Re: Guest Post - temp jobs

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I guess companies generally don't want to have any employees, unless they run a lot of retail storefronts. Everything else can be outsourced to hiring agencies at home and abroad.

It's all about having a "flexible labor force". Aside from the low wages, job security is bad by definition.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 5:37 AM
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OP:In a magical world, basic workplace dignities would not be within the purview of unions anyway. And unions would not have been gutted, but government would generally serve the roll of worker advocate.

I don't understand where you're going with this.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 6:59 AM
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2: Haven't you ever heard of pigs-in-a-blanket? Same concept, just with worker's advocates inside, instead of pork product.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:24 AM
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2: Regulations protecting workers from exploitation at the workplace, and adequately funded/empowered agencies to enforce those regulations. But I'm just restating the previous paragraph, so I'm not sure what you're confused by.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:29 AM
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This is going to sound leftier-than-thou, and I'm not really qualified. But I don't think we get functional agencies that actually do protect workplace rights in the absence of unions (or some form of worker organization that fills the same role). The unions are the political force that makes the functional regulation possible -- without that, corporate money working to defang the regulatory state doesn't have any opposing force.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:38 AM
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5: I don't think it's even leftier-than-thou; somebdy inside has to expose conditions and push for regulations. It's not like government can preƫmptively establish regulations covering every possible scenario. As work conditions shift there has to be an informed and organized party who has interests other than the profit of the enterprise. Otherwise how would the government know what it should be addressing?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:42 AM
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Gallup polls?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:44 AM
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What's especially amazing to me is how aggressively resistant companies are to letting temp workers schedule their own time. Having no control over your schedule for even a week in advance, much less two weeks, makes so many other tasks in life so much harder -- childcare, doctor's appointments, car inspections, etc. etc.

I've seen research showing that letting nurses schedule/swap their own shifts with co-workers significantly increased job satisfaction and reduced turnover. It seems so clear that DIY scheduling would be good for lower-wage workers and would actually benefit their employers, but so far almost no one seems to agree.

I end up thinking that controlling other people lives really is a feature, not a bug, for many managers and employers.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:45 AM
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Haven't you ever heard of pigs-in-a-blanket?

Wow. That one, like, transcends the analogy ban.

Heebie has already explained herself, but I'll offer this: Seems to me that she's wishing for a country where it isn't necessary to have unions advocating for things like the minimum wage and the 40-hour work week and whatnot - where such things are taken care of as a matter of course by our elected representatives. She acknowledges that she might as well also wish for a pony.

Perhaps unlike heebie, I'm happy to have unions being the primary voice representing workers, both in the workplace and in legislatures. I think that collective bargaining - and the political action associated with it - are the correct forums for working these things out. Of course, I, too, am wishing for a pony. We'd have a better country with a union movement that had some real bargaining leverage. We had a better country ...


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:45 AM
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5, 6 -- I agree that unions are the right answer. This seems to be quite difficult to get to, though, because of the circumstances of this work. The much weaker alternative is advocacy groups, something like the Sierra Club or [name half a dozen]. Bad, yes, but still way better than nothing.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:48 AM
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I end up thinking that controlling other people lives really is a feature, not a bug, for many managers and employers.

Dear, sweet, good-hearted Witt. Yes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:49 AM
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Right, I don't think unions should disappear, but they should be freed up to spend their time on more specific issues that should be solved on a small scale, as opposed to fighting for human dignities that apply equally well to every industry.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:51 AM
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8.3 -- I doubt this is much of a motivation. More like the illusion of uncertainty is an essential factor in pretending that these people -- some of whom seem to actually be doing the same job every day for years on end -- aren't really full time coverable employees of someone or other. The illusion of uncertainty definitely complicates legislative solutions.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:53 AM
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This reminds me -- I was at a party on Saturday, and a fellow guest from Spain told us that one reason Spanish unemployment looks so high is that they count as unemployed anyone lacking full time employment with benefits. Applying that stat to the US would be revolutionary.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:56 AM
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One reason to be hostile to letting workers schedule their own time is the danger that in doing so someone will rack up more than 40 hours a week and end up having to get paid overtime. It's far from insurmountable, but lazy management might find it enough.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:04 AM
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Unions have a bugs-eye view of what's happening that's not really available to government regulators. I think there's good reason to maintain unions as the first line of defence against corporate malfeasance.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:05 AM
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h-g's a socialist, not an anarchist!

