Re: Union...Guess Not!

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I find this topic so infuriating that it's hard to talk about. Like the very methodology has been so thoroughly undermined, that we might as well all go back to bed.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 9:32 AM
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Oh, good. I was thinking of going back to bed. See you in a while!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 9:39 AM
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It's always gratifying when the FPP's acknowledge prior discussion in the comments.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 9:40 AM
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The threats to withhold production of the new SUV were infuriating. It's purely a matter of spite. OK not purely, there's some political angles where the right tends to get opposition from unions, yada yada.

The thing is, the right fights hard and consistently, while I don't see any such hardball coming from the left. There's an asymmetry of some sort that I find distressing. They can do it because they don't care that the little guy gets hurt. The left is hamstrung by the fact that playing this sort of game inevitably fucks people at the bottom of the ladder.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 9:57 AM
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WaPo highlights a key clause of the contract that the NYT doesn't even mention. Quote:

"maintaining and where possible enhancing the cost advantages and other competitive advantages that VWGOA enjoys relative to its competitors in the United States and North America, including but not limited to legacy automobile manufacturers"

In other words, keeping wages and benefits from getting too high relative to the already-unionized Big Three automakers in Detroit.

"Once we got people to realize they had already negotiated a deal behind their backs -- they didn't get to have a say-so in it


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 10:30 AM
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IOW, the union negotiated a deal that would get the union dues from workers and jobs for representatives and union leadership, and pre-negotiated any gains for the workers away. I would have voted no myself.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 10:35 AM
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Can VW still establish a German-style works council without unionization? I guess the answer is as yet unclear.

Also, this from Wonkblog's piece can't be legal:

Casteel was referring to anti-union statements by Tennessee's Republican lawmakers, who threatened to withhold tax incentives from Volkswagen if the workers unionized

The piece goes on to say that UAW is still considering whether to sue.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 10:41 AM
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And the fat lady may have sung, but Mother Courage and Marianne are waiting in the wings! Or sumpin

For now I need your hidden love.
I'm cold as a new razor blade.
You left when I told you I was curious,
I never said that I was brave.

Leonard is so goddamn deep. Almost as good as "The Partisan"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 10:50 AM
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5: "In other words, keeping wages and benefits from getting too high relative to the already-unionized Big Three automakers in Detroit."

That's the Wonkblog writer's gloss on the clause in so-called Neutrality Agreement between VW and UAW on maintaining competitiveness. I'm a little confused by it, since the same article later says that

The foreign automakers are a huge problem for the UAW. Over the years, they've exerted downward pressure on compensation and working conditions at the Big Three Detroit car companies -- while the Hondas and Nissans used to have to match union wages in order to attract workers, they've achieved enough of a critical mass to create their own market power.

So: currently, without unionization, VW et al. are depressing wages. And in the case of unionization, a specific goal is to depress wages. ? Therefore VW workers might want to vote against unionization. ?

I'm missing something here. It seems to me that the Wonkblog writer's gloss is wrong: the Neutrality Agreement clause doesn't mean keeping wages and benefits from getting too high. Or does it? What am I missing?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 10:56 AM
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Oh, here's Erik Loomis with a little more detail

On top of that, the UAW having to agree to two-tiered contracts so the Big Three auto makers would keep jobs in Michigan and Ohio, contracts that drastically lowered wages for new workers, did not lend itself to potential new members thinking the UAW was going to make their lives better. That's a tough spot for the UAW to be in and the blame goes to capital mobility because if the UAW doesn't agree, those jobs are gone and Lansing and Toledo and other union towns are just dead. So long as corporations can move at a whim, it will be tremendously difficult for labor to win meaningful victories.

But I think another major reason for this loss was that it was never clear to many workers why they were joining a union.

