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Author Topic: Joe Williams works retail
G3
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As one of my favorite bloggers put it, "A journalist finds out what it's like to actually work for a living. Hilarity ensues."

Let's meet Joe.
quote:
On June 21, 2012, I was invited to discuss race, Republican candidate Mitt Romney, and the 2012 presidential election on MSNBC. I said this:

“Romney is very, very comfortable, it seems, with people who are like him. That’s one of the reasons why he seems so stiff and awkward in town hall settings … But when he comes on ‘Fox and Friends,’ they’re like him. They’re white folks who are very much relaxed in their own company.”

The political Internet exploded. Because I’m an African American, enraged conservative bloggers branded me an anti-white racist. Others on the right, like Andrew Breitbart’s Big Media, mined my personal Twitter account and unearthed a crude Romney joke I’d carelessly retweeted a month before. The Romney campaign cried foul. In less than two weeks I was out of a job.

Well, live by the race card, die by the race card I suppose. And I wouldn't characterize looking at tweets from the last month as "mining" but whatever. Here's a little more about Joe:
quote:
Five months earlier my ex-wife and I had a fight. I pleaded guilty to charges of second-degree assault, and signed a court order to stay away from her and her residence. Upon completion of six months of probation, the incident would be wiped from my record. But in the wake of the Politico scandal, Fishbowl DC obtained the court documents and published a piece, “Ex-Politico WH Correspondent Joe Williams Pleaded Guilty to Assaulting Ex-Wife.” Finding a new job went from hard to impossible: Some news outlets that had initially wanted my resume told me they’d changed their plans. Others simply dropped me without saying anything.
FYI, Joe's ex-wife has obtained restraining orders against Joe before so keep that in mind.

So what do we got? A guy that is not that nice a guy, that's what we got. Karma finally caught up and gave him a epic bitchslapping:
quote:
That’s how I found myself working a retail job at a sporting goods store—the only steady job I could find after six months of unemployment in a down economy and a news industry in upheaval. In a matter of months, I was broke, depressed, and living on food stamps. I had lost my apartment, and ended up living out of a suitcase in a guest bedroom of an extraordinarily generous family I barely knew. My cash flow consisted of coins from my piggybank and modest sums earned from odd jobs: freelance copy-editing, public relations, coordinating funerals, mowing lawns.
Yeah, that's supposed to happen to the "other guys" ain't it? Anyway, Joe's working retail for the first time since he was a kid (the kind of people that usually work retail).

First problem, Joe's manager, aka Stretch, tells him:
quote:
"If you go outside or leave the store on your break, me or another manager have to look in your backpack and see the bottom,” Stretch explained. “And winter's coming—if you're wearing a hoodie or a big jacket, we'll just have to pat you down. It's pretty simple."
Joe don't like that. He wants to bail on the job right then and there but he realized he's got bills to pay and *needs* that job so he swallows his pride and takes. Hey, welcome to the real world Joe. Theft at retail is a problem, they have to try to control it. Besides, this happens all the time at the airport TSA checkpoint, what makes you so special?

Joe then goes on a soliloquy about what a great guy he is and how hard it is to be him in the Obama economy. That's pretty rough, it's only happening to him or something I guess.

quote:
The first thing I noticed on my first day on the job is that in retail no one sits.

Ever.

It didn’t matter if it was at the beginning of my shift, if the store was empty, or if my knees, back, and feet ached from hours of standing. Park your behind while on the clock, went the unspoken rule, and you might find it on a park bench scanning the want-ads for a new job.

Whaaat? They expect you to work for a entire 6 hour shift? Oh the humanity!

quote:
Besides the mindless tasks one expects—folding, stacking, sorting, fetching things for customers—I frequently had to tackle a series of housekeeping chores that Stretch never mentioned in our welcome-aboard chat. Performed during the late shift, those chores usually meant I’d have to stay well past the scheduled 9 p.m. quitting time.
Daaaayum. Even got a little labor in there. I feel your pain Joe!

quote:
One afternoon, upon hearing that Sporting Goods Inc.’s top managers were set to fly in from out of town for their annual review of their retail troops, Stretch went on a cleaning binge, clearing junk from the sales floor and the stockroom. When he finished, and I saw the amount of garbage waiting for me to haul to the loading dock, I felt like Hercules at the Augean stables.

