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Temp Troops of High-Tech

michael posted more than 12 years ago | from the send-in-the-drones dept.

The Almighty Buck 476

A submitter sends in this story about temp work in Silicon Valley, from the point of view of the temp. Compare almost the same story written from the point of view of Amazon.com's management.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Your face and your ass... (-1)

Tasty Beef Jerky (543576) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881381)

What's the difference

FP for the glory of all Logged in trolls!

Re:Your face and your ass... (-1)

ringbarer (545020) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881401)

Congratulations, TBJ.

I'm having an off day myself. Must be coming 'on'.

Re:Your face and your ass... (-1)

Tasty Beef Jerky (543576) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881410)

Thank you sir. Be sure to visit the BBC link below, it's rather enlightening.

My favorite part of the story is the last line. I think it sums things up rather well.

I think I need coffee.

Re:Your face and your ass... (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881462)

w00t!

Early pagelengthening post! (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881384)

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That because (2, Funny)

JohnHegarty (453016) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881394)

Thats becuase most CEO's of internet startups are now fired. And hoping to be temps to earn the average temp wage of $75,000.

Re:That because (1)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881448)

What temp is making $75,000 a year may i ask? 10.00 an hour is about 11-12,000 a year, not 75k.

Re:That because (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881520)

10*40*52 != 11-12k a year.

Re:That because (-1)

cyborg_monkey (150790) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881535)

$10/hr is about 20k/year.

FOAD!

Re:That because (2, Interesting)

Masem (1171) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881590)

The quick calc is that your hourly wage times 2000 is your yearly salary. $10/hr == $20k/yr.

Re:That because (2)

dattaway (3088) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881673)

Its called overtime. Guess how many time-and-a-half hours you have to work a week to get $75,000.

Those robots are amazing. They can run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Re:That because (1)

bobKali (240342) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881746)

Reminds me about a public school janitor here in New Orleans who's earning over $70K/year with overtime and all. Of cource his son being superintendant is just a coincidence

Re:That because (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881585)

You're a fucking moron. Try reading the article next time. It's a sad story, and no, it has nothing to do with internet startup's, moron.

They missed the BBC article too (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881395)

Re:They missed the BBC article too (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881476)

Moderators, did you even check the link?
It has nothing to do with this story (it's about a woman stuck on a airplane-toilet)

Dear CmdrTaco, (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881399)

I hate you.
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not my desk (1)

magicslax (532351) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881406)

what about temp work from the point of view of this guy? [notmydesk.com]

Re:not my desk (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881422)

I prefer the point of view of this guy [goatse.cx] .

Happy Troll Tuesday!!! (-1, Troll)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881409)

I hate you all!!!
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I crapflood, therefore I am (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881417)

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Ruining discussion on /. since 1999 (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881423)

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Another side (3, Insightful)

smaughster (227985) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881429)

The most scary thing about reading such articles is that I always have a feeling that it will end up being fiction, having a happy ending, yet finding out that these things really happen, even in civilised countries.

Re:Another side (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881706)

http://www.krma.org/byways/telllurid.html [krma.org] . Just goes to show, some things never change

My sphincter hurts from holding it open... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881431)

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My parents didn't pay enough attention to me... (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881437)

so I must lengthen this page
3 [goatse.cx]
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Reminds me of my days mounting Tapes.... (2, Interesting)

Captdipshizer (541371) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881445)

I used to mount tapes as a vendor to IBM... man... that work was a pain.... same wage walking eight hours a day to feed damn tape machines that would never slowdown... that god for VTS tape libraries.. It was amazing that in the year 2002 people are still manually mounting tapes for mainframe systems.. we even had a bunch of old reels... that would occationaly light up waiting for a mount.

Heres the text of the NYtimes article. (1, Informative)

afinn (467407) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881447)

