26 June 2007

"What Vacation Days?"

Last Saturday my oldest son Douglas graduated from High School. That marked the true end of the school year and beginning of summer. So, it is time for vacation right? Doug has a summer job but also is heading out for a trip to the west coast to see his baby brother August.

For those of you lucky enough to get some time off, enjoy it. While you are at the beach, or camping, or at some ball game, or visiting the in-laws, have a look at this essay "What Vacation Days?" by David Moberg over at In These Times. Then you can see how lucky you are and wonder what might happen when you get laid off and have to look for another job. As Moberg explains:

"Americans now work more every year, on average, than workers in any other industrialized country (except for a virtual tie with New Zealand). With women working longer hours each year, the average annual work time for a married couple is growing steadily, and family time—including the crucial bonding experience of vacations—has suffered. Full-time workers in much of Europe typically take seven to eight weeks of vacation and holidays each year—that’s double the American average for full-time workers. Overall, the average private sector worker in the United States gets about nine paid vacation days and six paid holidays each year. Low-paid, part-time or small-business workers typically get far fewer, sometimes none. The same holds for paid sick leave: 72 percent of the highest-paid quarter of private sector workers get paid sick days compared to only 21 percent of workers in the lowest-paid quarter."

Unions and government - Americans tend to not like or trust either. But, legislation (yes, government action!) regulating working hours was passed under pressure of labor unions. So, when you have no time for family, friends, recreation, travel, and all that, just ask yourself "Which Side Are You On?". There are sides here - as you work your ass off, the corporate types and their right wing apparatchiks in government and the media and the think tanks are working hard to keep you doing just that.


P.S.: For those interested in issues of labor and leisure a good place to start is the work of Juliet Schor
especially her The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure (Basic Books, 1992). Her empirics may be a bit dated after 15 years, but I suspect newer numbers hardly will be any less bleak!

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Blogger Bill Bresler said...

When I was an undergrad at Michigan State University back in the 1970s I had an Economics prof who was an advisor to presidents and kings, blah, blah, blah. This s.o.b stood in front of class one day and declared that my generation's biggest worry would be what to with all of our leisure time. Of course, that was before the word "union" became an epithet, and globalization was just a capitalist's dream. Because I belong to a union my hours are determined by the contract. Of course, the volume of work expected to be accomplished during that shift is NOT contractual and is now way past reasonable.
If that professor is still alive and I ever run into him I'll wring his neck. He was a world-class capitalist, too. Every term he updated his required textbook. There was no market for used, obsolete texts, and we were forced to buy his new book.

27 June, 2007 16:26  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats to Douglas! I hope he enjoys his vacation. How many vacation days do they get in Italy?...

27 June, 2007 18:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's women's fault there's no more vacation time. Their "job" schedules mess it all up.


09 July, 2007 00:48  

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