|A vintage black-and-white image of a labor rally with a large banner reading "Workers of the world unite"; superimposed text reads "This long holiday weekend has been brought to you by the blood, sweat, and tears of the labor movement."|
hahaha i have to work every fucking day of itWhich reminded me of the reason I generally have stopped wishing retail and service employees with whom I interact "have a good weekend" or variants thereof at the end of our interaction. Because I remember when I worked retail, and I got one weekend off a month (maybe; LB was big on the belief that the managers, in addition to knowing the store operations stuff, were also the top salespeople and should always be present at high-traffic times, so we had to work most weekends), and well-meaning 9-to-5ers would cheerfully wish me a nice weekend as I handed them their receipt on Friday afternoon. And I'd smile and return the pleasantry, of course, because that's what you do, but I was always thinking, "Sure, it's a nice weekend for you. It's just two more workdays for me."
And it occurred to me that there's a lot to be said about how, decades after the main body of the labor movement made the major gains that it did - 40-hour weeks, minimum wage, paid holidays and vacation, etc - the bulk of those rights are going to the well-off white-collar employees, while the low-wage workers who actually formed the original labor rights movement have seen those protections eroded or denied outright.
Anecdotally: about a week or two into working at my current job (I'm the admin/receptionist for a general contractor's office), my boss stopped by my desk and said "Remember to take your breaks, okay? I see you staying at your desk most of the day, you need to get out more." I laughed and replied, "Thanks, I will - but honestly, my last job was retail. This whole job feels like a break to me - I'm getting to sit down for 90% of it!"
At LB, I was one of a dozen part-time employees, with incredibly inconsistent scheduling - I was guaranteed 20-35 hours because I was a manager; the regular associates could get anywhere from 2-12 hours in a week, but rarely more than 15. And nobody had a consistent schedule of days/times/shifts, it changed every week. I had no access to health insurance, no paid time off, no sick days or vacations. Lunches were 30 minutes exactly, and you were responsible for remembering to take your 15-minute breaks and clearing it with the manager on duty (and good luck getting the okay for that if it was busy on the floor). I made a couple bucks over minimum wage and considered myself lucky for that. And yes, I was required to work all holidays, including this one.
At Stq, I work 8-5, Monday-Friday. I will have a good health care plan, with the premium covered 100% for me and 75% for any dependents - meaning I won't have to pay a dime out of my paycheck for it. I'll accrue 3 hours of PTO per week, which will be retroactive to my beginning to work there (I started as a temp and we're playing paperwork games with getting me transitioned to perm, so I don't have these benefits yet, but it's when, not if). Lunch is an hour, taken whenever I feel like it so long as I let someone know I'm leaving so they'll know to pick up the phone, nobody will care if I come back a bit late (if they even notice at all), and as I mentioned, my boss will actually remind me to take breaks and get out of the office from time to time. I'm making about $4 over minimum as a temp, and my wage as a permanent employee will be about 2x minimum wage. And I'm getting to spend today sitting on my ass in my pajamas fucking around on the internet and writing blog posts about it.
Does that seem fair to you?
So if you want to thank the labor movement for the holiday
And if anybody has more or better ideas for getting involved, by all means, that's what comments are for!