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#worker exploitation
eelhound · 5 months ago
"Business owners around the country are offering up a lament: 'no one wants to work.' A McDonalds franchise said they had to close because no one wants to work; North Carolina congressman David Rouzer claimed that a too-generous welfare state has turned us all lazy as he circulated photos of a shuttered fast-food restaurant supposedly closed 'due to NO STAFF.'
Most of these complaints seem to be coming from franchised restaurants. Why? Well, it’s not complicated. Service workers didn’t decide one day to stop working — rather huge numbers of them cannot work anymore. Because they’ve died of coronavirus.
A recent study from the University of California–San Francisco looks at increased morbidity rates due to COVID, stratified by profession, from the height of the pandemic last year. They find that food and agricultural workers morbidity rates increased by the widest margins by far, much more so than medical professionals or other occupations generally considered to be on the 'front lines' of the pandemic. Within the food industry, the morbidity rates of line cooks increased by 60 percent, making it the deadliest profession in America under coronavirus pandemic.
Line cooks are especially at risk because of notoriously bad ventilation systems in restaurant kitchens and preparation areas. Anyone who has ever worked a back-of-the-house job knows that it’s hot, smelly, and crowded back there, all of which indicate poor indoor air quality. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency recommended increasing indoor ventilation to fight the virus, but such upgrades are costly and time consuming. There is no data available on how many restaurants chose not to upgrade their ventilation systems, but given how miserly franchise owners are with everything else, one could guess that many, if not most, made no upgrades at all.
Ventilation issues are deadliest for line cooks and other back-of-house jobs, but there are other reasons why food workers’ morbidity rates shot up. Food workers are much more likely to be poor and/or a racial or national minority, and poor people and black and Latino workers are much more likely to die of complications from the coronavirus.
Restaurants are often intentionally short staffed, making it difficult to take time off, so sick workers likely still came to work (and infected others in the process). Bars and restaurants are COVID-19 hotspots, and service workers and customers alike get sick after prolonged restaurant exposure. The difference is that many of those customers have health insurance and other safeguards to prevent them from dying of the illness; 69 percent of restaurants, on the other hand, offer their employees no health benefits at all.
When coronavirus is spread at restaurants, and restaurant workers make little money and rarely earn health benefits, it’s no wonder morbidity rates are so much higher for food service workers. But rather than collectively grieve the deaths of tens of thousands of the people who serve us and keep us fed, and keep such tragedies in mind when considering the state of the food-service industry labor market today, business owners and their political lackeys call these workers 'lazy.'
There are, of course, also living, breathing people who have decided they do not want to risk their lives for $7.25 per hour and no health benefits. That is a perfectly rational decision for the homo economicus to make. Given how dangerous restaurant work is during a viral pandemic, if restaurant owners really wanted more workers, they would offer living wages, health benefits, and adequate personal protective equipment. But all the wage increases in the world won’t bring back the dead.
There aren’t enough people working in the service industry, and service bosses have somehow turned that into our problem, into something we ought to be ashamed of. We shouldn’t fall for it. Profits accumulate because of labor — without workers to exploit, the owning class can’t get richer. Capitalists cannot exploit the labor of the dead, so when large swathes of the working class die, they turn their ire on the living.
This is a barbaric response to mass tragedy. Workers across the country and the globe are dead or grieving. We shouldn’t risk further tragedies for a paltry minimum wage."
- Sandy Barnard, "Service Workers Aren’t Lazy — They Just Don’t Want to Risk Dying for Minimum Wage." Jacobin, 5 May 2021.
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talkiermango502x · a year ago
I find this fascinating. My father didn’t get a college degree, got his GED, was given lots of money and support from his parents, and in his career, managed to raise himself up to some sort of regional manager for the whole coast in home mortgage.
When I first started my career as a lowly analyst, my father (who is a quintessential boomer) advised me to make sure I put in 110% effort and make sure to work extra hours unpaid per week—so 45-50 hours and not include the additional 5-10 hours on my time card. He instructed me to sacrifice my evenings and weekends to take on more work and expand my role—doing work above my pay grade for free. He said “if you give yourself to your company and sacrifice your time, you’ll rise through the company and the company will always take care of you.”
What a load of horseshit.
First of all, this is illegal.
Second of all, NEVER forget that you’re fucking dispensable in this capitalistic society. In corporate America, you can be replaced in 2 seconds flat.
I stupidly listened to my father. I worked myself to death. I put in free overtime and stayed later than all the other employees.
What did I get out of it?
