Work Has Both Shrunk and Metastisized

I’ve had a couple of experiences with friends and family the last few days that reminded me how exploitative work practices have just become accepted, commonplace facts of life.

First, shrinkage: A friend’s teenage son working a summer fast food job who wanted to switch shifts with another kid was unable to do so because the other kid would then have to work more than 30 hours a week. In this state, allowing your low paid workers to work more than 30 hours a week at their shitty fast food job means that they will be considered a real employee who might have to be paid benefits, and we can’t have that. So my friend’s kid couldn’t switch shifts. I know there are lots of adults working the same $8/hour job at the place this kid is working who are helping to support families on their less than 30 hour a week job.

Second, metastasis: I was helping another friend who is occasionally on call install work-related security software on his personal computer. This software not only required a laptop supplied by my friend, it also required a smart phone to run an app that provides a security code for logging in to the work network. Of course, the smartphone and the laptop, as well as the time it took to install it all, was provided by my friend so he could take unpaid on-call time as a condition of the barely middle-class wage the job paid.

Both of these people work for profitable companies — there’s no reason that we should be paying for food stamps and Medicaid for employees of either company, though I’m sure we do, simply because those companies are able to get away with having a mostly part-time work force that has to bring their own equipment to the job.

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75 replies
  1. 1
    Professor says:

    This is what is known as CAPITALISM. Which is CONTROL of the means of production. Next time when you hear someone screaming ‘free-dumb’, my liberty, ask him/her to define those words!

  2. 2
    gbear says:

    I’m so thankful that I’ve got a union job. It doesn’t prevent me from having a dick boss, but I do get to work a regular schedule (no weekends) and have decent bennies. I really feel sorry for your on-call friend. I’ve had to do unpaid all-nighters to meet deadlnes for previous employers. I don’t miss that at all now.

  3. 3
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Both of these people work for profitable companies

    True, but if the executives who run those companies are forced to snort substandard cocaine and bang not-quite-top-of-the-line hookers, the executives of other companies who get to snort Peruvian Blue Flake and pork $5000 an hour ‘escorts’ are going to make fun of them at the Country Club. That cannot happen under any circumstances. Therefore, fuck the employees.

    If they were smarter and worked harder, they’d get to do quality blow and enjoy the services of the New York’s finest prostitutes.

  4. 4

    First, “shrinkage” typically refers to inventory theft (particularly by employees), so I was expecting that anecdote to go in a very different direction.

    Second, when I am god-philosopher-king of the universe, there will not be a numerical cutoff for “full-time” employees (as it seems 30hr/wk has become); instead, all employees working more than the median weekly hours for that employer will be regarded as full-time.

  5. 5
    Montysano says:

    I routinely get work emails that were sent at 2:00 AM, or on a Saturday night. People in our industry often work 70-80 hours a weeks, for a salary of course, and if something comes up that demands you hand over your weekend, c’est la vie.

    Not me. At 60 years old, I have zero desire to work that hard, to give that much of my time and attention to work. My skills are fairly specialized, so, so far I’ve gotten away with it.

  6. 6
    Davis X. Machina says:

    “I bought this property and now you’re telling me what I can do do with it?” segues right into “I bought these people and now you’re telling me what I can do with them?”

    I expect a Takings Clause challenge to the NLRA someday.

  7. 7
    Elie says:

    The environment for workers in America’s corporations is grim and reflects the complete control of employment opportunities by the corporations. They keep the hiring at a level where workers have little power as they are afraid for their jobs– hence the abuses such as you characterize above. The work place atmosphere is filled with petty and serious competition and people have a hard time working together collaboratively. You can be fired for cause just because your boss doesn’t like you and you may never find out why……

    I hate it. I used to love my work…. that changed starting about 10 years ago. I am however, near retirement. I feel really bad for the 20 somethings just starting out…

  8. 8
    Cassidy says:

    there’s no reason that we should be paying for food stamps and Medicaid for employees of either company, though I’m sure we do, simply because those companies are able to get away with having a mostly part-time work force that has to bring their own equipment to the job.

    And yet The NSA and drones are the greatest outrage of our times.

    Anyway, this isn’t new and it won’t change as long as people are willing to continue eating that polished turd they’re being fed.

  9. 9

    @Davis X. Machina: “I bought this property and now you’re telling me what I can do do with it?” segues right into “I bought these people and now you’re telling me what I can do with them?”

    “Woodlands Shopping Mall: a deed-restricted community”

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Hunter Gathers: I believe you have explained, in detail, why we can’t possibly treat our employees well. It gets in the way of gratification for the executives.

    This is why I’m in favor of summary beheadings for executives.

  11. 11

    I WAS IN THE POOL! It was cold.