Amazon Ships to Sorting Machine Beat
By SAUL HANSELL

FERNLEY, Nev., Jan. 18 -- Ever since it built five vast warehouses in 1999, Amazon (news/quote) .com has boasted of the wonders of the machinery inside them -- 10 miles of conveyer belts and myriad other gadgets.
What Amazon was not so vocal about was how many people it took to operate those machines, especially during the holiday rush. In 2000, for example, Amazon had to hire 7,200 temporary workers to supplement the 4,400 people working in its warehouses in the United States.
Now, Amazon.com, once the champion the strategy of "get big fast," has learned how to become small. On Dec. 11, its busiest day last year, Amazon's warehouses employed only 4,000 temps and 3,700 full-time employees. With one-third fewer people than the year before, the warehouses processed what analysts estimate were 10 to 15 percent more items.
Amazon, which plans to release its fourth- quarter results on Tuesday morning, needs every dollar it can save. A year ago, the company -- which has lost $2.8 billion since its founding in 1995 -- promised investors it would turn an operating profit in the fourth quarter of 2001 (at least by its own "pro forma" calculation).
That goal was made harder because Amazon's sales grew at only half the rate it predicted at the beginning of the year, dragged down by the recession, the aftermath of Sept. 11 and some of the company's own missteps.
If, as analysts expect, Amazon nonetheless hits its fourth-quarter profit target, a key reason will be the savings from its yearlong campaign to reorganize the people and the machines in its warehouses.
"They are focused on productivity in a very structured way, and it appears they have made good progress," said Anthony Noto, an analyst for Goldman, Sachs. Mr. Noto estimates that order-fulfillment costs absorbed 11 percent of Amazon's sales in the fourth quarter, down from 13.5 percent a year earlier. Still, he said, those costs need to fall below 9 percent for the company to thrive.
Walking amid a forest of bookshelves and climbing metal bridges over the rivers of conveyer belts in the warehouse here 40 miles east of Reno, Jeff Wilke, Amazon's senior vice president for operations, pointed to dozens of improvements big and small.
One big goal had been to reduce errors in keeping track of the several million items continually being placed onto and pulled off of hundreds of thousands of bins on metal shelves. In theory, Amazon's computers know exactly where each item is at any moment. But in 2000, the computers were wrong more than 10 percent of the time, causing delays as workers searched for missing items and restocked spares.
"We had a whole secret plant, not our main focus, putting stuff back," Mr. Wilke said.
To reduce errors, Amazon wrote new software to take better advantage of the gizmo that each warehouse worker was already carrying -- a shoehorn-size device that combines a bar code scanner, a display screen and a two-way data transmitter.
The new software beams far more explicit instructions to workers about where they should go and what they should do. And it checks their work by forcing them to scan each item every time they put it on or take it off a shelf. Errors have fallen to below 5 percent, from 10 percent, Mr. Wilke said.
This new system also helps with another of Mr. Wilke's main goals -- improving the productivity of seasonal temporary workers -- by giving them more direction. It also monitors their performance, so those who cannot get up to speed in a week or so are given help -- then fired, if necessary. Amazon also instituted a formal training program for temps. As a result, the average productivity of each temporary worker has doubled.
Many of Mr. Wilke's efforts reflect the highly quantitative bent expected of an M.I.T.-trained engineer who ran chemical plants for Allied Signal before joining Amazon in 1999. But when he talks about the biggest change here in Fernley, he uses the language of music, not manufacturing.
"We needed to build cadence," Mr. Wilke said, "to operate to the drumbeat of the constraint."
The drumbeating constraint is the $25 million Crisplant sorting machine at the center of Amazon's automated approach. Working with batches of 500 to 2,000 orders, the employees with the hand-held terminals feed items onto a network of conveyor belts into the sorting machine. The machine reads the bar code on each item and routes it into one of 2,100 chutes, each chute representing an order for a single customer. When all the items in an order are in the chute, a light flashes, and a worker rushes to put them in a box. They are then sent on other conveyers to machines that print packing slips, seal the boxes and send them off to shippers' trucks.
Adopting such an expensive and complex machine was controversial for Amazon.
Mr. Wilke acknowledges that he was skeptical of the Crisplant machines when he joined Amazon, inheriting the warehouse designs of his predecessor, Jimmy Wright, a former Wal-Mart (news/quote) executive. In fact, Mr. Wilke arrived in time to delete the machines from the designs for Amazon's warehouses in Europe.
But in the last two years, Mr. Wilke says, he has come to believe that the sorting machines were a good choice. He has also concluded, though, that because they are so expensive and so central to the business, all other parts of the warehouse need to operate with the goal of avoiding backlogs and delays that would prevent the Crisplant machine from running at peak efficiency.
So Mr. Wilke created a new job -- flowmeister -- making one person the orchestra conductor of the warehouse, to keep each section of the operation in rhythm with the sorting machine. In Fernley this day, the flowmeister was Andy Warren, a former logistics consultant who took a career detour as a lawyer. His podium was a metal table topped with seven computer screens that monitor all the key processes of the warehouse.
As Mr. Warren conducted, a graph showed that the people taking items from the chutes and putting them in boxes were not keeping tempo with the ones putting items into the sorting machine. So he had a worker move from the "induction" area to work the chutes, heading off a backlog.
Mr. Wilke's "cadence" talk was hardly music to the ears of the people who worked in the warehouses, because he was essentially insisting they could handle far more volume with no new equipment.
"I felt like Scotty in `Star Trek' saying, `I can't push her any further, captain,' " said Greg Bennett, the manager of the Fernley warehouse. Yet by keeping the Crisplant operating at full speed for two 10-hour shifts a day, the warehouse was able to pack more than 200,000 items on peak days in December, 30 percent more than the year before.
But Mr. Wilke says the pressure is not off. His calculations show that many more incremental improvements could eventually double the productivity of the warehouses.
"The sum of all the little mistakes," he said, "is big."

reminds me of this quote: (2)

bdavenport (78697) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881450)

Judge Smails: The world needs ditch diggers too!

high tech also means low tech (5, Insightful)

Reinout (4282) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881451)

There is mention in the beginning of the article about it being strange to have so much non-hightech work in such a hightech-area. That's not so strange if you think about it. The whole ecommerce thing is about selling stuff. The stuff that gets sold normally can't be send over the internet, so you need FedEx, the postal service, etc. What they're missing out on letters that get send, they're gaining in packages...

And the high-tech (?) printers and so also in the end need packaging, sending, assembling. You can automate some parts, but...

When you read a story like this, it just keeps reminding me of early 20th century conditions that made socialists movements all too understandable... Some people just don't seem to care. Or not to be allowed to care by some system...

