Low Wages And No Stability: Working In America



Labor Day focuses light on stories about labor in this country. There are many publications that cover labor throughout the year but unfortunately most of these articles are ignored. In the era of Dear Leader and his constant assumption of the spotlight many issues are being ignored which is of course what the administration wants. 

Hiding what is going on in labor currently is important to the wealthy and well connected who continue to drive down the standard of life for the working people of America. As long as America focuses on the latest tweets from Dear Leader or his latest outrageous comments or actions, there is no time left in the newscast to discuss declining lifestyles, lower pay, few if any benefits or for those just coming of age humongous student debt and lack of opportunity in the job market.

In These Times related a story that is quite typical of the plight of workers today. This story is about a warehouse worker that works for a contractor of Amazon. However, the circumstances are similar to many jobs in America today. Workers are expected to be on call, get paid only when they work and often never achieve full time status:

“Every day at 4:30 a.m., Dwayne Wilson, 25, wakes up to find out whether he’s going to be needed as a forklift driver at the warehouse he works at in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Wilmington. Sometimes he gets a call telling him not to come in. Sometimes he goes in to find out that he’s not needed that day. On average, he works just three eight-hour days per week, at $15 per hour.  

The products that Wilson moves are destined for Amazon customers, but Wilson doesn’t work directly for the e-commerce giant. He works for California Cartage, a logistics company that has a contract to unpack shipping containers full of Amazon goods. Wilson says that the majority of the cargo moving through his warehouse is headed straight to Amazon fulfillment facilities.

The national unemployment rate hit 3.8 percent in May, the lowest level since 2000, and companies across the country are complaining about the difficulty of finding workers. Yet Amazon has been able to staff its warehouses with workers who frequently earn little more than the local minimum wage. Many of them are contingent workers like Wilson, who get none of the stability and benefits that often come with working for one of the country’s largest companies.

Amazon has been able to keep finding workers for its warehouses—and keeping wages low—in part by tapping into areas where the economic recovery has been weak. New Jersey and California contain two of the largest numbers of Amazon fulfillment facilities in the United States.”

Corporations are often able to keep wages and benefits low by using contract or temp labor. Temp workers live in a very nebulous world of low pay, no benefits, unreliable work and absolutely no one to stand up for them. The general demise of unions gave corporations the chance to exploit a group of people and they sure did. Republicans have done all they can to expedite this process.

As you read this you may feel a bit of pity for Temp workers. That is one response to this situation, but rather than pity I would hope that readers would understand that they may be only change in the law or a change in regulation from seeing their full time job with benefits turn into a temp job with low pay and no benefits. In the past 37 years of mostly Republican rule we have seen unions decimated beginning with Saint Ronnie crushing the air traffic controllers union (PATCO) and replacing those professionals with military personnel and supervisors.  

Remember also that workers in these temp positions are often subject to other Republican inspired policy such as cutting food stamps and the cutting of unemployment insurance. Since 1981 laws have overwhelmingly favored the corporation while stripping most rights from workers. And they ain’t done yet.

So if your a worker and you have been voting Republican out of fear of some “other” or because of some religious belief, you have really screwed yourself. This would be a really good time to peer into the future. If you do, you may see something really scary – a temp job with lower pay and no benefits. This will be a good election to take the first step to stopping that and vote for your own good – vote Democratic.

And you may notice Republicans really don’t care about those religious claims they make. If they did Donald Trump would never have been even nominated.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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