Saturday, March 05, 2005

Corporate America Not Family Friendly?

I find politics in this country is a funny thing, especially lately (that's "funny" as in "weird," not "funny" as in "ha ha") I have often argued in this blog that although the last election was said to have been fought and won by those "values" people (vs. us sectarian liberals with no values), actually the election was won by corporate interests who used religion and values and gay marriage and fear of terrorists as a front to win an election which was really about winning total control over our economy, over our workplaces over our communities and over our environment. Tens of millions of Americans were manipulated by gay marriage, abortion, fear of terrorists taking over every small town in America -- all for the benefit of Bush's Rangers and Pioneers

At some point, however, you'd expect the values people to wake up and realize that corporate interests are antithetical to their family and religious values, and in fact, most of the Republicans running on the values ticket (including President Bush) probably couldn't care less about abortions or gay marriage or familes except to the extent it will get them elected.

So it's interesting to read this New York Times article today about good, moral family-centered people in the workforce who are getting sick and tired of not having any vacation or sick leave and getting fired for having to leave work to take care of their sick children, and indications that there may be some cracks forming between corporate interests and people focused on family values.

"These are issues that cross party lines," said John de Graaf, national coordinator of Take Back Your Time, a left-leaning coalition of public health specialists, family and women's groups, environmentalists, union members and church groups. "There's a lot of potential Republican interest. This is completely about family values. People need time to have strong marriages, strong families and strong communities. When people don't have enough time, families can break down."

Liberals and conservatives are finding that they share common ground when it comes to changing attitudes on issues like having parents spend more time with their children. But for liberals, earning conservatives' support for legislation mandating vacations or paid sick days is not easy, making the battle in Congress and in many states an uphill struggle. Conservatives' corporate allies generally oppose such proposals. "Our members are decidedly against mandates from the federal government," said Patrick Lyden, a lobbyist with the National Federation of Independent Business.


W. Bradford Wilcox, a sociologist at the University of Virginia who has written extensively about evangelicals, said bridging the divide over how to give Americans more time will not be easy.

"Many hard-working, rank-and-file evangelicals would support legislation guaranteeing paid sick days or paid vacations," Professor Wilcox said. "But evangelical leaders will not go along with these ideas because their close allies in the business community are so firmly against it." (emphasis added)

And who knows, this if they play it right, this could help the Democrats win a few more votes.
United States Census data point to increased stress on women. The average middle-class married woman works 500 hours, or 12.5 weeks, more per year than in 1979.

"The No. 1 concern that women have today - even more than security - is a lack of time," said Frank Luntz, a Republican pollster.
The Bush Administration's solution is the long-stalled comp time bill that, instead of requiring overtime pay for work over 40 hours a week, would let employers give workers the choice between overtime pay and comp time. Labor has opposed the bill, feeling it would make it easier for employers to avoid paying overtime while increasing their control over the time workers could take comp time.

Others have a "simpler" solution:
Catherine H. Myers, executive director of the Family and Home Network, based in Virginia, said a preferable solution, instead of enacting mandates, would be for parents to quit or to reduce their paid employment to spend more time caring for their children. "When we consider what our children really need, how can we afford not to give them our time?" Ms. Myers said.
Yeah, that's the ticket. Quit. How can we afford not to?

For more information on this subject, check out the Hazards Get-a-life! webpages which provide "news and advice about those work-life balance headaches, like overwork, fatigue, long hours and inhumane work patterns."