Tag: Labor

Five Books for Labor Day

1. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do
Studs Terkel
Studs Terkel’s classic oral history Working is a compelling look at jobs and the people who do them. Consisting of over one hundred interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, this book provides a “brilliant” and enduring portrait of people’s feelings about their working lives.

2. Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs
John Bowe (Editor), Marisa Bowe (Editor), Sabin Streeter (Editor), Daron Murphy (Editor), Rose Kernochan (Editor)
This wide-ranging survey of the American economy at the turn of the millennium is stunning, surprising, and always entertaining. It gives us an unflinching view of the fabric of this country from the point of view of the people who keep it all moving. The more than 120 roughly textured monologues that make up Gig beautifully capture the voices of our fast-paced and diverse economy. The selections demonstrate how much our world has changed–and stayed the same–in the three decades prior to the turn of the millennium. If you think things have speeded up, become more complicated and more technological, you’re right.

3. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Barbara Ehrenreich
Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job—any job—can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour?

4. Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line
Ben Hamper
The man the Detroit Free Press calls “a blue collar Tom Wolfe” delivers a full-barreled blast of truth and gritty reality in Rivethead, a no-holds-barred journey through the belly of the American industrial beast.

5. A Working Stiff’s Manifesto: A Memoir
Iain Levison
In ten years, Iain Levison has lived in six states and worked at forty-two jobs, from fish cutter in Alaska to furniture mover in North Carolina, film-set gopher, oil deliveryman, truck driver, and crab fisherman. He quit thirty of them, got fired from nine, and has difficulty remembering the other three. Whatever could go wrong often did, hilariously.

* Bonus. A view from the 1% side of things –
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
Bethany McLean
Remarkably, it was just two years ago that Enron was thought to epitomize a great New Economy company, with its skyrocketing profits and share price. But that was before Fortune published an article by McLean that asked a seemingly innocent question: How exactly does Enron make money? From that point on, Enron’s house of cards began to crumble. Now, McLean and Elkind have investigated much deeper, to offer the definitive book about the Enron scandal and the fascinating people behind it.

Quantifying Hospice Chaplain Productivity

‘Spiritual Care Drive-Bys’
IN THE FIRST MONTH after joining the group of hospice chaplains in Minnesota, the Rev. Heather Thonvold was invited to five potlucks. To endure the constant sorrow of the work, the more than a dozen clergy members ministered to one another. Sometimes the cantor in the group played guitar for his mostly Protestant colleagues. There was comfort in regarding their work as a calling, several of them said.

In August 2020, the productivity revolution arrived for them in an email from their employer, a nonprofit called Allina Health.

“The timing is not ideal,” the message said, with the team already strained by the pandemic. But workloads varied too widely, and “the stark reality at this point is we cannot wait any longer.”

Allina was already keeping track of productivity, but now there would be stricter procedures with higher expectations. Every morning the chaplains would share on a spreadsheet the number of “productivity points” they anticipated earning. Every evening, software would calculate whether they had met their goals.

But dying defied planning. Patients broke down, canceled appointments, drew final breaths. This left the clergy scrambling and in a perpetual dilemma. “Do I see the patients who earn the points or do I see the patients who really need to be seen?” as Mx. Thonvold put it.

The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score
Across industries and incomes, more employees are being tracked, recorded and ranked. What is gained, companies say, is efficiency and accountability. What is lost?
By Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram
Produced by Aliza Aufrichtig and Rumsey Taylor

Bob Marley – Card Carrying UAW Member

NOTE – Guess it’s not just the United Auto Workers now:

WHO WE ARE
The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) is one of the largest and most diverse unions in North America, with members in virtually every sector of the economy.

UAW-represented workplaces range from multinational corporations, small manufacturers and state and local governments to colleges and universities, hospitals and private non-profit organizations.

The UAW has more than 400,000 active members and more than 580,000 retired members in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

https://uaw.org/about/

HarperCollins Strike – July 20, 2022

More than 200 unionized HarperCollins employees are on strike today following months of contract negotiations, which began in December 2021 and which, they say, have not yielded a fair agreement for workers.

