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Thursday, November 22, 2012

One Thing I'm Not Giving Thanks for Today Is the American Work "Ethic" and Our Inhumane Labor Laws

Posted by on Thu, Nov 22, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday—a much needed four-day weekend, or at the very least, a rare but welcome mid-week paid day off? Me too (you know, except for this post), but while I appreciate the opportunity to sleep in and unwind and all, it's also a reminder that most Americans just work too damn hard.

In fact, the US is the most overworked developed nation in the world. Americans work longer hours with fewer paid days off than workers just about anywhere.

Forget about the French and their notoriously long vacations. By law British workers get a minimum of 28 days of paid leave a year, the hard-working Germans, 4 work weeks plus at least 9 paid holidays. Here in the US the legal minimum is zero. Sure, most US employers offer a minimum of 10 paid vacation days by custom, but you know, only if you're classified as a full-time salaried employee. The steadily increasing percentage of workers classified as contractors or part-timers get squat—a third of all women and a quarter of all men receive no paid vacation time.

I know, I know... with unemployment hovering around 8 percent I should just feel damn lucky to have a job at all, especially in a dying industry like journalism. But here's a thought: If the rest of us weren't working such long hours with so few days off, perhaps there would be more jobs to go around! Not to mention a damn more relaxed, refreshed, happy, and productive workforce.

A little something extra to chew on with your Thanksgiving turkey.


Comments (37) RSS

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@42 I respect Goldy for turning his penchant for posting disagreeable internet comments into a career. It is an achievement any web troll would admire. However, I think the notion that Americans working fewer hours would create more jobs is a liberal pipe-dream. In France the standard work week is 35 hours, but in that country far fewer people have jobs than in the US.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 24, 2012 at 9:17 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 43
@41 Well if you'd shut up, my life wouldn't be so hard.
Posted by Unregistered User on November 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 42
@7 - I get the feeling you're jealous because Goldy gets paid for his opinion while you're limited to whining in Internet comments. And his opinion is respected far more than yours is! Bet that reaaaaally sticks in your craw.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on November 23, 2012 at 11:07 AM · Report this
@37 Logging onto the internet to complain about other people complaining. What a hard life you must lead.
Posted by suddenlyorcas on November 23, 2012 at 8:54 AM · Report this
Those closest most wage slaves in this employers' paradise get to feel like they are in a labor union is when they get paid time and a half (for working on a federal holiday or overtime);you'd think they'd ideologically "awaken" during such experiences,but,alas!Their Boob Tube is still operational . . . .-------
Posted by 5th Columnist on November 23, 2012 at 7:27 AM · Report this
Federal minimum wage was never a living wage(and it should have been pegged to cost of living per CONgressional district).
Posted by 5th Columnist on November 23, 2012 at 7:23 AM · Report this
America has NEVER respected work;if it did,then nobody here would have EVER been underpaid!(The word "underpaid" is one of the most underused word in this empire).Most citizens with jobs are underpaid,and the average amount underpaid is probably over five United States Notes per hour (when converted into hourly wages).You need to go back GENERATIONS to find an historical equivalent in this racistic empire!
Posted by 5th Columnist on November 23, 2012 at 7:21 AM · Report this
Unregistered User 37
@36 Seriously, take a fucking break. Have some fucking bourbon. Chill the fuck out. Everything will still be there to bitch about tomorrow.
Posted by Unregistered User on November 22, 2012 at 11:43 PM · Report this
@35, no.

Productivity means employers get more work out of less employees and thus have more profit to distribute to CEOs and shareholders. Productivity doesn't do shit for the employees.
Posted by sarah70 on November 22, 2012 at 10:28 PM · Report this
Unregistered User 35
Jesus Christ can everyone just shut the fuck up for a little bit?
Posted by Unregistered User on November 22, 2012 at 10:17 PM · Report this
prompt 32
I was going to take a picture for your "Workers for Obama" or whatever it is today. I forgot my camera, and I'm on a 12 hour shift.
Posted by prompt on November 22, 2012 at 3:59 PM · Report this
Big Sven 31
I like having these four days off, but generally speaking? Fuck rest. I work 70 hours per week and sleep 5 hours per night designing things to make the world a better place. If I don't work, things get better slower. Life is short, and death is long. I'll rest when I'm dead.
Posted by Big Sven on November 22, 2012 at 3:32 PM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 29
@27: And you all have a delightful (batting furiously) Thanksgiving as well!
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 22, 2012 at 2:32 PM · Report this
Vacation (Urlaub) in Germany is sacred. When they go on vacation here, or even when the work day ends, they are GONE. There are no "work cell" in their pocket, there is no more work done, they are GONE. It's annoying when you call someone you've been working with on a project for weeks, get their colleague, and are told "____ is on vacation, call back in 2 weeks". Makes life difficult when you have to start over with someone else, but things somehow work out.

