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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,030

About Me

Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Dignity: Fast-food workers and a new form of labor activism.

For the customers, nothing has changed in the big, busy McDonald’s on Broadway at West 181st Street, in Washington Heights. Promotions come and go—during the World Cup, the French-fry package was suddenly not red but decorated with soccer-related “street art,” and, if you held your phone up to the box, it would download an Augmented Reality app that let you kick goals with the flick of a finger. New menu items appear—recently, the Jalapeńo Double and the Bacon Clubhouse, or, a while back, the Fruit and Maple Oatmeal. But a McDonald’s is a McDonald’s. This one is open twenty-four hours. It has its regulars, including a panel of older gentlemen who convene at a row of tables near the main door, generally wear guayaberas, and deliberate matters large and small in Spanish. The restaurant doesn’t suffer as much staff turnover as you might think. Mostly the same employees, mostly women, in black uniforms and gold-trimmed black visors, toil and serve and banter with the customers year after year. The longtime manager, Dominga de Jesus, bustles about, wearing a bright-pink shirt and a worried look, barking at her workers, “La linea! La linea! ”

Behind the counter, though, a great deal has changed in the past two years. Among the thirty-five or so non-salaried employees, fourteen, at last count, have thrown in their lot with Fast Food Forward, the New York branch of a growing campaign to unionize fast-food workers. Underneath the lighted images of Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets, back between the deep fryer and the meat freezer, the clamshell grill and the egg station, the order screens and the endless, hospital-like beeping of timers, there have been sharp and difficult debates about the wisdom of demanding better pay and forming a union.

Most of the workers here make minimum wage, which is eight dollars an hour in New York City, and receive no benefits. Rosa Rivera, a grandmother of four who has worked at McDonald’s for fourteen years, makes eight dollars and fifty cents. Exacerbating the problem of low pay in an expensive city, nearly everyone is effectively part time, getting fewer than forty hours of work a week. And none of the employees seem to know, from week to week, when, exactly, they will work. The crew-scheduling software used by McDonald’s is reputed to be sophisticated, but to the workers it seems mindless and opaque. The coming week’s schedule is posted on Saturday evenings. Most of those who, like Rivera, have sided with the union movement—going out on one-day wildcat strikes, marching in midtown protests—suspect that they have been penalized by managers with reductions in their hours. But just-in-time scheduling is not easy to analyze.

Arisleyda Tapia, who has been working here for eight years, and makes eight dollars and thirty-five cents an hour, says she was fired last year by a supervisor for participating, on her own time, in a protest. She was reinstated three days later by cooler management heads, but Tapia, a single mother with a five-year-old daughter, says that she now gets only thirty hours a week. She used to average forty. “And they don’t really post the schedule anymore,” she told me. “They just give you these.”

much more


Ben & Jerry's Launches Bob Marley-Inspired Ice Cream

Ben and Jerry's have decided to dig into their inner ganjaprenuers and create a special Bob Marley-inspired flavor. The flavor's name — Satisfy My Bowl — takes advantage of great double entendre. According to the website, the ice cream features a banana ice cream base loaded with caramel and cookie swirls. Plus, there are chocolate pieces in the shape of peace signs but no actual weed.

The ice cream flavor was created in partnership with the 1Love Foundation to honor the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley's iconic Legend album. Proceeds from sales of the pint will help fund a "youth empowerment program in Jamaica." High Snobiety notes that Satisfy My Bowl is available starting September 15 but unfortunately only the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, and Norway. Fret not, America, you still have THC-laced pizza — which will actually get you high.


Redskins owner announces support of Roger Goodell

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — Redskins owner Dan Snyder says he supports NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, stating he "has always had the best interests of football at heart" and "we are fortunate to have him."

The team released a two-sentence statement on Saturday morning, following a week of criticism of Goodell and his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case. Video of Rice punching his then-fiancee became public and Goodell says he never saw it until it surfaced.

The Associated Press reported a law enforcement official sent the video to the league in April.

On Friday, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted in Texas for using a branch to beat one of his sons, then benched by Minnesota.


Boko Haram's Feared Commander Reportedly Among 200 Militants Killed by Nigerian Military

Source: AP/Mashable

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria — Soldiers killed scores of Islamic extremists in a rare victory, as the insurgents advanced on a town near the northeast city of Maiduguri, an officer and other witnesses said.

