The Just In Time workplace isn’t working

We’ve talked about this quite a bit and I’m pleased it’s getting attention:

Navarro is at the center of a new collision that pits sophisticated workplace technology against some fundamental requirements of parenting, with particularly harsh consequences for poor single mothers. Along with virtually every major retail and restaurant chain, Starbucks relies on software that choreographs workers in precise, intricate ballets, using sales patterns and other data to determine which of its 130,000 baristas are needed in its thousands of locations and exactly when. Big-box retailers or mall clothing chains are now capable of bringing in more hands in anticipation of a delivery truck pulling in or the weather changing, and sending workers home when real-time analyses show sales are slowing. Managers are often compensated based on the efficiency of their staffing.
Scheduling is now a powerful tool to bolster profits, allowing businesses to cut labor costs with a few keystrokes. “It’s like magic,” said Charles DeWitt, vice president for business development at Kronos, which supplies the software for Starbucks and many other chains.
Yet those advances are injecting turbulence into parents’ routines and personal relationships, undermining efforts to expand preschool access, driving some mothers out of the work force and redistributing some of the uncertainty of doing business from corporations to families, say parents, child care providers and policy experts.

I talk to parents like this all the time and just listening to the scheduling they have to do exhausts me, particularly because they make so little money. I sit there and wonder when they’ll figure out that working under these conditions makes no sense for them, and just give up. I don’t want them to give up and I admire the hell out of them for trying but there’s so little reward for working and so much downside that it has to occur to some portion of them that we have made it nearly impossible for them to get out of this trap. One of the big draws for factory work versus service work in this county isn’t the pay which sometimes sucks, and it certainly isn’t the work itself which is often both mindless and physically demanding, it’s that they get a regular schedule. They don’t want “flexibility.” They want consistency and order and predictability because lower-wage people need that more than people who make more money. They have no room for error.

I love this piece because it follows the worker’s chaotic life and includes how that disorder and uncertainty ripples to all of the people who live with the worker and all of the people who provide childcare for low wage workers. It sucks a huge group of people in and makes numerous households subject to the demands of the low wage employer. If there were some PAY attached to this it might make sense for people, but they’re not even making enough to live on.

But Ms. Navarro’s fluctuating hours, combined with her limited resources, had also turned their lives into a chronic crisis over the clock. She rarely learned her schedule more than three days before the start of a workweek, plunging her into urgent logistical puzzles over who would watch the boy. Months after starting the job she moved out of her aunt’s home, in part because of mounting friction over the erratic schedule, which the aunt felt was also holding her family captive. Ms. Navarro’s degree was on indefinite pause because her shifting hours left her unable to commit to classes. She needed to work all she could, sometimes counting on dimes from the tip jar to make the bus fare home. If she dared ask for more stable hours, she feared, she would get fewer work hours over all.

No one could manage this well. No one. We’re setting them up to fail and then blaming them when they do fail.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

139 replies
  1. 1
    Violet says:

    No one could manage this well. No one. We’re setting them up to fail and then blaming them when they do fail.

    This is absolutely true. What can we do to change it?

  2. 2

    That’s why high unemployment doesn’t bother the 1%, it is a feature not a bug. It lets employers get away with abusive labor practices.

  3. 3

    @Violet: The tide seems to be turning. The Dems need to take back the house and some governorships lost in 2010.

  4. 4
    Mike G says:

    They don’t want “flexibility”

    “Flexibility” was sold as a positive of “the new workplace” — what a crock. Because it’s always flexibility at the employer’s whim, not the employee’s. Try to pick and choose your hours in the Service Gulag and you usually won’t get very far.

  5. 5
    satby says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Agreed. I took the first job offered after my unemployment ran out, a retail position in the store of a non-profit, where I’m a “team lead”; ironically, the title I held at my old corporate job after they decided to retitle all of the management positions just before starting massive layoffs. My schedule has morphed from a 3 day a week part time job, which I wanted because I do have my own business to run as well, into a 34-36 hour (just under full time) 6 hours/ 6 days a week. Just enough to derail other stuff going on, not enough pay to actually live on. In fact, I haven’t been able to do any of the other tasks that actually bring me more income. So the more I work, the more I fall behind. Edited to add: and I’ve only been there 2 months.

  6. 6

    The workers have much less flexibility in this regime than under a nine to five schedule. It is the employers who have more flexibility.

  7. 7

    @satby: In the long run it is counter productive though, because the economy is consumer driven and when people have less money they spend less and in the aggregate the economy shrinks.

  8. 8
    Kay says:

    @Mike G:

    The discussion was interesting in the 80’s and 90’s because it was SO divided along class lines and of course managers and professionals got the big forums. I remember it. We were all going to set our own hours and hire a whole slew of people to help us manage our busy lives. It was just completely disconnected from people like the person in the Starbucks.

    I actually think that’s gotten better. I think working and middle class people have bigger voices since the 80’s and 90’s. They were completely invisible for a long stretch there, or there was only discussion of this media-preferred “lunchbox” workforce that were leaving at 5 when the factory whistle went off. It has less and less to do with the reality of how people work.

  9. 9
    FoxinSocks says:

    The luxury department store where my mother worked moved to this model. In a short time, most of the experienced salesforce quit. The management saw this as a plus, as they could bring in new people and not give them benefits.

    Except this is a luxury department store. You can’t charge sky high prices and give customers Wal-Mart level service. Sales cratered. My mother was recruited by a store that has a set schedule and is doing quite well.

    I know this is a special case, but once again, it seems that short-term cost savings result in long-term losses.

  10. 10
    Catherine D. says:

    Ah, Kronos! The university I work at picked that piece’o’crap for its payroll program. It can’t add time correctly – if you enter time as 12:00PM to 3:00PM, it says that’s 3.1 hours. If you work two jobs, as I do, you have two frickin’ login ids to record your time.

  11. 11
    Belafon says:

    It’s one of the flaws in the idea of profits over all. Parts of capitalism work well, but we do not and cannot have capitalism everywhere: A family by definition is a socialist system, the definition of “from those according to their ability to those according to their need.” We have to take that into account.

  12. 12
    piratedan says:

    @Mike G: or as they say, “Flexibility for me, not for thee” and then the usual refrain regarding complaint is.. “you don’t like it, go find another job”.. The workplace as hostage taker….. Just like a lot of other crap that is being passed down from the 1%… this is why unions are so important, so your employer can’t fuck you over on a whim and still deny you benefits. Can almost see how they could have a workforce of 18 baristas, all working 29 hours to ensure that no one gets any goodies.

  13. 13
    Kay says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    It’s all risk-shifting. Every time she suffers a financial or personal penalty as a result of this schedule she is taking that hit so her employer won’t have to. They’re off-loading risk from the employer to the employee, off-loading “the cost of doing business” that they (formerly) had to cover. They’re simply making her pay the cost they would have incurred if they weren’t busy for an hour or whatever and she was on the clock.