Ultimately though there is one difference between German and the U.S. in this regard; in Germany people guard and fight to the death for their holidays and vacation. No one will take a job that gives them less vacation than they feel they deserve. The U.S. we bend over backward to GIVE UP our vacation, to get that promotion, to suck up to our shitty boss, to beat that person who wanted to spend time with their family from time to time (pussies, clearly). Until everyone stands up and demands some time off, the U.S. won't get any.
Posted by ace9415 on November 22, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
Dr_Awesome 27
Phoebe, your constant flailing shows you dont understand what point you are trying to either agree or maybe disagree with. You note that Urgutha Forka's points are all true then you U-turn and make your silly payroll crack.

You see, the factors Urgutha Forka notes are the very things that asdure an employer will "make payroll"

But when others call you on your silliness you attempt to figuratively bat your eyelashes and go "What? I dont see it".

You are a joke, Phoebe. Have a good thanksgiving, hon.
Posted by Dr_Awesome on November 22, 2012 at 1:16 PM · Report this
therealtrueauthenticrobmckenna 25
@ 19 - You can't see the where the disagreement lies because your grey matter was long ago replaced by fecal matter.
Posted by therealtrueauthenticrobmckenna on November 22, 2012 at 12:44 PM · Report this
You didn't mention those poor buggers who have to put down their forks and rush back to their minimum-wage Target and WalMart jobs by 9pm in order to sell crap all night long to the people who get two days off.
Posted by crone on November 22, 2012 at 12:41 PM · Report this
If the rest of us weren't working such long hours with so few days off, perhaps there would be more jobs to go around!

I thought of that several times reading the posts from Democratic moochers. Sure, many of them were working hard at jobs they loved, and might work that hard no matter the unemployment statistics. But I bet at least a few of them would like to breathe a little easier. And the self-employed people, doing the American Dream of running your own business -- if health care wasn't such a burdensome cost, I bet at least a few of them would have more people on their payroll.
Posted by LMcGuff on November 22, 2012 at 12:33 PM · Report this
I personally don't think that hard work is always a virtue, or that sloth is always a vice. If a "good work ethic" is working forty-hours-plus for an employer that barely pays you and doesn't value your contribution - if you're essentially handing over your life for the benefit of this indifferent employer - then you're a fool, like Henry David Thoreau pointed out ("Life Without Principle"). If being slothful is going out on the one sunny day when the laundry is piled up to the ceiling, then you know what? You only live once. You're throwing away your life if you're spending it conforming to the expectations of others. I agree that it's nice to have a job, but it would also be nicer if your workforce had the time to stay emotionally healthy and the means to develop its potential.

In a somewhat related note: The less crap you have, the less bills you have to pay, the less you have to sell your life to penny-pinching dead-end employers.
Posted by floater on November 22, 2012 at 12:30 PM · Report this
Goldy: Amen!

Phoebe: An inanimate object is less clueless than you. Everything you think you know is wrong. Chill out, eat some turkey, have a lovely Thanksgiving. Take a fresh start tomorrow, dear.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on November 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
platypusrex256 20
I'm just thankful that Goldy's influence doesn't extend beyond his laughable opinion columns. My god, if an idiot like that was in charge, we'd be fucked.
Posted by platypusrex256 on November 22, 2012 at 11:48 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 19
@18: I don't see where the disagreement is.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 22, 2012 at 11:45 AM · Report this
"All true, but you have to meet payroll."

