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Killing the people you're pretending to be

Jacob Brogan of Georgetown University writes in the Washington Post about the ethics of wearing pre-distressed jeans. [more inside]
posted by orthicon halo on Sep 11, 2014 - 80 comments

No Fruit From Labor

When Restaurant Workers Can't Afford To Eat
posted by The Whelk on Sep 1, 2014 - 65 comments

“They paid the ultimate price for standing up for the working class”

One Generation’s Time: The Legacy of Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes (YouTube, 1 hour). The story of two activists who fought to improve the lives of Filipino workers in Alaskan canneries, their murders by members of a street gang, and the eight-year investigation that ultimately found Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos responsible for their deaths. [more inside]
posted by Banknote of the year on Aug 22, 2014 - 5 comments

A grocery store strike decades in the making

If you like cheap groceries and live in Massachusetts, you may have noticed this weekend that the shelves were bare at Market Basket. Employees of the company staged a walkout on Friday to show their support for Arthur T. Demoulas, the company's recently ousted president. Many people have questioned the sudden change in management. [more inside]
posted by banjo_and_the_pork on Jul 21, 2014 - 85 comments

Having babies...with science

Evidence Based Birth is a blog with articles by Rebecca Dekker, a PhD nurse and faculty member at the University of Kentucky, summarizing the best medical evidence for childbirth practices. To start, check out the table summarizing the state of US maternity care to see the differences between current standard childbirth practices and evidence based care. The topics page lists the currently available articles. [more inside]
posted by medusa on Jul 3, 2014 - 40 comments

No Need to Choose: History from Above, History from Below

Where does the new inter­est in the “his­tory of cap­i­tal­ism” come from? I’d sug­gest the fol­low­ing rudi­ments of an answer. The finan­cial cri­sis of 2008-09 has clearly placed cer­tain issues of his­tori­ciza­tion on the agenda. If the accel­er­ated and seem­ingly unstop­pable drive for the “flat­ten­ing” of the world through a process of neolib­eral glob­al­iza­tion since the early 1990s has not actu­ally brought us to a per­ma­nently unfold­ing and self-reproducing neolib­eral present, but has rather encoun­tered severe struc­tural prob­lems, then how do we his­tori­cize this cur­rent time? That is, how do we under­stand the con­tem­po­rary cri­sis of cap­i­tal­ism, in all its polit­i­cal and social ram­i­fi­ca­tions, in rela­tion to longer-run processes of cap­i­tal­ist restruc­tur­ing and their log­ics of devel­op­ment and dif­fi­culty; and how do we locate the his­tory of the present inside a larger-scale frame­work of peri­ods and conjunctures? [more inside]
posted by whyareyouatriangle on Jun 29, 2014 - 9 comments

Dear Marc Andreessen

"Hi, Marc... You seem to think everyone's worried about robots. But what everyone's worried about is you, Marc. Not just you, but people like you. Robots aren't at the levers of financial and political influence today, but folks like you sure are. People are scared of so much wealth and control being in so few hands... Unless we collectively choose to pay for a safety net, technology alone isn't going to make it happen." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jun 18, 2014 - 50 comments

Hell on Wheels

Hell on Wheels: Are bad trucking laws partially to blame for Tracy Morgan's accident?
Two days before Kevin Roper crashed his Walmart big rig into Tracy Morgan’s limousine, critically injuring the comedian and killing his colleague James McNair, the Senate Appropriations Committee quietly loosened the laws governing truckers’ hours on the road. Senator Susan Collins slipped an amendment into an appropriations bill suspending for one year a rule limiting truckers to 70-hour work weeks, with a mandatory 34-hour “re-start” once they hit that threshold. Under the amendment, the law would revert to an 82-hour workweek. The Truck Safety Coalition denounced the measure: “What is being portrayed as a small change to the rest period actually has a large impact on crash risk and will set back safety for everyone sharing the roads with large 80,000-pound trucks.”

posted by tonycpsu on Jun 16, 2014 - 80 comments

What Happens When Low Wage Workers Suddenly Get a Living Wage?