  14. 14
    El Caganer says:

    Sorry, but if These People wanted to have lives, they should have become hedge fund managers.

  15. 15
    dmsilev says:

    It was a good piece, and I was glad to see that the Times did a bit of claim-checking:

    Andrew Alfano, a senior vice president of retail at Starbucks, said that an experience like Ms. Navarro’s was an anomaly, and that the company provided at least a week’s notice of work hours, as well as stable schedules for employees who want them. However, in interviews with current and recent workers at 17 Starbucks outlets around the country, only two said they received a week’s notice of their hours; some got as little as one day.

  16. 16
    Kay says:

    @FoxinSocks:

    My middle son had to buy his first suit for his brother’s wedding. He was paying and he had no idea how much it would cost so he brought a bunch of cash. He deals in cash, still, like he’s 12 years old although he’s 20. We went to a nice place and got a salesperson on commission and we had a great afternoon with her. Shirley. Probably in her 60’s. I just sat in the area outside the dressing room and listened to them. Well, HER because he says about 4 words every hour. So funny. He picked up a pink tie at one point and she grabbed it back: “I don’t like pink on you.”

    He looked great at the end of this thing and I know he was really pleased with that :)

    Funniest shopping trip ever. Whatever he paid it was worth it.

  17. 17
    gratuitous says:

    What can we do? I suppose organizing the workers and making a common claim for changes from management might be a good option. But is there a model for doing that?

  18. 18
    Violet says:

    @Kay:
    Kay, I don’t know if you saw this link in a previous thread. It’s from driftglass and about the Ferguson stuff. But the video at the top is what caught my eye. It’s an instructional video called “Are You a Good Citizen?” from 1949. The “Good Citizen” checklist is:
    A good citizen will:
    1. Perform basic civic duties.
    2. Take part in group activities
    3. Know and obey the law
    4. Keep informed on public affairs
    5. Be a good neighbor

    It’s quite fascinating. The first one on taxes is just amazing. It says one civic duty is paying taxes and knowing why you pay. “Before you complain about taxes, think how much it would cost if each of us had to buy these services separately.” The voiceover asks “Which one of these benefits would you choose to sacrifice?” and then lists various things taxes pay for.

    Under the “group activities” section the voiceover intones that when you participate “You benefit. The whole community benefits.” It’s crazy talk. I mean, the idea of community as a value? Does that even get discussed today?

    Thought you might find the whole thing interesting.

  19. 19
    KG says:

    @FoxinSocks:

    I know this is a special case, but once again, it seems that short-term cost savings result in long-term losses.

    Not really a special case, it usually plays out like this. It’s the old penny wise, pound foolish mindset. I’ve watched a lot of the bar/restaurant make over shows, the common themes are either the owners don’t have an experience or they’re trying to cut corners and save money because they are losing so much money.

  20. 20
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Kay:

    LOL! What a great story!

    Somehow, the fact that her name was Shirley just makes it perfect.

  21. 21
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    O/T, POTUS any minute now

    http://m.whitehouse.gov/live/p.....atement-22

  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    “Just In Time” is a buzzword in manufacturing operations to describe the delivery of parts and materials at the point of need so factories aren’t required to store and manage inventory. Not too surprising that some biz school genius decided workers were analogous to parts, so that business model would work like a charm with them too.

  23. 23
    Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim says:

    I like the bit about her degree being on hold. What good is a coffee server with a degree to Starbuck’s? It is, in fact, not in the company’s interest to have her better her educational credentials.

  24. 24
    slag says:

    there’s so little reward for working and so much downside that it has to occur to some portion of them that we have made it nearly impossible for them to get out of this trap

    This is the thing that work ethic puritans don’t get. Motivation still requires hope. You absolutely have to see the potential for reward somewhere. And it has to be real.

  25. 25
    burnspbesq says:

    The only way that abusive labor practices will change is if (a) Congress acts or (b) consumers vote with their spending. We know (a) isn’t happening any time soon, and I’m not aware of anything that suggests that (b) is likely.

    In the absence of Congressional action, this is a three-player, zero-sum game among labor, consumers, and shareholders, and it’s rigged so that shareholders are the least likely to ever lose.

  26. 26
    beth says:

    I had no idea this was going on until my daughter started working part time in high school. The shit they put her through the first two years was remarkable – they would schedule a 16 year old who had school in the morning to work an overnight shift and then put it on her
    to find someone to cover her shift. They pressured her into donating $5 a paycheck to one of four charities so the company could get the publicity for donating employee money. This is on top of requiring her to purchase work uniforms and work always changing shifts and be “on call” at least twice a week and every single holiday. She stuck it out and is now full time with a fairly set schedule so she can attend college but she could only do that because she has no kids and supportive parents.

  27. 27
    FoxinSocks says:

    @Kay:

    I love that story! Shirley sounds like my Mom, except Mom sells furniture. Sometimes she can tell the brand of a matress just by lying down on it.

  28. 28
    Violet says:

    @Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim: Starbucks recently partnered with ASU to offer full tuition reimbursement to “eligible partners”. I think they have to work 20 hours per week to be eligible.

    New York, June 15, 2014 – Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Arizona State University (ASU) announced the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, a powerful, first-of-its-kind program designed to unleash lifetime opportunity for thousands of eligible part-time and full-time U.S. partners (employees).

    Starbucks chairman, president and ceo Howard Schultz will host the first Partner Family Forum in the U.S. in New York’s Tmes Center and will join ASU president Dr. Michael M. Crow and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to officially launch the Starbucks College Achievement Plan. This significant investment will create an opportunity for eligible partners to finish a bachelor’s degree with full tuition reimbursement for juniors and seniors, through a unique collaboration with ASU’s research-driven, top-ranked degree program, delivered online.

  29. 29
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Human beings are not robots.

    But the parasites of the 1% want them to be that way…or they will be replaced. With robots, which are, essentially, slaves.

  30. 30
    Botsplainer says:

    @Violet:

    Machine gun the Ivy League business school faculties all the way down to the lowliest department secretary in front of the assembled mass of students. Follow by hanging 2 of every 3 CFOs of the Fortune 500.

    The CEOs get to live with their families in hard labor camps for 5 years.

  31. 31
    Tommy says:

    @Belafon: I went from making $120,000 a year to not having a job at a time in my life. That dot com thing. I did not even work in that field, but the ramifications of what happened spread far across many industries. Mine, advertising, was one of them. I thought I’d have a new job in weeks. Well weeks turned to months. Turned to a year. I spent through all my savings.

    Now this is what pisses me off about the right. Only they will work hard. Nobody else.

    I felt I was able of body, so I went to fast food places looking for a job. I didn’t take unemployment. Got a job working the night shift at a 7/11 like store so I could continue looking for a job during the day. The first month I got minimum wage. Trail period. After that $7.25/hour. I worked my ass off and one of hardest jobs I’ve ever had.