Workplace safety a common good, and shouldn't need no negotiatin' at Bangladesh factory sites by syndicalists.
Doesn't work, anyway.

But I gotta go read up on precarity. Sorry.

thoughts on Empire

1) No nation on Earth, not one (ok, maybe NK), even if they wanted to, can give Snowden asylum. Not the military threat, everyone is just too tied to the vampire squids of global finance and trade. Empire ain't America, anyway. I think this is huge news.

2) EU getting bugged by NSA? I am reminded of the end of the great great 70s movie with John Heard and Jeff Bridges, Cutter's Way when Bridges holding Heard's corpse, puts the pistol in Heard's hands and points it at the rich fuck and asks:

"You killed her, didn't you?"
"And what if I did? What if I did?"

Bang! on a black screen. But we don't who got shot, and it doesn't matter, because it is revenge and expression rather than justice anyway.

3) Can't find the article, but Sangupta I think, took a good hard look recently at all levels and determined not that global finance and global capital was out of control, but that it was uncontrollable.

All gone pear-shaped. Give it up and enjoy the Revolution. eijanaika?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:06 AM
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And just literally as political pressure -- without unions hassling for workers rights, there's no one for politicians to be afraid of on the issue.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:07 AM
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I don't understand 9.1.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:08 AM
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The much weaker alternative is advocacy groups, something like the Sierra Club or [name half a dozen].

There are few organizations that are something in between a union and an advocacy group that can get things done for temp workers.. Locally, http://www.workersdefense.org/ has done a lot for construction workers.


Posted by: Criminally Bulgur | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:09 AM
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I agree that unions are the right answer.

Also bowling leagues, corporate softball, church socials, and corsets and high collars. Bring back the Gilded Age! Why let Capital have all the nostalgia?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:09 AM
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Oh, my insurance just doesn't cover the pathology people within the hospital, and so I got billed full price for things like blood typing and RBC antibody screen. That makes sense.

Also, there's a whole new deductible for your new baby, to keep you from running up frivolous birth costs. Of course.

This is the $600 on top of the $730 bill from the other week.

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Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:09 AM
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Sounds like you weren't a very smart consumer. Didn't you price shop?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:11 AM
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This reminds me -- I was at a party on Saturday, and a fellow guest from Spain told us that one reason Spanish unemployment looks so high is that they count as unemployed anyone lacking full time employment with benefits. Applying that stat to the US would be revolutionary.

It's certainly true that the way the US unemployment stats are usually presented (U3) understates them relative to Europe, as does the huge prison population. But even within Europe Spain's figures (especially for youth unemployment) are very high.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:12 AM
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I understood the "in a magical world" reference as given in the same spirit that some organizers say they're trying to work themselves out of a job.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:13 AM
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22: Oh that sucks. I was annoyed that the doctor charges separately from the hospital and I had to fill out all new forms for her (just what I wanted to be doing the week after I gave birth), but at least I don't have to pay more.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:14 AM
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My favorite line from the new mayor's inaugural address was about how "Silicon Beach" -- L.A.'s tech concentration -- will have "enough start-ups and teeming tech companies to give our neighbors to the north a run for their bitcoin." Followed by, ad lib, "five of you got that."

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Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:15 AM
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Applying that stat to the US would be revolutionary.

Well, you could start with the U6 rate, which doesn't cover "with benefits" but gets closer, and is already 13.8% (versus U3 at 7.6%).


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:15 AM
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Workplace safety a common good, and shouldn't need no negotiatin' at Bangladesh factory sites by syndicalists.

This identifies the exact location of my disagreement with heebie/bob. I'm a unionist because I believe in the efficacy of markets and democracy.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:17 AM
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I'm not actually advocating for a pony, in our current state. I'm just humming "Wouldn't it be nice if we were older?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:21 AM
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19: That's just my way of saying that I didn't understand 3.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:22 AM
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One reason to be hostile to letting workers schedule their own time is the danger that in doing so someone will rack up more than 40 hours a week and end up having to get paid overtime.

Right, although most of the solutions I've seen were software-based, precisely so that the company could set what boundaries it wanted to.

And I came to my conclusion about control after having dealt with many, many low-wage employers. With all due respect, Charley, you've worked for yourself and for major law firms, right?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:30 AM
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27: Bitcoin joke (did I hear it here?): Referring to them as Dunning-Krugerrands.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:32 AM
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Precarity and Effective Resistance long, really hard, controversial, got some links

It'll feel like anarchism, but look like communism.

