Posts Tagged ‘labor’

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by @anarchyroll

When one’s problems are in the realm of having to wait in line to get a  $5 (or more) cup of coffee, blissful ignorance to the plight of those serving the coffee apparently is to be expected. Having worked at a Starbucks for a cup of coffee (pun intended) I know that the vast majority of Starbucks customers care about the baristas serving them just as much as fast food customers care about the people serving them their burgers and burritos.

The only difference between the people who work at Starbucks and the people who work at fast food is the ratio of Latino-American’s behind the counters, wearing the aprons/uniforms. The majesticness of espresso cafés has been thoroughly destroyed by the corporate culture of Starbucks, and the fact that they added drive thrus. Starbucks is just another fast food joint, the only difference is they specialize in beverages. The way they treat their employees has been akin to how fast food workers have been treated and paid, poorly.

A recent article in the New York Times showed just how inhumanely Starbucks employees are treated. The focus on the article was related to scheduling. The article raised such public ire that Starbucks has immediately gone into damage control, introducing sweeping changes to their scheduling system. Most baristas I have talked to are on a, we’ll believe it when we see it attitude. Why? Because management has zero credibility when it comes to treating employees like whole people. Baristas, much like the majority of service industry and retail industry workers are treated like marks on expense reports. Treated as just another inventory item, like the cups and straws.

The managers in the store aren’t too often the enemy because in a corporation, the store managers themselves are just another cog in the machine. Unless you are in a suite, most corporations will only care if you die because of the profit loss they may endure having to move resources around to cover your duties. I’ve only worked for so many corporations so I’m not going to be Mr. Anti Capitalism here, but Starbucks I have worked for. They care about you only if they can’t immediately replace you. I’m willing to bet many other people working at lower levels of corporations would say the same thing.

The inhumane treatment of employees spotlighted in the NYT article once again shows the high cost of the low prices and fast service America’s shrinking middle class has come to expect and the 1% can’t live without. Eyes shut, ears covered, just give me what I want at the lowest possible price in the shortest amount of time involving the least amount of effort. That is the American attitude towards buying things. That is why e-commerce has destroyed brick and mortar stores. We can lie to ourselves about technology all we want. I worked retail and counted hundreds of customers per week who would shop in stores then buy online to avoid paying tax. No concern for the human beings who suffered so they could save a few bucks.

Corporate management seems to be a reflection of the customers, me first. It has always amazed me that working class people have so little regard for other working class people. I thought as I got older I would understand it, but I am yet to grasp it beyond greed, ego, and the victim mindset. Working hard, having a bad day, and/or being upset gives no person any right to impart suffering on another. It is great that Starbucks is changing policies and procedures that will benefit their employees. However, until Americans can start accepting higher costs for non-essential purchases so that the people who make, transport, and sell them can have a higher quality of life, then clopening is just another symptom being addressed while the cause of the illness goes avoided.



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by @anarchyroll

Wages have not kept up with inflation or the consumer price index for over thirty years. That is what is meant when you hear people talk about wage stagnation.

As long as wages remain stagnant compared to how much stuff costs there will never be a fully robust economic recovery.

Wage stagnation is why there is currently an all time record high of income inequality in America.

This is why you don’t need a degree in economics to understand why all debates over economic issues in America are made to seem overly complicated on purpose. Because if people were paid more for their time and effort, they could buy more things. But wouldn’t those things then be more expensive? Yes, but people would be making more money. It would be a cycle, kind of like the cycle our economy is on now but less vicious and soul crushing for the generationally poor.

You’ve heard about class warfare between the 1% of earners who possess more wealth than the other 99% of earners in the country, right? That is the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movements and protests. Why is there such a gap in income equality? Why is there class warfare? Why is there a sentiment that the “game” that is the US economy is rigged and the American Dream is dead? The underlying cause/answer is wage stagnation.

Wage stagnation is not an accident, it has been done very much on purpose for almost half a century. The haves don’t want to pay the have-nots an honest salary for their honest work and have been allowed to get away with it. The 1% could make the choice to pay their workers more. But other than it being the right thing to do, why? After all, paying the masses a living wage would mean less one-percenters could afford private yachts, jets, and islands.

Wage stagnation is tied directly to the rise in consumer debt (people use credit to pay for necessities they don’t have the money to have because they don’t get paid enough), student loan debt (parents and students need to take loans because they don’t get paid enough to pay for college tuition), and mortgage debt (not being paid enough to afford a home). Being able to afford a home is the center piece of the American Dream. To afford property, not simply to achieve financial prosperity as many would have you believe.

Until wage stagnation is addressed and done away with, very little else matters in terms of turning around America’s economy for 99% of the population. To deny this is to deny reality, or be apart of the minority of the population that is benefiting from the system as it is currently constructed. There is no gray area or in between.

A living wage is the only humane solution to this problem. But traditionally, humanity and the American economy don’t always go hand in hand. The fierce resistance to paying a living wage in America is only the most recent example.


by @anarchyroll

Whether you know it or not, college athletics changed forever this week.

Northwestern University’s football players were found to be employees of the school, not merely student athletes, by the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago. This means the players now have collective bargaining rights with the school. That means the players now have a say in terms of monetary compensation for their time and effort on the football field beyond an athletic scholarship. Why is this a big deal?

The student athlete paradigm has been crumbling over the past decade. EA Sports no longer puts out it’s NCAA Football or Basketball video game franchises. Why? Because former student athletes filed multiple class action lawsuits and won (one) because they were not being royalties (residual checks) for the use of their likenesses. EA settled but the NCAA is vowing to take the case(s) to the Supreme Court. The NCAA is also saying they will take the NU case to the highest possible court/governing body. Why? Money.

