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When politicians talk about workers, they tend to focus on certain types of jobs.
“Bernie stood with American workers.”
“It’s American workers that remake this country”
But in the US, retail workers have outnumbered manufacturing workers since 2002.
And food service workers aren’t far behind.
These jobs are in every community - they’re the base of the service economy.
So with the recession in the rear-view mirror, it’s worth asking: can these jobs be good jobs?
What do we want?
Contract!
When do we want it?
Now!
These Kroger workers are rallying outside a grocery store in West Virginia
because their employer wouldn’t meet their demands, stalling negotiations for a new union contract.
“It’s not like we’re asking for the sun, the moon and the stars."
"We want a modest living wage and we want the maintenance of our medical benefits.”
Kroger eventually agreed to a new 3-year contract for over 4,000 workers.
It includes pay raises and zero cuts to their benefits.
By negotiating collectively, service workers can secure an hourly wage that is six dollars
higher on average than nonunion wages.
But they are a small minority.
Private sector union membership in the US has fallen to 6.4% of all workers.
It’s even lower in the retail and food service industries.
The decline of unions in the US was caused in part by larger trends that have shifted the types of jobs available,
especially for those without a college degree.
During the 80s, 90s and 2000s, several occupations that used to provide a stable middle-class income
grew more slowly than both higher-wage and lower-wage jobs.
That’s partly due to new technologies: robots in factories, and computer software in offices.
You know, “The decline in the middle has been steep.
A lot of that has been growth of the top, which is good.
People have moved out of the middle and into professional, technical and managerial jobs.
But, the bottom section of the labor market, which comprises maybe 17-18 percentage of jobs,
is about a third larger than it was in 1980.
And if you look just among people without a college degree it's much larger still.
And that's the group we should be concerned about.”
The great recession intensified those longer-term trends.
Since 2010, the economy has added millions of jobs, but not evenly.
The biggest area of growth was in high-skill occupations, mostly for people with 4-year college degrees.
Meanwhile workers with a high school diploma were pushed out of middle-skill occupations.
And in low-skill jobs, they’re increasingly competing with those who have some college.
“We're adding lots of jobs.
The concern is that, many of the jobs that are being added are not good jobs, in terms
of offering a reasonable standard of living and job security.
And many of the good jobs that are being added are not accessible to typical workers.”
“Thank you all for joining us today to discuss the importance of predictable schedules and
incomes for workers.”
“Hello my name is Kingia Phillips.
I am a former worker at South Philadelphia Walmart.”
“The juice pallets were the most hard to do.
And you know, when you’re pregnant, you’re not supposed to lift above your head, but I had to.”
Kingia came to DC to speak in favor of a federal bill that would regulate work schedules
with the aim of increasing stability in hours and income.
“After I had the baby I asked them, 'could I have my schedule adjusted, a tiny bit?'"
"And they told me that we all have kids and they have a job to do, a company to run."
"And it turned out that they cut my schedule down to 8 hours a week.”
- What were you doing before that? - I was doing 32 hours.
Kingia got the impression that to get enough hours,
workers have to be available any time the store is open,
which is especially hard for parents, students, and people with a second job.
So after a month, she quit.
“I knew they were just going to tell me to re-open my availability, and
that would be the only way for me to make more money and be able to sustain myself and my child.”
The federal proposal faces an uphill battle in a Republican congress, but since 2014,
six cities and the state of Oregon have passed scheduling policies.
The details vary from place to place but most of them apply to fast food and retail workers,
they require two weeks advance notice of work schedules, with extra pay for subsequent changes
that are initiated by the company.
Most of the measures also require employers to offer hours to existing employees before
hiring more people.
“So what it does is, a lot of these policies start to balance out the burden of doing business,
so that, you know, the people who are getting paid the lowest aren't the only ones bearing the cost.”
Policymakers have also moved to increase the minimum wage and require paid sick leave in
certain cities and states.
It’s a response to the fact that not only are middle-class jobs moving out of reach for non-college workers,
but a lot of the remaining jobs have gotten worse since the recession hit.
“In 2005, you could walk into a JC Penney, and it was a stable workforce.
"People had full-time hours, and health insurance, and even commission."
"It was a workforce that knew each other, and felt like they could make their job better."
By 2008, that workforce was completely contingent.
People's hours were changing from one week to the next.
Nobody knew each other.”
The number of involuntary part time workers -- those are people working part time who
would prefer full-time work -- that jumped during the recession.
And the increase was greater for both the retail sector and for leisure and hospitality,
which includes restaurants and hotels.
This is part of a much broader trend.
A 2016 study found a significant rise in “alternative work arrangements” across the economy.
That includes temp workers, contract firm workers and freelancers.
They make sense: Salaried and full-time workers are fixed costs for employers.
Whether revenue is up or down, you have to pay them and fund their benefits.
But if you have a pool of more flexible workers whose hours you can dial up and down to match your sales,
you can save money, at least in the short term.
Those cost-cutting strategies have been enabled by new technologies.
“Today, a lot of big employers are using workforce scheduling technologies, and so
it's an algorithm that's setting the schedule.
And when you look it, do an analysis of when the peak hours are, it's easier to slot people in for
four hour shifts and then rotate it out.
But there's very few companies (that) have systems that basically say, you know,
‘My goal is to try to give people some stability in their hours from one week to the next, and
I'm gonna try to match people's schedules from one week to the next.’"
What this has meant for some workers is schedules and paychecks that change from week to week.
A gallup poll of hourly workers with varying hours found that
one out of three said their schedules cause them financial hardship.
“Instead of giving me two 8 hour shifts and a 4 hour shift, they would give me 5 4-hour shifts.
So I would have to go to school and go to work 5 times a week, instead of working 3 days a week.”
“The amount of hours they give out is based on sales, which I believe is horrible.
One week I’ll have 13 hours, the next i’ll have 25, the next I’ll have 30, then back down to 15.
And that — that shows on my paycheck.”
Target and Walmart already post schedules at least a week and a half in advance.
Both companies have also raised their minimum wages in recent years.
And several retailers have announced an end to the controversial practice of on-call scheduling.
“On-call shifts require employees to call employers the day before or the day of a potential shift
to find out if they’ll be needed to work.
If employees are not needed, they don’t get paid.”
But they’re a long way from a model like Costco’s
which guarantees a minimum amount of weekly hours for both full and part time workers.
The union model for including workers’ input in business decisions
has not really moved with the economy into these low-wage service jobs.
And it hasn’t been replaced with something else.
So if workers feel like they can’t find a voice at their jobs,
they’ll likely keep looking for one in the law.
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這樣的工作,你願意妥協嗎?談談低落的勞工權益 (The rise of bad jobs, explained)

122 分類 收藏
kiki 發佈於 2017 年 12 月 6 日   Brian (小智) 翻譯   黃艾瑄 審核

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