WASHINGTON - In a ground-breaking move to cure the problem of unemployment the federal government has hired 750,000 unemployed workers to watch television.
The ground-breaking move was the brain child of the Department of Labor, which decided that since the government was paying the unemployed anyway, they might as well call it a job so that they would disappear from the jobless list.
The plan has met with resounding success. Professional watchers are hired to watch the television for eight hours, minus two fifteen minute coffee breaks and a half hour for lunch. Advertisers have been fast to respond. With 750,000 new salaried workers watching daytime television there is huge incentive for networks to buy advertisements to attract them. Hiring in advertising agencies and in television networks has risen and spending has increased in local businesses, stimulating the economy. As full time government workers the new crop of Watchers also have access to daycare and medical services, increasing work in these areas.
The markets have responded strongly to the decline in unemployment, the rise in consumer confidence, and the increased economic activity. Increased capital is available for investment and new business starts have risen 23% in six months.
The AFL-CIO has been fast to respond to the changing work landscape. "The government is exploiting these workers," claims Paul Radford of the American Federation of Government Employees. "Their job classification does not reflect their level of training, they are not eligible for overtime, they are not accruing seniority, and they should be paid bonuses for working off a registered government worksite."
Many watchers have joined the union rolls and have set an Oct 11 strike date if the government will not agree to a collective bargaining agreement. A spokesperson for the federal government claims that the federal authorities have no intention of bending on the issues. "It is our mandate to control public spending," says Harvey Weinblast, executive director of the Federal Watching Organization. "If the union is not willing to negotiate then we may be forced to lay them off".