between 2005
and 2010 (Figure 5). An effective work sharing program
could prevent some of these layoffs, keeping more of West
Virginia’s miners, construction workers, and manufacturers
on the job.
Figure 5. Source Industries of West Virginia's Layoffs
Accommodation & Food Service 16%
Other Services 9%
All Other Private Industries 12%
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mass Layoff Statistics.
Section Three: Why Work Sharing Works
When promoted and used appropriately, work sharing is effective at mitigating job losses during
economic downturns. Successful work sharing programs not only slow job losses during a recession,
they also have significant benefits for employers and employees.
Why Work Sharing Works for Employers
The most obvious benefit of work sharing programs to
employers is that the program allows them to temporarily
reduce their payroll costs and weather a business slowdown.
As an alternative to layoffs, however, the benefits of work
sharing go beyond reducing costs. By avoiding layoffs,
employers are able to retain valuable and experienced
workers. Experienced and highly skilled workers can
be costly to replace when the economy rebounds. The
investments made in the laid-off employee are lost, and new
employees must be recruited, trained, and acclimated.
Though experience with work sharing programs in the
United States has been limited, employers’ experiences with
work sharing have been positive. A survey of employers
which used work sharing in California, Florida, Kansas,
New York, and Washington in the 1990s showed that the
overwhelming majority of employer participants were
satisfied with the program and would likely use it again.
For a vast majority of participants, work sharing did reducelayoffs, and this reduced turnover increased productivity
Why Work Sharing Works for Employees
In addition to allowing workers who might otherwise be
laid off retain their jobs and financial stability, work sharing
allows workers to stay attached to the labor force. By staying
on the job, workers not only retain their skills, they also
avoid the emotional and long-lasting financial tolls of
unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment.
Long-term unemployment has remained a challenge, even
as the economy recovers and the unemployment rate falls.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of
Labor Statistics, approximately 29.5 percent of unemployed
(3.9 million) were jobless for a year or more. The
rate of long-term unemployment has more than tripled
since before the start of the recession.
The problem of long-term unemployment (jobless for a
year or more) cuts across age groups and education levels.
Long-term unemployment rates are higher for older
workers, with 43.6 percent of unemployed workers over the
age of 55, compared to 30.7 percent for workers aged 35
to 44 years. Education does not protect against long-term
unemployment, as 30.9 percent of unemployed workers
with a bachelor’s degree have been unemployed for at least
one year, compared to 29.5 percent for all workers.29
A study by The Brookings Institution found that individuals
who faced long-term unemployment saw their incomes fall
by 30 to 40 percent in the year which they lost their job, and
their incomes remained 20 percent lower 20 years later.30
Another study finds higher incidences of poverty, social
exclusion, psychological impacts, and greater reliance on
state assistance for the long-term unemployed.31 The longer
workers remain unemployed, the more likely they may lose
skills and professional contacts, making workforce reentry
even more challenging. Work sharing can help workers
and their families avoid these problems by giving their
employers the ability to reduce costs during a downturn
without eliminating jobs.
Similar to employer experiences, a survey of employee
participants in work sharing programs found their
responses to be positive. The majority of workers had a
favorable view of work sharing, and only a small number
opposed the program.32
Why Work Sharing Works for the Economy
The economic costs of unemployment, particularly longterm
unemployment, can be just as harmful to the economy
as to the individual worker. Work sharing not only helps
keep skilled workers in an area, it also helps maintain the
workers’ spending in the economy. As described in Section
One, work sharing keeps workers’ incomes from being
significantly impacted during a downturn. It helps keep
more money in the economy than would unemployment
insurance alone, potentially speeding recovery from a
Because of these effects, and the availability of federal
funding, work sharing programs have a very high GDP
“bang for the buck.” Every dollar spent on temporary
federal funding of work sharing programs increases GDP
by $1.64. Work sharing has a greater economic impact than
any of the recent tax cuts, and even increased infrastructure
spending (Table 7).
Table 7. Financing Work Sharing Provides Big Return to the Economy
Policy Economic Boost per Government Dollar Spent
Temporary Federal Financing of Work Sharing Programs $1.64
Increase Infrastructure Spending $1.44
Payroll Tax Holiday for Employees $1.27
Payroll Tax Holiday for Employers $1.05
Make Bush Income Tax Cuts Permanent $0.35
Cut in Corporate Tax Rate $0.32
Note: The economic boost is estimated by the one-year $ change in GDP for a
given $ reduction in federal tax revenue or increase in spending as of 2011 Q3.
Source: Mark Zandi, “Bolstering the Economy: Helping American Families by
Reauthorizing the Payroll Tax Cut and UI Benefits,” downloaded from http://www.
Costs and Concerns
While work sharing can effectively mitigate layoffs, keep
workers attached to the labor force, and help businesses
weather downturns, it is not a cure-all. Work sharing is
a temporary solution to economic downturns, and is not
appropriate for every employer or situation. Work sharing
is most effective for companies and industries in which it is
possible to temporarily cut hours while waiting for demand
to pick back up.
There are some costs and concerns for employers who
participate in work sharing programs. The most common
drawback is increased administrative costs.33 Work sharing
affects a larger number of employees, as opposed to layoffs,
creating greater administrative effort. However, many states
with work sharing programs have developed ways to lower
costs through automation and integration within their
existing unemployment programs. States with online work
sharing systems have substantially lower costs than states
that rely on paper records.34
Employers have also reported that an increase in their UI
tax rate associated with using work sharing was a drawback
and that the tax increase was often large. However, many of
these employers may have seen an increase in their UI tax
rate anyway, due to layoffs. In addition, studies have found
minimal difference in payroll tax expenditures between
businesses that have used work sharing and those that
have not, and that the use of work sharing programs did
not affect the employers’ experience ratings, which is their
likelihood of paying back their state’s unemployment trust
fund through taxes.35
Maintaining fringe benefits for employees is also a cost
associated with work sharing, however few participants
have cited it as a major disadvantage. In fact, in the past,
the vast majority of employer participants in the U.S. have
opted to retain fringe benefits for their employees, even
when there was no requirement to do so.36
Overall, the costs associated with work sharing are easily
outweighed by the benefits. Employer satisfaction with
work sharing has been high. While its economic impacts
make work sharing attractive for employers, many work
sharing participants have said they would use the program
again because they found higher worker morale with work
sharing than with layoffs.37
Section Four: Conclusion
The work sharing provisions of the recently [federally] enacted Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (H.R.
3630) have significantly raised the profile of work sharing and have created a great opportunity for West
Virginia to launch a work sharing program. While the worst of the recession is over, it is not too late
for work sharing to help the state’s economy and act as tool to fight future uncertainty. By acting now,
West Virginia can create a program that benefits workers, employers, and the economy and be better
equipped to handle the next economic downturn.
During a recession, work sharing can benefit West Virginia’s
workers, businesses, and the state’s economy as a whole.
Affected employees can maintain their wages and avoid the
dangers of long-term unemployment, employers can reduce
their turnover costs and keep their skilled and experienced
workers, and the state’s economy benefits through lower
unemployment and higher levels of spending in the
The [federal] Department of Labor is currently developing model
legislative language for states, as well as developing guidance
programs and technical support.38 By following these
guidelines and effectively promoting the proven elements
of successful work sharing programs, West Virginia can
maximize the benefits of its own work sharing program.
1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, seasonally adjusted.
3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, seasonally adjusted.
4. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, unadjusted.
5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES.
6. Stephen Walsh et al., “Evaluation of Short-Time Compensation Program” (Berkeley Planning Associates and Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., March 1997), accessed at http://www.berkeleypolicyassociates.com/index.php/pub_project555.
7. Alison M. Shelton, “Compensated Work Sharing Arrangements (Short Time Compensation) as an Alternative to Layoffs” (Washington, D.C.:
Congressional Research Service, September 2011), downloaded from assets.opencrs.com/rpts/R40689_20110215.pdf.
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics.
10. Derek Thomas, “Work Sharing: A Win-Win-Win Strategy for Avoiding Job Loss” (Indiana Institute for Working Families, December 2011),
downloaded from http://www.incap.org/documents/iiwf/2011/FINAL%20Work%20Sharing%20Report%20-%20Dec.%2012%202011.pdf.
15. Neil Ridley and George Wentworth, “A Breakthrough for Work Sharing: A Summary of the Layoff Prevention Act of 2012” (Center for Law
and Social Policy and the National Employment Law Project, April 2012), accessed at http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Press%20Releases/2012/
17. U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 Short-Time
Compensation (STC) Fact Sheet,” downloaded from http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/pdf/Factsheet_STC.pdf.
18. Dean Baker and Nicole Woo, “States Could Save $1.7 Billion Per Year with Federal Financing of Work Sharing” (Center for Economic and Policy
Research, May 2012), downloaded from http://www.cepr.net/documents/publications/worksharing-2012-05.pdf.
19. Ridley and Wentworth.
20. Neil Ridley and David Balducchi, “Work Sharing: An Alternative to Layoffs - Frequently Asked Questions” (Center for Law and Social Policy,
October 2011), downloaded from http://www.clasp.org/admin/site/publications/files/Work-Sharing-An-Alternative-to-Layoffs.pdf.
21. Olivera Perkins, “Work sharing could limit layoffs if Ohio legislature approves bill,” The Plain Dealer, May 19, 2012, accessed at http://www.
22. Office of U.S. Senator Jack Reed, “Reed Calls for New National Plan to Help Save American Jobs,” accessed at http://www.reed.senate.gov/news/
23. Katharine Abraham and Susan Houseman, “Short-Time Compensation as a Tool to Mitigate Job Loss? Evidence on the U.S. Experience during the
Recent Recession” (Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, March 2012), accessed at http://research.upjohn.org/up_workingpapers/181/.
29. The Pew Charitable Trusts, “A Year or More: The High Cost of Long-Term Unemployment - 2012 Update” (May 2012), accessed at http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail.aspx?id=85899383867.
31. Shayne Henry, “Work Sharing: Effective in Keeping Workers Attached to the Labor Market” (New American Foundation, June 2011), downloaded
38. U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, “Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 P.L. 112-96, enacted
February 22, 2012,” accessed at http://ows.doleta.gov/unemploy/jobcreact.asp.
About the Authors
Sean O’Leary is a Policy Analyst with the West Virginia Center on Budget
Paul Miller is the Policy Outreach Director and Research Analyst with the
West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.
- School Aides Make Concessions to Save Jobs, by Deborah McGuire, 7/23 CapeMayCountyHerald.com (press release)
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE, N.J., USA — The Middle Township Board of Education voted to accept a memorandum of agreement between it and the Middle Township Education Association that will keep instructional aides, bus aides and security aides in the employ of the district, but will mean less [paid] days off and a two-year wage freeze.
Sixty-two employees were given layoff notices on May 15 after district officials looked at the possibility of privatizing paraprofessional jobs in a cost cutting measure.
Under the district’s current salary structure, part time instructional aides with 60 or more college credits earn $13,180 per 10-month school year. Those without 60 credits earn an annual salary of $12,746. Virtually all of the district’s aides are considered to be part time employees and work 29.5 hours per week. Because of their status, aides do not receive full time benefits, such as health care.
“They conceded to a two year wage freeze and a reduction in days,” Superintendent Michael Kopakowski told the Herald.
According to Kopakowski, aides will now have 14 “days of leave” across the board, regardless of seniority.
“Some of our more senior employees could have had 12-and-a-half sick days and 10 vaction days,” explained Kopakowski. “Now everybody just gets 14 days of leave.”
Kopakowski said the district is one of a handful in the area that gives vacation days to 10-month employees.
“Our teachers don’t get vacation days,” he said. “Ten month employees don’t get vacation days. It just doesn’t happen. The only reason they got them is because we are one of the 12 or 13 school districts that happen to be under the civil service regulations. If you worked in North Wildwood or Wildwood or Upper, you wouldn’t accrue vacation time as a 10 month employee.”
The superintendent said the reduction is significant. The two-year wage freeze affects only paraprofessionals. “This just affects teachers’ aides, security aides and bus aides.”
Substitute bus aides are not included in the memorandum of understanding, even though many work a regular assigned schedule.
“How they’ll be considered in September, I don’t know yet,” said the superintendent. “That whole issue needs to be resolved. My feeling is if we are using them every day they should be regular employees. They shouldn’t be called substitutes.”
7/21/2012 – 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 ) -
- Update from the People's House - Shared work can be good for Ohio, by State Speaker of the House William Batchelder, The Wadsworth Post via thepostnewspapers.com/wadsworth
COLUMBUS, Ohio, USA - Those who regularly read my column know that I often tout the legislation passed by the Ohio House of Representatives that focuses on creating jobs, growing Ohio businesses, and getting our state's economy back to where it once was. Even now that the 129th General Assembly is in the last half of its second year, our focus continues to be on getting Ohioans back to work.
During times of economic downturn, businesses are often faced with the difficult decision of managing their workforce and the possibility of laying off their valuable, trained workforce in order to survive. Because of the current unemployment system, businesses do not have the flexibility to arrange alternatives to layoffs, leaving workers jobless, families with less income and communities without necessary income tax revenue.
However, the Ohio House recently passed legislation--House Bill 484--that creates a federally authorized short-term compensation program called SharedWork Ohio. Under SharedWork Ohio, an employer has the option of reducing the number of work hours, instead of laying off skilled workers. In turn, the affected employees are paid on a pro rata basis for their work, maintaining their pension and health care benefits.
Before a SharedWork Program is approved for a particular employer, that employer must first submit a plan that meets specific criteria to the Director of Job and Family Services. Once the plan is approved and implemented, businesses can retain their skilled workforce, employees keep their job and benefits, and communities are saved from devastation.
It is important for our state to establish the SharedWork Ohio program because through United State House Bill 3630, the federal government provides full funding for shared work benefits for up to three years and provides grants to create and promote programs like SharedWork Ohio for the states. With employers paying unemployment premiums, the net positive cash flow into Ohio's Unemployment Trust Fund could even reduce our state's debt to the federal government and improve our bond rating.
Businesses will still have the ability to utilize conventional layoffs, but SharedWork Ohio is another beneficial alternative that can preserve access to their trained and knowledgeable workforce.
Shared work short-term compensation programs have been successful across the United States. In 2010, Texas credited its shared work program with saving more than 24,000 jobs. Many other states have also established shared work programs including New York, Rhode Island and Missouri.
The shared work program is based in the spirit of cooperation--employers and employees sharing work in order to preserve jobs. This is something that should be celebrated at a time when differing viewpoints and inability to compromise seem to be at their highest levels. I'm pleased to have passed this legislation that will keep workers on the job, and I'm hopeful that it will become law. House Bill 484 received strong bipartisan support in the House and now awaits passage in the Ohio Senate.
- Reduced workweek has consequences, by Joel Schlesinger, WinnipegFreePress.com
WINNIPEG, Man., Canada - A four-day workweek is great when the fifth day is a statutory paid holiday, but for Rudy and Mackenzie, a shortened workweek is a source of stress.
Mackenzie is about to wrap up a stint on maternity leave for their second child. And the civil servant is cutting back to a four-day week on a permanent basis, forgoing pay on the fifth day.
[The first economies that move from bandaid worksharing to sustainable Timesizing, will rapidly adjust their "full time" standards and start-of-overtime to 32 hours or less. That means 5-days pay for 4-days work. Where's the money come from? From exactly where it's all been funneling-to after the prosperity-yielding labor shortage of World War II = from today's massive uncirculating coagulation of the money supply in the richest 0.01%.]
"I did a budget when I decided I would work four days a week," says Mackenzie, in her early 30s.
She estimates she'll earn slightly higher than 80 per cent of her past salary of $66,000 a year because she recently got a six per cent hourly wage hike.
Still, she's uncertain whether their expenses and income match.
"Sometimes I feel our expenses are too high and we're living outside of our means," she says. "But I don't know if that's the case."
Expecting a $13,000 pay cut a year, they plan to eliminate big vacations -- about $5,000 annually -- and reduce other discretionary spending. She says they're already used to living on a tight budget because they've had to while she's been on maternity leave.
They have even managed to pay $1,428 a month on their line of credit -- their only source of debt -- on which they owe about $158,000.
"We pay about $428 on interest and $1,000 on principal," she says.
"I was thinking we could reduce the home line if we need to cut our expenses more."
And that's a distinct possibility because they're also restarting savings plans, focusing more on RESPs than RRSPs.
They've recently started contributing $383 biweekly to a family RESP, which they will keep up until the end of the year so they can catch up on contributions to receive the maximum federal grant. Then they'll set aside the maximum monthly amount of about $208 each in the following years to fund their children's education.
But they question how much that leaves for retirement.
"I'd like to retire tomorrow," says Rudy jokingly, a manager in the private sector, in his mid-30s.
Mackenzie says she believes they can meet all of their goals, but if they have to cut back in some places, she wonders if one should be their retirement savings.
"I don't know if it's the best option, but a lot of people in my workplace tell me not to worry about RRSPs so much because the pension will be enough to live on when I'm older."
James [Tiberius??] Kirk, a financial planner with Sweatman Insurance and Retirement Services [and Captain of USS Enterprise?], says he has both good news and bad news.
First the good news: At least, Mackenzie and Rudy are aware they may be facing a potential financial problem.
"Clearly if Mackenzie wants to work less, they realize they need to spend less," says the Winnipeg-based certified financial planner.
Now for the bad news: Kirk says it's likely their calculations underestimate their expenses while overestimating income.
Their total monthly income will be about $5,500 and expenses are about $5,172, excluding RESP and RRSP contributions.
"That leaves them with about $328 to spare," he says. "That's cutting it very close."
And they still have to set aside money for their savings goals.
On the upside, they do have plenty of places to cut back.
For instance, they have room to trim the fat on debt payments and savings.
Kirk says it's likely they don't need to save as much as they intend to on RESPs.
"With a current balance of about $13,000, plus maximum future contributions of $30,000 for one child over the next 10 years and $39,000 for another over 13 years, they'll have likely at least $82,000, not including growth," he says.
"How expensive do they think university will be in 15 years?"
Much has been made about the future costs of education. Some estimates state the total cost of a student living at home for a four-year degree will be more than $100,000 in 18 years, but Kirk questions these numbers.
"The banks have badly infected our thinking on RESPs to the future detriment of retirement savings," he says.
That doesn't mean Mackenzie and Rudy should cut out RESP contributions altogether. But they should find a way to save for retirement too, even though they both have work pensions.
"It's a huge mistake to put education above retirement," he says. Rudy may only joke about wanting to retire today. But the comment also suggests early retirement may be in the back of their minds.
Giving up RSP contributions today amounts to a lot of opportunity lost that could make early retirement a reality.
Right now they have $62,655 in their RRSPs. If they stop contributing $300 a month over 10 years, earning about five per cent annually, that's $46,585 they won't have by the time they restart saving for retirement. After another 10 years, by the time they retire, the missing $46,000 is more like $76,000.
Kirk says investing in their children's education is a worthy cause. Many parents feel obligated to help their kids with university, and fully funding an RESP is indeed a better option than paying out of pocket on the cusp of retirement to help cover post-secondary education.
Mackenzie and Rudy do have other options, including reducing their debt-repayment schedule.
"They are on pace to pay off their home line of credit in just over 11 years, but my guess is they won't."
It's likely they will renovate their kitchen, take a big vacation, buy a new car or purchase a cottage.
Credit lines are insidiously tempting to use when available, he says.
"Lines of credit are like drugs: Once you get a little taste, it's hard not to come back for more."
Kirk says an alternative is cutting line-of-credit principal payments by about $500 a month.
"This would stretch their repayment time frame to 19 years as opposed to 11," he says.
They'd still have the debt paid by the time they retire, but they would also be able to save for both retirement and university.
"It's better to find a balance than going 100 per cent in one direction."
By cutting back on debt payments, they could save for retirement and their children's education. They could, for example, contribute $50 per child monthly to the RESP. Based on a five per cent annual return, they will have about $42,000 saved for their children's education in 15 years. And if they can contribute $200 a month to their RRSPs, based on the same return, they'd save $75,000 more for retirement in 19 years.
As their incomes increase, they can augment savings, even contributing to a TFSA, which would give them flexibility to save for both goals.
"Mackenzie decided to first work less, so they need to figure out how to make that work -- I get it," he says, adding he has young children, too.
Making them a priority is never a mistake, he says.
"They sound somewhat realistic about the choices facing them, but there are some more tough decisions to be made."
Rudy's and Mackenzie's finances
Rudy: $48,000 ($2,592 monthly net)
Mackenzie: $56,091 ($2,908 monthly net)
Monthly: $5,172 (excludes savings)
Line of credit: $158,204 owing at 3.5 per cent variable
Rudy's RRSP: $37,365 (equity mutual funds)
Mackenzie's RRSP [compare U.S. IRA]: $35,870 (balanced portfolio)
Mackenzie's defined benefit pension: $2,793 a month at age 60
Rudy's defined contribution pension: $62,104
NET WORTH: $141,943 (excludes work pensions)
For them, it's a compromise between spending almost $1,000 a month on daycare and spending more time with the children.
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2012, B10
7/20/2012 – 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 ) -
- Redlands reaping benefits of preventive budget measures, by Kristina Hernandez, (7/19 late pickup) San Bernardino Sun via sbsun.com
REDLANDS, Calif., USA - In light of San Bernardino's declaring a fiscal emergency, many Redlanders are wondering - could that happen here?
In fact, during last week's State of the Community Luncheon, the first question out of the gate during the Q&A portion of Mayor Pete Aguilar's speech was on the financial stability of the city.
"We are in (an) incredibly good position financially. There is no hesitation when I say that (and) I have complete confidence in our financial situation," Aguilar replied.
"It is unfortunate what has happened to our partner to the west and we obviously stand ready to talk to them through this process and offer support."
Prior to Wednesday's special City Council meeting on the Redlands Crossing Project, Councilman Bob Gardner and City Manager N. Enrique Martinez elaborated on Aguilar's comments.
Gardner said part of the reason Redlands is in a good financial standing is city management looked into ways to avoid a similar crisis as early as 2007.
The financial health of the city is due to a lot of reasons, but Gardner focused on four points: reduced spending, revenues, reserves and redevelopment.
"As far as reduced spending - and this pre-dates me, certainly - when Enrique came in, I think it was very clear that we needed to live within our means and the council at the time adopted a plan to begin to cut," Gardner explained. "We have reduced close to 20 percent of our workforce in the last four or five years.
"We were well over 500, pushing 600 employees, and now we're down to around 400."
And of course with eliminating staff, the city had to look into ways to do more with less.
[Or, you could simply raise taxes on the rich, whose money is going nowhere during a "stumbling recovery" anyway...]
That includes the work done by the men and women who patrol the streets, Gardner said.
Prior to the cuts, the city had about 100 police officers on board. That number has reduced to 76.
[Oh, planning for more money transfers via theft rather than taxation?]
While the city feels it is offering adequate police protection, Gardner conceded investigations now take longer. Response times could be affected, though they aren't currently.
The city used technology to deal with less manpower. It installed cameras around town to monitor crime and created mobile apps - like the 311 app.
"We just didn't cut and say, `You know, we're not going to give you services because we cut people.' No, we found ways of expanding service through technology, and working smart," Martinez said.
Furloughs are another way the city has reduced its spending, Gardner said. City staff - from the city manager on down - have experienced furloughs over three years.
