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America’s Massive Retail Workforce Is Tired of Being Ignored - Racked
The roughly 16 million workers in the retail industry mostly make less than $15 an hour, and many get fewer hours than they’d like; in a recent report, CPD found that 49 percent of part-timers in general merchandise retail (big-box, department, and discount stores) would prefer to be full-time. Working one's way up the job ladder is harder for women and people of color — women make up 60 percent of first-line supervisors, but only 18 percent of upper management.

The subsectors that disproportionately employ women are also the ones with “a higher concentration of low-quality jobs.” More than twice as many women as men work in clothing and accessories retail, for example, with a median wage of $9.39 for salespeople. General merchandise stores also have a 60 percent female workforce and disproportionately high numbers of black and Latino workers, who are concentrated in positions like cashier, where 90 percent of them make below $13.30 an hour. Wage theft — the failure to pay wages owed — is pervasive in the industry, as a new report from the Economic Policy Institute shows.
retail  labor_abuses  labor  minimum_wage 
2 days ago by perich
Rigged. Forced into debt. Worked past exhaustion. Left with nothing. - USA TODAY
Los Angeles — Samuel Talavera Jr. did everything his bosses asked.

Most days, the trucker would drive more than 16 hours straight hauling LG dishwashers and Kumho tires to warehouses around Los Angeles, on their way to retail stores nationwide.

He rarely went home to his family. At night, he crawled into the back of his cab and slept in the company parking lot.

For all of that, he took home as little as 67 cents a week.

Then, in October 2013, the truck he leased from his employer, QTS, broke down.

When Talavera could not afford repairs, the company fired him and seized the truck -- along with $78,000 he had paid towards owning it.
labor  wages  wage.slave 
2 days ago by verstehen
America’s Massive Retail Workforce Is Tired of Being Ignored - Racked

“There's this sense that a factory job is a good job and retail jobs are not. An industrial factory job used to be literally the worst, most dangerous job you could have. Organizing and unionizing those places is what turned them into family-wage jobs.”
retail  unions  labor  manufacturing  work  jobs  minimumwage 
2 days ago by drewish
Furniture of the Future: Victorian New York’s Most Visionary Designer Loved His Machines | Collectors Weekly
Yet from Hunzinger’s vantage point as a successful immigrant in New York City, possibly the most forward-thinking place on Earth, he imagined a future where humans lived among machines, and even the most humble pieces of furniture would be mechanically enhanced....

“It’s really in the 1870s when our modern world starts to take shape, and we start to recognize the United States that we are today,” explains Barry R. Harwood, a curator of decorative arts at the Brooklyn Museum. “It’s a very pivotal, interesting moment, and Hunzinger is the foremost practitioner of this proto-modern design.” Harwood organized the exhibition and authored the catalog for the museum’s 1997 show The Furniture of George Hunzinger: Invention and Innovation in 19th-Century America, which helped ignite scholarly interest in a designer who already had a strong following among dealers and collectors...

Most of Hunzinger’s pieces fell squarely into the emerging field of “patent furniture,” which adopted mechanical improvements to make adjustable, multi-purpose furniture for saving space and improving comfort. “By 1861, he started patenting folding chairs, which became a sort of obsession,” Harwood says. Much like today, convertible furniture—including folding chairs, sofa beds, and card tables—was very appealing to urban residents with limited space....

In addition to his technical virtuosity, Hunzinger employed clever marketing tactics, which included providing a variety of finishes and upholsteries for each item, thus allowing shoppers to customize their purchases. “In the 1870s, this notion of consumer choice was just beginning to take shape,” Harwood says. “Hunzinger would offer the same chair with different stains, ranging from a very light blonde to ebonized wood, and different styles of upholstery, from simple cotton reps—a kind of corduroy—to fancy silk velvets. He even started to gild some of the chairs in the mid-1870s, which indicates his shop was pretty successful because that required a trained gilder and a dust-free space in the factory.” ...

To speed production and cut costs, Hunzinger also utilized modular parts that could be applied to several different items of furniture. For example, in the mid-1870s, Hunzinger designed a settee, an armchair, and a side chair with identical motifs on each. “The same legs were used for all of them,” ...