There were five or so 20-gallon bags stuffed with refuse along with several piles of empty containers, cardboard boxes, and shipping wrap. Two cases of expired energy drinks. Several unwieldy stacks of outdated, five-foot-long cardboard displays.

The garbage run came after I’d already pulled my six-hour shift on the sales floor, and done some of my usual closing-shift chores. At the same time, since the other employee on duty was a petite young woman, taking out the garbage was a solo operation. Forty-five minutes later, I’d finished, sweaty and slightly winded. Stretch turned off the lights, I grabbed my things and we headed to the door. Before checking my backpack to see if I’d stolen anything, he said, “Thanks for the hustle,” and tossed me my bonus.

A pair of socks.

Granted, they were nice socks—high-tech, $25 wool athletic socks, something I might have purchased on impulse in better times. To the manager, it was a meaningful gesture; he seemed to sincerely want to reward me for going above and beyond my usual duties.

But overtime pay, or some kind of financial reward, apparently was out of the question. So he gave me socks.

Joe took out the trash, quite the horror, I know. But it was a lot of trash, took him a mind boggling 45 minutes! Recognizing his effort with a little non-monetary compensation with something Joe actually kind of liked (which is probably at the very limit, if not beyond it, of Stretch's compensatory rewards ability), Joe finds insult and feels a little demeaned and/or unappreciated.

Then there's the long passages on how Joe just can't seem to get back from his break or show up for work on time:
quote:
One evening, I got a stern reprimand from Fratboy, the 27-year-old duty manager when I came back 10 minutes late from my 30-minute break. It seemed I’d lapsed into flexible-forty mode and inadvertently abandoned him on the shoe floor during an unexpected evening rush.

"I know it's not a big deal," he said. "Personally, I don't care. But what kind of manager would I be if I didn't mention it to you?"

So noted, I told him, won’t happen again. Case closed.

The next day, however, when I clocked in a few minutes after the start of my 3 p.m. shift, Stretch sidled up to me near the outerwear rack, arms folded.

"Do you wear a watch?" he asked.

I thought it was a joke. Of course, I answered, waiting for the punch line.

"Well, Fratboy told me you came back late from your break last night. We can't have that."

Irritated by my tardiness, Stretch lectured me on time management, including an Orwellian principle found in retail: If you arrive on time for work, you’re already 10 minutes late. Showing up early is necessary, he said, so you can "get ready to hit the floor."

I feel ya Joe, expecting you to show up on time is pretty ridiculous ain't it? There's a term for this in Joe's world:
quote:
I later realized Stretch was invoking the principle of "wage theft"—retailers expect employees to be in position ahead of time, making their life easier, even if the employees aren’t getting paid for coming in early.
Wage theft. Right. Showing up 5-10 minutes early for your shift so you're ready to go on time is theft. Sure.

But, Joe perseveres, then he starts feeling like maybe he really should be giving it his best efforts but finds that repugnant:
quote:
I knew I had to leave Sporting Goods Inc. when I realized I was turning into the sort-of overeager employee who is way too emotionally invested in a crappy menial job that does its best to devalue him.

<snip>

I felt a thrill when Stretch gave me a high-five for taking an online order from a customer without screwing it up. I quietly exalted when I correctly diagnosed that a customer needed stability running shoes and not the neutral ones he wanted. I congratulated myself on my work ethic when, instead of taking an unpaid sick day, I pushed through a Saturday shift despite a wicked, can’t-breathe bronchial infection.

More than once, I fantasized that if I quit—if I quit?—Stretch would dangle before me the promotion that had been destined for Ike, begging me to stay.

Yeah, having some motivation, actually trying to deliver, that's for losers.

Joe finally gets a job in his area and leaves retail but he's bitter:
quote:
When I called Stretch to quit, he wasn’t happy, but he didn’t try and convince me to stay, either, as I’d hoped. He did, however, manage to deliver a dig that all but summed up my time as a retail employee.

“So, your new job,” he said, his irritation coming through the phone as he realized he needed to fill my shift for the week ahead. “They’re hiring you away from here. I guess [you] don’t care about hard work or loyalty.”

