There is More to Life than Economics, no Matter what the Papers Say

I came across an interesting Associated Press story (via ABC News) involving Taco, a local manufacturing company. Taco is using a strategy calls that the article calls “work-sharing” to avoid layoffs during the current economic downturn.
The piece that makes the article really interesting is the AP reporters’ unrealistically stark explanation of Taco’s management’s reasoning behind work-sharing…

Taco wanted to avoid layoffs. If it cut workers who average nearly 18 years on the job, it couldn’t be certain of getting them back when business picked up. Training new workers costs time and money. Instead, the company tried a strategy called work-sharing to spread the pain and preserve jobs.
It is an odd choice to cite avoiding training costs as the only factor going through Taco’s management’s minds. Instead, the manufacturer’s leadership seems pretty clearly to be combining a realistic view of economics with an understanding that the long-run success of any human organization depends on treating people as more than cogs of a machine, and on everyone working together, to find ways to help one another out through a time of trouble.
This realization is probably a major reason why Taco has been one of the few manufacturers to have survived in Rhode Island. Rhode Island’s government should try and draw a lesson or two from them, starting with an acknowledgment of economic reality and of the importance of giving people the flexibility they need to get ahead in new and creative ways.
UPDATE:
Commenter “John” points out that the work-share implemented by Taco is actually part of the stimulus…
It sounds great, but it is part of the Stimulus program. The workers are paid “partial” unemployment benefits while they work less hours. So I guess you could say it was really the government’s good idea…if it retains it’s status as a good idea now that is attributable to the government.
At least at the link provided by John, the Government is able to realize that avoiding layoffs is more than a matter of reducing retraining costs…
In addition to sparing employers the potential lost of its existing workforce, WorkShare also spares a company’s employees the financial and emotional hardship associated with a layoff situation.
So is this a good use of stimulus funds, letting people bridge an economic downturn with minimal disruption?

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John
John
11 years ago

It sounds great, but it is part of the Stimulus program. The workers are paid “partial” unemployment benefits while they work less hours. So I guess you could say it was really the government’s good idea…if it retains it’s status as a good idea now that is attributable to the government.
http://www.dlt.ri.gov/ui/WS.htm
My wife’s employer did the same thing.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

More evidence that AP reporters work there because they aren’t smart enough get into the Army and go to Iraq.
I met John Hazen White Sr. about 12 years ago and visited Taco several times. From my 30 years as a banker, having visited hundreds of companies, I can say Taco is one of the most employee-focused, benevolent businesses in America. They do the right thing regardless of “stimulus” subsidies. It’s a matter of values and principles. It’s the definition of good management.
Kudos to John White and his team (meaning all the fine people at Taco).

EMT
EMT
11 years ago

More evidence that AP reporters work there because they aren’t smart enough get into the Army and go to Iraq.
Considering how much of the Projo’s news coverage is outsourced to the AP, it doesn’t give you much hope for the idea of the informed voter.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

While I applaud the Workshare concept — for once government does something creative and useful — a side-impact of this is that reported unemployment rates are underreported, since those cut-back are not “unemployed.”

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

That’s true, Ragin, but there are so many weaknesses and room for fudging in government statistics anyway that I suspect the workshare effect is not material.
There are also a great many small business entrepreneurs who are “self-employed”, who are not eligible to apply for unemployment benefits, and they do not appear in the statistics either. A great many of them are struggling or have failed in the past year. I am one of the struggling ones.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

–“I am one of the struggling ones.”
Roger that and ditto that!

John
John
11 years ago

Work share has been around for a while! Before any Stimulas money was paid out! The company I work for put us on workshare in early 2008 for 12 weeks (I believe it was?) It prolonged a layoff for many people that ended up happening anyway as the economy went down the toilet.
I’ve been with this company over 30 years and “back when” (late 70’s) we were put on furlogh days for much of the year. The comapny kept the skilled employees and we kept our jobs for as long as we could, agai, before there was no choice but to lay off a number of people.

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