Miserable working conditions in ecommerce packing facilities

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87 Responses to “Miserable working conditions in ecommerce packing facilities”

  1. Deidzoeb says:

    How do they deal with sexual harassment in a place that produces “offensive dick-shaped products”, or say a person who wants to do the lighting on a porn shoot? Do we assume that employees become asexual if they agree to work on a sex-related job? For a while, part of my job included preparing journals like Playboy and Penthouse to be microfilmed. Playboy microfilm made enough money that we were supposed to check every page for missing pages, printing errors, things like that.

    We had one of those sensitivity and sexual harassment workshops one day like you see on The Office, not quite as ridiculous. I asked the instructor how I can avoid creating a hostile work environment or an accusation of sexual harassment when my job could seriously involve asking my female supervisor what to do about a torn page or printing error on a centerfold.

    The instructor seemed a little annoyed by the question. He said it should be clear from the context of the situation.

    I guess if I said, “Hey Becky, should I claim a replacement copy of this poorly printed landingstrip grooming article?” then it’s acceptable. If I said, “Hey baby,” then it would be unprofessional.

    • marilove says:

      I worked briefly for a 3rd party call center and their main clientele was (and still is), porn sites.  We had to take calls regarding customer’s accounts, and that including doing some troubleshooting, up to logging in and even checking photos and playing videos.  Of all sorts.  I mean, all sorts.  I was already pretty comfortable with porn, but hot damn did I see a lot of different porn in the 3 or 4 months I worked in that call center!

      Yet I never felt uncomfortable with my co-workers (I knew what the job entailed), and there was no sexual harassment that I saw or experienced (aside from the customers on the phone, of course, ugh).  It was just part of the job.  And sometimes we even joked about what we saw on screen (OnionBooty, anyone?  lol forever).

      Yes, you can tell from the context of the discussion.

      Your female supervisors/co-workers know that they may sometimes be working with sexual material if that is a regular part of they job. They won’t be surprised or shocked if you have to ask them something that involves Playboy, as long as it’s part of the job.

      Your last paragraph nailed it, so I’m not even sure why you’re asking, except to say, “Well, sometimes you just have to sexually harass!”  No, no you don’t.  Keep it professional, and keep the discusion about the job, even if that job sometimes entails things of a sexual nature.

      And if you’re not sure if it’s appropriate, just don’t say it.

      • Deidzoeb says:

         I didn’t hear anyone complaining about feeling sexually harassed while dealing with porn at work. There was at least one person who did not want to deal with porn at work, and the supervisors allowed him to work on medical journals or poetry mags instead.

        Porn comprised much less than 1% of our content, so it was no big deal. But if there were no other journals to switch to, would it be fair for the boss to demand that he continue working on porn? (I’m sure there are jobs where people are forced to do much worse things, or feel like they can’t leave the job no matter how offensive or dangerous it is.)

        My point is that the whole job can potentially be a “hostile work environment” for people who aren’t comfortable with porn. You could paint the highlights on a dildo and hand it down the line to a co-worker who packages them, but if you wink while you’re doing it, then it’s sexual harassment. As if passing a dildo to someone is somehow a neutral act. What if a person is not offended by his co-worker but offended by the job? Why is it that the individuals involved could be punished or involved in lawsuits, but as long as someone is making a profit from a potentially offensive business, that aspect of is no problem because employees can quit if they want to?

        It seems like if “hostile work environments” are forbidden under sexual harassment law, then the sexual harassment inherent in the work would also be forbidden, not just the potentially harassing behaviors between workers. It seems like a double standard, just another way that corporations have limited or zero liability. The rights of personhood without the responsibilities of personhood.

        I’m not intending to advocate on behalf of prudes or against porn or sextoys. I just don’t understand the double-standard.

        • marilove says:

          If you were advised before you took the job that sometimes you have to deal with porn, and you agree to that in your contract, then yes, you should have to deal with porn.  If they want to be nice they can make exceptions for those who aren’t comfortable dealing with porn, but if it’s part of the job description, then I don’t see why you shouldn’t just deal with it if it was necessary.

          We had NO way to “not deal with porn”.  None.  The very first thing they told us upon interviewing was that we would be viewing a lot of porn.  If we didn’t like it, then we would need to look for a job elsewhere, because it was a very important part of the job.  Almost the only part of the job.