Unions playing desperate defense under dire threat, simply in a permanent position of making concessions to keep jobs, with little real security, is not exciting enough to get my dues.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 11:12 AM
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This from Loomis is pretty dead-on:

in any case, the usual union victory results from dissatisfied workers organizing with demands. That really wasn't the case here. To quote a union organizer friend of mine, "If the vote becomes "Can we trust the Union?" instead of "Should we unite to solve our problems?", the boss wins."

The fat lady may have sung for manufacturing, but at least when capital is less mobile, e.g. in service work, there's a little more wiggle room.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 11:53 AM
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Also, for aerospace manufacturing, capital may be less mobile than people think. (From the same source, a skeptical view of whether these labor battles are worth fighting from the company's point of view.)


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 12:15 PM
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Pace 11, that's why the AFL-CIO should have been focusing on service industries this whole time. Union jobs need to set the floor for wages, not the ceiling. If you can make $12/hour at Taco Bell or $16/hour at Starbucks, you're sure as shit not going to take less than that anywhere else, and if you're doing something even semi-skilled, the wage is going to be much, much higher.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 3:19 PM
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5, 6, 10: If you're going to accept nonsense from anti-union workers, then you're inevitably going to be led astray. That said, even though the following bit is hyperbolic and a little ridiculous, I do think it captures the rearguard nature of the union fight these days:

Unions playing desperate defense under dire threat, simply in a permanent position of making concessions to keep jobs, with little real security, is not exciting enough to get my dues.

If you're going to organize in the South, you're starting out in a tough position, but the UAW didn't lose because it was too timid. Yes, there's a fringe like you that's going to be anti-union because the union is insufficiently zealous, but that's a fringe. The problem with Southern unionism is the problem with democracy: there's too much opposition to it from the rank-and-file.

Me, I'd side with actual organizers; with the people trying to make something happen. I certainly wouldn't be parroting the bullshit of lying assholes like Mike Jarvis.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 4:30 PM
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13: Why do the hypothetical Taco Bell employees make less money than the hypothetical Starbucks folks? Starbucks regular-brew coffee sucks, whereas much of what Taco Bell offers is plainly edible.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 4:37 PM
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Takes more skill to successfully flog the worse product. See every salesperson everywhere.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 4:53 PM
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I think the ratio of $12 to $16 probably is about the same as for current wages in those places.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 5:37 PM
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14:You really count on people not following my links and reading for themselves, don't you? You can always tell the bullshitters by the lack of links. I mostly quoted the fucking contract, which you don't want people to read.

...the problem with democracy: there's too much opposition to it from the rank-and-file.

We need a different people! We are trying so hard and they don't like us anyway and that's all their fucking fault. We are doing nothing wrong at all.

Wear your fucking failures like a shield.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 5:44 PM
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17: In very large markets, maybe. I think my longtime Starbucks union friend makes about $14/hour in Manhattan. If you're working the Taco Bell in Kearney, NE, you're not making any $12/hour unless you're the manager.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 5:48 PM
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Most comprehensive account I've seen yet.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 5:58 PM
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I'd respect Starbucks more if they did more innovative and groundbreaking things, like, say, an edible cup that's coated with Doritos Cool Ranch flavor powder.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 6:04 PM
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Sounds like Stanley's angling to take over Moneybox when Yglesias leaves.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 6:08 PM
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19: I meant that Starbucks probably pays more by approximately that percentage in a given market.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 6:13 PM
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||

I'm going to a dance (well, a ball, technically) tonight. It's basically high school prom but with an open bar.

|>


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 6:28 PM
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Stanley, is this a school-related thing or because you're a musician or you just lucked into it because you're baller or what?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 6:43 PM
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25: Yep, school.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 6:45 PM
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Your high school prom had a cash bar?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 6:48 PM
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From 20, this is pretty damning:

Also, pro-union community activists [...] say that the UAW was lukewarm in partnering with them. Indeed, when I attended a forum in December organized by Chattanooga for Workers, a community group designed to build local support for the organizing drive, more than 150 community activists attended--many from different area unions--but I encountered only three UAW members. Community activists said they had a hard time finding ways to coordinate solidarity efforts with the UAW, whose campaign they saw as insular rather than community-based.

