First, be aware of what a weird economic downturn and recovery this has been. From the end of an "average" American recession, it ordinarily takes slightly less than a year to reach or surpass the previous employment peak. But in June 2013 -- four full years after the official end of the Great Recession -- we had recovered only 6.6 million jobs, or just three-quarters of the 8.7 million jobs we lost.....
"Do your managers claim that the short hours are just for the recession?" I asked. "Do they thank you for making sacrifices till business picks up?"
"Not that I ever heard," Ina answered. "I think -- and I've been saying this for a year and a half -- their ultimate goal is to have all part-time sales people working shifts of four-and-a-half hours. That way they're not responsible for lunch, they have a lot of bodies, they pay no commissions, no benefits, and it's a constant turnover. This is what I think they want even after the recession because," here she leaned in as though to reveal a secret, "they haven't stopped hiring people." She checked to see if I grasped the significance of that.....
When America's industrial workers were hit hard in the 1970s and 1980s, the excuse for breaking their unions, lowering their wages, and outsourcing their work was that we had to compete with foreign manufacturers. But not to worry, it was then suggested, there might be tough times ahead for a few blue-collar troglodytes who couldn't be retrained, but the rest of us would soon be data manipulators in a booming postindustrial society.
Feldman is as postindustrial as you can get and his former company doesn't even compete with foreign firms. It seems, though, that corporate headquarters no longer needs excuses or explanations to make workers cheaper and more replaceable.
National Jobs for All Coalition
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