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Man bent over moving pile of boxes
President Obama will speak about middle-class jobs at a Chattanooga, Tennessee, Amazon fulfillment center Tuesday, raising the question: Is this the next step in the normalization of the temp economy, or evidence of a major company's successful whitewashing of its labor practices?
An Amazon spokesperson didn't respond to a query from HuffPost on Friday asking how much of the Chattanooga workforce is direct hire and how much is temporary. According to the website for Integrity, the company's Chattanooga office is currently taking applications for work at the local Amazon facility, with wages "from $11.50" per hour and "plenty of chances for overtime." Although the positions are deemed seasonal, they come with a weekly paycheck, medical benefits after a week of work and a "fun, fast-paced environment," according to the webpage.

When the facility opened in late 2011, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Amazon would have roughly 3,000 temps at its Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., facilities during brisk periods—double the estimated 1,500 permanent employees.

In recent years, Amazon warehouses have had paramedics stationed outside on hot days to deal with the inevitable heat-related illnesses (after headlines about that, Amazon decided to install air-conditioning in warehouses) and have reportedly pressured workers not to report injuries that might trigger federal reporting requirements; Integrity Staffing Solutions reportedly forces workers in Amazon warehouses to fight for unemployment benefits even after they've been injured on the job. And serious abuses aside, most warehouse jobs—certainly the vast majority of the temp jobs—are hard physical labor for low pay.

If the president wants to make a point about the deterioration of middle-class jobs in America, an Amazon warehouse seems like a good place. If he's trying to highlight bright spots in the economy, though, it's either an odd choice or a sign things are worse than even I had thought.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 01:15 PM PDT.

Also republished by Three Star Kossacks and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I must admit (10+ / 0-)

    This seems like an odd place for him to speak about jobs and a middle class life.

  •  On the plus side (as you've duly mentioned) (13+ / 0-)

    considering all the air-conditioning issues wrt Amazon warehouses, I imagine that they will have the system cranked to 11 the day Obama visits, giving the peons who work there at least one pleasant working day in their otherwise miserable lives . .. . .

  •  In 2003, you could find a job with Amazon (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, GRLionsFan, stewarjt, chuckvw

    in Las Vegas, where they were building a new warehouse complex.

    70-hour weeks, horrendous dysfunction, and you're going to be out of a job once it's been built.  Even back then, Amazon was known to be the place you go to start your career - and that place would be a hellhole.

    Another beautiful day in the Dystopian Surveillance State.

    by thenekkidtruth on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 01:28:16 PM PDT

  •  Reality reads as a an Onion article, again nt (7+ / 0-)
  •  The p-word Mr. President (7+ / 0-)

    try rolling this around in your mouth, "precarity."  Used in the form of a sentence, "It was during my administration that precarity became the normal status of working people in the US."  See how easy that was?

    American secret powers: Money, loud English, and The Bomb.

    by ActivistGuy on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 01:48:01 PM PDT

  •  I ceased being shocked at Obama's actions (11+ / 0-)

    years ago.  The warning signs were there.  He called labor 527s just another "special interest in Iowa.  Just watch Obama at the Congress Hotel strike in 2007 and compare his rhetoric with his actions.  Take his speech at the Hamilton Project and look at his economic policies and his complete antipathy towards taking on Wall St, and you'll come to the conclusion that he's just another neoliberal Democrat who is going to cash in big time with speeches and honoraria after Jan. 20 2017.

    "The working class mind is strange and unpredictable" -- Ty Lookwell

    by Illinibeatle on Mon Jul 29, 2013 at 05:03:06 PM PDT

    •  The first warning sign for me (4+ / 0-)

      was  his appointments of Summers and Geithner to his economic team. It was one of those WTF moments that validated my suspicions of him all along.

      I still believe Hillary would have been a better choice.

      •  When Rahm leaked his own appointment as chief (5+ / 0-)

        of staff it became obvious, but my first clue came on the Telecom immunity vote when Senator Obama was FOR it.

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:58:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Bugs me, but I like Hillary, too. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        METAL TREK, mickey

        Don't even know why, given my conservativism, but...

        Pres. Clinton was our last President who was both politically skilled and ruthless while being pragmatic and keeping a finger in the air for the mood of the country.

        I didn't like him much when he was in office, but the years have tempered my view.  We could use him now.

