Utah Pulls The Plug On The Four-Day Workweek

The crisis in the states has led to some testy confrontations and creative thinking. Perhaps the most famous showdown came in Wisconsin, when Gov. Scott Walker sought to end collective bargaining rights in a bid to combat a budget shortfall. While some questioned the logic of his argument, no one had any doubt that he was at least onto something with regards to the shortfall.

Three years into the financial crisis, 42 states and the District of Columbia have closed, or are working to close, $103 billion in budget gaps for fiscal year 2012. And as of the first quarter of 2011, revenues remained roughly 9 percent below pre-recession levels, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

In its cover story last summer, "Broken States of America," Time magazine surveyed a country falling apart from the statehouse on down. The capitols are pulling out all the stops: "raising levies on tobacco, alcohol, gambling, soda pop and candy -- even bottled water in Washington State. Nearly half the states have hiked fees for higher education, court services, park access, business licenses -- or all of the above," wrote David von Drehle.

To some extent, the measures seem to be working; the CBPP reports that revenue projections are slightly up for the next fiscal year as compared to earlier in the financial crisis. But the plug has been pulled on one creative measure launched in Utah in 2010.

Then-Gov. Jon Huntsman, now a presidential candidate, set in motion, the so-called "4/10" workweek. The idea, according to an AP report, was for state workers to clock in 10 hours a day, Monday through Thursday, to improve efficiency, reduce overhead costs and conserve energy. Failing to note any savings in its latest legislative audit, lawmakers have voted to end the program.

While the model has been embraced in the Texas city of El Paso as a successful way of cutting costs, its mixed record is in keeping with the measures taken to confront the statehouse crises. As Von Drehle reported, many states are responding with across-the-board budget cuts, and at his count some 28 had gone down that route.

And the state of Utah provides as good a case study as any in the dangers of such a sweeping measure. When Salt Lake City called on all state agencies to install cuts starting in 2009, among the targets was the Department of Alcohol and Beverage Control. That year, the state closed two of its 44 state-operated liquor stores, which in total bring in about $100 million worth of profits a year. Many of those funds are sent to programs like school lunches.

When nine more closures were being lined up for this year, there was a strong reaction against the move.

"People were asking, 'Why are you closing a profitable liquor store?' " says Vickie Ashby, the department's public information officer, according to the website governing.com, which covers states and other localities.

The additional liquor store closures were put on hold.

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Am I dead...it ignores my thumbs up...I rarely bother with thumbs down. If this doesn't post I will assume I am not alive anymore and go searching for bright lights...; /

September 16 2011 at 1:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Can't say what Utah needs to do because I don't live there , Penny actions when you consider how many people are bidding on the same or similar item it easy to see how they sell so cheap ,mathamatics is the answer my dear Watson .

September 16 2011 at 12:29 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Considering the title, this was a pretty poorly constructed article. I expected it to be an analysis on Utah's failed 4-day work initiative. Instead it bounce all over the place on several general fiscal issues of multiple states. It starts out talking about Wisconsin, focused a lot on closed liquor stores, and just lost me from there.

September 16 2011 at 11:01 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

All these month later, and the huffpoo owned aol is still reporting half truths, spin, and misinformation!

>"Gov. Scott Walker sought to end collective bargaining rights...">

Walker DID NOT seek to end collective bargaining rights. The fight was to increase state employees contributions for their medical and pensions to the level that the private sector pays, and to put the payment of union dues back to the responsibility of union members.

I still don't understand why the state was paying their union dues in the first place. Every union I ever worked under collected dues directly from members.