    It was hard. I have an MBA. A few credits short of a PhD. I never bitched nor moaned. It was what it was. A situation that sucked.

    Pretty sure I’d be up for a better/higher minimum wage if I didn’t go through this, but so ALL IN that I did. I worked hard for that $7.25/hour.

  32. 32
    Glocksman says:

    Where I work (Evansville TJ Maxx Distribution Center), they switched mostly from buying stuff when they could and storing it until it’s in season to buying at the last second in order to score better deals.

    Not only does this ‘just in time’ buying make our workload and workforce numbers swing wildly, it increases ‘shrink’ because all of the new employees they hire to meet the rush don’t really know their jobs like the old timers do, and things get lost, miscounted, misrouted to the wrong processing areas, etc.

    They also scaled back the Accuracy Control department (they used to QC production work throughout the building) to the point of near uselessness because upper management decided it wasn’t a necessary expense.

    After all of this, management is wondering why we’re by far the worst DC in the chain WRT our shrink numbers.

    Last year we had 1200 employees quit or be fired.
    Total average workforce for the plant is between 1000-1100 people.

    Of course with our seniority based pay system, they could hire 2 new people for what they pay a 28 year veteran, so they probably see that as a feature and not a bug.

    With that kind of turnover, shrink is inevitable.

    So if you happen to see a $500 pair of Jimmy Choo ladies shoes at TJ with a $40 pricetag, the above is probably why. :)

  33. 33
    different-church-lady says:

    Not to mention the fact that these techniques make holding two jobs impossible. Which is a likely scenario for any employees who are the material being moved around this kind of gameboard.

  34. 34
    Tommy says:

    @Glocksman: Totally not related to your post directly ….

    I assume you mean Evansville, IN. when you say Evansville. Long story short I spend some time near there. Might need to head your way from Mt. Carmel IL (where my parents live) and have a cup of coffee with you.

  35. 35
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Tommy:

    Have you ever read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed? I think it would resonate with your experience.

  36. 36
    Jado says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    YOU know that, and I know that, but try telling a financial analyst being paid by a one-percenter to reach a different conclusion.

    The Master’s don’t care about reality – they don’t have to. And the middle management minions will toe the line in a desperate effort to reach the level where they don’t have to care either.

  37. 37
    Glocksman says:

    @Tommy:

    Yep, Evansville IN.
    Otherwise known as ‘Evanshell’ or ‘Stop Light City’.

    A cup of Joe would be nice someday, though I’m not the most witty of conversationalists.
    It’d still be nice to meet the person behind the keyboard.

  38. 38
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mike G:

    “Flexibility” was sold as a positive of “the new workplace” — what a crock. Because it’s always flexibility at the employer’s whim, not the employee’s.

    It’s an example of how the MBA mindset looks at everything through the white-collar lens. Flexibility is good when you’ve got a full time desk job, shitty as hell in low pay retail.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @El Caganer:

    Sorry, but if These People wanted to have lives, they should have become hedge fund managers made a better choice of a uterus to fall out of.

    FTFY.

  40. 40
    Violet says:

    @Violet: More from this video:
    “The way is wide open for citizens to get what they want from their government!” I can’t believe they were promoting this sort of thing. It seems like a completely different world.

    Edit: “Citizenship carries with it many rights and many duties. The rights follow the duties and are dependent upon them. Don’t be a part time citizen thinking only of your rights. If you neglect your duty, you may forfeit your right.”

    Crazy talk!

  41. 41
    Tommy says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: I have not but just ordered it.

  42. 42
    Tommy says:

    @Glocksman: Well I can talk all day and you just sit there :). Got your screen name bookmarked and the next time I am across state to the parents house I might email you.

  43. 43
    Violet says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: That’s a great book. Tells it like it is. Scary.

  44. 44
    Face says:

    @different-church-lady: This is a great point. Don’t many of Teh Porez work 2 or 3 jobs? How is that possible if each job has fluid, inconsistent hours? Perhaps feature, not bug?

  45. 45
    Catherine D. says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I worked at the university’s business school for a while, and they proudly unveiled what they called “Just in Time learning”. The MBA students only learned something in, say, Excel, just before they needed it in a course. Naturally, they never remembered a damned thing.

  46. 46
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Jesus. Starbucks. I’m a survivor of working at that damned company. I’ll say this: my manager ignored most of the scheduling bullshit mandates and staffed appropriately and with an eye to employee needs. It cost him a lot in bonus money, I know that from doing similar work, but he never bitched about it once.

    The company itself is easily the worst I’ve ever worked for.

    When a furious husband punched his wife and her boyfriend right in my store and then pulled a gun on them, we had him arrested and banned him from the store. He complained to the company, they told us the next day that he was to be allowed to come in anytime he wanted and sent him a $100 gift card to apologize.

    Way to get your employee’s backs, guys. I hate to say it, but frankly even corporate with their “employees make great bullet stoppers” attitude wasn’t the worst part of the job. Don’t even get me started on their customers.

  47. 47
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Tommy:

    I think you will find it powerful. Will be interested in your thoughts after you’ve read it.

  48. 48
    Violet says:

    @Catherine D.: That’s hysterical. I guess they’d never heard of Bloom’s taxonomy? Who needs pesky things like the ability to analyze or synthesize information? Gets in the way!

  49. 49
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Have you ever read Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickel and Dimed?

    @SiubhanDuinne: That should be mandatory reading in every school in the nation by 9th grade. And anyone who claims to give a shit about the plight of the American worker absolutely needs to read it repeatedly until they’ve memorized it. It sure isn’t a “feel good” book but it’s dead on accurate.

  50. 50
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    The funny thing is that the biggest problem with business schools isn’t even that they teach evil bullshit. It’s that they can’t even teach evil bullshit well. I spent time at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, a well-regarded if not top tier, business school. It was, without a doubt, the laziest, least challenging educational experience of my life, including high school.* In the MBA program, the mandate from the school was that every class should have a median grade of an A-. The assignments in the MBA classes I had to take as electives to fill out my program were pointless and time wasting.

    A lot of the evil that gets implemented by MBAs isn’t even what the courses were trying to teach them in their half-assed way. I’m not going to defend the mentality of a lot of the people who teach at business schools, but they’re actually a lot less awful than you’d think. But they never bothered to really educate the students they had and so those students go out and implement only small chunks of the ideas that business schools have and it inevitably works out poorly for all involved.

    *With one exception. The Masters of Accountancy program I was in was well run. Larry Kallio has done a fine job of structuring a quality, meaningful program and of admitting students who are not only bright but also curious.

  51. 51
    slag says:

    @Catherine D.: Are you kidding? Isn’t “just in time learning” in the context of business simply learning something right before not knowing it gets you unemployed?

  52. 52
    beth says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: That book is what made me stop shopping at Walmart. When she described the workers who weren’t paid enough to buy food so they went without lunch all so I could save $1 on a pack of socks, it really got through to me.

