labourers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.
Image description: A square shaped meme with blue and green coloring blended together and the following words in white capital letters: “On this Labor Day, we recognize that close to 30% of adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are employed are working in sheltered workshops.
In sheltered workshops employees:
Make less than the federal minimum wage, often less than $1 per hour Are often segregated and isolated from the community Do not have the benefits of workers’ compensation Do not have the privilege of collective bargaining Are exploited and trapped in cycle of poverty.
One of the most troubling unresolved issues in modern economics is the continued lack of wage increases even as unemployment has dropped to under 5%. This is a worldwide phenomenon and appears to be linked to a number of intertangled factors, like the decline of unions and collective bargaining, the rise of freelancing and outsourced work, immigration, and automation.
Peter Cooper and Jonathan Soble wrote a very solid exposition on this seemingly intractable problem, and its costs on society [emphasis mine]:
Why wages are not rising faster amounts to a central economic puzzle.
Some economists argue that the world is still grappling with the hangover from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Once growth gains momentum, employers will be forced to pay more to fill jobs.
But other economists assert that the weak growth in wages is an indicator of a new economic order in which working people are at the mercy of their employers. Unions have lost clout. Companies are relying on temporary and part-time workers while deploying robots and other forms of automation in ways that allow them to produce more without paying extra to human beings. Globalization has intensified competitive pressures, connecting factories in Asia and Latin America to customers in Europe and North America.
“Generally, people have very little leverage to get a good deal from their bosses, individually and collectively,” says Lawrence Mishel, president of the Economic Policy Institute, a labor-oriented research organization in Washington. “People who have a decent job are happy just to hold on to what they have.”
The reasons for the stagnation gripping wages vary from country to country, but the trend is broad.
When labor markets tighten, wages are expected to rise. But in recent years, as unemployment has fallen below 5 percent in the United States, wages have not been increasing as fast as in the past. Economists debate the reasons; workers grapple with the consequences.
In the United States, the jobless rate fell to 4.2 percent in September, less than half the 10 percent seen during the worst of the Great Recession. Still, for the average American worker, wages had risen by only 2.9 percent over the previous year. That was an improvement compared with recent months, but a decade ago, when the unemployment rate was higher, wages were growing at a rate of better than 4 percent a year.
In Britain, the unemployment rate ticked down to 4.3 percent in August, its lowest level since 1975. Yet wages had grown only 2.1 percent in the past year. That was below the rate of inflation, meaning workers’ costs were rising faster than their pay.
In Japan, weak wage growth is both a symptom of an economy dogged by worries, and a force that could keep the future lean, depriving workers of spending power.
In Norway, as in Germany, modest pay raises are a result of coordination between labor unions and employers to keep costs low to bolster industry. That has put pressure on Italy, Spain and other European nations to keep wages low so as not to lose orders.
But the trend also reflects an influx of dubious companies staffed by immigrants who receive wages well below prevailing rates, undermining union power.
This is one of the defining problems of our economic system, and finding a path through to another sustainable world is critical.
This large development of a petty bourgeoisie within the American laboring class is a post-Marxian phenomenon and the result of the tremendous and world wide development of capitalism in the 20th Century. The market of capitalistic production has gained an effective world-wide organization. Industrial technique and mass production have brought possibilities in the production of goods and services which out-run even this wide market. A new class of technical engineers and managers has arisen forming a working class aristocracy between the older proletariat and the absentee owners of capital. The real owners of capital are small as well as large investors — workers who have deposits in savings banks and small holdings in stocks and bonds; families buying homes and purchasing commodities on installment; as well as the large and rich investors.
Of course, the individual laborer gets but an infinitesimal part of his income from such investments. On the other hand, such investments, in the aggregate, largely increase available capital for the exploiters, and they give investing laborers the capitalistic ideology. Between workers and owners of capital stand today the bankers and financiers who distribute capital and direct the engineers.
Thus the engineers and the saving better-paid workers, from a new petty bourgeois class, whose interests are bound up with those of the capitalists and antagonistic to those of common labor. On the other hand, common labor in America and white Europe far from being motivated by any vision of revolt against capitalism, has been blinded by the American vision of the possibility of layer after layer of the workers escaping into the wealthy class and becoming managers and employers of labor.