  12. 12
    Linnaeus says:

    It’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

  13. 13
    NorthLeft12 says:

    As long as unemployment remains high and off shore options are available, companies will continue to treat their employees like crap. All they have to say is that screwing the workers like this makes the corporation more profitable and everyone just steps back and says, “Well, that sounds good to me.”

    I swear if I hear another manager say that they should just be grateful that they have this job, I think I will vomit. Right then.On the manager.

  14. 14
    Mandalay says:

    Perhaps I’m missing something, but I strangely find myself on the side of wingnut Jeff Sessions who shredded Bill Gates et al for pleading for more H-1B visas for Microsoft just after they fired 18,000 employees:

    “So today I’m going to issue a challenge to Majority Leader Reid and every single one of our 55 Senate Democrats who voted unanimously for this Gang-of-Eight bill,” Sessions said, emphasizing that the immigration bill would double the number of guest-worker visas that are currently awarded. “With Microsoft laying off 18,000 workers, come down to the Senate floor and tell me that there’s a shortage of qualified Americans to fill STEM jobs. Come down and tell us: Do you stand with Mr. Gates or do you stand with our American constituents?”

    And before anyone rants that the people fired by Microsoft don’t necessarily meet the requirements of the open positions at Microsoft, bear in mind that hardly anyone on earth may be qualified for those positions. It is trivial for Microsoft to create job requirements that cannot be met domestically to bolster their case for needing H-1B visas for cheap labor.

    The environment for computer software developers changes faster than any other profession, and it is constantly going to be true that qualified applicants don’t exist domestically. But that doesn’t mean that domestic applicants with the ability to do the job don’t exist.

    p.s. Wages for those in “computer and mathematical occupations” rose by less than half a percent per year between 2000 and 2011. Yet if there really was a shortage of skilled workers in those fields doesn’t the free market insist that their wages must soar?

  15. 15
    Ruckus says:

    @Infamous Heel-Filcher:
    Why should it make any difference how many hrs you work? You do the job, you should get paid the wages and have the “benefits”, such as they are. You work at a burger joint it shouldn’t matter if you work 4 hrs a day or 8. The work is the same, the pay should be as well. You want to schedule me to work odd shifts/days, you should pay more for that privilege. We need to decouple work from anything that could be considered a benefit, like health care, so that corps don’t have a complete control on their employees. I must be the odd man out here but as an employer I wished for a way to only have to pay wages for work, not to control any other aspect of employee lives.
    On another note. I have worked as a mold maker/machinist for decades(along with a few other jobs) and we always have our own tools. Not all of them, just the ones that we use the most. Also most mechanics have their own tools. It may be uncommon in office job environments but it isn’t in a lot of mfg trades.

  16. 16
    shelley says:

    There seems to be no end line for greed. When every last nickel must be squeezed out…

  17. 17
    Roger Moore says:

    @Infamous Heel-Filcher:

    Second, when I am god-philosopher-king of the universe, there will not be a numerical cutoff for “full-time” employees (as it seems 30hr/wk has become); instead, all employees working more than the median weekly hours for that employer will be regarded as full-time.

    I think you need both, or at least a cleverer definition of full-time than median hours. If you go with median hours, almost half the employees could wind up being counted as part-time, which is the exact opposite of what you want. You’d be better off setting the cutoff at something like 75% of the median or at the median or X hours per week, whichever is less. You might also consider putting benefits on a sliding scale, with part-time employees getting partial benefits, rather than making an arbitrary line where people above it get full benefits and people below get nothing. Even better would be to take some of those things out of the employers’ hands and make it the government’s responsibility to provide medical care and a decent pension.

  18. 18
    gogol's wife says:

    Preach it, brother.

    I went to a church meeting this week with some whiz-bang minister from another church who has invented a new way of dealing with the paid staff. It was all dressed up in theological arguments, but basically it was just a way of squeezing more work out of poorly paid professionals while assuring them it was for the greater glory of God. I’m the daughter of a socialist and I wasn’t having it. I made a bit of a scene. She didn’t like me. But I think it will be okay, because our church won’t do it the way she wants us to (I hope). At least I’m going to be involved and I’ll fight like hell.

    ETA: And I mean socialist as in hit by a brick at the 1908 Budapest May Day demonstration.

  19. 19
    Ruckus says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Sort of like lining up the [lawyers] and shooting every third one? (Old joke, just repeating it, not endorsing it, insert your favorite group of assholes as you see fit)

  20. 20

    @Roger Moore: This is why they haven’t yet hired me to be god-philosopher-king-of-the-universe.