          It’s not a double standard if it is part of the job and clearly stated when you interview for that job.

          “Why is it that the individuals involved could be punished or involved in lawsuits, but as long as someone is making a profit from a potentially offensive business, that aspect of is no problem because employees can quit if they want to?”

          You are trying to compare handling some possibly pornographic material — which is part of your job, at least sometimes — to sexual harassment.  They are NOT the same things. Telling jokes of a sexual nature in the workplace is not the same thing as handling work-related material. Slapping someone on the ass is not the same thing as handling work-related material. Bringing in a Playboy that doesn’t have anything at all to do with a particular job or project isn’t the same thing as handling work-related material.

          This isn’t rocket science.

          • glittertrash says:

            I have worked in porn-producing video studios, and will strongly agree: it is very possible to be professional about working with pornography without doing things that are sexually harassing any of your workmates. All of us managed it every single day, and I was watching 12 simultaneous cum-shots arranged over my assembled monitors at 11am any given morning (long enough for the rendering, started at 9am, to have got close to the end). 

            I experience WAY more casual sexual harassment as the sole female member of the IT staff in my present mainstream, non-porn-handling e-Commerce job than I ever did at the porn studio. “Don’t be a dick” is appropriate guidance for pretty much any job role, even if your job descriptions involves dealing with actual dicks.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I worked on a urology and gynecology floor, so crotch jokes were completely normal. And yet, some doctor would inevitably manage to find a way to be offensive about it. It’s a gift.

          • marilove says:

            Yep, glittertrash.  I dealt with sexual harassment once.  When I worked at Staples.  But in the 3 or 4 months I was at this call center, I never felt uncomfortable with my co-worker,s even when we were all viewing very hardcore porn.  And it’s not like we never joked about it.

            It really concerns me when people ask these sorts of questions.  It makes me believe they don’t really understand context, or boundaries.  “So, since sometimes our job entails looking at a page from Playboy, that means I can totally slap your ass, right?”  Ugh.

            And, Antinous, I’ve worked with lawyers. Some people, mostly dudes, can make even the most innocent jokes offensive, haha. It is a talent, indeed.

    • kuanes says:

       While you bring up some interesting points here…I think you might have missed the point of this piece.

      • Deidzoeb says:

        I got the point of the piece, and then I commented on a narrow aspect of it. Not being sure whether your co-workers or supervisor will accuse you of sexual harassment while passing around porn as part of your job — that’s another kind of miserable working condition, as far as I’m concerned.

        • marilove says:

          Well, I do agree that it would suck to be accused of sexual harassment when all you are doing is your job.  But that should be a pretty easy line to determine.  And if there are going to be products of a sexual nature, that should be disclosed during the interviewing process.

  2. GawainLavers says:

    I’m not sure if this is supposed to make me feel nebulously bad about buying things online, but everyone seems to want their “right to work (like a serf)”, and you know, as bad as it is, at least they’re not in a union.

  3. CSBD says:

    I’m glad that I have never had to take a job at Amazon.

  4. bcsizemo says:

    Reminds me of my time with one of the big OEM pc manufactures…
    10.5 hours days, 6 days a week, go go go work mentality.
    -At this point I could insert an internet meme like, but then I took an arrow to the knee…but really I took an unemployment check and someone in Mexico got to do it.

    At least we got to have phones and water on the production floor.  You were yelled at if caught using one, but it was nice to know my wife could get a hold of me if she needed. 

    I thought all those robots in the 80′s were suppose to make warehouse operations like this more streamlined and efficient…..

  5. Doing anything 800 times a day is mind-killingly repetitive.   I know this from personal experience.  Many years ago, I had a job that required me to make 800 phone calls a day.  Here is a fun statistic:  If you do something 800 times a day, then after five years, you have done that thing a million times.  By that math, I, personally, have made over 1.8 million phone calls.  I don’t work that job any more.

    • regeya says:

      How long of a shift are we talking about here?  At 8 hours, that’d be one call every 36 seconds, right, and that’s without breaks?  Or nearly a minute for a 12 hour shift, again without any sort of break?  WOW.

