The food products we buy in the middle aisles of the supermarket are even more obscured from their real costs than vegetables and meat. American companies have engaged in the same union busting, outsourcing, and subcontracting in processed food as in apparel or toys. These workers are subjected to the same problems of poisoning, poor conditions, and capital mobility as workers in every other industry. In 2013, Kellogg’s locked out its majority black workforce at a Memphis factory that makes Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes in order to crush the union, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 252G. The company recently moved 58 million pounds of cereal production from Memphis to a new factory in Mexico where workers are required to live in company housing. It then hired a union-busting agency in Ohio to bring in scab laborers to Memphis. This one action is part of a larger move by Kellogg’s to eliminate most of its American factories and all of its unions. The company has recently closed union plants in Australia and Canada, shifting production to nonunion sites. In July 2014, a federal judge ordered an end to the lockout and the workers returned to the job, but the long-term outlook for the union members keeping their jobs does not look promising.
The United States Economy for Nineties Kids

Or, What the Fuck Do You Mean, ‘It’s Not Fair?’

There’s something that I’ve heard a lot of people talk about. They’re not wrong, but they are missing the point quite dramatically.

I was born July 10, 1990. I grew up in one of the poorest cities in the country. It’s been the poorest for several years running. You know it, you love it. Detroit’s not a place I’m proud of, and I don’t particularly identify with it. I think everyone I know personally wanted to get out of this cesspit years ago.

I can say without special pride that when I was younger, in my school-age years, everyone I know said I was talented. I was always the smartest guy in the room for my age group. I could throw a football better than most people I knew, though I never did anything with that. Once someone described my singing voice as “the best voice they’d ever heard.” I was the best artist in my grade through middle school, when I stopped working at it.

I didn’t earn those talents. I was given them. Frankly, I squandered them. And that’s why I don’t feel as if I’m bragging when I say it.

I had always heard, you get out of high school, get a summer job, go to college, get started on a career. Well, I fucked around in school. Got a 31 on my ACT my first try, and graduated with a 2.8 gpa. I didn’t turn my bad habits around until the 2nd semester of my 3rd year in high school, and by then the damage was done.

So no ‘real’ school would take me. But I was committed to getting a job and making sure that I could pay something towards my schooling before I went to school. Three years later, I was sitting in an interview for McDonald’s. I’d applied to every business I could get to on my bicycle that wasn’t pure manual labor, but this was only my 4th interview, because a 18/19/20-year-old unemployed white boy in Detroit hasn’t got a whole lot going for him.

The woman ignored me for most of the 15 minute interview, repeatedly getting up and walking away from the table to go talk to other people. I can’t explain how angry I was. At the end of the interview, I asked her how I could improve myself, to become a better candidate. You know what she said to me?

She said that not going to school had made it look like I wasn’t “serious.”

Here I was, trying to do the right thing, to look before I leapt, and now some regional manager who couldn’t be bothered to put 15 minutes together for an interview without running off to talk to three separate people, was telling me, a talented, smart, strong, capable… You get the idea.

Well, I took the risk. I applied to U of M Flint, hoping to get into engineering, since that was all I’ve wanted to do for years. They weren’t interested. I didn’t show promise with my grades, but they did have a program for people who had done poorly in school like me, but wanted to turn things around.

Go to Henry Ford Community College, right next door, for 2 years. Get good grades, and come back with an associates and I’d be in like Flynn. I went to school. My priorities changed, though. I realized that I’d been running away from who I really was. That engineering was something I’d like, but I had been avoiding my passion for coding because my father was a programmer and I have strange issues about retreading paths.

That’s a stupid reason to avoid what you like doing.

So I dropped the engineering schedule and started over, took some coding classes.

And that’s when I learned, not in class of course, the most valuable lesson of my life so far. Something I think every millennial, every “nineties kid” needs to learn:

They’re not handing out money.

At least, not the way that they used to. Sure, you can get on Welfare. You’d think that growing up in Detroit I’d know more about that, but I’m not a huge fan of the program and I never was, even when I was a hardline socialist.

But the economy of the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s… The economy your parents know about, the economy your grandparents know about? That doesn’t exist now. In a very real sense, you live in the Wild West.

Things are changing, are evolving and shifting, so dramatically over the past 10 years.

There’s no place for stable, smart, head-down workers. You might get into a job like that, but 99% of them are taken up by someone else’s father, or grandfather. People more capable than you, with more experience. You think you’re hot shit, but the fact is that when you put a 20-year-old genius in the room with a 50-year-old veteran of no particular talent, the veteran is better.

This isn’t news to any of you, though.

You’ve lived in this world for 20+ years now. You’ve been unable to get work for 5 of them, except maybe shitty 28-hours-a-week jobs at local diners. You can’t raise a family on that. It’s not a career, and it will never be a career.

Which gets me to my point:

Don’t rely on other people to make a space for you because they won’t. You’ll get eaten up and spit out, and the truth is, you deserve it. Anyone who doesn’t adapt to their situation will fail and that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

You need to carve out a space for yourself, and you need to work hard for yourself, to make your own name. Don’t just assume that someone else will do it for you because that’s how it worked for your mother and father.

Modern-Day Slavery

Al Jazeera America has published the second in a series of articles about slave labor in Brazil, with photos by Getty Images staff photographer Mario Tama:

In a small settlement in the countryside of the northeastern state of Piauí, from which many slaves are trafficked, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, 42, hacks at a sunflower plant with a scythe. His modest lime green house sits amid rosebushes on a red gravel track lined with several dozen identical homes.

In 2004 he was rescued by federal inspectors from slavery on a farm in Pará on the eastern edge of the Amazon, along with 14 others also from his hometown of Monsenhor Gil.