  21. 21
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @gogol’s wife: I’m reading Tara Conklin’s HOUSE GIRL, which splits the point of view between a contemporary lawyer in NYC and a slave woman in 1852. There’s a lot of horrifying stuff so I have to take breaks from reading, but the perpetrators of the horrifying stuff are sure they’re operating in God’s name, maintaining the natural order of things.

    I actually thought about the people shouting at buses of refugee children, but it fits here too.

  22. 22
    mai naem says:

    I know a company where on call is a legal requirement but the initial call is answered by an office drone then this if necessary is followed by the professional person. The professional person coverage is done by the “big boss” and she gets additional pay for her on call part($300/wk) except that the “big boss” takes advantage of her position and calls around underlings and gets them to actually do the field work if needed. A friend who works there per diem stopped getting any work when she refused to do a field call(on request from the “big boss”) on the day after her wedding! She had told them she was getting married and was going to take a long weekend off as a short honeymoon. Meanwhile the office drone who is for all practical purposes doing the pain in the ass part of on call gets paid just for the time she is on the phone. So that means if between Friday 6pm and Monday 8am, she’s on the phone for 2 hrs 40 mins, answering 50 phone calls she gets less than $30 for the whole weekend. And, oh yeah, did I tell you the on call is a job requirement.
    BTW the company owner is on vacation constantly, has two luxury cars switched out around every couple of years and has a luxury home in town and a second 5000 sf “cabin” out of town. Christmas parties are held at Happy Hour at bars/restaurants which offer free food during Happy Hour. One memorable Chrismas gift was one single pencil sized chocolate covered pretzel with a holiday bow on it, handed out by the owners wife, like all the workers were the kids at the orphanage in Oliver Twist.

  23. 23
    Debbie says:

    @Infamous Heel-Filcher:

    But, but aren’t employees inventory too?

  24. 24
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @gogol’s wife: You don’t have to tell a teacher about the superiority of psychic wages to actual cash money.

    My only problem is I can’t get the mortgage company to take psychic wages on the 1st and 15th of the month.

  25. 25
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Will unemployment decline lead McCrory to White House?

    Love the last line.

  26. 26
    Birthmarker says:

    @Mandalay: Yes, Sessions is actually right about this. He has spoken about the issue before.

    My son had a sandwich delivery job that paid $5.50 an hour with no additional payment for use of his car! He was in a college town and the tips weren’t good, either. (And the shifts could run til 4am!) The cost of delivery was pushed onto the employees, or in our case, the parents. I would assume this is illegal.

    When he worked for Papa John’s in high school, they did pay minimum wage, plus 1.35 per delivery, plus tips which were pretty good. He made decent money at PJ’s, though of course hours were kept part time. Fine for a hs student, not good for adults.

  27. 27
    Rafer Janders says:

    One solution: no minimum hourly wage. We need a minimum yearly wage, or at the very least a minimum weekly or monthly wage.

  28. 28
    Roger Moore says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Will unemployment decline lead McCrory to White House?

    Sounds like Betteridge’s Law of Headlines at work: if a headline asks a yes or no question, the answer is no.

  29. 29
    The Moar You Know says:

    This hits hard. I’m on vacation and both my wife and I have spent literally the entire morning dealing with work related matters.

    Better this than the 70+ poor bastards sharing this so-called “resort” with us, poor fuckers are spending their weekend doing “corporate team-building”. Might as well be Nazi indoctrination. Lots of forced smiles, overloud laughing, and by nighttime, blackout drunk office drones whose self-loathing is apparent from fifty yards away.

    Two weeks from now I travel to see my father for his 70th birthday. One of those days is a mandatory visit – I have to rent a car for this, which I otherwise wouldn’t have to do – to our East Coast site to deal with a nasty software issue that hopefully will only take one day out of the few I have to spend with my dad. The company will pay me a day’s work. They are probably not going to pay for the car rental.

    This is freedom? Really? Fuck, I’d sure hate to see what non-freedom looks like. I bet it would cost me less out-of-pocket, at least.

  30. 30
    Mandalay says:

    @Birthmarker:

    I would assume this is illegal.

    I would think so too, but until companies are really punished for illegal employment practices, they will continue. While the Democrats clamor to increase H-1B visas to allow companies to import tech workers, look at what the bastards at IBM got caught doing:

    IBM will pay a $US44,000 fine to settle a case alleging it violated anti-discrimination law by placing online job listings seeking software developers with specific visas, according to the US Department of Justice.

    The company sought people holding F-1 and H1-B visas for positions that would have required the candidates to relocate outside the US the agency said in a news release.

    The Immigration and Nationality Act does not allow employers to express a preference for visa holders over U.S. citizens and permanent residents unless required to comply with another law, an executive order or a government contract, the agency said.

    F-1 visas are issued to foreign students who are studying in the US, while H1-B visas are six-year visas for people with technical expertise.