      •  AWT (Average Work Time) was 27 seconds per call, on a normal day.  Yes, supervisors kept close track of the AWT.  I worked an eight hour shift with thirty minutes for lunch and two fifteen minute breaks, meaning that I made calls for seven hours each work day.  At the end of the day, my stats showed me that I almost always made over 800 calls a day.  This was a union job, and I got paid union wages.  The pay was what allowed me to last nine years at that job.  I was a telephone operator for the phone company back when the phone company was THE phone company.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Doing anything 800 times a day is mind-killingly repetitive.

      Huh? Sorry, I dozed off.

      And yes, I’ve read more than a million comments.

      • Donald Petersen says:

        One has to wonder: do you feel as though the net effect of reading a million internet comments has strengthened or weakened your brain cells?  I have no doubt it would leave me drooling, but you seem to be doing more than all right.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          900,000 of them are the same dozen comments. The part of my brain that recognizes terms like ‘invisible hand of the market’ shut down long ago.

  6. The Singul…human revolt is near.

  7. polossatik says:

    It actually say’s a lot that it’s cheaper to run this stuff like described here then use a full automated warehouse…

    • regeya says:

      Interesting.  I was laid off by someone who outsourced my job.  At a previous job, he eliminated a warehouse crew with full automation, to save money.

      I really don’t know the answer to this, so maybe someone else can chime in: I wonder if some public companies are just better off on paper if they have expenses for  robots and robot repair, rather than payroll?

      I only wonder this because I worked for a public company that would do some bizarre, and expensive, things just to avoid having another human being around, and my dad worked for an even larger manufacturing company that would, at times, spend 10x the cost of new, to avoid the expense of buying something new.

      • Baldhead says:

         I think that’s part of it. “to avoid the expense of buying something new” I recall hearing that there’s ultra- efficient designs for coal plants that use  1/3 of the coal to produce the same power (or somesuch) but nobody builds them because they cost twice as much to build. Wind up spending much much more over the life of the plant, but the big number all at once scares them.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        I suspect that people buy robot workers because they have a hard-on for technology, or because they are getting kickbacks from the robot makers.  The first case seems like people doing something to help make a weird thing they happen to enjoy become better, and that second case describes the USPS.

        I find it hard to believe that anybody does it because robots are more profitable.  Not really.  Not when big business can treat people like self-replicating disposable objects so cheaply.

        • Donald Petersen says:

          A few years ago I was talking to an acquaintance who had worked on a couple of movie sets in India, and he told me that rather than using C-stands to hold flags or reflectors up to the lights, the productions would customarily just hire some local guys to do it, since an actual human holding something in his hand above his head all day would generally be considerably cheaper than the rental of a folding aluminum pipe.

          As long as corporations are permitted to operate under the assumption that people are simultaneously more versatile and less valuable than machinery, then this is what we’ll get, whether in India or in the good ol’ U.S. of A.

        • jetfx says:

          When labour is cheap and disposable like it is here, there is very little incentive for a company to invest in automation. When labour is expensive and hard to find, then automation is worthwhile. As a general rule, automation has much higher capital requirements compared to just hiring a bunch of people, but it is vastly more productive.

  8. Bradley Hall says:

    I worked in a small warehouse, I was a packer/shipper, wasn’t as bad as this, but it was a far lower scale (80 employees).

    Right now I’m a substitute teacher and have been for the past five years (almost six). In most regards, this article fits what I go through. Never knowing if you’re going to work on a given day, and if you do, you don’t know if it’ll be your last day, either as a sub or at that school. I should write another article about being a sub.

  9. gwailo_joe says:

    -dusts off soapbox-  Ahem.

    We all know this goes on.  It is a symptom of a cut-throat economic system that treats humans as chattel so every last dime of profit can be squeezed out of human sweat.

    Where does your food come from?  Were the animals we consumed this week butchered and packaged in a safe and humane manner for all involved?  Doubtful.

    Did the fruit pickers that worked for your lunch apple today get mandated breaks and fair wages?  It is to laugh.

    The argument about our precious tech toys built in foreign lands in similar miserable conditions was just discussed right here; and it could be argued that to treat those workers with more respect and equatable wages would be worth the cost.

    And I agree with that argument.  But the capitalist system and the natural choice of most people to ‘get a good deal’ will always mean that soulless profit-at-all-costs industries will abuse workers to get the very most out of them that can be achieved without flogging.

    Because most people will spend the least amount of cash they have to…

    If one is enlightened (and flush) enough to spend the extra money necessary for fair trade or union made items; that is all to the good.