        I suspect Hillary brings some of that same approach, and did really appreciate the way she threw herself into the job of Senator -- even to the unthinkable (for a politician) extreme of listening and paying attention!

        On the down side, you have to wonder about her judgment in allowing her campaign to start out as a coronation instead of a dog fight.  Sen. Obama played it Chicago-style and she really wasn't prepared for that.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:05:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Clinton: (6+ / 0-)

          NAFTA

          Financial Deregulation

          Ending Welfare As We Know It.

          -------------------------

          The fact that we consider that to be the "good ol' days" speaks volumes about where we've moved since Clinton.

          As for Walmart Board of Directors Hilary.. she's just another 1% Predator.  Like Bill.  Like Obama.  Like Romney.

          When it comes to economics and Empire, (D) vs. (R) is a Kabuki Theater Production meant to distract from the common anti-worker policies advanced by both flavors.

          The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

          by Johnathan Ivan on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:26:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You Forgot (7+ / 0-)

            National Home Ownership Strategy

            Telecommunications Act of 1996 (i.e. Telecommunications 'Reform')

            Gramm–Leach–Bliley Act (i.e. repeal of Glass Stegal)

            Commodity Futures Modernization Act (i.e. Financial Services 'Reform')

            I won't be coming home tonight, my generation will put it right - Genesis 9:3

            by superscalar on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:36:54 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I live in NC, and in WI and other places, (R) is (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mickey, chuckvw

            a whole f-ing lot worse than Kabuki Theater.

            Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
            I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
            —Spike Milligan

            by polecat on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:03:23 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ah. That ol' "Boo! GOP!" strategy still works (0+ / 0-)

              its magic, eh?

              And when the Democrats get in office..they'll reverse what the GOP did, right?  Right?

              Oh wait...

              Doesn't work out quite that way, does it?

              Of course it's the GOP's fault.  And then.. when the R flavor gets back in power.. they go on a blitzkrieg ... then the D's get back in power.. and the D flavor sits around continuing the policies and explaining how oh they wish things could be different...

              I've played that little game enough.  It leads in only one direction, never reversing course, only changing the speed.

              Want my vote?  Show me you represent the working class.

              I will no longer sit dutifully in the Kabuki Theater of the Absurd and clap for the D vs. R show they put on.

              The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

              by Johnathan Ivan on Wed Jul 31, 2013 at 04:13:58 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  And Ms. Clinton will be as bad or worse (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Johnathan Ivan

            The oval office photo op of her as the heir apparent made me throw up in my mouth a little.

            Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit. --Edward R. Murrow

            by chuckvw on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:09:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  We have to be competitive with China (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    maryabein, Dem Beans, chuckvw

    so, for the good or the Real 'Murika, we all* have to accept lower pay to keep up with the Foxcon's of the world.

    * top 1% excluded

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:37:58 AM PDT

    •  China's becoming "too pricey" for labor; now... (8+ / 0-)

      We're competing with Vietnam and Indonesia.

      China: $6,305 per year income per capita...
      Indonesia: $3,910
      Vietnam: $1,523

      A Tim Geithner/Larry Summers economic porn movie.

      "There's a conceptual zone within which the romanticized historical past and the immanentizing historical future converge in a swamp of misapprehension and misstep. It's called 'the present'." - David Beige

      by Superskepticalman on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:51:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Simpson/Bowles love child. /nt (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chuckvw

        Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
        I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
        —Spike Milligan

        by polecat on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:59:49 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder when jobs will start being outsourced to (0+ / 0-)

        North Korea. Seriously. The way things are going it's probably only a matter of time. The plutocrats want their cheap labor and in that area, NK can't be beat.

        A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

        by METAL TREK on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:11:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sure there's an administration point paper out (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          METAL TREK

          there that makes this suggestion as a way to open up dialogue with NK.

          "There's a conceptual zone within which the romanticized historical past and the immanentizing historical future converge in a swamp of misapprehension and misstep. It's called 'the present'." - David Beige

          by Superskepticalman on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:22:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  And then there is always Ghana and Somalia (0+ / 0-)

        to invade and exploit the time and sweat of the people who live there. They make less than a dollar a day! The perfect Labor Pool of the Future. Now... if we can only get one of those damn Warlords on Toyotas to WIN, we can have some MacFactories built and start crankin out the plastic crap for America's Future Landfills! Its about JOBS people!

