Some of the Ways 'Work' Works

Worker exploitation and mistreatment or barbecues and farewells to summer? The history of Labor Day and the way it is celebrated captures an interesting dynamic in the way "work" works in the U.S. A few recent articles reflects these different issues, and what better time to reflect on them than on the holiday that has a unique way of simultaneously commercializing and challenging the structures that prop up the country's approach to working and, by extension, to living.

The Coalition of Immokalee Workers, along with other grassroots labor organizations, continues to take Trader Joe's to task for the corporation's refusal to sign onto the Fair Food Campaign, which would provide better working conditions for Florida tomato pickers. As reported by Leslie Hatfield and Karen Kanan Corea on Ecocentric, the CIW, Jewish Labor Committee, Just Harvest USA and the Farmworker Solidarity Alliance, protested at a Trader Joe's store in New York City two weeks ago in an effort to pressure the company to join the leagues of Whole Foods, Taco Bell/Yum Brands, McDonald’s, Subway, and Compass in the Fair Food Campaign.

In Dissent Magazine, Mark Engler writes about a new report released by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco called "The Effect of Immigrants on U.S. Employment and Productivity." The report's findings clash with the twisted-lingo of current anti-immigrant campaigns. The report concluded that “there is no evidence that immigrants crowd out U.S.-born workers in either the short or long run.” While this report does little to address the real problems affecting immigrant workers in the U.S., it does, in Engler's words, set the record straight.

And, on the other end of the way "work" works spectrum, the author of Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, John de Graaf, compares the Dutch approach to the U.S. approach to work in an article titled "Wake Up Americans: It's Time to Get off the Work Treadmill." Citing a number of recent books and articles arguing just this, de Graaf is putting out a call to "Take Back Your Time," a U.S. and Canadian-based initiative "to challenge the epidemic of overwork, over-scheduling and time famine" that threatens health, relationships, communities and environment.

Happy Labor Day, and enjoy the day off, if you're fortunate enough to have it.
Print Friendly and PDF

No comments:

Post a Comment

Having trouble leaving a comment? Some browsers require acceptance of 3rd party cookies. If you leave an anonymous comment, it may need to be approved.