Reinout

Re:high tech also means low tech (3, Insightful)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881750)

But what is it about ecommerce which means your plant has to be near your headquarters? Assuming your headquarters are in Silicon Valley why would you put a production plant in an area where real estate and labor costs were so high? It seems it is because of the location that both workers and managers have to go to extremes.

The world economy. (5, Insightful)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881452)

The world economy has always been built upon the backs of a 'disposable' workforce.
Let's face it, paying minimum wage to people is cheaper than automating a production line (and of course, they can argue that they are providing valuable jobs).
It's heavy handed and unethical (IHMO) but companies (with a _few_ limited exceptions) are only interested in the bottom line.
I've done the temping thing for a while, and there was certainly variety (like I'd be in a different job every week), but you are also treated as little more than 'an extra body'. They can get another one easily enough, so they can get you to work, trample on you, and if you go replace you in a day.
(Much happier now I'm working full time doing 'skilled' rather than manual labour. Least this way I get a month's notice before being told to walk)

Re:The world economy. (5, Insightful)

mip (534317) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881560)

Capitalist economies require a pool of unemployed workers to allow for continued growth. Full employment is bad news for such a system. Read this page [etext.org] for further details.

On unemployment it says that it is a necessary condition for a capitalist system, as long as it doesn't get too high - it is upto the individual to find employment and change their status. Capitalism is economic individualism.

Should society look after the people or should the people look after themselves? I think, as in all things, balance is required.

Re:The world economy. (2, Interesting)

gaj (1933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881707)

The whole point of business is the bottom line. Companies that are not primarily focused on turning a profit have a special name: failed. How much good does a failed company do for the economy?

If you are easily replaceable, that's your own damn fault. The fact that there are those willing to replace you means that the job, however foul to you, is desirable to others. If you want a job that is more palatable to you, do what it takes to get one. Learn a skill, learn a trade, start your own business; whatever it takes. If you choose not to take the steps necessary to improve your lot, you have only yourself to blame.

As for your comment about production line automation, I cannot remember a time that production line automation came to a plant that formerly employed human labor to do the job that didn't result in much wailing and gnashing of teeth when said workers were laid off. How does replacing workers help them?

Or are you suggesting that the firm should automate the line, then keep the workers on as paid spectators?

I'm glad you now have a more skilled position; it's nice to improve your lot, isn't it?

It's quite sad (1, Troll)

k98sven (324383) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881459)

that these big companies with their huge revenues can't give their lowest-payed staff a decent wage.

There should be some kind of income cap, like the top-paied executive can't earn more than 10x what the lowest paid worker in the company can.

Re:It's quite sad (2, Interesting)

dso (9793) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881556)

Actually, they call that Communism. I prefer a social concience but not out right control.

Re:It's quite sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881633)

Currently, the larger the company, the more the top people make and the less the bottom people do...

At small companies the differences in pay can be fairly "reasonable" compared to that (5-10x).

However, with the current hard-core capitalist mindset, any such suggestions in the US would be viewed as evil socialism. Elsewhere in the world values (and differences in pay) vary significantly.

Depressing (0)

h00pla (532294) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881461)

Somebody email this article to Carly. Not as if she'd care.

Who wants long pages? (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881465)

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That's Life (0, Insightful)

dohcvtec (461026) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881470)

Not everybody can both live where they want to live and have the ideal job. If there aren't any decent jobs available in your area... news flash... you may have to move. Silicon Valley may be on hard times, but that should be anyone's cue to move on, rather than stay and work a menial job. There are jobs out there, they're just not in Silicon Valley. As far as the job the author described and the atmosphere of HP's production line: big deal, sounds like a typical warehouse. Nobody is going to say it's a good place to work, and people come and go and get let go all the time. That's just the way it is. Reality bites...

Re:That's Life (5, Interesting)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881558)

Not everybody can both live where they want to live and have the ideal job. If there aren't any decent jobs available in your area... news flash... you may have to move.

That's right! To hell with your family that lives in the area. If you mother's cancer kills her while you're 2,000 miles away, so what? You'll be living where the good jobs are.

You need a clue. Some people have family ties, kids that they don't want to yank out of school and away from their friends, and other circumstances that make becoming a nomad to chase jobs around the country impossible.

That's just the way it is. Reality bites...

So no one should have a social conscience or work to improve the realities of life? Maybe Jonas Salk should have just said "People get polio. Reality bites" and then moved on...

Re:That's Life (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881567)

This reminds me about the arguments used when workplace safety laws were first proposed. If you want to work in a safe job, get a job that is safe.

Re:That's Life (0, Redundant)

JonnyCalcutta (524825) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881704)

Yeh, right on man!!! That's the Merkin way!!! Fuck the little guy - its his own fault - probably just lazy or stoopid.
If they can't be bothered to get of their fat, immigrant behinds and move to New York for a cushy job as an Ad Exec then the Packard family deserve to make another couple of billion bucks off their backs. I might employ a couple of the stoopidist ones myself, as human torches to light my seegars with.

Re:That's Life (0, Redundant)

DrkOvrLrd (520071) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881748)

That's life?? Pretty apethetic sounding. "That's life, so, don't bother me with it." It's that kind of attitude that most employers hope for. The economics are simple, pay what you can get away with, not what it's worth. Many people just don't have the option of picking up and moving away. That takes cash reserves. And those people described, can barely set the table with food. Reality may bite, but, the truth is, it doesn't have to.