        Hey, I think I can play the End of Capitalism game too!

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:22:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Need to get into that 1% in a hurry then, (0+ / 0-)

      because the system does not make it easy to get there.

      /obvious

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      —Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:59:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Competitive" with China is a funny thing, though. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dem Beans, chuckvw

      While we cower in fear of trade reprisals, China has no problem requiring manufacturers to enter into joint ventures with local companies and hire lots of local people while putting large tariffs on many imports.

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:06:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They have high-speed rail in China (4+ / 0-)

      "We have to be competitive with China"

      In China, they have high-speed railroads.  Let us be competitive with China and build high-speed railroads here in America.

      Right now, there are Chinese mothers telling their children "eat all your vegatables; there are children starving in America".

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:17:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Or do away with 1% "Free" Trade. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw

      The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

      by Johnathan Ivan on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:26:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't know why (5+ / 0-)

    progressives fawn over Amazon. I heard so much praise for Amazon prime and how it beats tradition shopping.  Its things like what is described in the diary that makes Prime possible.

    •  The problem is ... (3+ / 0-)

      Amazon usually has exactly what you want on its site and ships to you fast.  It's hard to beat that.  On the other hand, Amazon is essentially the yuppie's WalMart when you consider its labor practices.

      And I'll admit, that while I haven't bought anything at a WalMart in over a decade, I like using Amazon

      I think the fawning is about the service Amazon provides, while turning a blind eye to how that service is accomplished.

    •  Or fawn over Obama (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw

      I'm trying to figure out why progressive fawn over Obama.

      Is the planned speech about building the middle class and legislation to mandate a living wage, or is the speech about "shared sacrifice" for everyone that is not wealthy enough to buy a seat at a $5000/plate campaign fundraiser?

      "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

      by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:21:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What would be good is... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stewarjt

    for Obama to walk through the process of getting in that building as a worker and be subjected to those conditions for an hour or so.  I would enjoy seeing that.  

  •  Daily Cognitive Dissonance (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Johnathan Ivan, stewarjt

    I know the folks who inhabit DK are a slow bunch, but one or two diaries down Obama is still being praised.

    Sorry folks, you lost your credibility back in the run up to 2012.

    Hurry up and get on the Hillary train!!!!  This time, they mean it that they will hold their corporate overlords accountable!!!

    •  Mark Penn, is that you? /nt (0+ / 0-)

      Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
      I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
      —Spike Milligan

      by polecat on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:56:37 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah, screw the working class (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      claude, raboof, stewarjt, chuckvw

      Who cares if they have to work in low paying jobs w/ no health insurance and in unsafe working conditions with no future prospects.  Screw 'em!  They're just whiners and losers, you know?  

      We'll throw 'em a few crumbs and phone bank the hell out of them before election day 2014 and they'll deliver.   Who cares what they do between elections.  

      "The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul." Helen Thomas

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:08:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Train? Looks like that bridge is out... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chuckvw

      for pretty much all of us.

      "There's a conceptual zone within which the romanticized historical past and the immanentizing historical future converge in a swamp of misapprehension and misstep. It's called 'the present'." - David Beige

      by Superskepticalman on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:17:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Laura (8+ / 0-)

    for highlighting the irony of Obama's visit with his current messaging about income inequality and the middle class.

    It will be interesting to see how he talks about Amazon and its problematic labor record.  

    "The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul." Helen Thomas

    by Betty Pinson on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:53:53 AM PDT

  •  tax (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    polecat, chuckvw

    The driving force of the speech is a lowering of the business tax rate--Amazon is supplying the lipstick for the pig.

    Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite. John Kenneth Galbraith .

    by melvynny on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:54:49 AM PDT

  •  Reuters is calling this another "grand bargain" (4+ / 0-)

    on the Corporate tax rate.

    Reuters: Obama to propose 'grand bargain' on corporate tax rate, infrastructure

    Always makes me nervous when Henry Clay Barack Obama proposed a "Grand Bargain."

    Why am I expecting a Corporate tax repatriation holiday and Simpson-Bowles IV to be part of it?

    /Catfood for lunch - color me a skeptic

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:55:05 AM PDT

  •  How do we tackle the "temp economy"? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heavy Mettle, No Exit, mickey, chuckvw

    A quick thought - require employers that provide any benefits to full-time employees to pay into a fund, at a proportional scale relative to hours worked, those same benefits to part-time workers. The part-time workers then can combine the funds from their multiple part-time jobs to claim said benefits. They might be able to designate one part-time position as their "primary", and use their combined benefits fund from all their jobs to buy into the first.