September 16 2011 at 10:52 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to pete's comment

Is that really true. I cannot imagine a state paying the employees union dues. Unions were a good thing when they worked FOR the employees, but that seems to be long over. Now, they are working for themselves. They are much like a business entity whose sole purpose is to pay the salaries really big salaries, not to be advocates for those paying dues. There have been more important issues than pay that have been almost ignored. They also have been selling new employees down the river to benefit the old timers for decades. It has not been all for one and one for all in decades. The old timers would vote to sacrifice benefits, knowing that they would be grand-fathered in, losing nothing. THIS IS IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL. So, the unions have become just as greedy and archaic as the corporations in America. Funny that we have gone downhill without our arch enemy, Communism. AND, not taxing rich corporations and rich people because of the false belief that this would mean further job cuts is bull dinkies. Giving these people breaks does not spell jobs. These entities and people do not care about America (meaning all Americans) anymore. Those days are gone and will probably never return. They and the politicians use religion to control people and manipulate them into voting for them and agreeing with their faux beliefs. That was used most effectively in Europe during the Industrial Revolution. I am not anti-religion, but it belongs in churches, temples, mosques, and homes, not in the government and business arenas. This is a considerable failure of the American voter (among other prominent failures or short-sightedness).

September 16 2011 at 7:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The rule of reason needs to be applied to managing government workforces. A 40 hour week is not unreasonable, and that means 40 hours of actual work time. If the workers (and I use that term loosly) don't like it, let them go work in Japan where the workweek is 'M-M-T-W-Th-F-F.' lol

September 16 2011 at 10:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Sylvie's comment

The KEY is getting Gov. employees to WORK. I give you SEC watching Porn, Air Traffic Controlers sleeping. When a guy called the SEC to report something didn't seem right with B. Madoff the person at the SEC told the caller It's Not our Dept. or do we have the Authority to do anything. You'd THINK that person would call sommeone that did. Gov. employees DON'T get Fired and they KNOW it. Time to CHANGE that too along wioth TERM LIMITS for Both Houses. When the First Budgit crisis came along it was saiod that 600.,000 NON ESSNTIAL Gov. Employees would be laid off. Anyone ever wonder Why their collecting OPay, Bennies or even working if their termed NON ESSENTIAL

September 16 2011 at 10:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Four 10 hour days is just as productive as five 8 hour days. The expense for these departments
to offer their services on Friday adds up to a significant amount directly to the state and indirectly
to the employees with driving to and from work. This has been proven many times over with studies
by other companies considering 5/8's instead of a 4/10's work week.. So, if you have the same amount
of progress and can save the state and employees money..... "WHY CHANGE"....

September 16 2011 at 9:33 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

At least they are putting in a 40 hour work week, many states have given their employees a 37 and 1/2 hour work week which gives them a 7 and 1/2 hour work day. This may not sound like much but combine it with 1 hour lunches and at least two 1/2 hour breaks and you have a work day 5 and 1/2 hours long. This does not include bringing breakfast in and eating it at the desk before beginning 'work'. Perhaps states, cities and counties should tighten up a bit, there might be some productivity found and money saved.

September 16 2011 at 9:28 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

The 4 day workweek as always a bad idea. With global competition from nations where people work 60 hours a week for 10% of what American workers make it was a bad idea. Look at Europe. They are on vacation almost all summer. They are imploding due to not being cometitive and huge government with high taxes. As far as government workers go I have no problem cutting them back to 4 days as long as we reduce thier pay by 20%. They could do all thier work in three days most likely but we will pay them for four.

September 16 2011 at 7:43 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jhooperaa's comment

Their work week consists of 40 hours, they work 10 hours a day instaead of 8.

September 16 2011 at 9:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why don't we just send all of all JOB'S oversea's and we will not have to work at all.Or we can call Mexico and they can send some more Mexican's over here.Hell let's just give it all away.

September 16 2011 at 7:31 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to Motlow's comment

Has anyone looked at your phone bill? There are at least 5 fee's your being charged for.

September 16 2011 at 5:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to susan's comment
Kat Smith

1. fees
2. you're

September 16 2011 at 6:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Kat Smith's comment

enough with the spelling lessons already

September 16 2011 at 7:59 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down

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