Countywide : County Issue 4-Day Workweek
The Ventura County Board of Supervisors voted last week to shift most county employees to a four-day workweek, saying the move will cut spending by at least
$650,000 and save up to 40 jobs. Is it fair to ask county employees to work such a schedule and to offer the public one day less of some county services?
S upervisor , Ventura County The public will not be getting one less day of service. The hours when the offices are closed on Friday will be made up by longer hours Monday through Thursday. In my particular district that may be a tremendous benefit, because we have a lot of people who commute out of the area to work and obviously they can’t come in between 8 and 5. So I think, for them, it will be a tremendous benefit. I don’t think that this system is a perfect system. I have some problems with it, myself, and we purposely have left time in between now and the 23rd of May, when it is instituted, to iron out some of those wrinkles. I’m particularly concerned about working parents who have child care problems, and in our recommendation last Tuesday we said we would look for some flexible ways to solve those problems. For example, some jobs would lend themselves to the people working at home for four hours on Friday. Before I voted for this, I had some conversations with people on the (Thousand Oaks) City Council and with the city manager of Thousand Oaks because they’ve had it in effect since January. They told me that everybody has been very enthusiastic about it.
City manager, Thousand Oaks We’re fortunate in that we were able, when Thousand Oaks went to the four-day schedule in January, to do so without spending any additional money and in fact we were able to save money. At the same time, we were able to substantially benefit our constituents by being open one hour earlier and two hours later four days a week. Given the fact that many of our citizens commute, either long, short or medium distances, it makes it far easier for them to be served before they go to work or after they get home from work and thus they have greater accessibility to city services than with the normal, 8-to-5 week. We have had excellent citizen feedback. The extra hours per day for the employees have been very welcomed by the overwhelming majority because they are able to save commuting time which is non-productive. They’ve been able to cut their commuting time by 20%. In fact, probably more than 20% because they’re not driving in peak hours. It does take some time getting used to by the employees, but it has been strongly supported and I’ve found our productivity has been enhanced.
Executive director, Ventura County Taxpayers Assn. Although we support attempts by the county employees to cut expenditures, we feel that this proposal was rushed through without adequate review by the supervisors. The proposed savings are, in large part, illusory. Even Ron Komers, the (county) personnel director, in his report to the supervisors, was having difficulty adequately substantiating true cost savings and the potential for increased or decreased employee productivity. The new work schedule will impose a hardship on those taxpayers and businesses that need county services on the day in which (offices are) closed. It would also impose a hardship on those county employees, especially those with young children in child care. We feel there should have been . . . at least a survey of county employees before implementation of the plan. In any event, there should be a sunset provision so that the plan will automatically lapse unless adequate savings to the county has been documented and quantified. We know one thing for certain, and that’s that during the day that it’s closed it’s not going to be open.
Executive director, Service Employees International Union Local No. 998 I guess the question of fairness is in the eye of the beholder and if we can make corrections of this nature and avoid laying off people, then I think that’s fair. As far as the taxpayers,they’re still going to get 40 hours per week. If they’re open for four 10-hour days, they’re still going to get the same access to county services. The county is planning to be open from 7 in the morning to 6 o’clock at night, versus being open from 8 to 5 and that means that people who work a traditional work schedule, 8 to 5, have an hour on the front side and an hour on the back side to come to the Government Center to do their business. So they don’t have to take time off work. Since 1974 there have been battles in this county between management and employees over what schedules they’re going to work. The district attorney’s office has been trying forever to get a modified workweek, and these are people who also have children and family obligations. They see the advantage of the flexible schedule. I can understand that there are a few people worried about change, but there’s not one specific program that’s going to satisfy everybody.
John K. Flynn
Supervisor, Ventura County No, it’s not fair. It’s not fair to the public, because it inconveniences the public, which has historically been used to a five-day week for government offices to be open. This is going to an inconvenience. This seems to be an action that really hurts the public, rather than the government. It seems to be directed at the public and not the government. It’s not sensitive to the public’s needs. It’s not fair to the employee because working 10 hours a day for four days a week is going to be a burden. It’s hard to put forth full production for a 10-hour period. It’s also unfair to those employees who have children. Their children need their attention. Today there’s more and more evidence that parents need to spend more hours with their children and yet this policy is going in just the opposite direction. This is not good public policy. It was put forth that productivity will increase and yet there’s no evidence of that. I think productivity will decrease. The amount of savings from this is a drop in the bucket. We need much more substantial changes than this to raise the money to finance the deficit. This will not do it.