Hard work, yes; I certainly did my share working for a store that didn’t seem to value it all that much. I learned, however that loyalty is a malleable concept—and incredibly difficult to find these days, even at $10 an hour.

Hilarious.
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stilesbn
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You know G3, when you make these attempts at humor by making fun of others it usually falls flat...
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D.W.
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If you thought G3's comments were suppose to be the funny part you missed the point. The humor was not attempted, it was inadvertent, or it wouldn't be funny.

The guy does make a few good points but his selfishness and obliviousness of how life is for those in retail and other low paying jobs dulled them.

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scifibum
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I believe this is meant to make the insights more relatable to people who never had to work a crappy job. Someone who has never had any other kind wouldn't think to mention that they aren't allowed to sit down. Those who have never had a job where sitting down isn't an option might find that informative. I don't see how that's a bad thing.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
You know G3, when you make these attempts at humor by making fun of others it usually falls flat...

As D.W. points out, I am most definitely not trying to be funny here. Although now that I read it back, I am getting a little chuckle here and there.

I am trying to highlight the outrage he voices and the sense of entitlement and the justifications he voiced to justify that outrage. The accusations of wage theft, the disbelief he'd actually be expected to work his entire shift when not on breaks, etc. This guy is genuinely outraged over it.

Here's another way I find this interesting. He was a big deal, he knew what he was doing, what he was saying and who he was beating up. And in all this, he expected a free pass. Why not? He's gotten one for years. But it caught up with him and now he's upset. His complete focus on himself, the shock over his wife beating being exposed when it was supposed to come off his record, he's utterly self centered and completely unaware of it. He puts the blame for his situation everywhere but on himself.

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Pete at Home
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I didn't realize that folks in retail could not sit for six hours straight. I thought the legal limit without a 15 min break was 4 hours.

If a job expects you to show up 10 minutes early that should be made clear up front and probably in writing.

I think it's useful information to put in the public sphere and I commend Joe for putting it out there. Both the stuff that I didn't know about (eg 6 hours standing) and the more obvious stuff that he finds shocking when going down the economic ladder.

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Pete at Home
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" He puts the blame for his situation everywhere but on himself."

You think it was appropriate for the supervisor to attack his "loyalty" when he left a $10/hr job under those conditions for something he was educated for, without even trying to talk him into staying?

Loyalty goes two ways. Too many businesses expect loyalty without showing any to their people.

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scifibum
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Pete, he describes getting a 30 minute break in another part of the article. He's talking about no sitting when he's "on the clock" - he isn't claiming he was denied breaks.
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Pete at Home
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" This guy is genuinely outraged over it."

I'm not sure. I've written some of these coming down in the world stories, and the trick is to describe it in the mindset you experienced it, and let the reader draw broader conclusions. Like in "the Hunger Games" where the stuff going on is more complex than the simple narrator can discern.

Have I shared any of my jailhouse stories here?

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stilesbn
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D.W. and G3, fair point.

I suspect either this guy got a really crappy manager, or he is not the upstanding employee he thinks he is so the managers have to resort to more strict rules to make sure he is productive. Given the fact that he seems to think this is all below him I'm inclined to think the latter.

I worked a job just like his for a while (a sporting goods retail store). The legal limit for everywhere I've been has been a 15 min break every 4 hours. I suspect he's glossing over that part and just outraged that he has to be on the floor and look ready to help customers if they need it. Maybe he should invest in some Dr. Scholl's...

All in all I enjoyed my job. It allowed me to use some of the knowledge I've picked up over my cross country years about running shoes. Although the managers thought I did my job well so I'm sure they weren't as strict about so many things since they knew I wouldn't cause any trouble.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Pete, he describes getting a 30 minute break in another part of the article. He's talking about no sitting when he's "on the clock" - he isn't claiming he was denied breaks.

Thanks. Wish I had a computer with internet ... reading is limited to me and that's frustrating ... part of my own coming down in the world story.

I worked 4 hours on my feet as a bus-boy when I was 17 for $2.25 + whatever pieces of tip the waiters left me, and again as a gym custodian for $4.25/hr when I was 21. I can't imagine standing still for 4 hours straight, especially after working a sedentary job in middle.age. it's a hardship we should consider.