    But the majority of people, being primarily motivated by self interest, will forever ensure that those that struggle in our fields and factories will do just that: struggle through pain and privation with pride and fortitude for their own small share of the mighty and inexorable capitalist machine.

    • PinkWithIndignation says:

      Fair trade’s a joke from what I understand. All a gimmick. Remember the VS cotton scandal?

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        So, just in case you are right,you think we should not spend our dollars to promote fair trade?

        Because that would be bad somehow, to let the vendors know we want fair traded items?

        Our dollars are the only real vote we have.

  10. Navin_Johnson says:

    “Chicago’s going down.”

    lol.  What does he mean?  Obama’s black socialist police run him outta town?

    • wysinwyg says:

      I’m assuming he means the economic base of the city is hollowing out.  The small businesses operating on margins probably started dropping like flies back in 2008 or 2009.  Every business that closes means less foot traffic in that area which means fewer sales for the remaining businesses.  So another round of businesses operating on margins goes down, there’s even less foot traffic so fewer sales for the remaining businesses etc.

      This feedback effect can be dramatically exacerbated by big box shutdowns like Borders’.  The former Borders near Boston common is now a gigantic unused building which means it’s not drawing people into the neighborhood any more, so even fewer sales for the small businesses.  This is just what happens in cities during recessions, no need to assume the guy is a bigot.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Perhaps a reference to mass acts of prostitution.

  11. novium says:

    I live relatively near a couple of the big warehouses/distribution centers – but the ones I always hear horror stories from is Amazon’s. Actually, ‘horror story’ is kind of the wrong word, because why they are horrifying, I’m not hearing them from people who are trying to shock. Mostly, I’ll hear from one of my volunteers that they got a job there, and then I’ll hear that the job isn’t going well, and that it’s killing them and then I hear that they were fired (usually for not being fast enough). And the kicker is that though the environment and terms of work are inhumane, and they know this going into it, they don’t often have any other choice.

    Actually, from reading the story, I’m beginning to wonder if it might have actually been the big amazon warehouse out where I am thinking of. An hour from the nearest city, out near a really devastated small town, somewhere really cold and very very dry in the winter, lots of static electricity and snowfall… hmmm.

  12. Jay Kusnetz says:

    The horrible conditions are just a temporary problem. As machine vision and robotics improve, most of the workers will be replaced.  see 
    http://marshallbrain.com/robotic-nation.htm

    • regeya says:

      The problem being that capitalists, rather than either demanding that the government get out of their way, or demanding that the economy adapt to automation advances, are enjoying the benefits of consolidation, automation, and government protection, while buying politicians to keep old-school “get a job, hippie” conservatism in the spotlight.  Show a field that hasn’t been automated yet, and we can probably find someone who’s trying to eliminate human labor.

  13. I read the article but I still don’t understand why the author didn’t name names. Is this creative writing or journalism? Did I miss something?

  14. E T says:

    This is what our worship of the all mighty CHEAP get’s us.

    Bad jobs, giant warehouses, corporate decision making at every level (publish/not publish, carry a product/or not), no small suppliers/producers, no privacy.  Boycott!

    Support your small, local businesses. 

    • eraserbones says:

      It is hard for me to imagine a world in which the majority of customers, faced with two identical products on a shelf, choose the more expensive one.

      It is easy for me to imagine a world in which workers demand a decent wage for their labor, and get it.  I’m old enough to have lived in that world, if briefly.

      • regeya says:

        “It is hard for me to imagine a world in which the majority of customers, faced with two identical products on a shelf, choose the more expensive one.”

        That’s because people are stupid and short-sighted.  The thing is, modern products are NOT identical to products of 50 years ago.  I have items in my home that are 50-100 years old, and work just fine.  I’ve seen hammers that fail within 5 years.  Hammers!  I’m not talking about the handle, either.

        There’s an old phrase,”you get what you pay for”.  It’s still true.

        Until we can get the people at top to agree to change the way the system works–until we get a system where costs don’t rise to the point where the average wage barely covers expenses–we’re stuck here and might as well grin and bear it.  Will we ever get them to?  I doubt it, but who knows.

      • bcsizemo says:

         If you were presented with two comparable items and one said it was made in America (or your home country) but was 3% more expensive would you buy it?

        What if it said where it was made and or what team/group/person made it?