Also Guy Standing's book is supposed to be very good.
And of course, tiqqun. And watch Egypt and Brazil.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:32 AM
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5 & 6 more or less covered my objections to Heebie's Take, which seemed to me an extreme version of a tendency many American liberals often have; namely to think about politics in the absence of actual constituencies and power.


Posted by: real ffeJ annaH | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:34 AM
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26: My insurance company is infuriating around having babies: you have to file the paperwork within 30 days that you've had a baby, but you cannot possibly alert them ahead of time that you're about to have a baby. They have no way of expecting L&D charges whatsoever.

Then, once they get your paperwork, they send you a verification form, where you have to verify what you just submitted, and re-submit the verification form (within 30 more days, or kiss everything goodbye.) The verification form does not include a SASE, of course.

Only then can they start covering your new baby, so hopefully none of the hospitals or labs or doctors have submitted any bills before that was all done, because the insurance company would be so darn confused.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:35 AM
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31: the full explanation is posted over at standpipe's blog, but 3 was basically just playing on heebie's "role"/"roll" typo.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:36 AM
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32: A software solution would be ideal. It would not be all that hard to come up with a very flexible solution that allowed for traditional things like letting more senior people have first bite at the apple as well as allowing for people to trade off, rack up points towards getting better slots by taking unpopular shifts, the whole enchilada. I bet the effect on employee morale would be very positive. And, of course, ponycorns for all.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:38 AM
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Bitcoin joke (did I hear it here?): Referring to them as Dunning-Krugerrands.

I believe I did post that here sometime in the last several months or so but it seems to be lost to a newly-developed hoohole. (Or else I tragically misspelled it, which is certainly posssibe.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:55 AM
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As someone who has been temping for the past six months, I have strong feelings about this, especially because, since I process my own invoices, I can see precisely how much the temp agency takes as its cut (over 40%). But since I need to start work right now, I'll just say that it'd be interesting to see a worker-owned temp agency coop.


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:58 AM
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Ah, here it is.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:58 AM
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32.3 -- Yes, and in the past, various temp and part time jobs. My experience in this sector is nothing like yours, of course. And I'm not making excuses for the personalities of the people involved, just suggesting that the economic incentives are very real, and probably loom larger. The supervisor who lets something like employee morale count for more than the bottom line gets to look for a job him/herself soon enough.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:02 AM
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So I guess there's an economic incentive to put ruthless sociopaths in supervisory roles, so it all comes out at the same place.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:05 AM
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22: Timely:
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/health/american-way-of-birth-costliest-in-the-world.html?hpw&_r=0

(Hat tip to LG&M.)


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:20 AM
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Witt and Charley, not to mention the shenanigans to keep employees as part-time rather than full time so employers can say they offer great benefits to full time employees.

Following 8, the article describes the positions as day labor combined with jury duty - you show up to a cattle call to find out whether you'll work that day, and if not, you still had to waste a bunch of time and transit money showing up. And the worker's pay is docked for transit expenses to the job site. It's not even weekly or seasonal like I would have expected. That, of course, tells me that either our supply chains have gotten down to a theoretical minimum or the savings are truly enormous, since you're losing out on productivity by hiring people day by day (I think).

The article also has some interesting bits about the history of Ke11y. It's amazing how many formerly OK jobs you can temp-ify.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:44 AM
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32, 38: A software solution would be ideal. It would not be all that hard to come up with a very flexible solution that allowed for traditional things ... I bet the effect on employee morale would be very positive. And, of course, ponycorns for all.

I'll preface this by saying that I don't have any experience with working in a place with the kind of scheduling misery I've read about. But I had a conversation recently with a woman who's done a lot of shift-work in retail (movie theaters and cafes), and I was kind of surprised to see her push back when I took Witt's & Togolosh's line. In her view, at least with a small cafe, because she saw herself as the most responsible one (not that she was getting paid anymore), she'd rather have the arbitrary power available for management to use. It seemed like one of the "traditional things" involved in scheduling was basically rewarding and punishing people, but this was something that would be psychologically harder for management (especially here, where the owners were one-store petit bourgeoisie types, rather than sociopathic professional managers) if it had to be made transparent. And I know from my own experience as a tutor that managers, particularly small, owner-run ones, sometimes find it simply *unpleasant* to actually fire people, so it's easier to just give them fewer and fewer shifts, or otherwise undesirable ones, and hope they get the message. And this, too, is something that wouldn't work with empowered employees setting their own shifts within the constraints that management set, because the whole point is management is trying to avoid an unpleasant conversation, and formalizing the punishment or whatever as a constraint would make it impossible to avoid.

