The Twin Oaks Labor System
Principles, Policies, And Instructions
Compiled and Updated by Jake, Labor Manager
I. Introduction. The labor credit is the basic economic unit of Twin Oaks, and all economic systems get complicated over years of use. For this reason, this document is not light browsing material but a reference manual. It contains not only the labor policies but instructions for filling out labor sheets, samples of available labor statistics, some labor philosophy, and even a little bit of advice.
Since this is an all-purpose manual, there is a great deal of variation in the style. The section on filling out a labor sheet, for instance, is intended for beginners with little knowledge of the system. Many sections are more technical and will be understood only by those who know what they are looking for. The manual is not a substitute for a knowledgeable labor manager, but it should be an aid to increased understanding of our system for those who want to know more.
Some Basic Principles
1. One hour of work equals one credit. In general, the community does not permit people to get more than one credit per hour, even for two jobs done simultaneously, regardless of the efficiency to be gained. For example, chaining braid while attending a creditable meeting gives a person credit for either the braid or the meeting, or half each. This is still true if the lap work at a meeting is piecework, even for OPP. If you are taking credit for the meeting, you cannot take credit or claim a unit for anything else you might be doing at the same time.
2. Work is creditable if it is part of the regular system or otherwise approved by a manager or the Planners.
3. No one may claim credit for work done by another person. The person who does the work gets the credit. No one may pass credits to another person without the receiver doing work to earn them. (See also PSCs)
4. Credits have no cash value and cannot be converted to money unless the Community creates some special program in which such an exchange is clearly specified as part of the program (see OPP). There is no good way for a member who is leaving the Community to do anything with cos positive labor balance except take vacation. (Donating some to Weeds and Knots or changing some of it into PFF hours is sometimes permitted, however. See these policies for details.)
5. Members do not earn any equity that they can take with them if they leave. Their work goes toward maintaining and improving the Community, as well as being a source of personal satisfaction.
6. Labor records for all members are the property of the whole Community. The information is not confidential.
II. Some Definitions
Quota:. The number of hours of labor required from each member per week.
In-Quota Credit Available: One may do this work, and it is not only creditable but also fully assignable.
Over Quota: This term refers to hours of labor done over the week's quota.
Day's Quota: A week's quota divided by seven.
Vacation Balance: The accumulated hours that a member has done over quota or received as bonus that may be used for taking vacation.
Bonus: . Two and one-half credits per week for turning in your done labor credit sheet on time.
On Vacation: Taking leisure time, either on or off the farm.
On-The-Farm Vacation: Taking vacation without leaving Twin Oaks premises.
Off-The-Farm. Physically absent from Twin Oaks property, whether working for Twin Oaks or on vacation
III. The Routines of Dealing with the Labor Credit System
Twin Oaks' labor system requires everybody to plan and record personal labor. This can be a trial, but the organization, accounting, equality, liberty, and flexibility that Twin Oakers enjoy depend substantially upon this minor clerical chore.
1. Putting Your Preferences on File. The labor assigners have a file box of 3x5 cards (or file notebook of labor sheets), one for each member, with their preferences written on it. Fill one out as soon as you know enough about the system to do so intelligently. Such things as "will do two dinner shifts," or "No work before 10 A.M." or "No Louisa bus in hot weather" or "likes outdoor work" are useful to the assigners.
2. Kitchen Shift Preferences. If there is one particular K-shift that you very much don't want to do, let the assigners know (in writing, labeled "permanent preference"), so they can put it on their chart. We need more people to be willing to do any of the shifts, especially KIII, so please stay as open as you can. A request not to be assigned a particular kind of shift will generally be honored.
3. Planning the Week - Turning in a sheet on Monday (by Tuesday morning 9AM)
a. Take a blank labor sheet Fill in your name, the dates of the week starting next Friday and ending the following Thursday, and the number of days you want to be assigned. If you intend to be gone on certain days, draw a line through that day or days, so assigners will notice it. The same if you want a day on the farm completely free from assigned work. Assigners appreciate it if you write "OTF" (Off The Farm) in addition.
b. Use a pencil. Fill in on your sheet any scheduled work that you want to be assigned (if you have managerial okay). Fill in your chosen K-shift, but also mark this choice on the Culinary Master sheet posted nearby. (While you're looking at the Culinary Master, you might also want to sign up for a cooking shift). If somebody has already chosen the slot you wanted, pick a different one. Or let the assigners pick one for you. If you are a milker, fill in your milking shifts. To schedule time for some non-work activity, such as getting together with a friend, mark out this time in order not to get a work shift scheduled on top of it.
