Category Archives: Labor

Trump’s Vegas hotel to be walled in by taco trucks

Or Dada comes to Sin City.

The story from teleSUR English:

The Culinary Workers Union is planning to construct a wall made of Taco Trucks outside of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s hotel in Las Vegas hours before Wednesday’s third and final debate with Hillary Clinton.

The union, also known as UNITE HERE local 226, plans to build the wall using at least five taco trucks outside the Trump International Hotel, which is close to the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, or UNLV, the location for tonight’s third and final presidential debate.

The mostly Latino union says that Trump, who has a 50 percent share in the company, has been exploiting local hotel and casino workers and refuses to recognize their union and enter into collective bargaining. Workers have said that they get paid less than others with similar positions working on the Las Vegas strip.

“We’re reminding Mr. Trump that immigrant workers here and across the country will be watching the debate and voting in November,” Yvanna Cancela, the union’s political director, told Buzzfeed.

The union will be joined by a number of other immigrant and activists organizations, with some traveling to the event from Los Angeles.

Chart of the day: Univ. of Calif. workers go hungry

From Food Insecurity Among University of California Employees, a report from the Occidental College Urban & Environmental Policy Institute

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Seven in 10 University of California workers in clerical, administrative and support services struggle to put adequate food on the table, according to a new Occidental College study.

The study, set for release Monday, found that 45% of 2,890 employees surveyed throughout the 10-campus UC system went hungry at times. An additional 25% had to reduce the quality of their diet.

The problems persisted even though most of those surveyed were full-time employees with college degrees and average earnings of $22 an hour.

Peter Dreier, an Occidental professor of politics who conducted the study with two colleagues and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 2010, said the results were startling.

“This is a systemwide problem; it exists on every campus,” Dreier said. “This is not a handful of people who happen to be down on their luck. They need a living wage so they can afford to feed their families.”

Chart of the day: The two-tier economy

While the Labor Department touts a job recovery since the great recession, many of those jobs “recovered” are part-time positions, jobs which lack the essential benefits critical for so many individuals and families.

From a new report from the Pew Research Center:


Chart of the day: Employers ditch pension plans

From a sobering new report on the American workforce from the Pew Research Center:


Marilyn Waring: Economics as if people mattered

Marilyn Waring is one of the world’s most remarkable economists, a former New Zealand legislator — the youngest-ever national lawmaker when elected in 1975 — who brought a government down over her opposition to nuclear weapons, then went on to earn her doctorate in political economy.

She won her degree with a revolutionary thesis on the  a thesis on the United Nations System of National Accounts, the system of valuing a national economy solely on the financial value of tangible goods produced.

That system was devised by British economist John Maynard Keynes to engineer the British Empire’s participation in World War II, and ignored, among other things, all of the household labors of women, labors which, literally “kept the home fires burning.”

Waring’s critique forced the U.N. to revise its accounting system, and as Bloomberg reported three years ago:

Waring gained international prominence with “If Women Counted,” also published as “Counting for Nothing.” Praised by the feminist Gloria Steinem and the economist John Kenneth Galbraith, the book lambasted national accounting systems as sexist for excluding unpaid women’s work. Canada’s National Film Board in 1995 made it into a documentary called “Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics.”

While Waring wasn’t the first to criticize the exclusion, her book drew attention for its thorough and persuasive analysis, said Joann Vanek, a former director of social statistics at the UN.

“She demystified the national accounts,” Vanek said. “Many feminists had taken pot shots at national accounts, but Marilyn went into the body of it and disaggregated the specific assumptions that were made and how that really shaped what ended up being a bias against women.”

Waring’s knowledge and outspokenness made the critique credible, Vanek said. “She was unafraid. These guys, these national accountants, are somewhat oracle-type figures, and she would confront them.”

In 1993, the UN revised the system of national accounts to recommend that all production of goods in households for their own consumption be included in the measurement of economic output, a definition excluding childcare, elder-care, cooking and cleaning.

But Waring’s critique is much broader, and is superbly outlined in a just-re-released 1995 documentary from the National Film Board of Canada:

Who’s Counting? Marilyn Waring on Sex, Lies and Global Economics

Program notes:

In this feature-length documentary, Marilyn Waring demystifies the language of economics by defining it as a value system in which all goods and activities are related only to their monetary value. As a result, unpaid work (usually performed by women) is unrecognized while activities that may be environmentally and socially detrimental are deemed productive. Waring maps out an alternative vision based on the idea of time as the new currency.

Quote of the day: Caution, men [not] working


From Harvard University Professor and former Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence H. Summers, writing for the Washington Post:

Job destruction caused by technology is not a futuristic concern.  It is something we have been living with for two generations. A simple linear trend suggests that by mid-century about a quarter of men between 25 and 54 will not be working at any moment.