This doesn't change my mind about being on Witt's/Togolosh's side, of course. But it was interesting to see the owner's/manager's perspective, being argued for by a late-20s woman making

I'll preface this by saying that I don't have any experience with working in a place with the kind of scheduling misery I've read about. But I had a conversation recently with a woman who's done a lot of shift-work in retail (movie theaters and cafes), and I was kind of surprised to see her push back when I took Witt's & Togolosh's line. In her view, at least with a small cafe, because she saw herself as the most responsible one (not that she was getting paid anymore), she'd rather have the arbitrary power available for management to use. It seemed like one of the "traditional things" involved in scheduling was basically rewarding and punishing people, but this was something that would be psychologically harder for management (especially here, where the owners were one-store petit bourgeoisie types, rather than sociopathic professional managers) if it had to be made transparent. And I know from my own experience as a tutor that managers, particularly small, owner-run ones, sometimes find it simply *unpleasant* to actually fire people, so it's easier to just give them fewer and fewer shifts, or otherwise undesirable ones, and hope they get the message. And this, too, is something that wouldn't work with empowered employees setting their own shifts within the constraints that management set, because the whole point is management is trying to avoid an unpleasant conversation, and formalizing the punishment or whatever as a constraint would make it impossible to avoid.

This doesn't change my mind about being on Witt's/Togolosh's side, of course. But it was interesting to see the owner's/manager's perspective, being argued for by a late-20s woman making

My friends who work at Uniqlo might have a different take.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:56 AM
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the article describes the positions as day labor combined with jury duty - you show up to a cattle call to find out whether you'll work that day, and if not, you still had to waste a bunch of time and transit money showing up. And the worker's pay is docked for transit expenses to the job site.

I don't have much to add, but I find these sorts of stories incredibly depressing. One of the most valuable things for me about my current job is that I have a great deal of autonomy, and it crushes me a little bit to think about how rare that is. In theory government can redistribute money to help slightly reduce differences in income, but those sorts of differences in autonomy and status make me aware of being in a different class, and makes that feel awful.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:59 AM
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The article also has some interesting bits about the history of Ke11y. It's amazing how many formerly OK jobs you can temp-ify.

The "Never-Never Girl" ad by Ke11y is just horrifying, especially when you realize that it was, so to speak, the trial run for the entire rest of the labor force. I came across an interesting blog post awhile back saying that if you disaggregate the labor force into men and women, almost all of the rise in inequality has been because the male earnings distribution--which was much more equal in the postwar era, largely because of labor unions and the "family wage" embedded into the economy--has come to resemble the female earnings distribution, which even then was 99% Kelly Girls and then maybe one Peggy-from-Mad-Men (I only saw the first season) who manages to claw her way up.

Oh, for those who haven't clicked through to the article:

One 1971 Kelly Girl ad that Hatton found, called "The Never-Never Girl," featured a woman biting a pencil. The copy read:

Never takes a vacation or holiday. Never asks for a raise. Never costs you a dime for slack time. (When the workload drops, you drop her.) Never has a cold, slipped disc or loose tooth. (Not on your time anyway!) Never costs you for unemployment taxes and social security payments. (None of the paperwork, either!) Never costs you for fringe benefits. (They add up to 30% of every payroll dollar.) Never fails to please. (If our Kelly Girl employee doesn't work out, you don't pay. We're that sure of all our girls.)


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 10:23 AM
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Why are we googleproofing "Ke11y"?

The article is too depressing to read. (None of it is really news to me, but it's still soul-crushing to confront.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 10:43 AM
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Why are we googleproofing "Ke11y"?

I dunno. Ydnew started it! I'm just being agreeable.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 10:48 AM
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Snap decision, since my work certainly has lots and lots of hires from there. It's probably overcautious.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 10:51 AM
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The phrase "female earnings distibution" frightens me. I thought I'd be OK as a miserable old crone?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 10:52 AM
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I support the BART strike with any and all physical systems that still remain functional after staying up till midnight to see if it was really on, and then getting up at 6 to catch a transbay bus and running all over the place to get to my next destination (I wore running shoes). Now I am at precarious "work" and I can't even think. It's the first Monday all year that I couldn't have worked from home.