c. In the "During the Week" section of the sheet (may not be marked as such; I mean the lined section in the upper right quadrant of the page), mark any areas that you have already arranged to work in but don't have to do at any particular time, together with the number of hours you intend to work on it. For example: "Retail mailing, 4.0" (Note to new people: This is done only after you have checked with the appropriate manager.) Do not use this space for work requests. Put them below in the unlined portion called "notes."
d. There is also a "During the Day" section for each day on your sheet. This is the place to write jobs that need to be done on a certain day but necessarily at a scheduled hour, such as STP, laundry, or serf.
e. You may know of work you would like to do that you haven't talked to managers about yet. Tell the labor assigner about it, using the "notes" space. The assigner will be able to advise you how to get into this work, though the advice may be simply ask the manager of the area.
f. If you are willing to help with cooking, write that down in the "notes" space. We frequently need cooking helpers. If you don't mind an extra K-shift, note that also. If you want to do some cleaning or housework (not usually popular work), say so.
g. If you forget to turn in a sheet, the assigners will make one for you. This is when a well-filled-out personal preference card (sheet) is quite helpful, both to you and to the assigners.
h. Here are some areas that are frequently easy to get into, besides hammocks: chair rope, Emerald City wood, varnishing (both stretchers and chairs), stretcher drilling/making, house cleaning, laundry, pillows, sawmill. In addition, positions on office, milking, STP or garden crews, and town trippers come open with fair frequency (two or three times a year, at least). Openings are not guaranteed in any area in any given time period, but certainly there will be many opportunities caused by people's changing jobs or leaving the Community. Watch the 3x5 board for work that interests you..
4. Revisions. Turn your sheet in to the appropriate box. The labor assigners will finish it and have it ready for you to look at by Wednesday evening -- sometimes earlier. The period between Wednesday-when-the-sheets-come-out and Thursday Noon is called Revision time. This means you look at your sheet and see if there is anything wrong with it. If there is, make a check mark in the little square at the top of the sheet called "revisions?" and then, using the back of the sheet, explain to the assigners what the problem is. Do not erase anything from the front of the sheet or add anything. The assigner will do it. This is because your sheet is not the only paper to be changed, and the assigner needs to make sure all changes get made correctly.
A typical revision might be "Please try to change my KIII to a different, because I agreed to primary a child that night" or "Sorry, I forgot I had a doctor's appointment on Tuesday at 11:00 A.M. Please change the food processing shift to a different day." And so forth. Make changes only if you need to, and please be courteous to the labor assigner. Never take your sheet away during revision time, even if you are perfectly satisfied with it. It hasn't gone thru computer entry yet. Look at it, make notes if you wish, then put it back.
On Thursday at Noon, the assigner picks up the sheets again and works the rest of the afternoon on making the requested revisions. Frequently one person's revision causes changes on somebody else's sheet, so don't be surprised if your final sheet isn't exactly the way it was on Wednesday. The assigners try not to change the sheets very much, since they know most people don't like surprises of this kind.
On Thursday evening, the sheets are taken by the labor coder and the data entered into the computer. Late Thursday they are put in the box available for you. At this point you may and should take your own sheet and put in your room or your pocket. Most likely you won't pick it up until some time Friday.
In the meantime, so that you can be prepared for your Friday work, there is a "Friday Work Sheet" posted in various public places (Llano office, ZK, Tupelo). It tells who is scheduled for what work on Friday. Check it out to see if you by any chance are supposed to milk the cows or make lunch on Friday morning!
Special Rules for Residents
Temporary residents are expected to do quota the same as members, but they are allowed 2-days'quota in work of their choice, which does not get subtracted from managerial budgets. The reason for this is, that residents are normally not eligible for managerships or for certain crews. This rule gives them work flexibility so they won't get stuck with work they don't like.
Filling Out Your Done Labor:
1. No credits for educational meetings any more. Feel free to schedule activities of various sorts, but take credit only for those that a manager says are creditable.
2. Feel free to use a pen if you want to! Assigners need you to use pencil in the "assigned" section of the sheet, but' a nice dark pen in the done labor section, along with fairly clear handwriting, helps the office people a lot, especially if your sheet gets fuzzy being carried in a pocket all week.
3. We keep records to only 1 decimal place. Thus, an hour and a quarter is either 1.3 or 1.2, but not 1.25.
4. The accuracy to which done labor records are kept varies from member to member. Some members carry their sheets with them and write things down when they do them. Others estimate at the end of the day. Still others try to remember after several days have passed. This last is definitely not recommended! Nobody can really remember with any accuracy what co did 3 days ago.
5. If you lose your sheet, come to the office and get an office person to show you how to make up a facsimile from the People Finder. Then fill it in the best you can remember.