  31. 31
    elmo says:

    As I’ve said before, I’m fortunate enough to be an executive with a big corporation, whose workforce is 90% unionized and we’re happy with it that way. Most of the industry is union, so there are no downward competitive pressures on wages. But the other thing we are is constantly under scrutiny by DOL. I would never dream of trying to get away with these “on-call” shenanigans; I would be terrified of the two years of back pay that would come with the next DOL audit.

    Me, since I’m both (a) salaried and (b) in a unique position in the company, I generally think nothing of answering emails at one in the morning or spending half of a day off in my home office, responding to various issues that won’t wait. But at my level that’s expected and, more to the point, paid for with generous salary, vacation (that I can never take but oh well), and other benefits.

    Heck, I was taking conference calls on my honeymoon last year, and my wife, FSM bless her, was perfectly okay with it.

  32. 32
    Mike S says:

    Many if not most of us are part of the precariat now, and that isn’t accidental.But as pointed out by many people above this is a feature not a bug fromour “Betters” point of view.

  33. 33
    Montysano says:

    I continue to be gobsmacked by the shortsightedness of it all. Our 26 year old son, a magna cum laude grad, is on the management track at a large health foods grocer. He makes $9.00 per hour as an assistant manager, with a potential of maybe $13.00-$15.00 someday. And most of his friends are in a similar boat. He despairs of ever being able to start a family, buy a house, etc. What sort of economy will we have when the majority live on the edge of poverty? Moreover: cui bono?

  34. 34
    elmo says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I’d submit an expense reimbursement request for it anyway, and make them explain why it’s denied. No way the company shouldn’t pay for it.

  35. 35
    The Moar You Know says:

    The cost of delivery was pushed onto the employees, or in our case, the parents. I would assume this is illegal.

    @Birthmarker: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    No, it isn’t.

    However, the majesty of the law allows the employee to write that mileage off of their taxes. It’s a good rate too. 56 cents per mile. However, given what the employees are paid, I doubt they’ve paid enough in taxes to cover even a week’s worth of driving.

  36. 36
    Josie says:

    @elmo: That is the difference in a salaried job and a per hour job. The trouble is that some employers don’t understand the difference. My last part time job, which I am now retired from, expected us to get more work done in fewer hours than was possible. The only answer was to not get everything done, to do it poorly, or to work at home for free to get it done. Employers are now expecting part time per hour employees to have the same work ethic and loyalty as more highly paid salaried employees and can’t understand why it isn’t happening or why there is high turnover. One of the part timers where I worked was accused of not being dedicated enough. What a joke!

  37. 37
    elmo says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    the majesty of the law

    I see what you did there.

  38. 38
    Mike E says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: It’s Pat! He’s a mile wide, but just 1 mm deep. Hit his ceiling. Got that W aroma.

    Nov’14 won’t realign the NC legis like it oughta, but folks here have serious buyer’s remorse when it comes to Gov McCrory. We can’t get to ’16 soon enough, sadly.

  39. 39
    Montysano says:

    @Mike S:

    Many if not most of us are part of the precariat now

    “Precarity”. That is wonderfully and tragically apt.

  40. 40
    geg6 says:

    @Montysano:

    Wow. My university is paying our work study students $9.50 an hour this year. That is a full dollar increase from last year. I’m thrilled for them, but worried that it might be more per hour than they’ll make when they graduate.

  41. 41
    Mandalay says:

    @elmo:

    vacation (that I can never take but oh well)

    And if you didn’t take that oh-so-accommodating attitude would you still have your job? What would happen if you insisted on always taking all your vacation? I think companies should require all their employees to take the vacation to which they are entitled. In fact they should be legally required to do that.

    A company that does not want its employees to take their vacation time is automatically a shitty company. They care about cheap labor and their bottom line more than their workers.

  42. 42
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Mandalay:

    It is trivial for Microsoft to create job requirements that cannot be met domestically to bolster their case for needing H-1B visas for cheap labor.

    But my guess is that most of those 18,000 will be in Finland, where I’m pretty sure the H-1B doesn’t apply.

    Anyway, I’m on the record about this. The H-1B is a stupid visa, stupidly allocated, and needs to be replaced by different visa classes that properly recognise talented foreign workers, acknowledge that some tech skills are not in fact fungible, and won’t lock workers to jobs. The gap between the H-1B and the O and E visas is stupid. The ranting of certain middle-aged American software engineers is also generally a bit stupid.

    So, Jeff Sessions might want to humiliate Microsoft to impress the folks in Alabammy where most of the computers run on steam power (apart from Huntsville) but given how Infosys nabs nine times more visas than MSFT and pays a much lower salary, it’s sort of missing the point.