Page Lengthening Post!!! (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881475)

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That job wasn't high tech (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881477)

The job described in the article was no more high tech than an autoworker in Detroit, or a long-shoreman in New Jersey.

It just goes to show that you still need worker-bees to get things done. The guy was working next to a fucking Mexican Immigrant for god's sake!

Socialist Muckraking has no home on slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881478)

Socialist Muckraking has no home on slashdot.

Why, because the world of uneducated manual labor workers is not part of of the tech world except to pack boxes.

I will hire whatever firm fullfils my packing needs at the best price and most reliably.

That is how capitalism works.

Otherwise we all might as well move off to Finland or Russia.

Programmers spent their youths learning to think and learning a trade, same with all skilled technologists.

People that choose to drink beer and watch MTV all day can pack boxes for 10 dollars an hour and pay negligible amounts of federal and state taxes. Thats their choice.

In the state in the article, California, the taxes are the highes in america for sinlge workers making over 104 thousand per year.

If self employed you have :
Nearly 29 percent going to fed gov, 10 percent going to California, 15% for FICA Social security. 3% for CASDI OSHA.

(If not self employed osha is 1.5 and FICA is 7.5 but the missing half is taken from you by your employer forceably before you see the check)

Thats FIFTY EIGHT percent of income TAXED!!!

Then theirs the 8.5% tax on all remaining money when spent in california on taxable goods and services. Because its on the NET after taxes, its actually not 8.5 its 17% in fact.

Thats 58% + 17% = 70% TAXATION in california, if all money spent in california on goods.

but theres more, much more, if you neglect the portion spent on rent or morgage the property taxes for that portion is 17% for certain anyways. CA is highest in the land in most areas for school taxes and such.

What about auto registration taxes?

2% EVERY YEAR on car value! Jay Leno owns 50 cars, he loses one car to the goverment of california every year for vehicle registration fees (2% = 1:50).

Living and WORKING in california takes way over 2 of your three dollars earned every day so socialist illegal alien workers at temp agencies packing boxes can live the good life and rasie children on free food and housing entitlements while you are a human slave.

As bad as that is... (4, Insightful)

f00zbll (526151) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881484)

I've heard horror stories from friends. One in particular has to do with foriegn programmers who are brought in with work visas. The hiring company holds both the visa and their passport. The programmers are threaten that if they don't work 12hrs a day, they'll be sent back. Typically, the programmers are paid 1/4-1/2 the wages of a citizen. High tech is not immuned to slave labor practices and mentality. The whole idea of staying with a company for 50-60 years doesn't exist anymore. Although some companies use it as a selling point in their recruiting, most companies have a policy that dedicate the opposite. Now more than ever, intelligence is necessary for steady employment.

Re:As bad as that is... (1)

DohDamit (549317) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881630)

Bullshit.

There is a legal requirement(last I heard 65% of average wage) regarding the wages of H-1B visa holders. No, they aren't allowed to be threatened. Yeah yeah, your friend heard that someone was breaking the rules. That's the exception.

Here's another clue for you. At no point in history did people stay at a job for 50 to 60 years. Take a look at the average lifespan of individuals and the average starting working age to understand why. On average, people have between three and five career changes. This means people average about a decade in any one field.

One last clue... intelligence means nothing when it comes to job retention. Getting along with your coworkers, understanding the business of where you work, and being reasonably proficient at getting shit done on time are all vastly more important that base intelligence.

Math time (2)

kin_korn_karn (466864) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881756)


Say the average salary for an experienced developer is $80k. (I'm in St. Louis, YMMV)

65% of that is $52,000.

Where do you see YOUR career headed?

NICE KWHORE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881653)

g'joob!

and how much do the big boys earn??? (0)

air1 (520719) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881489)

i've always wondered how such a system can work!!
these guys work for $8/hour!
and you can bet the managers are on about 5 times that.

having worked in the hotel industry (and studied it for 5 years) i can tell you this method is only profitable in the short term.the employee is not happy and delivers poor work, and eventually it turns against the employer.

thing is if you envolve the employee in the company, you can a much better return, the employee will do concessions when you need it.
IMHO the japanese model is a lot based on that idea (although it will probably change with tough times ahead).

in France one thing that is considered by many an inconvenient, but is for most an asset is that there's a legal right to go on strike.
it slows down the economy, and the employement rate, but quality of life is a priority.
that's how we get 35hours work per week, and 30+ days paid holiday a year

A picture of everyday business in America (5, Insightful)

buckeyeguy (525140) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881491)

I worked a few awful temp jobs shortly after getting out of college (back when 'entry level' stuff didn't exist in IT), so I can sympathize with the narrator of the Silicon Valley story.

But at the same time, this story happens in thousands of businesses around the country, every day of the year. The pay is low, the work is tedious, and the management oppressive and degrading. Where I work now, the fulfillment center is the major part of our company... supply-chain services, as it is being touted nowadays. It's the 'new economy' that was made so much around the start of 2000... but it's still the same old labor-intensive machine. So, IMHO, there's really little news to see here, for those of us who have worked outside the cubicle.

And temp agencies? Don't even get me started...

Temping. (3, Insightful)

saintlupus (227599) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881493)

Speaking as a former "contract employee" for the good people of Verizon, it's a lot like being the world's most low-class whore. You get passed around from job to job like a dirty sock, and eventually booted out onto the street with a keyboard print on your forehead from spending so long bent over your desk.

