Common Dreams has posted an article by the great labor writer Michelle Chen, who examines the growing practice of “on call” work schedules. In this labor model, the employee works only when the employer offers hours. There is no set schedule. As Chen notes, there are several disadvantages to this model: no set schedule, getting sent home early, being called in the same day to work, and having no control over free time since you can only work when it is available. This model is becoming more common in retail stores and restaurants, industries where the minimum wage or tip wages are often the norm.
Chen ends her article: “While it purports to optimize workplace efficiency, the Just-in-Time system exploits work-time as a commodity. A just schedule takes into account the true value of a worker’s time, on and off the clock, and it’s the only way to truly ensure a fair day’s pay.” True words. But in a world where so many working people have bought into the argument that business is always right, I’m afraid that on call schedules are going to be just one line on a long and growing list of workplace concerns that workers are going to have to fight to change.
Citing a report by the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Think Progress examines the plight of recent college graduates who can only land low paying jobs. Ironically, some jobs that don’t require college degrees pay significantly more. The report does not deny that people with degrees have better work opportunities. What it notes is that more graduates are not enjoying opportunities they had in the past. As a country, we need to start paying attention to the kind of jobs that are being created in the current “recovery.” As more stories of college students falling through the economic cracks become prominent, especially when they are backed by data from the New York Fed, it’s logical to assume that some students will give up on college and give up on their future. Opportunity needs to be more than a political slogan.