"VACATION RULES" A New Initiative From Take Back Your Time!

Vacation Rules is the new venture that will be introduced in the final quarter of 2017 for Take Back Your Time. It can also be thought of as the new rubric or "umbrella term" for any of our specific work projects or efforts going forward.

Vacation Rules won't be a radical departure in direction from what we've done in the past. Rather, it's a sharpening of our message and our focus in a more pragmatic, clear, and practical way, with an emphasis on "How To" projects that can be organized and carried out by any TBYT members or supporters, anywhere in the country.

Vacation Rules will build upon the specific successes TBYT has had over the past two years that were spurred on by the infusion of financial support we received from Diamond Resorts International over that period. It helped us to modestly expand our paid staff, attract more volunteers, bring in more board members, garner more media attention---with significantly more interviews given to our then president, John de Graaf, during that time---and introduced our ideas to a broader spectrum of people, including lawmakers, corporate executives and journalists from every part of the country.

The two nationwide Take Back Your Time conferences held during this time---in New York City in June, 2015 and Seattle in 2016---also galvanized a new group of volunteers and helped to raise public and media awareness of our existence and our mission.

During these past 24 months we saw a range of other successes, including the very first legislation introduced anywhere in the country, in Washington State, mandating a minimum of two weeks paid vacation for all workers, and the emergence and spotlighting of new paid vacation policies at several well-known companies---ranging from Netflix to Chase---of generous, progressive vacation policies similar to those provided to all workers by virtually all governments on the planet.

Now these are admittedly small gains. But they should not be seen as some sort of "failure" or "missed opportunity." Rather these need to be understood as small, potential starting points for further actions. These are all "building blocks" for the issues important to Take Back Your Time---things I cite, almost daily, in the continuing conversation I am having with a wide range of potential institutional supporters who can help us build and expand our organization and achieve our worthy goals.

The new "Vacation Rules" initiative will help us to specifically define the current modes but significant successes of Take Back Your Time, be proud of them, and use them, justifiably and credibly, as the foundation to build towards broader and more substantive ones, while increasing public awareness of our organization and the fact that it is making progress on behalf of ALL working Americans.

Take Back Your Time is THE organization spearheading each and every effort to increase vacation and paid time off. TBYT is THE vehicle working on YOUR behalf to guarantee this needed change in our country, to improve both our home and work lives---and in doing so, to improve the quality of life for every family and every community in the United States of America.

The guiding organizational principles of Vacation Rules will emphasize the three "Action Areas" first outlined in my blog post from the summer of 2016. Vacation Rules will provide specific guidelines for "What To Do" and "How To Do It" in each of the following areas:

  1. Changing Company Policies on Vacation and Paid Time Off
  2. Changing Local, State and Federal Legislation on Vacation and Paid Time Off
  3. Changing Individual Consciousness, Daily Conversations, and the General Public Culture regarding the way we think and communicate about Vacation and Paid Time Off, alone, in one-to-one conversations, and in the broader public dialogue.

With the three above Action Areas as our general guide, we will create examples of what can be done, and Step-By-Step guides for how they can be accomplished.

Here's what we'll be doing, starting the very first week of October, 2017:

  • Continuing our day-to-day efforts at both individual and institutional fundraising, beginning with our current End of The Year Appeal to our membership and to each one of the groups we've contacted in the past that has expressed genuine interest in supporting our mission with a substantial donation. Your contribution as an individual will provide us with a great story to cite and tremendous momentum with both the public and other institutional sponsors we expect to step forward in the coming year.
  • Approaching state legislatures in a select number of states that show the greatest likelihood of supporting legislation mandating a minimum number of paid days off for all workers. The most likely candidates include Vermont, Hawaii and California---the latter of which would yield tremendous recognition from everywhere in the nation.
  • Developing relationships with our most likely allies in city and county legislatures that are potentially most responsive to our goals. This includes the city governments of Seattle, San Francisco, New York City and others, providing us with what could possibly be the next "Nationally Groundbreaking Legislation" coming out of our cities and the important role municipal governments can play in changing national consciousness and policies regarding vacation and paid time off.