6. If you do work and don't know what to call it, ask almost anybody. Most members have a very clear knowledge of the basics of the system. However, if you want to know something complex about the system, you'll get the most accurate information from the labor manager or cos assistants.
At the End of the Week
Add up your sheet. Add it across as well as down. In fact, the Across direction is the important one. It saves office people a lot of time. Then turn the sheet in to the Done Labor box, either at Zhankoye or in Llano office, before Saturday noon. If your sheet is late, you may lose the 2.5 credit bonus, but we need the sheet anyway. Failure to turn the sheet in means no credits are given for the week. By now you have your new sheet. This goes on and on, maybe for the rest of your life. It's all worth it, honest.
The planners set the average yearly quota for the forthcoming year when they do the economic plan. The labor manager, within those limits, may vary quota from week to week for good reasons. If, for any reason, the average quota cannot or should not be maintained as planned, the labor manager consults with the planners and then either raises or lowers quota as directed by the planners.
Credits that qualify for meeting quota
1. Work approved by managers of the areas
2. Sick time taken according to the community's sick leave policies.
3. Pension hours taken according to the health team's pension policies.
4. Visits to doctors, dentists, etc., approved by health team and in accordance with its policies.
5. Leaves of absence approved by health team or planners.
6. Personal Service Credits (PSCs) or other "over quota" areas.
Rates at Which Credits May be Taken. and Limits to Them
1. In general, one hour of work equals one credit.
2. Sick time is creditable as above, except that on a day in which sick leave is taken, total credit for the day may not exceed a day's quota.
3. Pension hours depend on the biological age of the person taking them. Every person over the age of 49 may take one pension credit (credit without doing any work for it) per week for every year of age past 49. (Example, a person 56 years old gets 7 pension credits per week.) Pension credits are intended as a lowering of quota for older people and may be taken by people of the appropriate age, regardless of how much work they do or where they are. Generally, visitors in the appropriate age group may also take pension credits during their visit. This is a health team policy and subject to change by them.
4. Doctor and dentist visits are fully creditable for the time one is with the doctor or dentist or waiting for the doctor or dentist to be available, plus the actual transportation time to the city where the appointment is. No credit for waiting due to car-pooling is given by health team.
5. Leaves of absence are creditable at one day's quota for each day of Leave of Absence. No over-quota may be claimed on a Leave of Absence. If any community work is done, it should be claimed, but the total of the work and the Leave of Absence credit each day may not exceed a day's quota.
6. Personal Service Credits (PSCs) are always at 1 credit per hour.
7. Childcare and Primary time: check current Child board policy, or talk to a Child board member or parent.
Labor budgets are set for each area of the community by the planners at economic planning time for the coming year, based on the requests of the managers, modified by the Tradeoff Game. At the same time, the managers determine how they want their labor budgets spread over the four quarters of the year. The amount so designated for each quarter then becomes the budget for that quarter, but can be transferred from quarter to quarter. Each week the amount of labor done is subtracted from the available labor budget for the quarter. If the budget is used up before the end of the quarter, any of the following may occur:
1 The planners may agree to increase the labor budget for a particular area, or allow it to be overspent, if they think it wise.
2. The labor manager or planners may agree to take credits for the overspent area from another quarter if the problem is simply one of distribution. In the event that a labor budget is overspent without special arrangement, and not caught in time to prevent the over-expenditure, the labor manager may, at cos discretion, take the extra hours out of future quarters, but need not do so, especially if the work assigned seems vital or the over-expenditure is due to inadequate information to managers (like late budget reports).
How Population Affects Budgets
Yearly labor budgets are based on an estimate of labor availability made by the planners in November of the previous year. In the course of the labor year, population may change enough so that there is significantly more, or substantially less labor than predicted.
It is up to the planners to decide whether any changes will be made in budgets due to population changes. There are many factors that affect their decision, such as (1) need for additional income to support increased population; (2) requests from members to translate a population rise into lowered quota; (3) need to cut budgets to fit into actual labor supply when it is lower than prediction; (4) things that come up mid-year that seem necessary or highly desirable to do; (5) concern that population, though higher than predicted early in the year, may fall below prediction later; and so forth. The planners are under no legal obligation to lower quota when population goes up but may choose to do so.
Vacation Credits and Vacation Balances
Every member can be given or earn labor credits with which to take vacations, either on or off the farm. The community gives 2.5 credits (referred to as "bonus" credits) per week to each member who turns in cos completed sheet on time. That means Saturday Noon, or sometimes a little bit later if the sheets haven't been picked for processing right away. If you're a few minutes late, it is worth your while to get your sheet to the office and put it with the others. It will probably be counted as "on time." If you turn in a sheet late, but there was some very good reason you couldn't turn it in on time, attach a note to this effect (Such as "I was gone over the weekend"), and your sheet will usually be counted as "on time."