  43. 43
    elmo says:

    @Josie:

    Exactly right. But what I don’t understand is why the DOL isn’t pointing it out to them with audits, back pay assessments, and fines. That’s what they’re for! They have an entire Wage & Hour Division that is supposed to enforce minimum wage laws, prevent wage theft, and curb employer abuses. They watch my industry like hawks, because we are govt contractors – and good for them, I have no issue with their scrutiny. If we do something wrong we should be called out and it should be corrected.

    Here’s one example. Our employees sometimes, but not always, have to walk from their work location to a central check-out point. Since usually when they leave their work location, that’s the end of their day, the practice has always been that they clock out at their work location. But that means we weren’t capturing, and paying for, the occasions when they had to walk 3 – 6 minutes to the central location.

    DOL came and pointed that out to our local management, and they were right. So we had to adjust that practice and pay the affected employees THREE TO SIX MINUTES of back pay for every day they’d had to walk over the last two years. It amounted to something like $30-50 per employee. Over a two year period. But DOL caught it, and we were wrong and had to pay it and fix it going forward. I have no problem with that whatsoever – we were wrong.

    But where the hell is the DOL’s WHD when it comes to retail and fast food, and wage theft amounting to hundreds if not thousands of dollars per employee?

  44. 44
    Mike R. says:

    I knew we were in trouble the day the sign changed from “Personnel Dept.” to “Human Resources”. WTF is that I thought but actually I knew and as the threats to move overseas, the sharp reductions in the workplace, the added but uncompensated hours, the weekend pager coverage rather than paying a supervisor and the suspended annual raises my thoughts were confirmed.
    This had been a great company to work for for so many years but around 2004 or -05 the whole philosophy changed under the pretense of being in “survival mode”. I can only imagine what it must be like to work for a company where the employees are of less importance than the shit burgers they sell.
    So 5 years ago, as I turned 59, it turned out that survival mode wasn’t enough, the company relocated to Europe and thus ended my working career. At least I had a taste of the good times because of everything the labor movement did to improve work life for everyone. As a manager I wasn’t part of the union but everyday I was grateful because their efforts contributed to my well being too but it was so sad experiencing the total erosion of all those gains.

  45. 45
    elmo says:

    @Mandalay:

    No, don’t misunderstand – if I decided to take two weeks straight, starting tomorrow, nobody would quibble and my direct boss would applaud. He would do his level best not to bother me, too. But I’d be anxious and unsettled the whole time; not because my employer is an ogre, but because too much of my identity and self-worth is wrapped up in work and I’m a control freak who can’t delegate.

    It’s me, not the company.

  46. 46
    Mandalay says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:

    But my guess is that most of those 18,000 will be in Finland, where I’m pretty sure the H-1B doesn’t apply.

    Not really relevant. Microsoft have been screaming for years that more H-1B visas are necessary because they claim that can’t find qualified workers in the USA.

    given how Infosys nabs nine times more visas than MSFT and pays a much lower salary, it’s sort of missing the point.

    No, it’s proving the point.

  47. 47
    Mandalay says:

    @elmo:

    But I’d be anxious and unsettled the whole time; not because my employer is an ogre, but because too much of my identity and self-worth is wrapped up in work and I’m a control freak who can’t delegate.

    OK, given that scenario, I guess it’s a marriage made in heaven, and a win-win for both of you. But I think your situation is an anomaly.

  48. 48
    elmo says:

    @Mandalay:

    No question. I’ve said many times that I am among the most fortunate of people; I’m paid well to do a job I’m very good at and that I enjoy, with (relatively) flexible hours and a boss I like and respect. Few people who actually have to work for a living are as fortunate as I.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ruckus: Odds are good you’ll get some of the guilty that way.

    Do not discount the success of the Royal Navy when they had a “to encourage the others” policy.

  50. 50

    Meanwhile, here is how I spent my weekend. Any attempt to get help from a real live human requires jumping through hoops and over hurdles as I am forced to try to fix it myself for the 10 gazillionth time (if I couldn’t figure it out myself the first 3 times why in God’s name should I be asked EVERY TIME I CALL to visit the fucking website and call back in 24 hours if that didn’t help? Jesus)

    I mean it’s not like we don’t have people who need jobs or anything, educated tech-savvy people who maybe could work at a call center. Instead my call gets beamed around to the Philippines or something and the only answer I get is “if you pay $15 a month for this service we can maybe help you.”

    I fucking hate this country and its greedy, mendacious, soul-sucking corporate overlords.

  51. 51
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    If the government required, by law, certain things to happen in the workplace, the screaming of that shitstains at that Reboot conference in SF could be heard on Qo’nos.