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D.W.
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The difference Pete is you seem to have a very grounded view of what is the typical experience for those outside of your "bubble". People who grow up and stay in one economic or social group often are very clueless of anyone less well off.

This author seems to embody that. That and you've never struck me as the type who blames his problems on others. This guy is very unsympathetic.

Had he explained how an error in judgment led to his career problems, a lack of restraint led to domestic issues with his wife and he found himself in a job experience that was surprising to him in its harshness, well I would have a much different take. Most of it seems obvious to me but from that tone he would seem to be educating others on how the world IS for a lot of people. Instead it is a "woe is me" piece introducing me to someone I wouldn't care to have lunch with let alone be friends with.

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scifibum
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There's no question the tone of outrage and dismay in this article (here in case you want to click through) is kind of funny if he's describing a reality you've lived through and accept.

Yeah, low wage jobs generally suck. This is not news to most of us.

But the point of the article is, I think, to make us think about whether they SHOULD suck to the degree that they do. This isn't going to work on every audience. If you already know the realities of low paying work and already don't support an increase in the minimum wage and stronger public assistance for the poor, then chuckling at this guy is pretty much the only possible reaction. I think this is aimed at other segments, though.

This was stuff he wasn't prepared for, evidently. He's talking to other people like him. He explicitly mentions that he's not blaming the company or people he worked with.

[ March 12, 2014, 12:43 PM: Message edited by: scifibum ]

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D.W.
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I'm with you on the 4hrs on my feet at a time now. I've done that very rarely for field measuring/evaluating of existing buildings and it's a very tiring day. When I was younger however I did this without any complaint and thought nothing of it.
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Pete at Home
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I agree Williams seems a bit spoiled and selfish in parts (although that's part of what makes it a good story and I think it may be more witting that some folks seem to think) but I think some of the remarks are unfair.

"Yeah, having some motivation, actually trying to deliver, that's for losers"

I see motivation here:

"I felt a thrill when Stretch gave me a high-five for taking an online order from a customer without screwing it up. I quietly exalted when I correctly diagnosed that a customer needed stability running shoes and not the neutral ones he wanted. I congratulated myself on my work ethic when, instead of taking an unpaid sick day, I pushed through a Saturday shift despite a wicked, can’t-breathe bronchial infection."

Stretch would have been glad to see him go if he were worthless and would not have gone for that loyalty bs.
.

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D.W.
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Oh I have a lot of sympathy for the low paid worker. I've been one often enough and a lot of my friends still are. It's hard not to be amused when someone "discovers" how the "unskilled" actually do WORK and much harder work than they are accustomed to. All the while having it drilled into them subliminally or overtly that they are expendable and interchangeable with any random person lined up outside willing to do their job and possibly for less money and with more eagerness. There is no loyalty in either direction at the lowest end of the pay scale.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
I'm with you on the 4hrs on my feet at a time now. I've done that very rarely for field measuring/evaluating of existing buildings and it's a very tiring day. When I was younger however I did this without any complaint and thought nothing of it.

Age is a raving bitch. Just wait. It gets worse.
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D.W.
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quote:
Stretch would have been glad to see him go if he were worthless and would not have gone for that loyalty bs.
It wasn't personal. Stretch now had to work harder to cover the hole AND, likely, he was jealous a better opportunity had not appeared for him. It's not acceptable, but it's not uncommon nor should it be particularly shocking.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
I suspect either this guy got a really crappy manager, or he is not the upstanding employee he thinks he is so the managers have to resort to more strict rules to make sure he is productive. Given the fact that he seems to think this is all below him I'm inclined to think the latter.

I think he got a good manager. Stretch was apologetic over the stupid stuff he had to enforce, gave him personal feedback that Joe says thrilled him, even gave Joe probably the only type of extra compensation he could for doing a good job. Stretch came off OK to me.

I think Joe my have started off as a little less than employee of the month material but then he began to deliver and that's where Joe got off the bandwagon. Becoming a good employee was the final straw for Joe and he had to quit as he found that too demeaning.

The final take away over loyalty, it's clear that in Joe's world "loyalty" is about what you can do for Joe.

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msquared
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If they are going to get on him about being 10 minutes late getting back from a break once, they I have no problem with him calling their expectation that he be there 10 minutes early wage theft.

