Category Archives: Labor Issues

Wondering Where Your Job Went? Check the Local Prison

Why hire someone for minimum wage when you can get prison labor for half the cost?  While work can be an important part of rehabilitation, we have to look at how it impacts the job market when we are turning over millions of jobs to prisoners.  From  21st century chain gangs.

Providence Ranked in Bottom 5 for Job Creation

You hate to see it, but Providence is really struggling to hire.  I am sure Mayor Angel Taveras is doing all he can to put us on the road to job creation, but it’s not easy when his own city is so financially strapped.  Full article:  Oklahoma City Leads Large Cities in Job Creation.

Humanities and Social Science Grad Students: Really Smart Suckers?

The case is now being made, quite strongly some might argue, that a humanities or social science Phd is not going to get you very far in life.  In fact, the analysis of graduate students by the most strident critics suggests that they are “really smart suckers” for a system that is going to screw them in the end.  That’s the argument of William Pannapacker in this piece.

If you’re in graduate school and you need to vent, you can check out the website  called “100 Reasons Not to go to Graduate School.”   The following post describes how 100 Reasons is hitting a nerve big time:  Website offers regular debates on wisdom of going to grad school | Inside Higher Ed.

Kiersten Marek:

True words spoken on education and how it will be kicked around like a football in the game of politics over the next several months.

Originally posted on :

As election season nears, grandstanding Democratic and Republican politicians will discuss the importance of educators and not teaching to a test. Then, with their empty rhetoric still in the air, they will enact laws that base evaluations on test scores, weaken due process, and inject competition. Meanwhile, many news organizations, who have failed to report on why many educators are against these things, will hail their efforts. None of these efforts will work, and the thousands of teachers and principals who have criticized these ideas will then clean up the mess.

In 1991, New York released its first set of coronary-bypass mortality numbers for cardiac surgeons, and in a 2005 report by New York Magazine, an astonishing 79 percent of doctors who do angioplasty said anonymously the mortality statistics discouraged them from taking on risky patients. Now, some want to evaluate and publish – like the New York Times and…

View original 566 more words

Salon Profiles the 99-ers

The New Agenda for America, Set by Occupy and the 99%

Occupy Providence to Be Evicted Sunday Evening, October 30, 2011

A notice has been given to Occupy Providence members and has been posted around Burnside Park: they have 72 hours to vacate or they will be evicted. Given that so many other groups have expressed solidarity with the Occupy movement, it is unclear how this is going to play out. My hope is that it plays out non-violently, and also that the movement is not diminished in its importance. There is so little space for people to rally around an important cause at this point, and corporate pressure is increasingly squeezing out the voices of the 99%. We need to keep our ears and eyes open to what the opposition is saying or we will be increasingly dominated by corporations and their single-minded goal of increasing profits.

Workplace– From Mother Jones

Mother Jones has a fine article where workers tell their stories of speedups, add-ons and working off the clock.

In my part of the warehouse, we load products like cigarettes, shampoos, or lotions into totes that get sent down the rollers to where the trucks are. We’re given orders by scanning our badges and totes into a computer system, which tells us what to pull and how quickly it has to be done. Back when I started in 1999, the rate wasn’t so bad, but for about a year, they’ve been gradually ratcheting it up. Say the old rate was 100 orders a day. Now they’re up to 160, sometimes even higher.

‘Harrowing, Heartbreaking Tales of Overworked Americans’ first-person stories from the job, whether the job is maid, teacher or doctor, the squeeze is on to do more with less.

Workplace– Artist’s Model

A guy I used to know, who was a pretty good writer but needed a day job was posing for the life drawing class at RISD.

“It’s the essence of job,” he said.
“You go to work, you plant yourself there and stay for a number of hours. Afterwards you get paid for the number of hours you were there.”

There’s something to that, although there are many people planted in cubicles who are less aesthetically pleasing than a model striking a pose. And whose work does not advance a great cause, such as art, and making sure youth do not draw people looking lumpy and ill-proportioned (unless they are doing it on purpose of course.)


Someone somewhere mentioned that NPR, often accused of a liberal bias, has a show called ‘Marketplace’. But there’s no show called ‘Workplace’.

I have wanted for a long time to remedy that, and I’m starting a series on this blog where we talk about work.

I want to invite our readers, especially some of our most dedicated commenters, to submit work stories.

Please do use pseudonyms. I don’t know the legal implications, but I don’t want Burger Chef to rise from the dead and sue us if someone discloses what happened after the patties defrosted and the manager refroze them. That’s just a hypothetical. Burger Chef is really dead, right?

Other than avoiding slander, guidelines are to make work the focus of your post, the more real details of the actual work, the better.

Send submissions to me at

Let’s break the last taboo– what do you do at work all day?


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