    That way, there would be no financial incentive for employers to have 10 people working 40 hours or 20 people working 20 (letting the productivity/management cost disincentive to such practices to dominate). And if a small business really only has enough additional work to add half a week, then this doesn't impact them that much.

    Obviously, implementing national health care and increasing SS withholding and benefits to make it a true national pension system would do the same thing, but those will not happen any time soon.

    Non enim propter gloriam, diuicias aut honores pugnamus set propter libertatem solummodo quam Nemo bonus nisi simul cum vita amittit. -Declaration of Arbroath

    by Robobagpiper on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:56:25 AM PDT

    •  How do we tackle the "temp economy"? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Free Jazz at High Noon, chuckvw

      imo,

      change the rules so that there's enough work for everyone who does work gets a living wage and a safety net that guarantees a minimum standard of living for everyone.

      start spending tax dollars in america on education, infrastructure, science and healthcare (single payer).

      raise taxes to pay for it and/or cut the obscene amounts of money spent on the MIC/NSA/GWOT.

      Denmark should be our lodestar.

      of course, you cannot even say these things in polite society without being labelled a dfh.

      Deserves it! I daresay he does. Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends. - Gandalf the Grey

      by No Exit on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:19:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  International Unions. We must cut our OWN (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        No Exit, My Name Isnt Earl

        Grand Bargains with the working people who are being killed and starved and held captive and forced to drink toxic water from their own factories.

        Until we start caring and acting for the interests of working people WHEREVER THEY ARE, the Worldwide Instant Money Machine will move capital in seconds around the world to avoid paying people for their time and sweat. And... racking up incredible profits to buy government policy at our expense.

        That solution is a long way off at the moment, but its time to start talking. We have to take away the incentives to screw us AND them by having Grand Bargains of our own.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:27:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  100% True (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          No Exit

          Globalization is the root of the problem.  I don't know if international unions are the answer but they can't hurt.  I think we must be willing to try some experiments - international unions, employee owned cooperatives, etc...
          Just making speeches about the problems, won't solve anything.

          "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

          by noofsh on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 09:59:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  So what is the actual problem? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    claude, mickey, METAL TREK, schnecke21

    Is the problem that employers don't hire people the way they used to, or that our society isn't set up well to deal with it?

    I haven't had a "permanent" job since 1999, and I liked that just fine until 2009 when the bottom dropped out of everything.  My situation is a bit different from most temps in that I get a decent check when I'm working, but I still lack benefits, still must pay for my own holidays, vacations, etc.

    The big bugaboo is health care, and I am SERIOUSLY hoping that ACA will help me out with that.

    And that goes into the bigger problem overall:

    The current "with benefits" employment culture tends to favor big employers over small, all employers over the self-employed, and leaves the unemployed and/or part-time employed screwed and screwed again.

    Perhaps we need to re-visit some notions about what people need and where it should come from.
    At the very least -- let's not put the biggest burden on the people who can least afford it and greatest advantage to those who least need it.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 06:59:33 AM PDT

    •  I'm in the same boat (sort of) dinotrac (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dinotrac

      I'm an adjunct at local community colleges here in NJ. I USED to do the corporate thing in the day & adjunct at 1 or 2 colleges at night. However, since my divorce, I just decided to do what I LOVE and that's being a college professor (I also write as a freelancer for my local paper, PLUS I'm putting in for full time college gigs when they DO open up).

      So now instead of having 2 classes at one college, I have more classes spread out between different schools. I do what I love, I make pretty good money, and I'm not answering to a boss 24/7.

      The downside is no benefits since I'm "part time". Like you, I really hope ACA comes through. The exchanges kick in come 2014 in NJ.  

      A village can not reorganize village life to suit the village idiot.

      by METAL TREK on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:23:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Interesting perspective (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dinotrac, METAL TREK

        than the usual.  While Amazon is like all the rest, cutting costs at the expense of workers, the flip side is that the workforce has changed.  (Some of it forced by the companies themselves, to be sure.)

        Many like the flexibility.  Last month, I rafted down the Ocoee River in Tennessee. Our guide worked at the Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga and, at least from what he told me, he liked it because it allowed him to also commute to his favorite job - on the river.  He also had a college degree and said he hadn't grown up yet, and did substitute teaching as well.