I theoretically have lots of thoughts about the casualization of labor, but thinking most of them right now would cause my head to implode, for these somewhat ironic reasons.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 10:54 AM
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In about 2003, a Kelly operation where I lived then advertised for months on end for people to work in a tech-support call centre, with excellent IT understanding and fluent German, French, or Swedish. Not surprisingly, the hourly rate for this was quite substantial (more than I would make for the next five years or so). Having both the IT understanding and two of the three languages, one with a special! distinction! on my degree!, I obviously applied.

Nothing. Not a word. I left it a couple of weeks, noticed they were still advertising, prodded, prodded more, reapplied. It wasn't as if they were surrounded by unemployed Germanist sysadmins, either - this was the Heathrow area in the height of the Blair boom and local unemployment would have been barely measurable.

They were still advertising nine months later. None of my fellow Germanists ever got one of the jobs either.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 11:23 AM
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Unfortunately, nobody replied to their ad for a temp to assess the linguistic qualifications of IT employees.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 11:26 AM
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In Post-Democracy (which is very much worth a read), Colin Crouch talks about how the ideal modern firm is basically just some finance guys who own some brands and allocated capital; nearly all work is outsourced or temped.

The NLRB decision that makes it hard to organize temps is a problem. It is especially infuriating because it was a GWB-board decision that overturned a precisely opposite Clinton-board decision. And now there may or may not be an NLRB, so.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 11:53 AM
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almost all of the rise in inequality has been because the male earnings distribution ... has come to resemble the female earnings distribution

x.trapnel opposes equal pay for equal work.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 11:54 AM
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In Post-Democracy (which is very much worth a read), Colin Crouch talks about how the ideal modern firm is basically just some finance guys who own some brands and allocated capital; nearly all work is outsourced or temped.

I really need to read this book.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 12:15 PM
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In what sense is he using "ideal"? I suspect the Boeing MBAs were seduced by a vision of the Platonic airplane manufacturer.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 12:22 PM
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58: I'm pretty sure that MOOC Mania has been driven in part by a conviction among administration that the ideal university would consist of nothing but administrators.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 12:25 PM
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Yeezus, I just read that North Carolina has eliminated unemployment benefits.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 12:27 PM
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Would it make you feel slightly better if I told you they were only eliminating the long-term benefits for the unemployed and that 19 weeks of unemployment were still available?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 12:30 PM
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19 weeks of unemployment were still available?

At a lower rate than they used to be, though, right?


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 1:05 PM
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I'm trying to cheer him up, so I didn't go into that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 1:06 PM
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In what sense is he using "ideal"?

I think in the sense of "most attractive to capital markets, and thus appealing when executives are making strategic decisions about their firms."


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 1:08 PM
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In Post-Democracy (which is very much worth a read), Colin Crouch talks about how the ideal modern firm is basically just some finance guys who own some brands and allocated capital; nearly all work is outsourced or temped.

This argument was made by an excellent Adam Kotsko post. Although I think when he says "hedge fund" he really means "private equity firm".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 1:22 PM
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|?

For a meta-global perspective, Jacobin is running "the inaugural Jacobin Book Club seminar" on Panitch and Gindin The Making of Global Capitalism: the Political Economy of American Empire

Oooh, this book is so hot with Marxians.

Linked article compares P & G to Giovanni Arrighi's work

I know I'm excited.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 2:16 PM
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How many people here have worked in a private sector union job (and yes I know that some of you work or have worked as union organizers, and I don't think that counts)? That's not a veiled attempt to make any kind of a point, btw, I'm genuinely curious.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 4:45 PM
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Excellent. The destroy wages and unions through cheap imported labor plan is working. Now if we can just figure out a way to qualify Filipinos for the bar, we can work on the law racket. Pretty soon the only jobs requiring US citizenship will be US Senator and president.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 4:49 PM
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68. Me!

69. Ha. You don't need to be a US citizen or resident to be an attorney.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 4:52 PM
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You mean documented workers.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 5:05 PM
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I think my high school McDonald's job is the only private-sector job I've had for more than three months.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 5:07 PM
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the ideal modern firm is basically just some finance guys who own some brands and allocated capital; nearly all work is outsourced or temped.

I was told thirdhand that (for my field) when a company's value is estimated, products in development are considered liabilities rather than assets, even at late stages. The logic is that to get them to market will cost quite a bit of money. Products already on the market are assets. Where employees fall is pretty obvious. (Maybe R&D is a bigger liability than marketing?)


