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Wed Aug 1, 2012, 04:41 AM


Abridgments of freedom inside the workplace

1. Abridgments of freedom inside the workplace (all documented with links in the original story)

On pain of being fired, workers in most parts of the United States can be commanded to pee or forbidden to pee. They can be watched on camera by their boss while they pee. They can be forbidden to wear what they want, say what they want (and at what decibel), and associate with whom they want. They can be punished for doing or not doing any of these things—punished legally or illegally (as many as 1 in 17 workers who try to join a union is illegally fired or suspended)...

Outside the usual protections (against race and gender discrimination, for example), employees can be fired for good reasons, bad reasons, or no reason at all. They can be fired for donating a kidney to their boss (fired by the same boss, that is), refusing to have their person and effects searched, calling the boss a “cheapskate” in a personal letter, and more. They have few rights on the job—certainly none of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendment liberties that constitute the bare minimum of a free society; thus, no free speech or assembly, no due process, no right to a fair hearing before a panel of their peers—and what rights they do have employers will fight tooth and nail to make sure aren’t made known to them or will simply require them to waive as a condition of employment. Outside the prison or the military—which actually provide, at least on paper, some guarantee of due process—it’s difficult to conceive of a less free institution for adults than the average workplace.

2. Abridgements of freedom outside the workplace
In addition to abridging freedoms on the job, employers abridge their employees’ freedoms off the job. Employers invade employees’ privacy, demanding that they hand over passwords to their Facebook accounts, and fire them for resisting such invasions. Employers secretly film their employees at home. Workers are fired for supporting the wrong political candidates (“work for John Kerry or work for me”), failing to donate to employer-approved candidates, challenging government officials, writing critiques of religion on their personal blogs (IBM instructs employees to “show proper consideration…for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory—such as politics and religion”), carrying on extramarital affairs, participating in group sex at home, cross-dressing, and more. Workers are punished for smoking or drinking in the privacy of their own homes. (How many nanny states have tried that?) They can be fired for merely thinking about having an abortion, for reporting information that might have averted the Challenger disaster, for being raped by an estranged husband. Again, this is all legal in many states, and in the states where it is illegal, the laws are often weak.

3. Use of sanctions inside the workplace as a supplement to—or substitute for—political repression by the state

While employers often abridge workers’ liberty off the job, at certain moments, those abridgments assume a larger function for the state. Particularly in a liberal state constrained by constitutional protections such as the First Amendment, the instruments of coercion can be outsourced to—or shared with—the private sector. During the McCarthy period, for example, fewer than 200 men and women went to jail for their political beliefs, but as many as 40% of American workers—in both the public and private sectors—were investigated (and a smaller percentage punished) for their beliefs.

In his magisterial history of Reconstruction, W.E.B. DuBois noted that “the decisive influence” in suppressing the political agency of ex-slaves after the Civil War “was the systematic and overwhelming economic pressure” to which they were subjected. Though mindful of the tremendous violence, public and private, visited upon African Americans, DuBois also saw that much of the repression occurred in and through the workplace.


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Reply Abridgments of freedom inside the workplace (Original post)
HiPointDem Aug 2012 OP
B Calm Aug 2012 #1
Scootaloo Aug 2012 #2

Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 04:49 AM

1. No democracy in the workplace!


I do hear from time to time about ex employees winning huge amounts for being wrongfully terminated, but they are very rare!

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Response to HiPointDem (Original post)

Wed Aug 1, 2012, 06:36 AM

2. Employment in the US is essentially fascist


granted for some worplaces, it's nice, polite fascism... But at the end of the day, unless you've got a union backing you, the boss is the boss and you either kowtow or you're on hte street.

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