        Do I think he's being exploited?  No.

        Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities - Voltaire

        by cka on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:33:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup -- Two sides to every coin. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cka, METAL TREK

          But -- and this is the bite:

          Just about everything in our country works on the assumption that we will be going into work 9-5, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year,etc.

          Our retirement, health care, etc will be handled by our employers.

          It just doesn't happen that way so much any more.

          And not just because some of us discovered it's not all bad having to fend for yourself.  A lot of it is employers who feel no obligation to their employees. Even if you're permanent, you're really not.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 09:40:32 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like a better place to work than where (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cka

    I usually buy supplies. Never heard of an air conditioned warehouse before or starting wages of $11.50.

    I know it sounds bad to DKers but in the real world it's not bad at all. Medical benefits after a week of work? Wish they had one here.

    Of course I think pay should start at $22.50 but so should most hard work.

    As bad as the Walmarts and Amazons are, they are some of the better places for regular people to work. Obama has never had a problem relating to people at the bottom end of the pay scale, some of his critics..... I'm not so sure they get it.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:02:10 AM PDT

    •  What's the cost of living in TN? (0+ / 0-)

      That is a big factor into what a "living wage" is.  $11.50 in NYC is nothing, in much of the midwest 2 of those incomes gets you right into the middle class.

      •  $11.50 is $11.50 everywhere (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        6412093

        I don't buy that "everything is more expensive in NY" thing.

        Yes if you are rich it costs more in NY. If you are poor it might well be better. No car needed. City programs to help out.

        $11.50 means you are in poverty no matter where you live.

        “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

        by ban nock on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:05:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I did say 2 (0+ / 0-)

          of those incomes (ie a dual earning household).  And yes, 2 of those does get you into the middle class.  

          Also, where you live makes a huge difference, since housing is the biggest expense for most people and that is the cost that varies the most by location.  Where I am in Ohio, you can get a decent house in a nice neighborhood/school district with 2 of those salaries.

        •  Sorry, but that's just not true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw

          $12 an hour took me a lot further in Austin than $20 an hour did in Palo Alto. I could pay a month's rent with one paycheck in the former... in the latter, well, it's a good thing my and I had combined finances at that point, and even then, we were struggling.

          Food cost more, too, as did fuel (public transit was bad in both areas), as did visits to the doctor.

  •  Amazon "decided to install air conditioning" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    raboof, SouthernBelle82, 6412093, chuckvw

    I am trying to wrap my head around the idea they thought it was ok to open a warehouse without air conditioning.    Seriously.  What business doesn't have air conditioning?  Who decided "they don't need it" in the first place?

    If people lifting heavy boxes all day don't need air conditioning, then certainly white collar office workers and executives don't need it.  But picture ANY business trying to operate without air conditioning!

    Unbelievable.

    I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, because I notice it always coincides with their own desires. -- Susan B. Anthony

    by bluestatesam on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:08:01 AM PDT

    •  I visit plants every day (0+ / 0-)

      and virtually none have AC (disclosure, upper midwest).  Think of what it would cost to AC a 40' ceiling building and the energy/environmental waste for the 34' of cooled air no one uses.

      •  Idea: Build factories with 10 foot ceilings (0+ / 0-)

        and 3 feet of insulation above them, and voila, problem solved. Creates jobs too.

        I am aware there are limitations on how low is optimum for cooling and heating, but the point is, we do NOT have to build buildings the way we do and then stick people in them to suffer because we cannot afford heating and cooling when the profits for those corporations are through the roof, no pun intended.

        In America these days, we are losing economic power because we cannot wrap our minds around the simplest of problems. We have stagnated into sheep without a brain. Tradition rules, and thinking is banned. Welcome to the Greatest Democracy on Earth.

        Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

        by OregonOak on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 08:31:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  google is your friend (0+ / 0-)

        search on "warehouse air conditioning design"

        It will give you an idea of how big a business AC for warehouses is.

    •  I believe none of the warehouses where I work... (0+ / 0-)

      ...have AC for the main work floor areas (this is in Curtis Bay, MD, south of Baltimore). I have never seen this except in a combination factory/warehouse in NJ run by Toshiba.