Voluntary furloughs worked out with the unions were close to 4 percent of most people's work hours - a little less for the police force.
"That's an example of where we worked with labor groups, and the workforce basically said we're going to be partners (with the city) in trying to live within our means," Gardner said.
Furloughs, which ended in June, have yielded $1 million a year, he added.
The city's biggest revenue sources are sales and property tax, Gardner said. And while both have taken a beating for the past several years, they are coming back.
"The key there is to not be tempted to have them come back too soon and look at a percentage, and be conservative in our projections, so that with any surprises we have, they are positive ones," Gardner said.
The city is also taking a "hard look" at fees, and possibly putting more costs on the residents.
"If I'm going in and asking for something from the city, ultimately I should be charged what it costs the city to give that to me," Gardner said.
"And we should certainly make sure those are efficient and effective processes, but it is important that we charge the right amount for our fees."
Martinez and his staff want to continue building reserves.
By doing so, the city has been able to establish a healthy rainy-day fund that is now close to 20 percent of the general fund, with two "pots" that total about $12 million to $13 million.
"In 2007, there was only $2 million total, maybe $4 million in reserves," Martinez said.
When the state disbanded redevelopment agencies, Redlands was able to transition very well, Gardner said.
Even though the city had pay for employees out of the general fund that were previously funded through redevelopment funds, the amount did not hurt the city, he said.
"We expect to be able to continue to do that as we pay down the remaining obligations that we have," he added.
In 2007, when Martinez came on board, his staff did what he called "triage" by looking into changing structural problems that had been in existence for 20 to 25 years, he said.
The first step was to balance the budget.
The second was to look at reserves.
And the third was to look at capital that was not being funded.
"What we did in `07, some of the cities are doing now. We were able to do it because the council valued financial discipline and well being, and we're fortunate that the councilmembers that have followed... have the same organizational cultural interest," he said.
Reach Kristina via email, or call her at 909-793-3221
Did you know
The cities have different systems of government, so a general comparison would not valid, but here is a glance at whether Redlands has some factors attributed to San Bernardino's fiscal emergency.
Depleted general fund reserves and limited cash flow? No
Vendors and creditors who work with the city require cash up-front before materials, services or goods are provided? No
Lost credit line with the bank? No
Increasing CalPERS pension costs? Yes
Increase in employee retirements triggering immediate cash outs of leave accruals above annual average? No
Source: Cities of Redlands and San Bernardino
- What future for les Trente Cinq Heures [=35 hours]? Life Begins at 35? by Jeremy Josephs firstname.lastname@example.org, [?2004?, 7/20/2012 pickup] JeremyJosephs.com
MONTPELLIER, France — France’s PM Jean-Pierre Raffarin is in bullish mood.
[Raffarin was PM from 6 May 2002 to 31 May 2005, so this article must be ca.2004.]
It is vital to restore pride and honour in work; it is equally important to dispense with the image of the French as the most work-shy people in the world.
[Why? The other side of that is that the French really know how to live - moreso than any of the other nationalities who are suicidally determined on workaholism during the age of robotization.]
“France’s future is not that of a huge leisure park”, he recently declared.
[Why not? Disneyland makes oodles of money.]
It was a dig – and not a particularly subtle one at that – at the 35-hour week, introduced by Martine Aubry, the feisty former Socialist employment minister – and tipped by some as likely to be the first female President of La République. Apart from her regional power base as the dynamic Mayor of the city of Lille, however, it is of course Raffarin, not Aubry, to whom we should be listening. So when the Prime Minister calls for the loi Aubry [=Aubry law] to be ‘renegotiated’ (but not repealed), France’s workers would be well advised to sit up and listen. What future, then, for les 35 heures [=the 35-hour workweek]?
Raffarin has been backed up by Budget Minister Alain Lambert, whose officials have been struggling to avoid a hefty fine for breaching the European Union’s growth and stability pact. Lambert was in no doubt whatsoever that the country’s ballooning deficit was at least partly attributable to increased spending by the government to fiancé [great goof! he means "to finance" of course] the 35-hour week. A claim, needless to say, which is hotly contested by Aubry and her supporters. And the architect of the reform recently warned of the battles ahead, saying “the public today talks about the 35-hour week with the same devotion as they spoke yesterday about paid holidays”, introduced back in the 1930s. But if one moves away from the political arena and into the economic sphere, matters hardly become more clear. For many economists have argued that the 35-hour week has indeed delivered on employment, creating some 300,000 new jobs and increasing productivity in larger companies by up to 5%. Other financial wizards[?] will inform you that the math simply does not stack up, claiming that it is simply not possible for eight people working six hours [8x6=48=X] to produce the same as six people working eight hours [6x8=48=Y=X: clearly this has nothing to do with math, and probably more to do with workaholism than wizardry - and The Importance of Looking Busy]. What is undisputed, however, is that for millions of French blue-collar workers the loi Aubry [Aubry Law] has meant an effective end to overtime, and thus to any chance of supplementing their basic wage [until France upgrades to Timesizing's smooth conversion of falling-wage overtime into rising-wage jobs and training whenever needed] – a factor deemed decisive by analysts in determining why many traditional left-voters switched their political allegiances at the first opportunity to visit the ballot box.
[The traditional left is just as short-sighted as the traditional right.
The legislation has also[?] proved[?] to be disastrous for many smaller companies. I decided, therefore, that since things were far from black and white on both the economic and political fronts – the only thing to do was to head out to the streets to see whether or not the workers of the world would indeed unite, at least in relation to their views on les 35 heures [the 35 hours]. It might not come as a surprise to learn that they did not.
[Only half the labor movement has ever had a clue that of their two historic issues, higher pay made them weaker by tacking an artificially higher price on a surplus commodity = them, while shorter hours made therm stronger by cutting the surplus of...them - and providing more consumers and consumer spending instead of less. And this whole article is another demonstration that not even Europeans know what they're doing right in terms of cutting hours and sharing the vanishing human employment in the robotics age - for example, to maintain and increase markets for all the stuff that the robots (=non-consumers) are churning out.]
Christine Rachet has seen life on both sides of the 35-hour fence – firstly as an employee in a large company (Cap Gemini) and, more recently, as her own boss, running a small educational toys franchise (Imaginarium) in Montpellier.
“As a salairé[e] I thought that the 35 hour week was basically a good idea. But I soon saw that at Cap Gemini [a FINANCIAL firm? she's going to cite a FINANCIAL firm as some kind of credible authority today?!? - oh puhleez!], it brought about only rigidity in terms of work practices – all flexibility immediately went out of the window. The atmosphere at work also changed – people became clock-watchers: you know ’36 hours – forget it’ – that sort of thing.
[And what a surprise! Our financial sector has a lethal problem with limits. It wants to assume that debt can increase without limit, concentration of money supplies can proceed without limit, problems can be externalized without limit... Hey, they're the self-styled "masters of the universe," n'est-ce pas?]
So that was negative and of course salaries were frozen to finance it [but not CEO salaries because there still isn't an acute enough shortage of labor in France, as perceived by employers, to centrifuge the lethargic billions out of the onepercent and the 1% of the onepercent]. But now that I am my own boss I of course see things rather differently. The thought of doing a 35-hour week is something of a joke, I have to say [so is the 40-hour workweek in the 2012 U.S. So was the 80-hour workweek in the 1812 U.S.]S. I do at least 45 hours at the shop and another 20 at home. [= no life] In general terms, though, I would say that the 35-hour week is neither a good or a bad thing – it all depends on the way in which it has been implemented.”
I then headed off to find a fonctionnaire – one of France’s sizeable army of civil servants – convinced that that person would redress the balance and speak up for Martine Aubry and her novel piece of social engineering. [Hardly novel - the USA cut the 80-hour workweek in half between 1840 and 1940 and the rest of the world followed suite. Wanna go back to 80? 90? 100? And watch unemployment and depression rise?] (“This law is being blamed for everything”, the Mayor of Lille recently complained, “including the number of accidents at home on the grounds that people have got more time to do more DIY at home – work which they might not do very effectively…”) Of course the well-known gag about France’s civil servants was that they were opposed to the changed status of the working week from 39 to 35 hours on the grounds that they were only ever working 28. But I thought it prudent to avoid reciting that line on the grounds that there is a time and place for everything, including, and especially, the old humeur anglais [English humor - relevance??].
Jean-Claude Ouvrard from La Poste did not disappoint. He wasted no time in entering a vigorous defence of the new law – claiming that the 35-hour week had nothing whatsoever to do with the reasons why France was performing badly. This, he said, was more attributable to weak financial markets, poor economic growth and the strength of the euro against the dollar.
[Actually it has everything to do with why France and everywhere else is performing badly. It needs to be FURTHER TRIMMED as much as it takes to restore wartime levels of full employment and rising wages and markets.] More leisure time was a good thing, he insisted, because family life would improve and you would come back to work suitably refreshed and revitalised.
Time for lunch before continuing on my rounds [lazy!]. At which time I met Marc Papy, who runs a small hole-in-the-wall sandwich bar in the Rue St. Guilhem in Montpellier.
“I am researching a piece about the 35 hour week”, I explained over my Roquefort Panini. I soon realised that here was my ‘don’t mention the war’ mistake – for it prompted Papy to volunteer himself as an interviewee. All right, I concluded, let’s make this a working lunch.
“The 35 hour week”, he asked rhetorically, working himself up into something of a frenzy. “It’s a bloody joke. I do 50 hours if not more. We don’t understand those lazy-good-for-nothing-fonctionnaires – and I guess they don’t understand us. I begin at 7.30 am and stop at 6.30 pm 5 days a week. This Aubry law has been catastrophic for France – it[']s made people lazy. The concept of productivity has gone out of the window.
[Very-small business owners have no way of realizing that productivity is a per-hour concept, not per-person, and no clue about the workers who control the armies of industrial robots and giant mining and earth-moving equipment. People want to be paid more for working less – it’s a joke, I tell you.
[Not when they're in charge of robots that are producing thousands of times what an individual employee used to produce. What lethal widespread ignorance there is about these developments! People's heads are still back in the 18th century!]
Of course you know what the unions are like – if anyone tries to oppose it now – well, it’ll be another round of strikes all round. Early retirement, more money, more leisure time – it[']s all great stuff – I would just like to ask one question though: would somebody mind telling me where all of the money is coming from?”
[It's coming from where it's all going now - The Great Leak Upward - the richest 0.01% who have far far more money than they can invest sustainably let alone profitably. THAT is where it must come from to restore balance in the world's economies. You cannot funnel any large percentage of the money supply to any small percentage of the population and still have sufficient consumer and business spending to prevent collapse and return to barter - with mass rioting and starvation due to the rigidities of barter.]
The power [or ignorance?] of Papy’s argument, plus the conviction with which it was delivered (none of your IDS[?] ‘quiet man’ stuff in France), made my Panini somewhat difficult to digest, so I headed back towards the city’s swish new tram way stop at the Place de la Comédie. But not before almost going under a ladder. A somewhat suspicious chap myself, I paused to look up, only to find my next interviewee perched, ready and waiting up on the eighth rung.
“So what do you think of the 35-hour week”, I enquired, convinced that Papy’s reasoning would have got to him.
“I’m all in favour of it”, 28 year old painter and decorator Stephane Roux shouted back down. “I work 39. I would love to work 35. But there are less than 12 employees in our firm so our patron is exempt from the legislation, unfortunately. I would definitely go for it. To get home earlier? To have more leisure time? Yes, please!”
One more fonctionnaire and I would be done. Enter Josianne Caumette, known for reasons that remain unclear to me, as Josy Baby to her friends. She has worked as a secretary at the University’s Faculty of Science for over 35 years. Would she at least give resounding thumbs up the 35-hour week? Hardly. It was more of a gallic bof.
[= French shrug]
“People like to slag [laugh] us civil servants off”, she exclaimed. “But before they do so I would like to point out that despite my long years of service here I am still only earning just over €1200 a month – not a fortune is it? The 35 hours has changed nothing for me. It was carried out to create new jobs – but I see no evidence of that. In fact people coming up for retirement here are not being replaced at all. I don’t really do fewer hours now. In fact we have to cram in the same work into 35 hours instead of 39 – which to my mind is a recipe for more, not less, stress at the work-place. And of course all overtime has gone out of the window. So life hasn’t really changed for me for the better at all.”
[It would if the 35 hour week was trimmed further. It must be fluctuating adjustment of the workweek. How can there ever be a fixed permanent level of the workweek when new technology is constantly pouring into the economy? The workweek must be trimmed AS MUCH AS IT TAKES to restore wartime levels of full employment, robust markets, and WARTIME PROSPERITY.]
It’s hardly an uplifting note with which to conclude. Although, in truth, maybe the realisation is beginning to filter through that all employees, whether fonctionnaires or not, are going to have to pull their collective fingers out [of their ass = get busy?] if they want to continue to enjoy the benefits of France’s educational and health system which are the envy of the world.
[France's enviable educational and health system will rapidly erode if France follows Sarcozy's reconcentration of employment and income, just as the USA's retirement and family life has been eroding in the decades since the babyboomers restored the labor surplus of the Great Depression around 1970 and its un(der)employment-welfare-disability-incarceration-homelessness-suicide has been rising ever since.]
In fact the government has recently announced that all state employees will lose their Pentecost (Whit Monday) bank holiday as from 2005 [huh? is this article dates from ?2004?], while workers in the private sector must agree, after negotiations with employers, to give up any bank holiday or rest day. And pourquoi [=why] all of this? In order to finance aid for the elderly to prevent a repeat of last summer’s heat-wave disaster in which some 15,000 elderly people are estimated to have died. Is this going to lead to tens of thousands taking to the streets? Not at all. In fact opinion polls have shown that the idea of abolishing one day’s holiday to finance a solidarity fund for “dependent people” is supported by no less than 80% of French people.
[This matter of compassion is irrelevant to his attack on the 35-hour workweek.]
This is but one example of the attempt on the part of the Government [of Pres. Sarkozy, who has recently been voted out] to claw back some of those precious lost working hours. But it also demonstrates that the concept of solidarité [=irrelevant to non-workers - no, this is a simple matter of human compassion] is alive and well in France, unlike in the UK where the Liberal Democrats soon learned that their one penny on income tax for better health and education was a recipe for political disaster. Nevertheless, there is little doubt among those with their ears close to the political ground in Paris that there exists a new and determined mood to remove all possible lids on the country’s competitiveness.
[Yes, Sarkozy was a great advocate of entering France in the Race to the Bottom.]
And for Raffarin the sooner that lid comes up and off the better.
The main website of freelance writer Jeremy Josephs is at www.jeremyjosephs.com, please check there if you might be interested in engaging him as a writer. Many of his articles are available online. Please check the sitemap for a complete list.
7/19/2012 – 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 ) -
- Shorten up your work hours for summer, BusinessManagementDaily.com
MCLEAN, Va., USA - As temperatures soar and vacation season kicks into high gear, your organization can score significant points with employees by making short work of summer Fridays.
An OfficeTeam survey shows that employees covet flexible schedules and short-day Fridays the most during the summer. Similarly, a Harris Interactive study revealed that 78% of employed adults who have to work on summer Fridays would take the day or half-day off if their companies offered the perk.
Still, 41% who work for companies that offer the extra time off say they work on Fridays anyway because their workload is so heavy.
In the survey, 75% of HR managers said their companies offer flextime during the summer and 63% let employees leave early on Fridays.
Employees also pointed to company picnics and a casual dress code as coveted summer perks.
- Allen commissioners vote to eliminate unpaid furloughs, by Sarah Stemen, LimaOhio.com
LIMA, Ohio, USA — Allen County commissioners voted to eliminate unpaid furloughs for the Commissioners Office and the Building and Grounds Department Wednesday morning, but not unanimously.
Commissioners Sam Bassitt and Dan Reiff voted in favor of eliminating the furloughs, while Commissioner Greg Sneary voted against it during their meeting Wednesday morning.
Sneary said he didn't think it was the appropriate time to bring up the issue of the furloughs. He said he wished the issue would have been left alone for now and brought up again in January.
“I think there are still too many unanswered questions concerning the budget at this time,” Sneary said after the meeting Wednesday. “I think it should have been reviewed at the beginning of the year for the annual budget.”
He also pointed out the city's budget is still not set in stone at this point, not only in Lima, but nationwide.
“There are really too many question marks at this point,” he said. “Really not just locally, but across the world.”
Bassitt said he voted to eliminate the furloughs because they didn't carry significant weight on the budget, plus they were among three departments still enforcing them. The other department with the mandated furloughs, he said, he thought was the Recorder's Office.
“When we had first discussed it, we were not sure of the total financial implications,” Bassitt said after the vote Wednesday. “There were a little larger implications than we first thought, but they're still not large enough to affect the budget really significantly.”
The cost-savings program was adopted in 2009 by the Commissioners Office, which included the mandated unpaid furloughs.
The unpaid furloughs were originally part of a plan to cut $2 million from the 2010 budget, and the commissioners approved the furloughs at first to “reduce expenditures on personnel,” Bassitt said. But Bassitt said the budget has improved a bit since then.
“Our sales were up just a bit this year, which was another reason I saw,” Bassitt said. “Not much but just a bit.”
Bassitt said the furloughs were really only impacting a few individuals in the three departments, while they didn't have much impact on the budget. He did not think it was fair for all other departments to not have them but still mandate them only for individuals in three departments.
“No other departments were doing them anymore,” Bassitt said. “We felt it was inappropriate for those few to have them when everyone else did not. Furthermore, they did not impact the budget significantly, yet the impact was felt by those few individuals in those few departments.”
The commissioners voted to adopt a third year of mandated unpaid furloughs in July 2011, but those were officially eliminated Wednesday morning.
We felt at this time we ought to back away from those, since there only seemed to be three departments exercising the furlough days,” Bassitt said.
7/18/2012 – 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 ) -
- Work sharing would help reduce layoffs think tank says, by Lori Kersey, Charleston Gazette via wvgazette.com
[This is a journalist's quick intro to the article below.]
CHARLESTON, W.Va., USA -- Employers who reduce employee hours during an economic downturn instead of laying them off would recover more quickly from a recession, a left-leaning think tank says.
A report released Wednesday from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy argues that employees in the mining and construction industries who use "work sharing," a program that allows employers who need to reduce payroll costs temporarily to reduce the hours their employers work, would better weather cyclical downturns in the economy.
With work sharing, workers would be eligible to receive partial benefits to supplement their income while their hours are reduced.
Sean O'Leary, a center analyst and an author of the report "Reducing Layoffs: How Work Sharing Can Help Workers and Businesses in West Virginia" [see next article below and article above on 7/22-23/2012 #1], said while it's been three years since the recession peaked, the unemployment rate nationally and in West Virginia is hovering around 8 percent.
The number of workers receiving long-term unemployment is even more distressing, O'Leary said.
"When you're unemployed for that amount of time, it has a really harmful effect on you, your health, your family's health, your financial security and your ability to get a job later in life," O'Leary said. "It really has terrible long-term, lasting impacts and [the number of people on long-term unemployment] is something that rose during the recession and has not changed during the three years since.
[So how does anyone but a prissy academic figure the recession has peaked?]
"It kept rising after the recession and more and more workers who are finding themselves unemployed are remaining unemployed."
With a work-sharing program, if an employer needs to reduce payroll costs by 20 percent, instead of paying off 20 percent of the workers, it could reduce the number of hours each employee works by 20 percent. For instance, the employer could cut the workweek for all employees from five days a week to four days a week. Workers would receive benefits for the day they are not working.
Work sharing is similar to partial unemployment insurance in that both offer benefits to workers when hours have been reduced. With work sharing, workers can qualify when their hours have been reduced by as little as 10 percent. Partial unemployment insurance is available only to workers who have had large reduction in their workweek, according to the report, which center policy analyst Paul Miller co-authored.
Work sharing would be a voluntary program for employers.
O'Leary said the program would benefit workers because it would keep them attached to the workforce and allow them to retain their skill. Employers would benefit from not having to recruit, hire and train new employees later when the economy improves.
Twenty-four states and Washington D.C. have implemented work-sharing programs and the federal government has offered an incentive for states to offer such programs.
The federal government, under the 2012 Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act, would reimburse the state for 100 percent of employee benefits for two years if the state changed its laws to reflect the work-sharing option for employers, Miller said.
If the state didn't change its laws and simply worked out an agreement with the federal government for the work-sharing program, the federal government would reimburse the state half the cost of work-sharing benefits for two years, Miller said.
The Center on Budget and Policy announced its report at a meeting attended by representatives from the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Workforce West Virginia and the West Virginia Manufacturing Association, all of which said their organizations have not yet formed opinions on the work-sharing program.
The state Legislature is studying the possibility of work sharing during the 2012 interim sessions.
Reach Lori Kersey at lori.ker...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1240.
- Reducing Layoffs: How Work Sharing Can Help Workers and Businesses in West Virginia, by Sean O'Leary and Paul Miller, West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy via wvpolicywvpolicy.org
[This is the actual authors' intro to their whole report accessible by clicking on the link at the end of the first paragraph.]
CHARLSTON, W.Va., USA - In times of economic uncertainty, instead of sending trained staff to the unemployment line, companies in 24 states and the District of Columbia can use work sharing. This voluntary program allows employers to use unemployment benefits to retain their workers and avert lay-offs. Work sharing could be particularly helpful to West Virginia’s mining and construction industries which have both faced employment ups and downs during this past recession. *Read
West Virginia’s economy, similar to other states, experiences many ups and downs. The peaks and valleys of the state’s economy as it moves through recessions and recoveries can be hard on the state’s workers and businesses. As the economy slows, workers often lose their jobs and face hardships as they seek new employment. Once the economy begins to grow again, businesses often struggle to replace the experience and skills of the employees they lost during the bad times. This struggle can prolong the pain, making it more difficult to rise out of a recession.
The recent national recession was no different for West Virginia. The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression officially began in December 2007, although it took nearly a year for the recession’s impact to be felt in West Virginia. The impact of the downturn on West Virginia was severe. Between September 2008 and February 2010, West Virginia lost approximately 25,300 jobs. For nearly a year and a half, West Virginia lost an average of 1,490 jobs a month.
Recovery from the recession has been slow. It took nearly two years for West Virginia to regain most of the jobs that it had lost during the recession. The gains have come slowly, with less than 1,000 jobs added per month on average.
The slow recovery and weak job growth have meant the sustained high unemployment for the state. Unemployment peaked at 8.5 percent, more than double its pre-recession rate. Since the end of the recession, West Virginia’s unemployment rate has remained elevated, with more than 57,000 workers remaining unemployed.
While the recovery has dragged on, those who are unemployed are finding themselves without work for longer periods of time. The share of unemployed workers who have been without work for more than six months has grown from 19.7 percent in 2008 to 43.8 percent in 2011.
The effects of this long-term unemployment can have a dire impact on these workers’ wellbeing and their futures. West Virginia’s construction and manufacturing workers have been particularly affected by the recession and have yet to see a full recovery. More than 8,000 construction jobs were lost in the state during the recession, and fewer than 3,000 have come back. Manufacturing has fared even worse, losing 9,000 jobs, with no signs of recovery.
With the recovery remaining weak, a little-known policy has emerged to help businesses weather economic downturns and keep their workers employed. Work sharing (also known as short-time compensation) is an unemployment insurance benefit intended to keep job losses from happening in the first place, allowing businesses to retain their workforce during recessions and avert layoffs.
Work sharing gives businesses the option of reducing the hours and wages of their employees instead of laying them off. Workers with reduced wages and hours are then eligible for partial unemployment benefits to help make up the lost wages.
Work sharing benefits not only the employer and the employees, but the state as a whole. Work sharing deters job losses, reduces turnover and unemployment, helps workers maintain their wages, and reduces the effect of long-term unemployment.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, seasonally adjusted.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics, seasonally adjusted.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey, unadjusted.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, CES.
- [And now, speaking for the Morlocks -]
Weird Euro Facts, by David Frum, The Daily Beast via thedailybeast.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Did you know that the average worker in 35-hour France worked longer than the average German? I didn't! But *according to the OECD, it's so: 1,554 hours vs. 1,419 hours. I suppose the shorter German work year leaves the Germans more time free to lecture other Europeans about how lazy they are.
Yet even the (marginally) longer French work year remains crazily structurally rigid.
[Not to mention the American since-1940, 40-hour workweek?! So who's crazier, David, a nation that's structurally rigid at 35 hours or a nation that's structurally rigid at 40 hours?]
Result: those French who do work, must work crazy hard—even as one-fifth of the country is paid to do nothing at all.
[This "Daily Beast" shore wears tight blinders, neverminding American welfare, disability, homelessness, world-record incarceration... = easily one-fifth of the country.]
Incoming President Francois Hollande seems determined to make the problem worse. Nicholas Sarkozy failed to end the 35-hour work week rule. But he did change the law so that overtime hours went untaxed—a huge incentive to all French to work longer.
[Ye gods! Does this mean overtime earnings went untaxed? Ifso, no wonder France's sails went luffing! Employment recoagulated, the money supply recoagulated...]
Hollande proposes to eliminate this dispensation. Worse is to come:
[Anything this troglodyte says can safely be reversed = Better is to come.]
The move follows a number of other actions taken by the new government that have unsettled business leaders. The budget measures include scrapping a move by Mr Sarkozy to reduce employers’ heavy labour costs by shifting some of the financing of social welfare from employment charges to value added tax.
The supplementary budget includes €7.2bn in new taxes, including a big increase in wealth taxes, and €1.5bn in spending cuts. Mr Hollande has also reinstated the right of some workers to retire at 60, which Mr Sarkozy raised to 62, and given a small real-terms boost to the minimum wage, frozen by the former president.
Unemployed labor is usually modest in its pay requests.
[Au contraire, unemployed labor has no employer to address pay requests to.]
It ought to be easy enough to inspire France's many overstressed businesses to hire somebody extra to help out
[Oh yeah? Then HOW - without, say, an overtime tax, an exemption for OT-targeted hiring +/- training, and adjustment of "full time" downward as much as it takes to restore full employment and maximum consumer spending?]
—unless the government almost doubles the cash price of labor by piling on payroll taxes. Which is what the French government has historically done—and what the new president seems intent on doing more of.
[Frum is a former Bush speechwriter and advocate of the Iraq invasion and government secrecy, etc. etc. Frum needs protection - frum himself.]
7/17/2012 – 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 ) -
- Some mines cutting hours as decline in demand continues, by Bailey Richards, Hazard Herald via hazard-herald.com
HAZARD, Ky., USA — With so many miners losing their jobs in Eastern Kentucky, the ones that have been able to keep their jobs are considered lucky. However, many of those miners are also facing financial hardships as hours are reportedly being drastically cut to avoid layoffs.
Many miners have traditionally made a significant portion of their income by working overtime. But with the current downturn, many mines are having to cut overtime for miners. Haven King, with Coal Mining our Future, said that is bad news for many of the miners who rely on this additional income.
King said that miners were able to work upward of 65 hours a week, bringing in 25 additional hours of overtime. One of the mine companies having to cut back on these hours in Perry County Coal.
“To a deep miner that is an electrician or a miner operator, that means about $36,000 a year,” said King.
While many of these miners are in the higher pay bracket and will still be receiving a decent salary, they will see a large change in lifestyle.
“They have been used to a four wheeler and a boat, and those expenses are still there,” said King.
Bill Bissett of the Kentucky Coal Association also pointed out that they will continue to be taxed as a part of the higher tax bracket.
“They are still paying taxes on that higher rate of pay,” said Bissett.
According to Bissett, the way that the miners and mines found themselves in such a lofty overtime situation was a lack of experienced and qualified miners. As mines needed these experienced workers, they were willing to pay for them to work additional hours.
“You had a real need for miners in November of 2011,” said Bissett. “That was how quickly that price fell.”
As the price of coal has remained low for several months now, companies are having to decide between eliminating positions or slowing production to fewer hours each week.
“I am sure the companies are doing all they can,” said Bissett. “They would much rather eliminate overtime than the job.”
Bissett said that many of these experienced miners are getting offers from mines in other states that need miners with more certifications and more years under their belts.
“I do know that people in other states have reached out to some of the more experienced miners here,” said Bissett.
While these jobs in other states offer these miners an option to continue working, he said that it is likely many of them will turn them down. Most of the miners in Eastern Kentucky have been here for generations and have lives and families established in the area.
For other miners, Bissett said he still believes the market will rebound. He said that lately he has seen a slight pickup in both the natural gas and coal prices, and that is promising.
“You suddenly have this free fall of prices along with natural gas, but gas is now starting to uptick and coal is starting to do a little bit better,” said Bissett.
He said that it is even possible that as the market evens back out, the overtime hours could return for some miners with advanced certifications.
“One reason that it may come back is that even when the market rebounds and demand does surge, the question is are we going to have enough experienced miners?” said Bissett.
- Who follows reduced work hours? - We all know that the UAE government issues a law to reduce work timings during Ramadan but how many follow it? by M. Heathcote, KippReport.com
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - Year after year, the government in the United Arab Emirates issues a circular dictating the work timings during the month of Ramadan. The circular is typically divided into enforceable working hours for public sector employees and dictated working hours for employees hired in the private sector.
According to the Ministry of Labour and Interior, year after year, employers continue to neglect this ruling. But do these figures really show the underbelly of the ‘rebellious’ community? A survey is all fine and dandy but Kipp knows how challenging it would be to find the root cause of the disobedience of the work timing regime.
Perhaps the most objectively logical guess would bring us to a fork road – a category of employers who take the risk to force their employees to work normal work timings and employees who are stranded between the desire to leave the office early and the desire to impress their superiors.
The Ministry of Labour said that they have received numerous complaints last year from private sector employees revealing that their bosses weren’t allowing them to enjoy the benefit of the reduced work hours; nor were they paying them for overtime.
Officially, the working hours of private sector companies in the UAE will be reduced from eight to six hours per day during Ramadan. As for the public sector they will be reduced to 9-2. There’s not much chance of governmental sectors violating the law so Kipp reckons there is no worry in that department.
Employers who are caught violating the rules will face hefty fines, according to government officials. But there’s a thick line between violation and being caught. As I am sure we all know individuals who are either forced to continue with normal timings or are put under immense guilt to not ask for overtime.
Personally, I have always had a positive experience in this topic but it is clear that thousands of workers and employees in the UAE are not as fortunate.
If you have personal experience with this then it is imperative that you share your thoughts because justice starts one word at a time.
7/15-16/2012 – 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 ) -
- De Pere's clash with fire union continues, by Hannah O’Brien, 7/15 GreenBayPressGazette.com
DE PERE, Wisc., USA — The city and the local firefighters union are in a prolonged battle over this year’s furlough.
The city says the furloughs helped balance a budget that saw significant reductions in state aid. But the firefighters union says furloughs make firefighters and De Pere residents unsafe.
The battle is expected to come to a head in September when the two sides go through arbitration to determine whether furloughs violate the union’s contract with the city.
De Pere is the first municipality in the state to furlough firefighters, and union officials say fighting the furlough implementation is crucial.
“That’s the precedent that gets set here,” said Chad Bronkhorst, a Green Bay firefighter who heads the local union. “If we don’t do something — and really the only recourse we have is through the arbitration process — if we don’t try to make that attempt, then I guess I almost look at it as a disservice to the citizens because they’re not getting what they’re paying for.”
But city officials say the furloughs were necessary in light of a $400,000 reduction in the city’s budget this year.
“The council and the mayor made the decision that we would be making some expenditure reductions and we weren’t going to just focus on one area of the city for services,” said city Administrator Larry Delo. “We would try to spread them out in a way that made sense for the organization and for the community for the services.”
Furloughs also were implemented for police, parks, engineering, public works and secretarial employees. Employees who contribute the state requirement of 5.9 percent of wages to their retirement benefits were not furloughed.
The police union began fighting the furloughs, but decided against bringing the case through arbitration, Delo said.
An arbitrator will decide whether furloughs violate the city’s contract with firefighters. If the arbitrator rules in favor of the union, the city could be forced to reimburse firefighters for wages that were lost while they were furloughed. If the arbitrator rules for the city, the furloughs will stand.
“If we lose it, our guys have already lost the pay,” Bronkhorst said. “It’s not really our guys who have lost in this deal, other than their personal safety at work. It’s the citizens in De Pere who would lose.”
The furloughs for firefighters also were a way to avoid laying off firefighters, which would significantly impact some members of the fire department, Delo said.
“The intent was to not have single employees have to take the whole burden of those budget reductions, and we were trying to mitigate that impact for employees for their own family-planning purposes as well,” he said.
The city maintained the same number of fire staff from 2011 to 2012, but reduced the fire department’s overtime budget by $45,430. The fire department also operates under a new policy that limits the number of standby firefighters who can be called when full-time staff are answering calls.
Bronkhorst said the cuts and furloughs negatively impact the fire department as well as the city’s residents because the department has been forced to answer fire calls with fewer firefighters than is recommended by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
- Fasting Month, PNS Working Hours Reduced, 7/16 BeritaJakarta.com
JAKARTA, Indonesia - During the fasting month of Ramadan, the working hours of governmental employees (PNS) serving under Jakarta Provincial Government are reduced for 1.5 hours in order to give the Muslim employees more time to pray. This policy is stipulated in Jakarta Governor Decree No. 1073/2012 about Working Hours Arrangement during Holy Month Ramadan 1433 H.
If usually governmental employees come in to work at 07.30 AM and go home at 4 PM, during the fasting month their working hours are from at 8 AM until 3 PM. And particularly on Fridays, their working hour ends at 3.30 PM. “This dispensation is given the same as previous years,” said Head of Jakarta Regional Employment Agency (BKD), Budhihastuti, Monday (7/16).
Meanwhile, the break time from 12-1 PM is eliminated. “There is no break time because the employees do not need time to eat. Employees who want to conduct noon prayer will be given enough time. While for Friday prayer, they are given time from 11.30 AM to 1.30 PM,” stated Budhihastuti.
The Governor Decree regarding working this working hours arrangement policy has been circulated to all Regional Work Units (SKPD) under Jakarta Provincial Government. In addition, she urged all governmental employees to maintain their discipline at work during Ramadan. “Do not be lazy and keep giving the best services to the community,” asked Budhihastuti.
According to her, the employees who caught skip work, or come to the office late, or have their work quality decrease during Ramadan will be sanctioned in accordance to the Government Regulation (PP) No. 53/2010 about Governmental Employees Discipline and the sanction is based on Jakarta Governor Regulation (Pergub) No. 38/2011 about Regional Work Benefit (TKD).
In the PP No. 53/2010, governmental employees who come late to the office, go home early or absent, will be counted cumulatively within a year. If in a year their cumulative score reaches 46 violations, they could be fired.
Then, based on Jakarta Governor Regulation No. 38/2011, governmental employees who conducted the violations said above will have their TKD being cut automatically. The cut will be 5 percent if absent and 2 percent if permission.
7/14/2012 – 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 ) -
- The State Worker: Gov. Jerry Brown orders furloughs for holdout unions, (7/12 late pickup) Sacramento Bee via sacbee.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - Somewhere former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger must be smiling.
Last week, his Democratic successor, Jerry Brown, used the authority given to him by the Legislature to quietly impose a one-day-per-month furlough on about 12,000 state workers.
[Well sportsfans, it's Province of Ontario "Rae Days" from 1992 transplanted to the world's ninth-biggest economy, the State of California in 2012, 20 years later, and some union people are just as stupid today as they were then, seemingly preferring layoffs to furloughs, downsizing to timesizing. Why don't they just drink some Guyana Koolaid or sip a nice infusion of hemlock?]
For the first time in more than three years of state furloughs, everyone under gubernatorial control is taking unpaid time off.
[BUT there are NO LAYOFFS. Hey, aren't you Californians the ones who started the whole tax-cutting Starve-the-Beast thing with Prop 2&1/2 or whatever? So if you wouldn't prefer layoffs, just SHUUUT UP about furloughs! This is timesizing instead of downsizing, and if you'd do a lot MORE of it, you'd cut the desperate flood of mutually underbidding resumes and give us back an economy worth the name!]
The cuts reduce pay and hours by nearly 5 percent, an $839 million cut in state payroll costs for the new fiscal year.
And this from a Democrat whose campaign aide in 2010 blasted Schwarzenegger's furloughs as "a temporary solution to a permanent problem."
Most of the unions negotiated these latest reductions with Brown in return for contract extensions or tighter reviews of government outsourcing.
But two unions representing state engineers and heavy equipment operators held out. So Brown, with the Legislature's blessing, issued a memo last Thursday telling departments to furlough those workers just like everyone else – even though they are under contract.
A Schwarzenegger administration would have trumpeted the memo from the top of the Capitol dome.
The actor-turned-politician often publicly scuffled with organized labor to leverage his political agenda. He spent his last two years in office up to his muscular neck in more than 40 furlough lawsuits. He won some and lost some, with thousands of employees escaping the pay cut.
Schwarzenegger always spun those fights with labor as a badge of honor, yet despite the rhetoric, the GOP governor either bargained furloughs or imposed them on workers whose deals had expired.
Brown negotiated furloughs with 19 of 21 bargaining units that represent the roughly 182,000 unionized state workers under his authority. But then his Thursday memo imposed the same thing on the two holdout groups, even though they are still under contract.
Bruce Blanning, executive director of one if those groups, Professional Engineers in California Government, said the union could sue, contending furloughs violate a provision in PECG's contract: "... the regular work week of full-time (PECG) employees shall be forty hours."
To win, the union would have to establish that language prohibits reducing employees' hours, said Sacramento-based labor attorney Tim Yeung.
"I've always argued that it means you're not going to have 50- or 60- hour workweeks," said Yeung, who once worked for what is now the state's human resources department. "But, who knows? It might work."
Although a PECG lawsuit would focus on its members, a win would have wider implications for future contracts, Yeung said, since many contain similar workweek language.
So here we go again. If the unions sue, Brown might want to call his predecessor for a furlough lawyer referral – once Schwarzenegger stops chuckling.
[Heré's the previous day's article for background -]
Jerry Brown administration issues furlough orders for holdout California state worker unions, (7/11 late pickup) blogs.sacbee.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - It's official. Gov. Jerry Brown has accomplished what his predecessor couldn't: All state workers under the governor's authority are now furloughed.
Despite Brown's long-time criticism of furloughs as a bad business practice for the state, his Department of Human Resources (the former Department of Personnel Administration) last week issued a memo to government personnel officers detailing how to execute a 4.62-percent cut in the hours and pay for employees whose unions didn't negotiate a salary reduction with Brown.
The memo applies to about 11,000 state engineers in Bargaining Unit 9, most of whom work for Caltrans, and another 900 or so heavy machinery operators in Bargaining Unit 13.
Although the state's furlough memo applies retroactively to July 1, the Brown administration is still open to a negotiated reduction, said CalHR spokeswoman Lynelle Jolley.
"We've certainly left the door open," Jolley said.
Bruce Blanning, executive director of Professional Engineers in California Government, said that the union is continuing to talk with the Brown administration. In the meantime, it has told members to comply with the furlough policy, even though PECG may later fight it in court.
"We've told them to take days off if they're told to," Blanning said. "Obey now, grieve later. Anything else would be insubordination."
Still, Blanning said, "We'd prefer to work it out."
GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger three years ago tried to furlough every state worker under his authority except Highway Patrol officers and firefighters, who were excluded from wage reductions, which started at 10 percent and then went to about 15 percent, for two reasons -- the nature of their work and the fact that they were under contract.
But soon after a judge cleared the way for furloughs to begin, pockets of the state workforce continued their regular hours and pay. Constitutional officers, including then-Attorney General Brown, said that they controlled their staffing and refused to comply. Although the courts later said that wasn't the case, the constitutionals' 16,000 employees avoided imposed furloughs.
Subsequent court decisions carved out exceptions and led to back pay for several thousand state workers. Last month, the engineers' union won a lawsuit that restored some furloughed pay for its members.
Although a Brown gubernatorial campaign aide in 2010 called furloughs "a temporary solution to a permanent problem," the Democrat has relied on them as governor nonetheless.
In the 2012-13 budget, the Legislature authorized the governor to impose furloughs equal to $839 million in payroll savings. He then negotiated work and wage reductions equal to eight hours per month for 19 of 21 bargaining units. That means everyone represented by those unions -- including constitutional officers' employees -- are taking furloughs. Those unions can't fight the policy in court.
That option remains open to the two holdout groups, however. Blanning said that the engineers' union leaders are weighing whether file a court complaint alleging the imposed furloughs violate their contract. Until now, the state has imposed furloughs only on unions without contracts or negotiated them as provisions of labor pacts.
This new round of forced furloughs includes the same reductions as the 19 units negotiated: eight unpaid hours off per month for full-time workers through June 30, 2013.
Unions that bargained the cuts received some sweeteners such as contract extensions or promises to review outsourced contracts.
Blanning has said that his members want a specific commitment to cut outsourcing before they will agree to a furlough.
"We've said from the beginning we would agree (to a furlough) if the governor stops outsourcing the work of our members," Blanning said, citing reports that indicate outside engineers cost the state twice what it pays for in-house employees to do the same jobs. A group representing private engineering firms disputes that conclusion.
Here's the *furlough memo to department personnel managers issued last Thursday.
- A look back at Jerry Brown's furlough history - Jerry Brown and California state worker furloughs: a chronology [of headlines] - How the governor came to embrace a policy he once dissed., Sacramento Bee (blog) via blogs.sacbee.com
SACRAMENTO, Calif., USA - As attorney general, Brown refused to furlough his employees in 2009 after GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered unpaid days off for state workers. Other constitutionals also refused, reasoning that they had the legal independence to handle their own staffing levels. They eventually lost their case at both the trial court and the appellate court.
December 11, 2009: The State Worker: Jerry Brown files brief in constitutional furlough appeal - sacbee.com
From a Sept. 6, 2010 Sacramento Bee story that included this line about where then-Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brown stood on furloughs: "Brown campaign spokesman Sterling Clifford said this week that 'Jerry opposes (furloughs) because they're a temporary solution to a permanent problem.' "
[Exactly right, and so is worksharing = furloughs by the hour instead of the day, and that's why we need to move forward to fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment, or budget vicissitudes, or corporate revenues, funded by a chronic-overtime tax with an exemption for OT-targeted job creation (& training whenever needed) = timesizing.]
But six weeks after his election it was clear that Brown wouldn't wave off the furlough policy he inherited from Schwarzenegger. ...
In fact, state workers in six bargaining units without contracts continued furloughs another three months after Brown took office. The furloughs ended when the unions accepted deals that included unpaid "personal leave program" days -- in other words, more furloughs.
Apr 1, 2011: The State Worker: Attorneys union members approve labor agreement
... California's state attorneys union members have overwhelmingly ratified a new contract that runs through July 1, 20...
And then the furlough/PLP chatter died down, aside from a few lawsuits that Brown and the unions settled or dropped. Several groups, including SEIU Local 1000, last year wrapped up their contractual unpaid leave and returned to full hours and pay. By April of this year, furloughs had ended for all state employees.
Then a few days before Brown issued his 2012-13 budget revision in mid-May, the administration delivered a secret message to state labor leaders. They would need to sacrifice wages once again to help close a $17 billion budget gap.
May 10, 2012: Jerry Brown tells unions to brace for California state worker pay cuts - Sacbee
Brown's May revision suggested putting state workers on a 4-day/9.5-hour workweek schedule that would give employees every Friday or Monday off. The fiscal impact over 12 months would have been roughly $839 million, equal to the savings from a one-day monthly furlough ... although the administration refused to use the "f-word" to describe it:
May 17, 2012: The State Worker: Is Gov. Jerry Brown's 4-day workweek a furlough? - Sacbee
Brown asked the unions to bargain the wage reductions and 19 or 21 state employee bargaining units did, rejecting the short workweek in favor of a new PLP plan through June 30, 2013. The governor furloughed the two holdout groups last week, which meant that for the first time since furloughs started three years ago, every state worker is losing hours and pay.
July 14, 2012: The State Worker: Gov. Jerry Brown orders furloughs for holdout unions - The Sacramento Bee
Somewhere former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger must be smiling...
[See today's first story (above) for the rest of this actually-July-12 article.]
- Sunday PS: Who's all right, Jack? (and other matters), by Dan Atkinson, Daily Mail (blog) via http://atkinsonblog.dailymail.co.uk
LONDON, England, U.K. - Britain's jobs market is a puzzle. The entirely welcome failure of unemployment during the great recession to come anywhere near the levels seen in the early Eighties was explained away as being the result of a new flexibility on behalf of employers and employees. Wage cuts and short-time working, we were told, were taking the place of mass redundancies. This played havoc with productivity, but so what? The economy exists to serve the people, not the other way round. Recalling my early days as, first, a junior reporter and then a regional-paper business correspondent, I was all in favour.
Thirty years ago [early Eighties?], employment was a sudden death affair. One minute there would be a factory employing thousands of people, the next minute nothing. It was ghastly for those affected. But [?even worse,] a corollary of this state of affairs was so-called limited upside once the recession was over. In other words, once the economy was back in positive territory, there would be no rapid jobs growth of the sort seen in the late Eighties and mid-Nineties. How could there be, given [that] a large number of under-employed people were already on the nation’s payrolls? [Jump from early Eighties to late 20aughts"?] Well, we came out of recession in the third quarter of 2009 [3Q09] and went back into recession in the fourth quarter of last year [4Q11] after a fairly ho-hum performance in the interim. And yet, as Wednesday’s labour-market data seem set to confirm, the private-sector employment scene remains buoyant. Explanations?
One would be that the economy is ticking over rather more strongly than the official growth data suggest.
Two, it is the jobs data that are at fault, giving a falsely optimistic reading. This may be true of the claimant count (the traditional measure) because eligibility for benefits is in Ministers’ hands and has been tightened up. It is harder to see how the wider, internationally-standardised, measure could be fooling us in this way.
Three, as I suggest in my column in today’s edition of The Mail on Sunday, over-manning is back. Not predominantly in its blue-collar post-war heartlands (factories, shipyards, transport depots and so forth) but in white-collar and semi-professional settings. Think of all those jobs that are technically private-sector but emanate from legislation and fear of legal action: health, safety, security, human resources and so forth. Then add on the inhibiting effect of unfair-dismissal legislation in terms of cutting payrolls and I suggest the employment puzzle is rather less puzzling. These developments may be tremendously welcome. The jobs concerned will certainly seem worthwhile to those whose rent, food and clothing bills are paid out of the earnings that come from them. But I think it is about time we at least discussed the possibility that we are carrying an excess labour force.
1) On the other hand...
...perhaps one ought to be careful about calling for society to ‘discuss’ anything, for fear of sounding like David Miliband, guest editor of this week’s edition of the New Statesman. A kindly word of advice to the former Foreign Secretary as he embarks on a career in journalism: acres of grey type full of guff about opening up the national conversation and reconnecting people to politics through the crafting of a compelling narrative, and similar wonk-speak, do not a great article make. I am reminded of Norman Mailer’s remarks about Lyndon Johnson’s literary effort My Hope for America. ‘It is impossible to disagree with a single of its humanistic desires…it is equally impossible to feel the least pleasure at the thought that these goods may yet come to be – just so bad and disheartening is the style of this book’.
2) The best publicity department in the world, ever.
On the subject of books, one month ago, on June 14, Larry Elliott and I nervously witnessed the launch into the world of our fourth book (see below), which sets out the argument that Britain has a de-developing economy and is, in fact, a candidate for banana-republic status. Whatever its eventual fate in the white waters of the book market, you cannot say the publisher’s publicity department has not done the business. Here are just a few of the events that the publicists have laid on during the past month: the four-hour M6 armed-police siege of a coach-load of innocent people, the NatWest computer ‘glitch’ depriving millions of customers of immediate access to their money, the O2 mobile-phone problems, the shambles over House of Lords reform (precisely one of the constitutional flashpoints we wrote about) and the news that private security company G4S is four thousand people short of its Olympic security detail and the Army has had to be drafted in (4,000! That is about six and half battalions, not far short of a brigade). But the Palgrave Macmillan publicity people have an eye for detail as well as for the big picture....
Going South: Why Britain Will Have A Third World Economic [sic] by 2014, by Larry Elliott and Dan Atkinson is published by Palgrave Macmillan.
7/13/2012 – 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 ) -
- Birthday Boasts, by Dean Baker, (7/12 late pickup) BusinessInsider.com
[Unlike Bob LaJeunesse ("Work Time Regulation as Full Employment Strategy"), Dean got his PhD from a conventional economics dept. so he hasn't yet realized that worksharing is the ink&paper of any list and not just another item - here he has worksharing way down in item 15. Even so, his and Kevin Hassett's intensive publicizing efforts of German worksharing (Kurz-arbeit) were the biggest reason this emergency halfway step to permanent timesizing got into the February jobs bill.]
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Okay folks, today is my birthday so I’m going to be a bit self-indulgent here. Below is list of a number of important policy areas where I have been right at a time when the bulk of the economics profession was wrong. Yes, this is old-fashioned “I told you so” stuff. It can be seen as a bit arrogant and a bit obnoxious, but you have been warned.
I also understand that being right against the economics profession is not a terribly high bar. But hey, that is the competition.
1) The NAIRU Ain’t 6.0 Percent or Anything Like It
The conventional wisdom in the economics profession in the early and mid-90s was that if the unemployment rate fell much below 6.0 percent then inflation would accelerate out of control. This view was held not only by conservatives but also by more liberal voices within the mainstream like former Federal Reserve Board governors Alan Blinder and Janet Yellen.
Even Paul Krugman got this one wrong, comparing the economists who questioned the NAIRU theory to the scientists who questioned the existence of a hole in the ozone layer.
I argued the case against the NAIRU in Chapter 16 of Globalization and Progressive Economic Policy. The book was published in 1998, but the first draft was in early 1996 when those of us who questioned the 6.0 percent NAIRU could still bank on a heavy dose of ridicule. For those who need reminding, the unemployment rate fell below 5.0 percent in 1997 and eventually hit 4.0 percent as a year-round average in 2000. There was virtually no uptick in inflation through this period, until a rise in commodity prices in 2000 finally began sending the rate of inflation somewhat higher.
2) The Consumer Price Index Does NOT Substantially Overstate Inflation
Another big craze of the mid-90s was the claim that the consumer price index (CPI) substantially overstates the true rate of inflation. This sentiment peaked with the verdict of the Boskin Commission, five eminent economists who were appointed by the Senate Finance Committee to evaluate the accuracy of the CPI. In December of 1996 they came out with their report claiming that the CPI overstated the true rate of inflation by 1.1 percentage point. This was intended to be used as a rationale to reduce the size of the annual cost of living adjustment to Social Security. (Note that the cut is cumulative: after ten years it is roughly 11 percent, after 20 years it is roughly 22 percent.) It also would have changed the indexation of tax brackets in a way that would have led to higher tax rates for most people. Almost no economists were prepared to publicly challenge the Boskin Commission while many were happy to jump on the bandwagon.
Fortunately some important members of Congress, notably then minority leader Richard Gephardt, refused to go along. I argued the case on the other side in my book Getting Prices Right, claiming that the evidence for the commission’s claims was limited.
These days we don’t hear economists yelling much about the overstated CPI. There were some changes made to the index, but by the commission’s own estimate these changes did not reduce the CPI by more than 0.2-0.3 percentage points, meaning most of their alleged overstatement should still be there. While there are still complaints about upper level substitution bias, which is estimated at 0.2-0.3 percentage points, even if this is corrected, the Boskin Commission will have gotten at most 0.6 percentage points of their 1.1 percentage points.
3) The Economy in the late 1990s Was Driven by a Stock Bubble and Its Collapse Would be Bad News
Back in the mid-90s it should have been clear to economists that the economy was being driven by a stock bubble. Savings rates fell to what were at the time post-war lows. This was easily explained by the sharp increase in price to earnings ratios above long-term trends. Stockholders were spending based on the additional wealth created by this extraordinary run-up in stock prices. Toward the end of the decade, there was also somewhat of an investment boom as well as start-ups of even hare-brained tech companies were able to raise hundreds of millions or billions of dollars on the market.
I first wrote about the impact of the stock market on the economy in a piece for The American Prospect in 1998, Bull Market Keynesianism. Contrary to the view held by Alan Greenspan and others, I did not think that picking up the pieces from the crash would be a simple matter. Ben Bernanke seemed to confirm that assessment in a talk at the American Economic Association convention in January of 2004 in which he explained why it was necessary for the Fed to continue to keep the federal funds rate at 1.0 percent more than two years after the recession had officially ended.
4) Social Security Is Not in Crisis
Back in the late 1990s everyone who was anyone knew that Social Security was in crisis. This wasn’t just Republicans who wanted to privatize the program, this also applied to Democrats. Some folks may recall President Clinton’s 1998 State of the Union Address in which he called on Congress to “save Social Security first.”
Of course you can only save a program if it is in need of saving. No talks about saving the Defense Department. At the time the conventional wisdom was that you had to acknowledge that Social Security was in a crisis if you expect anyone to take you seriously. I recall being told this in almost those exact words by a well-respected Democratic consultant back in 1998.
I decided to go the other route. In 1999 I wrote "Social Security: The Phony Crisis" together with Mark Weisbrot. Today, most people recognize the crisis mongers as politically motivated hacks trying to advance their agenda with fear tactics. Our book alone did not bring about this sea change, but it certainly helped. And we were definitely ahead of the pack.
5) The Stock Market Will Not Save Social Security When the Price-to-Earnings Ratio (PE) is 30
Back in the late 1990s economists across the political spectrum became obsessed with the idea that the stock market would provide endless money for Social Security. The conservatives wanted to put Social Security money in the stock market through individual accounts. More liberal economists, like those in the Clinton administration, wanted to take advantage of high returns in the stock market by investing a portion of the trust fund there. Both assumed 7.0 percent real returns.
I argued that this was not possible given the price-to-earnings ratios in the stock market at the time and the projected growth rate of profits. My first piece on this topic was a 1997 paper for the Century Foundation. Unfortunately, most economists were unfamiliar with arithmetic, so I had to keep pounding on this point for most of the next decade.
In 2005 I developed the “no economist left behind test,” which challenged economists to come with two numbers, one for capital gains and one for dividend yields, that would add to the 7.0 percent average return they were assuming for stocks. Paul Krugman subsequently picked this up in one of his columns, making it more difficult for the privatizers to avoid the challenge. At that point, the honest conservatives acknowledged that the 7.0 percent return assumption was impossible unless the stock market first plunged so that PEs returned to their historic average of around 14. Less honest conservatives insisted that they need not be bound by the rules of arithmetic.
6) There is a Housing Bubble and When it Bursts it Will be Bad News
My first piece warning about the housing bubble was in early August of 2002. At that time nationwide inflation-adjusted house prices were more than 30 percent above the trend level that I could identify going back to the early 1950s using government data. (Robert Shiller later constructed a data set that went back to the 1890s showing that the nationwide trend of house prices tracking inflation went back a century.)
Over the next five years we did everything we could to try to call attention to the housing bubble and warn that its collapse would throw the economy into a recession and likely lead to a financial crisis. CEPR even sponsored an essay contest offering $1,000 for the best essay explaining why we did not have a housing bubble. (David Cay Johnston was good enough to give us two short articles in the NYT to help publicize the contest.) But Alan Greenspan said there was no bubble.
7) The Obama Stimulus Was Inadequate
After the bubble burst and the recession set in, I did everything I could to argue for the biggest possible stimulus. Immediately after the Obama stimulus was proposed I argued that the stimulus was too small and that we should look to either make the first one bigger or to set the groundwork for further stimulus later. Unfortunately President Obama celebrated the “green shoots of recovery” and told the country that it was time to pivot the focus to deficit reduction.
8) The Major Cause of the Downturn Was the Collapse of the Housing Bubble, not the Financial Crisis
There was and is enormous confusion about the nature of the downturn. I argued early and often that the main problem was the loss of close to $1.4 trillion in demand due to the collapse of an $8 trillion housing bubble and a somewhat smaller bubble in non–residential real estate. The financial crisis was very much secondary and after the first months of 2009, not a major issue in the downturn.
The arithmetic on this one is straightforward. We lost around $600 billion in annual construction demand as the building boom collapsed and an enormous glut of housing pushed construction to its lowest levels since the early 60s. We lost around $500 billion in annual consumption as a result of the loss of $8 trillion in housing wealth. This is the well-known housing wealth effect going in reverse. If homeowners spend 6 cents each year for every additional dollar of housing wealth, then we would expect annual consumption to fall by $480 billion as a result of the crash.
There was a collapse of a bubble in non-residential real estate which cost close to $150 billion in construction spending in the non-residential sector. And, the loss of tax revenue due to the economic collapse led to cutbacks at the state and local level of around $100-$150 billion.
The financial crisis argument could be easily dismissed based on several simple pieces of evidence. First, in the case of homebuyers, we could look at the ratio of Mortgage Bankers Association mortgage application index to sales. There was little change. If otherwise qualified buyers could not get mortgages then we should be expecting people to make 2-3 applications just to get a single mortgage. And, some people may make multiple applications and still not get a mortgage. There was no evidence that this was happening.
Certainly many people who got mortgages in the bubble years were not getting mortgages in 2009-2012, but this is what we would expect. While there were no doubt some people who could have gotten mortgages in the pre-bubble years who did not get them in the post-bubble period, this was not a major factor in the housing market.
A second piece of evidence on this issue is the very low interest rates for corporate debt. Unlike Japan, large and even mid-sized companies can raise money directly in financial markets and therefore are not dependent on banks for financing. The low interest rates on corporate debt mean that these companies are not impeded in their expansion plans by the problems in the financial system. Furthermore, if their smaller bank-dependent competitors are facing credit squeezes, then the larger companies should be moving aggressively to claim market share. There is no evidence that they are engaging in this sort of behavior as firms of all sizes have cut back expansion plans.
Finally, small businesses themselves do not claim that access to credit is a problem. The National Federation of Independent Businesses has been surveying its members on the major problems they face for more than a quarter century. Only 3-4 percent of its members list the availability or cost of finance as a serious problem.
9) We Don’t Have to Worry about Deflation Because Wages Are Sticky
At the start of the downturn there were numerous accounts that raised the prospect of spiraling deflation. I was dismissive of these concerns for several reasons. First, most of the evidence was simply falling commodity prices. The drop in commodity prices was not going to continue and would likely be reversed. Furthermore this deflation would not likely spread to core prices in any case, since wages tend to be sticky.
10) Low Inflation Is as Bad as Deflation
The fact that we didn’t see deflation should have provided little solace. The problem is that inflation was lower than we want for the simple reason that the nominal interest rate cannot go negative. We wanted a large negative real interest, but that is not possible when inflation is very low.
There is nothing magical about zero as an inflation rate. The drop in the inflation rate from 1.5 percent to 0.5 percent is every bit as bad as the drop from positive 0.5 percent to negative 0.5 percent. I made this point repeatedly. Krugman made this same point in a blogpost last year.
The reason that this mattered is that many policy types were celebrating because we didn’t have deflation. They considered this a great victory and were willing to hand a crown to Ben Bernanke for his heroic work.
By my argument this is a rather hollow victory. It is certainly good that prices did not actually fall, but the real problem is that the real interest rate is still higher than we would want it to be given the severity of the downturn. The obsession with deflation led us to focus on the wrong issue.
11) A Double Dip Recession Was Not a Serious Concern in the Summer of 2011
In the summer of 2011 many doomsayers began raising concerns about a double dip. In fact, the economy was still growing at a modest 2.0 -3.0 percent rate. The reason for the slowdown was the winding down of the stimulus at the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011. I wrote several pieces deriding the double-dipsters.
The reason why it was important to beat back the double dipsters is that the talk of a double-dip recession created an absurd lowering of expectations. When people think that a recession is a reasonable possibility then even 2.0-3.0 percent growth looks good. This is exactly what happened in the fall of 2011. We saw modest growth in the second half of the year which analysts touted as though it was some sort of boom.
We are coming off a severe downturn that has left the economy with about 10 million fewer jobs than our trend level. GDP is about 6 percent lower than trend. It will take us a decade or more to make up this shortfall with growth between 2.0-3.0 percent. After prior step recessions we had years of 6.0-8.0 percent growth. That is what we should be looking for. The modest growth in the fall of 2011 was a disappointment; however thanks to the nonsense spewed by the double-dipsters, it was treated as good news.
12) The Weather is Fickle, the Economy Isn’t
Economists can’t seem to avoid getting misled by the weather. Generally our data are seasonally adjusted, but these adjustments are designed to take account of normal seasonal patterns. They do not pick up the effects of unusually good or unusually bad weather.
While anyone who does economic analysis for a living should know this, we routinely get accounts brimming with optimism when good weather leads to better than normal economic numbers and then overflowing with pessimism when more normal conditions bring the economy back down to earth.
I warned that weather was playing a large role in the good winter numbers.
This is important for the same reason it was important to shoot at the double-dipsters. People lose sight of the real state of the economy and get caught up in short-term fluctuations that have little bearing on the direction of the economy or appropriate policy.
13) Labor Market Protections Don’t Cause High Unemployment
This refers to work that I did with three friends, David Howell at the New School, Andrew Glyn at Oxford (who died far too young in 2007), and John Schmitt at CEPR. Back in the late 90s and early part of the last decade, it was the absolute gospel in the economics profession that the relatively high unemployment in Europe at the time was attributable to its generous welfare state. This view held that high unionization rates, generous unemployment benefits, and employment protection legislation slowed growth and hiring, leading to the higher unemployment rates that Europe had at the time, compared with the United States. The recommendation of economists, as expressed explicitly in the OECD’s 1994 Jobs Study was to adopt U.S. style labor market regulation with minimal protection for workers.
We carefully analyzed the studies that supposedly supported this view. It turned out that their results were all over the place. Clearly the goal was to get a significant coefficient with the right sign and then declare victory.
This is not a serious basis for designing policy. It is important to know not only the effects of policy, but also the size of the effects. Suppose that a 20 percent increase in unemployment benefits will raise unemployment by 0.2 percentage points. Would that be a price that might be worth paying in order to ensure that unemployed workers had a decent standard of living? However, such an increase in benefits might not look like such a good idea if the increase in unemployment was 2 percentage points. The research at the time provided no basis for determining the size of such trade-offs, insofar as they existed.
We wrote a series of papers demonstrating that the results of prior work were not robust and that it was easy to design plausible specifications in which most labor market protections did not lead to higher unemployment.
To its great credit, the OECD took our criticisms seriously. They followed up on our work and reached a similar conclusion. There was no relationship between unionization rates and unemployment, or employment protection and unemployment. They published an update to their jobs study in 2006 in which they explicitly touted the Nordic model for achieving high rates of growth and low unemployment, while at the same time provid[ing] strong protections for workers.
14) Educating the World Bank on NAFTA
If the OECD gets high marks for its integrity in seriously addressing the questions we raised about the work linking welfare state institutions to high unemployment, the World Bank gets very low marks for what can only be a propagandistic approach to NAFTA. In 2004 the World Bank put out a book on the tenth anniversary of NAFTA focusing on its impact in Mexico. One of the items in the book was a chapter that touted the convergence of per-capita GDP in the United States and Mexico in the years since the agreement took effect.
We knew this was wrong since Mexico had experienced very weak growth in the decade following NAFTA. There was no way that it had closed the income gap with the United States in this period. We analyzed their model (David Rosnick did most of the work) and found they had committed a simple mistake. They had used an exchange-rate measure of GDP. As a result, their measure of the ratios of per-capita income tracked the ratios of real exchange rates almost exactly.
Unfortunately the World Bank refused to acknowledge our criticisms even though we had a direct exchange with them on the topic at a conference arranged by International Trade Union Confederation. It seems that a lot of people in positions of power have staked their egos, and perhaps more, on NAFTA being a successful growth policy for Mexico. No matter how much the evidence indicates otherwise, they are determined to hold that position. And we are determined to keep showing that they are not being honest.
15) Work Sharing Is An Effective Way to Bring Down Unemployment
There are two basic ways to reduce unemployment in the face of a sharp falloff in demand like the one we saw in 2008. One is to boost demand, with the most obvious route being government stimulus. The other route is to redistribute work so that more people are employed, with each working fewer hours. Stimulus is great if it is politically feasible and there are useful venues for spending. However, redistributing work can provide a useful alternative route. I argued early on for the benefits of going this [route].
There are several positive features about the work sharing route. First, the cost is limited since for the most part it simply involves taking payments that would have gone to unemployed workers and turning them into subsidies for workers who are putting in fewer than their normal hours. If the politics are such that large-scale stimulus is not feasible, then many more jobs per dollar can be created through work-sharing. I argued early on for the benefits of going the work-sharing route.
Work sharing also has the benefit that it can give workers more time to spend with their families. This can alleviate the time pressures that many families experience, especially those with young children. The U.S. stands out from other countries in not guaranteeing workers any paid time off for vacations, parental leave, or sick days. (John Schmitt and Rebecca Ray have written several papers on this topic). Also, it is likely that if workers take some of the benefits of productivity growth (insofar as they get them) in leisure rather than higher income, there is good reason to believe that it will result in lower greenhouse gas emissions.
The great economic success story in this downturn is Germany. While its GDP growth has not been very much better than growth in the United States, its unemployment rate has fallen by 2.0 percentage points, while the unemployment rate in the U.S. has risen by 3.7 percentage points. Germany has gotten its unemployment rate down by encouraging employers to reduce hours rather than lay off workers.
We have helped to get work sharing on the map here in part in collaboration with Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute. Due to the fact that Republicans were willing to go along, there was a provision attached to the bill that extended the payroll taxcut that calls for the federal government to pick up the tax for state short-work programs over the next two years. (Twenty-three states have these programs as part of their unemployment insurance system, including large states like California and New York.)
[And Michigan and Ohio are getting them, bringing the total up to 50% of the states.]
16) Greece Should Consider Leaving the Euro
This one is more my colleague Mark Weisbrot’s doing than mine, but I will take a bit of credit since we did collaborate some in developing the argument. Mark first raised the possibility that Greece and other debt-burdened countries should consider leaving the euro back in March of 2010. That suggestion received a healthy dose of ridicule and contempt from knowledgeable economists and policy people everywhere back then. The situation is a but different now.
17) Argentina Is Not a Spendthrift Nation
According to informed sources, Argentine was at one time known as “the ‘A’ Word” in the halls of the I.M.F. After all, it had the gall to stand up to the I.M.F. and refuse to accept continued austerity. Instead, it defaulted on its debt and broke the link between its currency and the dollar. Even worse, it managed to bounce back from the resulting economic turmoil and maintain solid growth for six full years until the world economic crisis led to a recession in 2009.
We showed that the I.M.F.’s morality tales about Argentina were not true. Argentina went from being an I.M.F. poster boy in the mid-90s to a reckless spendthrift country by the end of the decade. However its primary budget deficit had not changed, the cause of the increase in the budget deficit was higher interest rates in the United States.
The I.M.F. also seemed to have a problem with growth forecasts for Argentina. Until the default at the end of 2001, its growth projections for Argentina were consistently higher than actual growth. After the default, the I.M.F.’s growth projections for Argentina were consistently lower than actual growth.
[Ergo the IMFers and the World Bank-ers are indeed lying bastards serving as mere proppedupganders for the stupidest of U.S. policy wonks.]
18) We Were Never at Risk of a Second Great Depression
[This assumes that we are not in a simple up-arc in an evermore steeply spiraling Second Great Depression. We invite CEPR to project where we would be if we had implemented full employment (via fluctuating adjustment of the workweek) since 1970 instead of the route we actually took = meandering downsizing, and switch to a comparative definition of depression.]
It is common for knowledgeable policy types to tell us that we narrowly averted a second Great Depression following the collapse of Lehman in the fall of 2008. The heroes in this story are usually Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Henry Paulson. They pushed through the TARP and other measures to shore up the financial system as it was teetering on the brink of collapse. The story goes that without these measures the whole financial system would have collapsed and that would have condemned us to a decade of double-digit unemployment; just like Great Depression I.
The problem with this story is that we now know how to recover from a financial collapse. The evidence here is provided to us by Argentina. Argentina did suffer a full-fledged financial collapse in December 2001. People could not get money out of their banks. It was not a pretty story. However the economy did stabilize over the next quarter and by the summer it was growing rapidly. It had made up all the lost ground from the collapse by the middle of the next year.
While our economic policymakers may not be as competent as Argentina’s crew, even if it took them twice as long to get things in order, we would still only be looking at a downturn lasting 3 years. That probably would not qualify as a second Great Depression in most people’s views.
[unless we count welfare,disability,incarceration,homelessness&self"employment" as unemployment as we should, and compare ourselves with where we should be if all this was solid shorter-hours employment and consumer-spending funding.]
This matters because if the actions of the Bush-Obama administrations were necessary to save us from a second Great Depression, then we really should be grateful. After all, this would be a pretty awful story for tens of millions of people, scarring current generations of workers with prolonged periods of joblessness as well as hurting their children through the resulting family instability.
[Uh, Dean, that's exactly what we've got...]
However if a second Great Depression was never in the cards, then we have less cause for gratitude.
[Huh? A second Great Depression has been with us and deepening since the babyboomers grew up and replaced the labor surplus of the first Great Depression in the early 1990s. If our indexes aren't showing us that (and they aren't), they're as useful - for happytalkin' cheerleadin' proppedupganders - as the IMF and the World Bank.]
We have seen policies that have left the financial sector largely in tack [=intact - where's the proofreader?!]. The too-big-to-fail banks are even bigger. The bonuses are every bit as large and none of the honchos have been convicted or even tried for illegal actions associated with marketed, packaging and reselling of fraudulent mortgages. Count me among the ingrates.