        The company I was working for didn’t seem to think anyone would care either.

  15. PinkWithIndignation says:

    So is this about a sex toy warehouse? Or Amazon?

  16. goldenmansacks says:

    When everything is a bidding war, it’s a race to the bottom. This is the bottom.  Every dollar is a vote, and this is who we have elected.

  17. Bodhipaksa says:

    I *really* want to know what company this is. I assume it’s Amazon, but I’d rather not be guessing.

  18. asuffield says:

    Sure, it sounds like a bad job, but…

    This is not minimum wage. They’re paid fairly well, given that they’re all unskilled. Any day they want, they could just walk out of there and get an easier job at lower pay.

    They choose not to. Either it’s not that bad or it’s worth it. All I’m seeing here is “I want more for less”.

    People have, or should have, various rights in their job. But those rights do not include being happy, being treated nicely, or being encouraged to perform at less than superhuman levels. Many jobs provide these things anyway, when employers care about retention. Some do not, and those employers are fully entitled to not provide them, and it is right that they are entitled to do so.

    If you really don’t like the job that much? Quit. If everybody quit, and nobody wanted the job, the employer would be forced to reconsider. The reality is that enough people consider it acceptable.

    None of these things are morally wrong.

    • Jubilex says:

       None of these things are morally wrong.

      I disagree with that statement – I do agree that they are in the free and clear to provide this type of environment – but to treat other people like they are cogs is certainly *morally* wrong. 

      Morals by their very nature imply making decisions based on giving dignity to your fellow human beings.

      Morals don’t have anything to do with legality – firing someone because they saw the birth of their child is *morally* wrong.  Keeping people on the payroll as temps for *years* to save on healthcare costs is *morally* wrong.  Both are legal and acceptable business practices.

      Neither of those actions is ‘Christian’ by any definition of the word.

      • Wreckrob8 says:

        Thanks. Said it for me. Some serious confusion between legality, morality and ethics here. It is morally reprehensible not to treat people with dignity and respect at all times.

    • If you were any more cavalier, you would need a ladder. “Enough people consider it acceptable” because they have to eat and live indoors. If you haven’t looked for a job lately, you might mistakenly believe that  employees could casually quit and go out and find another job. Also, if you read the story, it’s apparent that bad working conditions prevail in the warehouse/shipping industry. You may not think that’s ‘morally wrong’ but I do.

      • asuffield says:

        If you haven’t looked for a job lately, you might mistakenly believe that  employees could casually quit and go out and find another job.

        I’m currently doing so, and I could.

        And you know what? Unemployment isn’t that bad. Done that before as well. You can still eat and live indoors while unemployed. You just can’t buy as many TVs and beer cans.

        There are real abuses in the world of low-wage employment, and this is not one of them. This is just a lousy job.

        • Have you read the complete story? Because I don’t understand how you could believe that treatment to be not-abusive. ETA, and ‘unemployment isn’t that bad’ where? Where I live, it’s hovering around the 14% mark.

        • marilove says:

          “You can still eat and live indoors while unemployed”

          Yeah, unless you can’t afford rent and then you’re left homeless.

          Not everyone is lucky enough to have a safety net.  Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to survive on unemployment, or even lucky enough to get unemployment when they are let go (I have a friend who is currently going through appeals with an agressive, shady company that ALWAYS denies unemployment claims and almost ALWAYS wins appeals).  And, finally, not everyone has friends or family to live with if they lose their job, and then their home/apartment.

          Do you know how much homelessness has risen over the last couple of years?

          Your privilege is showing, and the worst part is that you are completely unaware that you have it.

        • DeargDoom says:

          Unemployment isnt that bad. Done that before as well. … You just cant buy as many TVs and beer cans

          I am guessing you were not raising a family like many of the people in the article.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            Thank God.

          • asuffield says:

            If you had more children than you could afford to keep then the government needs to take them away from you, for their own sake.

          • DeargDoom says:

            @Antinous_Moderator:disqus 
            While the apparent moderation of asuffields reply to me in no way reduces the Internets intellectual richness, it is somewhat frustrating to be unable to respond to someone who has grossly contradicted himself.

            *EDIT* Thanks for that.

          • Antinous / Moderator says:

            I think that it got voted off. I can’t tell which one it is for sure, so I just approved the most repulsive one.

