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September 11, 2008


My experience is second hand, through my wife.

Her previous employers have done various things such as:

Not allowed hourly employees take scheduled lunches and breaks.

Deducting "unapproved" overtime from paychecks.

Putting overtime for employees on additional timecards so that overtime is paid as regular time.

Denying paid holidays to employees who had any time off in the corresponding pay period (not just adjacent, or unscheduled, days).

Of course, you could take your employer to court, or complain to a labor board, but who will pay you when you are let go for "disciplinary reasons." Then, when you try to find a new job, will they tell the new employer that "I would not rehire them." You have the right to work, but will you be able to?

And where do the savings go to? Managers and executives who get bonuses for keeping costs down.

And regards to the number of inspectors, who was it that said that we don't need new laws, we just need to enforce the ones we have in regards to other issues near and dear to their hearts?

I seem to recall writing about this topic in comments here some years ago, but it's possible I just thought about it and gave up in despair because I had so many first-hand anecdotes along these lines.

This was stimulated by the flurry of news stories on this topic four or so years ago (my time sense is horrible; maybe it was 3 years ago); anyone who has ever worked retail can tell you all about it, of course.

Let alone doing phone calling for a living, but then we also have to hear about how such people should starve rather than work such evil jobs, and should be insulted and abused by the writer, rather than the blame placed with their bosses, so I'd just as soon not get back into that conversation again, either.

anyone who has ever worked retail can tell you all about it, of course.

You haven't really finished with the seamy side of modern US labor practices until you've probed beneath the surface of commercialized day-care centers.

Where child-hours are a product. Produced in the same Taylorized manner as any other industrialized factory output.

wrenching story, hilzoy.

it used to be that if Republicans didn't like a law they'd try to change it. Or, as in the budget, if they didn't like a social program, they'd cut it.

but these cronies are so cowardly to the core that even when they had control of all three houses, they hid their true agendas behind slogans like No kid left behind, Healthy Forests and, in the case of workers, the ownership society.

but another structural obsticle for employees, even if we had a friend in the White House, is that most are signing arbitration agreements when they accept the job.

I'd be interested in studies that tells who wins those. I'm guessing the employers.

life sucks. now tell again why anyone would want to live this life with Down's?

I see no reason to think that John McCain would change that.

The hell of it is, Hilzoy, that many people see no reason to think that Obama would change that either. "I will make government work for you" is not quite as robust as "I will put government on your side when your boss chisels you on your wages." If people assume their bosses will keep chiseling them either way, why not vote for the maverick POW with the hot chick running mate?



Completely unsourced, but I recall seeing a study with about 95-5 pro boss arbitration cases.

Now to recall where I saw that.

redwood: life sucks. now tell again why anyone would want to live this life with Down's?

What the hell does that have to do with anything at all? But to even try to fit this bizarre question within the context of this post…

Because you would be perfectly happy to do any insignificant job for free. You would take great joy from just getting to go to work every day, to be doing something productive with people you know. If you had to miss a day of work for some reason you would be disappointed and sulk. Getting your paycheck, and taking it to your bank, and having the teller give you a fistful of money for it would be the highlight of your week.

But yeah, you wouldn’t want folks to get the idea that someone with DS could lead a happy productive life. Might put a dent in the abortion business…

OCSteve: Might put a dent in the abortion business…

What the hell does that have to do with anything at all?

Nice comment. Shame you spoiled it with a disgusting last 8 words. Yuck.

(Patronizing, but clearly well-intentioned, and a decent response to Redwood's bizarre question about Down's Syndrome ... but the whole crap "abortion is a business" just spoils it all.)

redwood: what OCS said.

OCS; what Jes said, with discount for (mind-reading) being mad.

outsourcing strikes ObWi! :)

"Obviously, unions would help prevent such abuses..." Oh really! It's like the old joke, this fellows wife had her credit card stolen, but he didn't report it. It seems that the crooks were spending less money than his wife was.

Actually, employees have many choices and remedies. And although union representation has it's place, obviously it's not first place.

Actually, employees have many choices and remedies

Indeed, bbm? Why don't you give us a few examples, then? Or is recycling an ancient Borscht-Belt wheeze in service of a gratuitous anti-union knock the best you can come up with?

If hilzoy's cite of a 95-5% pro-employer bias in "arbitration" hearings is correct* (and from everything I have ever read on the issue this would seem to be reasonable ballpark figure) - and that the legal system has mostly ceded its authority in management/employee issues to the biased "arbitration" market: exactly what are those "choices and remedies" which you feel are superior option to unionization?

*no surprise: aren't "arbitrators" chosen by the employers? Who can thus shop for the most favorable venue? Reform of this skewed "market" might be a good place to start.

Jes and Hil: I was quite angry, and that Doctor’s remarks were little different than redwood’s IMO.

Three members of my family have managed fast food restaurants. These are responsible positions--managing small business that gross well over $1 million a year, and my relatives have a century of experience in runnign restaurants among them. They get paid in the low 30, are expected to put in 70-80 hour weeks, and to be on call 24/7. One fell off the roof of his restaurant while changing a furnace filter, was fired for not reporting for work a week later (before his doctors released him from the hospital), and spent a couple of years unable to work, with no income or health insurance, and having to litigate his worker's compensation claim. Another gave two weeks' notice, was ordered out of the restaurant on the spot, and was refused her accumulated unpaid wages. A third was fired after complaining that her district maanger was groping her employees.

Welcome to corporate America

Ooops - I see - now! - that the "95-5 pro-boss" cite is from Fraud Guy, not hilzoy: sorry (still seems accurate)!

Also: calling arbitrators "chosen", in retrospect, was inaccurate: IIRC, they are actually "hired" - i.e., their income (however their recompense is determined) is dependent on pleasing their clients (employers), rather than, apparently, any sort of neutral application of relevant labor law. Perhaps if they were actually "chosen", or assigned on a random/arbitrary basis, the system might become more equitable. Maybe.

All this has happened before and all this will happen again. The fate of the english navy after the battle with the spanish armada (from wiki):

English losses were comparatively few, and none of their ships were sunk. But after the victory, typhus, dysentery and hunger killed many sailors and troops (estimated at 6,000–8,000) as they were discharged without pay: a demoralising dispute occasioned by the government's fiscal shortfalls left many of the English defenders unpaid for months, which was in contrast to the assistance given by the Spanish government to its surviving men.

Although the English fleet was unable to prevent the regrouping of the Armada at the Battle of the Gravelines, requiring it to remain on duty even as thousands of its sailors died

"All this has happened before and all this will happen again."

Frak it.

Wal-Mart and others have become notorious for locking in night-shift workers

Do they WANT another Triangle Shirt Factory fire? Would another re-energize the labor movement, the way the first one did, or would people say the victioms were just "illegals"?

Jeff, I guess if someone knew the status of [url=http://edition.cnn.com/2004/LAW/02/03/walmart.lawsuit.ap/]this lawsuit[/url], you'd have a pretty good idea.

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