[19...reset] Things I Will Be Right About
Perhaps in 5 or 10 years these items will appear on an updated list of birthday boast.
1) Patents Are An Incredibly Inefficient Way to Finance the Development of Prescription Drugs
Read the NYT for the next month. There will be a scandal about payments for drugs, mis-marketing drugs, or concealing evidence that reflects negatively on a pharmaceutical company’s drug. ("Insurers Pay Big Markups as Doctors Dispense Drugs" is this week’s mini-scandal.)
2) We Will Need Alternatives to the Copyright Mechanisms in Order to Finance Creative Work
Nominal spending on recorded music has fallen by more than 50 percent between 1999 and 2011. This trend is going to continue with recorded music and spread to books and movies in the years ahead as the speed of the Internet and spread of cheap portable devices make it ever easier to transfer material whether or not it is protected by copyright. The industry groups want to respond with tighter regulation and harsher punishments for copyright infringers or abettors, like the Stop On-Line Piracy Act.
This route is doomed to failure. The more realistic path is developing alternatives to copyright support for producing creative work. One day creative workers may be sufficiently creative to realize this fact.
3) Medical Trade Will Help to Keep Down Health Care Costs in the U.S. If We Don’t Fix the Health Care System
The gap between health care costs in the United States and other countries with comparable levels of care is huge, with the U.S. paying more than twice as much per person than people in other wealthy countries. This gap is projected to grow rapidly in the decades ahead.
If it turns out that the political structure in the U.S. is so corrupt that we cannot take steps to contain this growth, then people will simply go elsewhere for care. According to the NYT, 150,000 patients went to just one city in Mexico (Mexicali) last year. Procedures that cost $200,000 in the United States can be performed in high-quality facilities with well-trained doctors for one-tenth this price in India and Thailand. If this gap grows further, it will be impossible for the protectionists in Congress and the White House to keep patients from going elsewhere for their medical care. This is good.
[Except with continuing downsizing, fewer and fewer people will be able to afford the trip to cheaper healthcare.]
4) Countries Can Finance Much of the Debt Issued in the Downturn by Central Bank's Holding Assets
The Federal Reserve Board has refunded roughly $80 billion in each of the last two years to the Treasury. This is interest that it earns on the Treasury bonds and mortgage backed securities that it holds. While the Congressional Budget Office’s budget projections show the Fed dumping these assets in the next few years, there is no reason that the Fed cannot continue to hold large amounts of assets and refund the interest to the Treasury. This would substantially reduce any interest burden associated with the borrowing during the downturn.
The excess reserves in the system would undoubtedly be inflationary at some future point, assuming the economy gets back to full employment, or something like it. However, this can be addressed by raising reserve requirements across the array of accounts over which the fed has direct or indirect control. This would have the same effect as pulling reserves out of the system by selling off the assets held by the Fed.
The impact of going this route could be substantial. If the Fed continued to refund the Treasury $80 billion each year in interest over the next decade, this would come to $800 billion in deficit reduction, without even counting the compounded interest from having lower deficits each year. There aren’t many better proposals for lowering the deficit over the decade by this amount.
5) Financial Speculation Taxes Will Make the Financial System More Efficient
The United States and many other wealthy countries suffer from a bloated financial sector. The narrow investment banking and security and commodities trading sector has quintipled as a share of the economy since the 1970s.
[from ___? to ___?]
Finance is an intermediate good, like trucking. Just as we need trucking to move goods from point A to point B, we need the financial sector to steer money from lenders to borrowers. Just as an efficient trucking sector is a small trucking sector, an efficient financial sector is a small financial sector. We don't have a small financial sector.
A modest tax on financial transactions like buying and selling stock, option[s], credit default swaps and other derivative instruments can raise more than $1.5 trillion over the next decade. (The small 0.03 percent tax proposed by Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Peter DeFazio was scored by the Joint Tax Committee as raising more than $350 billion over its first nine years of existance.)
Perhaps more importantly, by reducing the waste in the financial sector (think of a completely worthless government bureaucracy), a speculation tax can provide a boost to growth. Recent research from the Bank of International Settlements found that a large financial sector impedes growth. The mechanism appears to be that it pulls away capital from rapidly growing sectors that are dependent on external financing (as opposed to retained earnings) to support their growth. It also pulls away highly skilled people who would otherwise be employed in sectors that have large amounts of research and development spending.
It also appears that downsizing the financial sector might be an important mechanism for reducing inequality. David Rosnick's recent analysis of the OECD's report on inequality found that the financial sector share of compensation in GDP could explain much of the rise in the OECD's measure of inequality over the period they examined.
In short, financial speculation taxes sound like a way to collect government revenue, increase growth, and reduce inequality. In other words, a total political non-starter in Washington.
- German trade union functions as management consultant at BMW, by Ernst Wolff, World Socialist Web Site via wsws.org
MUNICH, Germany - In early July BMW management and the company works council suddenly announced that the automaker plans to halve its number of temporary workers in Germany from the current level of 12,000 to 6,000. Thousands of workers could soon expect a permanent position, went the announcement, and the proportion of temporary workers in the workforce would fall from the current 17 percent to between 8 and 10 percent.
The basis for such a move is a “new concept” developed by the works council and BMW management after months of consultation. It has yet to be approved by the executive, but agreement in the coming weeks is regarded as highly likely. Employees are to be informed of the proposal at a company meeting in Munich on July 18.
The message spread through the media like wildfire. “BMW is undertaking a rethink”, was the headline in the Münchner Merkur. “BMW turns its back on temporary work”, wrote Business Week, while the Managermagazin predicted: “The importance of temporary work is declining”.
BMW’s works council head Manfred Schoch was downright euphoric in Managermagazin. “In six months you will see that we have created a great model”. The Bavarian IG Metall union leader Jürgen Wechsler went further and announced to the press in Munich that wage dumping based on temporary work agencies would cease due to “a return to relying on one’s own personnel.”
A closer look at the agreements reveals a very different picture.
The employment of the 6,000 temporary workers at BMW will continue for an indefinite period of time. Although they are to receive the same basic wage as their permanent colleagues, they have no entitlement to the company profit-sharing scheme (worth €7,000-€8,000 per year), no right to a company pension plan or favourable terms for a company car and have no protection against dismissal. In addition, the employment of additional temporary workers can be continued by the company until the year 2018. The only condition is that union stewards at the affected plants agree to the plan.
The following conditions have been laid down for the temporary workers allocated future permanent posts: they are to accumulate so-called work time accounts of up to 300 work hours. With a slump in demand, production will be cut back by plant holidays, four-day weeks, reduced hours or free time with corresponding pay reductions.
For their part, the retained temporary workers are expected to remain at the production line when other full-time employees take a break or leave. Based on a half-hour break for two shifts, the company is able to gain a total of an extra five hours per week, sufficient in a BMW plant to produce an extra additional 15,000 units per year. Through replacing permanent workers during holiday periods, the proportion of temporary contract workers can then be increased to more than 30 percent. This represents a doubling of the existing number of contract workers. So much for the talk of halving their numbers!
No matter how you twist and turn the details that have become public from the talks between management and the works councils, they reveal that the “new concept” has nothing to do with any improvement of working conditions, but rather is intended to increase operational efficiency at the expense of workers.
This is acknowledged in a brazen fashion by the head of the joint works council Manfred Schoch speaking to Managermagazin. “Both sides, union and company had the same goal from the beginning”, he says. “We wanted to find a model with which we can survive long-term severe crises, without having to reduce staff on a large scale and going deeply into red.”
By “we” he means the united front of trade union, works council and management, which, behind closed doors, has evolved over the past few months into a close-knit community. Managermagazin writes: “Because the model is due to last until 2018, Schoch had to be initiated into the corporate strategy. Four departments—corporate planning, research and development, human resources and controlling—provided data on models and their life spans, on possible economic crises and the human resource requirements of individual works. For weeks, managers and the works councils pored over the records.”
This description sums up the role of the union. Schoch sits at a table with management and considers how the profits of the BMW group can be increased at the expense of the workforce. To this end, he is prepared to accept a “temporary increase in the number of temporary workers”, as well as the slashing of “several hundred jobs by the end of 2018” and estimates that the company could reduce personnel costs by a total of €1.4 billion over the next six years by increasing “in-house flexibility.”
Schoch goes even further. “I do not totally reject temporary employment. It is necessary to ensure that the group can respond flexibly to crises and adjust production without excessive costs under conditions of reduced demand”, he says. When asked how even further savings can be made at BMW, he goes one better and proposes: We “could sacrifice a proportion of the holiday and free shifts. A day’s holiday a year per month amounts to twelve days less production in a year. We would use a significant portion of our holidays to save jobs. Second, there also remains the most important instrument used in the last crisis. Short-time working.”
[used to save jobs? If so, the bitter anger of this socialist writer seems a bit out of place -]
This clear statement should serve as a warning and clearly reveals the double game the German unions and works councils are preparing to play in the next crisis. While they hypocritically claim to represent the interests of employees and publicly refer to the difficult economic situation, behind closed doors they operate as management consultants ready at any given time to impose temporary or short-time working, layoffs, pay and vacation cuts against staff.
[Why has this angry socialist slipped "layoffs" into the list when all the other items are layoff-avoidance instruments? And what's the matter with workers being included in corporate decision-making? Some socialists let their anger blind them to ever seeing places where they're getting some of what they want. Do you guys want to do your anger or be effective? Pick one. They are mutually exclusive.]
7/12/2012 – 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 ) -
- Unemployment Insurance expanded to include Work Sharing, Legal Aid Advancing Justice Initiative via advancing-justice.blogspot.ca
LANSING, Mich., USA - Governor Snyder has signed a work-sharing bill that gives qualifying employers an important tool for avoiding layoffs. Rather than laying off some employees entirely, the employer reduces hours for a group of employees for a specified length of time and Unemployment Insurance benefits make up part of the employees’ lost wages. This will go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, and has a five-year sunset.
The League has published a fact sheet, Work Sharing: A Win-Win Solution for Workers and Employers that explains the new policy. As noted in the fact sheet, workers benefit from work sharing because they will have less disruption in their household income than if they are laid off. Employers benefit from work sharing because it enables them to keep their skilled workers rather than having to search for, hire and train new workers when business improves. Overall, Michigan benefits when there are fewer layoffs and less risk of some workers becoming long-term unemployed.
While this is a positive development, there still is work to be done. As a League report explained last November, Michigan’s UI program still falls short in many ways, most notably in that it only provides benefits for a maximum of 20 weeks. The new work-sharing program will not be able to help those who are laid off entirely and are unable to find work after 20 weeks of job search. But it may prevent some others from getting into that situation and is definitely a good step for Michigan.
Workers benefit from work sharing because they will have less disruption in their household income than if they were laid off. While UI benefits never replace 100% of lost wages, the wage loss is lower for workers with reduced payroll hours than for those with no payroll hours at all. For some workers, it will mean not getting laid off; for others, it will mean “sharing the sacrifice” through a reduced income so that their co-workers will not be laid off. Workers also benefit because they can continue receiving health insurance and other benefits without disruption (this is a requirement of the law). Participating in work sharing does not count against a worker’s available weeks of Unemployment Insurance, nor is the employee required to participate in job search activities (since it is expected that the employee will in the future be working full time again for the employer).
Employers benefit from work sharing because it enables them to keep their skilled workers rather than having to search for, hire and train new workers when business improves. This reduces unpredictability, administrative costs and training costs. It can also help maintain positive morale in the workplace, as workers are likely to prefer spreading the sacrifice around rather than fearing the loss of their jobs entirely.
- France: Social Conference outlines massive attacks on the working class, by Antoine Lerougetel, World Socialist Web Site via wsws.org
PARIS, France - The “‘Great Social Conference”’ convened by the Socialist Party (PS) government of President François Hollande took place on July 9 and 10 in Paris. It brought together the 300 officials representing the state, the trade unions, and employers’ associations to draw up plans for reducing France’s debt and increasing the profitability and competitiveness of French business.
As France and Europe sink ever deeper into economic depression, these forces are uniting to agree upon deep attacks on the working class.
In his opening speech to the congress, Hollande stressed that he is considering obtaining the union bureaucracy’s approval for cuts as “‘obligatory,”’ noting: “‘It would be suitable to envisage today obligatory consultations before public decisions. No law in the economic and social domain will be able to be passed in parliament without a phase of dialogue and consultation,”’ aiming to establish a “‘positive compromise”’ between the unions and the bosses.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault’s closing speech detailed the results of this anti-worker gathering.
Increases in the legal minimum wage (SMIC) will cease to be calculated based on price inflation, but rather on national economic growth. Under conditions of stagnant economic growth and rising price inflation, this would imply over the years a deep decline in workers’ living standards. It has been calculated that if this method had been applied over the past 20 years—even though these were not all years of deep economic crisis—the monthly minimum wage would be €200 (US$240) lower.
Labor costs are to be slashed by transferring the financing of social security from the employers onto the backs of the workers, through a Generalised Social Contribution (CSG) tax. This proposal entails confiscating tens of billions of euros from the working class—under conditions where workers’ contributions to social security represent 22.6 percent of GDP in France, as against the European average of 17.5 percent.
According to Le Monde, “‘The ‘facilitator’ of the round table on industrial renewal, the former CEO of [defense contractor] EADS, Louis Gallois, appealed this weekend at the economic discussions in Aix-en-Provence, for a massive ‘shock proposal’ of between €30 and €50 billion, by transferring social security contributions to the CSG.”’
This tax, designed to cheapen labour to enhance businesses’ profitability and competitiveness and attract investment, is cynically justified as a means of reducing unemployment. However, it will fall most harshly on low-paid workers and pensioners.
Le Monde praised the unions for agreeing to the cuts and reducing labor costs in France: “‘This is the first time in France that the social partners [the unions]...have admitted that there is a labour cost problem. A real revolution. The right should applaud with both hands.”’
In his opening speech to the conference, Hollande cynically tried to present the cuts as a measure to save jobs: “‘Everything must be discussed to reach at the highest level of employment in our country.”’
In the meantime, Hollande is doing nothing to halt a wave of plant closures; the unemployment rate has just topped 10 percent, and 22.5 percent for workers aged15 to 24. Some 84 plant closures involving 60,000 workers are imminent, including PSA, Valeo, Honeywell, Wonderbra, Air France, and several banks.
Significantly, those measures that Ayrault did propose involved deepening attacks on workers’ wages and conditions. Ayrault promised that measures would be taken to improve short-time working arrangements, whereby employers keep workers on the books with some government contributions to their lost wages, a scheme that avoids redundancy payouts.
French business figures have stressed that they would like to model France’s short-time work system on Germany’s Kurzarbeit measures, which allow business to more rapidly cut workers’ pay in response to economic slowdowns.
[= Another example of old-style socialists' lack of strategic thinking. FIRST, you turn yourself from a surplus commodity into a scarce commodity with worksharing and timesizing. THEN, when you have market-enforced power at the bargaining table, you make wage&benefit demands.]
French union leaders enthusiastically backed the PS government’s cuts. Bernard Thibault, leader of the Communist Party-dominated General Confederation of Labour (CGT), was pleased with the PS’s “‘social method”’, while François Chérèque of the PS-aligned CFDT (French Democratic Confederation of Labour) lauded the consultation as “‘a good thing”’.
Jean-Claude Mailly of FO (Workers Force) said after the conference: “‘There’ll be a lot of work to do but the social dialogue has calmed down so we are largely satisfied this evening.”’
The line-up of the PS government and the union bureaucracy behind the cuts are a devastating exposure of the anti-working class character of France’s petty-bourgeois pseudo-left parties, which are politically complicit in these measures.
LO (Workers Struggle), the New Anti-capitalist Party, and the Left Party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon supported Hollande in the second round of the presidential elections. They have consistently sought to maintain the influence of the unions, particularly the CGT, over the struggles of the working class.
7/11/2012 – 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 ) -
- Thom Hartmann: Would Cutting the Work Week put Everyone Back to Work? DemocraticUnderground.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Even though Americans are some of the most overworked people in the world - our long hours at work are doing very little to help the economy recover. So - could following the European model by cutting back on the work week actually help our economy - and put all unemployed Americans back to work? According to a recent CBO report - President Obama's 2009 stimulus package saved up to 3 million jobs - preventing an all out economic catastrophe. Unfortunately - ever since then - Republicans have blocked every single stimulus measure - radically slowing down our nation's economic recovery. Republicans are even trying to make things worse by pushing for austerity and spending cuts - which cuts jobs - and Republican governors have laid off more than 600,000 public workers around the nation. The result is persistently high unemployment, and Americans of all strips are calling for more "job creation." But here's the thing - we all have it all wrong! It's not jobs we should be talking about - it's hours on the job.
Look at the average number of hours worked by each of the OECD nations: You'll notice at the top of the list is Greece - where workers on average put in more than 2,000 hours a year on the job. That dispels that myth that the Greeks are in economic trouble because they're lazy - they actually work far more hours than the rest of Europe. But also near the top of the list is the United States - working nearly 1800 hours a year on average. Now - toward the bottom of the list - you'll notice Germany and France - places where workers put in far fewer hours on the job each year. In Germany - the average worker is on the job 20 percent fewer hours than in the United States - they work one fifth as many hours as Americans! That comes to 400 more hours of time off for a German worker every year compared to a worker here in the United States. Now - some might argue that's a bad thing. That Germany isn't working as hard as the United States - and should be suffering economically for it. But that's not the case. Germany and the United States were both hammered by the global economic downturn beginning in 2007. But where the United States saw their unemployment rate shoot up four percentage points since the recession - Germany actually saw their unemployment rate go down two percentage points. That's because Germany - and other nations that commit their workers to shorter work weeks - understand something our media won't even talk about. It's that when people work fewer hours - then companies have to hire more people.
As economist Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research wrote: "There is nothing natural about the length of the average work week or work year and there are, in fact, large variations across countries. The average worker in Germany and the Netherlands puts in 20 percent fewer hours in a year than the average worker in the United States. This means that if the U.S. adopted Germany’s work patterns tomorrow, it would immediately eliminate unemployment ." Think about it - If a company employing 5 people, each working forty hours a week - cuts down their hours to 35 a week - then they'd have to hire one new person to make up for the lost 25 hours. Of course - the counter-argument would be: A - those who were working 40 hours, but now are working 35 hours a week, are taking home less money. And B - companies would get hit with extra costs having to train and hire a new employee. Germany found a solution to the first problem with their Kutzarbeit - or short-week - program. During the recession - Germany told businesses not to lay off workers - but cut back on their hours. Then the government stepped in and subsidized those who were working fewer hours - essentially paying them for a 40-hour work week even though they only worked 25 to 35-hours.
That's why Germany's economy never really crashed - working people stayed on the job - and were still collecting their full salaries to go out and spend and create demand, which is what drives economies. Which is an answer to the second problem - about do businesses handle the cost of having to hire new employees? The simple answer is that those new costs would be offset by more demand in the economy - and thus more revenue for businesses. We currently have nearly 15 million people unemployed or underemployed. If work hours were cut back - creating new job openings for these millions of unemployed Americans - then they'd all have more money in their pockets again to spend and stimulate the economy. People are earning salaries again, Business are making money, the economy is growing, everybody wins. Back in 2000 - France tried this - by introducing a 35-hour a week limit. And - as the Financial Times reports - it had great success. As The French government's statistics agency - known as Insee - estimated: The shorter week "created between 300,000 and 350,000 jobs in the initial years, while productivity increased 4-5 percent." Not only that - worker pay in France increased as well - putting the nation up on par with German's average worker pay. Despite its success, the 35-hour work week was ditched by the right-wing government of Nicolas Sarkosy a few years back, and, sure enough, unemployment went back up. Now that the country is in economic turmoil, the people have elected a new Socialist President to get it back on track - and he's promised to both lower the reitrement age to 60 and to cut back the work week - both things that will open up many, many more jobs and thus reduce the unemployment rate.
Frankly, this isn't that much different from the American experience - back in the 1960s when unemployment wasn't an issue, the average husband/wife family with children worked 53 hours a week between them. By 2002, that number had exploded to 64 hours a week, and 67 hours a week for families without kids. The point of all this is pretty simple - let's learn basic economics from the successes of other times and other nations. So why not try what some European nations have tried with tremendous success - cutting short the work week. Not only will that eliminate our unemployment problem - but it will also give Americans more time to spend with their family and friends - and more time to pursue hobbies and leisure activities - and more vacations - and even more inventions and creativity. And who's opposed to that?!
- Civil servants work 52 hours per week: survey, by Yi Whan-woo, KoreaTimes.co.kr
SEOUL, S.Korea - Civil servants and employees of state-run firms work longer than the legal limit of 40 hours per week, according to a government labor researcher.
Cho Sung-jae, a researcher at the Korea Labor Institute (KLI), said the 611 public workers who participated in his study worked an average of 52 hours per week.
“It was found that the problem of long working hours is prevalent among civil servants and state-run company workers,” Cho stated.
The study released this month demonstrated that the Ministry of Employment and Labor has failed in its policy of reducing working hours for employees of the government and state-run enterprises.
The average annual working hours of Korean workers in 2011 was 2,200, the longest among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The ministry has urged employers to hire more employees while reducing their wages to decrease such long working periods [something lost in translation here?].
The workers surveyed were 303 officials from 15 ministries and 308 office workers at 18 state-run firms, and were randomly chosen.
They work 10.4 hours daily on average, longer than the eight hours a day, 5 days a week basis.
“This means an employee starts his or her work at 9 a.m. and calls it a day around 7:51 p.m.,” Cho said.
“Working hours, of course vary depending on the workplace but the result suggests that they don’t have enough time for personal activities.”
Cho added that the situation is actually much worse if you consider additional commuting time.
“The study showed that they spent 12.92 hours traveling to and being at work, and considering they need time to sleep, they only had 1 to 2 hours per day to enjoy their hobbies or spend with their families.”
The 64.5 percent workers said they tend to work overtime because they are assigned tasks late in the day.
A little more than half of the employees also said that their workload is high without enough colleagues to share the workload.
“Some said their assignments are too difficult to handle compared to their level of skills, while others said their co-workers are novices so that they have to handle the work by themselves,” Cho stated.
The study said that the employees suggested hiring more workers as a step towards a solution.
7/10/2012 – 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 ) -
- Why the 40-Hour Workweek Doesn't Matter - True Productivity Tied to Employee Engagement, Not More Hours in the Office Says Hogan Assessments, MarketWire via Comtex via MarketWatch.com (press release)
TULSA, Ok., USA -- Does spending more than 40 hours per week in the office make you a workaholic, a high performer, or just a clock-watcher?
According to survey results released by Hogan Assessments, a leader in personality research, more than 92 percent of 600 respondents across multiple jobs and industries said they regularly put in more than 40 hours per week. Nearly 48 percent said that they work more than 50 hours per week. Are we trending back to pre-Industrial Revolution days where the workweek was six 14-hour days?
[Actually it was only six 14-hour days in summer when there were longer hours of daylight. The workweek shrank to six 8-hour days in winter, so six 14-hour days year-round would be worse that before the Industrial Revolution. And recall that it was the introduction of gas lighting into factories in the 1840s and employers' attempts to have long summer workhours throughout the year that galled people into organizing into unions. A rigid year-round workweek was a totally new idea in the 1840s and never known before the advent of artificial lighting. So the idea of fluctuating adjustment of the workweek against unemployment should not be that hard to swallow.]