The other night I was on the train coming home and there was this young girl with three young children, and she had a container of milk, and I heard the middle child of the three ask, "Mom, can I have some milk?" and the mother said, "No, you know we need it for the baby." And I remembered feeling like that.
posted by the young rope-rider on Jun 6, 2014 - 215 comments

They told me I was gonna have to work for a living

Interview with David Graeber Why do the least productive people get paid the most money? What ever happened to the big increase in leisure that everyone was expecting 50 years ago? Graeber tells us. [more inside]
posted by Kirth Gerson on Jun 4, 2014 - 131 comments

The Rise of the Voluntariat

The voluntariat performs skilled work that might still command a wage without compensation, allegedly for the sake of the public good, regardless of the fact that it also contributes directly and unambiguously to the profitability of a corporation. Like the proletariat, then, the voluntariat permits the extraction of surplus value through its labor.
How companies like Coursera use volunteer labor to expand their profit margins.
posted by Charity Garfein on May 16, 2014 - 85 comments

"It was just too dark in your tummy"

This Little Girl Is Watching Her Own Birth For The Very First Time [totally SFW] A young girl watches a video of herself being born. Her face is amazingly expressive!
posted by QuakerMel on May 14, 2014 - 34 comments

The Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre

Alan Prendergast writing in Westword reflects on the history of "Bloody Ludlow."
posted by audi alteram partem on Apr 18, 2014 - 25 comments

Evenly distribute the future: Issuing more bio-survival tickets

VC for the people - "It's just that people who have options are much more likely to actually find success than people who don't." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Apr 18, 2014 - 20 comments

In the Name of Love

How Professors Use Their Time: The Long, Lonely Job of Homo academicus [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Apr 9, 2014 - 27 comments

NLRB Says College Football Players Can Unionize

The NLRB has ruled that football players at Northwestern University are college employees and can form a union. [more inside]
posted by Aizkolari on Mar 27, 2014 - 60 comments

"The Techtopus": Much bigger than we realized

Mark Ames follows up on The Techtopus (previously) with a new report showing a much larger conspiracy than has been previously reported: [more inside]
posted by tonycpsu on Mar 22, 2014 - 74 comments

The Pity-Charity Complex

"I say “you” deliberately here, because much of the writing about low-wage workers tends to obscure just that fact — that these stories could well be about you. Too much writing on the left and the right has tended to treat the people in some of the nation’s most common jobs as if they are some exotic Other rather than our neighbors, our family members and ourselves. " --Sarah Jaffe on the media's strange ways of talking about low-wage workers.
posted by The Whelk on Mar 20, 2014 - 40 comments

Bayakou

"The only way to end Haiti’s cholera epidemic is to keep infected waste out of food and water. A subterranean network of pipes, pumping stations, and waste-treatment plants would be the ideal solution, but Haiti’s successive governments have had too little money, power, or will to build massive public works on their own.... International donors have been little help: in one case, the U.S. government, to protest the way an election was conducted, withheld funds to build water and sanitation infrastructure in northern Haiti for more than ten years. From 1990 to 2008, the proportion of Haitians with access to basic sanitation decreased from 26% to 17%. Cholera broke out in 2010. Four years into the epidemic, a trip to the bathroom for most Haitians still means looking for an open field or wading into a public canal at dawn. Those who can afford to, dig cesspools under outhouses. When the cesspools get full, it’s time to call a man like Leon." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 13, 2014 - 11 comments

“as both Pierre Bourdieu and latte orders have taught me…”

As it turned out, when I started working in Brooklyn, the most difficult to serve were the ones who wanted—or expected, really—for you to be cool, or at least receptive to a certain projection of hip-and-coolness. It was nice, at first, to have a job that let me swear and show my tattoos, but the pleasure of that freedom waned somewhat when most of my interactions became about the "fucks" and body modifications. If I had a quarter for every time I showed off my expensive liberal arts degree, holding up my end of a conversation about New York’s small presses or the most recent issue of The New Yorker, my tips certainly would have been better.
Molly Osberg: Inside the Barista Class
posted by RogerB on Mar 12, 2014 - 195 comments

They endured.

The Men of Atalissa
PBS's POV collaborates with the New York Times on a 35-minute documentary about the intellectually disabled men exploited for thirty-five years by Henry's Turkey Service in Atalissa, Iowa. (The documentary at the NYT or embedded in a Q&A with the journalists at PBS's POV.) [more inside]
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich on Mar 8, 2014 - 11 comments

Work Makes You Sick: Speed Ups on the Academic Assembly Line

Mental health problems are on the rise among UK academics amid the pressures of greater job insecurity, constant demand for results and an increasingly marketised higher education system. [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Mar 7, 2014 - 22 comments

How Obama's tech team saved his presidency a second time

Inside the Nightmare Launch of HealthCare.Gov - "Unknown to a nation following the fiasco, McDonough's assignment from the President had boiled down to something more dire than how to fix the site. As the chief of staff remembers his mission, it was 'Can it be patched and improved to work, or does it need to be scrapped to start over? He wanted to know if this thing is salvageable.' Yes, on Oct. 17, the President was thinking of scrapping the whole thing and starting over." (previously) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 3, 2014 - 120 comments

You may find that even your rock-bottom expenses aren’t met

Can you live on the minimum wage? NYTimes.com has provided you with a handy calculator to find out.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Feb 10, 2014 - 80 comments

"This is about finally giving college athletes a seat at the table."