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 5:26 PM
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How many people here have worked in a private sector union job

Nope. My library job is public sector, and though we are not technically unionized, we fall under the umbrella of the FOP in terms of what they negotiate with the township. I'm mandated to take a 20-minute break if I work five hours, for example, and a lunch break if I work a full shift.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 5:49 PM
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The supervisor who lets something like employee morale count for more than the bottom line gets to look for a job him/herself soon enough.

Not to shout at you, but THAT WAS MY ENTIRE POINT. It's better for the bottom line because of decreased turnover costs (among other things).

Now irritated because I can't track down the article I saw a year or two ago about an experiment with retail worker self-scheduling that I thought was quite interesting.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 5:52 PM
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To be clear: I'm talking about jobs that have typically 120-200% annual turnover, with entry-level staff of at least 30 people. Not your corner coffee shop.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 5:53 PM
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re: 68

Me. But UK, obviously. When I worked as a cleaner we worked for a private contractor that provided cleaning services to schools and local government. Most of the staff, including me, were in the T&G (as was). I've also been in the UCU, although that was nominally public sector (I'm not employed by the state).


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 6:19 PM
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68. Teamsters Local 25. Worked for UPS.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 6:29 PM
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Heebie's view in the original post sounds a lot like FDR's approach in the 30s. I'm no longer up on the details but the labor legislation that came out of the 30s was basically designed to put the government and its regulators - or pseudo-regulators - into the process and keep capital and labor from battling things out mostly on their own. And also designed to not let labor get too much power; FDR wasn't going to go that far to the left.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 6:44 PM
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68: Not in the private sector, no, but when I worked for a non-profit community mental health center, unionized through SEIU, I was on the management side of union negotiations, which was exceedingly educational. Being a CMHC, we were pro-union, and liberal, to begin with, but negotiations did have to be made over, e.g., paternity leave which the union asked for, and so on. It all involved a lot of number-crunching to see whether our grants could possibly cover the personnel expense.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 6:49 PM
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79: I don't think it's fair to characterize (if this was your intent) Heebie as worrying that labor would get too much power; I read her as wishing they were superfluous.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 6:55 PM
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81: You're right. I should have bracketed off the keeping labor from having too much power as FDR-specific. I just meant that the part about having the government step in and take care of some things to take them out of the individual negotiations is broadly like what FDR was trying to do.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 6:58 PM
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I tried to join a private sector union one summer when I was working as a temp in a factory job, but the administrative hassle was just too hard in the end. (NZ, the E/P/M/U.)


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:20 PM
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68 -- Public sector union.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:48 PM
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You're right.
It was bound to happen sooner or later.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:50 PM
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60 58: I'm pretty sure that MOOC Mania has been driven in part by a conviction among administration that the ideal university would consist of nothing but administrators.

From my perspective, the ideal university wouldn't have undergrads and I'm not entirely sure about grad students, so I guess I can kind of appreciate where they're coming from.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 7:58 PM
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85:I think I worked in several UAW shops, but never lasted long enough to get a card. I think. I also worked temp for Carpenters? Set and entertainment construction.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:10 PM
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Carpenters Union or "Just like me, they long to be..." Carpenters?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:13 PM
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From my perspective, the ideal university has about as many people as there are in the summer,* but operating hours for everything are closer to what they are in the academic year.

*At universities that actually have fairly active summer programs. This place is deserted.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:14 PM
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88:I don't remember, I lifted and toted, but there were journeymen and masters.

I did remember a couple more factory jobs. Worked directly on production lines three times, and god did I suck. Did prep work once, assembling a part offline, did stock work once, supplying parts to the line, and was in "management" in a line once, quality control.

Worked maybe a half dozen times in quality restaurants, with wine lists, all prepping. Spent a few days in a brokerage. Did cold-calling phone work. Air-conditioning installation.

I might have worked 25 places 1970-1980. Worked long enough to cover a couple months rent and buy drugs.

Don't know what I had that got my foot in the door.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:30 PM
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You don't remember if you worked for Karen Carpenter?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:34 PM
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||

Just found out about the first people I know to get engaged post-DOMA. Can't believe how lovely this is. Going to be huge for them (binational couple that has endured many long separations due to immigration).