Wouldn't that be calculated into the price of whatever product/service is being sold?
Or do you think that "payroll" magically happens or does not happen?
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on November 22, 2012 at 11:25 AM · Report this
seatackled 17

I figure they hired him 'cause he's smarter than you, so it was old-fashioned competition that kept them from knocking on your door, figuratively speaking.
Posted by seatackled on November 22, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
seatackled 16
Speaking of labor, KOMO's headline (via the P-I) about the delayed ferry run yesterday paints a picture of a lazy captain.

"Sleeping captain blamed for ferry delays"…

It turns out he came onboard to spend the night, but got on the wrong vessel instead of the one he was scheduled to pilot. It also turns out that spending the night on board is routine.

So I'm wondering why that's the case. What are working conditions for the ferry captains? What are they paid? Something about this reminds me of the commuter plane that crashed on the East Coast a few years ago which had a young co-pilot from this area. We found out afterward that she commuted from Washington across the country for her job and that the low pay--around or even under $20K--didn't allow her to afford an apartment over there and she routinely slept in airport lounges and may well have been fatigued during her flights. And this was not unusual for pilots working second-tier jobs.
Posted by seatackled on November 22, 2012 at 11:19 AM · Report this
NotSean 15
@11 Damn straight.
Posted by NotSean on November 22, 2012 at 11:14 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 13
@11: All true, but you have to meet payroll.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 22, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Report this
I'm thankful for this post. Too often Americans with vacation don't take it out of fear of seeming less valuable to their employer.
Posted by sall on November 22, 2012 at 11:01 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 11
You get more jobs when companies have the economic certainty to invest.
No, you get more jobs when companies need to hire more people.

Companies need to hire more people when they have more customers.

More customers appear when people have the resources to buy products.

People have the resources to buy products when they have good paying jobs and enough time off to enjoy using their newly bought products.

It's a really simple and obvious thing that republicans like to distort by throwing Wall Street gambling in the mix.

People don't hold off starting a company because they're afraid they don't have enough money. Look at the most successful businesses in the country and how they started. Many of them simply jumped right in with no "economic certainty" whatsoever.

Happy thanksgiving.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on November 22, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
Original Andrew 10
And when exactly have we had "economic certainty?"
Posted by Original Andrew on November 22, 2012 at 10:50 AM · Report this
Goldy 9

@7 Oh man, you just totally deconstructed my argument by attacking me personally! I've been totally pwned! You are a brilliant rhetorician!

Posted by Goldy on November 22, 2012 at 10:46 AM · Report this
Sargon Bighorn 8
#5 Ms Wallingford, I think the paradigm must change. You get more jobs when companies innovate and start to move in the direction of pie for everyone, with lots of whipped cream. Of course the cream is hormone free and the cow free range (eating the neighbor's veggies) and milked by hand. So you are right, this is NOT a game. Pie is serious business. Thank you, thank you, I am thankful for YOU today.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on November 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM · Report this
The irony is that it is only the flexibility (he would say inhumanity) of America's labor laws that allow a pain in the ass like Goldy to have a job in the first place. Honestly, would anybody hire this man if the law didn't give them the authority to pay him a pittance and fire him whenever they felt like it?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on November 22, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
It's already Thursday evening here in France, where unemployment tops 10%. Young people living in the banlieus of Paris face a 40% unemployment rate. Happy Thanksgiving.
Posted by gloomy gus on November 22, 2012 at 10:33 AM · Report this
Phoebe in Wallingford 5
If the rest of us weren't working such long hours with so few days off, perhaps there would be more jobs to go around!

It's not a zero sum game Goldy. You're not dividing up a pie of jobs with a dollop of whipped cream. You get more jobs when companies have the economic certainty to invest.
Posted by Phoebe in Wallingford on November 22, 2012 at 10:31 AM · Report this
South Koreans make Americans look like a bunch of lazy asses.

Not everything is about comparing the U.S. to Europe. It's such a liberal cliché and frankly it's racist. Only the white people count, oh and also Japan. Typical. *eye roll*
Posted by Confluence on November 22, 2012 at 10:21 AM · Report this
I'm working today(moving the mail) but get the next 2 days off .breaktime now.Ialso get 5 weeks off a year thanks to my UNION. Salud to all here
Posted by neoanderthal on November 22, 2012 at 10:06 AM · Report this

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