The credits accumulated by this means add up to 130 credits per year (52 weeks times 2.5 credits). This is somewhere between 2 and 3 weeks, depending on quota. Please note that any reference you might hear to "guaranteed vacation" or to "the community gives 2-1/2 weeks per year" refer to this arrangement. There is no other vacation given by the community, and it is not given in a lump. The vacation balance you see on the monthly Vacation Balance Report is, for its date, the complete amount available.
Members may earn extra credits with which to take extra vacation by working over quota (in the sense of working more hours than quota requires). Vacation balances are cumulative. They remain in the member's vacation balance until used, carrying over from year to year. When the vacation hours are taken, the balance goes down accordingly. Vacation balances for each week are calculated this way: credits claimed (done) plus bonus hours minus quota for the given week.
A record of the cumulative balance for each member is kept on computer and calculated afresh each month (usually between the 10th and 25th of the following month, depending on other work pressures). Anyone who needs a more precise, up-to-date figure can get it with (or without) the help of the labor manager or an office person by referring to more recent sheets and doing the calculations by hand.
A. Using Vacation Hours.
Vacation time may be taken either on or off the farm. It may be used in any increment, down to the tenth of an hour. If a member goes away for a week and does no community work during that week, zero done hours will be recorded for that week. Quota will be subtracted. Bonus credits will be given. Then the new vacation balance will automatically be lower by about a week's worth of credits than it was before the vacation was taken.
A member may be gone for a month or a weekend or a single day or part of a day. Or co may stay right here on the farm and not do any work, lie in a hammock, walk in the woods, compose poetry, or spend the entire time in bed. That's also vacation.
Or, co may intend to work but dawdle at the dinner table, chat with friends, and unintentionally waste time, finding at the end of the week that co has done only 40 hours when co meant to do 47. The difference here is also called vacation. It is not intention that makes a vacation; it is the not-doing of community creditable work. The community sometimes has members who never seem to have any off-the-farm vacation because they spend it all right here, doing less than quota frequently enough to use up what they accumulate. This is their choice. Sometimes members can do community work while on vacation off the farm. For instance, an indexer may take along an index to work on, or a manager might do some writing or phone calls.
B. Timing of Vacations
Members may take vacation at will, except in cases where they have agreed with other members to keep some work area covered and to schedule their vacations. There are several good reasons to maintain responsible behavior in work areas and avoid impulsive traveling to the detriment of the community's well being. However, this is left to conscience and social control. The labor system does not control it.
C. Going in the Labor Hole
Members who want to go on vacation but have not saved up enough credits for it may borrow briefly under certain conditions. This is spelled out in detail in a policy called the "Labor Hole Policy," which is not part of this document but should be kept with it.
Requisitioning Labor for Yourself and Other People
This is mostly for managers, but other people may also from time to time have reason to put in labor requisitions. For semi-permanent assignments, give the labor assigners a requisition and ask them to put it in their permanent assignment book or personal preference card. For example, "Give me 5 hours a week of dairy managerial time DTW every week until further notice." This will result in the job's appearing on labor credit sheets regularly without further attention on the part of the manager.
For one-time or temporary jobs, fill out a labor requisition form and turn it in on Monday or Tuesday morning. State whether you need specific people or just anybody willing. Separate members from visitors. In short, fill in the information the form asks for. Remember that member labor requisitioned comes out of your area's labor budget, and visitor labor does not.
If you are requisitioning a meeting, note carefully whether it is being assigned at full credit (desirable if your budget can afford it) or at partial credit. Requisitions for meetings need to be in on time. It is very difficult for meetings to be scheduled on revisions, because so many people may be involved.
Miscellaneous Odd Parts of the Labor System
PFF Hours: PFF stands for "Products For Friends." The community allows members to earn hammocks or other products to give away or trade by doing products work without taking credit for it. There is a list of products and the number of hours it takes to earn each one kept in the products office by one of the products desk people. That person also handles the transaction when the actual product leaves our inventory. If you want to earn such a product, first earn the credits, then get it shipped (Leave a note for the products desk people, asking them to do the shipping for you. Give them the address where the product is going, of course.)
The hours are recorded on the labor credit sheet when you do them but are not added in to the total credits for the week. Please circle the number of credits, to remind everyone concerned not to count those credits toward quota or vacation balance, and also to be sure they are credited to your PFF balance. Warning: It not okay to do PFF if you are in the labor hole!
