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CHAPTER 4: Forced Overtime in the Land of the Free

John de Graaf Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Not long ago, I gave a speech about Take Back Your Time Day at Southern Utah University. The large student audience was quiet, but very sympathetic, as shown by written comments that were sent to me. However, one professor of economics challenged my support of European laws ensuring vacations and reasonable working hours. It was, he said, a matter of “free choice.” American workers, by agreeing to contracts with their employers, freely choose the hours they work. Why did I want to force them to choose fewer hours? The “free choice” mantra is often raised when one talks about working hours, but as Lonnie Golden (who has carefully researched the issue for the Economic Policy Institute) makes clear, for more and more Americans, long overtime hours are hardly freely chosen. —JdG

On December 12, 1999, grim news came from the state of Maine. Following a winter storm, Brent Churchill, a telephone lineman working almost continuously (with only five hours of sleep in the previous two-and-a-half days), reached for a 7,200 volt cable and was electrocuted. In response, Maine became the first state to limit the number of involuntary overtime hours employers could require from an employee, capping them at 80 hours within any two-week period.

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Blanchard, Ken Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub
Medium 9781574411904


Naomi Scott University of North Texas Press PDF


Shedrow: A row of stalls in a horse barn, fronting on a covered walkway.

Spasticity: Increased tension of muscles when certain nerve signals are not sent by the brain, or are blocked from traveling to the spinal cord.

Spastic: Characterized by spasms. Hypertonic, meaning the muscles are rigid and the movements awkward. The more quickly a muscle is stretched, the stiffer it becomes.

Spatial Awareness: The ability to work within one’s own space, and to organize people and objects in relation to one’s own body. Indication of developmental lags include bumping into, spilling or being hit by things; backing away from moving objects; and short attention span.

Spatial Orientation: Our natural ability to maintain our body orientation and/or posture in relation to the surrounding environment, at rest and during motion. It depends on the brain’s effective perception, integration and interpretation of sensory information from visual, vestibular (inner ear), and proprioceptive (receptors located in the skin, muscles, tendons and joints) systems, and to a lesser degree, the auditory system.

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1. Favorite Books, Favorite Music

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe University of North Texas Press PDF



Favorite Books, Favorite Music

WE RETURNED TO THE NIMBUS GRAY SKIES of an upstate New York winter with our Christmas bounty, including several new toys for the boys and more winter clothes, something we didn’t collect much of while living in California. Sam received three halfhour videotapes filled with Dr. Seuss books from Mark’s aunt, a West Texas schoolteacher, for a Christmas present. He watched them on Mom and Dad’s video player dozens of times before we left. With one book on each tape, the animators set Dr.

Seuss’s words in motion. Sam’s eyes darted as capital A catapulted across the screen.

“BIG A little a

What begins with A?”

I hoped Sam might see the letter a and recognize the secret code of this squiggly shape: the first sound of “Aunt Annie’s alligator . . . . . . . A . . a . . A.” But at least something literary and artful held his attention for thirty minutes at a time.

We were finding places for the new stuff all around the living room floor, making the flat look like a kids’ house where

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3. Playmates

Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe University of North Texas Press PDF


Sam’s preschool room was pleasant enough. One wall was lined with windows. The teacher, Mrs. Vargas, had a computer in the corner with a few games that taught the alphabet, math concepts, and counting. She seldom let Sam or the other eight children, all boys, use the computer. I could tell that Nick had

Down’s syndrome and Max had cerebral palsy. I couldn’t tell what the other children’s disabilities were. I didn’t ask because

I’d recently learned another one of the California Rules of Special Education Order: We Don’t Label A Child. They put the policy in place, ostensibly, because labels impose artificial limits upon children.

Mrs. Vargas was excited about the new, whole-language method of readying children for reading. She read books like

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to the boys each day as they sat on carpet squares in a circle around her. She bought editions with pages as big as movie posters, and pointed to the giant-print words as she read them. Some of the books dwarfed Russell and John, the smallest boys in the class. Maybe they were preemies, I thought.

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