A mental breakdown that almost cost me my life. I lost out on overtime—money I desperately needed as a 20 year old analyst. I didn’t earn any extra respect for those sacrifices. I gave up my weekends and evenings until I hated my job. I didn’t take lunch breaks or take walks throughout the day (for exercise and a break from my computer). My anxiety got so high I tried to kill myself and developed IBS. I didnt get enough exercise (being at the computer for 10 hours a day
On the other hand, one of my close friends had the same job. She came to work exactly at 8am and left exactly at 5pm. She took lunch breaks and if she was having trouble dealing with the day, she’d take a walk to calm down and center herself. The difference between our lives is striking. If she did work overtime, she made sure she got paid overtime and was able to save more money. She set boundaries and made sure to be home for dinner. Her mental state was bounds better than mine. And in the end, she got promoted over me because they felt she could handle the pressure better than I could, even though my work output was higher and I gave more to the company. Not that I was any more dedicated to my work than she was, but I sabotaged myself by listening to bad advice and it cost me an important promotion. My manager even talked to me about this and explained that while I was willing to work 15 hour days if I had to, it was too much strain on me and she worried that if she promoted me to a management position, I would work myself to death and not be able to cut it. Not because I can’t hack it, but because I didn’t have that balance and boundaries.
I admire my friend for her stalwart boundaries and integrity. She’s an amazing worker and does a great job. She handles the stress much better—partly because of her character, but also because she takes the time to listen to what she needs. I think this is important for us to understand. Corporations aren’t on your side. They will eat you up and spit you out.
One of my advisors even told me to stop working weekends because the company would take advantage of me. She said if you sacrifice even one weekend, you’re setting a precedent and the company will continue to exploit you. If they need it now now now, hire more people who can do the work without working until midnight and working weekends. Corporations have the money.
The cherry on top of this all is that my father lost almost everything when the economy crashed—and his company didn’t save him, didn’t even care. He managed to raise himself up again and he still holds the belief that this new company will protect him, even though evidence suggests otherwise.
I wish I had learned this sooner. I wish I had valued my own time and worth. It would have served me better in the long run.
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America wouldn't even have survived without slavery.
Why are we surprised that America isn't working for some of us. Without slavery, we'd literally have not survived after the revolution.
Our country was built on a methodology that relies on a group of people not having any choice. That's why they don't want to raise minimum wage. If you're literally desperate, you can't say "no" to a shit opportunity when it ends up in your lap.
But remember slavery also relied on something else. A group of people that are comfortable, but all it would take is a couple of bad months before they go from comfortable to starving.
It relies on a middle class that's doing well enough, but not so good that they're willing to fight the status quo. Because fighting the system that keeps these dragons wealthy people wealthy will result in these wealthy people using their power to destroy you.
I mean look at this shit.
One company owns all of the glasses producers and sellers. If another company is like "Fuck that. Glasses are a necessity. I want them to be affordable." Then this monopoly can remove all of their products from 90% of the stores in America forcing them to go out of business, where the monopoly company will buy them up so they can hide the fact that they're a monopoly.
Why are we surprised that the system is failing us? That's literally what it was made to do.
That's why America is the shithole country that doesn't take care of its citizens and will do everything in its power to keep slavery alive. And the other countries aren't.
But we all have capitalism.
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justanherbivore · 9 months ago
I'll just leave this here for the "but farmers" anti-vegans to ignore.
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thoughtlessarse · a month ago
When labor inspectors arrived in a rural area of the Brazilian Amazon state of Para in late June, they expected to rescue illegal loggers working in slavery-like conditions. But the trees were already cut down and the loggers gone.
Instead, the officials from Brazil's anti-slavery mobile enforcement group found four men and a boy of 15 building fences and cattle sheds nearby with the illegal timber, on the orders of a local farmer who kept them in a ramshackle camp.
"They had no water, they had no bathrooms," said Magno Riga, the inspector in charge of the rescue. "They told us they had never been in such a precarious condition."
Deforestation surged in Brazil after right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro took office in 2019, giving a green light to mining and agriculture in protected parts of the Amazon and weakening environmental enforcement agencies.
But while the forest loss itself sparked international outcry among foreign governments and the public, little attention has been paid to the labor abuses underpinning the practice, legal specialists told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
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eelhound · 4 months ago
"Class and wealth surely have everything to do with each other, but they are not the same thing. A stable, well-paid job (to the extent that these still exist) such as a train conductor in New York City may pay upward of $70,000 a year, and a small bodega owner in the Bronx may earn much less. But the former is a worker — who does not control her own hours and conditions of work, and the latter is a small business owner, charged with his own exploitation, as well as that of others (even if few in number).