Members may turn their positive labor balance into PFF retroactively, but this creates extra clerical work and should not be done lightly. The usual reason for doing this is that the member is leaving and wants to take products with co. The labor manager does the transaction, lowering the labor balance by the amount necessary for the purchase of the products. The labor manager and Products General Manager reserve the right to limit the number of products purchased in this way.
OPP Accounting: OPP stands for Overquota Products for Projects. This system allows members and others to make hammocks and other products without credit, a certain percentage of the profit from the product to go to favorite, member-chosen purchases or expenses for the community or donations to various causes. OPP is handled by the planners in conjunction with the products general manager or GMT. It is a piecework system, and the accounting is done by means of tickets filled out upon work being completed OPP hours are not recorded on the labor credit sheet at all. It is not okay to do OPP units when you are in the labor hole.
New Member Hours
For the first eight weeks of membership, new members are given "new member hours." This means simply that the new member can go around and find work to do by asking managers if they need help. The assumption is that many new members will be interested in some kind of work but won't be yet in a position to get on the some crews or take credits from some budgets. With the freedom of the new member hours, the new member can volunteer to work in areas of cos choice, and the hours do not come out of any budget. After 8 weeks, presumably the new person has a better idea of how to get a satisfactory schedule, and the new member hours are discontinued.
When filling out the done section of the labor credit sheet, do not write "new member hours." This is NOT a category of done labor. Write the name of the area that you actually did work for. Draw a separate column to the right of the overquota column on your labor sheet to indicate which hours (up to a day's quota) are to be credited as new member hours.
The community allows new members two free days for moving in, plus whatever is left of the day they arrive. This is handled by lowering your quota in the first week. Mark on your sheet the day you arrived and the words "moving in" on the two following days. (It doesn't matter whether you actually use the time for moving or not.)
If you end up working on those two-and-a-fraction days, do claim the labor. You will get credit for the work, and it will give you a nice start on a vacation balance. If, on the other hand, moving takes you longer than two days, you're on your own time for the rest of it. The community rarely gives labor credits for moving. (If you think yours might be a special case, talk to the Trusterty manager to see if co can allow credit.)
Credits for doing prescribed things to maintain personal health are sometimes granted by the health team for such things as doing special exercises. They are taken only with permission of the health team and they are limited to the amount set by the team.
Anyone may take credit for teaching anything to anyone, as long as the learner wants to learn it. Normal uses for teaching credits include teaching a language, a musical instrument, a recreational skill or academic subject. The situation becomes borderline when one person teaches cos favorite friend to recognize forest flora, and they end up making love among the wild violets. Use your judgment and your conscience about how much of that to take credit for.
The idea of Labor Exchange (LEX) is to give members of two communities the opportunity to experience the other community, without using up their vacation balances. The labor for these exchanges is not part of the yearly economic plan. No labor is set aside for it. This is because we assume we will get the labor back during the same planning period. There is enough slack in our system so this condition need not be absolute.
The labor manager will approve members' doing LEX at another community if Twin Oaks owes labor to that community or if that community does not have a large debt to Twin Oaks and seems likely to pay back the credits within a year or so. If Twin Oaks members visit and work at a community that owes Twin Oaks a large labor debt, LEX credit may generally not be claimed.
Incoming LEX -- members of other communities working with us as part of the LEX program -- is treated the same as Resident labor. Five days are assigned, and the other two days are unassigned to give the LEX person freedom to seek work of cos choice. The five days of assigned labor come out of area budgets.
Certain things are not creditable as LEX in either direction. They are the things that do not benefit the community being visited, such as sick, pension, doctor appointments, and the personal care of children traveling with the member who is away from home. The host community doesn't get anything out of these things, and for that reason we do not exchange it for labor that does benefit the host community. The visiting labor exchanger wants to claim credit for these things, they get these credits from the home community, and the rules for whether the labor can be taken are determined by the home community.
Personal Service Credits (PSCs)
Any member may "pay" another member to work for co by having the credits subtracted from cos personal labor balance and added to the balance of the person who did the work. There must be actual work to back up every credit. If three or fewer PSCs are claimed in a given week, they need not be explained. However, more than 3 credits claimed in a week should be accompanied by a brief explanation of the work. The PSC transaction is recorded by the person doing the work, NOT the person giving the credits. It is entered on the done-labor section of the labor sheet like any other job.
Pooled PSCs: If members wish to, they may donate labor credits from their labor balances to a pool of credits to be used by worthy projects, such as political action, or theatrical productions. Again, these credits may be then claimed by the people doing the work. The labor manager oversees these transactions, in order for the credits to balance properly. The claimed labor is done the same way as any other PSC transaction, except that the name of the fund is given instead of the name of the member to be charged.