  53. 53
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Machine gun the Ivy League business school faculties all the way down to the lowliest department secretary in front of the assembled mass of students. Follow by hanging 2 of every 3 CFOs of the Fortune 500.

    The CEOs get to live with their families in hard labor camps for 5 years.

    Did I miss National Eliminationist Rhetoric Week? WTF is wrong with you? Do you talk like this with your family or at work or are you just another Internet Tough Guy?

  54. 54
    LongHairedWeirdo says:

    This bugs me because it’s the ultimate “we are in control” trip.

    It says “you need us *so badly* we can have control of your life, even if we’re not going to actually *give* you anything – not even the opportunity to work! – in return.

    It’s the ultimate “job creators” bullshit. It’s not “you have a job because you do good (or even “barely acceptable”) work and our customers are satisfied.” It’s “you have a job because we choose to give it to you – and if you don’t want it, there’s some other poor sucker who wants it more.”

  55. 55
    Violet says:

    @slag: The same as cramming for a test. You learn it for the test and then it’s gone. That’s not really learning but it works for tests. Sometimes. Sort of.

  56. 56
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Ernest Pikeman: He’s a proud graduate of the Villago Delenda Est School of Cheap Violence Talk.

  57. 57
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN): Yeah, I already got my own personal death threat from that asshole. I’m hoping to collect the whole set!

  58. 58
    Calouste says:

    @Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):

    MBA is the current day equivalent of a finishing school. Attending it shows that either your family has a lot of money or that you can suck up well enough have enough talent that your employer will pay for it. You learn all the proper buzzwords and etiquette, but not that much about actually running, and specially not starting, a business.

  59. 59
    skerry says:

    @beth: I somehow managed to make it to 50+ without working retail or food service. My children, however, have not. I was shocked to see the practices employed in their workplaces. I had no idea. My 27 year old still works as a restaurant server. She never knows her hours week to week. She can manage since she is single without kids. How you live that lifestyle while juggling childcare, I don’t understand. It was hard enough doing it with a white-collar job with set hours.

    It was quite the eye-opener for me to see.

  60. 60
    NonyNony says:

    @KG:

    Not really a special case, it usually plays out like this. It’s the old penny wise, pound foolish mindset. I’ve watched a lot of the bar/restaurant make over shows, the common themes are either the owners don’t have an experience or they’re trying to cut corners and save money because they are losing so much money.

    Hell it’s basically how Circuit City went from a reasonably stable company to bankruptcy within a few short years. Attempting to cut costs by slashing expertise in your sales force is the stupidest move any CEO could possibly make – but Wall Street rewards it in the short term and, hey, if you drive the company to bankruptcy there always seems to be work for you.

  61. 61
    Calouste says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    Anecdata: I was recently contracted by a recruiter for Starbucks for a job that would require an extremely optimistic extrapolation of my outdated LinkedIn profile for me to qualify for. That doesn’t particularly give confidence about their higher level hires.

    Of course, as taking that job would prevent me from drinking actual coffee during the work day rather than their mixture of discarded engine oil and horse piss, the decision process was a remarkably short one.

  62. 62
    Violet says:

    @NonyNony: I was thinking about Circuit City when I read that comment too. I remember going into a CC just after they’d changed from the commission staff to whatever they had after that. It was awful. No one knew anything, shelves were unstocked–it was a mess. Wasn’t surprised when they went out of business.

  63. 63
    Elizabelle says:

    Aha.

    Starbucks announced changes to its worker scheduling policies on Thursday, in response to a New York Times article about a barista and single mother struggling to manage life amid her erratic hours set by automated software.

    [Announced via] an email to 130,000 workers.

    Mr. Burrows told them the company would revise its software to allow more human input from managers into scheduling. It would banish the practice, much loathed by workers, of asking them to “clopen” — close the store late at night and return just a few hours later to reopen. He said all work hours must be posted at least one week in advance, a policy that has been only loosely followed in the past.

    … Though the coffee chain prides itself on progressive labor practices for low-paid, hourly workers, such as offering health benefits and stock, many current and former Starbucks workers said that the experience of Jannette Navarro, the barista described in the Times article, mirrored their own.

  64. 64
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Of course, as taking that job would prevent me from drinking actual coffee during the work day rather than their mixture of discarded engine oil and horse piss, the decision process was a remarkably short one.

    @Calouste: Hey, c’mon, the NDA says you’re not supposed to tell people what’s in it.

    Only worse coffee than Charbucks is Peet’s. Don’t know how anyone can make it through a cup of that without getting an instant bleeding ulcer.

  65. 65
    Elizabelle says:

    @Violet:
    @NonyNony:

    Circuit City became egregious, and is unmourned. My family bought a lot of electronics there, from knowledgeable people we recognized, visit after visit, before they changed their policy.

    Assume they were done in partly by the internet, but why not focus on service? (Right, it costs $$$.) Also, they seem to have overexpanded …

  66. 66
    gene108 says:

    @Mike G:

    They don’t want “flexibility”

    “Flexibility” was sold as a positive of “the new workplace” — what a crock. Because it’s always flexibility at the employer’s whim, not the employee’s. Try to pick and choose your hours in the Service Gulag and you usually won’t get very far.

    Depends on your pay grade.

    Higher up the ladder you go, the more you can dictate the terms of your “flexibility”.

    I know professionals, who manage working for big companies and can work from home, a large part of the time, because there work can be done on a computer or over the phone.

  67. 67
    Elizabelle says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    I would NEVER hire a maid service, after reading Ehrenreich’s account. Always better to go with individuals you find via word of mouth.

    And the folding and refolding clothes at Wal-Mart, because customers threw stuff around. Because they could.

    Too many MBAs; not enough long-term thinking or compassion for the human capital.

  68. 68
    CONGRATULATIONS! says:

    Though the coffee chain prides itself on progressive labor practices for low-paid, hourly workers, such as offering health benefits and stock

    @Elizabelle: Those “health benefits” are a joke. If you work 40 hours a week at Starbucks and make decent tips, you’d be paying half your income for those “benefits”. So I did without, as do virtually all the workers.

    As for “stock”, any employee who sinks any substantial portion of their own cash into the company they work for – and is not making dot com six figure startup salaries and under the age of 30 – is an idiot. The rich and young can take risks like that. The poor can’t.

    Good, the “clopen” thing gets a mention. I fucking hated that, and everybody got at least one a week. Try being chipper on four hours of sleep. They won’t change one fucking thing, of course.

  69. 69
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ernest Pikeman: Ah, the concern troll is at it again.

    The parasites that are the 1% need to be dealt with as you deal with any other parasite.

  70. 70
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ernest Pikeman: Death threat? Are you kidding?

    You really are a serious jackass.

    I might also add that the French Solution is what happens when the vast majority of the people figure that things cannot get much worse, so action is needed. The 1% is so busy partying themselves into that corner that they don’t even realize what they’re doing.

