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The Big Answer


To link to this article from your blog or webpage, copy and paste the url below into your blog or homepage.

A Part-Time Life, as Hours Shrink and Shift

an article in The New York Times by Steven Greenhouse

(our site's article review)

Greenhouse reports that the burden of market fluctuations is being shifted onto the workers, as opposed to the companies absorbing it themselves. This makes for more efficient running of businesses, which saves money on staff, and more part-timers means less salary outlays, since they do not make as much per hour as the full-timers, which are usually managers. It also give companies the additional benefit of better work quality from workers: part-time workers feel a real competition to work hard during their limited hours because they want to impress managers to give them more hours.

Companies are giving workers mostly part-time jobs whose 4 or 5-hour shifts are rarely enough to live on
Companies are giving workers mostly part-time jobs whose 4 or 5-hour shifts are rarely enough to live on

The employees can easily look at the situation of one of exploitation since the job market is so tough and they accept such jobs because they cannot find anything else. But what they make in these 4 or 5-hour shifts is rarely enough to live on, but then if they get a second part-time job so are unavailable at times, the first employer ends up cutting their hours because it is less convenient to employ people who are unavailable some hours of the day. Workers are mostly seen as expendable, replaceable resources, not people.

Workers are mostly seen as expendable, replaceable resources, not people
Workers are mostly seen as expendable, replaceable resources, not people

The shareholders and company bigwigs are pleased about all this efficiency, which makes them more competitive and profitable. The companies with all this software-empowered efficiency are mostly retail and restaurant chains. Some of the software "breaks down schedules into 15-minute increments. So if the lunchtime rush at a particular shop slows down at 1:45, the software may suggest cutting 15 minutes from the shift of an employee normally scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m."

So you can see what the employees are up against. Shifting, shrinking, unreliable work schedules and even last-minute, unexpected call-ins for them to come and work. How can these workers have a life, support themselves, go to college, arrange appointments to look into other employment possilities, arrange childcare, or deal with illnesses in such a worker-hostile environment? Of course, the companies are not so much hostile as thrifty to the point of obsession. They need to survive, compete, make a profit. Do they pass all these savings back to the public via price cuts?

Companies are not so much hostile as thrifty to the point of obsession, trying to make a profit. But do they pass all these savings on to customers via price cuts? Fat chance!
Companies are not so much hostile as thrifty to the point of obsession, trying to make a profit. But do they pass all these savings on to customers via price cuts? Fat chance!

It's a tough world out there, a dog-eat-dog world where only the resilient, flexible, robust people survive. You can just imagine a working mother with several kids who get sick at times and have daycare and sports practices to get chauffeured to, doctor and dental appointments, as well as play dates. How can she work at such a job? Yet she needs to supplement her spouse's income so they don't start missing mortgage payments and insurance premiums. As we say, it is a tough world.

How can a working mother, with several kids who get sick at times and have daycare and sports practices to get chauffeured to, be a decent mother without losing her job?
How can a working mother, with several kids who get sick at times and have daycare and sports practices to get chauffeured to, be a decent mother without losing her job?

Now just imagine how an MC changes her impossible situation. Rather than an impossible challenge full of frustration and chaos, the MC makes it all possible. There is an MC Scheduler for caregiving scheduling and a PSB for greatly enhanced communication efficiency and effectiveness.

And there is one of the Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs in effect in her MC so she is secure her kids get the best of care—free! The shifting, shrinking, unreliable work schedules can be handled by use of PSBs, the MC Scheduler, and the other helpful members of her MC. The several kids who get sick at times and have daycare and sports practices to get chauffeured to, doctor and dental appointments, as well as play dates—all this can be handled within the context of adequate social resources. But her life would be unrelenting chaos if she tried to juggle all this herself, even with a spouse's help—she would be at effect of inadequate social resources and likely lose her job.

Of course, in an MC it is highly unlikely anyone will ever go elsewhere for childcare. That is handled much better in the MC caregiving space a few steps away than it would ever be handled in a center.