Personal Service Credits are an exception to our overall labor economy. Since we have many years experience with them, at this point we do not consider them likely to have a negative effect on our system. However, it is the labor manager's responsibility to watch how large this segment of the economy becomes, and to curtail it if it should ever become a major, rather than occasional, way of allocating labor.
Small Group Cooking
Cooking for a group of 7 people or more is creditable and assignable, regardless of which kitchen is used or what the reason is for the special meal. Washing dishes and cleaning up are always creditable anywhere. Both cooking and cleaning are assignable and come from kitchen budget. Cooking for oneself is not creditable unless by special permission from a relevant manager for some unusual reason. Small group cooking policy is part of kitchen policy and subject to change by them.
Weeds and Knots Credit
Weeds and Knots Committee sometimes asks members to donate credits from their vacation balances to a fund from which the committee distributes credits to members who want to do special projects. If you apply for and get such credits, claim them as "WeedsP." Credits which come from other people's donations are not assignable but over-quota only, like personal service.
If, however, Weeds and Knots gets a budget for projects in the econ plan, the credits are treated like any other budget. Weeds and Knots does not have the authority to give away credits just to get people out of the labor hole. However, it is allowed to give matching credits for people who are working themselves out of the hole. This is at the rate of 1 credit from Weeds and Knots for every credit the member does over quota, for as long as co is in the labor hole, or less, at the committee's discretion. You cannot claim Weeds and Knots credit, either within or over quota, for more credits than the actual amount allotted by Weeds and Knots.
Kitchen Shift Policies and Practices
Almost everyone is required to take a turn at kitchen shifts. The only exceptions are (1) health-team approved exemptions for people who have health-related reasons for not doing them; (2) Zhankoye bathroom clean; (3) Llano bathroom clean; (4) Tupelo serf; (5) Llano serf. People with health exemptions have first priority on the bathroom jobs.
To be free from a K-shift in a given week requires more than merely being on a Llano serf crew or being a member of Tupelo. It means that you actually have one of these alternatives shifts assigned in the week under consideration. In the case of Tupelo, people who share serf shifts and do what is called "half serfs" are exempted from Zhankoye kitchen shifts half the time.
At times when there are few non-exempt people available for shifts, because of low population on the farm, some people may have to do more than one shift. The assigners will probably assign people who have done fewer shifts than others. (They keep track.) This means that people who take a lot of vacation or other time off the farm are quite likely to be assigned steadily when they are here, and are the most likely to be assigned an occasional extra shift when we need one.
If there is some important reason for you to be free of a kitchen shift in a given week, and if it is not a low-population time, you can ask to be excused from a K-shift for that week. But this should not be done more than once a year or so, and the request may be denied if the person is absent a lot.
If you have a health condition which makes K-shifts a hardship to you, go to the health team to ask for an exemption. If you believe you would rather do one of the K-shift exempt jobs than a regular K-shift, there may or may not be an opening. Ask around to find out who is currently in charge of these areas. Also, watch for such announcements on the 3x5 board, as with any other job.
Labor Policy Notes for Managers
A. Choosing Crew Members.
Twin Oaks allows managers to pick their own crews, because experience has shown that members in general are happier working in compatible crews. However, this privilege should be used carefully, always keeping in mind the basic egalitarian aims of the community.
We do not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, age, sexual preference, etc. Keep in mind that this rule works both ways. We don't discriminate against minorities, but we don't discriminate against majorities either. It is not okay to overlook a male candidate because one would rather work with a woman, for example. Affirmative action, for purposes of righting old wrongs, such as the formation of an all-female construction crew in order to encourage self-confidence, may be done occasionally if there really seems to be good reason for it, but this should be checked out with the council, planners, labor manager, or the community via the O&I Board, and not done casually. Attempts at keeping a sexual balance on a crew are legitimate if gender seems to be relevant to the job.
Temporary jobs: One-time or short-term jobs can be given to people who happen to be handy, without going through the formality of job posting, Otherwise:
1) Post the job opening on the 3x5 board. Leave it up about a week to collect signatures.
2) Interview all signers, either formally or informally. At a minimum, tell all signers who got the job. Preferably, talk to each of them and honestly consider them before making a decision.
3) Make your choice and post your decision on the 3x5 board. All of the above apply both to individual managers and to group managerships.
B. Training Positions for Future Management
When a manager is planning to quit, or for any reason feels that cos area needs a backup person with managerial knowledge, the position of trainee should be posted with the statement that the job (though minor at first) may lead to management. This does not, however, absolutely guarantee that the future vacancy will go to the trainee. It just makes it quite likely.