      FWIW: I work, as a temp, for a major designer of high-end sports apparel. We day-shift types get paid 8/hr for forty- to forty-eight-hour weeks (if our supervisors and the temp coordinator like us - lucky me), in twelve-hour shifts. Fortunately we get plenty of cold water, and there are fans.

      We are also pressured not to report mild injuries, because "if your name shows up too many times" in the first aid log, l they take you out for drug testing". I am not sure if that's all; I assume that it might also lead to termination, regardless of the results of a drug test.

      One complicating factor is that a number of the workers, temps and direct-hires both, have at best a very weak grasp of the English language. Most of the time this just less to some poor woman (usually) being scolded in a loud, slow manner of speech for not following instructions that she couldn't understand, but I did once see someone get injured (lightly, but still) when a pallet-jack was lowered into his foot. Several witnesses swore that this guy had deliberately put his foot in the way to collect workers comp. I myself don't think he understood the verbal warning.

      "But there's one thing that gives every Marine the willies, and anyone saying otherwise is a liar. Drop pods. That shit is terrifying, son."

      by Shaviv on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:30:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  But (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TJ, chuckvw

    I am sure his speech will have all the platitudes... while the reality is directly in his face.

    I didn't abandon the fight, I abandoned the Party that abandoned the fight...

    by Jazzenterprises on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:16:28 AM PDT

  •  Wages according to Integrity site are up to 11.50 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Illinibeatle

    an hour. (10.50-11.50) Any benefits are through Integrity and there are no details. Lastly,this

    -Temperature in the fulfillment center may vary between 60 and 90 degrees, and will occasionally exceed 90 degrees
    Read all about it here: http://jobs.integritystaffing.com/...

    Now,maybe Amazon direct hires wages and benefits differ? But that 90degree work environment would be shared by most.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:20:50 AM PDT

  •  Chutzpah Redefined! But only if you live in (0+ / 0-)

    the reality based world where (D) President Obama has pushed through anti-worker Free Trade Job Off-shoring, praised Wall Street Predators, and appointed Jack Lew as Treasury Secretary (the Chief of Staff spot must have gotten boring for ol' Jack).

    The excuses for Obama's behavior have long since passed the point of predictability neccessary to qualify as an absurd production of Kabuki Theater.

    by Johnathan Ivan on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:20:54 AM PDT

  •  When is speech scheduled? n/t (0+ / 0-)

    When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

    by Egalitare on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:40:32 AM PDT

  •  The Great Recession changed the retail (0+ / 0-)

    landscape of the country.  There used to be many more bookstores, electronics stores etc. that simply don't exist any more.  Borders used to be my all time favorite book store.  They're gone now.  CompUSA used to be my favorite computers/electronics store.  They're done too.  The drop in consumer spending crippled a lot of the traditional retailers and put them out of business. Amazon was able to position itself to take advantage of the recession to make its business model dominant,  and they are now effectively the nation's department store.  

    I don't think that's the right result for the US.  We need more competition, and more labor intensive service industry jobs.  However, I don't think one can blame Amazon for their ability to innovate and deliver goods and services on such a wide scale in an efficient manner.  There are so many things that one can only buy through Amazon because inventories at traditional retail stores are limited.  

    Alternative rock with something to say. Check out Global Shakedown's latest album, "A Time to Recognize": Available on iTunes/Amazon, or stream it at http://www.myspace.com/globalshakedown.

    by khyber900 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 07:42:54 AM PDT

  •  I believe this (0+ / 0-)

    visit coincides with Amazon's announcement that they are addiing 5000 full time jobs around the country.

    But, carry on with the Obama-bashing session...what nu?

  •  A real career opportunity (4+ / 0-)

    How far we've fallen.  So sad.

  •  if he is going to talk about mo0re grand bargains (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SouthernBelle82

    then all of this is a waste of time.  Granted it's his time to waste but he won't get anywhere.  Start thinking big and propose some things that we never heard before.  For example, I would love to see an experiment with funding employee owned cooperatives (as an alternative to traditional small business).

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 09:23:53 AM PDT

    •  That would be good (0+ / 0-)

      That's socialism though. And is just like the Bolivian Revolution in Venezuela. Can't have that.  But they started doing that there and the employee's also became the boss.  I highly recommend checking out the Bolivian Revolution and what they did with that. Could be a good thing for here imo.  Of course I like what they do in general....

