Lynn Marie Smith of AFT-Michigan at a protest rally
Tags: capitalism, class, economic sociology, inequality, organizations/occupations/work, benefits, exploitation, jobs, part-time employment, profit, 00 to 05 mins
Summary: Written and performed by Lynn Marie Smith of the labor union organization AFT Michigan, this catchy song (sung to the tune of Stevie Wonder's "Part-Time Lover") addresses the plight of the part-time worker. Everyone agrees we need more jobs, but is part-time employment the answer? Some people may just need extra money for a short time, or can only work part time due to other responsibilities; for these people, part-time work is a boon. However, for many other workers, part-time jobs are a trap. In fact, a growing employer practice is to require part-time workers to have around-the-clock availability. And if such workers cannot report for duty when called, or are even found to have another job, they may be terminated. One of the biggest financial problems with part-time employment is that such workers not only may make less, but also may not qualify for benefits. And with the new health care provisions that will be enacted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (i.e., "Obamacare"), there appear to be clear incentives for employers to increasingly transform jobs from full-time to part-time status. Indeed, a recent article by Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute suggests that employers could theoretically reduce their cost-per-labor-hour by half should they go to an all part-time workforce in order to minimize mandate penalties. Yet, there is already evidence that shifting to part-time workers may generate backlash. For example, in anticipation of health care insurance changes that became effective January 1, 2013, Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, announced in October that it would be moving even more of its 185,000 employees over to part-time status, despite the fact that about 70 percent were already part-time. However, citing adverse public reaction leading to lower sales in test market areas, Darden just announced that it was suspending such efforts for now. Another example is the coordinated strike for better wages and solidarity in New York of fast food workers in November 2012. This clip addressing the plight of the part-time worker can be used to initiate class discussion on how shifting work arrangements in the new service economy create precarious job situations for many American workers. Further, viewers can be encouraged to consider implications of these shifting arrangements for worker benefits and job satifaction. (Note: A version of this post originally appeared on SoUnequal.)
Submitted By: Marta Gordon & Michael Miller
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