  71. 71
    kc says:

    It’s not just parents who are suffering from that kind of scheduling.

  72. 72
    Glocksman says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    That’d depend on the company.
    I put the company match on my 401k into TJX instead of the stock fund I chose for my own contribution and it’s done pretty well over the long term.
    On August 13, 1997 (the day I became eligible to sign up for the 401k) the closing price was $3.59 a share and yesterday’s closing price was $53.34 a share.

    The caveat is that you have to be in it for the long term.
    If I’d tried to game the system by anticipating short term gyrations in price, I’d have lost my shirt.

  73. 73
    Starfish says:

    @Glocksman: Do you work for TJX?

  74. 74
    Botsplainer says:

    @NonyNony:

    Hell it’s basically how Circuit City went from a reasonably stable company to bankruptcy within a few short years. Attempting to cut costs by slashing expertise in your sales force is the stupidest move any CEO could possibly make…

    All eliminationist rhetoric aside, what the bean counters at Big Retail have been notoriously hesitant to recognize is the fact that customers form their impressions and loyalty by their experience with the front of the shop. That means the sales staff.

    With larger tickets (places like Circuit City, HH Gregg, jewelers, eyeglasses), the interaction can make or break the organization. A well trained, competent, money-motivated sales clerk can Always Be Closing without laying on pressure or obnoxiousness.

    Case in point – my wife needed new regular and sun glasses in a hurry this week. She’s not me (I am stuck in the multi, multi, multifocal lens queue, usually taking a while), so Lenscrafters 24 hour service was an option (we usually go to Costco for price). The experience was so pleasant, the salesman so knowledgeable and the selection so good that we felt it worth the extra 20% over and above what we were accustomed to paying.

  75. 75
    Glocksman says:

    @Starfish:

    Yes, at their Evansville Distribution Center.

  76. 76
    Comrade Luke says:

    They’re replacing David Gregory!

    With Chuck Todd.

  77. 77
    Glocksman says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    And the ‘Meet the Stenographers’ continues its long decline.

  78. 78
    wenchacha says:

    My son’s gf is visiting with us this week; she’s a Japanese national here as a student. I have been learning more about Japan. We have covered a lot of territory, and the sweet young woman and I share a scary amount of interests.

    Anyhoo, she did work in an ad agency before coming here. I asked her about the US stories of “Japanese working man dies at desk” that are cluck-clucked about from time to time to make US feel superior. And it’s true. She said many workers don’t have time to return home every day. They bring a change of clothing to work. Three days is a long vacation. And our lovely visitor averaged 3-4 hrs of sleep each night while she worked there. I’m afraid to ask if she was able to get home most nights.

    She said if you hit thirty without landing a job, you can forget that ever being a possibility. And that getting that Master’s degree makes you too expensive to hire in companies that are controlled by the accountants.

    So there are industrialized first-world countries that are even less worker-friendly than here in the good old USA, but precious few. Now I want to learn more about the Japanese economy prior to WWII, and find out how much or little things have changed for workers.

  79. 79
    Starfish says:

    @Glocksman: The reason that investing in the stock of a company that you work for is silly is that companies will lay people off when they are not doing well so your personal portfolio will get smaller at the same time that people are getting laid off. It worked for you at TJX, but it may not have worked so well for people employed by SHLD.

  80. 80
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Comrade Luke: Dumb and Dumber.

  81. 81
    Violet says:

    @Comrade Luke: That doesn’t sound like it’s confirmed yet. Any other sources? The rumor has been circulating for the last week or so. Can’t believe they’d rush to make the change before Sunday. It’s Thursday today. That just makes them look desperate. As usual, I guess.

  82. 82
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @kc: This cannot be understated.

    Children are being fucked with on this, and I realize that this is one of those long term things that MBAs are notorious for not bothering to account for, but it’s an example of why society, via government, needs to intervene in this shit for the health of the entire body of the population, and squash the personal profit motive of a relative handful of individuals.

    Amazing, the sort of thing that Adam Smith would heartily endorse, too.

  83. 83
    Violet says:

    @Glocksman: It’s hard to believe they think Chuck Todd will fix things on MTP. He’s such a loathsome toady. He’s just as bad as David Gregory but in a different way.

  84. 84
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Comrade Luke:

    A distinction without a difference.

  85. 85
    Comrade Luke says:

    @Violet:

    I’m not as focused on the timing as I am on the people. Chuck Todd?!

  86. 86
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @beth:
    @Elizabelle:

    Both of those. Also, I try always to leave a cash tip in my room for the housekeepers in hotels/motels.

  87. 87
    Glocksman says:

    @Starfish:

    True.
    That said, I didn’t blindly gamble my money with TJX, as back then they were going on a rampage expanding stores, adding DC’s and buying up their largest competitor (Marshall’s).

    When I started, we had 3 DC’s (Evansville IN, Worcester MA, and Charlotte NC)
    Now we have 9 and they’re adding more, though Evansville is still the largest at 1.1 million sq ft., and handles the largest variety of merchandise.

    We handle everything from heavy household furniture to socks to cosmetics.

    I figured they’d either expand too fast and go bankrupt, in which case my 401k loss would be out of the company match and not my own contributions, or they’d take off.

    They took off.
    As to whether or not they can sustain that growth, we’ll see.

  88. 88
    Calouste says:

    @Elizabelle:

    If Starbucks was really serious about progressive labor practices, they could just copy what their Norwegian or Swedish subsidiaries have to comply with according to local law. They can make a buck running stores under those laws (which for example will require an 11 hour or so break between shifts), so until they copy those, their “progressive labor practices” are marketing more than anything else.

  89. 89
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Botsplainer: Lenscrafter is only about 20% more than Costco? You just saved me a lot of time navigating the hassle of getting into Costco as a non-member to check out their optical department.

  90. 90
    Violet says:

    @Comrade Luke: After all the gossip about it for the last week or so, did you expect them to pick anyone else? And even before that, did you really think they’d pick anyone else? Chuck Todd is the next obvious choice if you’re an NBC executive. Of course he’s a terrible choice but NBC executives can’t see outside the Village. And really, when it comes to Sunday shows, isn’t that their audience anyway?

    They’d have been much better served by going back to the early days of MTP where there was a panel of journalists and going back to that. Maybe even bringing in local journalists once a month–they usually ask better questions. Sticking with the insidery version of MTP isn’t going to change anything.

  91. 91
    dmsilev says:

    @Botsplainer:

    All eliminationist rhetoric aside, what the bean counters at Big Retail have been notoriously hesitant to recognize is the fact that customers form their impressions and loyalty by their experience with the front of the shop. That means the sales staff.

    Yes, yes, and yes.

    Not retail, but one of the companies I get stuff from at work (tools and materials mostly, though if you happen to be in the market for half a mile of conveyor belt, they’d be happy to sell it to you) has really figured this out. Well-staffed phone banks, with first-line reps who are actually familiar with the contents of the 3000+ page catalog. Nice (and well-maintained) website that is easy to drill down to the exact drill bit that one might need. Virtually everything is always in stock. And mail-order responsiveness of the Gods; I can put in an order at 11 AM, and I’ll have it 3 PM same day. Etc.