  •  I live here (0+ / 0-)

    I live here and just heard on the news briefly the commentator saying that Obama is going to talk about "middle class jobs."  So, working at a place like Amazon is now "middle class jobs."  I am only 31 yrs old and I can remember middle class jobs being differently.  People who are teachers, some type of engineer, a nice office job etc.  Now working in a factory is added in and maybe even becoming it.  

    I'm glad people brought up the points of competition and what comes with that.  I remember it used to be the "it" thing to talk about math and science and those type of jobs,  but now it's working in a factory for Amazon?

    As far as living here and prices it just depends I guess on where you live and how nice your neighborhood is and the size of your house depending on the size of your family.  

    I don't know why they chose to talk about Amazon.  I believe Tennessee is becoming a fast state for making cars.  There have been a lot of car factories opening up in the past two or so yrs now.  Surely a car plant could have better working conditions than a factory like Amazon? And the US has a history of working class people working there.

  •  Why the outrage? (0+ / 0-)

    Amazon is hiring 7,000 warehouse workers.  These are entry-level jobs paying $11.50/hr, health, dental, 401k with employer match, $3000/year in tuition assistance, life insurance, stock grants (9% of salary, on average), etc.  

    That salary would qualify for a mortgage of $120,000.  The health insurance is probably worth $5000/year.  It seems like a pretty good deal for someone just out of high school who doesn't want to go to college right away.  Do this until you figure out what you want to do.

    Why is this a bad thing?  

    No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

    by AdirondackForeverWild on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:05:04 AM PDT

  •  $23,000/year gets you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    schnecke21, My Name Isnt Earl

    a $120k mortgage?  Maybe in downtown Detroit.

    23k/year is ok for someone just out of high school, but I suspect most of the workers are trying to support families.  When I've worked for minimum wage, my fellow workers weren't teenagers, they were parents,

    I worked in warehouses for many years. It's incredibly hard and physical.  The 1000th time you have to pick up a 40 lb. box from the floor that day, your back is screaming.

    You're getting into stifling-hot semi-trailers to unload boxes onto conveyors, trying not to contort yourself and pull a muscle as you twist between the boxes stacked over your head, and put the freight onto a conveyor belt that's at knee height.

    $9/hour was a crappy wage for that work 35 years ago. Don't tell me $11.50 /hr is a good wage now for that kind of work.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:15:49 AM PDT

    •  For the record, (0+ / 0-)

      $120k can get you a decent house here in the Adirondacks.   Nothing spectacular, but you can get a three bedroom, 1.5 bath, 19th century vintage house for that.

      The median income for a family of four here is $45,000, which is about what two people at $11.50 would make.

      Every time I take my kids to the pediatrician, I see at least one couple in their early twenties with a young child.  They typically have Medicaid for the kid, and face the awkward moment where they are asked about insurance.

      If the Amazon warehouse was here, that couple could both get jobs there, have insurance and a house and be living decently.  In other words, a "middle class" lifestyle.  Instead, they work at WalMart and Taco Bell (to give an example of one of my sons friend's parents).  

      Bashing Amazon for this is nuts.  

      No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little. - Edmund Burke

      by AdirondackForeverWild on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:39:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Adirondacks have some of the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        schnecke21, My Name Isnt Earl

        cheapest home prices in the US.  In Chattanooga where Amazon is based,  the trulia web site says the average listing price is almost double $120k.

        And you are figuring both parents working. So they have to put two kids into child care, and you're spending almost $300/week on day care, out of a combined $900/week in wages.

        $11.50 is a lousy wage.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 12:27:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Whether this is OK or not (0+ / 0-)

    Really depends on how Amazon defines 'brisk times'.  They're a retailer.  If they hire on a ton of extra folks in November/December, that's a perfectly reasonable use of temporary employees.  If they've got 1500 employees and 3000 "temps" year round, it's abusive.  There's not enough detail in the linked article to be sure, but it actually sounds more like the former: this is a place that employs 1500 people, and hires on a bunch more for Christmas.

    Some of the other issues (working conditions, fighting against unemployment insurance) sound bad, but a retailer hiring temps seems like a non-issue without some evidence that it's a long-term, abusive situation.

    "And the President of the United States - would be seated right here. I would be here. And he would be here. I would turn - and there he’d be. I could pet ‘im." - Lewis Black

    by libdevil on Tue Jul 30, 2013 at 11:34:46 AM PDT

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