The numbers on someone's paycheck can't tell you everything. It can't tell you, for instance, that a manager at Starbucks, who makes less than a subway conductor, has the power to fire every worker in the store. We can see then that wealth is just one part of the picture, and one that is more symptomatic of class inequality than explanatory of its origin. In fact, power, control over working conditions, and financial decision-making are the bedrocks of exploitation.
Economics Professor Michael Zweig explained it this way: 'By looking only at income or lifestyle, we see the results of class, but not the origins of class. We see how we are different in our possessions, but not how we are related and connected, and made different, in the process of making what we possess." [emphasis added] The Marxist explanation instead emphasizes that one's position in society is not measured quantitatively, but is determined by a person's relationship to labor, the fruits of labor, and the means of production. Anyone who controls the means of production, has political power, dictates the terms of other's working conditions, or owns capital that can be invested in production, is part of the CAPITALIST CLASS. And anyone who must sell their labor-power for a wage and has no access to the means of production themselves is part of the WORKING CLASS.
This does not just extend to workers engaged in production of physical goods. Teachers and nurses must sell their labor in order to provide services, and thus are part of the working class. As Marx argued: 'If we may take an example from outside the sphere of material production, a school-master is a productive worker when, in addition to belaboring the heads of his pupils, he works himself into the ground to enrich the owner of the school. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of a sausage factory, makes no difference to the relation.'
It is in this sense that Marx and Engels wrote that the 'proletarian is without property.' PROLETARIANS is another word for workers; and private property does not mean personal belongings, like your TV or laptop, but the means of production — the buildings, machinery, software, equipment, tools, and other materials owned by capitalists. Marx wasn't saying that workers literally have nothing, although that is often and increasingly true. He meant that we are without any means to produce and reproduce our livelihoods, and therefore we are at the mercy of capitalist exploitation. A construction company has mechanical shovels, drills, and dozers, which allow them to exploit laborers and turn a profit. I have a shovel, which I can use to grow flowers or tomatoes...
Wealth and poverty do not determine class, rather they are manifestations of it."
- Hadas Thier, from A People's Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics, 2020.
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mnemosyne2110 · 3 months ago
There is a special place in hell for employers who exploit vulnerable migrant workers. I seriously don’t know what kind of person one has to be to steal wages from workers who are already being overworked and underpaid. 
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Reminder that no, veganism is not cruelty-free. Yes, our food (in almost all cases) comes from slave/wildly underpaid labour. But that doesn't mean that your hamburger, that also came from slave/wildly underpaid (and also dangerous af) labour, is any better.
The difference is not that one uses slave labour and the other doesn't. They both do.
The difference is that one involves intentionally harming a sentient being as an unavoidable, intrinsic part of farming it, while the other one doesn't involve any harm as an intrinsic part of it.
Of course the situation that plant agricultural workers are in is wrong and needs to be improved. The point vegans are making isn't that there's no exploitation in the plant agriculture industry, the point is that you can remove the abuse from plant agriculture, but you can't remove the killing from the meat industry. Or the forced insemination from the other animal ag industries. That's why animal agriculture needs to be abolished but plant agriculture needs to be improved. That's the difference.
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aahorrock · 3 months ago
I've never stayed at a workplace less than 2 years but I'm pretty done with the one I'm at. Or, maybe I'm simply done with the concept of my labor & general wellbeing being systematically abused and taken for granted for someone else's profit.
I've decided I'm quitting (all) the day job(s) because I'm getting paid less than a liveable wage to
• deal with rampant and unregulated mismanagement
• put my physical health in the backseat & overwork myself to where I suffer a slipped disc in my spine
• catch wildly unprofessional and demoralizing shade for needing to heal or be allowed to sit at work from aforementioned spine injury--even though I could not sleep, sit, or walk for 5 days without pain. I am still recovering after 2 weeks and have been forced to essentially walk it off.
• pick up the slack from a coworker consistently*allowed* to get away with incredibly unprofessional behavior (harassment, working drunk, sleeping on shift....wish I was kidding)
• come into shifts to passive agressive 'callout' notes. If something is not done right or a mistake was made, I have NEVER been approached for a rational, adult conversation about the matter in question.
• did I mention dealing with mismanagement
• work for a company that advertises itself as progressive and inclusive, then forms an all white council for workplace diversity--twice (before abandoning the idea)
• be ignored outright when I requested a year review and wage raise. Still waiting for it.
I could keep going but the list would get quite long.