    There’s a reason why all those “stifling restrictions” are made into laws and imposed on employers, Because if they’re not, the employers will continue to operate in a braindead short-sighted manner that deteriorates society as a whole, and leads to the sort of instability that eventualy gets employers tumbrel rides to their just desserts.

  52. 52
    Cervantes says:

    Here are a few twists on the usual tale of “greedy, mendacious, soul-sucking corporate overlords.”

  53. 53
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    I’ve been employed since 1975 and conditions for workers have definitely gotten worse. I blame modern scientific management techniques invented by useless MBAs to streamline and standardize everything.
    Consider yourself standardized, workforce.
    Luckily my employer is German and therefore oppresses its US employees less than US companies seem to. Plus it’s very difficult to find people* for my job so they have incentives to not drive us right out the door with abusive treatment.
    I have mandatory scheduled on-call time that rotates weekly among 8 people. I’m paid an extra hour per 8 hours to be available to take phone calls. Time over the hour per 8 is clock hours and payable. Nobody complains about this arrangement.
    My brother works in skilled trades for a very large state university. His job is a horrorshow of unreachable goals, obligations without resources and insanely Byzantine rules. He’s done this for 22 years and I don’t know why he stays.

    *crazy enough

  54. 54
    WaterGirl says:

    @Roger Moore: @Infamous Heel-Filcher: Every benevolent dictator needs a detail person. Sounds like you guys would make a good pair.

  55. 55
    Cermet says:

    And if you did any type of science or advance tech on a computer (and even some average users), then you also worked for free making Bill Gates wealthy! Using that piece of shit software better called a virus because windows never really worked and work arounds/special fixes all had to be applied/invented for most applications/hardware to operate and worse, sometimes even the OS itself failed in a standard computer! Yes, working for free because the company profits isn’t just for their staff – Gates (may he die from a nasty virus!) invented selling bug filled, poorly coded trash called applications/OS systems. Other companies learned from that bastard exactly now to become super wealthy exploiting slave labor.

  56. 56

    Corporations are people, my friend. Shitty, shitty people. Went through that BS last week watching someone competent who wanted to do more and do better get laid off so they can bring in two others that I now have to train to do what she did so they can be my backup while I do her work. It all sucks. Oh, and did I mention that the previous week, we had to call 911 for her because she was having chest pains? And a week later, they lay her off. Isn’t that sweet?

    This is my last stint in a corporate environment as God is my witness. I am leaving in a year (hopefully less) and will never ever go back to it. It’s appalling what they do. It makes no sense from a humanitarian perspective let alone a fiscal one. And then they want us to tell them how we feel about it. Why? So we can be pointedly shoveled under some bullshit? How do people live with themselves doing this?

  57. 57
    RepubAnon says:

    Labor laws, like securities laws, are meaningless without enforcement. This is why Republicans keep cutting enforcement budgets for selected federal agencies such as the IRS, etc.

    To earn their keep, the agencies then stop targeting entities with the resources to fight back (rich folks and large corporations), and instead target individuals and small businesses. Can’t blow the entire annual budget on one case… not to mention the added costs of complying with subpoenas from rabid right-wing Congresscritters if you target a criminal organization that also happens to be a reliable campaign donor.

  58. 58
    tesslibrarian says:

    @Josie: This is exactly how our public library works. They count on the fact that you take pride in your work, that your work is for the community, and knowing that a bad experience for the patrons could mean a steep drop in support that would only make things worse.

    They started hiring only part-time librarians awhile ago, capped at 17 hours per week. Through retirements and attrition, only managers are full-time now. Librarians typically work in pairs at reference: one on the desk, one as backup for when it gets busy. Even when they had 3 full-time librarians, one night per week, to avoid going over the 17-hour cap, a librarian would have to leave an hour before closing, meaning the other librarian had to shut down the reference area (all computers, check to make sure people are packing up and leaving, clean up, plus deal with all the last minute requests and phone calls at the desk) alone. At times when the flu hits, or during construction when we had to move all the books, there would be waivers granted to go over the limit. But written permission was required.

    Over time, the starting hourly wage has dropped for those part-timers, too, despite the fact that librarians are required to have master’s degrees. Several of the part-timers are retirees, so it’s unclear how long they’ll be working. But needless to say, that 17 hours means no benefits, holiday pay, sick leave, etc. Absolutely no opportunities for professional development. Since I left, they’ve only been scheduling people about a week at a time, too. It’s frustrating, because these are good people doing good work.

  59. 59
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    Got called by a robo-survey last week. Whoever put the questions together was very interested in what I thought of Wal-Mart as a “corporate citizen”.

  60. 60
    gene108 says:

    @Mandalay:

    While the Democrats clamor to increase H-1B visas to allow companies to import tech workers,

    So we close the borders, like we did between the 1920’s to the 1940’s 1960’s, when we legislated to make immigration difficult?

