Tagged: labor

The Jobs Americans Do

Take some of the abundant leisure time that our post-industrial society has afforded you to read a series of nine portraits of working-class men and women in America, published last week in the New York Times Magazine. The article challenges the image of working-class jobs, which today are no longer in manufacturing as they were throughout most of the industrialized twentieth century.

The decline of the old working class has meant both an economic triumph for the nation and a personal tribulation for many of the workers. Technological progress has made American farms and factories more productive than ever, creating great wealth and cutting the cost of food and most other products. But the work no longer requires large numbers of workers.

But it’s not as if there are not any jobs. As we’ve known for decades, the working-class jobs of today are in services: health-care, education, hospitality, transportation, and customer service. Not only have the jobs changed, but they faces so have the faces of the American worker. “The emerging face of the American working class is,” as Binyamin Appelbaum succinctly summarized in the introduction to the article, “a Hispanic woman who has never set foot on a factory floor.”

A different author writes each of the stories. On a personal note, I was thrilled to see that a college chum and fellow KCSB alumnus, Eric Steuer, penned one of the stories, about a customer service representative at Zappos in Las Vegas named Sandi Dolan.

Unpaid Wages

One of the schools where I teach has yet to pay my wages, for one of the two classes I teach there, over the last three biweekly cycles. To put it another way, I started teaching this particular class on January 16, but as of February 22, I have yet to receive a single dime for six weeks of instruction.

I raised the issue with our department secretary, who investigated the matter on February 1. The university should have first paid me on January 25, but I did not get paid for either my first or my second class. I did however get paid for the second class, including a retroactive payment for the first missed payment, on February 8.

When I did not receive payment for the first class on February 8, I presumed that the paperwork was still in processing and that I would be made whole on February 22. I was wrong,

When I checked my online pay stub and my bank account, I found that i had only been paid for one class. I began calling an array of bureaucrats in trying to figure out why I hadn’t been paid. I began calling Human Resources at 10:00 AM, and just before 5:00, I finally received a response from an administrator who coordinates the adjunct instructors.

The message merely validated what I had told each of them: that I had not been paid in three biweekly cycles. She said that she was aware of the "issues" and someone was "looking into it". But her message did have one juicy nugget of information: "I apologize for this inconvenience and I’m am endeavoring to find out why this has occurred, not only to you, but to many adjuncts." Clearly, there are some issues with processing payroll on time, and it is likely causing some financial hardship.

I requested that I receive a check for my work by no later than Monday, February 25, a full month later than I was supposed to be first paid.

If you are an adjunct instructor in a similar position, you may consider having the New York State Department of Labor help you collect your wages. From what I understand, you just need to complete Form LS-233 and submit it to the nearest Division of Labor Standards office.

Happy Birthday…to My Camera

Me with a Camera

Today is November 11. Not only is it Armistice Day, Veteran’s Day, and Corduroy Day, it is also the day I bought my first and only SLR camera. I bought my Canon 20D on November 11, 2005. I didn’t actually remember that I bought it on this day, except that I was registering a new lens and a new flash, and the Canon website showed me the list of products. Evidently, I had bought the camera on this day back in 2005. Cool!

GSOC Strike Day One 2

When I bought the camera, it was during the graduate student strike against NYU. The GSOC strike started only days earlier, and would continue into the cold days, cruel days of the winter. I brought my then-new camera to the picket line and found plenty of opportunities to shoot photos of the strike. One of the best opportunities came when GSOC’s undergraduate allies occupied Bobst Library.

GSOC Occupies Bobst Library 20

I shot the photo above during that occupation. I posted it on an older version of this website, and it was seen by the GSOC brass. They eventually published the photo in a book about the strike, The University Against Itself: The NYU Strike and the Future of the Academic Workplace. Despite the attention we got and the perseverance of many on the picket line, the strike was a total bust, and almost no one remembers it. The union died that winter.

At least I got a little practice in amateur photojournalism.