Thus in America we have seen a wild and ruthless scramble of labor groups over each other in order to climb to wealth on the backs of black labor and foreign immigrants. The Irish climbed on the Negroes. The Germans scrambled over the Negroes and emulated the Irish. The Scandinavians fought forward next to the Germans and the Italians and “Bohunks” are crowding up, leaving Negroes still at the bottom chained to helplessness, first by slavery, then by disfranchisement and always by the Color Bar.
‘Marxism and the Negro Problem’,
W.E.B. Du Bois, 1933.
We play the part of a dying astronaut Uniformed, adhering to rigid protocol Putting our lives in the hands of others control Letting ourselves become subjugated to capital Struggling violently for oxygen in space Each day feels like the end A continual loop, perpetual disintegration The more time is spent in this artificial space Of domestication and consumption The more leisure seems alien And thus, the almighty dollar Becomes the center of the universe Even when we know it is nothing But a black hole, devouring all joy
Happy Labor Day - it isn’t about grilling out or sleeping in, it isn’t about a 3 day weekend… we have come so far in this country in terms of labour, but we still have so far to go. Don’t forget the challenges we still face - our work force is stressed out, overworked, underpaid, and if we allow big business to write us off as a sacrifice for their profit, they will do it. Stand up for equal pay, stand up for a livable minimum wage, stand up for idea of hard work equaling success. Godspeed Ted Kennedy, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.
In reality, The Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism seems to have some pretty cool and lofty if probably misguided goals, but also “THE COALITION FOR INCLUSIVE CAPITALISM” sounds like a group of dystopian megacorporations lobbying for compulsive slave-labor employment in a Welles-inspired novel from the sixties.
“you can’t be more or less "proletarian” because of how much money you make or your skin color, you’re a proletarian if you don’t own the means of production" is a common excuse to avoid carrying out a materialist analysis of contemporary labor, of why industrial workers are a very small portion of western ““laborers”“, despite this being written upon by various marxists over the past century, not just limited to Lenin, not just something thought up by ““harvard students”“ (not even true btw lmao, proto-TWism goes back to the 50s or so, the harvard thing is solely MIM, which has never called itself TWist and has a line similar, but not the same, as TWists today)
regardless though, for those who use this excuse, we ask- does the white “proletariat” solely survive off of their own labor? do they not have access to unemployment pay and various other social services? do the majority of them not own stocks? would their lives continue just the same were imperialist value transfer to cease? would they magically just not lose access to those social services, to an abundance of cheap goods, to widespread service employment rather than labor intensive employment? despite imperialism being absolutely necessary to maintain those things and the whole society they live in?
so once again, do they really have nothing to lose but their chains?
To pay for an increase in defense spending, a down payment on the border wall and school voucher programs, among other things, funding was cut from the discretionary budgets of other executive departments and agencies. The Environmental Protection Agency, the State Department and the Agriculture Department took the hardest hits. The proposal also eliminates funding for these 19 agencies.
International diplomacy? Cut it by 30%. Labor-Employer balance? Cut it by 20%. Also, cut the Justice Department , the department entirely designed to help Small Businesses, and cut into Agriculture by a fifth. In case you’re curious as to some of what’s being cut.
(can we take a second to note that the man who is all about fighting terrorism and ISIS is cutting almost 700 million from disaster mitigation and counter-terrorism grants while simultaneously charging people more money to travel?)
Did you vote for Trump to make it harder for poor senior citizens to find work? Or did you vote to cut grants for development projects and infrastructure spending? Or did you vote so that we would stop cleaning up toxic waste dumps? Did you vote for Trump so you can pay more money to the TSA out of your pocket and cut counter-terrorism efforts? Or did you vote Trump to remove almost 4 billion dollars from training teachers? Did you vote for Trump so that America would stop doing diplomacy and “making deals” around the world?