    I’ll gladly pay the 20 or 30 percent premium they charge.

    ( http://www.mcmaster.com )

  92. 92
    Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN) says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yep. It’s the Anonymous Tough Guy Who Talks Shit.

  93. 93
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Violet:

    Booman has some excellent advice for Chuck Todd, including:

    Find interesting people who have unexpected things to say. Tap into the scientific and academic worlds, and try to get guests from other countries to offer their perspectives. Defining the red/blue divide on any given issue should be the starting point, not the whole point.

    And, when trying to find the progressive point of view, reach out to community organizers, faith leaders, union leaders, and urban politicians in order to delve into how the left differs from the party leaders in Washington.

    And this:

    Also, John McCain has already filled his quota for Meet the Press appearances. Unless he has something original to say, he shouldn’t be a guest.

    ETA: I am not terribly optimistic that Chuckles will follow these wise words.

  94. 94
    Keith G says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    When a furious husband punched his wife and her boyfriend right in my store and then pulled a gun on them, we had him arrested and banned him from the store. He complained to the company, they told us the next day that he was to be allowed to come in anytime he wanted and sent him a $100 gift card to apologize.

    If only Starbucks sold cars, Cole would be right at home.

  95. 95
    Botsplainer says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Lenscrafter is only about 20% more than Costco? You just saved me a lot of time navigating the hassle of getting into Costco as a non-member to check out their optical department.

    The Costco equipment in the captive optometrist shop is top of the line and the pricing good, but in the eyeglasses shop (while well-stocked and nicely priced) could use a lot more well-trained staffing.

  96. 96
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: So when you said “you are on my list”, you meant on the list of people to receive flowers and candy? So sorry I misunderstood, but please no candy, I’m trying to lose weight.

    You foam at the mouth at the 1% but I bet you’ve never dared to confront any of “them” in real life. You just infest anonymous blog comment threads with your violent blood soaked fantasies of guillotines and tumbrels. French Solution? You couldn’t fight your way out of a french letter.

  97. 97
    Elizabelle says:

    @CONGRATULATIONS!:

    Guess they expect their clopeners to exist on caffeine therapy. Ghastly.

    Just finished the NYTimes story. Want to give Jannette Navarro and little 4-year old Gavin a hug and Starbucks (among other retailers) a swift kick in the pants. They could use that software to organize better and fuller schedules. They are not doing so. At end of story, Jannette begs and pleads for closer to 40 hours, and gets a better schedule, but her life is still precarious.

    How can you enjoy that latte when you’re reading this:

    Child care and policy experts worry that the entire apparatus for helping poor families is being strained by unpredictable work schedules, preventing parents from committing to regular drop-off times or answering standard questions on subsidy forms and applications for aid: “How many hours do you work?” and “What do you earn?”

    “Some families drop their kids at 7:30 and then come back at 10:30 saying there was no more work for the day,” said Patricia Smith, director of the Jeff and Deni Jacobs Child Development Center, the government-funded day care Gavin attends.

    (Jannette apparently lives in the San Diego area. I am hoping the national exposure will help her find a better job. Clearly, she’s got the drive to appear at her job — three hour commute! — and she’s committed to making a better life for herself and Gavin.)

  98. 98
    Botsplainer says:

    @dmsilev:

    As I always say, when customers deal with a company, they’re generally disinterested in how many motivational posters, management seminars and political wars the bosses in the back tend to deal with.

  99. 99
    Violet says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:

    Defining the red/blue divide on any given issue should be the starting point, not the whole point.

    I don’t think it should even be part of the point. If you’re interested, go upthread and watch the fascinating 1949 video I linked called “Are You a Good Citizen?” It talks about things like community and joining organizations to help your local community and participating in your government. There’s a real sense of “we” and “us”. The red/blue divide does nothing to help or promote that. It’s toxic and damaging to the country. There’s no reason for our media to promote that angle except, presumably, ratings. I think there are other ways to get ratings and Chuck Todd would be well served to investigate those.

  100. 100
    weaselone says:

    @Glocksman:

    I am glad it’s worked out for you, but holding a large position in the company you work for is generally considered unwise and risky. First, you already work for them. If the company goes through tough times you could quite conceivably lose you job at the same time the stock price takes a significant hit. Second, diversification is generally a good idea. If a sizable fraction of your portfolio is in a single stock, you are exposing yourself both a significant amount of company specific risk and sector specific risk.

    That said, I don’t know your actual situation. If you are comfortable with risk, have done your due diligence, and TJX is just a portion of a well diversified portfolio you have my permission to ignore the random comments of someone on the internet.

  101. 101
    Botsplainer says:

    @Keith G:

    If only Starbucks sold cars, Cole would be right at home.

    No, for Cole to be at his perfect state of Nirvana, the coffee would be week old lukewarm Chai in a soiled, slightly crushed cup.

  102. 102
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    @Botsplainer: Does machine gunning lowliest department secretaries get you a discount at Lenscrafters?

  103. 103
    Glocksman says:

    @weaselone:

    The company match is $.25 for every dollar I put in and my own money is in one of the Vanguard moderate risk funds.
    It was in a higher risk fund, but I’m getting older.

    Once I hit 62, I’ll move it over to a low risk fund.

  104. 104
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @weaselone: I’ve been in IT/telecom for a long time. I recall quite a few people who worked for MCI/WorldCom who were strongly encouraged to put their 401(k) into company stock, which did well for a while. Then the company went in the shitter and all of a sudden lots of middle-aged people had no job and no retirement savings.

  105. 105
    Keith G says:

    @Violet:

    What can we do to change it?

    If it were to become (one of) the organizing principles of the Democratic Party, this issue would move to the front of our society’s discourse. Governors, Congress-folks, and candidates for president would have to address it in constructive ways. The more that happens, the more enlightened others become and chances open up for progress. It would help to have as many names and faces (and their stories) available to the public as possible.

    Now would be the time for Hillary and the other might-be candidates for nomination to be told that this will be an important criteria for evaluation.

  106. 106
    Glocksman says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    The rules for our 401k limit the amount of company stock we can invest in.

    IIRC, it’s either 30 or 40% of total contributions can be used to directly buy company stock.
    The rest has to be invested among a list of mutual funds provided by the plan administrator.

    The advice I took at the time was to look at the company match as your ‘gambling money’ and use it for company stock.

  107. 107
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Botsplainer: I had two questions to ask the optical shop: can they fill prescriptions with a -8 sphere and what are their prices. I’ve run through the “sign in and get grilled” gauntlet once, and the optical department had a line a dozen people deep. Never got to talk to an optician, have been trying to talk myself into going back. I don’t really want to infect their store with my non-member cooties that badly.