One officer said a feared Boko Haram commander known only as Amir was among some 200 militants killed in a battle Friday in Konduga town, 35 kilometers (22 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and birthplace of the extremist group.

Also killed was a Boko Haram video journalist and a suicide bomber, he said.

There were no military casualties, according to the officer and a civilian self-defense group that fights alongside the soldiers. Both spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to reporters.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2014/09/13/boko-haram-commander-killed/

An Ill 'Star Trek' Fan Wanted to Meet Patrick Stewart, and He Made It So

Being a starship captain is so much more than giving commands and flying through space. You have to have a big, caring heart — just like Captain Picard.

Dawn Garrigus, a dedicated Star Trek fan from Statesboro, Georgia, lives with mitochondria disease, a progressive illness that causes loss of muscle coordination, weakness and pain, seizures, vision and/or hearing loss, gastrointestinal issues, learning disabilities and organ failure. The 11-year-old's Make-A-Wish request was to simply attend DragonCon, a popular sci-fi and fantasy convention.

Also in attendance at the convention was Sir Patrick Stewart, who got word of Dawn's trip, and decided to boldly go and surprise her with a big hug and a short meet and greet on Sept. 1. Their encounter was documented by photographer James Barker.



So many people came to donate to an Animal Shelter that they gridlocked a motorway

Cheshire Dogs' Home has been forced to tell people to stay away after hundreds of people travelled to the site to foster dogs and donate animal supplies.

It follows a fire at sister site Manchester Dogs' Home, which killed about 60 animals according to police.

The charity said 51 dogs rescued from the fire had been fostered, with more than 400 visitors to the Cheshire site.

It added the number of people coming to the site, near Warrington, caused tailbacks on the M6 motorway.



Elderly couple, down on their luck, found living in car

A couple in their 70s, down on their luck, is living in their car in a Pasco County Walmart parking lot -- but not by choice.

Thanks to a group of girls, they're slowly getting back on their feet.

Dee Head, her husband Gordon, and their three dogs have been in that lot for several weeks.

"Everything is kind of hitting us at one time," Gordon said.

They had been living in Texas until early August when Gordon took a construction supervisor job in The Villages.



Mesmerizing Aurora in Dramatic Landscapes of Fire, Ice, and Shadow

Aurora are beautiful, but the fire and smoke of Bárđarbunga step it up to gorgeous. The weekend kicked off with the Earth putting on a glorious display of green, blue, purple, and red, and countless photographers braved varied terrain to capture the ephemeral light for your viewing pleasure.



The Biggest Robbers In America Are Employers

The amount of money employers had to pay because they were found guilty of wage theft is nearly three times greater than all the money stolen in robberies, according to a new report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI).

EPI gathered figures of money recovered for victims of wage theft — which occurs when an employer has workers perform tasks off the clock or pay for their own uniforms, violating labor laws — from the Department of Labor, state labor departments, state attorneys general, and research firms. In 2012, $933 million was paid in back wages for wage theft violations, although that figure is an under-count because there were six state departments of labor and five attorneys general the organization couldn’t contact.

Compare that to the less than $350 million stolen in all robberies, including from banks, residences, stores, and on the street in 2012. That’s not just the figure for those that were solved, but for any robbery simply reported to the police.

Even the nearly $1 billion collected is likely an under-count of the problem given that most victims don’t contract lawyers or file complaints. Relying on a study of low-wage workers in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, which found that workers were losing nearly $3 billion to wage theft, EPI generalized to the rest of the country and estimated that it’s robbing people of more than $50 billion each year. And even that may be a low figure, given that the three-city study found that two-thirds of workers experienced at least one form of wage theft each week, yet a recent poll of workers nationwide found nearly 90 percent of fast food workers had experienced it.


The Banking Industry might beg to differ on that title….

GOP plans to fast-track TPP agreement if they win majority in November

Republicans are putting together an agenda for the first 100 days of 2015 in case they win control of the Senate.

Authorizing the Keystone XL oil pipeline, approving “fast-track” trade authority, wiping out proposed environmental regulations and repealing the medical device tax top their list.

“Those would all be positive things. You could come up with a list of very positive things and all of us are thinking about those,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who is poised to become chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee under a GOP takeover.
Other Republicans echoed Corker.

“Those are four things that could happen that I believe would be great for the economy and enable us to move forward on a bipartisan basis,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said during a Thursday breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor.


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