Read the full story, and see more of Mario’s photos, on the AJAM website.

When we talk about people being turned back at sea, we’re not talking about boats; we’re talking about human beings … We need to be asking, why is it a tragedy when people drown in our seas, but not a tragedy when we turn people back to drown in more distant seas to drown somewhere else, or to die at the hands of a torturer … You don’t protect people by turning them back, you protect refugees by providing safe alternatives.

DOL Gov Doc: When You Hire Women (1944)

“Today women – hundreds of thousands of them – are at work in war industries. Unafraid of the hard, tedious, and dangerous jobs, they are working in shipyards, in aircraft and instrument factories, in arsenals and steel mills. World War II, with its great influx of women into jobs previously marked ‘men only’, presents both management and labor with many new and puzzling problems. Employers may benefit by reading of the successful experiences of others in employing women, and the essential steps in successful induction and utilization of women in war industries, that are presented in this pamphlet.”

Table of Contents

  1. Sell the idea of women workers to present employee staff — the foremen and men workers.
  2. Survey jobs to decide which are most suitable for women.
  3. Make adaptations of jobs to fit smaller frames and lesser muscular strength of women.
  4. Provide service facilities in the plant to accommodate anticipated number of women.
  5. Appoint a woman personnel director to organize and head a woman-counselor system.
  6. Select women carefully and for specific jobs.
  7. Develop a program for the induction and training of women.
  8. Establish good working conditions.
  9.  Supervise women workers intelligently.
  10. Give women equal opportunity with men. 

via Southern Methodist University & Internet Archive

There's feces-covered cilantro in your guacamole because of labor abuses in Mexico

And everyone is still missing the point.

Most people are reacting in one of three ways:

The thing most people are missing is that this story isn’t just about contaminated cilantro making Americans sick and the FDA taking measures to stop it. It’s about exploitative labor conditions that led to the contamination and about the economic realities that sustain those conditions — like the fact that Americans like cheap cilantro and other agricultural products.

More. 

Today in labor history, August 1, 1944: After the Philadelphia Transit Company promotes eight black transit workers to the position of trolley car driver, a sickout begins by white transit workers in defiance of their newly elected bargaining agent, the Transport Workers Union, which urged the company to integrate its workforce. Federal troops intervened, taking control of the transit system and providing protection for black motormen. In the end, it was a milestone in the battle against race discrimination in the workplace and a victory not just for black workers, but for the white workers who stood with them.

Photo of the Day: Sleeping Baby

Edited photographer note: A child sleeps on the ground at a small-scale gold mine while the mother and older siblings work.

Photo by Matjaz Krivic (Ljubljana, Slovenia); Bani, Burkina Faso   

Submit to our 13th Annual Photo Contest, open now!           

women are more responsible than men

men expect us to do everything for them: cook, clean, organize their lives, emotionally support them, sexually gratify them, validate their feelings, laugh at their sexist jokes, take disrespect from them, coddle their egos

we police our bodies like sexual objects to make sure we will be visually appealing for them, we give up our careers and our dreams and destroy our bodies to raise their children, hell, now that women have feminism to fight against the sexism that men caused, they want us to do the work for them and want feminism to be about them, to alleviate those few little ways the sexism they invented negatively affects them.

around the world, men have statistically more free time than women do. almost 90% of sweatshop laborers are women so don’t let a man tell you that women won’t do the hard labor.

but they consider us to be the burden even when they won’t reciprocate for us what we do for them.

Pictured: Labor party members with a giant fruit roll up they’ve stolen from a nearby child.

Labor has decided not to have a binding vote on marriage equality until 2019, instead leaving it up to a conscience vote until then.

“You know, the same way that hypothetically the Liberal party could also have a conscience vote on the issue…? We’re doing that,” said Bill Shorten.

“This gives us time to take votes away from the Greens in the hopes that we’ll maybe pass it if enough people in our party vote a certain way, but then also if we don’t we have enough time for another conference to remove the binding element of this for the sake of the more right-wing element of our party thus throwing it up into the air for who knows how long! Wahey! Power grabs!” Shorten threw multicolour confetti in the air but had noticeably not committed to get all the colours of the rainbow so it was mostly red with some blue, yellow, green and a little bit of grey in it.

When asked how Labor felt about some supporter’s disappointment Shorten replied “I get that a lot” with no further follow up.

Top Shot: Paddies in Pakistan

Top Shot features the photo with the most votes from the previous day’s Daily Dozen. The Daily Dozen is 12 photos chosen by the Your Shot editors each day from thousands of recent uploads. Our community has the chance to vote for their favorite from the selection.

The laborers of Hafizabad, Punjab, Pakistan dry the paddy crop. After this it becomes ready to be processed for rice. Photograph by Sikandar Hayat

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Why the minimum wage for restaurant workers is $2.13/hr

The restaurant industry makes up the second largest and fastest growing sector of the economy. But its growth has disguised the stagnant wages and reduced hours for the 11 million employees who are the lowest paid workers in the U.S., according to the Saru Jayaraman, director of the UC Berkeley Food Labor Research Center

Since 1991, the federal minimum wage for tipped worker has stagnated at $2.13 per hour (compared to $7.25 for non-tipped workers).

Jayaraman explains why there’s a lower minimum wage standard for restaurant workers:

“Although employers are legally required to ‘top off’ a tipped worker’s pay when tips don’t add up to at least the minimum wage [$7.25], enforcement is so lax and disorganized that wage theft has reached epidemic levels. The result is a two-tiered wage system where customers, not employers, are forced to pay the bulk of a tipped worker’s wages.”

So what are the strategies to changing the status quo of restaurant industry and providing living wage for workers? Watch the latest episode California Matters: Wage Justice Is On The Menu to find out.