HarperCollins, based in New York City—where the median rent recently reached $4,000 a month—offers a starting salary of $45,000, and unionized workers make an average salary of $55,000. Employees are calling for a pay increase along with more family leave benefits, improved efforts to diversify the company, and “stronger union protection,” while currently working without a contract, according to a press release.

Employees are currently holding a picket line in lower Manhattan, where others have joined them in support.

HarperCollins workers are on strike today
Corinne Segal
Lithub

Work Related Dreams, Hypnagogia, Tetris Effect, Example of

Most of the commercials we produced were thirty- and sixty-second spots for products like Maxwell House Coffee, Vicks Vaporub, Ajax (bum-bum, the foaming cleanser), Colgate Dental Cream, and other household products. Technically speaking, these early ads were the simplest work imaginable. There’s a dancing coffee pot or some such thing with a jingle about Maxwell House exploding flavor buds; cut to a man tasting a steaming cup of coffee while his lovely, crisp wife looks on expectantly; cut to the best take of his reaction (“Hmm, that’s delicious!”); cut to the sign-off; and you’re through. But nothing is ever that simple in the advertising business.

This kind of work was all right for a week or two. It had its curiosities. But after a few months at Tempo, I was morose and close to broken, for I knew I was using almost none of the skills that had landed me the job in the first place. At night bad dreams about exploding flavor buds and foaming cleansers with catchy jingles and forced smiles began to bother me. In the one nightmare I still recall, I was stuffed into a Maxwell House jar and exploded into ten thousand pieces when they poured the boiling water on me.

When The Shooting Stops … The Cutting Begins 
Ralph Rosenblum, Robert Karen

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetris_effect
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypnagogia

The New Union Resurgence

This is the most exciting — and promising — moment for the nation’s labor movement in decades thanks to the landmark union victories at Starbucks and Amazon, as well as the spread of union drives to well-known companies like Trader Joe’s and Apple. To find similar excitement about unions, one would have to go back to the 1930s and the victorious Flint Sit-Down strike against General Motors, which inspired a tremendous wave of strikes and union drives across the U.S.

What has made this moment even more promising for labor is the huge enthusiasm that many young workers are showing toward unions, including museum workers, nurses, journalists and graduate students, among them the 17,000 University of California grad student researchers who won union recognition in December. Two recent surveys also hold promise for labor: 74% of workers 18 to 24 say they would vote to join a union if they could, and a Gallup poll found that 77% of Americans 18 to 34 approve of unions.

Propelled by this youthful excitement, the Starbucks union drive has gone from workers at a single Starbucks in Buffalo, N.Y., voting to unionize in December to 75 Starbucks unionized today, with workers at nearly 200 more petitioning for unionization votes. One measure of this youth-driven enthusiasm: John Logan, a labor studies professor at San Francisco State, says anti-union consultants often boast that they defeat unions 95% of the time in union votes, but Starbucks baristas have voted to unionize 90% of the time — winning 75 of 84 union elections.

Op-Ed: A new generation is reviving unions. The old guard could help
Steven Greenhouse

Run Off – Losing a Job on the Oil Field

No one gets fired from the oil field, except for a failed drug test. If you show up and work, as far as dispatch cares, you can keep your job. No one will call you into the office and give you a talking to for bad behavior or laziness. They don’t give a shit how bad you are. Dispatch put the bodies in the field and the field can take care of itself. And the field does. Because in the oil patch, on a job location, sixty miles from the office, a different set of rules apply, and they are about as kind and as fair as nature’s. If men don’t believe you can do a good job, if they think for any reason that your ignorance, laziness, or ineptitude will put them or anyone around them in danger, or even if they just don’t like your face – just for the fun of it – they will run you off. They will do everything in their power to make your life such a living hell that you will go home one day and you will not come back. They will replace you with someone else and good fucking riddance. We do not want you, we do not need you. You are a worm, you always were and you always will be. So, go home and worm, you fucking worm.

The Good Hand
Michael Patrick Smith

See also: Safety Tips from the North Dakota Oil Field