robertogreco + servicework   3

Final Boss Form — We produce, learn, adapt, repeat, and perpetuate...
"We produce, learn, adapt, repeat, and perpetuate ways not to have to think or to act consistently, from one context to the next. New York’s “stop and frisk policy,” which regularly subjected minorities to arbitrary humiliation and abuse in the name of public safety, was considered reasonable until very recently, not only by the Bloomberg mayoral administration but also by many white people who felt “safer” because of it. The Black Lives Matter movement has had to insist on the value of black lives, as opposed to “all” lives, because black lives have not registered as valuable, in the manner of “all” lives, to the white majority. When I taught at a large, private, urban university, all of the food court workers in the student union building and all of their student clientele were in their late teens and twenties; strikingly, and yet somehow invisibly, all of the food servers were black, and most of the students were white. Closer to home, most of the universities I know of, including my own, rely on the labor of adjunct professors whose names we never learn because they are not “really” our colleagues.

We are incredibly good at not knowing what we know, and so were the Victorians. The same culture that developed and embraced modes for representing inequality and injustice could be horribly blind to its own oppressive practices. The same Dickens who wrote humanitarian epics wrote deeply racist essays. The same narrator in Jane Eyre who famously makes common cause with slaves describes Bertha in stock racist terms. Elizabeth Gaskell undercuts her representation of the suffering working classes in Mary Barton with caveats about the “dumb and inarticulate” masses. There are many, many examples any of us here could cite of Victorian disjointedness – so many that we tend to expect them. “Blind spots” like these are so normal that they themselves have become easy to ignore.[i]"

—Carolyn Betensky, “Notes on Presentism and the Cultural Logic of Dissociation”

[full text here: http://www.boundary2.org/2016/10/carolyn-betensky-notes-on-presentism-and-the-cultural-logic-of-dissociation/ ]
carolynbetensky  race  racism  context  transcontextualism  oppression  inequality  discrepancy  injustice  blacklivesmatter  elizabethgaskell  janeeyre  victorian  disjointedness  blindspots  doublebind  highered  highereducation  adjuncts  labor  universities  colleges  servicework  2016  us  transcontextualization 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Is the Gig Economy Working? - The New Yorker
"Many liberals have embraced the sharing economy. But can they survive it?"



"In a competitive market, though, advantaged people still end up leveraging their advantages: that is why Happy Host exists. Today, every major Airbnb city (among them London, Paris, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Orleans) has multiple Happy Host equivalents to help meet rising market expectations. A two-year-old New York competitor, MetroButler, has twenty-two contractors and two cleaners, and last year bought the clientele of another competitor, Proprly. MetroButler’s co-founder Brandon McKenzie had been using Airbnb to pay down law-school debts when he realized that short-term rentals could support an entire service industry. “We’re sort of in the business of pickaxes during the Gold Rush,” he said."



"Normally, every efficiency has a winner and a loser. A service like Uber benefits the rider, who’s saving on the taxi fare she might otherwise pay, but makes drivers’ earnings less stable. Airbnb has made travel more affordable for people who wince at the bill of a decent hotel, yet it also means that tourism spending doesn’t make its way directly to the usual armies of full-time employees: housekeepers, bellhops, cooks.

To advocates such as Lehane, that labor-market swap is good. Instead of scrubbing bathrooms at the Hilton, you can earn directly, how and when you want. Such thinking, though, presumes that gigging people and the old working and service classes are the same, and this does not appear to be the case. A few years ago, Juliet B. Schor, a sociology professor at Boston College, interviewed forty-three mostly young people who were earning money from Airbnb, Turo (like Airbnb for car rentals), and TaskRabbit. She found that they were disproportionately white-collar and highly educated, like Seth F. A second, expanded study showed that those who relied on gigging to make a living were less satisfied than those who had other jobs and benefits and gigged for pocket money: another sign that the system was not helping those who most needed the work.

Instead of simply driving wealth down, it seemed, the gigging model was helping divert traditional service-worker earnings into more privileged pockets—causing what Schor calls a “crowding out” of people dependent on such work. That distillation-coil effect, drawing wealth slowly upward, is largely invisible. On the ground, the atmosphere grows so steamy with transaction that it often seems to rain much needed cash."