Pace bob, I don't fault the UAW for having concessions in the neutrality agreement -- employer neutrality is invaluable to modern-day organizing campaigns. But if they dropped the ball on community organizing when there were people asking to get more involved, that might have made the difference.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 7:31 PM
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Interesting that the exclusion of low-level management and salaried workers from union eligibility helped compel them to become a mainstay of opposition to unionization. Taft-Hartly strikes again.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 7:37 PM
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28: Why is three "counted" UAW member insufficient for this particular meeting? How many UAW members do you think there were in Chattanooga at the time of this meeting? And what measures did the author take to count them? What concrete actions should have been taken by the union that were not? How did the three members fail to represent the union?

How is a "community-based" effort at unionism more likely to succeed than one that is based in the workplace? What actions did the community activists seek?

It's easy to say that the union isn't doing enough for the community, but the first thing that has to happen is that a small part of the community has to adopt the union.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-15-14 10:35 PM
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It's not saying "the union isn't doing enough for the community." It's saying that organizers were prepared to coordinate support throughout the community alongside the UAW, but they never got asked to dance.

I think part of your point is that the presence of non-union workers who are trying to organize is more important than "UAW members." That's a fair point, if you were trying to make it.

But one of the first things you do in an organizing drive, or even a dug-in contract fight, is to bring community organizations, clergy, local elected officials on board to make sure people understand that this isn't only a decision about what happens at one particular workplace but about the life of a whole community.

How is a "community-based" effort at unionism more likely to succeed than one that is based in the workplace?

Here ya go.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-16-14 1:18 AM
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Actually, that link doesn't answer your question -- it's really about how that relationship benefits the community. This one is about how community organizing helps win power for workers. See Social Movement unionism, p. 3. Benefit: it's the same union, so you can read the whole story.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-16-14 2:02 AM
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The real kicker is that VW wasn't fighting the union. It was the stupid politicians.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-16-14 2:04 PM
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For anyone excited about Germany and "Works Councils" --not "Worker Councils" that's Rosa Luxemburg's department

A German Employment Miracle Narrative ...Tim Taylor, who I don't really like and is in the Krugman category, but has some facts about the last 15 years or so

Krugman category (Why the fuck are wages (or prices if he's being sneaky) so godawful sticky Krugman?) Growth through cutting wages/wage share and benefits, providing labor flexibility, early retirement to get rid of expensive deadwood, increasing the ratio of productivity to wages, sending national income to capital, slashing unemployment insurance. And yes, this guy is an editor of what is considered a liberal economic journal

And whoopee, unemployment was reduced and employment increased. Well, sure you can have really great employment at 3$ an hour. Capital will invest like muthafuckas. Neoliberal Germany is no fucking role-model anymore.

Way back when, well I know nothing about Germany, but Japan's enterprise unions sucked, but still helped workers in many ways. For one thing lower management and white collar supervisors were in the union, usually moving up to HR. Incidentally, in Japan two people can form a union, protected by law. Some work sites have a half dozen unions.

And Japan had 6000 strikes in 1974, 68 in 2013. US had 15 in 2011. Japan is now temped and precarious all to fuck, as is Germany.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-16-14 5:21 PM
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6000 strikes in 1974, 68 in 2013

This is not a failure of will. It isn't as if nobody is trying anymore. If it could be done, there are plenty of people who would be able to do it. Consider that a rule. Liberals are moralists, tending to look for white and black hats.

Material conditions have radically and irrevocably changed. It isn't being done, because it isn't possible. Maybe material conditions, like another Greater Depression (and it's coming fast), will bring those possibilities back. I very much doubt it, because the last fifty years sure don't look like 1880-1930 do they?