    Nicely priced would be under $300 a pair. That would put it enough under a local shop to make the membership worth the cost, though if the line I saw was a usual thing, it would need to be a lot less to compensate for the wasted time. For comparison, Lenscrafters wanted almost a grand for the same glasses.

  108. 108
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Glocksman: Makes sense.

  109. 109
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    @Botsplainer:

    No, for Cole to be at his perfect state of Nirvana, the coffee would be week old lukewarm Chai in a soiled, slightly crushed cup.

    I think that’s still better than your happy place of dreaming of machine gunning people for working in an educational institution you don’t approve of.

  110. 110
    Botsplainer says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    There are lots of nice deals in Costco that make membership worthwhile – the meat and fish selections are worth it all by itself.

  111. 111
    Botsplainer says:

    @Ernest Pikeman:

    I think that’s still better than your happy place of dreaming of machine gunning people for working in an educational institution you don’t approve of.

    Hey, I guarantee that the glib group of fuckers consisting of B school faculties have ruined a helluvalot more lives than the last 10 years of gangbanging nationwide.

    Plus, I’d trust the gangbangers with my money more. They’d at least leave me a taste of it, and aren’t greedy for the sake of something stupid, like simply increasing marks in a ledger – also, they spread the joy around the community.

  112. 112
    hitchhiker says:

    Late to this thread, but gotta chime in. My first “real” (meaning, not waitress) job was in 1971. I was 19 years old, and I got hired as a long distance operator for Bell Telephone in Traverse City, Michigan.

    I made $2.09/hr, which I was told repeatedly was really good for a girl. The job itself was okay (sitting in front of my section of that giant board with my collection of plugs, answering calls and placing connections — better than cleaning rooms at a local motel) but what drove me completely INSANE was that my schedule changed from week to week.

    Apparently Ma Bell was ahead of its time when it came to Just In Time workforce management. We were given our days and hours for next week as late as possible in this week. It would be a couple of split shifts, a couple of half day mornings, maybe one full day, and one evening shift. Different days, different hours every week.

    I used to wake up in a panic thinking I’d looked at last week’s hours by mistake and I was supposed to be at work . . . and then, while at work, you were given a specific 10-minute break time, which you’d be punished for not taking to the minute. We had a red card that we had to stick up to a clip thing above our board position, so that someone returning from her (we were all “her”) break could see that you needed to go next. She’d plug her jack into your board and take over right in the middle of a call. You’d unplug and walk off with your headset still on your head. When it was time, you’d go back to the big room and find someone with a break card up. Plug in, she unplugs, she stands, you sit, clockwork. A row of about 30 women facing a long wall of plugs. No windows, no chatting, just watch the little colored lights, take the calls, fill in the bubbles on the cards.

    I’m sure they had data to justify all this finely tuned timing, but in practice what it felt like was completely inhuman. A really good job for a girl!

  113. 113
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    O/T, sounds like Nouri Al-Maliki has decided to go without a fight and “support his successor.”

    No link, just heard it on BBC World News.

  114. 114
    Mike E says:

    @Ernest Pikeman: yer head would look earnest on a pike, man…just sayin’

  115. 115
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    @Botsplainer: Oh you Righteous Internet Tough Guy you. Why don’t you just go visit the nearest business school and go yell at the department secretary that [s]he should be gunned down in public for working there? Or if you don’t quite have the courage, send a letter to the local paper in your own name.

    Such a Working Class Hero.

  116. 116
    JoyfulA says:

    @hitchhiker: Those were treasured jobs in the 1960s, but everyone worked split shift, with 3 (or 4?) hours off in the middle of the day.

  117. 117
    Belafon says:

    The answer for this is that if the person is waiting for the company to call, then they are “on the clock” and must be paid for that time.

    ETA: Actually that wouldn’t fix it. What should be required is that the company must give two weeks notice, just like most companies require of employees who want to go on vacation (at least the companies I’ve worked for required it).

    My original statement was for those places that have people waiting each day to see if they are going to work.

  118. 118
    El Caganer says:

    I like to think of my own Intertube advocacy of righteous violence against the 1% as ‘propaganda of the derp.’

  119. 119
    rikyrah says:

    Thanks Kay for continuing to bring up this topic. People need schedules…they need to be able to plan.

  120. 120
    Elizabelle says:

    David Gregory confirms he’s leaving “Sunday with John MCain” and NBC News entirely.

    Don’t let the door hit you ….

  121. 121
    Pogonip says:

    OK, Juicers, time to pitch in!

    Johnny One-Note Hodor est!

    We get it, dude, we get it. You don’t like VDE or Botsplainer. Duly noted. Now, give it up or face unmerciful Hodoring!

  122. 122
    PIGL says:

    @Ernest Pikeman: It’s east to be an internet tough guy, of course, and eliminationist rhetoric is poisonous. But, Villago and Botsplainer don’t speak far from my own mind in many ways.

    Postulate: the political power of malicious billionaires such the Kochs and Murdoch, and their many allies and enablers, hidden and overt, is a deadly weapon pointed at the heart of the interests of 99.9% of us, and in fact threatens the future of human civilization on this planet.

    Consequent: it is urgently necessary to take their power away. Not in a few generation, or a few decades, or electoral cycles, but pretty much now.

    If you can suggest an effective non-violent method for achieving this, I would like to hear it.

    Bear in mind that any slow-moving response of the political system will be met with death squads.

  123. 123
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism: I entered the Costco in Columbia MD for the first time about a week ago. I saw all the MEMBERS ONLY signs but didn’t dream they were serious about browsers.

    Nevertheless I stumbled into what seems to be the best way to infiltrate: Show up at opening time when a few dozen members are waiting to get in. The staff checking cards was too few for the onrushing horde & if you walk in amongst them in the middle of the mob as if you belonged there they probably won’t make the extra effort to flag you down.

  124. 124
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Botsplainer: Unfortunately, the next-to-last time I went in there, before you had to present your credentials at the door, I wasn’t impressed enough to be willing to fight my way to the store on a weekly or even a bi-weekly schedule. I don’t go to the one Trader Joe’s here for the same reason. The two are almost next door to each other.

    I hate driving in that area enough that I won’t go to the fabric store in the same strip mall as the TJ’s. And given some of the places I’ve ventured to fabric shop, that’s saying something.

    I’ve been willing to make a special trip there once or twice a year despite the creative lane striping and the parking lots from hell. Might even be willing to brave it more often now that I’ve found a way to go around a lot of that. (Parking lot still sucks.) But I hated my last experience of the place enough (you should have seen the checkout lines) that it’ll be hard to talk me into giving it another try.

  125. 125
    Arclite says:

    Great article Kay. This was a FP post last year some time, but it has worsened since then. My wife is subject to the same whims at her job.

  126. 126
    Origuy says:

    @Uncle Cosmo: Anyone can use the Costco pharmacy, at least in California. You can get in with a Costco gift card, too, which you don’t have to be a member to use.

