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Labor Studies Nickel and Dimed

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Candace Guerrier

on 12 February 2013

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Transcript of Labor Studies Nickel and Dimed

You would think having a Ph.D and working an unskilled job would be easy. " NOT SO" Moments of Glory How Well Barbara Did at Work? At "The Maids"
Break through at Walmart
At Alzheimer Ward As a worker she gives
herself a B+ "Every one of the 6 jobs required concentration" Had Standards Be fast and thorough but not to fast and thorough that you end of making things tougher for every one else
You have a lot to learn but its important that you don't " know to much"
The more they think you can do the more they will abuse you Jobs were physically demanding and damaging! How Well I Did in Life Its assumed a job is your "ticket out of poverty" but Barbra had 2 jobs at one time and still was struggling to survive
Food consist of : beans, chopped meat, cheese, noddles, and fast food
Key West she earned $1039 in 1 month and had $22 left over after paying for all the necessities
But how about if she had a medical emergency?
Portland, Maine she states she came the closest to having a "decent fit between income and expenses". However that was only because she worked 7 days a week between 2 jobs.
Minneapolis was probably the most difficult: finding an apartment was nearly impossible, and she didn't have sufficient funds between income and expenses. Mistakes In Minneapolis she could of taken the better paying job($10? and hour for 11 hours)
Should have moved into the dormitory for $19 a night Wages/ Rent "Wages are to LOW and rents are to HIGH!" competing for housing against the rich the poor don't stand a chance Calculating Poverty take the "bare-bone" cost of food for a family of a given size and multiply by 3. That how much money is needed to feed that family
this method was developed in 1960s
method was used as a basis for calculating family budgets
this method does not involve inflation in cost Questions Housing cost pose the greatest obstacle for low wage worker. Why does our society seem to resist rectifying this situation? Do you believe that there are realistic solutions to the lack of affordable housing?
Nickel and Dimed takes place in 1998-2000 a time of unprecedented prosperity in America. Do you think Barbra's experience would be different in today's economy? How so?
Can being considered "poor" make you feel unworthy in today's society?
Do you believe there should be laws not allowing homeless people to sleep in the streets? Vicious Cycle Low wage workers "Unworthy" Magical world •Drug tests, the constant surveillance, being "reamed out" by managers are part of what makes keeps wages low. If you feel unworthy enough, you begin to think that what your are paid is what your are worth.
-Examples: no recognition, humiliation toward employees by managers and no praising for a job well done.( keeps employees from asking for a race or aspiring for promotions.
•Never met a slacker, drug addict or a thief. Saddened by the pride people took in their jobs that rewarded them so meagerly, either in wages or recognition.
-Examples: Waitresses crafted at managers stinginess towards customers, housecleaners resented the time constraints that sometimes made them cut corners, retail workers wanted their floors to be beautiful not cluttered with stock as management required. (they take so much pride in their work). •A culture of extreme inequality. The larger society seems to be caught up cutting public services for the poor" social wage" investing more heavily in prisons and cops, spending large on drug and personality test. While the poor are struggling to survive.
•According to the Economic Policy Institute reviewed dozens of studies of what constitutes " living wage" . Average figure of $30,000 a year for a family of 1 adult and 2 children which amounts to $14 an hour. Just in basics not including entertainment and eating out.
•60 percent of Americans earn less than $14 an hour •To go from the bottom 20 percent to the top 20 percent is to enter a magical world.
Examples: Able to afford hotel rooms, fine dining, having a cleaning lady and pleasant entertainment .
•The top 20 percent is the home of our decision makers, opinion shapers and culture creators. Professors, lawyers, politicians, judges and entertainers. When they speak they are listened to. And how that they will distance them from the poor by going to private schools, moving to gated communities or suburbs and shop in brand stores.
•In politics on the subject of poverty and the poor it almost looks like a " conspiracy of silence" . The Democrats are not eager to find flaws. And the Republicans have lost interest in the poor. Both parties will not acknowledge that low- wage work doesn't lift people out of poverty because it would be a "catastrophic mistake". A State of Emergency Criticism Both Sides More demand, but less supply
People remain poor even if fully employed
- 94% of Americans agree that “people who work full-time should be able to earn enough to keep their families out of poverty”
“To be a member of the working poor is to be an anonymous donor”
- “you give and you give”- Gail Adam Shepard
- Lack of motivation to succeed
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- Marxist, Atheist, Enemy of the American family
- Housekeepers response
Positive responses from all social
classes Ten Years Later… Health Overcrowding Suicide Government Safety Net? Homelessness is a Crime Things have gone from bad to worse
“It would have been impossible to repeat my Nickel and Dimed experiment”
Unemployment for the working class has risen three times as high as the middle class Cut back on healthcare
Given up paying health insurance
“Food Auctions” offer products past their sell-by dates
Urban hunting- baked or grilled squirrels. Couch-Surfers
No data on exact number per households
Five people in two bedroom plus one person on the couch No national statistics for suicide due to economic hard times
Four-fold increases of suicides in heavy unemployment areas
“Foreclosure is often the trigger for suicide-or, worse, murder-suicides” Temporary Assistance to Needy Family (TANF) a.k.a Torture and Abuse of Needy Families
“Applying for welfare is a lot like being booked by the police” St. Petersburg, FL attorney says: “If you’re lying on the side walk, whether you’re a homeless or a millionaire, your in violation of the ordinance”
Las Vegas Statute: “an indigent person is a person whom a reasonable ordinary person would believe to be entitled to apply for or receive” public assistance LOW WAGES - "Labor Shortages" : All an illusion; no actual labor shortage, just shortage of people willing to work for the wages.
- Barb called to complain about the low wages. Their reply: "There going up!"
-She didn't agree they were high enough.
- Lawrence Michel:
-Observed that productivity is tied with wages.
-Therefore if productivity increases, wages should increase. EMPLOYERS -They resist wage increases at any cost.
-Willing to offer anything except a raise.

-Examples: Free food, transportation; they do this because it seems as a gift, therefore it can be withdraw without explanation.
-They care about their customers more than they do their employees. (THE ONES RESPONSIBLE FOR INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY AND PROFITS)

-Example: At WalMart they encourage customers to "compare prices" but won't allow their employes to "compare wages"
-"Money Taboo" : Code of silence; don't talk about how much money they earned or how they earned it.
-Employers count on this because it prevents workers from optimizing their earnings, expand their job search.
-Lawsuits have been filed by employees due to being fired for breaking the "money taboo" rule. [National Labor Relations Act 1935 = illegal to punish for revealing wages] They are fired for "minor infractions." (10,000 people a year are fired for this) "Economic Man" Vs. "Low-Wage Workers" -Economic Man:

-Do whatever it takes, with limits, to maximize their economic advantage
-Well Informed: palm pilots, cable channels, and websites ( advance knowledge of what jobs, pays and opportunities are out there)

-Low-Wage Workers:

-Have specific circumstances that affect their economic advantage:
-No car: have to rely on rides or use a bike (geographically limited)
-With a car: gas prices are too high to afford them on their pay
-They are NOT well informed: guided by want adds and signs. Have to rely on word of mouth.
-Majority work "at will" = subject to dismissal without explanation
-Dwell in a non-free and non-democratic environment ("Check in Civil Rights and Zip your Lips")
-Takes a psychological toll on its subjects (makes them believe they are of that level)

-Example: If you are treated lower status you will begin to feel you are of that status.
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