The NCAA is exposing itself for what it is, a money laundering operation. They exist solely to make money off the time, energy, effort, blood, sweat, and tears of 18-21 year old men and women at Division I universities in the United States of America. They care nothing about graduation rates of the players. They care nothing about their health and medical costs. They only care about how much money they can make off of television contracts for the Bowl Championship Series and March Madness.

By exposing themselves as money hungry pigs, the NCAA is losing it’s battle in the court of public opinion. Rather than evolving and paying the students who are making NCAA and the universities billions of dollars (with a B) each year, they are trying to keep them as scholarship slaves. Scholarships are fine for athletes and universities that aren’t on national television on a daily and/or weekly basis. Scholarships are fine for academics. But NCAA Division I athletics is about money, nothing more, nothing less. If it wasn’t then ESPN and CBS wouldn’t be allowed to make anything more than enough money to cover operational costs to broadcast the sporting events.

But that’s not the way it is. It’s not 1960 anymore. Sports equals business in America. So pay the employees what they earn by destroying their bodies in the primes of their lives for the glory and admiration of their parents and peers. The times they are a changin’. You don’t want to pay students who are on national TV every week? Then;

  • Take the games off national TV.
  • Revoke all contracts outside of local public access.
  • Force all coaches to make the same as the professors.
  • Don’t allow schools to travel out of state to play away games.
  • Disperse all funding equally between all sports played at each school.

Don’t want to do any of those? That list is unrealistic and naive? Yeah, no shit. So pay the players. Don’t give them straight cash homey. Pay them in gift cards so they can buy;

  • food
  • clothes
  • tutors
  • laptops
  • plane tickets to go back home during breaks

If the students can afford these things themselves they won’t be dependent on their parents, boosters, or shady gamblers who get them into point shaving schemes. No one is saying pay the quarterback of Notre Dame $1 million a year. But how about you give the kids some money to have fun on the weekends so you can stop putting schools on probation, stripping wins, taking down banners, and expunging winning records?

Why is NU winning union rights important? It changes the face of college athletics forever. How? Because students will be looked as employees. The tide has turned on this issue. Much like gay rights and marijuana legalization, there is no going back, only forward. It is only a matter of time before all major universities are affected by this. That will affect scheduling, coaches contracts, television contracts, merchandise rights, and tuition costs. The college experience as a whole can and will be changed by this going forward. We have just witnessed the tip of the iceberg.

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by @anarchyroll

Very few issues in the last thirty years have been debated as much as the federal minimum wage. The debate is of course, a farce. The debate is bullshit. The debate is the economic equivalent of the debate over climate change/global warming. It is not a debate, it is an argument over power and control over resources and the monetary consequences thereof.
Somehow the minimum wage debate has been lumped in with the social safety net/ entitlements debate, as if recipients want something for nothing. Literally the opposite is true. We are talking about adult men and women who are not only willing to work, but show up for work 40, 50, 60, 70 hours a week or more. All they want in return for the more often than not, physical labor that they are give is for in return, the ability to pay all of their bills and have enough left over to have some fun AND save for the future.
Employees with more income are more productive. Employees who have higher wages are able to spend more money. Those are the reasons Henry Ford doubled the pay of his assembly line workers in 1914. The results were more productive grunts, but more importantly to Ford and to the country as a whole, more cars purchase, more money pumped into the economy. Ford’s workers were now able to buy the cars they put together on the assembly line in Detroit. This resulted not only in a boom in auto sales, but a boom to the economy in general, serving as a precursor to the Roaring Twenties.
Cost equals wage divided by productivity. Never forget that equation. Economists don’t, people with MBA’s don’t. Just like the dirty secret of fitness is you never need to do anything other than push-ups, sit ups, squats, pull ups, and jog the dirty secret of economic policy debate in regard to wages versus costs is that the effect of increased wages offsets the rise in costs due to an increase in productivity.
The minimum wage has remained essentially stagnant for almost twenty years while the consumer price index (the cost of the stuff we need to buy to survive) has gone up steadily over that time. Wages have not risen at all when adjusted for inflation, in fact, they have decreased.
Why are slave wages acceptable in our society? It’s 2014, not 1914. If people are willing to work, why should they not be paid enough to live off of their paycheck? Cause of the market? The people struggling the most are often working the hardest. How and why is the free market leaving them behind? These are people willing to work more than eight hours each day, more than forty hours each week. Do they not deserve to be able to have money for all their essential costs and still have some money for a little bit of fun here and there?
They perform the essential tasks. Hedge fund management is not essential, garbage pickup is. Bank vice presidents are not essential, food preparation is. Day traders are not essential, janitors are. Just because a group of workers doesn’t have an army of lobbyists doesn’t mean they don’t deserve their piece of the pie. Their piece of the pie they work for with their hands, feet, blood, sweat…and tears when they match their paychecks with their bills at the end of the month.
Remember these are human beings, not numbers on a spreadsheet. Lives, with families, not expenses on a report. Slavery has been abolished for quite some time. One of the consequences of that is if people are willing to do work, or hard labor, we pay them fairly for their time and effort. Fairly means a living wage. Living wage is $15 an hour. If we can’t afford to pay that, then we as a society must adjust before these hard-working people get a fourth job and learn to live on less than three hours of sleep per night with no vacation or retirement forever eva, forever eva, forever eva, until they are put six feet under in a pine wood box.