by Freddie Stuart published in Jacobin
Read original on Jacobin's website
Stuart writes this article as a first-person autob...Show description
Posted 596 days ago
As somebody who grew up working in supermarkets and restaurants, this kind of sounds like a typical service job. I have always been curious what it was like to work at one of these warehouses, which are somewhat infamous nowadays. It seems like it's a standard job that most workers face in America today. And that's a bit of the problem.
People target Amazon as the cause of bad labor conditions. That's not quite true; go to any small supermarket or distribution center and you will find the exact same thing. Maybe it's less homogeneous and slightly less computerized, but you will get a similar "monitoring" feeling.
This fits almost exactly with Vivek Chibber's piece on the working class that essentially says workers have become more atomized. Stuart writes about this as well: when workers meet up after work, the last thing they want to discuss is work or organizing.
I believe this is partly because the work just isn't that bad. It's not wonderful, of course, but it can barely be compared to shoveling coal or working with deadly machines in industrial factories just half a century ago. The entire idea of organizing is different today than it was then, again to Chibber's point in the article mentioned above. Finding fault in the changing of an hour here or there is definitely good, workers should be compensated for that and companies shouldn't be able to just change their hours and therefore compensation at will, but the need to change that is very different than the need to instill safety precautions that workers fought for in the past.
I don't mean to discredit any struggle that people have here, I have had friends who have worked in these warehouses and they say it's difficult, but work is difficult. I'm reading The Good Hand by Michael Smith about oil field workers and quite frankly, that seems like a much more concerning problem and somewhat dwarfs the difficulties mentioned here.