I'm not only tired of dealing with this myself-- I'm constantly watching other coworkers be exploited, overworked, underpaid, and taken for granted. Especially through a pandemic. Watching a friend and coworker stressed to frustration because they were asked to work through foot pain. Watching a friend and coworker pour so much effort into cleaning and general maintenance every shift that she basically runs the front end like a manager--& knowing she doesn't make nearly enough to demand that level of professionalism. (I know you're reading this, I see you & I love you. Thank you for the work you do♡)
I catch myself and the people around me working harder than our pay rate every day, and the people getting higher rates are doing less for/with us. I know this is a universal issue and I'm tired for all of us.
I want to say I would consider staying if I were paid a reasonable amount, but ... at what point do you look at all of these things and say you deserve the basics? When do you take stock of it all and realize no dollar amount they offer is going to be enough to ignore lack of decency & respect in the workplace?
The TL;DR version of this post is I'm fED UP and will be moving on until I can find a company that values me or am able to work for myself full time, and I urge anyone in a similar situation to do the same.
You do NOT have to accept less.
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thoughtlessarse · 7 months ago
Migrant farm workers in Britain are being trapped and mistreated by employers in conditions ripe for modern slavery, campaigners said on Tuesday, urging the government to review a scheme designed to avoid agricultural labour shortages post-Brexit.
Seasonal labourers in Scotland have been pressured to sign zero-hour contracts, made to live and work in degrading conditions, and prevented from changing employers, a study by the Focus on Labour Exploitation (FLEX) NGO and a Scottish nonprofit found.
About six in 10 workers said they incurred debts up to 870 pounds ($1,204) for visas and other costs, while many reported being threatened by bosses with fewer work hours or the prospect of deportation - which are drivers of forced labour - FLEX said.
Before Britain left the European Union last year, the agriculture sector was heavily reliant on migrant workers from Eastern Europe, putting pressure on the government to ensure farms had enough labourers following Brexit.
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Meet the new Global Britain, same as the old Global Britain.
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creativeanchorage2 · 4 months ago
Got an advanced degree? Twenty years of experience in your field? The ability to drop everything to respond to work emails? Great! Then you meet the qualifications for an entry-level job paying miserable wages. But you’ll need to have a gazillion interviews and write a thank-you letter after each one to have any chance of getting it, of course.
That’s an (only slightly exaggerated) reflection of what the job market has looked like for a long time. Wages have been stagnant for decades. Companies have been demanding more, and offering less: the power has been very much in employers’ hands. Now, in the US at least, the power balance may be shifting; people are quitting their jobs in record numbers. Almost 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April: the highest numbers since government record-keeping for labour turnover began in December 2000. Meanwhile, in the UK, a lot of people are seriously thinking about quitting – one study found 38% of employees are looking to change roles in the next year.
Reasons for quitting vary. Some well-paid workers are leaving their jobs because the pandemic has changed their priorities or because they are burned out. Other workers are quitting because government benefits introduced during the pandemic mean they are not forced to risk their health at a precarious job paying peanuts in order to survive. Whatever the motivation, the result is the same: the labour shortage is causing widespread disarray. American Airlines just cancelled hundreds of flights, partly because of labour shortages among some of their vendors. Restaurants on both sides of the Atlantic are struggling to find enough workers to reopen.
I am not an economist, but it seems to me that one way companies can end the labour shortage is by paying people more and treating them better. A few forward-thinking employers are trying this unusual strategy. For the most part, however, companies seem to be demanding that the government bail them out by creating conditions that give them their pool of desperate and easy-to-exploit workers back. The US’s largest lobbying group, for example, is trying to pressure the government to end unemployment benefits.
In a world that fetishises productivity, quitting has traditionally been given a bad rap. But the pandemic has made it very clear that our current model of work isn’t working, and that your job doesn’t define who you are. Lobbying groups might be able to force people to return to work, but they will have a harder time changing how people think about it.
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anotherisodope · 10 months ago
Regarding Cyberpunk 2077 Drama
The whole situation with Cyberpunk 2077 being released while still basically unplayable on console reminds me of a college student who gets multiple extensions on a paper that is due, fucks around for most of that time and then desperately slaps some bullshit together at the absolute last moment
Except, of course, for the following:
1. The paper is absolutely gorgeous bullshit but you can only read it properly on a computer
2. Even then it’s full of flaws
3. The student isn’t even the author, but instead paid a team of writers way too little to forgo food, sleep and time with their families to make up for HIS shitty time-management skills
4. He can’t understand why the professor, who prefers to print out student papers and read them, gave him an F when he “worked so hard”
5. The GSAs for the class are busy bitching about the paper’s other flaws while largely ignoring the big issues of worker abuse and most of its intended audience not even being able to even read it
6. The student himself should really be forced to go back and personally rewrite that shit so it prints properly and doesn’t exploit or piss off even more people in the process
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eelhound · 4 months ago
"The compulsion to increase the intensity of labor ratcheted up to an obsession in the 1890s with the methods of 'scientific management.' Frederick Taylor developed the ideas of industrial efficiency first as a manager at Midvale Steel Works and later at Bethlehem Steel. Every task was studied, broken down into individual components, and timed in order to determine the minimal intervals required to accomplish each. The timing and methods of work could then be standardized — whether that be through speeding up the conveyor belt in an auto plant or using keystroke counters to mechanize office jobs.