"Calls for structural change have grown loud lately, in part because the problem goes far beyond gigging apps. The precariat is everywhere. Companies such as Nissan have begun manning factories with temps; even the U.S. Postal Service has turned to them. Academic jobs are increasingly filled with relatively cheap, short-term teaching appointments. Historically, there is usually an uptick in 1099 work during tough economic times, and then W-2s resurge as jobs are added in recovery. But W-2 jobs did not resurge as usual during our recovery from the last recession; instead, the growth has happened in the 1099 column. That shift raises problems because the United States’ benefits structure has traditionally been attached to the corporation rather than to the state: the expectation was that every employed person would have a W-2 job.

“We should design the labor-market regulations around a more flexible model,” Jacob Hacker told me. He favors some form of worker participation, and, like Mulcahy, advocates creating a single category of employment. “I think if you work for someone else, you’re an employee,” he said. “Employees get certain protections. Benefits must be separate from work.”

In a much cited article in Democracy, from 2015, Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist, and David Rolf, a union president, proposed that workplace benefits be prorated (someone who works a twenty-hour week gets half of the full-time benefits) and portable (insurance or unused vacation days would carry from one job to the next, because employers would pay into a worker’s lifelong benefits account). Other people regard the gig economy as a case for universal basic income: a plan to give every citizen a modest flat annuity from the government, as a replacement for all current welfare and unemployment programs. Alternatively, there’s the proposal made by the economists Seth D. Harris and Alan B. Krueger: the creation of an “independent worker” status that awards some of the structural benefits of W-2 employment (including collective bargaining, discrimination protection, tax withholding, insurance pools) but not others (overtime and the minimum wage).

I put these possibilities to Tom Perez. He told me that he didn’t like the idea of eliminating work categories, or of adding a new one, as Harris and Krueger suggest: you’d lose many of the hard-won benefits included with W-2 employment, he said, either in the compromise to a single category or because current W-2 companies would find ways to slide into the new classification. He wanted to move slowly, to take time. “The heart and soul of the twentieth-century social compact that emerged after the Great Depression was forty years in the making,” he said. “How do we build the twenty-first-century social compact?”"



"One afternoon, I accompanied a Hello Alfred tasker named Phillip Pineno as he went to service apartments in Kips Bay. A placid guy with tiny silver hoops in his ears and a hipster’s dusky beard, Pineno does tasking four days a week and, like Bobby Allan, works in his remaining time as an actor. In the lobby of a building facing Bellevue South Park, he gathered packages and ascended to a client’s apartment—one of eleven he’d visit that day. A bag of Trader Joe’s Veggie & Flaxseed Tortilla Chips went in a cupboard. A box of cereal was tucked into position on the counter. Pineno used to be a caterer, doing events at Lincoln Center and the Museum of Natural History. The work was fine, he said, but unpredictable, different from Hello Alfred. “You get to feel more like a human,” he told me. He could take time every week to work toward his dream without gambling his future on it. He had found some sense of workplace comfort—of being valued and known.

For many gig workers, as for Seth F., that dream remains elusive. When Seth F. had finished hanging art work in my living room, I led him to the dining room. He took a small electric drill and some screws out of his backpack, and started driving them into the plaster. We were hanging a small print of a Sol LeWitt drawing, squares in squares in squares. He extracted a laser level, and projected it across the wall. “This is my favorite tool,” he told me, with a moving tenderness. He rarely met other taskers, he said; there were no colleagues in his life with whom he could share experiences and struggles. The flexibility was great, if you had something to be flexible for.

“The gig economy is such a lonely economy,” he told me. He left his drill behind after he finished the work, but I was out when he returned the next day to get it. I never saw him again."
gigeconomy  economics  nathanheller  2017  work  labor  precarity  taskrabbit  uber  lyft  postmates  sustainability  airbnb  inequality  servicework  loneliness 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Mild-Mannered Revolutionary • What if there was a documentary that treated all...
"What if there was a documentary that treated all service jobs like we treat sex work?

"Nellie wakes at five am to wait in the freezing cold for the bus to her job at a daycare center.

There her boss will emotionally manipulate her into staying at work when she’s sick,  

angry parents will blame their children’s misbehavior on her,

she will have to hunch over the toilet to scrub poop out of cloth diapers with nothing but a thin paper mask to protect her from the fecal matter flying through the air.

She steels herself before walking inside, preparing for a day of utter dehumanization. But Nellie didn’t choose this life.

This is the chilling world of Survival Child Care.”"
via:vruba  servicework  serviceworkers  labor  2013  work  economics  society 
december 2013 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:



description:


tags: