New social justice group JUST America wants Austin Police Chief Brian Manley gone after talks break down
A new Austin-based group focused on racial injustice and policing announced on Tuesday its support for the resignation of Austin Police Chief Brian Manley—just days after standing with him to publicly support changes at the police department in the wake of the recent protests.
Standing in front of the downtown police headquarters, organizers at JUST America said they have faced "backlash from the community" after a news conference with Manley last week, and that the "entire situation has been a tough journey for us."
But the reason for the reversal, said organizer Eric Lee Brown, was that Manley had not continued the dialogue with them in the days since last Thursday's press conference at the Boys and Girls Club during an Austin City Council meeting focused on police reforms.
"I do want to thank Chief Brian Manley for meeting with us that one time in such a short amount of time," Brown said. "However, after the events unfolded and the lack of terms met between JUST America and the community with APD, we would like to announce to the public that we formally and publicly support the resignation and/or firing of Chief Brian Manley."
Some of the first public signs of JUST America appeared on social media some 48 hours before the council approved a series of overhauls that included slashing the police budget and staff, as well as a no-confidence vote on the chief.
The resolutions were born out of violent clashes between police and demonstrators protesting the police shooting death of Austin resident Michael Ramos and George Floyd in Minneapolis.
JUST America's press conference with Manley raised eyebrows on social media and among more established social justice groups like Austin Justice Coalition—which has a long history of meeting with the chief but has publicly called for his resignation or removal—because they were brand new and appeared to be supporting Manley.
Brown said at the press conference that their organization knew at some point the relationship forged between JUST America and the police, stemming from their connection with a police officer in the rank and file, would eventually deteriorate.
"Knowing that he was not going to meet our demands, our end goal has always been to stand with the community," Brown said, "but we wanted to make as many changes as possible before we did so."
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The 40-hour workweek has reigned since around the time of the Great Depression. But a new schedule gaining steam could lead some companies to throw out the practice of having employees clock in five days a week.
Promising results are coming out halfway into a six-month trial of four-day workweeks in the U.K. with 35 out of 41 companies responding to a recent survey saying they were “likely” or “very likely” to continue the reduced week after the pilot ends.
The trial, which began in June, is run by nonprofit 4 Day Week Global, think tank Autonomy, the 4 Day Week UK campaign and researchers at Cambridge University, Boston College and Oxford University. It involves 3,300 workers across 72 companies who are trying out one paid day off per week between Monday and Friday.
During the four-day week, 34% of companies reported that productivity “improved slightly” and 15% say it “improved significantly.”
With the survey indicating that a four-day workweek could have some perks for companies and employees alike, will Austin join in on the trend?
On job searching tools like LinkedIn and Indeed, some jobs based in Central Texas are boasting a four-day work week. And Coltech Global, a recruiting firm based in London with a growing presence in Austin, began the four-day work week about a year ago.
Jessica Sutcliffe, a staffing consultant at Coltech, joined the company to help grow the U.S. market. She says due to the time difference between the U.S. team and the UK one, the company implemented a four-day week.
"I’ve found it very beneficial as it allows time to rest and complete life admin, whilst also enjoying life, travel and be able to come back to work rested/fulfilled outside of work, which ultimately helps focus inside of those core work hours," Sutcliffe said via email.
In an Instagram post, Coltech said that not only are employees feeling the benefits of being more refreshed in the mornings, having reduced illness and a less stressed atmosphere, but it’s also improving their carbon footprint since there’s less time spent traveling to the office and using energy.
Niki Jorgensen, director of service operations at human resources service provider Insperity, noted similar factors driving companies to make the change to a reduced work week.
“The most significant benefit for a company to adopt the four-day workweek is the improvement of employee morale,” Jorgensen told Austonia via email. “Over the past two years, numerous studies have shown employees think a four-day workweek reduces stress and burnout. With reduced stress and burnout comes improved employee engagement.”
And while Austin is already drawing in plenty of workers who are in their early careers, a four-day week may help companies stand out to that bracket’s top talent even more.
“Companies can leverage this to make their company more appealing, especially to younger generations who strongly consider factors outside of compensation when choosing employment,” Jorgensen said.
She went on to offer a few tips for making a smooth transition to a four-day week like setting expectations and staggering coverage so that it’s still possible to see clients five days a week. Also, employers should be flexible. She says some employees may not be able to get 40 hours of work done in a shorter week due to responsibilities like childcare, so employers should consider how they can still accomplish their duties.
Before ditching the 40-hour workweek though, it can help to take a temperature check to see if an extra day off is the right fit for the workplace.
“Do not implement a flexible schedule such as the four-day workweek if business owners and managers cannot commit to the level of trust and flexibility needed to ensure the schedule’s success,” Jorgensen said.
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