Posts Tagged ‘workers’


Urban Outfitters has asked salaried workers at the company’s home office to “volunteer” for extra weekend shifts at a new fulfillment center.

In an email, the company asked for weekend workers to “pick, pack and prepare packages for shipment.”. . .

Volunteers would work six-hour shifts in exchange for lunch and transportation, if required. The email advises participants to wear “sneakers and comfortable clothing” to prepare for this “team building activity.”. . .

Hourly-wage workers were excluded from the email, though the company said some of them responded. ”Many hourly employees also offered to pitch in—an offer which we appreciated, but declined in order to ensure full compliance with all applicable labor laws and regulations,” the company said in a statement.


The last time I brought up the issue, I was referring to mainstream economists’ presumption we would forever live in a Goldilocks economy: not too equal and not too unequal but just right.

But, as we know, the Goldilocks economy no longer exists (and hasn’t, for over three decades), as economic inequality has continued to grow.

Well, as Jeff Spross has discovered, the same principle applies to economic growth.

The presumption is, fast economic growth is a good thing. Everyone benefits from a larger economic pie. And slower-than-normal growth is something we should be worried about.

Not so fast. A dark and unpleasant truth is that many economic elites actually have a vested interest in anemic job growth and a slack labor market.

How so? As I explained to my students yesterday, faster economic growth means (usually) tightening labor markets and more worker bargaining power—and, as a result, higher wages. On one hand, those increasing wages mean more worker income and more mass consumption. But they also put the squeeze on profits, and the distributions of those profits to the rest of the economic elite.

To which Spross adds:

Finally, there’s a lifestyle issue at play. If the incomes of everyday workers go up, then elites’ real incomes must go down. The labor they’re buying is more costly. This completely changes where and how the elite can spend their money, and what they can and can’t consume. The rising “servant economy” rests on a wide relative gap between high and low incomes.

Put it all together and that’s why we’re seeing such an intense debate about Fed policy in the current economic situation. It’s not just about interest-rate spreads for banks. It’s about the larger and more complex issue of class bargaining power—inside corporations (between workers and capitalists over the size of profits, and between capitalists and the management to which they distribute a portion of the profits) and outside corporations (not only in terms of the commodities capitalists sell to workers, but also the “booty” they share with shareholders, investors, financial institutions, and others).

As Spross puts it,

Elites obviously don’t want to completely tank the economy. But it certainly works for them if it stays modestly stagnant, maximizing the growth of the pie while minimizing worker bargaining power.

It’s the Goldilocks principle: Don’t run the economy too hot or too cold. Run it just right.


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Only in America

Posted: 1 October 2015 in Uncategorized
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Last Friday, CBRE and logistics services firm CORE Group LLC hosted New Jersey’s second annual LogistXGames.

Teams from companies such as Lifetime Brands Inc., maker of KitchenAid and Mikasa-branded household products, and mattress retailer Sleepy’s, raced to wrap wine bottles in bubble packaging, assemble boxes and maneuver pallets around an obstacle course and other warehouse-themed races. At stake: the Golden Pallet, and bragging rights until next year’s games.

Jeweler Tiffany & Co., which has a warehouse in northern New Jersey, unseated the defending champion, book publisher Simon & Schuster.

Participants said the competition was an acknowledgement of a less visible, but increasingly vital part of their companies’ operations.

“Sales goes out and gets the order, but we’re the final step,” said John McCranor, vice president of warehouse operations at Lifetime Brands, which has a facility in Robbinsville, N.J. “We have to get the merchandise out to the customers … so I’d say it’s the most important [part of operations]. If we get orders and we don’t supply it and satisfy our customers, we’re going to fail as a company.”

Apparently, there are also lots of warehouse-related computer games, including the Warehouse Game, Warehouse WorkerE.A.R.L.’s Warehouse, and Warehouse Keeper.

Chart of the day

Posted: 25 September 2015 in Uncategorized
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According to a new study, Americans want to do business with corporations that are more “just.”


And a large part of that justness—across political views—has to do with how corporations treat their employees.


What is it poor working Americans need?

According to Jeb Bush, channeling Mitt Romney, they need “hope and aspiration,” not promises of “free stuff.”

“Our message is one of hope and aspiration,” he said at the East Cooper Republican Women’s Club annual Shrimp Dinner. “It isn’t one of division and get in line and we’ll take care of you with free stuff. Our message is one that is uplifting — that says you can achieve earned success.”

And then there’s Robert Macdonald, mayor of Lewiston, Maine, who supports a bill “asking that a Web site be created containing the names, addresses, length of time on assistance and the benefits being collected by every individual on the dole.”

Of people receiving benefits, he said: “Go into the grocery store. They flaunt it.” Publicly posting personal information, he said, could encourage people to go after those “gaming the system.”

He added he doesn’t care whether some people who rightly receive benefits could be hurt, saying: “Some people are going to get harmed but if it’s for the good of everybody, that’s the way it is.”

What’s next, requiring welfare recipients to submit to drug testing or screening?

Oh, that’s right, at least thirteen states have already passed legislation regarding drug testing or screening for public assistance applicants or recipients (Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah). And, as of July 2015, another 18 states have proposed legislation requiring some form of drug testing or screening for public assistance recipients this year (Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia).


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