The argument has been made that more hours at work translate into greater productivity. The U.S. has one of the longest workweeks at 40 hours, a sharp contrast to countries such as Spain, Denmark and Ireland that average 31 hours per week. The results of Hogan's most recent survey reveal otherwise; it's not the numbers of hours worked, it's the depth of employee engagement that tips the scales in terms of productivity and enthusiasm.
"Given the demands of such a fast-paced economy and the fears that are residual from the recent economic downturn, these survey results aren't surprising," said Ryan Ross, vice president of Global Alliances at Hogan. "There are many industries where it's common to see 60-plus hour workweeks, and there are negative ramifications for being the one to leave 'early' when others stay late into the night. What is surprising is that the business world seems clueless as to the real issue: keeping employees engaged."
In fact, a recent Gallup poll revealed that more than 71 percent of Americans aren't engaged at their jobs.
"That level of disengagement is a full-blown crisis," Ross said. "Employees who are alienated (the opposite of engagement) hate their jobs, hate themselves and others while they are at their job, and are far less productive."
Conversely, of survey respondents who were engaged, 74 percent said they looked forward to going to work every day. The engaged group was also more likely to talk to friends and family about work, work outside of business hours because they want to (as opposed to the disengaged group, which were as likely to work outside the office, but because they had to or were afraid not to), willingly work more each week and believe they enjoy their job more than their friends and family.
"The results of our survey are clear," Ross said. "There's no doubt that today's demanding, fast-paced business environment requires the willingness to put in extra effort, including working longer as needed. Engaged employees do so more willingly, and even enthusiastically. If companies want to get the productivity from their employees, there isn't a magic number. They need to pay attention to employee engagement and foster the recruiting practices, leadership training and corporate culture that support it."
About Hogan Assessment Systems With more than 25 years of experience, Hogan is the global leader in providing comprehensive, research-based personality assessment and consulting. Grounded in decades of science, Hogan helps businesses dramatically reduce turnover and increase productivity by hiring the right people, developing key talent, and evaluating leadership potential.
- Creating Your Perfect Work Week (part 2), by Ashley Eder, Private Practice Toolbox via blogs.psychcentral.com
In this guest blog Ashley Eder, LPC offers part 2 of “Creating Your Perfect Work Week.” Ashley is a counselor and supervisor who believes we each have the potential to create a more satisfying life. Located in Boulder, CO, she works with clients and therapists through curiosity, self-awareness, and acceptance in order to create lasting change.
BOULDER, Colo., USA - In Part I of Creating Your Perfect Work Week [appended below after this article], I prompted you to evaluate how well your practice is performing as a non-monetary form of compensation. As a reminder, here are the questions for you to ask yourself to get an idea of how rewarding your private practice work week is for you now:
If you followed through with this exercise, you know that it really is possible to answer “yes” to all of those questions; you are ready to experiment with adding Satisfaction Builders into your week and you have a pretty good idea of where they may need to go. Below are a handful of suggestions for ways you can re-design your practice to work better for you. Remember, the ideal practice is different for everyone! Use these ideas to get you started, then listen for your own voice to guide you in getting it just right.
- Are you excited to go to work?
- Do you enjoy your clients?
- Can you maintain your personal relationships?
- Do you have time for self-care?
- Do you feel satisfied and complete at the end of the day?
- Are you resentment-free?
- Are you intellectually stimulated?
- Have you stopped doing the things you dread?
Improve Your Work Satisfaction
As a business owner and psychotherapist, your practice really is your life. This can be an anchor weighing you down or an opportunity to build a flexible, satisfying life. Which do you choose?
- Play with the flow of your day. You might sprinkle “mini-breaks” into your day (just 15 minutes to get some fresh air or eat a quick lunch); take a bigger break so you can leave the office to meet a friend or take a nap, or work straight through followed by extended time off. Which schedule leaves you least harried and most refreshed?
- Experiment with separating client hours from administrative hours versus weaving them together. Does it feel more natural and productive to you to chart and return calls between sessions as you get time or all at once in a pre-determined window?
- Fiddle around with work/home boundaries. Are you happier leaving work-based activities like social media and returning emails at the office, or do you prefer integrating them into your home life so that they don’t build up so much and you can maintain a connection to your business?
- Pursue the clients who make your work meaningful and refer along those who do not. Trust that it is best for clients and therapists when we narrow our focus to serving our ideal clients, and allow other clients to seek help from clinicians who would be a more nourishing fit.
- Raise your fees until you feel adequately compensated. Check out these tips on deciding to do that and how to broach it with clients.
- Re-evaluate your mission statement. Why are you in private practice? Why did you become a therapist? Align your practice with your mission.
- Seek professional support. Would it would feel good to treat yourself to expert supervision for a while? Choose a modality or style you would like to explore. Try building your own consultation network, and do not spend time with people you do not want to emulate. Get clear on who feels good to learn from and seek their support.
- Study something new. Remember the intellectual stimulation of grad school? Well now you can have that without all of the homework. Seek continuing education that encourages you to expand your niche and work at your growing edge.
- Do your own work. Take an honest appraisal of your clinical boundaries around time, responsibility for oneself, and money. This may involve a personal inventory and some existential exploration of what you truly believe about the nature of people. Then ask yourself: “Are these beliefs current or outdated? Do I choose to hang onto them or is it time to challenge them and my own habitual limitations?”
- Trust yourself. If something feels “off” about your work experience, it probably is. Hang out with that observation, let it develop, and seek consultation with trusted colleagues. Your private practice is a work in progress. With your time, attention, and care, it will continue to flourish and nourish you back.
- Imagine giving yourself permission to quit doing the things that don’t take care of you. Perhaps start by choosing one thing to let go of and observe the ripples. What happens next? Is it as scary as you thought it might be? Does your practice feel the impact? How do you feel without it? Hint: follow your resentments to find the practices that no longer serve your higher self.
- Drop the dread. If you dread a part of your job, it is not feeding you. Be creative in your efforts to automate it, outsource it, or drop it entirely.
- Question The ‘Busy’ Trap. Make room for self-care, including the necessity to do nothing on a regular basis. Identify what self-care truly means for you and allow it. It might mean making lovely meals or giving yourself a night off from cooking. It could look like an hour at the gym or an hour on the couch. It’s personal, and you get to choose.
- Lighten your load. Examine your beliefs around how many client hours you should fit into a week. Would you be more energized by dropping 2 clinical hours, raising your rate $10, and writing for your professional blog or playing in nature? Do it!
[Here's part 1 -]
Creating Your Perfect Work Week (part 1), by Ashley Eder, Private Practice Toolbox via blogs.psychcentral.com
BOULDER, Colo., USA - A successful private practice is not just defined by how many clients you see or how much income you generate. One critical stream of non-monetary compensation is the satisfaction your practice brings you. That’s right – as a business owner in an inherently flexible field, part of your “payment” is the freedom to create a work week that works for you.
Whether your workload is in its sweet spot or not is a personal measure; what feels nourishing and sustainable for another clinician might be either under-stimulating or exhausting for you given your temperament and the other responsibilities in your life.
Ask yourself the following questions to start creating your own ideal work week:
Yes, you really can expect to have a practice that is that satisfying. If you found yourself shaking your head “no” to some of the questions above, it’s time to re-evaluate how you spend your work week. Take time now to explore these questions in detail. Be honest. Where are you solid in your business satisfaction and where could you use more work? What would your life look like if you were able to answer “yes” to these questions? Can you be specific now, or will it take some soul-searching to figure that out?
- Are you excited to go to work?
- Do you enjoy your clients?
- Can you maintain your personal relationships?
- Do you have time for self-care?
- Do you feel satisfied and complete at the end of the day?
- Are you resentment-free?
- Are you intellectually stimulated?
- Have you stopped doing the things you dread?
Check [above] for part 2 of Creating Your Perfect Work Week for concrete suggestions on ways to build satisfaction with your business. My suggestions will help you narrow the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be. Expect to revisit these areas throughout your career in private practice, especially as you advance in your career and skills, experience personal life changes in relationships and parenting, and do your own work in personal therapy.
7/08-09/2012 – 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 ) -
- In Ads, the Workers Rise Up ... and Go to Lunch, by Tanzina Vega, 7/08 New York TImes, A1.
LAS VEGAS, Nev., USA - The woman had had enough. Amid ringing phones and clicking keyboards she climbs up on her desk and shouts through her speakerphone: “I have 47 vacation days. That’s insane.”
“Let’s take back our summer!” she yells as she raises a sign over her head with the phrase “Vacation Now” on it. “Who’s with me?” A handful of employees applaud. The rest look away.
The scene, echoing a pivotal sequence in the 1979 film “Norma Rae,” is not a union recruiting pitch but instead is part of a television ad for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, from a campaign called “Take Back Your Summer.” Other big advertisers like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola are also tapping into a sense of frustration among workers to sell products portrayed as minor luxuries.
The jobs report released Friday — showing only 80,000 jobs created in June — reinforced a bleak outlook for the nation’s unemployed. For those lucky enough to have work, the conventional wisdom has been “Keep your head down; don’t make waves.”
But marketers are urging workers to commit small acts of so-called rebellion — like taking a vacation, or going on a lunch break.
That’s the message McDonald’s sent this spring with a campaign called, “It’s your lunch. Take it.” Meant to promote the Premium Chicken Sandwich and the Angus Third Pounder Deluxe burger, it included tag lines like “A lunch revolution has begun,” “It’s time to overthrow the working lunch” and “A sesame seed of revolt has been planted.”
In one television advertisement, a woman gets up from her desk and announces, “I’m going to lunch.” Her co-workers try to dissuade her, telling her that the days of taking lunch are long gone.
In a scene reminiscent of “Jerry Maguire,” an inspired colleague stands up and says, “I’m going with her.” The music swells, he tears off the lanyard around his neck and adds, “I don’t want to be chicken, I want to eat it.”
Geoff McCartney, vice president and creative director at DDB Chicago, the agency that worked on the campaign, said the ads were based on a simple precept: “that busy people should take some time for a decent lunch.”
“Work-life balance is really at a tipping point,” he said. “People don’t have a break for lunch, and they feel like they can’t take one for whatever reason.”
Marketers are adopting the theme of workers’ rights at a time when unions themselves are confronting declines in membership and influence. In effect, some labor experts say, they are turning a pro-worker theme on its head to serve the corporate interest.
“It’s an effort by management to co-opt the Occupy Wall Street spirit and redirect it to promote its product,” said Harry Katz, dean of the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations. “They are using it in a somewhat manipulative way.”
Nevertheless, the appeals to downtrodden workers keep coming. If a mere lunch break or a weeklong vacation is not enough of a respite, workers can enter a contest called “Take the Year Off,” sponsored by Gold Peak Tea.
The tea brand, owned by Coca-Cola, will pay $100,000 to the winner to take a year off work to do whatever he or she pleases. Contestants have to describe how they would use their time. Gold Peak will narrow the entries to five finalists, and fans of the brand on Facebook will vote for the winner.
Images from the Facebook page show office workers under various states of duress. In one photo, a man in a suit rests his head in his hands as paperwork piles up around him. In another, a woman is seen kneeling against a file cabinet, her mouth open in a scream of desperation.
A mock classified ad on the Facebook page calls for a “self-starter who performs well under zero stress.”
Chris Johnston, who heads United States tea brands at Coca-Cola North America, said the images were meant to have some fun and offer relief to workers.
“We know people are stressed out right now, and we like to think of Gold Peak Tea as the perfect antidote,” Mr. Johnston said.
Indeed, the tone for many of the advertisements is light and funny — a more effective advertising technique than focusing solely on price or promotional offers, according to research by Nielsen.
“You can make a connection when you laugh; you can make a connection when they tug at your heartstrings,” said James Russo, the vice president for global consumer insights at Nielsen. “That is the single most important dynamic.”
Ads that focus on overall value to the consumer — showing that a product is both healthy and affordable, for example — also do well in tough economic times, Mr. Russo said. “The McDonald’s ads work because they focus on the value of the meal and the value of a person’s time,” he said.
Sentimentality is also effective in a recession, according to Nielsen. An ad campaign for Huffy plays on both sentimentality and rebellion, encouraging adults to reclaim the joys of adulthood from the demands of everyday life.
“Adulthood is the bully who stole your bike. Take it back,” reads one ad featuring a woman on a bicycle in a park. Behind her, in the distance, are towering piles of dirty dishes.
“What advertising isn’t about escaping these days?” said Scott Morgan, the president of Brunner, the agency that worked on the campaign for Huffy.
The core target for the campaign is women 30 to 49 years old. “At 4 mph it can outrun anything,” reads another ad showing a woman leaning on her bicycle in the middle of a field of baskets full of laundry. A third ad reads, “Put yourself on your to-do list.”
“It’s just a great way to escape that day-to-day, nose-to-the-grindstone experience,” said Ray Thomson, the executive vice president for marketing and product development at the Huffy Corporation. “People feel a great need to kind of take a breath and say, ‘Hey look, I need to focus on my family and look for economical ways to have fun with my family.’ ”
- Should the 40 hr work week for hourly workers be abolished? by 'Michelle,' 7/08 answers.yahoo.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Now that the US Supreme Court ruled that Obamacare is a tax and ALL americans are required to either show proof of being on HC [health care] insurance OR pay the tax, there is much talk in the business community about whether the 40 hr work week for hourly workers is even required.
Traditionally 40 hrs meant you were full time worker with benefits of HC insurance, vacation etc. Since employers would not be required to provide HC but could instead put all employees on Obamacare for a fraction of the cost, there is much talk about no longer need[ing] 40 hr work week but instead employers could hire employees and work them hours as needed [mainly shorter] and they would incur vacation/sick pay based on hours worked.
In many socialist countries they work 30-35 hr work weeks. This could offer employers the ability to achieve optimal productivity without the old 40 hr work week rules.
[This from somebody with an X-Large definition of "socialism" who thinks only "socialist" countries have shorter workweeks - and USA doesn't. At least they still think shorter workweeks could improve productivity, even though they're still not talking about marketable productivity, which is the key thing shorter workweeks improve by increasing employment and consumer spending.]
The negative aspect for employees is that many could see their gross pay be reduced if they are no longer working 40 hr workweeks.
[Not at all. When workweek reduction via worksharing or timesizing absorbs today's flood of desperate jobseekers and employers once again have to bid against one another for good help, wage levels will rise, as they always do during a labor "shortage," and provide such wonders as "40 hours pay for 35 hours work" which were a frequent recurrence between 1840 and 1940 when the over 80 hour workweek was gradually reduced to 40.]
NeoNerd, 2 days ago - 'Obamacare' is not universal healthcare, or government funded healthcare. It just mandates that people buy health insurance. As such, you can't 'go on Obamacare' - it isn't an insurance plan.
[Absolutely correct. Americans have been fooled. Thinking that Obamacare is universal healthcare is like calling car insurance "universal car insurance," just because everyone has to have it. But it's not all in a good direction -]
Leaders thinking about longer work week for county employees, by Jennifer Learn Andes, 7/09 TImesLeader.com
Luzerne County Council members will discuss switching all employees to a 40-hour work week – something taxpayers have been seeking for more than a decade.
Most of the county’s roughly 1,550 employees work 32.5 or 35 hours per week.
Union officials say they’re open to discussion, but changes must be negotiated and come with additional compensation. About 80 percent of the county workforce is unionized.
Councilman Rick Williams raised the issue, saying council should establish recommended work force standards, including uniform benefits.
There’s no consistency because employees work under 11 different union contracts and policies governing non-union workers.
County Manager Robert Lawton has the power to change the hours and benefits for the roughly 300 non-union workers, but alterations for union employees must be negotiated in collective bargaining agreements subject to council ratification.
Topic for Tuesday
A discussion on the 40-hour work week is scheduled during Tuesday’s council work session. Uniform working conditions with fair compensation will make county government more efficient, Williams said.
“I have great hope our new county manager is moving in that direction, but I recognize that it will take a while to change the practices of the past,” Williams said.
Union head Paula Schnelly, who represents 516 employees in three units, said county officials must be prepared to pay more if workers add five to 7.5 hours to their work week.
“I wonder if the county realizes union employees are hourly – not salaried – and would expect just compensation for additional hours worked at their current hourly pay,” said Schnelly, of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees, or AFSCME.
The AFSCME court-related unit recently rejected the administration’s proposed contract, largely because nearly 70 support workers would switch to 40-hour work weeks without additional pay, Schnelly said.
The unit’s 42 sheriff deputies work 35 hours and would have received additional compensation, but their hourly rates would decrease when the extra hours were factored in, she said.
Schnelly said the administration informed her after the vote the proposed 40-hour switch applied only to deputies, but she said paperwork from negotiations and affirmations from fellow union negotiators back up her interpretation that the county’s proposal applied to all court-related workers.
Contract negotiations aren’t held in public.
“If that wasn’t the intent of the county, it wasn’t clarified,” Schnelly said.
The court-related contract will be decided through binding arbitration. The union’s contracts with rank-and-file residual workers and court-appointed support staff expire at the end of 2013 and 2014.
The county provided hourly pay increases to sheriff deputies as their work week was gradually increased from 32.5 to 35 hours from 2008 through 2010, the expired contract shows.
All three county commissioners in office at the time supported the hourly pay increase, saying the county could avoid adding staff if the deputies put in more time.
The county’s recent proposed contract with detectives did not propose an increase from their current 37.5-hour week, according to a copy of the proposal obtained by the newspaper. That contract was rejected by a council majority and advanced to binding arbitration.
The court-appointed professionals union, which includes domestic relations and probation officers, went from 32.5 to 35 hours years ago, said union representative Charles Majikes. The union’s contract expires at the end of 2014.
More hours, more pay?
Majikes said a pay increase must come with more hours. He personally agreed with the court-related unit’s rejection of the recent proposal.
“I’m appalled that they’re asking people to work more for less, especially with recent layoffs and cutbacks. Where does it end?” Majikes said.
Teamsters Local 401’s Pat Connors, who represents 350 human service employees and assistant public defenders/district attorneys, believes union members are receptive to 40-hour weeks with additional pay.
“We wouldn’t have an issue discussing it, but they need to be compensated. You can’t expect them to take the same pay and work more hours,” Connors said.
The four Teamsters union contracts expire at the end of 2013. Mental health and developmental service employees hired after January 2005 and transportation employees already work 40 hours, with the rest at 37.5.
Unionized prison guards have had 40-hour work weeks at least two decades, said former union head Tony Seiwell.
- For the rest of fiscal 2012, 72 hours could be restored soon - Senate follows House's move to cap FY 2013 budget at $114M, by Haidee V. Eugenio, 7/09 (7/10 over dateline) SaipanTribune.com
[72 hours over two weeks = 36-hour workweeks]
SAIPAN, US Northern Marianas - Gov. Benigno R. Fitial's special adviser for management and budget Vicky Villagomez told senators yesterday afternoon that the administration has been considering the restoration of at least eight of the 16 hours that were cut from most government employees' work hours biweekly, to bring the work hours to 72 per payroll for the rest of fiscal year 2012.
Fiscal year 2012 ends on Sept. 30, 2012.
The Fitial administration will be restoring the full 80 hours in fiscal year 2013, which runs from Oct. 1, 2012 to Sept. 30, 2013, partly because of a $12 million additional projected revenue.
“There's discussion of the current collection and if we can support bringing back 72 hours. We're looking at bringing back everybody to 72 hours for the rest of [fiscal year] 2012,” Villagomez told senators.
Villagomez, however, pointed out that there has been no final decision yet.
Finance Secretary Larrisa Larson, during a Senate session, could not say when that decision to go back to 72 hours will be made.
The administration has seen improved collections in taxes and fees, prompting a consideration of 72 work hours between now and end-September, and to full 80 hours after that.
Senate President Paul Manglona (Ind-Rota) said it would be “welcome news” if the administration decides to add eight more hours to employees' 64 work hours biweekly.
He said austerity should not be taken out of employees' pockets.
The Senate fought tooth and nail to block the House and the administration's 16-hour cut proposal during the 2011 budget deliberations but the deadlock caused a historic partial government shutdown. The Senate later conceded to a 16-hour cut, mainly to put an end to the partial shutdown that caused the temporary loss of jobs for over 1,000 government employees.
Sen. Ralph Torres (R-Saipan), for his part, asked about the cost of restoring 72 hours for the rest of the fiscal year. Villagomez said it would be less than $1 million.
This is based on the calculation that restoring 80 hours in one fiscal year would cost some $6.98 million. If this is divided into four quarters, that would be $1.7 million. But because the plan is bringing the biweekly work hours to only 72 and not 80 and the last quarter of fiscal year 2012 has already started, the cost would be much less.
The normal government work hours biweekly is 80 hours but because of austerity measures, the Fitial administration reduced it to 64.
The 16-hour cut, representing 20 percent of employees' salaries, is being implemented by closing most government offices every Friday, thus the term “austerity Fridays” in the CNMI.
Senate Fiscal Affairs Committee chair Jovita Taimanao (Ind-Rota) said her panel looks forward to receiving the actual collection and spending reports from the administration at least for the first three quarters of 2012, and this could help them in deliberating on the 2013 budget.
2013 budget cap
The Senate invited Larson and Villagomez to the session yesterday afternoon to shed light on the governor's revised 2013 budget that added $12 million more to the original submission of $102 million.
After about an hour of question-and-answer with Larson and Villagomez, the Senate was ready to act on House Concurrent Resolution 17-5, House Draft 1 that the House passed by a vote of 14-0 on Friday.
The Senate voted 6-0 to adopt the concurrent resolution, capping the fiscal year 2013 budget at $114 million, a 12-percent increase from the 2012 budget of $102 million.
Three senators were absent in yesterday's session: Sens. Frank Cruz (R-Tinian), Luis Crisostimo (Ind-Saipan), and Henry San Nicolas (Cov-Tinian).
Taimanao asked where the additional $12 million came from. Larson said most of it-or some $11 million-is from business gross revenue tax collection.
The Finance secretary also said more than half of the estimated $11 million comes from payment of back taxes as a result of the administration's aggressive enforcement of tax laws and policies. Finance has been entering into tax debt settlement agreements with delinquent taxpayers.
“We want to make sure everybody pays their taxes properly,” Larson told senators.
Manglona wanted to hear from Larson whether the $12 million additional projected revenue is indeed a “conservative” figure. Larson said “yes.”
Under the concurrent resolution, the total identified budgetary resources for 2013 is $133.641 million. Of this amount, $114.320 million is available for appropriation, which brings the budget back to the levels of over 20 years ago.
Senators also asked Larson and Villagomez about Medicaid funding, which senators hope to discuss further during a special meeting planned for Thursday afternoon.
The Senate will hold another special session on Wednesday.
7/7/2012 – 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 ) -
- Governor approves limit on Fulton State Hospital working hours - Legislation offered by Rep. Jeanie Riddle, by Don Norfleet, FultonSun.com
FULTON, Mo., USA - Legislation offered by Rep. Jeanie Riddle, R-Mokane, that protects workers at the Fulton State Hospital from being required to work long hours without a break was signed Thursday by [Missouri] Gov. Jay Nixon.
The legislation prohibits mental health employees at the Fulton State Hospital from being required to work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period unless the Department of Mental health declares an emergency workforce shortage.
To give the hospital time to adjust its workforce, the legislation does not go into effect until next year. It is effective July 1, 2013.
When Riddle introduced the bill, it would have been effective immediately. But that was changed during the legislative process. A provision also was added allowing an exemption if the Department of Mental Health declares an emergency workforce shortage.