On the up side, at least I'm not bitter.

--saint

Re:Temping. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881554)

yeah, but weren't those desks nice? mmm, motorized height adjustment.

Slashdot is deleting my discussions!!! (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881495)

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Is government really obsolete? (5, Insightful)

Denito (196701) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881498)


One of the most common sentiments on slashdot is how backwards governments are and how technology makes them obsolete.

But you see something like this-- maybe things like workplace safety standards are still important...
With all the libertarian sentiment here on /., its easy to forget the role that wired or not, there might still be an important role for gov...

Re:Is government really obsolete? (1)

Hellburner (127182) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881584)

--FLAME SHIELD ACTIVATED--
Yet, here on slashdot, praising unions or any form of socialism gets leveled in a barrage of libertarian venom.

To a disheartening number of posters, unemployment and abusive workplace practices are just evolution in action. Sad.

"..nobody cares what the proles think"

As for the role of government...we (US) have not had one in about 40 years. We have corps and lobbyists.

Happening to Programmers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881499)

With the way things are during this recession, programmers with bachelor's degrees are working at plants like these just to pay for the high cost of living out in Silicon Valley. The advice one of the workers gave about going to school and doing something with computers doesn't cut it anymore. Job market is just horrible for computer programmers, even with a college degree.

I don't get it. (0, Flamebait)

FileNotFound (85933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881521)


What is the point?

Yes factory works sucks. So like the workers said "Get a CS degree."

"Workers in india would never stand for this."
Thats nice to know, so why are you here?

Nobody MADE anyone work there. Nobody forced people to come to the US to work deadend jobs 24/7 for $8/h.

Thats life. Thats how it works. You don't like it leave.

It's not the company's job to make the lowend workers get rich. They're not supposed to care for you.

You think it's any different for high level programers sysadmins or whatever? You don't think they can get a phone call "Very nice work on that project you finished yesterday. Very impressive. Oh and this was your last day."

Thats life. It's not anyone's job to make your life peachy. It's your job. Don't whine to me about how the corparate machine is ruining your life.

Re:I don't get it. (2, Insightful)

DohDamit (549317) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881712)

I'm going to pretend that you aren't as ignorant as you make yourself out to be, given the tone of your post.

Instead, I'm going to work with the premise that you've lived a very comfortable life(using world-wide living standards) and you simply don't know how it feels to do an automaton job.

Not only that, I'm going to work on the premise that you're young, which means that you still see the responsibility that companies have towards their employees.

However, there is one mistake I am going to call you down on. You're obliviously maelevolent attitude to people who have been screwed by their company will in the end hurt you and those around you who could really use your support when the big boys bend everyone else over the table.

Don't think this could happen to you? Think your intelligence and oh-so-sophisticated view of the business world will carry you over troubled waters? One word, little man. Enron.

Jeezus friggin' Christ, you'd think most of the posters here are anti-social jackasses, if you just read their posts.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

Hellburner (127182) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881719)

And your post exactly what I meant in my other post.

"Fuck 'em all, anyway." Right?

People cannot form unions since our pseudogovernment has completely undermined them.
Public education is a malformed joked, being actively disassembled by conservative treachery and liberal stupidity. So...
You can't make a decent living doing honest work.
You can't get an education unless you come from an already fairly affluent family.

So...if you are not already comfortable...you can't get comfortable. Wasn't the great game of America supposed to be social mobility?

Guess what, tough guy, my family was already well off when I was educated. I'll bet my life yours was too. Its not about coddling people, its about seeing that they don't get tyrranized.

Re:I don't get it. (1)

FileNotFound (85933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881752)

>>People cannot form unions since our pseudogovernment has completely undermined them.
So? What are unions for other than strikes?

>>Public education is a malformed joked, being >>actively disassembled by conservative treachery >>and liberal stupidity. So...
Blame your parents for not home schooling. Blame yourself for not going to the library and learning yourself. Where there's a will there's a way.
>>You can't make a decent living doing honest work.
I can. And pay enough taxes for the jerks that 'cannnot'
>>You can't get an education unless you come from an already fairly affluent family.
Oh yeah? BS! BS BS BS!!
God that is such BS!

How can you not? What's stopping you? Whats' in your damn way except your lack of motivation!

god you're an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881730)

Would somebody please mod this down?

What do you do while you're earning a degree? You work. It's like the Alice Cooper song, I can't get a job unless I have a car, I can't get a car unless I have a job. It's a Catch 22.

Obviously you had parents who pushed you out the door after after high school with your little silver spoon and you're nice little trust fund and your beer swilling caveman friends. You sound just like upper management. Just b/c you can't comprehend a situation from your narrow-minded point of view doesn't mean it isn't legitimate. Those people are here b/c they've heard they can have that "American Dream" and it isn't unreasonable to say that they shouldn't be overworked and underpayed in achieving that dream. It isn't unreasonable to demand that Carly Fiorna give up the Lear jet and fly coach so that the people that keep the company running can enjoy their lives more healthily and happily. And just like how you advocate these people having choice, you do too, don't read the article if it bothers you that much. Nobody is whining to you, god how self-important you think you are, get a grip or step in front of a speeding bus.

