Monday, May 26, 2014

Berkeley Flexible Work Time Initiative

I organized the Flexible Work Time Initiative, and we have gathered enough signatures to get it on the November Berkeley ballot.

This initiative is an advisory measure that calls on the city council and on the state and federal government to make it easier for employees to choose part-time work and other flexible working arrangements by passing laws similar to laws that have been successful for over a decade in the Netherlands, Germany, and the UK and that have recently been passed in Vermont and San Francisco.

Existing laws emphasize the benefit to parents who need to balance their work and family obligations.

We are also emphasizing the environmental benefit: if people choose to consume less and work less, then they will also pollute less. A study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that, if Americans worked the same hours as west Europeans, it would reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 20% - and the reduction would become greater over time.

Many environmentalists say that we need to live more simply to deal with the ecological problems of the coming century, but people cannot live more simply as long as they do not even have the choice of working shorter hours, choosing to have more time instead of more stuff. This is the one politically feasible law that will make it easier for people to downshift economically. 

At first, the environmental effect will be small, but over the coming century, this sort of law can make a major contribution to controlling global warming and to improving the quality of life.

For more information, see