“Hunzinger was one of the first furniture makers in the United States for whom the machine, the means of production, provided the aesthetic inspiration for design,” Harwood wrote in his catalog for The Furniture of George Hunzinger. “The regularized, crisply turned members of Hunzinger’s spare furniture resemble the very machines that produced them.”

Almost half a century before the design movement known as Modernism, Hunzinger applied similar tenets to his furniture—focusing on function rather than ornamentation and utilizing geometric forms inspired by the simple lines of machinery. To be sure, other furniture companies relied on current technology to produce their pieces, but they typically did so in the service of extraneous ornamentation demanded by popular Victorian styles like Eastlake or Rococo Revival....

In contrast, Hunzinger allowed the assets of existing machinery to inform his designs, rather than adapting tools to imitate popular styles. “Hunzinger’s favorite tool was the lathe,” Harwood continues, “which he used to make furniture with interesting turnings. He responded to the precision of its sharp indentations to create a certain rhythm on a piece furniture. Hunzinger let the lathe do what it does best, and that’s the beginning of the machine aesthetic—not fighting against the machine, but working with it.”...

Most of Hunzinger’s furniture had absolutely no naturalistic decoration on it at all, just relying on geometry and what the machine could produce, which gives it a very hard-edged, crisp aspect.”...

Hunzinger had a factory and showroom in New York City, but most of his products were sold through wholesalers in other cities. For consumers, the idea that these products were patented—implying innovation and novelty—was typically more important than a brand or designer, so they were generally advertised without the maker’s name.
furniture  intellectual_furnishings  manufacturing  labor  automation  machine_aesthetic 
4 days ago by shannon_mattern
Thousands of drivers work up to 20 hours a day, sometimes for pennies. When they get sick or refuse to keep working, trucking companies fire them and take their trucks – along with thousands they have paid toward buying them
business  politics  economics  labor 
5 days ago by jacobraleigh
SPIEGEL Interview with Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew: "It's Stupid to be Afraid" - SPIEGEL ONLINE
SPIEGEL: How so?

Mr. Lee: The social contract that led to workers sitting on the boards of companies and everybody being happy rested on this condition: I work hard, I restore Germany's prosperity, and you, the state, you have to look after me. I'm entitled to go to Baden Baden for spa recuperation one month every year. This old system was gone in the blink of an eye when two to three billion people joined the race -- one billion in China, one billion in India and over half-a-billion in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

SPIEGEL: The question is: How do you answer that challenge?

Mr. Lee: Chancellor Kohl tried to do it. He did it halfway then he had to pause. Schroeder tried to do it, now he's in a jam and has called an election. Merkel will go in and push, then she will get hammered before she can finish the job, but each time, they will push the restructuring a bit forward.

SPIEGEL: You think it's too slow?

Mr. Lee: It is painful because it is so slow. If your workers were rational they would say, yes, this is going to happen anyway, let's do the necessary things in one go. Instead of one month at the spa, take one week at the spa, work harder and longer for the same pay, compete with the East Europeans, invent in new technology, put more money into your R&D, keep ahead of the Chinese and the Indians.


SPIEGEL: During your career, you have kept your distance from Western style democracy. Are you still convinced that an authoritarian system is the future for Asia?

Mr. Lee: Why should I be against democracy? The British came here, never gave me democracy, except when they were about to leave. But I cannot run my system based on their rules. I have to amend it to fit my people's position. In multiracial societies, you don't vote in accordance with your economic interests and social interests, you vote in accordance with race and religion. Supposing I'd run their system here, Malays would vote for Muslims, Indians would vote for Indians, Chinese would vote for Chinese. I would have a constant clash in my Parliament which cannot be resolved because the Chinese majority would always overrule them. So I found a formula that changes that...
news  org:euro  interview  lee-kuan-yew  statesmen  foreign-policy  realpolitik  polisci  asia  developing-world  china  sinosphere  government  thucydides  expansionism  leviathan  property-rights  big-peeps  nationalism-globalism  europe  japan  korea  geopolitics  usa  democracy  antidemos  labor 
5 days ago by nhaliday

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