          • DeargDoom says:

            @boingboing-17d23e54aab31807fc9060d0d191161b:disqus 

            If you had more children than you could afford to keep then the government needs to take them away from you, for their own sake.

            Your original position was that they could choose to leave anytime they liked and that they did not take this choice showed that they were satisfied with the job.

            It is heartening to see that, at least on some level, you now realise that if they did lose the job they risked being in such a level of destitution that you believe their children should be forcibly removed from them.

            It would be nice if you could have a think about the difference between being unable to support your family and having to make do with less TVs in the house.

    • novium says:

      “Any day they want, they could just walk out of there and get an easier job at lower pay.”

      What planet are you living on? I’d like to move there.

    • wysinwyg says:

      Whenever people take this tack I always have to wonder: so you’d be fine if the collective bargaining revolution of the early 20th century never happened and we were all working in Gilded Age-style factories, contracting black lung and arthritis before we’re 40?  Are you OK with the idea of 12-year-olds working under such conditions (as long as it’s voluntary of course)?  Do you like the idea of 12-hour workdays 6 days a week?  Suppose you couldn’t get an easier schedule than that, would you still quit?

      What about people who lost their jobs but still have a mortgage to pay and kids to feed?  People who don’t necessarily have the time to work this kind of schedule but have to anyway just to make ends meet?  Do you think they should quit, sell their homes, and join the thousands of families already on the streets?

      Have you heard of racing to the bottom?  Tragedy of the commons?  Divide and conquer?  How can you possibly think it’s as simple as “if you don’t like it, quit”?

    • jetfx says:

      I think the article made pretty clear this was the only kind of work available, so the employer could treat its employees as totally expendable, and employees had no choice but to accept the misery or be immediately replaced. It’s hardly free when your choice is between this and penury.

  19. agreenster says:

    I read articles like this, about Americans stuffing boxes for 10 hours a day, and then I watch Bill Weir’s report about FoxConn.

    Then I read comments about why iPhones arent built in the United States, and the answer is “America doesnt want jobs like those available at FoxConn, we want the higher tech, more sophisticated jobs.”

    Then I get confused.

    • bcsizemo says:

      From everyone I have worked with, they liked some level of mild complexity in their job.  Picking parts, building something simple, packing/shipping, ect…  Things are slightly less tedious and boring when there are multiple, but simple steps to follow.

      Sitting/standing over a conveyor line all day and snapping a part or two together would probably drive me mad, especially with the robotic precision that Foxconn seems to do it at.

      • agreenster says:

         Im not sure by you saying that one tedious job is slightly worse than another tedious job, that it negates my overall point that it would be nice if we could get giant, successful, American companies to make their products in the USA.

    • AviSolomon says:

      There would be more first-person undercover exposes of this type from an American FoxConn factory which one of the reasons  it is not located in the USA. The only reason this Amazon warehouse IS in America is for shipping stuff cheaply to Amazon’s US customers. Incidentally, Amazon assembles  the Kindle at FoxConn in China.

  20. Hakuin says:

    you know, the psychopaths wouldn’t be allowed to run things if everyone agreed not  to work for them.

    • asuffield says:

      I’d like to point out that even the article admits people are moving out there to work for the psychopaths because they want more money.

      If people want to do it then let them.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      I actually know a woman who worked for a while at Amazon.  That’s how I recognized it in the article.

      She certainly had the choice to go on welfare and stop paying her mortgage, that’s true.  You see the giant zaibatsu that laid her off did so because the banks stopped making loans.  And the banks stopped making loans because they didn’t need to earn money when they could get TARP for free (that’s how banks normally make money, you know, by making loans).  Ironically, if it wasn’t for TARP, the holder of her mortgage would have failed!

      She could be a street person now living on garbage, but instead she chose to work for those psychopaths in the fabulous Internet Economy, where no-one can hear the screams of the downtrodden who make the boingboing tchotchkes.  Oops… that was uncalled for, I don’t actually know who makes the boing boing tchotchkes, maybe they are different.

  21. scatterfingers says:

    The neocons and neoliberals broke the backs of labour unions. And as always, the workers pay.

  22. Tetsubo Kanamono says:

    I am a blue collar factory worker. I make auto seals for a living. I do the same task hundreds of times a day. Watching the job slowly grind people into dust is part of life. I have literally had a coworker go to break, sit in his truck and die. And my company is one of the best I have ever worked for. If the government protected workers rights as well as it protected corporate rights it would be a better world. But workers can’t bribe elected officials. USA!

