Editor's Note: The Battle of Loos

July 22, 2014

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You've probably seen the headlines on the Web of a manufacturing company limiting scheduled bathroom breaks to six minutes a day to recoup lost production time. It's head-turning stuff.

It got ugly for WaterSaver Faucet Co., a manufacturer in Chicago, when its labor dispute with a workers union spilled into the media with remarkable headlines of the company limiting bathroom breaks to six minutes a day.

Forced into damage control, Steve Kersten, owner and CEO, said excessive bathroom use caused the company to recently lose 120 hours of production time,  which led to the excessive countermeasure. In labor contract disputes, the truth usually lies somewhere between what union members and employers respectively claim to the press, but Kersten didn’t deny installing a swipe card system for workers to punch to go in and out of washrooms. And he said employees have used a gift card reward program for not using the bathroom during non-break times, leaving us to wonder did HR, at some point, say maybe there were better, less draconian ways to improve the work environment?

This PR nightmare will take a while to clean up, and forget about attracting new hires. On Wednesday, Tim McAward of Kelly Services will have a follow-up article to this week’s engineering jobs outlook, with color commentary on a winning industrial work environment, so stay tuned to ThomasNet News. Figure employee flexibility -- and the decency of bathroom breaks, no less -- to be a part of that. William Ng, Editor-in-Chief, wng@thomasnet.com.

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