It will be different. The next revolution, presuming we survive the fascism, will be based in what you see around you. The next decent society will unrecognizable to Reuther and Lewis.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-16-14 5:37 PM
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Incidentally, in Japan two people can form a union, protected by law.

I like that.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-16-14 8:14 PM
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A century ago, Butte had a chimney sweeps union with 2 members.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-17-14 6:16 AM
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Via LGM, Rich Yeselson has the details. It's a shame he couldn't come up with the demographics of the plant employees. I'm sure that's a key factor.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 02-17-14 5:21 PM
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Pace 11, that's why the AFL-CIO should have been focusing on service industries this whole time. Union jobs need to set the floor for wages, not the ceiling. If you can make $12/hour at Taco Bell or $16/hour at Starbucks, you're sure as shit not going to take less than that anywhere else, and if you're doing something even semi-skilled, the wage is going to be much, much higher.

This seems like an optimistic take on what would happen if unions were to become strong players in low-wage service industries. And I'm not sure it's wrong--I'd like to believe it. But it seems at least as likely that, instead of pushing up wages in the service industry and therefore by domino effect pushing up wages for all workers, the result would just be dramatically increased automation of jobs in the service industry. These jobs can't be outsourced, but (most of them) can be automated away--if not with today's technology, then with technology that's right around the corner. Maybe that's inevitable, so there's no harm in taking what gains can be had today, but I would worry that it would accelerate this process.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 7:58 AM
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it seems at least as likely that, instead of pushing up wages in the service industry and therefore by domino effect pushing up wages for all workers, the result would just be dramatically increased automation of jobs in the service industry.

That would be a good thing, though. They're terrible jobs to have. Much better if they were automated.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 8:47 AM
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In the absence of some much better social safety nets, I think most of the workers currently in those jobs would disagree.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 9:58 AM
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Well, if we're hypothesising a much stronger trade union movement, I don't see why we shouldn't hypothesise better safety nets while we're at it. Or, indeed, better alternative jobs. I think it's a net good to invent something that means no one at all has to do really terrible jobs. They used to mine coal by hand with picks and shovels, I don't mourn the loss of those jobs at all.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:02 AM
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It's interesting to imagine a world where people aren't afraid of losing their terrible jobs that they hate.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:19 AM
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I don't think there's anything about being a barista at Starbucks or a burrito wrapper at Taco Bell that makes it an inherently "terrible" job. What makes it a terrible job are the low pay and the irregular and erratic hours and the petty bosses, all of which could be fixed or at least alleviated with unionization.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:21 AM
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Just don't make the petty people get jobs where they might come into contact with me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:23 AM
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I suppose there could be a reeducation camp for petty bosses. Give bob something useful to do that might fit with his talents.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:24 AM
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I'm not convinced that there is a combination of pay and boss behavior that would bring dignity and life satisfaction to somebody whose job is to do a task that has been explicitly designed to require as little skill as humanly possible.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:29 AM
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47: You get satisfaction from the fact that you work your hours, do your job, get paid, and nothing more. No 3 am e-mails. No high-stakes deadlines that might cost you money. You don't have to think about it when you're not there. Nobody's life is changed by your work (ie there's not much pressure to get things just right all the time). You can use your unencumbered free time to do the stuff you actually want to do. It's not my style, but it's not really unpleasant.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:39 AM
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Would skipping everything but the "get paid" part be better or worse?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:43 AM
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I'm not convinced that there is a combination of pay and boss behavior that would bring dignity and life satisfaction to somebody whose job is to do a task that has been explicitly designed to require as little skill as humanly possible.