    The demand for people to want to come to the USA is high. We are a nation of immigrants, with finite resources.

    How do you manage the competing demands?

    It is not an easy situation to address, from both an economics and moral perspective given our country’s history.

    Or you take the Teabagger approach and lock down the borders, so no new immigrants get in.

    @NorthLeft12:

    As long as unemployment remains high and off shore options are available, companies will continue to treat their employees like crap.

    I do not think unemployment or off-shore options are as much of a factor as people think. In the OP example, you cannot off-shore a fast-food worker or others in the service industry. Even if employment was high, if everyone had the same labor practices, what exactly would your options be? And right now, as unemployment goes down, it seems every business is adopting these exploitative just-in-time scheduling practices.

    Some sort of strong labor movement that demands government address these abuses needs to happen, but it will take decades before there’s enough force behind it to overcome entrenched interests and at the rate the economy changes, by the time this happens businesses will have moved onto new ways to squeeze every penny out of their employment practices.

  61. 61
    PIGL says:

    @Cassidy: Try organizing against it and see what happens.

  62. 62
    Montysano says:

    So, an overworked, underpaid, heavily medicated working class, slaving away in a tightly controlled consumption-driven society, overseen by a tiny but hugely powerful and wealthy minority. Corporations are indistinguishable from governments, and control is kept by exploiting technology and pharmaceuticals for nefarious purposes.

    Someone should write a novel about that shit.

  63. 63
    Cassidy says:

    @PIGL: Meh, people will suffer until they break. We live in the world we’re willing to accept.

  64. 64
    gene108 says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    This is freedom? Really? Fuck, I’d sure hate to see what non-freedom looks like.

    Read or heard somewhere about a discussion on freedom, with regards to the Soviet Union and old Eastern bloc nations. They may not have been able to demonstrate against their government, but their work conditions were in many ways freer than those in the “Free World”.

    The short version is no one expected anything to work or function well, so folks just hung out in an office or wherever for a day, got paid and went home. The stress level was low, the living standards may not have been great, but you had the freedom to not worry about your next paycheck.

    I’m not sure how true every point in the discussion is, but the general gist is interesting. In creating a more efficient, profitable economy, with technological wonders, we’ve traded the freedom of some form of labor security for a high degree of insecurity and lack of freedom in our workday.

    An interesting proposition.

  65. 65
    gene108 says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I mean it’s not like we don’t have people who need jobs or anything, educated tech-savvy people who maybe could work at a call center. Instead my call gets beamed around to the Philippines or something and the only answer I get is “if you pay $15 a month for this service we can maybe help you.”

    So it would make you happier, if an American told you, you had to pay $15/month for them to help you?

    Just sayin’ the level of service is driven by much higher ups than the folks on the phone and it does not matter, if the people are in the U.S., India or the Philippines.

    I was at an Apple Store about seeing what could be done about an issue with my Mac Book Pro (six years old, a “vintage” model they no longer service), but there was a guy next to me, who bought an Apple T.V. unit a couple of years back and went around trying to find out what Apple could do for him to get it fixed, without asking him to pay for a new unit or to charge to look at it, to try and get it fixed.

    The manager was not much help for him, but I think one of the “geniuses” tried to help him out, without charging after he was done with the manager.

    He was there when I left.

  66. 66
    Roger Moore says:

    @elmo:

    He would do his level best not to bother me, too. But I’d be anxious and unsettled the whole time; not because my employer is an ogre, but because too much of my identity and self-worth is wrapped up in work and I’m a control freak who can’t delegate.

    Maybe so, but I think you’re letting your employer off the hook too easily. I have some of the same feeling, but I recognize that part of my problem is that my workplace is understaffed. I’m worried that things will fall apart while I’m gone because I know that we’re set up for things to run relatively smoothly only when we’re fully staffed. When somebody is gone, there’s more work than hands to do it, so something has to get left undone. That’s not a healthy work environment, and it’s a result of the staffing decisions made by my employer.

  67. 67
    mai naem says:

    Well, the RW has done such an awesome job of demonizing unions, it’s hard for unions to even unionize beyond just the expected challenges of unionizing a workforce. The other big problem I find is that there is always, but always, a brownnoser employee(or two) who will break some unity action of a company’s employees against management.

    Also, whoever was talking about vacation – I learned the hard way, so this is for anybody who gets PTO and not vacation. The reason most companies give PTO and not vacation is that when you stop working for the place, you PTO is flushed down the toilet. It isn’t worth a dime. Vacation has to be compensated for in your last check. This has nothing to do with whether your company lets you carry over the hours to the next year. So, never build up too much PTO.