Northwestern Football Players Are Trying To Unionize. More coverage from Deadspin, ThinkProgress, and Bleacher Report. The NCAA's predictable response.
posted by tonycpsu on Jan 28, 2014 - 56 comments

The Silicon Valley cartel

Mark Ames on Silicon Valley's conspiracy to drive down workers' wages:
In early 2005, as demand for Silicon Valley engineers began booming, Apple’s Steve Jobs sealed a secret and illegal pact with Google’s Eric Schmidt to artificially push their workers wages lower by agreeing not to recruit each other’s employees, sharing wage scale information, and punishing violators.... The secret wage-theft agreements between Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar (now owned by Disney) are described in court papers obtained by PandoDaily as “an overarching conspiracy” in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Clayton Antitrust Act....
[more inside]
posted by enn on Jan 24, 2014 - 95 comments

The Library as an Economic Model in the Second Machine Age

Congress takes a casual look at the peer-to-peer economy - “Finding new ways to monetise used or existing assets has the obvious and immediate effects of raising their value and the wealth of their owners, while simultaneously reducing the value of comparable stuff owned by incumbent companies — for whom monetisation already wasn’t a problem, and who find themselves burdened by the newly competitive environment. The innovations also provide a surplus to those consumers who previously would have paid more to an incumbent. And all without any new stuff actually having to be made.” [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 23, 2014 - 23 comments

"... it feels like it was all for nothing. Nothing pays off."

7 New Yorkers About to Lose Their Unemployment Benefits Tell Their Stories
posted by The Whelk on Dec 18, 2013 - 139 comments

Love and Alienation

On Graduate School and 'Love' is yet another commentary on the economics of academic work. A younger student chimes in on the role of education in life: "much of education is oriented, for better or worse, toward making a living, rather than making a life." [more inside]
posted by eviemath on Nov 24, 2013 - 53 comments

The Meltdown

Peter Hartcher, political editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, tells the story of the self-immolation of the Australian Labor party and the political destruction of two prime ministers, in a five part series: Meltdown. [more inside]
posted by kithrater on Nov 20, 2013 - 11 comments

Where would be the fun in watching a driverless Formula 1 race?

Brad DeLong, recently installed at Equitablog, lays out a future (wonkish) where the returns to capital keep increasing relative to labor: "What do we people do to add value? Eight things... [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Nov 9, 2013 - 29 comments

"Dwarven society is more egalitarian than… human feudal societies were"

Dwarf Fortress: A Marxist Analysis
What one does in Dwarf Fortress is create a colony of an existing dwarven fortress – you’re always sent out as a team from a much larger existing stronghold elsewhere, and your foreign relations with other dwarves are limited to that particular fortress, on the whole. Even though your settlement is independent and self-governing, and the relations with the mother fortress mostly those of trade, the purpose of the game in all its open-endedness can be nothing other than to create oneself in the image of the previous fortress. In other words, fundamentally in Dwarf Fortress you reproduce the existing structure of dwarven society on a merely quantitatively expanded scale.
[more inside]
posted by Eideteker on Oct 25, 2013 - 29 comments

BART strike continues

BART workers are continuing their strike into Monday, with no quick end to the strike in sight. [more inside]
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles on Oct 20, 2013 - 84 comments

Meet My 9 Year Old Boss

Raveena Aulakh of The Star got hired at a sweatshop in Bangladesh. Her boss was a 9 year old girl named Meem.
posted by reenum on Oct 12, 2013 - 60 comments

58% of domestic workers spend more than half their income on rent

Home Truths: Domestic Workers in California (PDF). 2012's groundbreaking National Domestic Worker Survey was conducted in 14 cities; the sample analyzed in this report includes 631 domestic workers (nannies, caregivers, housecleaners) in four metropolitan areas in California: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose. [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on Sep 15, 2013 - 131 comments

Photos Of Child Labor Between 1908 And 1916 in the USA

A photograph of breaker boys that changed history for millions of kids in America, who worked grueling lives as child laborers. What Charles Dickens did with words for the underage toilers of London, Lewis Hine did with photographs for the youthful laborers in the United States. Library of Congress collection of over 5,000 Lewis Hine child labor photos. Kentucky 1916. Previously. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Aug 15, 2013 - 6 comments