  127. 127
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @satby:

    Just enough to derail other stuff going on, not enough pay to actually live on.

    The modern guideline for setting worker pay.

  128. 128
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    @beth:

    Yep. My daughter, home for the summer from college, was overjoyed when she found a “full time” job at a local retailer. Until she found out that most of her schedule is “call in” shifts: times when she’s expected to be available but won’t necessarily be called in to work (and be paid). IOW, they get to put first dibs on your time without paying you for it. It makes me furious. She’s made very little this summer.

  129. 129
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Ernest Pikeman: I’m sure you won’t believe this, but I actually have confronted total strangers when they spouted wingtard shit in the general area. I confronted some pro-Bush college student at a rally in 2004 that John Edwards was headlining at the UofO, asking him if he had signed up for ROTC to go fight in the glorious war in Iraq that he was supporting. Naturally, he was not. Typical cowardly Rethuglican shit. Then there was the time I corrected some idiot who was repeating Limbaugh talking points on the death of Hillary Clinton’s lesbian lover, Vince Foster, about his handedness and how it wasn’t possible for him to have killed himself.

    So, yes, I do this in real life to people. I’m a very strong advocate of spelling out precisely where things are going if we do not make some changes soon, particularly with political unrest. It’s ugly, but unless some people change their ways, it’s precisely where it is going. I’ve studied history, I’ve served in the Army, and I don’t like the the road we’re travelling, mainly because if things keep going the way we are, we’re going to wind up in a place where there is absolutely no telling what the outcome will be…sort of like what the French went through in 1789, and the Russians in 1917.

    If that offends you, too bad. This is a wake up call. The current trends lead to violent change. I’d rather do it peacefully, but if those in power don’t get their act together, things will spin out of any control they might have had at one time.

  130. 130
    D58826 says:

    In the 1880’s companies installed safety equipment to protect the machine from the man. The machine is expensive whereas the man can be replaced very easily with little or no cost. Not much has changed, just the technology. Bibi talks about how the Palestinians do not value life, well he should take a good look at the American corporation. A suicide bomber has a greater appreciation for life then the captains of American industry.

  131. 131
    Glocksman says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Jesus H Christ, you aren’t kidding.
    They’ll spend tons of money of bullshit posters, meetings, and lessons, but they don’t want to spend a dime on the one thing that’d motivate employees to actually give a damn.

    Raises.

    Actually, they pretend to do so by embracing ‘Engineered Standards’ (Taylorism by another name) while ignoring the fact that due to our market niche (off price, OTOH we buy shit that other retailers can’t sell at normal price), very little of what we process is processed the same way every time.

    Due to the wildly varying merchandise we see, any attempt to Taylorize is honestly is doomed to failure, never mind that they bought the rights to the tracking software secondhand from a grocery and frozen goods warehouse that went into bankruptcy.

    And some of the newer clueless floor supervisors don’t understand why long term employees laugh behind their backs openly when they read the company newsletter every Wednesday.

  132. 132
    Glocksman says:

    @Gin & Tonic:

    I have a ‘love/hate’ relationship with TJX.
    On one hand, some of the front office benefits people have gone beyond their duty and helped me with my alcoholism by using the most liberal interpretation of both the union contract and company policy available even when it contradicts stated company policy.

    I know this because I used to be a union steward and had access to every company memo involving such procedures.

    On the other hand, some of the policies coming from up front WRT production goals and schedules beggar belief.
    When I was a steward I actually had managers coming to me and bitch about front office.
    I asked why they were talking to me when I couldn’t do anything because they were management, and they all said that at least they could blow off steam to me without worrying about their superiors hearing about it.

    It’s bad if you have managers bitching to the shop steward about their bosses.

    OTOH, they make money hand over fist compared to some retailers, so I happen to think the really higher ups don’t care because they profit despite of the chaos they cause.

  133. 133
    Pogonip says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: May I ask what happened when you confronted the strangers?

  134. 134
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Pogonip: The chickenhawk student mumbled something about “I’m not needed, they’ve got enough soldiers already” and slinked away.

    The guy in the barbershop talking about Vince Foster paused and realized that he’d been lied to by talk radio. I made my statement in a very authoritative way and he muttered something about “well, that makes it different.”

    Cripes, the lies out there are as thick as flies.

  135. 135
    Ernest Pikeman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Hit a nerve, eh?

    You’re either consciously or unconsciously equating out and out calling for beheadings – with which all of us here are familiar – with studiously “just warning” about bad things happening sometime in the future if current course is followed. Please proceed.

    So you’re either delusional, lying to yourself about what you’re saying, or you’re delusional, thinking people will buy your blood fantasies as just calling wolf about bad things happening in revolutions. Sheesh.

  136. 136
    Original Lee says:

    @NonyNony: I’m sure others can correct me if I’m wrong about this, but back when I took a small organization management course, we were told that hiring a person – the whole process from deciding that you needed another worker through bringing that person onboard to cutting that person’s first paycheck – cost about $1,000 for a minimum wage worker, and could cost $50,000 for an executive. So keeping turnover low is worthwhile because it lowers your overhead costs and lets you have a little room for emergencies. I really don’t know why that concept doesn’t seem to be holding true for a lot of places any more.

  137. 137
    Glocksman says:

    @Original Lee:

    That’s probably true and is why my employer at least pays lip service to reducing turnover.
    On the other hand, as I posted earlier, because of our seniority based pay setup they can literally pay 2 new hires $9.25/hr to replace the 1986 hire making $19/hr.

    Add in that the younger new hires tend to opt for the cheapest health insurance offered* instead of the Anthem BC/BS plan, and they save even more.

    I suspect they really see high turnover as a cost saver.

    *Prior to the Affordable Care Act, they would have chose to take no insurance at all, which saved the company even more.

  138. 138
    low-tech cyclist says:

    @Violet:

    What can we do to change it?

    This one’s been on my radar for several months, and given the logic of having some flexibility, coming up with a good way of regulating this was challenging my ability to come up with creative solutions (and I’m pretty damn good at that, if I do say so myself). Then the other day it came to me:

    The law should require fixed schedules, unless exceptions are negotiated between an employer and a union that has been approved by the workers as their bargaining agent, and has been recognized by the employer as such.

    IOW, you want flexibility? First, your workers gotta have a union. If you aren’t willing to agree to a union, then you don’t need flexibility that badly, do you?

  139. 139
    Sondra says:

    @FoxinSocks:
    Oh I don’t think it’s a special case because I just had an experience at a Nordstroms here in Wellington that seems very similar.

    I took one of my riding students there to be fitted for a bra that is the correct size for her. She’s young but needs a special size that I know they carry.

    There was only 1 sales person there and I had to corral her into working hard to find what we needed. At first we were the only people in the department and she fnally gave my student the attention she needed.

    But soon other customers started piling up and the poor girl was in a tizzy.

Comments are closed.