Oh, I think I could. Mail carrier? Sure. Or having to do some small repetitive manual task which does not require concentration, so that I could listen to the radio or daydream while doing so, in pleasant surroundings? Sure.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:45 AM
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48: food service is a job that can change people's lives if you get it wrong - muck up on the hygiene side and you can really have an impact. And what 47 said, too.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:49 AM
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48: This is my life. It can be unpleasant to varying degrees, but it's not horrible.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:54 AM
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50: it's really the "explicitly designed to require as little skill as possible" thing. Mail carriers, for all that they spend each day doing much the same thing, have a great deal of responsibility and (in all likelihood, not being one myself) probably derivce a lot of benefit from being experienced in how to do their job efficiently and well. Same thing generally for somebody who makes the same kind of widget over and over or, for that matter, somebody working at a non-taco bell burrito joint. But taco bell specifically, like Starbucks and other giant food-serving chains, has designed their workflow so that each employee is a basically untrained replaceable part who needs no skills and will be helped not one bit by the acquisition of skills. I would argue it is that kind of structure, rather than anything about pay or shitty bosses, that leads to a lot of the indignity (actually, I sort of suspect a lot of the petty shittiness of management comes from that kind of organization).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 10:55 AM
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51: Less so than, say doctor or pharmacist. Illness causing poor sanitation is pretty rare.

I think food service is better than something like an assembly line worker (assuming lousy pay) since there's not as much of a speed requirement, you get slow times, you can chat with coworkers, there are often chores to switch up what you're doing (ie go wipe down tables, re-stock napkin holders, etc.). I never thought it was all that bad a gig. Learning more stations gets you more scheduled shifts, and trainers get more money. Sometimes trainers end up on the low rungs of a management ladder, even lacking a college degree. Working a register is at least sort of interesting, if not always pleasant. Some jobs seem way, way more unpleasant for comparable pay. Chicken processing (shudder)? Roofing?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:12 AM
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Oops, should be illness-causing as an adjective.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:13 AM
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I always thought roofing would be an okay gig. You're outside, get to take in the view now and then. Not so bad. I guess there's all the fume-inhaling but some people do that for fun.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:19 AM
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The fact that roofers are stereotypically a bunch of meth-heads makes me think that it must be a really shitty job.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:21 AM
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I always thought roofing would be an okay gig. You're outside, get to take in the view now and then. Not so bad.

I blame The Shawshank Redemption.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:23 AM
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I dunno, bike messengers are all on drugs and that was a pretty fun job. A lot of cab drivers seem to like doing that and the ones I've known have done a ton of drugs.

I mean, shit, studio executives are stereotypically coked to the gills but I don't know that it necessarily means that's a bad job.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:23 AM
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57: A roofer once told me he was scared of heights and had to smoke weed to do his job.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:23 AM
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I have a hacker friend who was a roofer for a while after the first dotcom boom busted. I think he liked it okay, although now he's back to programming as far as I know.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:24 AM
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My high school boyfriend did roofing for a summer. It was exhausting, fuming, hot, and painful. He never got quite clean from all the tar, and their crew was small enough that they didn't have lifts for the shingles, so the younger guys had to carry the bundles up the ladders over their shoulders. Sunshine's nice and all, but working 7-3 shifts leaves the guys on a black roof in the midday sun. Also, no port-a-john and no asking the homeowner.

It made my food service job look pretty good, even given that he made more than double my minimum wage.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:32 AM
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Working a register is at least sort of interesting, if not always pleasant.

No, it's not.

The part that makes these jobs ok, and I think that this may be true for the mail carrier position too, are the relationships you make with your co-workers and customers. The mail carrier can get to know the neighborhood and its resident; there was a TAL episode about one who knew his neighborhood well enough to help solve a crime.

Talking to the little girl who comes by with her mother every Thursday and showing her how the scanner works is pleasant. The bigger and more "efficient" the company the cashier is working for, the less time is available for the relatively more fun parts of the job.

One job that I'd love to figure out is how we could automate certain aspects of personal care. Cleaning up old people's diapers even removing the used ones from a garbage can is a thankless task.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:36 AM
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What if the diapers had voice chips so they would say "thanks for disposing of me!" in a cheerful tone when you tossed 'em?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:38 AM
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so the younger guys had to carry the bundles up the ladders over their shoulders

I did that once. Not one day, but one trip. I was working as labor for the general contractor, not the roofer, and I had to go get a bundle some fuck left on the roof. It was the absolute limit of my strength to move it down the ladder and that was at 21 and after a summer of reasonably heavy labor.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:39 AM
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You're outside, get to take in the view now and then.