And in a related story... (1)

buckeyeguy (525140) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881528)

... this article [yahoo.com] says that Amazon finally has turned a profit. So I'm sure the 'well-cadenced' line workers have something to be proud of, while Mr. Bezos' stock takes a big boost in pre-market trading [island.com] ...

Re:And in a related story... (1)

Morrig (258723) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881650)

"We needed to build cadence," Mr. Wilke said, "to operate to the drumbeat of the constraint."

I think that this was my favorite line from the Amazon article. Cadence, hmm? Drumbeats? Y'know what _else_ used cadence and drumbeats to keep the worker moving on schedule? Galleys rowed by slaves, railroad chain gangs, weaving factories during the Industrial Revolution. All things associated with SLAVERY. Liberty and Justice for all? Nah, not in a capitalist society.

i hate money.

+5 Insightful (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881530)

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No Respect (4, Insightful)

Hates (168348) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881533)


Reading an article like this does nothing but make me feel quite weak and ill. Thinking that people in a country like the USA are treated like nothing more then a pair of hands really really bothers me.

I read sooo many articles written by these company CEO's or whatever, telling the reader how they are now customer focused and how great they are doing, but the honest truth is they treat their employees as if they aren't human.

Companies need to learn that it's their work force that makes them what they are. I'm sure they believe they are being effictive by getting rid of "bad" workers who complain and want better standards, but have they ever really just taken a step back and wondered how much BETTER production would be if they were to treat their workers with respect and give them the security they need and desire?!?

Re:No Respect (1, Flamebait)

FileNotFound (85933) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881542)

You're being silly.

The goal of the company is to make a profit. Not to make the world a better place.

Everyone is out to make a profit. You want to help people and make them happy?
PayPal me some $$$ it'll make me happy, it'll pay for college and I will think the world is a happy place.

Till then I'll be out to make a profit. Just like you.

Re:No Respect (2)

Catiline (186878) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881683)

Everyone is out to make a profit.
All trite religious-saying books aside, life does not come with an instuction manual. [At least, I didn't get one. If you did, could you fax a copy to me? :)] Unless you want to make a visibly false statement, don't claim all people have X quality. Especally don't say all people aim for maximal profits. Consider ministers (probably true for all religions but I'm basing this on Christianity)- they pay big $$$ for postgrad education (yes: it is required for ordination in several denominations) and then get one of the lowest-paying jobs available. What profit is in that?

Till then I'll be out to make a profit. Just like you.
Personally, I hope to leave the world a better place than I found it. I may only end up not making more of a mess myself, but I try; I act as a political and social activist with my Open Source actions and try to help other people broaden their views by (occasionally) posting moderately intelligent comments here on /.

I will admit that in America (or any other capitalistic society), profit is the game; yet there is no force that says you must play. Although the incentive to join the game is quite strong (general society is geared toward players), you always have the option of a monastic lifestyle.

Re:No Respect (1)

DohDamit (549317) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881751)

You're being facile.

Meaningful work is actually important to a large portion of the population. Salary? Beyond taking care of basic concerns(food, rent, transportation to work) money is not nearly as important as you make it out to be. People get used to their level of income within six months, no matter what the change. I'm not talking out my ass...I earn about 200% what I earned three years ago(database is good....), and to tell the truth, I have more stuff, but quality of life is roughly the same.

I'm guessing you're just karma-whoring. Oh well.

Re:No Respect (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881594)

you want the company to pay a box loader more than $8 an hour, but you'll be the first to go online and find the lowest price for any item you want to buy, thereby putting the company that pays higher wages out of business.

this is the hypocrisy of the consumer.

compare the two? your kidding right? (3, Informative)

bdavenport (78697) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881540)

so in the first, we have a full on temp agency with no company employees working on site, workers are being manipulated, silenced and fired...essentially sounds like a terrible work environment.

in the second (amazon), you have 7.5% of the work force as temp workers, with no mention of abuse, forced silence, etc.

and you want us to draw a comparision from the 1st to the 2nd?

flame all you want, but what is it with /.ers and amazon? i am not holding amazon out as mother teresa of corporations, but having 3700 full time employees out of 4000 - that says to me that amazon at least gets it a little. sure, during xmas amazon is trying to squeeze every ounce of work out of its employees, but no where in that article does it mention abuse.

what an unfair comparion...you ire should be directed at HP if you ask me.

Re:compare the two? your kidding right? (3, Informative)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881575)

Ummm. No, that's not what it says:
Amazon's warehouses employed only 4,000 temps and 3,700 full-time employees
So by my book that's 52%
In 2000 that number looks more like 62%...

Re:compare the two? your kidding right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881576)

The article was quite clear, for xmas 2000, Amazon had 7200 temp works PLUS 4400 regular warehouse workers, for xmas 2001, they had 4000 temps plus 3700 full time warehouse workers. So your 7.5% is way off, I don't see how anybody could think that a retailer could get through xmas with only a 7.5% bump in employees.

Overworked, underpaid, essential... Uh. No. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881541)

Overworked? Impossible - he's paid hourly.

Underpaid? Well, get another job with your obviously menial skill set making more than $8/hour. What's that? You can't? Well, see, if we paid everyone 9 bucks an hour, we'd have to let one person go for every 8 we give the raise to. Also, why pay 9/hour when there's people lining up to work for 8?