It's on

Kevin Rudd has visited Yarralumla and has asked the Governor General to issue the writs for an election to be held on September the 7th. The ABC's coverage starts the coverage with Vote Compass - Where do you stand (as if you already didn't know)? Faifax has offered this handy ready reckoner. News Corp Australia? Well they are calling on the services of Col Pot to ensure that Voting compasses and ready reckoners point in only the right direction, and to ensure that News' editors - rely on their instincts
posted by mattoxic on Aug 4, 2013 - 282 comments

unravelling before our eyes

A female asylum seeker comes to terms with the fact she won't be settled in Australia [more inside]
posted by mattoxic on Jul 22, 2013 - 213 comments

I Come With The Property

At age 99, Mr. Newton still gets up and goes to work 3X a week. The company doesn't need him to do the work, and in fact the company didn't actually hire him. He showed up at age 86 on a Monday after the property had been sold. He worked for the previous owner, and he came with the property.
posted by COD on Jul 19, 2013 - 85 comments

My hands are often burned and at times thinner splashes into my eyes.

108 stitches per ball. One stitch every 8.3 seconds. For a 10.5 hour shift*. 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Complicated? [more inside]
posted by basicchannel on May 30, 2013 - 54 comments

"Because Leisure Breeds Radicalism... We Oppose It."

Why we're not allowed to work less. Machinery offers us an opportunity to work less, an opportunity that as a society we have chosen not to take -- by 2000 the average couple with kids worked 500 hours a year more than in 1979. This is the story of how the a few companies like Kellogg's at first bucked the trend, and the massive propaganda campaign against shorter hours that's nearly won it's battle to make capitalism synonymous with the “American Way.”
posted by blankdawn on May 22, 2013 - 137 comments

'workers who are "flexible"—that is, dispensable'

"Everyone Only Wants Temps" - My stint doing "on demand" grunt work for one of America's hottest growth industries
It's not a pretty formula, but it works. With 600 offices and a workforce of 400,000—more employees than Target or Home Depot—Labor Ready is the undisputed king of the blue-collar temp industry. Specializing in "tough-to-fill, high-turnover positions," the company dispatches people to dig ditches, demolish buildings, remove debris, stock giant fulfillment warehouses—jobs that take their toll on a body.
[more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on May 20, 2013 - 120 comments

A tide of STEM

Big tech is saying we need to issue more temporary visas so high-skill STEM workers can enter the US, because there's a shortage of Americans who can do the work. But according to this essay in the Columbia Journalism Review, there might be plenty of US citizens available, in fact maybe even a glut, and immigration reform proposals might just be a way to keep STEM labor costs down for corporations and universities. [more inside]
posted by tommyD on May 9, 2013 - 134 comments

The Paterson Silk Strike

For May Day: The Story of the Paterson Silk Strike Pageant of 1913.
posted by homunculus on May 1, 2013 - 8 comments

"What is an innovation worth?"

Google was worth 1,838,389 workers in 1998, maybe
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 26, 2013 - 26 comments

'Cause the Union Makes Us Strong

On May 16, 1934, the Teamsters local 574 of Minneapolis, Minnesota called for a strike to stop all truck deliveries in the city not run by union workers. This 1981 documentary tells the story in the workers' own words. Part 1, part 2.
posted by cthuljew on Apr 17, 2013 - 6 comments

Sympathy for the Cabbie

Boston taxi cab drivers, often cheated, work in a world where risk and reward are a mismatch. [more inside]
posted by Rustic Etruscan on Apr 4, 2013 - 37 comments

All our words are written down in chalk out in the rain on the sidewalk

Each year on March 25, the anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, Ruth Sergel and a team of volunteers have installed "Chalk," a public art project commemorating the lives lost that day in 1911. Sergel, who also founded the Remember the Triangle Fire Coalition has made a publicly available data map that records "the name, home address, likely age, country of origin, and final resting place of all known Triangle Fire victims." Says Sergel, "The chalk will wash away but the following year we return, insisting on the memory of these lost young workers." [more inside]
posted by liketitanic on Mar 26, 2013 - 7 comments

Incommensurable values

Economists and the theory of politics - "why unions were often well worth any deadweight cost" [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Mar 25, 2013 - 27 comments

Unfit for Work: The startling rise of disability in America

"In the past three decades, the number of Americans who are on disability has skyrocketed. The rise has come even as medical advances have allowed many more people to remain on the job, and new laws have banned workplace discrimination against the disabled. Every month, 14 million people now get a disability check from the government." A multimedia story by Planet Money reporter Chana Joffe-Walt, also featured on This American Life this week.
posted by liketitanic on Mar 24, 2013 - 179 comments

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