Aw, man. Progress can be really something.

||>


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 8:47 PM
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68: as I've said before, I pushed a broom in a Teamsters shop for part of middle school and high school. I made enough money (when one person trigged time and a half, everyone on the clock made time and a half) to pay for a couple of shitty cars, four years of college tuition and room and board, and I still had some left over when I graduated. I used that money to buy...something. Maybe a bicycle?


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:00 PM
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Regrettably, "trigged" is not an organized labor term of art.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:01 PM
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68: Me.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 07- 1-13 9:33 PM
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I was in the steelworkers union one summer and the grocery workers (retail clerks?) another. Or at least I paid dues to them - as a summer worker I was never sure that I was a full-fledged member.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 5:21 AM
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Just found out about the first people I know to get engaged post-DOMA. Can't believe how lovely this is. Going to be huge for them (binational couple that has endured many long separations due to immigration).

I thought this was a really wonderful story:

The notice of approval of a permanent visa, known as a green card, was issued by e-mail late Friday to Traian Popov, a Bulgarian immigrant who lives with his American spouse, Julian Marsh, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The approval was evidence that the Obama administration was acting swiftly to change its visa policies in the wake of the court's decision on Wednesday invalidating the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
The approval came so fast that it took the couple's immigration lawyer, Lavi Soloway, by surprise....
The first approval was also supposed to be issued this week, officials acknowledged, but eager officers at the agency pressed the button on the notice on Friday. For the last two years, [USICS] has kept a list of same-sex couples whose green card petitions were denied, the officials said, anticipating that the Supreme Court would eventually weigh in on DOMA. Those denials will now be reversed without couples having to present new applications, if no other issues have arisen.

Emphasis added. One can certainly imagine things going differently were a different party in the White House.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 6:56 AM
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96: At least where I grew up, the grocery workers' union is the UFCW, which I was a member of for a year. I think it took me a few months of dues-paying before I got my card so it's possible that you were just on some prohibitionary period. (But these are very old and suspect memories.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 7:08 AM
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97: Hey! That is great.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 7:23 AM
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97: That is truly awesome. (Especially the part about not having to present new applications, because immigration paperwork is a bitch-and-a-half.)


Posted by: MAE | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 7:27 AM
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Topically: I ran into somebody in the bar who was telling about organizing the casino workers. I wondered if it worked out and then forgot about it. Apparently there were issues.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 2:06 PM
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101: Based entirely on what I picked up from gangster movies, it seems like a casino would be an especially scary place to try organizing a union.

Wouldn't they send Joe Pesci after you or something?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 2:13 PM
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Isn't Las Vegas the only place in America where private-sector union organization has succeeded in the last 30 years?


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 2:25 PM
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68: I had a union job in the college dining halls. It was a good first lesson all around in solidarity--the university wanted students to be exempt, and for a number of Ivy League students it was counter-intuitive that their classmates would be in a union, but the unions fought to keep them in so they couldn't use students to scab on them or just shift to cheaper labor.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 2:44 PM
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103: I should have asked.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 2:48 PM
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I made the mistake of reading some of the comments to (non left-wing) internet stories about the BART strike. So very awful; "we're suffering, so you'd better suffer, too!"


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 3:02 PM
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The "why do they deserve nice stuff" was a very common attitude in Detroit, too (not sure about now, after the major union concessions to run the health and pension plans). Lots of resentment against the folks who were making $18/hr on a line with no college. Just because they had a fancy union and other folks didn't. I think this is jealousy, but maybe it's resentment about people they didn't think should be allowed in the middle class.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 3:28 PM
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103: Most of the casinos on the Strip are unionized, I believe, and that's in a right-to-work state.


Posted by: Bave | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 3:52 PM
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So now I'm sort of curious, if one were to regulate temp agencies and workers, how would one do that? I guess I'm taking a pragmatic view: given that, for political and economic reasons, it's probably not possible to bring temp workers up to the same standard as regular full-time employees, what kinds of regulations would still be useful?

(This is vaguely* motivated by a comparison with the use of household servants in Singapore, which is another exploitative job situation, but is tightly regulated in order to prevent flagrant abuses, though without any real hope of making the situation "fair" in the broader sense.)

*Disclaimer: my knowledge about this consists of zero facts and a couple of stories.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07- 2-13 5:47 PM
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I guess I'm taking a pragmatic view: given that, for political and economic reasons, it's probably not possible to bring temp workers up to the same standard as regular full-time employees, what kinds of regulations would still be useful?