C. Requesting Visitor Labor
The supply of visitor labor varies with the size and makeup of the visitor group. The assigners cannot always fill every request. Therefore it is not always wise to leave vital work for visitor groups. When asking for visitor labor, keep in mind that the quality of the visit may well determine whether a newcomer decides to join. To assign a visitor group to a task that no member would consent to do is not fair and not good for recruitment. Be especially careful with hard physical labor. Many visitors are not in physical shape to take this on, and a four-hour shift may be a serious hardship. Labor assigners should not assign long hard physical labor to people who are weak, old, overweight, etc.
D. Approving Labor
It is every manager's responsibility to decide what labor should be approved in cos area. This is easy in the day-to-day labor, which has years of tradition behind it. But from time to time members will want credit (usually over-quota) for a particular activity and will ask a manager for permission to take credit. Managers should always stop and consider the questions "Is this legitimate community work? Is it, in my opinion, within the scope of my area, a worthwhile thing for the community to spend its labor on?"
If the answer is yes, you should give permission. If not, you should deny it, even if it's over-quota and not out of your budget- Remember, done labor, even if over-quota, is later taken in vacation and therefore is part of our shared workload. If you think a job is legitimate, but you just don't have enough budget to cover it, you can say "Yes, but only over-quota." Judgment is required.
Example: If someone wants to get credit for taking a class at a local university in a subject related to your area, and you suspect co is not going to be a member long enough for the community to benefit, you should deny the credit. But if you predict a long and fruitful community career to which this class looks relevant, you would probably want to approve it. If this kind of decision-making makes you nervous, consult with your council or with any experienced member or, if you wish, the labor manager.
E. "Firing" crew members and workers.
On those rare occasions when it is obvious that a worker does not get along with the rest of the crew, or the work being done is unacceptable and the worker unwilling or unable to improve, or other serious problems, it is the manager's unpleasant duty to remove the worker from the crew or position. It is required that the member being removed from cos work be, at a minimum, notified of the decision. (Don't just take co off the job card and hope co never mentions it.) Co may choose to protest or appeal the decision to the Council, which has the power to support or overturn the manager's decision.
There are ways short of the formal channels listed above in which such a situation might be handled, Consult with people skilled in dealing with emotion-loaded process about such methods as feedbacks, reviews, and the like. The best course of action will vary with the individual and the situation.
The Economic Plan and How it Relates to Labor
Once a year, in November, each manager needs to make up a plan for the upcoming year (Jan - Dec), as well as a quarterly breakdown of predicted labor use. The planners always help with this process, since there are always new managers. If, between economic plans, a manager finds that the work co is responsible for cannot reasonable be done within the budget allotted, and there are not people interested in doing it over quota, co can ask the planners for additional credits. These are not given lightly, but if reasons are sufficient, budgets are sometimes raised or permission given to overspend them.
Planner Contingency Credits
Sometimes the planners set aside a fund of labor credits for things that may come up midyear. This is not used to balance out overspent managerial budgets, but it is sometimes used to create small grants of additional hours to managers. Usually, however, these credits are reserved for emergencies and for special projects that come up midyear and are considered by the planners to be urgent enough not to wait for the next tradeoff game. .
Labor Information Available to Members
The labor manager has various reports which may be of interest to members from time to time. They are all available to be looked at at any time, but you might have to ask the labor manager to help you find the one you're looking for.
1. Labor credit sheets for past weeks. These are filed by member name in a file cabinet opposite the Llano office person's desk. Any labor adjustment sheets for each member are in the same file. Past years' labor sheets are stored for one or two years..
2. Quarterly Report of Work in Each Area, summarized by person and by area. Kept in one large 3-ring binder. At least once a year the personal ones are distributed to individual members so that they can see a summary of what they have been doing, comparing it to what they were assigned.
3. Quarterly and yearly summary reports on all areas, not by person. Kept in labor managerial notebook, and also frequently posted on one of the clipboards in the office, under the labor budget reports.
4. Weekly Labor Budget Reports. Posted in Llano office on a clipboard. Also kept in labor managerial notebook.
5. Monthly Vacation Balance Report. Every member's balance as of the end of the previous month. Posted in the office, and kept in labor managerial notebook.
6. PFF Hours Report. Labor manager keeps a record of PFF hours claimed in the managerial notebook. The products desk person also has a copy.
7. PSCs. Labor manager keeps a record of all Personal Service Credits claimed. It is in the labor managerial notebook. The record of donations to various credit funds is kept only on the computer.