  68. 68
    WaterGirl says:

    @mai naem: They get you coming and going, as my dad used to say.

  69. 69
    John Revolta says:

    @gene108: I heard a Russian (sorry, Soviet) fella once describe the system as, “We pretend to work, and they pretend to pay us”.

  70. 70
    KithKanan says:

    @mai naem: That depends where you live/work I think. I know in California, PTO is legally considered earned vacation and they have to pay you for all of it when you leave (unlike if your employer has separate sick/personal day pools the old-fashioned way like my current employer).

  71. 71
    Gretchen says:

    Where I work, management thinks nothing of calling the minimum-wage night shift workers in the middle of their sleeping time, waking them up and telling them to come in an hour earlier or two hours later. These people are working 12-hour shifts because management is too cheap to hire more people, and when they do get someone hired they quit immediately because they are treated so badly. The HR person was furious when she read on one of those job review sites that the place is a sweatshop. She was angry that they’d say such mean things. It never occurred to her to stop running a sweatshop i.e. unreasonably long hours for low wages.
    Middle of the week holidays stink for night shift because you have to spend the day sleeping so you can stay up all night, so we missed the barbeques and fireworks with our families. Then, when we got to work that night, we found out there was no shipment, so were told to call everyone and tell them to come back in the morning and work all day instead of all night. Too bad if they made plans for Saturday since they missed the holiday. Of course management enjoyed their 3 day holiday and didn’t have a moment’s worry about ruining that of the night shift.
    It makes sense for a neurosurgeon to be on 24/7 call in case there’s an emergency, but planning for package-openers requires waking them in the middle of their sleep to change their schedules?

  72. 72
    Nutella says:

    @gene108:

    Being against H1B visas is not necessarily an anti-immigrant stance.

    Holders of H1B visas can be and often are treated as indentured servants who have to do whatever the employer wants or get deported. They can treat them even worse than they treat the American employees. That’s why MicroSoft and all the others want more of them.

  73. 73
    Pattonbt says:

    I was sent overseas (very happily) 12 years ago by a US company. Middle management role to a business unit we just acquired. “European” style first world country. I remember coming in with my US work habits and after two weeks calling my boss back in the US and saying “these people are crazy. They get 4 weeks (minimum) leave a year (and they take and even take unpaid leave too – and management too!). No one gets in until 830am and it’s a ghost town by 530pm (again including the most senior management)(I would get in at 630 work until 6 and take calls all hours of the day). I don’t know how long I’ll last because I can’t get anything done.”

    Two weeks later the conversation was much different. “Boss, I’d like to stay here. They have their priorities right. They are still as smart and professional as us. Get the job done in the same manner and level of productivity and they value work life balance.”

    So still here 12 years later.

  74. 74
    Ruckus says:

    @gene108:
    Long ago, cold war era, I had a friend from Russia. He and his wife owned a hot truck in LA. That’s a lunch truck that cooks food for the hungry working folk who don’t have time to go to a sit down lunch. At the business next door one of the mechanics was also from Russia and complained that life was better in Russia. My friend jumped down his throat, “WTF are you talking about? The only way to get anywhere close to middle class in Russia was to be a party member and a suck up. Here in the US I have a chance, I have to work, but the opportunity is there.” I think the other fella was just basically lazy and liked the ‘We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us’ attitude. I’ve since had a couple of more friends from St Petersburg and they tell me the same thing.

  75. 75
    Neurovore says:

    @Birthmarker:
    I had a similar job as a driver at a place called Jimmy’s Pizza as a summer job when I was in college. I got paid around $5.15 an hour and many of my clients were very cheap on tipping if they did so at all. The place was eventually sold and bought by a different owner. The new owner wanted to hire back many of the former employees and required proof of insurance from all drivers. When I asked my insurance agent to provide me with the latest copy of my proof of coverage, he got really paranoid when I told him I needed it for a delivery job. He told me to quit the job immediately or pay for a “commerical” liability policy which would have cost more than what I would have been making each month. I found out that whenever you use your vehicle to deliver ANYTHING whether it be mail, pizza, plants, or whatever, it counts as commercial use of your vehicle if you are on the clock of an employer. Should you get into an accident and somebody tries to sue you, your insurance company will drop coverage immediately and possibly take you to court for back payments for not purchasing a commercial policy. You will still be on the hook for whatever the other driver sues for, with the extra bonus that no auto insurance company will ever want to touch you again.

    The owners of these places make you sign papers saying that you understand that you are using your own vehicle at your own risk and they usually have business insurance that protects them if somebody tries to sue the employer if you get into an accident instead of you. They have their asses covered, but it is not so easy for people who are getting paid less than six dollars an hour plus tips if we are lucky.

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