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Sunday, January 27, 2019

'It was like a public execution': American retail workers face mass layoffs

As an employee of one of these big boxers I can tell you living this shit is true. Went from 40 hrs a week Sept thru December then boom In January down to less than half that.

And at any time hours can be chaotic. From 2 pm to 10 pm one day to be back in 6 am -2 pm the next. And the following week it may be completely different but you're lucky to know the schedule more than a week in advance.

Keep this all in mind and realize, too, that when the govt is telling you how great the hiring numbers were it includes these seasonal employees who were then laid off in January, though they tend not to trumpet that too much.

The economy may be doing better overall but I guarantee you there are still plenty of folks out here waiting for it to trickle down.

The Guardian:

'It was like a public execution': American retail workers face mass layoffs

Retailers shed thousands of temporary staff come January but even permanent workers face drastic cuts in hours.
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When Emmett Foster started working at the Amazon clothing plant in Norristown, Pennsylvania, last September as a contracted employee, he was under the impression that as long as he received his certifications for T-shirt printing and quality control, he would be kept on as a permanent employee after the holiday season.
“We knew the day was coming when they would make their cuts. The majority of the staff was seasonal. Those of us who had our certifications assumed just the seasonal people would get cut,” Foster said. He commuted from Philadelphia to Norristown four days a week for the job and had resigned another full-time position to take it.
But last week, Foster and dozens of other seasonal and contracted employees at the Amazon clothing plant were laid off along with thousands of other workers at retailers across the U.S. Retailers have just had their best holiday season in six years but for retail workers the post-holiday come down has been brutal.
“They made an announcement we would all take our breaks at the same time. No one thought anything of it,” said Foster. He explained a manager read off a list of names publicly to announce the mass layoffs. “It was a public execution.”
Amazon hired 100,000 seasonal employees for its peak season during the holidays, a mass temporary hiring common throughout the retail industry. A spokesperson for Amazon told the Guardian in an email, “In addition to the third-party employment opportunities contracted through Amazon, we hired more than 100,000 seasonal employees this past holiday season to help manage variation in customer demand in the fulfillment network. However, throughout the year on average, 90% of Amazon-employed associates across our fulfillment network are regular, full-time employees.”
In 2018, an estimated 700,000 workers were hired in the retail industry as seasonal employees, the most since 2015. But as thousands of workers are facing layoffs now that the holiday season is over, even permanent employees at large retailers throughout the United States are experiencing drastic cuts in hours, making it harder for many low-paid workers to make ends meet.
Alexandria Rodriguez, an employee for over three years at a Target in Texas, worked 35 to 40 hours a week during the holidays, only to see her schedule drastically decrease shortly after Christmas. She was scheduled for four hours, then zero hours the next week, 9.5 hours the week after, and next week only 8.5 hours.
“The bills don’t stop when Christmas is over,” said Rodriguez. “My father was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago, and he was declared cancer free recently, but he still has the medical bills. My sister and I had to move in with my parents to take care of the rent and everything else. Me not getting paid is them not getting paid, so its affecting my entire family.”
Target did not respond to requests for comment.
 Sheri Kostka, 68, who has worked 22 years at Walmart in Rialto, California, also experienced schedule cuts. A few years ago she switched from full-time to a doctor-mandated 24 hours a week after she had triple bypass surgery. With the help of social security supplemental income and receiving food donations from the Salvation Army twice a month, Kostka is normally able to just get by.
“Every Walmart store cuts hours after Christmas. Nobody benefits but the company. Our customers are griping because there’s no one there to help them,” Kostka said. Her hours were reduced this month from 24 hours a week to 15 hours one week, and 23 hours other weeks.
“This week is going to be very hard for me,” Kostka added.
A spokesperson for Walmart told the Guardian in an email: “The holidays are an exciting and busy time in retail, and for the last several years we’ve given the extra hours available during the holidays to our current associates rather than hiring thousands of temporary workers. As the industry returns to its normal beginning-of-the-year pace, we are focused on completing the roll out of our new scheduling approach that provides more consistent schedules and hours, the ability to pick up unfilled shifts, and schedules based on when our people tell us they are truly available.”
Walmart has faced pressure from OUR Walmart, a worker-led organization to provide workers with set schedules in advance and increase opportunities for part-time workers to advance to full-time. A June 2018 survey of 6,000 Walmart employees found 69% of workers wanted to work more hours than they were scheduled.
This pressure from workers, unions and worker-led organizations has led to fair schedule laws being passed in San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, Oregon and Philadelphia, but volatile schedules are still an industry norm in retail, especially after the holiday season.
Employers utilize scheduling practices that provide workers with little notice and varying shifts that change weekly as a tactic to minimize labor costs, though research has shown these practices have hidden costs through increased employee turnover and a decrease in productivity and customer service.
“That gives employers a lot of power over changing their staffing and labor costs to closely mimic exactly what they need and not a minute more of paying for a person’s time,” said Kristen Harknett, associate professor of sociology at UCSF.
Research conducted by the Shift Project, a joint collaboration between the University of California at Berkeley and University of California San Francisco, has found workers with erratic schedules are much more likely to face economic and psychological hardships as a result.
“We see those who have exposure to these scheduling practices are significantly more likely to be psychologically distressed,” said Daniel Schneider, assistant professor of sociology at UC Berkeley. He noted workers with erratic schedules are more likely to report food, housing, and economic insecurities, as well as experience depression and low quality of sleep.

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posted by midnight rider at permanent link#

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The much touted "gig economy" is nothing new. It's how much of the third world survives.

Sunday, January 27, 2019 9:46:00 am  

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