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As we are all aware, America has pretty much lost most of the high-paying, stable, manufacturing jobs with benefits and simultaneously has also seen much of its white collar workforce outsourced or off-shored. As a result, many Americans have agreed,  under duress, to become part of the under-employed yet over-committed part of the work-force known as "part-time" with required "on-call" availability.

This arrangement often requires the employee to indenture their off-the-clock lives as a cog in the employers machine. Employees have become just one more facet of "just-in-time" inventory, a concept which at one time was limited to the inanimate products on the showroom floor and not to the human inhabitants of the workplace.

The concept of "lean and mean" staffing has become the paramount employment philosophy in our service economy, taking the literal meaning of the two descriptive words to the level of absurdity. "Lean" staffing means maintaining a skeletal work force just barely adequate enough to function, which is supplemented by the "mean" workers - those who are desperate enough to subjugate their entire lives to the capricious and mean demands of their employers to abrogate any hope of a regular schedule, and hence, a regular and ordered life, one that might involve school or family or additional employment to supplement their current meager wages.

This Dickensian idea of labor deployment and compensation is finally getting some long-delayed attention:

A Push To Give Steadier Shifts to Part-Timers

Representative George Miller of California, the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, plans to introduce legislation this summer that would require companies to pay their employees for an extra hour if they were summoned to work with less than 24 hours’ notice. He is also proposing a guarantee of four hours’ pay on days when employees are sent home after just a few hours — something that happens in many restaurants and retailers when customer traffic is slow.
How does an enlightened society tolerate these Draconian and inhumane business practices which rob employees of the ability to have a life, to get supplemental employment or to take classes to improve their lot in life? - all the things they are exhorted to do in order to get ahead in life by the finger-wagging promoters of the long dead Horatio Alger myth that those who work hard will get ahead.

Who will speak up for the  abused American worker who accepts one sided employment bargains like these jobs because they are often the only game in town?

There is a super discussion of working under these conditions in the comments section of this Gawker article also well worth reading.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:06:00 AM PDT

  •  Hi Phoebe, my novel is coming out in a month, and (7+ / 0-)

    it deals with all of this stuff.  It's about coporations as gods in this country, and mixes the real with the fictitious in a very unique way, I think.  I believe that anyone who suffers anything from simple billing errors by huge corps, to working at walmart, to eminent domain to make way for a mall; to wrongful foreclosure, will truly enjoy my book.

    (I of course want it read by millions, but I am not looking to make money on you.  I will be happy to send you a copy when it is published and ready.  I just think it truly is right up your alley, and you will get alot out of it.)

    Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

    by Floyd Blue on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:26:31 AM PDT

    •  Wow! I would certainly love to read it (4+ / 0-)

      You have struck on so many of my personal hot buttons it is amazing.

      I write too and a common theme of mine is the little man caught in the maws of a giant and complex machine, made of humans but which becomes ultimately both inhuman and inhumane and out of the control of both the people supposedly in charge and their collateral damage.

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:33:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  PL - I don't think your first sentence is accurate (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoebe Loosinhouse, salmo

        I believe the US has lost many, but not most, of its manufacturing jobs. The US is still #1 or #2 in the world as a manufacturer and millions of workers continue to manufacture products in the US. However, if you have a solid data source for your statement, I'll stand corrected.

        "let's talk about that" uid 92953

        by VClib on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:46:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That truly describes my theme: the little man (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoebe Loosinhouse

        caught in that awful place, with no recourse and no sympathy from anyone anywhere.  Having corporations treated as persons (legally and officially) and as gods (unofficially and apparently) in this country, makes for a rich and symbol-filled, parallel-filled pool to draw from.

        And it's really pretty much in my own voice:  cynical, pissed off, mocking, sarcastic, joyous.....

        Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

        by Floyd Blue on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:52:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And it'll be short n' cheap too. (3+ / 0-)

      Or as we say when selling something in Capitalism's truly free markets:
      "It's priced to sell!"

      Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

      by Floyd Blue on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:33:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Even better. The more readers the more people to (4+ / 0-)

        spread the word.

        We need modern day Grapes of Wraths. Good on ya.

        “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

        by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:34:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your choice of comparison hit the spot! (2+ / 0-)

          I wanted to fashion it as a modern day Grapes, although that is aiming very high...but why not, right?

          In fact, during the sequence of the common man getting his revenge, my main character warps some of the top quotes from Grapes.

          I truly believe that anyone who has experienced being trodden on by a corporation will enjoy this book (and that's just about everybody!)
          :)

          Thank you!
          I will let you know when it's ready.  The editing is making my head spin, but it's almost there.
          (I even have a couple of FDR references in there as well.)

          Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

          by Floyd Blue on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:48:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  J-I-T for labor (7+ / 0-)

    is a great way of phrasing it.

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:35:17 AM PDT

  •  Overtime Law Is a Way of Encouraging Hiring (3+ / 0-)

    more full-timers. This seems to be a similarly wise concept, if the numbers are effective.

    I always suspect, in our time, that any benefit or protection offered has been cynically pre-calibrated to something below half the value needed, but otherwise, this looks like a great idea.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 06:57:43 AM PDT

  •  This has been going for a a couple of decades and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, Phoebe Loosinhouse

    now they have a hold in the work industry...

    https://www.youtube.com/...

