Twin Oaks Intentional Community
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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.