I recently recommended a four-day work week and came under fire from people claiming it was not feasible. The biggest reason that was cited to be against it was that the public would be inconvenienced. I don’t see how extending working hours by two-hours per day for four days causes an inconvenience – it actually makes government more accessible to working people.
I don’t usually agree with David Mazur, from his letters he appears to be a Lou Magazzu apologist. He has a letter in the Daily Journal today, however, that I have to comment on.
I am concerned about the economic picture here in Cumberland County. We have serious fiscal problems, runaway, skyrocketing taxes and declining revenues. Now we have another snowstorm, which taxpayers have to pay for. This is to go along with the almost bankrupt funding we have for the county Road Department. With more than 13 percent unemployment and about 9,500 people out of work, Cumberland County cannot afford to sink much deeper.
The Cumberland County Board of Freeholders has to find an answer, and quickly, in dealing with the budget problems. Pay freezes, layoffs and furloughs may not be the right answer, but what do you do if you cannot make payroll or pay your debts?
I was so glad to have an opportunity to go to the freeholder board meeting on Jan. 27. I could see the concerned look on Freeholder Director Louis Magazzu’s face when I brought up the issue of possible layoffs in the county. What happens when an employee gets laid off? Those workers go on unemployment, which is another fund paid for by workers and taxpayers. Also, it cuts down on revenue coming into the county budget.
If this happens, the county could slide down even further economically.
The freeholders are working hard to try to find the right answers. But one thing is for sure — everyone must sacrifice in these very difficult times to help solve our budget problems.
So what can the county do? It could defer pay raises, lay off workers or institute furloughs. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to layoffs.
There is another option.
I believe that the county can go to a four-day workweek to save money. Back in 1999, I was working for Monmouth County Board of Social Services. At that time, we went to a four-day workweek, except for essential employees. This worked for the amount of time the county needed it to work. I believe that this type of format would produce a reasonable savings for the county.
David W. Mazur
It is rare that I agree with his past letters, and he could have left out the part where he waxed maudlin – “I could see the concerned look on Freeholder Director Louis Magazzu’s face” – If Lou Magazzu was concerned about the budget shortfall, he would have made it public prior to his reelection campaign, allowing the county much more time to attack it efficiently.
However – the four-day workweek does make sense. Time Magazine ran an article last year about Utah’s experiment with a four-day workweek.
After 12 months, Utah’s experiment has been deemed so successful that a new acronym could catch on: TGIT (thank God it’s Thursday). The state found that its compressed workweek resulted in a 13% reduction in energy use and estimated that employees saved as much as $6 million in gasoline costs. Altogether, the initiative will cut the state’s greenhouse-gas emissions by more than 12,000 metric tons a year. And perhaps not surprisingly, 82% of state workers say they want to keep the new schedule. “It’s beneficial for the environment and beneficial for workers,” says Lori Wadsworth, a professor at Brigham Young University who helped survey state employees. “People loved it.” Those who didn’t tended to have young children and difficulty finding extended day care.
Furloughing employees will not result in any appreciable savings. The workforce is not one of the biggest line-items, and decreasing people’s take-home pay will have a negative impact on the economy. Layoffs also do not make sense, with 14.2% unemployment (as of December), a wise Freeholder does not even entertain the idea of adding to that load. However, a four-day workweek for non-essential employees does payoff in more ways than one.And to address the concerns that the fewer days of operation would result in making government less accessible to the public, the Time article reports exactly the opposite:
The advantages of a so-called 4-10 schedule are clear: less commuting, lower utility bills. But there have been unexpected benefits as well, even for people who aren’t state employees. By staying open for more hours most days of the week, Utah’s government offices have become accessible to people who in the past had to miss work to get there in time. With the new 4-10 policy, lines at the department of motor vehicles actually got shorter. Plus, fears that working 10-hour days would lead to burnout turned out to be unfounded — Wadsworth says workers took fewer sick days and reported exercising more on Fridays.
It is time that our Freeholder board begin thinking outside the box. To continue doing the same thing that you have always done and expect different results, to misquote Einstein, is insanity. And Mr. Mazur’s letter is an indication of the sort of forward thinking that we need in this county, despite his misguided allegiance to Magazzu. Hopefully the fact that I endorse such a plan doesn’t cause Lou to disregard it out of hand!