I'm not exactly sure what constraint you're meaning to impose by gesturing to "political considerations"; obviously, taking current politics into account, it's not possible to beneficially regulate temp agencies and workers at all in the short term. But, leaving aside political considerations, there are all sorts of things that could be done. One that I like would be: prohibit any company from utilizing temp labor for any job that lasts longer than [3? 6?] months. I.e., anything that's not actually a "temporary" job, but is actually just obviously an attempt to circumvent the laws we've put in place for the benefit of employees. (I know people will object that this would be too hard to police--they'll just cancel the job and then re-create another, almost identical job--but no, that's not actually that hard to police. The DOL could do it easily.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 2:25 PM
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I think there may well be something to the worker-owned coop approach. (This org seems to run a non-profit staffing agency, but some casual glancing at the page makes it seem more like a non-profit than a coop; still, might be worth looking into.) Current temp agencies take a ridiculous cut; I feel like a coop could pay the workers a lot more while charging the same rates to businesses.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 3:35 PM
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Not entirely unrelated: ">vainly trying to unionize Silicon Valley security guards. And OMFG this guy comes off as such an ass:

Stanford economics professor Bloom says he's suspicious of a union's motives any time it tries to organize a domestic labor force, which already has federal minimum wage laws and labor protections at its disposal, rather than trying to change working conditions abroad. "Usually the unions are doing this to raise their own salaries at the expense of the customer (or user)..." Bloom writes.

Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 4:22 PM
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Oops. Let's try again with the link.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 4:23 PM
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110 includes a valuable insight -- the trick to organizing temp companies is not to organize the temp companies but the companies that hire them. This was the central insight of the Justice for Janitors campaign of the 1990s, after commercial building owners had washed their hands of their responsibility for their cleaning crews by subcontracting them out (and replacing a unionized African-American workforce with a more precarious immigrant workforce). They went after the building owners to raise standards and require neutrality of their contractors, rather than playing whack-a-mole with the contracting companies.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 4:47 PM
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... And 114 seems to be what the unions are trying to do with the security guards in Silicon Valley: going after Google and Apple and so on directly. The article doesn't make it sounds like it's going well so far, though. =\


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 5:16 PM
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It's not, and then it's not, and then it's not, and then it is. There's nothing about that article that suggests that Silicon Valley is substantially different than any other sector. Campaigns like this take years nearing on decades. Earlier this year I worked on a project with Amy Dean, who did a good job as the head of the labor federation up there of debunking the notion that there was something new about the New Economy.

That guy Bloom is an asshole -- his comments are just buster Mad Libs. Although "suspicious of unions who don't organize abroad" is a hilarious bit of undergrad-baiting absurdity.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 7:14 PM
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112: rather than trying to change working conditions abroad.

Trying to recall who very recently tweeted something like, "Those who say you should not do x before you do y, never actually want to do y." Something like that, only better.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 7:19 PM
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While it's great that SF Weekly gave so much real estate to a SV organizing story, it's a shame that they included those talking points from Bloom and the right to work people. If Google wants to put out a quote saying that unions are just after more dues money, let them expose that that's their ethos. But there's no reason to go looking for quotes that call into question the whole enterprise.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 07- 3-13 7:19 PM
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I'm not exactly sure what constraint you're meaning to impose by gesturing to "political considerations";

I'm not sure exactly what I meant either. But generally I meant that while politics makes it hard to significantly increase temp wages or convert a large number of temp jobs into permanent ones, one might be able to make smaller but still useful changes. For instance, maybe there's some way to give temp agencies a stronger incentive to schedule work at least 24 hours in advance whenever possible. Or one could require that if a temp agency makes people sit in their waiting room for more than X number of hours and then sends them home without work, the agency has to pay those people.

(Or maybe those regulations already exist and aren't being enforced, which I guess is better than them not existing at all.)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 07- 4-13 10:30 AM
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When I worked at Whole Foods, my shift changed a lot from week to week. I was always stuck doing 2-10 on Sundays when I worked for the witch. Before that it was even more random, but you knew that if you closed, you didn't open.

I also had more random shifts on a bigger team and got sent home if things were slow. I was able to go to a regular doctor's appointment by saying that I was unavailable at that time.

I had a co-worker who was 65 and had a 401-k who had moved to MA to live with her brother. She had worked for Wegman's a privately owned supermarket based out of New York State which advertised its family friendly policies, specifically set shifts.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 07- 4-13 12:01 PM
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