With the debate over worker classification in the Gig Economy raging, many employers who hire freelancers and contractors live in fear .
“That was the biggest issue: If you create something like this, are companies going to take advantage and coerce people to do it?” says Zaino. “We think they are not going to be able to coerce people above a certain income level. They are not providing a routine service that is a commodity.”
It is also possible there could be considerable political opposition to such a proposal–even if freelancers like it.
With labor market trends pointing to a future in which more people do independent work, governments in the U.S. and other nations are moving toward aggressively reclassifying workers now doing contract work as employees, notes Zaino. “They don’t want to lose that payroll tax,” he says.
Thanks to “sophistiratchet #blackademic beast from/in/of New Orleans” Terri Coleman for highlighting this publication on her Facebookistan page. Cultural appropriation is so constant in colonial economies that artists are forced to enthusiastically participate in maintaining its dominance. The artists in this issue intelligently and sensitively address how labor as a commodity when it comes to creating and sharing art assists that frame of events.
How can we account for all of the invisible labour that’s required for us to do our so-called radical work? Informed by intersectional and materialist feminisms, Issue 01 foregrounds forms of labour that go unrecognized in the white spaces of contemporary and media art worlds. This issue is concerned with the before, the after, the behind-the-scenes, and the off-camera. How much not-art is required to make the art? What’s the cost and who puts their life on the line? Without reducing all forms of life to labour, the works featured in this issue allow us to think value differently, to acknowledge all that we do to keep ourselves and our communities vivacious and resilient.
At Toyota service centres in Gothenburg, working hours have been shorter for more than a decade. Employees moved to a six-hour day 13 years ago and have never looked back. Customers were unhappy with long waiting times, while staff were stressed and making mistakes, according to Martin Banck, the managing director, whose idea it was to cut the time worked by his mechanics. From a 7am to 4pm working day the service centre switched to two six-hour shifts with full pay, one starting at 6am and the other at noon, with fewer and shorter breaks. There are 36 mechanics on the scheme.
“Staff feel better, there is low turnover and it is easier to recruit new people,” Banck says. “They have a shorter travel time to work, there is more efficient use of the machines and lower capital costs – everyone is happy.” Profits have risen by 25%, he adds.
The Svartedalens experiment is inspiring others around Sweden: at Gothenburg’s Sahlgrenska University hospital, orthopaedic surgery has moved to a six-hour day, as have doctors and nurses in two hospital departments in Umeå to the north. And the trend is not confined to the public sector: small businesses claim that a shorter day can increase productivity while reducing staff turnover.
Picked this up on for a Tuesday flight out of town and finished it by Thursday. My speed is partly due to the bumpy flights to Portland but more credit should be given to the interesting essays included. Most of these writers research labor or New Orleans as their work, starting with Eric Arensen, the well-known labor writer and author of the landmark book “Waterfront Workers of New Orleans: Race, Class, and Politics.” Arensen encapsulates that history here again while taking the time to credit other history and labor writers and researchers in this update. In his essay and in the entire book, a prime topic is the bifurcation of race in New Orleans that has meant black and white class struggles remain separate and rarely equal.
Matheny’s essay on how the two local musician unions (one black and one white) struggled for cohesiveness during the Civil Rights era is a telling story about how cultural connections can often be stretched but how political power remains less elastic. Additionally, the subjugation of new ethnic minorities in the city can be seen in Murga’s excellent day laborer essay that centers on the growing Latino population who toiled at the thankless jobs that grew in those toxic days directly after the 2005 levee breaks, and in the Schneider/Jayaraman ROC essay on the shocking statistics of the restaurant and construction workers. These essays should encourage us all to stand with our sistren and brethren in active support or at least, to tip VERY well and stop honking at those work trucks in front of us. Both of those essays include the researchers process for the data collection which is a nice addition.
The labor and organizing essays are almost all well-researched and definitive, but the historical pieces on work are the choice meat. Ugolini’s piece on African-American women and the market economy, Roberts’ piece on Voodoo economics (not the Reagan version here, but those New Orleans spiritual entrepreneurs) were both engrossing, as was the praline mammy story and its accompanying myth. Writer Nunez presents the last so skillfully that the full shame of those mid-century life-sized dolls chained to the front of the shop door can be felt by even modern readers. I also appreciate the addition of historic terms such as “higglers” (Ugolini) and “hoodoo” (Nunez) which will send me back to the New Orleans WPA guide for further research (is Nunez asserting that hoodoo is a term that denotes voodoo mixed with capitalism? love the idea if so).
Dillard professor and author Nancy Dixon offers a parallel review of the service industry using its appearances in New Orleans literature over the last 200 years (as befits her experience as the editor of the recent anthology N.O. Lit), interwoven with her own personal recollection of waitressing and bartending in some of the infamous holes across town while she worked through college. Her empathetic view of the unequal nature between black and white workers gives another example of the racial segregation that continues to this day.
The last nod of approval goes to the late Michael Mizell-Nelson and his examination of the short-lived unity among the (white) streetcar and (black) gas workers in the 1920s, as well as the sad story of their later resegregation. Having his writing on New Orleans blue-collar work contained in this book gives it an added level of authenticity and hopefully in future editions (Mizell-Nelson passed away in December of 2014), the editors will add a posthumous postscript for New Orleans’ own Streetcar Mike.