Here’s something I don’t understand: In the narrative of potentially raising minimum wage to a living wage, where workers will be able to actually earn enough to live at a level consistent with the average cost of living instead of under poverty, it confuses and saddens me that everyone is so quick to show off their math skills with such observations as “Raising minimum for fast food workers will only raise the price of your cheeseburger by 3 cents! If Walmart paid their employees a livable wage, your average bill would only increase by 72 cents!” Obviously the message they’re trying to convey is “This isn’t a lot; don’t be greedy! Care about people!” But it seems to me that the missing step in their logical process should be obvious as well. I have not yet seen anyone ask “Who is the audience for this message?” When you specifically mention Walmart and fast food and the pennies difference that we assume a change in wages will cause (not an illogical assumption), you are basically saying “You, minimum wage worker, who can only afford to sustain yourself by shopping at the cheapest places because that is also where you most likely work, will be getting a pay increase but will also bear the financial burden of a change in the market, therefor diminishing the small gains you have fought hard for.” We are so used to a capitalist economic system which devalues and dehumanizes its labor that we automatically assume the affect of any change in the market, especially for the benefit of the labor force, will be detrimental (no matter how miniscule) to that labor force and not to those who benefit the most from our labor. But why should it be this way? We could just as easily be making posts saying “Raising minimum wage to $15 an hour would only decrease a Walmart CEO’s annual income of $40 million to $36 million! That’s not a lot! Don’t be greedy!” I honestly don’t see how anyone could possibly have a problem with this. The rich dude is still rich, and the workers aren’t barely scraping by trying not to end up on the street anymore via increased wages and stable market prices. But that’s not the narrative the assholes in charge of all this want us to hear. They don’t want us to think about them and their wealth at all, because the minute we start doing that we might actually realize that they created this whole desperate environment for their own benefit… and we might actually realize there’s more of us than them and try to stop them.
The substitution of economic planning for the market economy removes all freedom and leaves to the individual merely the right to obey. An authority directing all economic matters controls all aspects of a man’s life and activities. It is the only employer. All labor becomes compulsory labor because the employee must accept what the chief deigns to offer him. The economic tsar determines what and how much of each the consumer may consume. The authority assigns a definite task to him, trains him for his job, and employs him at the place and in the manner it deems expedient.
As someone who has worked in retail, direct care, lower management and management, let me tell ya, the lower the rank of the job, the harder and more you work. The way we judge employment and labor and how we pay is completely backwards
“Crown Princess Mary speaks to students at Copenhagen Business School (CBS) on February 22, 2017 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Crown Princes spoke at CBS’s so-called ‘Case Competition Debate2017 - Opportunities in Crisis’. She particularly addressed the issue with women in developing countries and focused upon gender equality as a corner stone in growing the economy and the great resource women represents in this process, but often difficult to realize. In order to integrate women on the labor market employers must understand that women have a dual role, as working within the family as a mother and as a possible wage earner and the more conflicts between these two roles, the more likely would women stay at home, she said.”
Photo by Ole Jensen - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images
In the case of the Americas, although a few diasporic Chinese returned to the homeland, the vast majority did not, and others remigrated to other points in the hemisphere. For example, among the first Chinese in New York City were remigrants from Havana, following a well-established and well-traveled path across the Caribbean waters from Havana to New York. Chinese coolies on Cuban plantations were sent to Mississippi plantations to fill an acute labor shortage in the 1860s (see Cohen 1984). Despite the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese on both sides of the U.S.-Mexican border interacted freely and frequently, while big Chinese merchant houses in San Francisco and Los Angeles opened and stocked branch stores in Mexico, Cuba, and Peru. Chinese labor contractors in California introduced Chinese workers to open up vast tracts of virgin land in Baja California for large-scale cotton cultivation in the Mexicali Valley.
Chinese huaqiao (immigrants) in the diaspora shared common experiences, whether as huagong, workers, or as huashang, merchants. Throughout the Americas, they entered already multiracial societies that were nevertheless dominated by European ethnicities and a white power structure. The exact nature of their work and social relationships in the workplace, and the exact nature of their businesses and business opportunities varied across time and space…
The use of indentured labor, based on formal contracts, seemed to have been a common practice throughout the Chinese diaspora in the nineteenth century, wherever European plantations thrived. It is known generally as the coolie system in Asia and in the Americas; the Dutch used it on their Southeast Asian plantations, the British employed both Chinese and East Indian coolies on their West Indian (Caribbean) estates after slavery; and of course, the Spaniards in Cuba and the newly independent Peruvians also adopted this system of labor. (Despite widespread use of the term “coolie” to refer to Chinese laborers, no formal indentured labor system involving Chinese existed in the United States.) My own work has examined Chinese indentured labor on the Cuban and Peruvian plantations of the mid to late nineteenth century (HuDeHart 1992).
The contracts were issued in both Chinese and Spanish and in duplicate, one to the coolie to be kept on his person for the duration of his bondage, the other to the contracting agency, which transferred it to the master when he purchased the contract. Printed in clear type in both versions, usually on a fine blue paper, it included the name of the onsite agent as well as the contracting agency in Havana or Lima, sometimes the name of the coolie ship, and was signed by the Spanish consul in China and the local authorities (local Portuguese authorities when the trade was transferred from the uneasy Chinese government in south China to the more amenable Portuguese colonial regime in Macao).