  •  Two comments (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyo, cjtjc, worldlotus, salmo, sillycarrot

    One, the suggestions by Representative George Miller seem reasonable to me.

    Two, "on call" has it's purposes.  For example, I work in a municipal utility that provides service 24x7x365.  We staff our operations Mon-Fri from about 7am to 5pm with the system running automated the rest of the time.  There is a rotating list of people who are "on call" should a problem arise.  They respond to problems and emergencies.  They are not part of a plan to deliberately undersize the staff without consequence.  They are also compensated with a partial hour of pay, I believe it is 1/8th, that they are on call but do not work.  If they have to respond, they are compensated at full rate with a minimum (I believe of four hours pay) regardless of how short of a duration they work.

    It can also be abused, as it sounds like it is in the restaurant business.

    "It's not surveillance, it's data collection to keep you safe"

    by blackhand on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 07:52:22 AM PDT

    •  With all due respect.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoebe Loosinhouse

      I don't think the type as described by your 'on call' is what was meant in the diary.
      I believe the type of 'on call' abuse by corporations mentioned in the diary is when people's lives are dictated by the employer corporations.  Once you sign the dotted line, you're theirs, lock, stock and barrel, your time is their time any time, all the time and you had better jump when they beckon you.
      I've worked at jobs when I was 'on call', we rotated so we all could get time off. The 'on call' part was necessary and understandable and we all worked together.
      I've also worked at jobs when I was 'on call' which was completely dictated by the ebb and flow of a business model (which was wrong as many times as it was right), and which could have been alleviated if more people were hired (the money WAS in the budget for more people), but the bottom line was far more important than the lowly hourly very expendable employees.  My life was sheer hell, nothing was ever finished, nothing was able to be planned and if I wanted out of the merry-go-round for some time away, it was as though I had asked for a million dollars.
      The burn out rate was incredibly high.

      I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

      by Lilyvt on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 09:59:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The future is part-time for all. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse

    The trick is to get the greedy bastards to pay people enough to survive. Then we can peacefully transition to a "clean" energy economy, and welcome our new robotic overlords, among other things

    Free time to tinker, make, and hack BIG solutions. Lots of community projects. I can imagine the world like that.

    •  Which wouldn't be a bad thing necessarily (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyo, brae70

      What happened to all those predictions of the Leisure Generation? I always joke that I want to live the life of the Eloi, only without being eaten.

      The wealth shift is what is preventing this from happening. We are working ourselves back to the model of 18th and 19th century Britain and France with an aristocratic, dynastic, wealthy leisure class and everyone else scrabbling about, working dawn to dusk, 24/7 and then dying off. Great for the aristocracy, not so great for everyone else.

      “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

      by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 10:41:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I've said it before... (4+ / 0-)

    ...and I'll say it again.

    A company can have me "on call" when they pay me for their privilege of on-call.

    No pay, no availability.

    I'm not under any obligation to anyone outside my immediate family (and not necessarily even then) to be on-call 24/7.

    You want my labor, or even my potential labor, you pay me for that labor.

    •  Working in IT... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Phoebe Loosinhouse

      In fact, many "tech" type jobs. Been there... not pleasant.. especially if abused.

      There is some always new minted MBA full of bad labor ideas...

      •  HA! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Phoebe Loosinhouse, sillycarrot
        There is some always new minted MBA full of bad labor ideas...
        What is with that?
        I have suffered through some really, really terrible management decisions by some kids fresh outta MBA school who should NEVER have been let anywhere near a labor workforce.  Their ideas were questionable on paper, and in reality, disaster.  What possesses companies to hire these folks?  If they were really interested in how to better manage something, the ones to ask are the ones who have been doing it, and know it blindfolded.  But no!  Hire some fresh MBA grad with zero experience to manage the workforce.  OY.

        I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

        by Lilyvt on Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 10:11:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Late, sorry... especially those circ. you've (0+ / 0-)

          experienced. Not cool at all...

          It is what they are "taught?" I've read those books... some. Not all are bad. Great campfire fuel.

          Some employment policies that are truly messed up, too.

          Been involved in it too... sometimes the wrong education brings out the worst in us... this is the starting point?

          Once, armed with new knowledge, I've noticed myself & others like to use it in sometimes not the best of ways.

          Office politics. Higher "managers" don't want to get the appearance of getting dirty... so they have the new shiny thing do it. Other reasons or plays too. Can be honest ones as well. Just not "fitting in.."

          &, some MBA's, not all!, get stuck in the position of having to do this to keep their new job to pay for that expensive biz school book example experience...

          $ is most often the deciding factor... not paying the "experienced" more...

          now... i'm exhausted... ;)

  •  Local focus mag... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Phoebe Loosinhouse

    Was reading something this am in a java shop...

    I dunno how true, but last or this year top manufacturer award in WI went to.... a multi-magazine publication? WTF?

    So many people know... pretty much all we manufacture now is damned shiny lies, llc.

    & now we are gonna double down on globalization? Yeah, cuz the 1st worked so stellar!

    I do agree w/ some globalization... but not this 0 tolerance type thing where everything needs to be grown and assembled in another country... from source code to shirts...

    JIT - "you got .5/hr to git here or you're fired.."

    What is the next step after we've outsourced the private outsource? Back to insourcin w/ no benefits & indentured contracts?

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