Essential? No, your job function is essential. You are not.

Re:Overworked, underpaid, essential... Uh. No. (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881610)

Overworked? Impossible - he's paid hourly.


So by that logic, it would be okay to fire a person if they couldn't keep up with a 20-hour working day?

You're confusing overworked with underpaid. "Overworked" means "having more work than you can be reasonably expected to complete in the time available". It has nothing to do with how much you're paid, or whether you're paid hourly or not.

Cheers,

Tim

Third world jobs in your backyard (2, Insightful)

GdoL (460833) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881547)

The most amazing of this is the fact that so many people are getting this jobs as the best think they can get. The third world labour conditions are being moving to the country, you get the same people who would be working on this factorys on their homelands and put the people and the work conditions near you. And maybe they get paid a little better than on their countrys but the CEOs spend a lot fewer, they con't have to delocate the factory, and get a better image.

fp - Penis bird hunt (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881549)

I am a hapless traveler that hath heard
stories afield that talketh of the existence
of the lesser crested penis bird which doth
abound in this forsaken domain. Forsoth I
hath not cast mine eyes on one of these
merry beasts.

I pray that one of ye kind trolls that doth
inhabit this dark domain shall showest me
the rare penis bird in all its mighty glory?

I bid you well kind trolls.

- Goat Farker the moomin.

Dad died in the War (0, Offtopic)

jeff13 (255285) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881551)

Remember, the War was won so you too could work part time.

H.G. Wells once wrote a story about a heartless, commercial society where all art was crass commercialism and the foulest entertainment of the lowest common denominator variety. Set in a future 1963, his publisher refused to print it saying:"No one will believe it".

where's the Segway? (2)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881553)

I thought Amazon was going to be using the Segway. no mention of it here.

unless it is for the super management types to roll around and lord over folks or something.

typical of manual temp agencies, there is no reason to give when you are dropped from a job. because then they might have to justify their practices. this puts them just a few steps away from the attitudes of slave masters, not quite tyheir, but close.

If they deserved more, they'd get more (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881557)

Crybabies.

They get paid what they're worth.

Been There (5, Insightful)

ScumBiker (64143) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881561)

Having been a temp worker in Florida, back in the early '80s, I can really sympathize with the article. It totally sucks not knowing if you can even pay the rent, much less eat. I was working at a pc board plant. Something like 80% of the workers were temp. Everybody was scared of getting shitcanned. The pay was terrible and the managers/supervisors constantly screamed and threatened people. Lovely environment, in other words. Thank managed to pull myself out of that morass and moved forward.

All I can say to people that are trying to live on temp work is, get to school! Somehow, anyhow. I don't care if it's tech school for one semester. Even that little bit of knowledge can help. Also, learn English. Learn how to speak it so that even slow midwestern people like me can understand you. I know it's challenging to the extreme, but my ancestors came here and had to do the same thing. BTW, I'm *not* trying to flame or be prejudiced here, I'm simply trying to state facts. Please read and judge accordingly.

Re:Been There (2)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881625)

BTW, I'm *not* trying to flame or be prejudiced here, I'm simply trying to state facts. Please read and judge accordingly.
Unfortunately this is the case. An ideal world is one where everyone is equal. It remains the case that in many parts of the world, this is blatantly not so. The average salary for a woman is overall lower.
If your english is not so good, then someone 'fluent' in it is going to assume you are not as clever. (This is leaving aside the _possibly_ valid point that if you cannot communicate well with your employer, then you are also unlikely to do so with you collegues).
Unfortunately discrimination is a fact. It's built from prejudices about what your idea candidate will be. So often getting a job is about presenting yourself to your employer in a favourable manner.
You'll often find that a manager's impression of an ideal employee is sort of like themselves but younger - same skin color, similar accent, quite close in age. This is simply because of something which is fundamentally ingrained in an awful lot of people. You grow up surrounded by a particular set of people. Differences are instinctively percieved to be 'not right'.
Sad, maybe, but true enough. Eventually the world will realise that there isn't really any difference (most do now at an intellectual level, but until as kids, it becomes a commonplace thing, then it's not going to change at an instinctive level), but the process is saddeningly slow.

What it really comes down to is.. (-1)

CmderTaco (533794) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881569)

Who cares?
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First impression (4, Insightful)

inerte (452992) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881572)

Editor asked to compare. I read and saw:

Raj talks about people. He cites a lot of names, feelings, relationships. It's constructed around what people are feeling about a situation, the actions that they are seeing and their reactions;

And Amazon's Management talks about numbers. It quotes lots of statistics, managers, and 'market condition'. It's constructed around what people are analysing about a situation, the actions that they are taking and the reactions.

It's classical from a literature perspective. And IMHO, I prefer much more Raj's point of view.

But maybe I am a misplaced human on a capitalist society ;-)

Re:First impression (2, Interesting)

Sobrique (543255) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881591)

But maybe I am a misplaced human on a capitalist society ;-)
Please report yourself to the thought police forthwith. Such displays of humanity are incorrect and you must therefore be lobotomised.

NO LOGO (4, Informative)

why-is-it (318134) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881586)

The tactics described in this article here are very similar to the ones the large brands use on contract workers in the export zones in SE Asia. Naomi Klein describes it at length in her book NO LOGO [nologo.org] .