I think this likely a substantial underestimate unless something is done for a number of reasons. First everything we hear and see regarding technology suggests the rate of job destruction will pick up. Think of the elimination of drivers, and of those who work behind cash registers. Second, the gains in average education and health of the workforce over the last 50 years are unlikely to be repeated. Third, to the extent that non-work is contagious, it is likely to grow exponentially rather than at a linear rate. Fourth, declining marriage rates are likely to raise rates of labor force withdrawal given that non-work is much more common for unmarried than married men.

On the basis of these factors, I expect that more than one-third of all men between 25 and 54 will be out work at mid-century. Very likely more than half of men will experience a year of non-work at least one year out of every five. This would be in the range of the rate of non-work for high school drop-outs and exceeds the rate of non-work for African Americans today.

Will we be able to support these people and a growing retired share of the population? What will this mean for the American family? For prevailing ethics of self-reliance? For alienation and support for toxic populism? These are vital questions. Even more vital is the question of what is to be done.

The rest-less society: No time for relaxation

In his remarkable 1883 work The Right to be Lazy, French radical socialist Paul Lafargue made a telling observation:

“Cannot the labourers understand that by over-working themselves they exhaust their own strength and that of their progeny, that they are used up and long before their time come to be incapable of any work at all, that absorbed and brutalized by this single vice they are no longer men but pieces of men, that they kill within themselves all beautiful faculties, to leave nothing alive and flourishing except the furious madness for work.”

Certainly the drive to work longer hours has come to dominate American labor, as longer hours are the only way to to maintain life in a consumer culture.

From the Hamilton Project:


And there’s another question, posed by Harvard Business Review Senior Editor Sarah Green Carmichael in a 19 August 2015 essay:

Is overwork actually doing what we assume it does — resulting in more and better output? Are we actually getting more done?

There’s a large body of research that suggests that regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us. For starters, it doesn’t seem to result in more output. In a study of consultants by Erin Reid, a professor at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business, managers could not tell the difference between employees who actually worked 80 hours a week and those who just pretended to. While managers did penalize employees who were transparent about working less, Reid was not able to find any evidence that those employees actually accomplished less, or any sign that the overworking employees accomplished more.

Considerable evidence shows that overwork is not just neutral — it hurts us and the companies we work for. Numerous studies by Marianna Virtanen of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and her colleagues (as well as other studies) have found that overwork and the resulting stress can lead to all sorts of health problems, including impaired sleep, depression, heavy drinking, diabetes, impaired memory, and heart disease. Of course, those are bad on their own. But they’re also terrible for a company’s bottom line, showing up as absenteeism, turnover, and rising health insurance costs. Even the Scroogiest of employers, who cared nothing for his employees’ well-being, should find strong evidence here that there are real, balance-sheet costs incurred when employees log crazy hours.

If your job relies on interpersonal communication, making judgment calls, reading other people’s faces, or managing your own emotional reactions — pretty much all things that the modern office requires — I have more bad news. Researchers have found that overwork (and its accompanying stress and exhaustion) can make all of these things more difficult.

Today’s workers hunger for the right to be lazy

And now comes another study revealing the deep craving of the working class for more leisure, a validation of Lafargue’s central argument.

From the University of Durham:

Over two thirds (68 per cent) of the public would like more rest, according to the world’s largest ever survey on the topic.

The results of the survey, led by Durham University researchers, also revealed that nearly a third (32 per cent) of respondents said they need more rest than the average person, while 10 per cent think they need less.

Rest and well-being

More than 18,000 people from 134 different countries took part in the Rest Test, an online survey to investigate the public’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness, and the results were unveiled during BBC Radio 4’s programme The Anatomy of Rest.

The survey found that those who felt they needed more rest scored lower in terms of well-being. Similarly, those who responded saying they think they get more rest than average or don’t feel in need of more rest, had well-being scores twice as high as those who wanted more rest. This suggests that the perception of rest matters, as well as the reality. 

Dr Felicity Callard, principal investigator on the project and social scientist in the Department of Geography,said: “The survey shows that people’s ability to take rest, and their levels of well-being, are related. We’re delighted that these findings combat a common, moralizing connection between rest and laziness.”

Five most restful activities

The survey asked people to choose the activities that they find the most restful. The results show that the top five most restful activities are those often done alone:

  • Reading (58 per cent)
  • Being in the natural environment (53.1 per cent)
  • Being on their own (52.1 per cent)
  • Listening to music (40.6 per cent)
  • Doing nothing in particular (40 per cent)

Dr Felicity Callard continued: “It’s intriguing that the top activities considered restful are frequently done on one’s own. Perhaps it’s not only the total hours resting or working that we need to consider, but the rhythms of our work, rest and time with and without others.”

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