(Disclosure: My father is involved in Educators for a Democratic Union, the group that made this video.)
Continue reading and watching—it's video-heavy this week—below the fold for more of the week's education and labor news.
- I'm sorry, did you say $3.6 million? Yes, that's how much was spent to get New Yorkers playing teeny tiny violins and shedding tears of blood for the handful of charter schools that had their requests to take over space in public school buildings denied.
- What do you know: The plan to radically expand charter schools in Newark, New Jersey, will have a disparate impact on black teachers.
A fair day's wage
- The tyranny of the on-call schedule:
The erratic labor structure robs workers of control over their lives. Being constantly on call, without set hours, makes it extremely hard to budget for basic living expenses, like housing and childcare, and sometimes near-impossible to plan ahead for, say, saving for college. And for the working poor, irregular schedules could undermine access to safety-net programs and benefits, which is, sadly, a key resource for many low-wage retail workers who earn so little that they must rely on public welfare programs.
- According to the National Labor Relations Board, port truck drivers working for Pacific 9 Transportation are employees, not independent contractors and have faced illegal retaliation for trying to form a union.
- You ever notice how coverage of low-wage workers tends to focus less on their efforts to change things than on the details of their poverty? Sarah Jaffe weighs in at the Washington Post with an incisive piece about that phenomenon:
It’s a particular kind of emotional labor that we ask of these workers. In addition to the strength and courage to tell the boss, to his face, that you’re walking out because you’re sick of how you’re being treated, we demand that you perform the role of the poor person for us, and we squabble over the right things to do for you. Our discourse on poverty is fed by stories of misery; it gorges itself on tales of cracked ceilings and no heat and feeding the family on a few dollars a week. But this is just another way that the poor must prove themselves “deserving” and for the better-off to feel righteous for helping them. [...]
Rebuilding the social safety net is a good start, but something more powerful would be a real understanding that we’re all in this together.
I heard that understanding in the voice of Alex Shalom, another low-wage worker who stood up for himself and his co-workers against his boss — this time, his boss at Bank of America. “I think people need to know that tellers are just cashiers with ties on,” Shalom told me, placing himself squarely in the same movement as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart workers.
- Just to highlight that there's a gender wage gap everywhere, male babysitters charge more than female ones even though there are hardly any male babysitters.
- So Target has this awful anti-union video that its employees have to watch, and I keep trying to write about it and then starting to hyperventilate. A book could be written on it, basically. Here's part of what Hamilton Nolan had to say:
The video drones on for 15 minutes, as Dawn and Ricardo plod through various dire consequences of unionization. "You could come into work one day to find union protesters telling our guests not to shop at Target," Dawn says. "And how could that possibly be good for anyone on our team?"
I dunno... higher wages and better benefits and improved working conditions? Notably absent from this video is any discussion of the fact that the primary reason Target does not want any of its employees to unionize is not because it fears a loss of its precious "culture," but because it fears having to pay higher wages and provide better benefits and working conditions. I don't know how that bit was left out of the script. Quite an oversight.
- What's It Like To Raise 3 Kids On $9.49 Per Hour? Watch And See.
- J.C. Penney fired a worker for telling the truth about its fake "discounts." Even though their fakeness is a pretty open secret.
- As the financial industry moves to limit the hours its junior employees work so that they don't, like, die, Sarah Leonard explains what's behind this culture of overwork:
... these hellish on-call conditions do not exist because Wall Street’s work is so vital. They exist because financiers sustain their untouchable status by insisting that their work is vital and that they're the only ones who can do it, that the world might stop turning if they took time to eat, sleep or call their mothers. Long hours are a source of self-worth for banking employees, and that’s one reason why bankers themselves are set to resist the new policies. Wall Street's "masters of the universe" believe that they are, and employ, the smartest and hardest-working people on earth (thus the hauteur with which they address regulators and Senate committees).
- Here's some background on the Kellogg's fight.
- Unite Here chief blasts Obama over ACA.
- Freddie deBoer on Hartford, Connecticut:
The plight of the failing American city is not getting the money. Hartford has business in spades. The plight is how to get money to stay. Hartford may be a powerhouse of the financial sector, but on the street, there is nowhere to buy a cup of coffee. So much capitalism; such little capital. The last time the city really worked, Mark Twain lived there. Fixing all of it won’t come from building shops near the water nor giving another tax incentive to another company looking for a cheap place to stash a building. If that stuff worked, it would have worked a long time ago.