In the Spanish-language contracts, Cubans and Peruvians rarely referred to the Chinese as coolies or workers, but rather euphemistically as colonos asiáticos. On the other hand, and in an apparent inconsistency, those who bought their contracts were referred to as patrón or patrono, and in Peru, sometimes as amo, which is a paternalistic term for “master.” The contracts had the heading Libre Emigración China para la Isla de Cuba (or para el Perú)—Free Chinese Immigration to Cuba (or Peru)—which explains the references in the document to colono and not worker. In the Chinese-language version, the entirely different heading refers to a “Labor Employment Contract” (Gu-kong-he-tong), making no allusion to immigration or colonization, but only to work. Consistent with this construction, those who contracted with the Chinese were known as “employers.” Since the Chinese-language contract was supposedly read by local authorities to the recruited workers, presumably the Chinese knew they were going somewhere to work and not to settle permanently. In fact, to ensure this understanding, very few women were sent to Cuba or Peru.
Evelyn Hu-Dehart, “On Coolies and Shopkeepers The Chinese as Huagong (Laborers) and Huashang (Merchants) in Latin America/Caribbean,” Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas (2005)
what made you decide to start law school? what kind of law are you going into?
I never answered this because I felt it would be too long of an answer. You know when I watched Reese Witherspoon become a lawyer in Legally Blonde I wanted to do that. My high school sweetheart even threw me a Legally Blonde 16th birthday party. But then I just didn’t. She was blonde and rich, I was brown and poor. I didn’t know a lawyer until I got to law school actually, but I guess part of me always wanted to. As a first-generation student, the only goal I saw was to graduate from COLLEGE… and even that seemed impossible at times.
Thankfully the universe got in the way and made me a teacher. My students loved me so much and I had to try so hard to be the type of person I wanted THEM to be, that I realized I myself hadn’t fulfilled my own dreams and desires. I knew that I loved words. I knew that I wanted a profession where words gave me power. Power to change my life, my students’ lives. One of the previous English teachers in my department had gone to law school a year before me, an old flame had said “you would make a great lawyer” and one day I just bought a practice LSAT booklet because I thought… well maybe I can?
Long story short, I went to law school because at some point in figuring out myself and my life I understood that I have a gift for words. I love them, I crave them, they make me happy. Then, I came to understand that the law is words turned into action; it controls every aspect of our society and if I wanted to contribute with my words what better place?
I thought I would practice educational law but it doesn’t enthrall me anymore. Idk where my career will lead but for now it’s heading in the direction of Labor and Employment law and maybe some international practice as well. My internships have given me lots of insight into what I can be good at, what I can be great at, and how I can make my life and others’ lives better through law sooo… I’ll keep you updated?
Much like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the falsely cloaked Working Families Flexibility Act (H.R. 1180/S. 801) would hurt, not help, working women and families. The Working Families Flexibility Act, a true misnomer if ever there was one, would in reality ensure that workers have less time, less flexibility and less money.
This anti-family proposal would force workers to spend more time away from their families in exchange for possibly getting to spend time later with their families. Under this proposal, the employer, not the employee, would determine when earned comp time can be used.
In other words, a low-wage working mother could be forced to work 50 hours one week during Spring Break when her children are off from school, and in exchange for that overtime work get 10 hours off another week when they are back in school. This may be flexibility for the employer, but it would cost the employee extra money for child care, less money in overtime earnings and less time with her family.
Low-wage workers frequently have to rely on their overtime earnings to make ends meet.
Employers currently steal billions of dollars annually from workers in unpaid overtime compensation. This proposal would make this problem even worse, because it would become easier for employers to avoid overtime compensation obligations. Although the bill provides the right to sue in court, low-wage workers lack the resources necessary to engage in costly and protracted litigation, and rightly fear retaliation or losing their jobs.
The bill would also allow employers to “cash out” an employee’s comp time over 80 hours or discontinue the comp time program altogether. This means an employee’s carefully crafted plan to bank time for a child’s birth or surgery could be thwarted by an employer’s decision to cash out the employee’s time or end the program. Under this proposal, there are also no protections for employees to receive the value of their earned comp time if their employer goes out of business or goes bankrupt.
Finally, workers already have some flexibility because of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Currently, employers can and some do allow employees to rearrange their schedules to fit in a school recital or doctor’s appointment. Employees who work a lot of overtime and don’t need more money can already be allowed to take unpaid days off.