Working Digest


November 02, 2005

Ford plant times restroom breaks

You know things are tense at work when management starts timing restroom breaks. But Ford Motor Co. is doing just that.

In a memo that was distributed last week to workers at Ford's truck plant in Wayne, Mich., plant managers said too many of the factory's 3,500 hourly workers are spending more than the 48 minutes allotted per shift to use the bathroom. The extra-long breaks are slowing production of the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator sport utility vehicles that are built there, the company said.

"In today's competitive environment, it is important that Michigan Truck plant immediately address this concern to avoid the risks associated with safety, quality, delivery, cost and morale," the memo said.

Ford supervisors will begin collecting weekly data on the amount of time workers spend on bathroom breaks and "respond appropriately," the memo said.

When times get tough, some managers at Michigan Truck get "petty," said Jody Caruana, a committee member for United Auto Workers Local 900.

Bathroom monitoring is just one of a number of "incredibly stupid ideas" being floated by automakers, said Sandy Munro, chief executive of Munro & Associates, a manufacturing consulting firm in Troy, Mich. "That only causes lots of discontent, and only someone from Harvard could think of something as stupid as monitoring bathroom time."


High court rejects income tax case

The Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the appeal of a Nashville, Tenn., computer programmer who claimed that New York's tax on telecommuting income is unconstitutional. Thomas Huckaby had been ordered to pay New York income tax for his full salary, not just the time he spent at the New York offices of the union for which he worked. The issue had split the Court of Appeals of New York. The case gave the high court a chance to clarify when states could pursue income taxes based on the location of the corporate headquarters, not the worker. "This case brings to the fore the plight of every telecommuter who works in one state for an employer located in another," justices were told in a filing by Peter Faber, the lawyer for the worker.

He said more than 40 million people perform at least some work from their home, and that one in five telecommuters report to a supervisor in a different state.

New York lawyers argued that the state was entitled to tax Huckaby's earnings because the worker chose to live in another state "solely for his own convenience."

Turnover rates

Midlevel managers lead job exodus, survey finds

The improved job market is leading to an exodus of middle managers at twice the rate of senior executives, according to a survey of managerial turnover. Thirty-four percent of the companies had implemented new or revised retention programs while 31 percent have done the same for senior-level management. Also, 40 percent of the companies said middle managers are overseeing more people now than they did during the recession, but only a quarter of the companies said that those people were getting extra preparation for the expanded duties. The survey involved 168 companies and was conducted by Boston-based ClearRock, an executive coaching and outplacement group.


Lawyers' salaries expected to rise 5%

Average starting salaries for attorneys in the United States are expected to rise 5 percent next year, according to a new survey. A year ago, the study predicted salary increases of only 3 percent for 2005. "Legal hiring managers appear to be more confident about a sustainable economic recovery and, as a result, they are adding staff and planning for new business opportunities," Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal, which conducted the survey, said.

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