Tag Archives: Labor

A Little Labor Day Levity….

Brought to you by the American Dope Growers’ Union and the classic original cast from Saturday Night Live in 1977…

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Mac Stores Tell Workers, Instead of Giving You Health Care, Working for Apple ‘Should Be Looked at As An Experience’

Somewhere along the way, the social contract between workers and employers has completely disappeared in this country.

Workers now seem to be viewed solely as a cost to Corporate profits.  Unless you are a CEO, CFO or other very high level employee…

I hate to tell them, but the way to avoid Unions, which most companies fear like the Plague, is to treat your workers fairly.

Apple doesn’t seem to get this…

This is a disturbing article, from AlterNet.com, about one of my favorite companies that makes some of my favorite things.

I’m an Apple Addict.

What makes this so disturbing is that I’ve always seen Apple as such a modern, forward-thinking company.  And they are wildly successful and profitable.



Those workers who did ask received a consistent response: “Money shouldn’t be an issue when you’re employed at Apple.” Instead, managers said, the chance to work at Apple “should be looked at as an experience.” “You can’t live off of experience,” said the worker interviewed. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that Apple has outpaced Tiffany & Co. jewelers in retail sales per square foot.

Employees said that Apple keeps its healthcare costs down by defining even employees working 40 hours a week as part-time if they can’t guarantee open availability (availability to be scheduled to work anytime the store is open). The three workers interviewed said that most employees at each of their stores either work second jobs or go to school, making open availability impossible.

These workers are instead offered Apple’s “part-time” health insurance plan, which costs them much more and the company much less. The Bay Area worker, who works 32 to 40 hours a week, is currently going without medication for a serious health condition because he can’t afford the $120 to $150 a month for the “part time” plan. “$120 a month is what I live on after rent and bills,” he said. All three employees said that the majority of their co-workers were classified as part time.

via Mac Stores Tell Workers, Instead of Giving You Health Care, Working for Apple ‘Should Be Looked at As An Experience’ | | AlterNet.

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Georgia’s Harsh Immigration Law Costs Millions in Unharvested Crops

God forbid, a White Person pick a crop in Georgia!  That’s unheard of!  What were the Republicans in the Georgia Legislature thinking?

Oh, I should know by now not to use the words “thinking” and “Republican” in the same sentence…

Still, It’s really scary to see the results when the GOP actually gets to put their plans in action…

People really should realize by now that “Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Republican.”

That is, if they want a job and a home tomorrow and don’t want to eat cat food in their old age…

Or now, if they want food in the Grocery Store….

From Megan McArdle in The Atlantic:

Jay Bookman provides some unsurprising news about Georgia’s illegal immigration crackdown: there are unintended, negative consequences.

After enacting House Bill 87, a law designed to drive illegal immigrants out of Georgia, state officials appear shocked to discover that HB 87 is, well, driving a lot of illegal immigrants out of Georgia…

Thanks to the resulting labor shortage, Georgia farmers have been forced to leave millions of dollars’ worth of blueberries, onions, melons and other crops unharvested and rotting in the fields. It has also put state officials into something of a panic at the damage they’ve done to Georgia’s largest industry….

The results of that investigation have now been released. According to survey of 230 Georgia farmers conducted by Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, farmers expect to need more than 11,000 workers at some point over the rest of the season, a number that probably underestimates the real need, since not every farmer in the state responded to the survey.

The economics here aren’t particularly complicated, and I’m sure they won’t be new to the sophisticated readers of the Atlantic, but they are useful to look at and consider explicitly when thinking about issues like this.

It goes like this. If you’re not going to let illegal immigrants do the jobs they are currently being hired to do, then farmers will have to raise wages to replace them. Since farmers are taking a risk in hiring immigrant workers, you can bet they were getting a significant deal on wage costs relative to “market wages”. I put market wages here in quotations, because it’s quite possible that the wages required to get workers to do the job are so high that it’s no longer profitable for farmers to plant the crops in the first place.

via Georgia’s Harsh Immigration Law Costs Millions in Unharvested Crops – Megan McArdle – Business – The Atlantic.

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Meet The Workers Who Make Your iPad: 100 Hours Of Overtime, No-Suicide Pacts, Standing For 14 Hours A Day

It’s not just Apple.  These conditions are not unusual in overseas factories…

This is the type of environment most U.S  companies actually accept, if not encourage to get cheap labor overseas.  At least until they get caught and the media publicizes it….

These practices would not be tolerated in the US- and should not be tolerated anywhere.

There is a price to pay for the large Corporate profits we are seeing.  It’s being paid here with loss of jobs and overseas with intolerable job conditions.

It’s just wrong…

Oh, and even more evidence John McCain is either senile, uninformed, stupid or intentionally misleading people.   Take your pick…

Back in March, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) astoundingly claimed that the iPad and iPhone are “built in the United States of America.” This news must have been a great surprise to the Chinese workers who work for Taiwanese-based manufacturing giant Foxconn, which is notorious for the poor conditions at its factories and the wave of suicides at its plants.

After much of the international media covered the abuses at Foxconn’s factories, the company, along with the major American corporations it supplies — like Apple and HP — announced that it would be reforming its practices.