If he is "stealing" from them by taking a longer break, then they are "stealing" from him if they do not pay him for the time he is there.

msquared

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NobleHunter
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I think Williams problem with his changing attitude was that it felt like Stockholm syndrome. He was turning into a willing participant in his own exploitation.

And the idea of loyalty to the company in that situation is ridiculous.

ETA: Loyalty is the word plutocrats use when they want you to work for free.

[ March 12, 2014, 12:54 PM: Message edited by: NobleHunter ]

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kmbboots
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My Dad works retail. After working as a hotel manager most of his life, he now works retail. If you think that standing for 4 hours (especially when there isn't a whole lot of customer traffic) isn't a hardship for a 79-year-old man, you are an ass. Heck, my back cramps up when I stand for 45 minutes waiting for a bus. The point isn't whether Joe is particularly put upon; he isn't. The point is that a whole of the people making decisions about who needs some help and who is "deserving" of help (and quite a few internet posters) have no idea what life is like for most of the people in this country.
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D.W.
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Had to go read the full thing just in case these highlights painted an unfair picture. I don’t think they did. If people read this and go, “wow that’s horrible! We need to make improvements for those at the low end of our economy.” that would be fantastic. I don’t think that this guy is sympathetic enough to be the one to bring that type of revelation to those who have remained oblivious up to this point in their life.

He DID have a crap job. The frisking and unpaid work are the exception not the rule but the worse the economy the more employers can push before people quit. He unfortunately did a huge disservice to his PSA by airing his personal plight and complaining about things MOST people just accept as normal.

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msquared
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I did work electronics retail over 20 years ago and we were expected to be in at least 15 minutes early to make sure the sales floor was clean. However, I was on commission, not an hourly rate. It was in my best interest to make sure the sales floor was inviting.

msquared

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NobleHunter
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It's the acceptance that's the problem.

From other discussion, the unpaid work doesn't sound like the exception. It seems pretty common to have the shift end when the store closes but there's work that can only be done when they're aren't going to be anymore customers.

I remember the wage theft thing from working in a call center. I had to be ready to take calls at 9:00. But that meant my computer had to be on, I had to be logged in and all my tools up. That means I had to sit down at my computer at 8:50 to be sure I'd be ready to go on time. But I only got paid starting at 9:00. 10 minutes a day, every day adds up. To be fair they should have scheduled me in for 8:50 with the expectation I'd start taking calls at 9:00, but that would add to their overhead.

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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by G3:
quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
I suspect either this guy got a really crappy manager, or he is not the upstanding employee he thinks he is so the managers have to resort to more strict rules to make sure he is productive. Given the fact that he seems to think this is all below him I'm inclined to think the latter.

I think he got a good manager. Stretch was apologetic over the stupid stuff he had to enforce, gave him personal feedback that Joe says thrilled him, even gave Joe probably the only type of extra compensation he could for doing a good job. Stretch came off OK to me.

I think Joe my have started off as a little less than employee of the month material but then he began to deliver and that's where Joe got off the bandwagon. Becoming a good employee was the final straw for Joe and he had to quit as he found that too demeaning.

The final take away over loyalty, it's clear that in Joe's world "loyalty" is about what you can do for Joe.

I thought Stretch was OK too, until that crack about loyalty. And the fact that he didn't tell Joe about the 10 min early expectation up front.
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Pete at Home
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quote:
Originally posted by D.W.:
Had to go read the full thing just in case these highlights painted an unfair picture. I don’t think they did. If people read this and go, “wow that’s horrible! We need to make improvements for those at the low end of our economy.” that would be fantastic. I don’t think that this guy is sympathetic enough to be the one to bring that type of revelation to those who have remained oblivious up to this point in their life.

He DID have a crap job. The frisking and unpaid work are the exception not the rule but the worse the economy the more employers can push before people quit. He unfortunately did a huge disservice to his PSA by airing his personal plight and complaining about things MOST people just accept as normal.

The job of a good reporter is to present the facts, not to be sympathetic and loved. Ironic that he seems to have become a better reporter while doing low end sales.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by NobleHunter:
It's the acceptance that's the problem.

From other discussion, the unpaid work doesn't sound like the exception. It seems pretty common to have the shift end when the store closes but there's work that can only be done when they're aren't going to be anymore customers.