The legislation also was combined with several other mental health-related bills.
“Employees at Fulton State Hospital deserve to work in the safest environment possible,” Riddle said.
“Having to work multiple back-to-back eight-hour shifts can result in overall poor health and slower reaction time. This is unacceptable and can make life very difficult for the employees and their families,” Riddle said.
Riddle said if hospital employee shift replacements do not arrive other employees must stay to supervise clients and perform other necessary duties.
The legislation does not prohibit an employee from requesting to work extra time if he or she desires to do so.
- Hours cut back at urgent care to save $300,000 a year, by Joanna Frketich, Hamilton Spectator via thespec.com
HAMILTON, Ont., Canada - Cutting back the hours at the Main Street West Urgent Care Centre was as much about saving money as it was about too few patients arriving at the beginning and end of the day.
“It’s about both,” said Hamilton Health Sciences spokesperson Jeff Vallentin. “Our ability to save money comes from the fact that we’ve identified an opportunity because of the trending of the patient flow. They’re not separate at all.”
It saves about $300,000 a year to open the centre one hour later, at 9 a.m., and close one hour earlier, at 9 p.m. starting July 1.
“We continue to have challenges around the amount of resources we have and to try to ensure we allocate those resources in the best way possible,” said Vallentin. “Next year will be another challenging year … so we’re going to have to continue to manage as best we can with what we have.”
HHS needs to cut between $15 million and $22 million in costs to make up the gap between government funding increases and a rise in expenses this fiscal year that started April 1.
St. Joseph’s Healthcare also needs to lower costs by $8 million to $12 million. However, it won’t cut the 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. operating hours at its east-end urgent care centre despite having a similar arch of fewer patients at the beginning and end of the day.
“We would never think about reducing hours,” said Ida Porteous, director of clinical programs for St. Joseph’s. “We have more than enough patients to stay viable at the beginning hours and at the end. Our patients are waiting for us when we start work. We often have to stay late at night because the volumes in the evening are high enough that it’s required.”
Statistics provided by the urgent care centres show that both start the day with about five patients at 8 a.m. But within an hour, their numbers significantly diverge, with about 15 patients in the east-end centre by 9 a.m. compared to about eight in the west end.
The centres also peak at different times. The east end clinic is busiest around lunch with 27 patients while the west end peaks between 2 and 3 p.m. with about 17 patients.
At closing time, the east-end clinic has about 14 patients and has at times been busy enough to continue providing care until 3 a.m. The west-end clinic had an average of about eight patients at 10 p.m. before reducing the times.
The east-end clinic has been open for more than 30 years and draws from Niagara as well as Hamilton. The west-end clinic opened just over a year ago, when McMaster was converted to a children’s-only emergency department and is closer to hospitals.
“We serve a community out in the east end and we’ve done so for many years and they’ve come to rely on us,” said Porteous. “They serve a different community.”
Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie has met with HHS over the cuts and is considering bringing a motion forward Monday asking for more information.
“The concern is still there,” he said. “It’s not really about the numbers; it really has to do with their overall deficit and the opportunity to save $300,000 by cutting back on the hours. I understand that to some extent, but they don’t do that in a very transparent and open way.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | 905-526-3349 | @Jfrketich
7/06/2012 – 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 ) -
- Gerhard Schröder: The Man Who Rescued the German Economy - The last Social Democrat chancellor talks about how he cut taxes and reformed labor markets—and how it cost him his job, by Raymond Zhong, Wall Street Journal via online.wsj.com
[Just like Bob Rae in Canada - because of widespread cluelessness about the one and only economic agenda that has a future: timesizing not downsizing.]
HANNOVER, Germany - Reform yourselves, and ye will grow out of your debt." So goes Germany's unwritten mantra for the European crisis. Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging Greece, Spain, Italy and the rest to shape up their economies and pay down their obligations—and withholding German money until they do.
The Berlin road to economic righteousness is no mere sermonizing. Germany itself has gone down it and grown stronger. Gerhard Schröder, a Social Democrat, was German chancellor from 1998 to 2005, and during his second term his government lowered taxes, revamped unemployment benefits and streamlined labor laws. Mr. Schröder's shakedown of the welfare state—dubbed Agenda 2010 when it was launched in 2003—has been credited with insulating Germany against the debt mess that would later befall Southern Europe.
I checked in with Mr. Schröder on a rainy morning last week at the chic offices of his Hannover law practice. "[Agenda 2010] was, if you will, a modernization concept for Germany," Mr. Schröder says. "Germany was known as being unreformable, and the Agenda proved that it was possible."
The former chancellor is stout and fit. He speaks quickly and confidently, sometimes pouncing to answer a question before I've quite finished asking it. Seven years after exiting German politics—"never again," he says when I ask if he'd ever get back into it—Mr. Schröder still seems suited to knock heads in the Bundestag.
Circumstance forced economic reform onto Gerhard Schröder's agenda as chancellor. When he took office in 1998, Germany's unemployment rate was 11% and economic growth was close to nil.
Mr. Schröder won the federal election that year by vowing to end the economic misery. But the Europe-wide recession during his first term left him having to explain to voters, when he sought re-election in 2002, why the jobless rate was still nearly 10%. Germans gave Mr. Schröder a second chance, and his government immediately set about making good on its mandate.
The result was a radical reshaping of the German welfare state. To reduce labor costs, Agenda 2010 merged social-welfare benefits with benefits for the long-term unemployed, paring down the total amount and availability of assistance. Employers' health-insurance costs were trimmed back. Planned income and corporate tax cuts were accelerated: The top personal income tax rate was lowered to 42% from 48.5% and the bottom rate went down to 15% from 19.9%. The corporate tax rate dropped to 19% from 25%.
In the labor market, Mr. Schröder made firing easier with the expectation that hiring would consequently become easier, too. Rules protecting employees against dismissals "for economic reasons" were loosened. Measures were introduced to help employers avoid lawsuits from laid-off workers seeking re-employment. To spur job-seeking among the unemployed, Agenda 2010 cut jobless benefits and strengthened financial sanctions against those who were able but unwilling to accept work.
"And now the results speak for themselves," Mr. Schröder says. "For a long time we were the sick man of Europe. Now we are the healthy Frau of Europe." With German unemployment at 6.8%, nearly the lowest level since reunification in 1990, it's hard to disagree. German GDP growth has so far kept the euro zone from falling into another recession this year.
Mr. Schröder does note that Germany's present economic vigor isn't solely the result of Agenda 2010. Work-sharing programs are common in Germany. During the financial crisis, this has allowed employers, with the help of government subsidies, to keep workers on reduced hours instead of laying them off. Mr. Schröder also notes that Germany's unique system of "co-determination," under which union representatives occupy permanent spots on corporate boards, ensures that labor and management are able to negotiate terms with both sides' long-term interests in mind. In Germany, workers' confidence that they have a say helps keep wages competitive while reducing the incidence of strikes compared to other European countries.
Co-determination doesn't get a fair shake in the Anglo-Saxon world, Mr. Schröder says.
Still, the chancellor suffered for his reforms. Agenda 2010 received committed support from Germany's main conservative parties: the center-right Christian Democrats and Christian Social Union, and the business-friendly Free Democrats. But it split Mr. Schröder's own party, the center-left Social Democrats, some of whom attacked the reforms as "scandalous" and "immoral." Unions revolted. In 2005, after a stinging defeat for the Social Democrats in a state election, Mr. Schröder called snap elections.
The Social Democrats failed to win a majority. The new chancellor was the leader of the Christian Democrats: a shy former chemist, raised in East Germany, named Angela Merkel. "I would like to thank Chancellor Schröder personally," Mrs. Merkel said in her first address to Parliament as chancellor, "for bravely and resolutely opening a door with Agenda 2010, so that our social systems could be adapted to a new era."
Mrs. Merkel may have kept the spirit of the Schröder reforms alive in Germany, but in most of Europe there has been little evidence, in seven years, that the reform wisdom Germany displayed has rubbed off. French President François Hollande has spent his first months in office raising the minimum wage, lowering the pension age, and standing by his notorious pledge to tax high earners at 75%. Adopting Mr. Hollande's policies would be "a real catastrophe" for Germany, Mr. Schröder says.
Aware of the political and historical sensitivities, Mr. Schröder counsels that Germany and the European Union shouldn't be encouraging Agenda 2010-style reforms as a cure for Southern Europe without concurrent measures to promote domestic spending and forestall immediate collapse. He echoes the suggestions of Mr. Hollande and others that the EU should invest in wobbling economies via the EU's regional development funds and project bonds for infrastructure.
Too much pain without enough reward risks "destroying domestic demand," Mr. Schröder says. And even perfectly executed structural reforms will not yield results right away.
Mr. Schröder points out that he's made a habit of not commenting on his successor. But he says that Mrs. Merkel listened too closely to the German tabloids early on in the crisis, especially about Greece. "She knew, of course, that nobody likes to see German tax money used to stabilize Southern European countries."
His own attitude toward Greece is more sympathetic. "The rescue has bought time, but in any case, the government [in Athens] needs the opportunity—not to water down the reforms or to avoid them—but to be able to stretch them out over time, and to prove to the Greek people that the chosen path is helpful."
He points to his own experience with Agenda 2010. In 2003, just as his reforms were beginning to be implemented, the European Commission deemed Germany and France to be in violation of the EU's deficit and debt ceilings. Mr. Schröder's finance minister at the time, Hans Eichel, proposed €20 billion (around $24 billion then) of additional spending cuts to put Germany in compliance with EU law.
Mr. Schröder refused. "I said, 'Hans, that won't work. We can't push through these reforms, for which we need to devote all our power and take every risk, and also save €20 billion on top of that.'"
That Germany and France were never punished for their debt transgressions is still seen as evidence that no EU rule is so important that the Continent's largest members cannot get around it. Many blame Berlin and Paris's original sin for, in effect, licensing the Mediterranean governments' borrowing sprees. But Mr. Schröder says that fiscal rules ought to be negotiable "in countries where structural reform is really taking place—where, if you like, an Agenda 2020 is being implemented."
That's nice to promise, I suggest, but hard to practice. Mr. Schröder demurs when I ask whether political systems like Greece's are simply too dysfunctional to make certain changes, even if broad consensus within the country believes it's necessary. "I hope that the new [Greek] government understands—not only understands but takes to heart—that they have to take this road. That's a prerequisite for giving them more time."
Greater flexibility on the current rescue strategy is important now, he says, but he's still convinced that Europe's next step must involve deeper political union among member states. "That means the ability to control not just monetary policy but also economic, financial and social policy. The crisis has made this clear."
Mrs. Merkel and the Christian Democrats have taken the same line, supporting the installation of a "European finance minister" to control national spending and taxes directly. Chancellor Merkel has put forth a "budget commissar"—as the proposed office has been called, darkly—as a precondition for further EU assistance such as joint euro-zone bonds or direct purchases of periphery sovereign debt.
France's Mr. Hollande has protested the most loudly over the loss of sovereignty that such centralization would entail, though he's hardly alone: A poll published this week showed that just under three-quarters of Germans also oppose a "United States of Europe."
Mrs. Merkel's own ruling coalition is also divided on the issue. The Free Democrats demand that the chancellor impose EU-level budget controls without offering euro bonds in return. They see such bonds as a dangerous commitment of German tax money even if national governments' budgets were tightly controlled. Euroskeptic backbenchers from all three parties in the coalition grumble that the principles for European integration pursued by their forebears have been trashed; the idea of returning to the deutsche mark consistently polls well.
The Social Democrats, meanwhile, have criticized the conservative parties for compromising European solidarity by being too stingy with German aid. "For Europe, there is only a choice between a bad and a catastrophic situation," Mr. Schröder says. Choosing the former "means that Germany must stand behind what is developing in Europe, because we have benefited from it."
"But there must be limits," he adds. "Mrs. Merkel was right when she said that Germany's productivity isn't unlimited."
Those limits may not be so far off. Last month German manufacturing contracted at the fastest pace in three years. Yields on German government borrowing are ticking up. If Germany has to pitch in substantially more to rescue the Southern states, its own public debt—already more than 80% of GDP—could raise market hackles.
It could also put Mrs. Merkel at risk of losing her job in next year's federal election. A majority of Germans still view the chancellor as a responsible steward of Berlin's coffers; her approval ratings are at their highest since 2009. But the business of coalition-building will be complicated significantly by what unfolds in Europe. Even if Germany gets its way on political union, that is a 10- or 20-year project, not a quick fix in time for the election.
'This government will not remain after 2013," Mr. Schröder says with conviction. It's an "open question" whether that also means that Mrs. Merkel is out, he adds. But Mr. Schröder is certain that the current coalition will not win a majority the next time Germans vote.
Even before then, though, Germany's political class may find itself disabused of the hope that Europe's national governments can reform their way to solvency. The long record of disappointments that have come out of Athens, Madrid and Rome raises the scary thought that this is not just a crisis of European money or of European institutions, but of European-style social democracy itself.
Germany's example would seem to suggest that it isn't, or at least that it doesn't have to be. But how many recent European governments—left- or right-wing—have been like Mr. Schröder's?
—Mr. Zhong is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe.
- Companies Using Overtime, Temporary Staff to Meet US Demand, by Shobhana Chandra and Rich Miller, Bloomberg.com
WASHINGTON, D.C., USA - Companies are relying on existing workers and temporary employees instead of hiring, evidence the European crisis is hurting U.S. confidence more than demand.
The average workweek climbed by six minutes to 34.5 hours in June, the first gain since February, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington.
[OK then, let's make THAT the new definition of "full time" in this Age of Robotics.]
Temporary staffing rose by 25,200, the third consecutive increase.
Enlarge image Companies Using Overtime, Temporary Staff to Meet U.S. Demand
Retailers reported this week that same-store sales rose 0.3 percent in June from a year earlier, based on results from more than 20 companies tracked by Retail Metrics Inc. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg
The need to boost hours and add provisional employees is a sign that sales are holding up in the face of a deepening slump in Europe and a slowdown in China and the rest of the world. Nonetheless, businesses may lack conviction that revenue gains will be sustained in light of the threats, making them reluctant to permanently expand payrolls.
“Firms are still seeing an increase in demand, and there is a need for more labor,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts. “But there are so many risks out there that businesses don’t want to commit to hiring full-time employees.”
Payrolls advanced by 80,000 workers in June, fewer than the median estimate of 100,000 in a Bloomberg News survey of economists, after a 77,000 rise the prior month, today’s report showed. The lack of hiring fueled concern the world’s largest economy was slowing, pushing stocks down, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index heading for its biggest weekly loss in a month.
The pickup in hours “suggests there might be a little better momentum in the economy,” Bruce Kasman, chief economist for JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York, said on a conference call. At the same time, there is “an absence of a real desire by firms to act on that in terms of hiring.”
The six-minute increase in the average workweek would be equivalent to a 325,000 gain in payrolls, according to estimates by economists at Nomura Securities International Inc. headed by Lewis Alexander.
Automobiles are one area where demand is holding up. Cars and light trucks sold at a 14.1 million annual rate in June, up from May’s 13.7 million pace, Ward’s Automotive Group data showed. General Motors Co. (GM), Ford Motor Co. (F) and Chrysler Group LLC reported U.S. sales that topped analysts’ estimates, helping the industry surpass projections and stay on pace for the best year since 2007.
“We’re seeing strong demand for our current products as well as for our new models,” Bill Krueger, vice chairman of the Americas for Nissan Motor Co., said in a telephone interview. The Yokohama, Japan-based automaker plans to boost hours, add shifts or increase payrolls at plants in Tennessee and Mississippi “to really have the supply catch up with demand,” he said.
Manufacturers were among those asking existing employees to put in a longer workweek last month. Factory overtime climbed to 4.7 hours in June on average, the most in five years, today’s report showed.
In another bright spot, workers’ average hourly earnings rose to $23.50 in June from $23.44 in the prior month, today’s report showed.
“For the 92 percent of folks who have jobs, their incomes are rising, raises are still happening,” said Chris Varvares, senior managing director of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in St. Louis.
Consumers are benefiting from falling gasoline prices and lower inflation. The cost of living dropped in May by the most in more than three years, Labor Department figures showed last month. A gallon of regular fuel at the pump cost an average $3.36 as of yesterday, down from this year’s peak of $3.94 in early April, according to AAA, the biggest U.S. auto group.
Retailers reported this week that same-store sales rose 0.3 percent in June from a year earlier, based on results from more than 20 companies tracked by Retail Metrics Inc. Luxury chains such as Saks Inc. (SKS) and discounters like TJX Cos. topped analysts’ expectations, while stores targeting middle-income consumers trailed projections.
“What we are seeing today from an income perspective is our economy is modestly adding jobs,” Robert Hull, chief financial officer at Lowe’s Cos., the second-largest U.S. home- improvement retailer, said at a June 26 consumer conference in Boston. “That’s the good news. The bad news is it’s not sufficient to have a material impact on the unemployment rate.”
The jobless rate held at 8.2 percent in June, today’s report showed. Unemployment has exceeded 8 percent since February 2009, the longest such stretch since monthly records began in 1948.
The “mixed” jobs report suggests that Federal Reserve policy makers are unlikely to take further action to boost the economy at their next meeting, such as a third round of so- called quantitative easing, said David Greenlaw, a managing director and economist at Morgan Stanley in New York.
“We don’t think the report was quite bad enough to tip the scales toward doing something like QE3,” Greenlaw said. “But I certainly think there’s plenty of fodder for discussion and definitely some indication that the Fed needs to be more worried about prospects for growth going forward.”
Private employment, which excludes government agencies, increased 84,000 in June, the weakest in 10 months. Retailers cut payrolls by 5,400, while manufacturers added 11,000 workers.
The report “reminds everyone that confidence matters,” said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pennsylvania. “In June, the European debt issue reached a boil and a meltdown could not be ruled out. That had to have a major impact on business confidence.”
Concerns about Europe are lingering, with the euro slumping to a two-year low of $1.2260 today and yields on 10-year Spanish bonds rising to more than 7 percent. The decline in Spanish bond prices came even though the European Central Bank yesterday reduced its benchmark rate to a record low of 0.75 percent.
Uncertainty about the U.S. government’s fiscal outlook may also be hampering hiring plans. Congress has yet to resolve the so-called fiscal cliff, which represents more than $600 billion in higher taxes and reductions in defense and other government programs in 2013 that will take place without action.
The best strategy for companies to follow when confronted with such uncertainty ahead of Dec. 31 is to “stay lean and keep your inventories taut,” Sandy Cutler, chief executive officer of industrial equipment-maker Eaton Corp. (ETN) in Cleveland, told a conference May 31.
To contact the reporter on this story: Rich Miller in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org Shobhana Chandra in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Wellisz at firstname.lastname@example.org
7/05/2012 – 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 ) -
- My company is considering introducing short time working, justanswer.com
LONDON, U.K. - Customer Question
My company is considering introducing short time working, which it has contractual right to do so as unpaid.
I understand that if an employee receives less than half a weeks pay for either 4 consecutive weeks or 6 weeks in a 13 week period they may claim a statutory redundancy.
My question is if we put employees an a 4 day week instead of their contrcatual 5 day week and therefore they are on 80% pay and therefore not technically short time working is there a reasonable time limit that this can be done for before someone considers it a major contractual change and can sue for breach of contract.
Submitted: 9 days and 23 hours ago. Category: UK employment law. Status: Closed.
From: Ben Jones, Solicitor, Expert in UK Employment Law -
Hello and thank you for your question, which I will be happy to assist you with.
There is no minimum/maximum amount of time that this can last for and it will always depend on the circumstances. What will happen is that this will amount to a change to the employee's contract of employment and technically they can challenge it straight away. However, if it is agreed that they will reduce their hours temporarily, any potential action can be avoided. This is usually the case if they are aware that their job will be at risk if they do not agree to it. So the key is what is agreed at the start and if it carried on unreasonably for a longer period than that initially agreed.
- European vehicle manufacturer Iveco to shutter five plants, by Ernst Wolff, WSWS via AxisOfLogic.com
TURIN, Italy - The Iveco commercial vehicle builder has announced it will close five of its plants in Europe, including three in Germany at the end of this year. The plants affected are Weis, Ulm and Görlitz in Germany, Graz in Austria and Chambery in France. A total of 1,075 employees will lose their jobs.
The announcement by company director Alfredo Altavilla in Turin came as no surprise. In early May he announced the end of Iveco truck production in Ulm. The plant in Ulm has been on short time working for more than three years, with management justifying the step by pointing to shrinking sales and the general economic slowdown in Europe.
In fact, a critical look behind the façade shows that Iveco’s parent company, Fiat Industrial (the commercial vehicle division of Italian automaker Fiat) is making huge profits. In the first quarter of 2012, the company recorded a profit of 207 million euros—an increase of ninety percent compared to the same quarter last year. This year, the company predicts turnover of 25 billion euros and a profit of around 900 million euros.
Currently Fiat Industrial plans to invest one-and-a-half billion euros in Spain within the next three years and employ 1,100 workers. The Spanish government, in compliance with the EU, has agreed to a sweetener of 500 million euros for Fiat in the form of tax breaks and other incentives.
The dismissals involve annulling existing contracts for workers in Germany in order to employ Spanish workers at significantly worse conditions. The company is not only utilizing EU subsidies, but also the extensive attacks on the rights of Spanish workers carried out in the last two years in the wake of the country’s property and banking crisis.
The resulting unemployment rate of 24.6 percent permits management to dictate an extremely low level of wages for new hires in Spain. In particular, recently introduced legislation stipulates that wages must be cut when a company’s profit has declined for nine months. Iveco’s decision to shift production to Spain was undoubtedly influenced by this measure. In this way the social cuts mandated by the EU in Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Greece are being used to downgrade wages and working conditions throughout Europe. In Ulm alone, 670 workers will lose their jobs, including 450 over the age of 55 years, about one hundred disabled workers and the same number of trainees.
In recent years the company has used the threat of relocating production to increase the exploitation at the existing plants. In this regard management has worked closely with the unions. In 2006, IG Metall and its works council enforced five hours of unpaid overtime for the three German sites, arguing this was the only way to secure jobs.
Following the latest announcement the union has once again sided with management. Not only have union leaders refuse to organize any action to defend jobs, they have gone so far as to actively oppose any strike action. The workers in Ulm and Weisweil wanted to fight, declared works council chairman Wilfried Schmid. “But not with strikes,” he said. “After all, we want to work.”
The head of the IG Metall in Ulm, Michael Braun, also supports the company logic which pits one factory and nation against another in a race to the bottom with respect to wages and working conditions. It makes no sense, Braun said, to shift the production of heavy trucks from the Danube Valley to Madrid, because “the Spaniards cannot buy these trucks due to their precarious economic situation.”
The German Left Party has also endorsed the same argument. Left Party parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi played the same nationalist card. “Spain says it is broke,” Gysi commented last week, “and then pays 500 million euros in order to eliminate 670 jobs and 100 trainee jobs here.” This nationalist policy of trade unions and the Left Party is tailor-made to serve the interests of the company management. It is the mechanism with which they can play off the workers of different countries against one other and drive down wages across Europe to a minimum. On this basis the types of attacks already carried out in Greece and Spain are being implemented across the EU.
The mass layoffs at Iveco are part of a Europe wide attack on workers and can only be averted by a common struggle of workers in every country against the EU and its austerity measures.