Scientific management is based on a severe alienation of labor, which assumes that the greatest and most specific level of supervision will yield maximum productivity. So long as workers have any control over the labor process, goes the argument, they will try to thwart their full productive potential. According to Taylor, managers should specify 'not only what is to be done but how it is to be done and the exact time allowed for doing it.'
Taylor wrote at length about his own experience as a manager at Bethlehem Steel. While studying the physics of loading pig iron, he discovered that a pig iron handler ought to handle between 47 and 48 tons per day, but in fact they averaged 12½. To resolve this situation, he set upon buying off the most fit workers and training them to follow second-by-second instruction in order to produce optimal efficiency. These workers were then set as examples and their work-speed imposed as the standard on the shop floor.
Taylor outlined the process by which this was accomplished in his book, The Principles of Scientific Management. First they picked out a man who seemed physically capable and who they assumed could be sufficiently convinced to work harder by the promise of a raise: 'a little Pennsylvania Dutchman who had been observed to trot back home for a mile or so after his work in the evening about as fresh as he was when he came trotting down to work in the morning.' (Imagine the nerve, leaving work still feeling fresh!) Taylor recounted a very patronizing conversation with the man he called 'Shmidt,' which ended in the following lecture:
Well, if you are a high-priced man, you will do exactly as this man tells you tomorrow, from morning till night. When he tells you to pick up a pig and walk, you pick it up and you walk, and when he tells you to sit down and rest, you sit down. You do that right straight through the day. And what's more, no back talk. Now a high-priced man does just what he's told to do, and no back talk. Do you understand that? When this man tells you to walk, you walk; when he tells you to sit down, you sit down, and you don't talk back at him. Now you come on to work here tomorrow morning and I'll know before night whether you are really a high-priced man or not.
For the reward of being judged a 'high-priced man,' Shmidt and eventually others were paid $1.85 a day in stead of $1.15, an increase of 60 percent in their wage. In exchange, the workers each loaded 47.5 tons of pig iron on average instead of 12.5, an increase in productivity of 280 percent. Not a bad deal for the bosses. Taylor justified his astonishing condescension toward the workers by explaining that they were too 'mentally sluggish' to understand how to efficiently do the work themselves:
Now one of the very first requirements for a man who is fit to handle pig iron as a regular occupation is that he shall be so stupid and so phlegmatic that he more nearly resembles in his mental make-up the ox than any type. The man who is mentally alert and intelligent is for this other very reason entirely unsuited to what would, for him, be the grinding monotony of work of this character. Therefore the workman who is best suited to handling pig iron is unable to understand the real science of doing this class of work.
But the real implication of Taylorism is not that workers are too 'mentally sluggish' to efficiently work themselves to the bone. Quite the opposite, their own interest would lead them to work as little as possible in order to preserve their health and well-being. This very intelligent sense of self-preservation is in fact the reason that workers need to be supervised to the second. Indeed, more often than not, management observes their employees only to discover that the workers have found ways to shorten the labor-time it takes to perform various functions. They do this in order to have more downtime for themselves, but managers take that knowledge in order to enforce speedups and to steal more surplus labor-time.
Capitalism uses our ingenuity to further immiserate us. Socialism would use every advance to make more time for humans to rest, play, and thrive. This is why Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky was onto something when he lauded human laziness as a quality necessary for human progress:
As a general rule, man strives to avoid labor. Love for work is not at all an inborn characteristic: it is created by economic pressure and social education. One may even say that man is a fairly lazy animal. It is on this quality, in reality, that is founded to a considerable extent all human progress; because if man did not strive to expend his energy economically, did not seek to receive the largest possible quantity of products in return for a small quantity of energy, there would have been no technical development or social culture. It would appear, then, from this point of view that human laziness is a progressive force. Old Antonio Labriola, the Italian Marxist, even used to picture the man of the future as a 'happy and lazy genius.'"
- Hadas Thier, from A People's Guide to Capitalism: An Introduction to Marxist Economics, 2020.
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progressivegraffiti · 7 months ago
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“You aren’t poor because another poor person came to your country. You are poor because rich people exploit your labor.”
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