  23. I can confirm having worked for Amazon in Swansea, UK, that these working conditions sound almost 100% the same as what I experienced. They are rapists of souls.

  24. Kimmo says:

    Get your arse to Australia.

    I wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $25 an hour, and I’m just a storeman.

    Although my city (Melbourne) is one of the most expensive places in the world to live in these days… my one-bedroom flat costs me $780 a month.

    Still…

  25. Get rid of illegal labor. 
    Do this first. 

    Do this by demanding (local lobbying, threat of running yourself, jury nullifiaction to make a point, anything) local laws be enforced.  Let the government scream the states can’t deport illegals.  They CAN verify employers hire legal citizens.

    Then go after ending tax breaks and subsidies to companies that ship jobs overseas/manufacture overseas.

    Each false economy costs an equivalent number of jobs as “Unemployed”.  End one we’ll have no worker without a job.  End both, there will be two jobs begging for every one “Unemployed”.

    Do this, with or without “unions” places like this will get better because “You can take this job and shove it” won’t be met by laughter, but tears since they might not fulfill their own contracts.  Thus employees could demand more wages, employers would have to pay them but couldn’t just raise prices, they’d have to settle with 15 mansions and 20 yachts.

    Don’t let this “Racism/profiling” human rights garbage lies distract you.  Be they Mexican or British an illegal adds to the labor force, meaning more people compete for jobs.  The person that hires an illegal is not a businessman, he is a thief and a traitor.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      When you say “get rid of the illegals” I presume you mean by giving them legal status.  In which case I agree with you!  Once those people are no longer systematically terrorized the situation will have to improve.

  26. dayhat says:

    If it is too late yourself, make sure your children do not follow a service/personal service job where human contact is required – the only jobs not able to be shipped overseas, resulting in a large labor pool = poor conditions and bargaining power.

    Excellent three part series here about the pull of money to the centre and the loss of quality jobs with respect in the workplace as a result:

    http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2012/01/16/left-behind/

    Discusses the “almost golden age of capitalism” when employees were valued, had input to their workplace and earned an adequate income.

    Coming from outside the US I cannot fathom the anti-union, pro-conservative push of what seems like the majority of disenfranchised Americans.  Joe Bagent had a good deal to say about this.

    • Eric Rucker says:

      The reason why there’s an anti-union push is, some unions in the US have gone past protecting worker rights, to the point of literally bankrupting some companies and nearly bankrupting some governmental agencies, which is then in turn accelerating the collapse.

      There are cases where it takes a sexual misconduct allegation to fire bad teachers.

      There are cases where you have something that needs to get done, and ten workers are in the area, standing around doing nothing (and not taking a break, either), and required by their union to not do the work because it would be “taking work away from a brother”, because the assigned person isn’t doing it.

      There’s one case where a union negotiated a contract such that NO workers can be laid off – and in that case, the union workers actually get paid to come into a center to sit around and do nothing – and they can’t use the opportunity to advance themselves, either.

      And, if you don’t want to support a certain union because they do stuff like that, then in some areas, you can’t get a job, due to mandatory membership.

      Unions can be a very good force for protecting workers. The problem is that there are plenty of bad unions in the US, and they’re in very visible positions, and give unions a bad name.

  27. regeya says:

    “If they didn’t want to do backbreaking work they should’ve gone to college and gotten an engineering degree like I did.”

    Yep, and there’s no chance, when the job market is flooded with engineers, that engineering would become a minimum-wage job, and there is of course a neverending pool of jobs for people with engineering degrees.

  28. scatterfingers says:

     Not everyone can be an engineer. Someone has to lift the heavy thing. And those people deserve to be treated with dignity and compensated well for their labour. Yes, that will make the engineer’s gewgaw more expensive.

  29. bcsizemo says:

    How I wish I’d dropped out of college and just gotten a 2 year technical degree…and I have a BS in engineering….

    In 1997 it was get your degree have any job you wanted starting at $50k.  Four years later, after the tech bubble burst, good luck with that.

    I like having the knowledge, but it hasn’t served me well at all.

  30. Wreckrob8 says:

    If everybody goes to college all you get is grade inflation – the lousy jobs would still need doing.

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