The defence of jobs at Iveco plays an important role in this struggle. If the company is successful in implementing its plans, then other companies will follow suit and, with the support of the unions, intensify the assault on European wages and jobs.
- Five Day Hotel Work Week Remains Lost In Translation, by Bill Barnett, ThePhuketInsider.com
PHUKET, Thailand - While much is being written about the minimum wage increase and labor shortage in Phuket's hotel industry, one item overlooked remains the commitment to hotel staff by employers.
One key touch point is the varying work week in island's hotels.
Two groups were instrumental is applying the five day work week during the last decade - namely Laguna Phuket with its arsenal of leading accommodation and the JW Marriott. While most of the internationally branded hotels (not all mind you) follow the practice a number of independent properties do. These are mainly in the upscale and luxury segment.
Moving along the trend are hotels which provide six days off per month, or else alternate with two days off per week is low season and one in high season.
Last but not least remains a considerable amount of legacy hotels and locally managed properties who remain on a six day work week.
Without a double labor is an expensive proposition for the service industry. The two largest expenses of hotels are staff and energy cost. In Phuket which has a decades old hospitality industry, it's been far easier for newer or opening properties to align practice than long operating ones.
It's unfortunate that productivity and creating a structure that is less staff intensive and allows employees to train and move up within an organization. In reality this is where many of the labor dispute issues arise, when you are bottom heavy with minimum wage earners who do not have the skill set to move forward in their careers.
Certainly quality labor remains key to keeping Phuket competitive with international standards. For older hotels who have not upgraded, the math is hard, as adopting a five day week would represent a significant cost rise. In other words the bottom line is eroded. Ultimatley the key question for the properties is can human capital be better deployed to be more cost efficient and also increase revenue to the hotel?
For international brands its essentially a widespread commitment to employees and is typically imported to wherever the chain operates. It's relatively easy to see why the upper and luxury tier properties have somehow all fallen into the same standard as they are trying to recruit and retain the best labor force on the island.
It's hard to say how far industry standards will evolve in Phuket but with Asia now tipping the scale into a developed economic profile, a greater alignment with western practices is inevitable.
7/04/2012 – 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 ) -
- Work-Sharing Now the Law in Michigan, by Joe DeSantis, (7/03 late pickup) American Society of Employers via aseonline.org
DETROIT, Mich., USA - Beginning next January 1, it will be legal for Michigan employers to set up Work-Sharing programs that will help them avoid laying off employees during downturns. The programs will need to be rigidly crafted under the terms of the law. But they hold out the potential not only for employers to retain key employees in anticipation of better times ahead, but also to lower their future unemployment tax rates.>
On June 28 Gov. Snyder signed into law P.A. 216, U.I. Shared Work Plans. Under the law, employers facing the need to cut their labor costs would be able to set up, subject to state approval, Work Sharing programs. For example, if the employer needed to cut labor costs by 25%, the employer could set up a work-share plan under which all eligible employees would have their hours cut by 25%, and each employee would be eligible to receive a weekly unemployment benefit equal to 25% of what that employee would have received if he or she had been completely laid off. The employer would set up the plan in lieu of laying off 25% of its employees as it likely would have to do without this option.
Employers can realize potential savings in two ways. One is that if (in the language of the bill’s summary) “federal funding for the full reimbursement of costs related to benefits paid under a shared-work (program)” are available, then “half of benefits paid would be charged to the employer’s chargeable benefits account,” and “(b)enefits paid or deposits made under this provision would not be used to calculate the employer’s contribution rate.” The other is that, to the extent that full layoffs are avoided in the future as a result of the program, the state’s Unemployment Comp fund saves money and employer’s unemployment tax rate will be lower over time.
For the affected employees themselves, their 20-week yearly eligibility for unemployment benefits in the future would remain intact, because the benefits they receive would not be charged against that eligibility. However the total benefit received would count against their maximum amount of benefit available.
There are strict requirements that employers must meet in order for their work-sharing programs to be approved for benefits by the state. They include (but are not limited to) the following:
In enacting its law, Michigan becomes the 24th state nationally to adopt work-sharing as an employee retention tool. In signing the bill, Gov. Snyder touted the win-win promise of the plan, saying, “This new alternative plan will enable Michigan to keep its skilled and talented workforce employed . . . By providing partial compensation to workers with reduced hours, we can support both families and businesses as we continue rebuilding our economy.”
- The employer must be up to date on its account with MESA—all reports on file, all contributions and other required payments made.
- The employer must have a positive reserve balance in its experience account.
- The employer must have paid wages for three years prior to applying for the plan.
- The potential layoffs would affect at least 15% of employees in the unit.
- The employer cannot hire into the unit, or transfer into it, additional employees after the plan starts.
- The employer cannot lay off affected employees once the plan starts, or reduce their hours more than agreed to at the start of the plan.
- If unionized, the employer must get the approval of the bargaining unit for the plan.
- The employer cannot reduce or eliminate employees’ fringe benefits during the plan.
- The hour-reduction percentage must be at least 15% but no more than 45%.
Additional source: mlive.com 6/29/12
- Right for family dinners - Politicians pledge to slash Korea’s notoriously long working hours, by Kim Jae-won, Korea Times via koreatimes.co.kr
SEOUL, S.Korea - Lee, a senior executive at a consulting company, describes his company’s working hours as ``murderous.’’ Laboring under buzzing fluorescent lamps for 60 to 70 hours a week, coming to work before 7 a.m. and leaving at midnight day after day, he feels as if his personal time and space are non-existent.
His house is basically a dormitory for him and there is also the guilt about being a bad father and husband.
``This should not be acceptable as a life of a human being,’’ he laments.
``I am definitely hurting my health now.’’
At least, Lee has a generous paycheck to show for his gloom. Imagine the life of lower-paid colleagues lower down the totem pole, who by Korea’s outdated office values are confined to their cubicles until the boss makes his late-night stroll to the elevator. Surviving the workplace grind is becoming a daily struggle for Korean employees, who by several measures are confirmed as the planet’s most overworked corporate drones.
But changes could be on the way as election-year politicians from left and right are vowing to fight for your right to have dinner with your wife and children. Granted, it seems that parties are promising everything and anything as they attempt to massage voters’ egos ahead of the December presidential polls.
However, it should also be pointed out that deconstructing the Korean corporate culture based on notoriously long working hours is also vital for the future of the economy, which will increasingly depend on the level of consumption, service industry vibrancy and the labor participation of women.
According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the average Korean employee worked 2,193 hours in 2010, which translates to 43.2 hours per week. This comfortably represented the highest figure on the table as the OECD average came in at 1,749 hours for that year.
The amount of time a person spends at work is a key aspect of work-life balance, as evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardize safety and increase stress, the OECD report said.
The Korean government in past years has repeatedly attempted to change corporate working patterns, but the efforts have yet to work as prescribed as large companies remain reluctant to change their old habits.
Now, the pressure is coming from politicians. Sohn Hak-kyu, a presidential hopeful for the opposition Democratic United Party, recently unveiled a campaign pledge he calls ``Life with an evening.’’
The former Gyeonggi Province governor paints a picture where employees actually have the time to return home in time for a family dinner, which would require companies to reduce overall working hours and implement flexible working schedules. The reduction of working hours is more than just about letting people enjoy life as it will benefit the economy as a whole by creating more jobs and up consumer spending, Sohn said.
``We can create at least 730,000 more jobs by cutting annual working hours by 200 hours. The idea is to implement strict restrictions on working hours, as designating the time when employees should leave the office and limit excessive overtime duties,’’ he said.
``Another idea is to introduce double working time arrangements, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for double income families, giving parents the flexibility to alternate on childcare, which will also help reduce their expenses.’’
Sohn also promises to increase the number of days on leave by implementing a two-week holiday system. Korean employees, who have worked more than one year at the same workplace, can use at least 15 days of holiday a year by law, but many companies limit it to less than one week at a time worrying a long vacation may cause inconveniences in running their business.
Moon Jae-in and Chung Sye-kyun, who could compete with Sohn to represent the DUP in the presidential race, are also promising to lower working hours. While Park Geun-hye, the likely presidential candidate from the Saenuri Party, has yet to announce detailed strategies related to working hours and conditions, she is expected to address the issue soon as her party has been strengthening its welfare pledges.
To demonstrate his idea of an ideal working system, Sohn last month visited Bori Publishing in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, which has adopted a six-hour working system from March. The company, where 32 employees work, did not cut salaries with the change. It said that it will cut the vicious labor cycle which deprives others’ from having work to survive in the job market with the system.
The OECD points out that Koreans have difficultly in balancing work and their home life due to a workaholic office culture. “Korea’s workplace practices -- long working hours, socializing after work, little leave -- make it difficult for parents to combine work and family life,” said the organization in its 2011 report titled “Work-Life Balance.”
The OECD suggested the country adopt various measures to help people better enjoy life. “There should be a greater role for flexible working-time arrangements, part-time employment opportunities, and performance-related pay within regular employment profiles to facilitate Koreans to better reconcile work and family life.”
The Paris-based think tank said that Korea’s economy needs to make more efficient use of its investment in human capital to keep its economic engine going. It suggests fathers do more work at home to facilitate more women to be employed.
- Local Viewpoint - Save electricity! Establish shorter work hours and days off for employees, by Rashed Al-Fawzan, Al-Riyadh newspaper via Saudi Gazette
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Companies, businesses, and other establishments in the private sector hire expatriate employees who are ready to work up to 18 hours a day. I believe this contributes to creating a work environment which cannot accommodate all employees, as job opportunities become limited to those who are willing to work up to 18 hours a day.
[or even accommodate all jobseekers, let alone jobneeders, and so we get unemployment, welfare, disability, prison, homelessness... - lotsa ugly stuff for workaholics to pay for in higher and higher taxes.]
While the aforementioned establishments may prefer hiring those who are willing to work that many hours in a day, there are various advantages to establishing regular nine-to-five timings and days off during the weekend for employees.
An important advantage to a regular work schedule is its role in saving electricity. If work hours at stores, for example, do not exceed nine hours a day, up to six hours of electricity may be saved.
Another advantage would be the effect this change would have on an employee’s social life. Families will have more time to spend together, a commodity which has been increasingly scarce in the modern age.
There is an indisputable need to set a cap on work hours, in order to promote a healthy work environment for the people in this society, and to help prevent wasting limited resources such as electricity.
The Ministry of Labor and Commerce should coordinate with each other in order to compel companies and businesses in the private sector to set fewer work hours, and allow their employees regular weekends off.
Khaleel 04-07-2012 9:30 AM
greedy ownders manipulation
you are talking about fewer working hours. The construction workers are still working during the banned hours from noon 12 to 3pm. The greedy owners are to blame for this manipulation of laborers.
Xtreme 04-07-2012 1:44 PM
Is it a joke??
Let me tell you the fact. A employer always wants his employee to work for long hours and pay less amount In our company we have Over time even if a employee doesn 't wana sit he is being forced to sit and waste time money and electricity if a employee refuses to sit for long hours his Manager starts manhandling frm next day.
7/03/2012 – 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 ) -
- Life Away From the Rat-Race: Why One Group of Workers Decided to Cut Their Own Hours and Pay - Public-sector workers in California's Amador County learned what the Europeans have long understood: having a life is intrinsically valuable, (7/02 late pickup) AlterNet.org
AMADOR COUNTY, Calif., USA - Public employees in Amador County, Calif., were outraged when their hours and pay were cut at the height of the Great Recession. But two years later, 71 percent of them voted to keep their shorter schedules despite the paycut. Their experience provides an important lesson in balancing work and family life, and offers hope that work-sharing might offer a way to put more Americans back to work, as it has in Europe.
With its timbered ridges and deep canyons extending to the snowy wilderness of the Sierra Nevada, Amador County, population 38,000, lies in the heart of California’s Gold Rush country. It’s decidedly conservative; no Democratic presidential candidate has carried the county since Jimmy Carter in 1976. John McCain won nearly 60 percent of the Amador vote in 2008.
Like all of California, Amador was hurting in 2009. The state, seeking to eliminate its $35 billion budget deficit, cut back on social service support for its counties, and Amador had to find a way to cope with less. Conservative county supervisors limited all but essential employees to a four-day week. Workers were to report Monday through Thursday for nine hours each day. County offices would be closed on Fridays. Salaries would be cut by 10 percent commensurate with a 10 percent reduction in work hours.
When word of the change came down, the workers, and SEIU 1021, the union that represents them, were livid. Like other public employees, they had already made key concessions in recent years, and justifiably, felt their family budgets were severely strained.
“The cut meant a lot of money for a lot of people,” said one Amador County program manager, who asked to remain anonymous (the issue still generates animosity among some workers). “Then there were the questions like, how can we get the work done in four days?"
But despite the workers’ protests, the county argued that, otherwise, it would have to lay off workers and county supervisors were adamant that they didn’t want layoffs. Angry, but understanding the need to preserve jobs, union leaders agreed to the arrangement, but for only two years.
Voting to Keep the Shorter Week
So in 2011, county workers were given a choice of sticking with four-day shifts or returning to a five-day week with a pay increase, but losing some of their colleagues to layoffs. Without directly consulting its members again, the union chose the five-day week. In June, the remaining employees started working Fridays again. Amador County cut 17 workers to balance its budget.
The remaining workers were glad to be getting higher pay again, but many soon had second thoughts. Quite a few were unhappy, because they were actually enjoying their four-day weeks. Some went fishing or camping over the long weekends or enjoyed other outdoor activities that are popular in this rural county.
“I was at first very concerned about losing the 10 percent,” one worker told me, “but I found that I could make it work without a huge hardship. And I found that what I gained in time actually outweighed what I lost in money.”
Then too, many of the workers sympathized with their union brothers and sisters who’d lost their jobs. They pressured SEIU for a vote that might restore the four-day week. In August, the union polled its members. Of the 178 workers (nearly the entire work force) who voted, 71 percent (126) chose to return to the shorter week, even with less pay. Only 29 percent (52) wanted to keep the longer workweek.
The Benefits of More Time
A month later, county employees returned to a four-day, 36-hour schedule. Sixteen of the 17 laid-off workers were rehired. It’s not perfect, a source told me. The work must now be accomplished in less time. “A lot of folks still come in for a bit on Fridays,” she reports. But she still believes that on-balance most people feel the trade-off is worth it.
- Can a Shared Work Program Work For You? by Philip J. Scolieri, pabusinesslawattorney.com
PITTSBURG, Pa., USA - With the economy struggling to make a comeback and unemployment still level in Pennsylvania, many business owners are looking for ways to cut expenses without having to lay off employees. A new Pennsylvania program called Shared Work may be the answer for some businesses.
Under Pennsylvania’s *Shared Work program, an employer must make application to participate. Once approved, the employer may temporarily reduce the hours of a group of employees. The employees, if otherwise eligible for unemployment compensation (UC) benefits, will receive a percentage of the weekly UC benefits while working reduced hours. Employers may reduce employee hours 20 to 40 percent under this program.
Some advantages of the Shared Work Program:
Some Disadvantages of the Shared Work Program:
- Employers retain experienced workers
- Administrative and training costs of hiring new employees later is eliminated
- Employee morale can remain high
- More recently hired workers who would have been most susceptible to layoff are retained
- Employees retain skills and advancement opportunities
For a more thorough analysis of whether the Shared Work program is a good fit for your business, or for help with any other matter related to managing your business, the attorneys at the Scolieri Law Group, P.C. can help. Located in western Pennsylvania, our attorneys are experienced in Pennsylvania business law and can take care of the details for you. Contact us today at (412)765-0546 or firstname.lastname@example.org; 1207 Fifth Ave.,Ste.200, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
- Valuable employees who are able to locate full-time employment elsewhere may do so
- Overhead costs may not be reduced proportionately to the reduction in worker hours.
- Work scheduling may be more difficult.
- ThyssenKrupp eyes temporary cut in working hours, by Marilyn Gerlach, Reuters.com
FRANKFURT, Germany - ThyssenKrupp AG, Germany's biggest steelmaker, may temporarily cut some workers' hours as product demand slows.
A spokesman for the steelmaking arm, ThyssenKrupp Stahl, said on Tuesday the company was in talks with the works council on whether a Kurzarbeit or "short work" programme would be launched at some of its German factories.
Germany's short-work system was used by many struggling companies in the 2008-2009 recession, allowing them to preserve jobs by simply cutting the hours of employees when usage of plants was low.
In this scenario, a company can quickly ramp up production to satisfy customer orders if demand picks up. The state compensates the worker for some of the lost hours.
"The question on whether we will launch a Kurzarbeit or not is being studied. That means also that I cannot say anything about the timeframe, the factories affected and its extent," the ThyssenKrupp spokesman said.
"Developments in the steel market are weak," he added, declining to provide details on the utilisation rate of ThyssenKrupp's plants.
ThyssenKrupp said in May blast furnace Number 9, which it closed in January and had planned to reopen two months ago, would remain shut for the rest of the year.
The German Steel Federation said crude steel output in the domestic industry fell by 10 percent in May year on year.
Economic data on Monday highlighted the fragile state of the euro zone economy, with factories preparing for worse to come, and jobs were being cut at their fastest rate in two-and-a-half years.
Salzgitter, Germany's second-biggest steelmaker, said last week steel processors and traders involved in inventories were not placing orders because they expect business to stagnate due a deteriorating economic outlook for Germany and the euro zone.
A spokesman for Salzgitter said the company was not considering a short-work programme.
MainFirst analyst Alexander Hauenstein, who on Monday downgraded world No.1 steelmaker ArcelorMittal to "sell" from "neutral", said pricing pressure for steel products would likely continue over the summer, a seasonally weak period in the industry.
"It seems that, especially in June, not only sentiment but also pricing within (northern) Europe deteriorated and clients resisted ordering," Hauenstein said.
(Editing by David Hulmes)
7/1-2/2012 – 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 ) -
- The 10 Hour Work Week, 7/01 Mike Vardy via vardy.me
The following is a guest post by Dave Morris. Dave is a storyteller, poet, improviser and musician based in Victoria, BC. He’s also a pal of mine. He’s one of the few people in my city that I can talk about what I do and he “gets” it. It’s hard to believe that we met over a decade ago when I went to Vancouver to do some improv at The Roundhouse. Time flies when you’re having fun — and Dave may have the key to making that happen for everyone with this post...
VICTORIA, B.C., Canada - work (wûrk) n. something that takes my full attention for a set amount of time.
I try to work as little as possible.
Actually, that’s not true. I try to work as much as possible, just within the least amount of time. So it looks, from a distance, like I’m never really working. Or, as I like to say, when I work I work really hard but only when I work.
Then again, I’m lucky, unlike most professions, mine calls for playing as a part of my work. I am an improviser. So my job involves teaching, performing, producing and talking about improvisation, and since all improvisation begins with play, I’m laughing. I know, rough life.
I do have less fun parts of my job. I spend a little more time than you’d think in Photoshop designing posters and flyers, and in Coda 2 updating and designing my website(s)… and of course, I email (I doubt even a percentage of the email most web related professions do, so I’m not going to complain too much).
I do, however, prefer play over work. So I’ve developed a system I call The 10 Hour Work Week which leaves me 158 hours a week for playing, which is to say “research.” Now you’ve heard of The 4 Hour Work Week (too little for me) and the 40 hour work week (way too much for me) but I thought I’d divide one by the other and boom, a perfect balance.
Now, 10 hours isn’t a lot of time, in fact it’s not enough time to get all of your work done, which is where my definition of work comes into play (see above). My definition means that when I’m teaching, I’m working. When I’m emailing I’m not. I know, just saying it like that probably cuts your work in half.
I’ve come to this conclusion simply because when I’m teaching I can’t stop when I feel like it, my students wouldn’t appreciate it very much, but I can answer emails whenever or wherever I want – sometimes I don’t even reply. I email at my own leisure so it wouldn’t be fair to consider that work, would it? The same goes for writing blog posts, or editing promo photos, or anything I could do just as easily at three in the morning with no pants on, as I could do in an office wearing a suit.
The 10 hour work week is more a state of mind than a schedule. It’s more about redefining what you consider work and less about trying do less work. It’s a reimagining of how your time is spent. If you work for yourself then you are always working. Your life is your job. And as long as you have the right mindset, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I do spend more than 10 hours a week making my business better and preparing for upcoming projects, but I only spend 10 of those hours working.
Try it. Get yourself an iPhone, or something similar, and start sending emails from bed, or while in line at the grocery store or, if you dare, from the toilet (don’t forget to wash your hands). When you’re researching for your next project, research while having a beer in the sun wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Make your next meeting a potluck. Make your next business trip a vacation! Make all of the parts of your job that don’t require your full attention for a set amount of time a little more fun.
Work doesn’t have to mean the opposite of play. As long as you’re being productive, who cares what it’s called? If you enjoy the parts of your job that can be enjoyed, I bet your job would end up with about 10 hours a week of what I would call “work.”
[And here's how, in the next article -]
- Too much work? Do less, not more, by Laura Stack, 7/02 CNN.com
NEW YORK, N.Y., USA -- These days, it's seems like we are all expected to do more with less. Spending hours in the office to make sure all the assigned tasks get done bleeds into our family time, and even at home, it seems there's a never-ending cycle of things that must be done.
Yet studies have shown that 60-hour workweeks can result in a 25% decrease in productivity. The productivity numbers get worse as the work hours increase, because exhaustion [and/or boredom] steadily erodes judgment and performance.
So what to do when there's too much to do? The key is to do less, not more (what, you've never heard a time management expert tell you the key to success is to do less?).
Just say no
First, say "no" to more work. Though this might sound obvious, it's one of the hardest things to actually do. But being realistic about the amount of additional work you can take on is as important as getting the job done. A simple, "Sorry -- I'd love to help out, but I don't have the bandwidth to take that on right now," is sufficient.
When that fails, negotiate. If your boss presents you with a project you can't outright refuse, but your plate is undeniably full, don't hesitate to point this out.
Openly discuss your current deadlines and workload, and communicate both honestly and clearly. For example, you might say, "I'm currently working on X, Y, and Z. I want to return quality work in a timely way, and if I take on this new project, it will jeopardize my promised deadlines. Would you like me to hand it off to someone else, outsource it, or would you prefer to reprioritize my existing commitments?"
Focus on strategic enablers of business. Everyone has too much to do, and nobody really cares how many tasks you crossed off a to-do list if key projects keep falling through the cracks. Split your to-do lists into a Master list and a High Impact Task (HIT) list.
While the Master lists tracks everything that needs to get done at some point, the HIT list includes only a reasonable number of items that can be accomplished each day, so you're constantly focused on key priorities and work on them in the proper order:
P1: You will get fired if this isn't done today.
P2: A valuable long-term activity that should be done soon.
P3: Someone will be unhappy if this isn't done eventually.
P4: Human "pain-management" activities such as socializing or Facebook.
Master the skills of concentration. Stop multitasking and focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking just dilutes your attention and fools you into thinking you're productive, when you're really just busy.
Don't allow people to hold distracting conversations outside your cubicle or office door either. Limit your social media usage, and anything else that can keep you from accomplishing your most important tasks.
When you find ways to do less while increasing your impact, you'll gain more time to spend on things you actually enjoy.
Laura Stack is president of The Productivity Pro®, Inc., and president of the National Speakers Association. She is the author of What to Do When There's Too Much to Do and four other books, including Leave the Office Earlier.
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