And you do your back in, sure as night follows day. My BiL used to do roofs, but he hires other people to do it for him now. Still not in very good shape though. He doesn't mind hiring pot-heads, but he won't touch meth users - too likely to come off.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:40 AM
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63: I liked it well enough, although I wasn't being timed per interaction. Some people were fun, some people wanted to get in and out, and some people were jerks.

63.4 is so true. Even for a much-loved relative as opposed to a demented stranger, it's miserable. And bathing. And so many other intimate tasks.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:44 AM
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Wow, the last paragraph of 63 is badly written.

||

Let me just say that having an assisted living facility ask you immediately to come up with a solution to the problem if a father who cooks and doesn't clean up or who is unwilling to accept help with his medication is absolutely maddening. I basically told his medical team that they could figure it out, because I'd been trying for years and hadn't been able to. (Actually, what I said was that I didn't think that my father would listen to me, *because* I am his daughter and that he respects the doctors and is more likely to listen to them.

I know, intellectually, that I can't really fix these problems, but I still feel guilty.

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 11:48 AM
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But taco bell specifically, like Starbucks and other giant food-serving chains, has designed their workflow so that each employee is a basically untrained replaceable part who needs no skills and will be helped not one bit by the acquisition of skills.

I haven't worked at either Taco Bell or Starbucks (although I have friends who have), but I've worked in other giant fast food chains that can't be that different. And I don't think this is true at all. For a lot of the employees, there is a lot of interaction with customers, which adds variety. No so much for the cooks, of course, but they interact with co-workers. The job is easy, but not boring. If not for the pay differential, I'd very happily be doing it today.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:03 PM
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how we could automate certain aspects of personal care. Cleaning up old people's diapers even removing the used ones from a garbage can is a thankless task.

But it's the very nature of these things, that they can't be automated, right? Hence their job grouping, "personal care" or as we call it in my office, "direct care". We can only try to ensure that there are regulations and safeguards in place for direct care workers and advocate for policy decisions that will encourage higher wages.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:05 PM
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70: Direct care seems broader than the hands-on stuff.

But you're right that it's nearly impossible to automate. I just wish that it were easier. I do think that the bidet is a really wonderful invention, especially if people have difficulty wiping themselves.

I think that the disposal of the Depends might be amenable to automation. But I'm not hopeful. And the jobs would still be hard. See this comment from Biohazard on the subject. I still want a bathroomba, though.


Posted by: Bostniangirl | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:14 PM
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70: I know Sifu is only interested in killer robots, but I've heard of other scientists working on developing nice robots that take care of old people and are more likable and patient than most human caretakers.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:14 PM
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scientists working on developing nice robots

What losers. How many flying death drones and tacocopters do they control?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:18 PM
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I somehow quoted the wrong sentence from 53 in 69. It is true that giant food chains have designed their workflow so that each employee is as replaceable as possible and needs as few special skills as possible. (Although, it's worth noting that they do this primarily because turnover is extremely high, so they need the time and cost involved in training a new hire to be as low as possible. If wages and working conditions were better, turnover might go down, in which case it might begin to make sense to reinvent the workflow). What's wrong in 53 is the next sentence--that it's this very low-skill nature of the job, rather than anything about pay or shitty bosses, that leads to a lot of the indignity of the job.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:27 PM
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tacocopters

Or Retpococats as we like ot say in the biz.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:32 PM
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What if the diapers had voice chips so they would say "thanks for disposing of me!" in a cheerful tone when you tossed 'em?

My son has started to wave goodbye and say 'bye-bye poop! bye-bye!' when I throw out his diapers.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 02-18-14 12:45 PM
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