Yet a new report from Students & Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based advocacy and research group, finds that many of the practices that led more than a dozen workers committ suicide continue to live on. SACOM conducted a comprehensive study of practices at several Foxconn factories over the months of March and April and found that a number of shocking policies are in place. Here are some of the highlights of their study:

More:   ThinkProgress » Blog Archive » Meet The Workers Who Make Your iPad: 100 Hours Of Overtime, No-Suicide Pacts, Standing For 14 Hours A Day.

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The Real Story of Our Economy: Why Our Standard of Living Has Stalled Out | | AlterNet

These facts cannot be repeated often enough…

Especially since the Corporate media chooses to ignore them…

The average real wage of the non-supervisory production workers (which comprise 82.4 percent of total private non-farm employees) actually declined by 9 percent between 1975 and 2010.

Meanwhile the top 1 percent saw their share of national income rise from 8 percent in 1975 to 23.5 percent in 2005

More amazing still, the wage gap between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker jumped from $45 to $1 in 1970 to an unbelievable $1,723 to $1 in 2006

Today after the crash, financial incomes are so enormous that in 2010, John Paulson, the top hedge fund manager, earned $2.4 million an HOUR (not a misprint), and his tax rate is less than yours

via The Real Story of Our Economy: Why Our Standard of Living Has Stalled Out | | AlterNet.

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The Lessons of Triangle Shirtwaist Fire May Be Lost 100 Years Later

I posted about this tragedy earlier this week…

There is a lot of focus on the advances in work place safety since that tragic fire, but there is little awareness of all the current attempts to undo them…

The short American memory and attention span strikes again…

It always seems to take a tragedy to drive reform, then the reforms are quickly undone…

It’s a vicious cycle….

From Andrew Schneider at AOL News:

Worker safety advocates cite the painful irony that, precisely 100 years to the month after the fire, the House of Representatives has passed a budget bill that would slash nearly $100 million — about 20 percent — from OSHA’s current budget. About 40 percent of those cuts will be to the agency’s enforcement and safety inspectors — those on the front line of protecting workers.

“Lives will be lost because of these proposed cuts. They’re devastating,” Joel Shufro, executive director of the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health, told AOL News on Thursday.

“Since its founding, OSHA has been underfunded and understaffed. They currently have enough inspectors to inspect every workplace just once every 143 years. The proposed cuts will cut OSHA’s effectiveness even more,” he added.

OSHA administrator David Michaels says the House’s cutback “would really have a devastating effect on all of our activities.”

David Von Drehle wrote what many consider the definitive book on the tragedy in 1911, “Triangle: The Fire that Changed America.” He said in the book that history can run backward, and that even much-needed reforms like worker safety gains can be lost again.

“Many of the initial post-Triangle reforms were strenuously opposed by conservative businessmen … who were soon back in the saddle and able to halt, hamstring or reverse liberal initiatives,” he wrote.

The recent GOP sweep has many believing the same thing is happening again.

via The Lessons of Triangle Shirtwaist Fire May Be Lost 100 Years Later.

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The Triangle Shirt Waist Company Fire: 100 Years Ago This Week

March 25th is the 100th Anniversary of one of the saddest events in U.S. labor history, the Triangle Shirt Waist Company Fire.  Some say this tragedy had the biggest impact on New York of any event until 9/11.

This story has always resonated with me.  It’s so said that all these young women, mostly recent immigrants, died so tragically.  Mainly, because the doors were locked and they couldn’t escape down the stairs.  Many jumped to their death.

This event led to many changes in public safety and labor laws.  It’s a reminder that laws and regulations are necessary.

Unfortunately, it always seems to take a tragedy to drive change in America…

This article in today’s New York Times shows how one woman is trying to keep the memory alive:

“I GREW up with this story, and I’ve always wanted to do something about it,” Ruth Sergel said. “It’s like a black hole in your heart.”

In 2004, Ms. Sergel started doing something about the story she grew up with: the Triangle Waist Company fire, which killed 146 garment workers in 1911, almost all of them Jewish and Italian immigrants. She had just read a book about the fire, to distract herself from worrying about the premiere of a short film she had directed at the the Tribeca Film Festival.

At the end of the book, “Triangle: The Fire That Changed America,” was a list of names and addresses of the victims, and Ms. Sergel was moved to discover that many had lived within blocks of her apartment on East Third Street. Eager to do something about the story that had created a black hole in her heart, she hit upon what she called “the schmaltziest idea.”

On March 25, the anniversary of the fire, she and a few dozen friends put her idea into action: they divided up the names and addresses, and fanned out across the Lower East Side, the East Village and Little Italy, armed with sidewalk chalk. In front of each building where a victim had lived, they chalked a name, age and cause of death — in white, green, pink and purple, often with drawings of flowers, tombstones or a triangle. They chalked, “Pauline Horowitz, Age 19, Lived at 58 St. Marks Pl., Died March 25, 1911, Triangle Factory Fire.” And “Albina Caruso, Age 20, Lived at 21 Bowery, Died March 25, 1911, Triangle Factory Fire.”

That first year, they chalked 140 names, plus the word “unidentified” six times, in front of the old factory building, just east of Washington Square.

“After you chalk one or two names, something starts to happen,” said Ms. Sergel, 48, an artist who cobbles a living from grant to grant. “Chalking helps reveal a hidden geography of the city. If there are two victims across the street from each other, you wonder, ‘Did they walk to work together? Did their families console each other?’ The whole rest of the year you associate those buildings with that person.”

via In a Tragedy, A Mission To Remember – NYTimes.com.

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