I remember the wage theft thing from working in a call center. I had to be ready to take calls at 9:00. But that meant my computer had to be on, I had to be logged in and all my tools up. That means I had to sit down at my computer at 8:50 to be sure I'd be ready to go on time. But I only got paid starting at 9:00. 10 minutes a day, every day adds up. To be fair they should have scheduled me in for 8:50 with the expectation I'd start taking calls at 9:00, but that would add to their overhead.

Is getting there in time to be prepared to work on time really that big a deal? I've never had a job where there was any other expectation, when the whistle blew you didn't start tying your shoes and begin looking for your hard hat and tools. You were expected to have all you business ready to go.

Is turning on your computer and firing up some software really something you'd consider work? And I would bet that 10 minutes comes back, water cooler conversations, interactions with other employees that have nothing to do with work (we all do it), 10 minutes ain't that big a deal.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
G3: Is getting there in time to be prepared to work on time really that big a deal? I've never had a job where there was any other expectation, when the whistle blew you didn't start tying your shoes and begin looking for your hard hat and tools. You were expected to have all you business ready to go.
quote:
msquared: If they are going to get on him about being 10 minutes late getting back from a break once, they I have no problem with him calling their expectation that he be there 10 minutes early wage theft.

If he is "stealing" from them by taking a longer break, then they are "stealing" from him if they do not pay him for the time he is there.

-------


quote:
G3: Is turning on your computer and firing up some software really something you'd consider work?
Yes. It's something that I'm doing for someone else's benefit. I'm doing it so they don't have to, and my motivation for doing that is payment.


quote:
G3:And I would bet that 10 minutes comes back, water cooler conversations, interactions with other employees that have nothing to do with work (we all do it), 10 minutes ain't that big a deal.
10 minutes a day in the morning every morning, 45 minutes here and there after work, all unpaid, adds up to a lot of time where you're doing something for someone else's benefit that you don't want to be doing, and for which you're not being paid.
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msquared
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I personally agree with you, but if the company is tough on your leaving early, why should you not be as tough on being there early? If they want an hourly person to be there 10-15 minutes early every day, then pay them for an extra hour each week.

Also, when do you call it too much? If they start asking you to stay 15 minutes after each shift as well? Now you are 1-1/2 hours after work and 1 hour before? Now that is 2-1/2 hours, each week, that you are at work but not getting paid. And the company complains that you were long 10 minutes on one break?

Really?

msquared

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G3
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10 minutes. None of you guys ever wandered off for something to drink and spent 5 minutes talking to a coworker? Checked your personal email, took a personal call, etc? If you think you should get paid for that 10 minutes early to get ready, do you think you should be docked pay throughout the day any time you're not right there in front of the computer (or on the sales floor or whatever)? Come on, would you really want to start counting minutes? I can say with near 100% certainty, you'd lose out.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by msquared:
Also, when do you call it too much? If they start asking you to stay 15 minutes after each shift as well? Now you are 1-1/2 hours after work and 1 hour before? Now that is 2-1/2 hours, each week, that you are at work but not getting paid. And the company complains that you were long 10 minutes on one break?

All my experience and training is that "on time" means you are there, whereever "there" is, 15 minutes before. If not, you're late. I try very hard to always be 15 minutes early for everything and anything I do so that I can be sure I am ready. I can tell you that I judge others and am judged by others on this and that it does have a positive impact on your life both personally and professionally.
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msquared
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I am not an hourly worker. Are you?

Sure there are times during the day when I am not doing company work. But there are also times when I am in at 6:30AM and work during lunch. But I am salary. Hourly workers are different. Sure they may stand around during the slow part of the day and talk personal stuff, but they are on the sales floor, waiting for the next customer. Their talking does not remove them from being able to help a customer.

I think it works both ways. If the company is going to be really hard ass about it, I would expect it from the other side as well. If the company is flexible, then I am flexible.

msquared

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msquared
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Then they should spell that out to the hourly workers ahead of time, so that they know that their hours include that. Not leave it unspoken.