8. Weekly Masters. Every week the assigned work is put into the computer from the
labor sheets, and the computer prints out a report we can refer to during the week to see who is supposed to be doing what. The computer also produces a facsimile of each labor sheet, used for locating people during the week (the People Finder) copies of which are posted in both ZK lounge or Llano office. If you need labor information and don't know which report to look for, the labor manager or cos assistants will try to help you.
Who Appoints to What Positions
1. Planners. New and Stand-in planners are nominated by the planners, go through group veto process, and the nomination becomes an appointment if the candidate is not vetoed (20 percent necessary for veto.) A planner can be recalled by a 2/3 vote of the full members.
2. Managers. Managers are appointed by a council of which the manager is a member. Exceptions: Planners (see above), Products general manager, Child Board, membership team, health team, garden crew, and other crew or team managerships. A manager may be removed by the same council if necessary.
Products general manager is appointed (or recalled) by the planners, with community input, not by the Income Council. Reason: the job appears to be too big for a council to handle. Team managerships generally fill vacancies by agreement among those remaining on the team. The same would presumably apply to removing a team member. Child Board members: Child Board nominates, and candidates go through veto process. (16 percent of full members can veto.)
"Mothers" and the like. Appointed by the manager who needs one, removed if necessary by the same. The legal status of these jobs is the same as crew member under a manager. Example: Room Assigner is a "mothership" under the managership "Trusterty." Like any other managerial or council decision, any such decision, either to appoint or to remove someone from office, can be appealed to the planners and, eventually, the community majority.
Jobs in the Labor Area Itself
The Labor area employs a manager, sometimes an assistant manager, an assigned labor coder, one or more done labor data entry people. Any time any of the jobs is open, it is posted on the 3x5 board in the ordinary way
A Brief Explanation of Slack Labor
This is for people who are interested in how the whole labor system works. Understanding slack labor is not at all necessary for day-to-day operations. Planners, at least, do need to understand it before they do the economic plan.
In the early years of labor budgeting we did the obvious thing -- predicted the labor needs of each area, based on the previous years' records, added a small fudge factor, and set the resulting amounts as budgets. This is easy to understand, but it didn't work very well. There were always several areas that needed more labor than they were budgeted, several others that didn't need as much as predicted, and plenty of spare people-power that couldn't be assigned within budgets. This is because predicting isn't accurate- The first solution was simply to ignore overspent budgets as long as the labor supply held up. But this method favored managers who were careless and punished those who paid attention to their budgets. So we sought something fairer.
What we do now is give most areas a budget slightly bigger than we think they are going to need. This results in our apportioning more labor than we predict having. We calculate the amount of labor we believe we will have, and then add an amount between 5 and 20 percent.
As a result, few areas run out of credits, and most areas use less than they have- The unused labor is called "slack." Very occasionally there is a crunch, in which insufficient slack is produced in a given week, and managers collectively requisition more labor than is available. When this happens, it is up to the planners to decide which areas get the available labor and which have to wait. This happens rarely enough that in general we say that the slack system works. We have been doing it since 1985.
Dubious and Questionable Practices
Our labor system, like any economic system, is full of loopholes. It is easy to manipulate for various personal motives, some of which are perfectly legitimate.
!. Claiming work that wasn't done. This is pretty obviously dishonest. We are vulnerable to this, because the whole system works on trust, and nobody is keeping close track of anybody else's work. Violating the community's trust in this way is legal cause for expulsion, though that probably wouldn't be the first thing we'd do.
2. Double-crediting. Very sloppy record-keeping can result in remembering what one did, and taking credit, but forgetting that one did two of these things at the same time --such as doing data-entry on an office shift, or laundry during a primary shift. Remember that one hour's work gets one hour's credit, even if two things get accomplished.
3. Estimating to the nearest hour. It is reasonable for people to estimate the amount of time they spend working at various things, but you need to get closer than the hour. Rounding up to 6 hours when clocked time would have shown 5.2 is definitely not okay- Remember that some people are timing themselves to the minute, and this practice is unfair to them. Please keep better track. Rounding both up and down to the nearest half-hour is okay.
4. Claiming work on the wrong day. It is possible, but not legal, to claim work on a day different from the day it was done, in order to get around the underassigned rule. (It thus becomes "over-quota" on a day that was already full.) Nobody can spot this, and if people do it, they get away with it, but it isn't right.
5. Claiming sick hours DTW (during the week). Sick hours are legitimate only to the extent that the day in which they were claimed does not total more than 1/7 of quota, including any work done that day. When a person claims sick credits DTW, there is not enough information to determine that these limits were honored. Always claim your sick on the days you were sick, and the same with the work you did.
Child Area Labor Rules
This seems to be changeable depending on the current group of parents and Child Board. Please refer to current Child Board information about credit for childcare, or talk to a parent or member of the Child Board.