Such legislative efforts demonstrate, proudly and affirmatively, that we won't just be "fighting back" in a defensive posture against the bad policy that is inevitably coming out of Washington D.C., but asserting our commitment as city and state citizens to model something new and positive that will help improve the lives of all Americans, regardless of where they might live.

The issues emphasized by TBYT starting in the last quarter of 2017 will help demonstrate what we are FOR as opposed to only what we might be against. This will help us from being portrayed by potential adversaries as nothing but "negative opponents" of almost everything the federal government might be proposing, constantly on the defensive, desperately trying to protect and hold on to what little we feel we might be fortunate to retain.

In addition, expect us to be doing the following in the year ahead:

  • Affirmatively seeking out those journalists, both local and national, that have already demonstrated some interest in TBYT related issues, or those who show signs of being supportive and willing to help us promote our agenda.
  • Continuing to write articles or lengthy blog posts that can be read and reposted to a wide range of online and print publications supportive of the goals and objectives of TBYT---promoting why our issues are important to all working Americans.
  • Speaking at venues where a responsive and supportive audiences will be present. These will range from church congregations to college classes to labor gatherings to progressive organizations of all types, but we will also be seeking out audiences of institutional and corporate decision makers, with the hope and expectation that the latter group can be persuaded that it is in their own interest to offer more generous vacation and time off policies---actions that will enhance their own prestige and the public perception of their company as a good place to work.
  • Creating a "How To" Toolkit---The "Vacation Rules Toolkit"---which will be announced to our membership early in 2018 and easily downloaded off of our website. The handbook will enable any person, living anywhere in the United States, with the means to create, promote and produce TBYT actions, campaigns or events in their own communities. This toolkit will provide our members and supporters with a step-by-step guide of how to approach any journalist, elected official, corporate executive, or interested citizen, to raise their awareness of TBYT-related issues and the organization that is committed to making positive changes in that area.

"Vacation Rules" is the next major step in the continuing evolution of Take Back Your Time. It builds on what has come before it and the accomplishments our organization has already had. By providing our membership in all 50 states with information on the types of activities we've done over the years, it will provide TBYT members with the knowledge to organize and manage such initiatives, anywhere they live, to expand awareness of our key issues and to enhance the credibility and recognition of the TBYT "brand" to potential future members and supporters of our agenda.

The Vacation Rules Toolkit should help TBYT gain one or more new institutional supporters in the 2018 calendar year. As with our support from Diamond Resorts International, there is a strong incentive for each and every company within the Travel and Tourism industry to support the work of Take Back Your Time. When all Americans are provided with more paid time off it will inevitably mean some increase in dollars for this industrial sector.

And for what most such companies would be considered a "minor expense" will be, for we at Take Back Your Time, a substantial contribution that will allow us to greatly expand our efforts by a sizeable factor and help us position TBYT for long-term success. Securing the support of a "name brand" entity with the T&T sector will also make it that much easier for TBYT to get other supporters to sign on, possibly at a much faster rate. (In any fundraising effort, getting the very first one is always the hardest and most time consuming. But it often gets significantly easier after that first success!)

Given the activity we anticipate in the months ahead, we stand a good chance that by the time January 1, 2019, rolls around, there is good reason to believe that Take Back Your Time will have at least one significant, tangible accomplishment in each of our three Action Areas: Public Policy, Corporate Policy, and Public Awareness, i.e. a major story in a major media outlet for each of these areas.

I'm confident that once these first actions are completed we will soon see additional concrete, definable "success stories" shortly following. These will provide the foundation for the future growth of TBYT and a broader awareness of our goals and actions by governments, companies and any interested individuals in the years ahead.

To all of you reading this, let us know what you think. I look forward to hearing your thoughts about how best we can move forward with this and other ideas to expand the awareness and effectiveness of Take Back Your Time.

And speaking of that precious and too often, rare, resource, I want to thank you for taking the time to read and reflect---and for the inspiration, guidance and support that you've provided over these past years of working together for a better life---with more paid time off and personal freedom---for all of our fellow working Americans.

Steve Nesich