Strange that these same management techniques which work so well on the poor and uneducated overseas are now being used domestically.

too bad it's not like mud (0, Redundant)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881592)

I can see it now:

My level 60 Knight finally has enough of his temp job.

>Your bash sends the bossman sprawling!
>You TERMINATE the bossman.
>You TERMINATE the bossman.
>You TERMINATE the bossman.
>You TERMINATE the bossman.

the bossman is incapacitated and will die if not soon aided. The bossman is dead. You get one lousy experience point.
tee-hee

Isn't capitalism great? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881596)

We may win some battles for justice and our rights against the rich and powerful capitalists. But as long as they can dominate society in the workplace, control the politicians and the state security structure, and the airwaves, they will continue to exploit us and reap huge profits from the labor of workers. Every victory under capitalism is partial and temporary. The logic of greed of capitalism will always try to extract more from workers.

Re:Isn't capitalism great? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881614)

Capitalism can not reform itself; it is doomed to self-destruction. No universal selfishness can bring social good to all.

ONE SOLUTION - REVOLUTION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881647)

Capitalism can only offer to the worker a continuous struggle, against the ruling class, for the necessities of life. They can never be as rich as the ruling class, because they can never own what the ruling class owns.

The only way to achieve long term riches for all is by a complete elimination of the class system. It will have to be replaced with ownership of the means of production by the working class. And that means everybody having a fair say in how things are run, not just a ruling political party clique who would be no more than the replacement of one set of rulers by another.

The alternative (5, Insightful)

slow_flight (518010) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881670)

Ok, so it looks like the consensus here is that these poor folks are being used and abused, and Big Business just doesn't care.

What's the alternative? Pay them $20 and hour and let them come and go as they please, or stop the line whenever they want to chat about their weekend? How willing are you to pay $500 for a printer that currently costs $125?

If this story was about HP automating the box line and putting some number of temp workers out on the street, or moving the work to Mexico where the labor costs are even lower, would that be better?

Temp work exists for a reason. I have done temp work myself. My view of it was work I could get at the drop of a hat, and quit the same way. If you need to work for 3 weeks, are you going to take a job somewhere knowing full well you're only going to be there 3 weeks? Yes, there are perma-temps, and there are inarguably strong financial incentives on the part of the company to staff in that manner, but the cold, hard reality is that this is the kind of migrant labor these workers chose. Granted, they probably didn't have a whole lot of options to choose from, but it's not like some recruiter painted a rosy picture of temp-Nirvana to these people. They made a fully-informed decision to accept the work, and given the angst shown over being laid-off, seemed to appreciate that they had work at all.

Re:The alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881701)

> What's the alternative?

The ONLY alternative is a revolution.... a revolution against the western capitalist way of thinking!

How do you feel? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#2881679)

So, how do you feel sitting there at your cushy desk job... knowing that even your company supports or is directly causing pain and suffering of the less fortunate. Have a nice work day.

Workers already have the power! (4, Troll)

anomaly (15035) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881705)

Low wage jobs can be unpleasant. The managers there frequently have no training in how to work with people. Production oriented jobs like the one described in the article are often focused on keeping the line moving.

And yet, these people choose to work there for $8 an hour. This is their choice. They also opt to live in one of the most expensive places in the world. This too is a choice.

Before you pound on me for being heartless, it may be important to note that I have passed through that place, as well. I come from a poor family in an economically depressed area.

I have worked as a laborer doing back-breaking work by the sweat of my brow. I have also worked in mall jobs that were production oriented. "No talking! You're here to work, not have fun!" I have worked in food service as a busboy and waiter for long hours and late nights.

It was my experience in those places that motivated me to get my education. Without those jobs, I would not have chosen to finish school.

People can go to school, even while working a low-wage job. I did it, my parents did it in their 40's, and YOU can do it, too.

If it's too expensive where you live, MOVE to somewhere cheaper. Don't want to move? Be creative, find a way to make it work. Don't want to do that? Then accept the fact that you will work that kind of job for the rest of your days.

The future is in your hands. Repeat after me: "If it's to be, it's up to me. If it's to be, it's up to me. If it's to be....."

Re:Workers already have the power! (2, Flamebait)

jeff13 (255285) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881759)

Umm. I hate to point it out, but you are the exception pal! Not everyone has your brains, spunk, and determination. The issue is the state of employment. It's not a choice except for those dynamic individuals who rise above the supression of the masses. Like you.

So back off Superman.

3rd generation perspective (1)

ivrcti (535150) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881718)

My family came to this family to find signs "Irish need not apply." What this guy doesn't say is what he is doing at night to make his life and career better. They may treat him like dirt, but that doesn't mean he has to choose to stay that way.

Re:3rd generation perspective (0, Flamebait)

jeff13 (255285) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881732)

You don't get a choice white boy. Grow up!

There's always a trade-off... (3, Insightful)

adubey (82183) | more than 12 years ago | (#2881736)

On one hand, having a sucky job is not so good... on the other hand, as one of the temps points out, you can't have better conditions without unions. One of the sad facts of life is there is a positive correlation between union membership and higher unemployment.

Unfortunately, there's a trade-off between good working conditions and having work at all. In Europe, the population chose to have better working conditions, by voting for left-of-center governments. In the US, the population chose to decrease the power of unions and have more jobs, by continually voting for right-of-center governments.
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