I am almost always at my desk a half hour before I am supposed to be. But I always leave on time. There are others here who come in a hour late but stay well past 6PM and, since they are in IT, often work long hours on the weekend when they do system stuff.

msquared

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JoshuaD
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quote:
G3: 10 minutes. None of you guys ever wandered off for something to drink and spent 5 minutes talking to a coworker? Checked your personal email, took a personal call, etc? If you think you should get paid for that 10 minutes early to get ready, do you think you should be docked pay throughout the day any time you're not right there in front of the computer (or on the sales floor or whatever)? Come on, would you really want to start counting minutes? I can say with near 100% certainty, you'd lose out.
I don't think it's appropriate to tell someone their start time is 9:00 and expect them to be there at 8:50 (unpaid) doing the beginning part of their job every day. I similarly don't think it's appropriate to tell someone they get off at 5pm and expect them to be there until 5:45 doing the end part of their job (unpaid). Finally, I don't think it's appropriate for an employer to expect his employees not to occasionally take personal phone calls at opportune times, sit down when the job allows it, and to otherwise be a person rather than a machine.

I wouldn't work a job where I was expected to grind out the job without conversation or taking the occasional personal phone call. As an employee, I simply would refuse to work under those conditions (unless I literally had no other alternatives).

As an employer, I don't impose those conditions. My employee is expected to show up near his start time. I am glad if he's there 10 minutes early, and I'm not complaining when he's 10 minutes late. If he can get all of his daily upkeep work done in the first four hours, I'm very glad to see him comfortably watching the register, playing games with our customer (we're a gaming store), talking to his girlfriend, and otherwise having an enjoyable experience for the rest of his shift. I pay him wages comparable to what Joe was paid in this article. I don't expect him to be a slave during those hours. He's a human being, and I treat him like one. I pay him to do a job and I expect it to be done, but I don't expect it to be done by a robot.

[ March 12, 2014, 03:05 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

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stilesbn
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The call center and retail jobs I've been at had a clock in system. if I showed up at 8:45 for a 9:00 shift I might lose 2 mins or so while I logged into the computer and navigated to the time clock portal but after that I was clocked in and got paid for it. So the prep time of getting all the proper programs open was on the clock.

I'm somewhat surprised that there are companies that base their pay off of what is on the schedule...

Also at my retail job we were always scheduled an hour after closing time. It seems weird to schedule only til closing time. It was expected that we would clean and straighten everything out so the store would be ready to go in the morning. I'm having a hard time believing that it's the norm to expect employees to work for an hour after close unpaid.

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NobleHunter
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G3, yeah, it is. It was 10 minutes that I couldn't be in transit or sleeping in or whatever. Depending on the exact time and the buses, it might mean I have to be in the building 20-30 minutes early, because getting there 5 minutes before my shift started meant I'd be "late."

The call center was regulated enough that you couldn't really nickle and dime the time back, as well. Every minute was accounted for during your shift. Too many of the wrong kind of minutes and you got in trouble.

My current job just wants me to be in the building on time. As far as I know, they've never tried checking to see when people log on to their computers.

ETA: The call center tracked time by logging on the phone rather than the computer and the grocery story bakery used physical time cards. So the bakery had difficulty tracking small increments of time and logging in at the call center meant you had about 5 seconds before a call came in.

[ March 12, 2014, 03:15 PM: Message edited by: NobleHunter ]

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D.W.
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quote:
I'm somewhat surprised that there are companies that base their pay off of what is on the schedule...
It doesn't seem terribly surprising to me. As to why they aren't up front about this "requirement" is they know it's not an acceptable practice. If you balk, they will find a reason things don't work out with you and try to roll the dice on the next employee. When training isn't a huge investment for the company they are like the casinos. The house always wins.
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G3
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quote:
Originally posted by msquared:
Then they should spell that out to the hourly workers ahead of time, so that they know that their hours include that. Not leave it unspoken.

I would say that if they're the type of hourly worker that doesn't know or can't quite figure this out, then they need to get used to a job on the lower rungs of the employment ladder. You can tell them whatever you want but if they don't have a sufficient work ethic then it won't matter.
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JoshuaD
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G3: How exactly are you justifying the employers demand that the employee work for the company and not be paid for that work?

The best you've provided is vague hand waving at "work ethic" and "only 10 minutes". Many of us have provided clear counterarguments to that point, which you haven't addressed. You've simply restated your original position again.

That's not a conversation.

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