Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

Posts tagged exploitation

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Black Friday Worker on the All-Night Shift Drives Into Canal

Besides striving to stay awake on their drives home, what else did retail employees do to cope with the Black Friday experience?

  • Boise, Idaho Best Buy employee Daniel Wood stayed awake for 24 hours straight (just like a doctor, minus the wages!) so he could celebrate his holiday and then run off to work. He stayed alert at work by drinking four energy drinks during his 12-hour shift.
  • Wood’s coworker Riley Zahm, who hadn’t slept “in three days,” drank two cups of black coffee and sang Soft Cell and Clash songs. That’s what we did during our entire freshman year in college, so maybe his ordeal wasn’t so bad.
  • Workers at a North Carolina Best Buy subsisted on free food and drinks donated by the store.
  • On Twitter, @TravyBoyy says he “still smell[s] like [he] took a swim in a pool of Fierce” after working Abercrombie & Fitch and taking five showers.
  • People worked insane shifts: 28 hours, 28 hours again, covered the 3:15 AM to 9:55 PM shift, worked 17 hours then got called in for more. Sounds awful.
  • Massachusetts workers enjoyed the protection of the state’s blue laws, which prohibited their employers from making them come in to work at 11 PM on Thanksgiving Day. Those workers got to eat pie for a whole extra hour or hour-and-a-half before starting their shifts at 12:30 AM or 1 AM. No, it’s not much of a respite, but it’s the principle of the thing.

So, can we get over the Black Friday thing? How come there’s no family values groups decrying the war on Thanksgiving, where people are forced to give up time with their families to worship at the altar of consumerism?

Oh, wait… Answered my own question there… Altar of capitalism + no Jesus = totally cool, right? WWJT (Who Would Jesus Trample?)

This highlights the exploitation of retail workers as well. Tell the boss no and sacrifice your job - especially when temp labor is plentiful and cheap. Ignore your family to sleep for work, and be the one that ruined Thanksgiving this year. So you drink several Red Bulls and hope you don’t fall asleep on the drive home. There is power in a union, folks. 

Filed under Black Friday Consumerism Work Wage slaves retail exploitation Thanksgiving economy

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Priceless: James O’Keefe Operatives Turn On Him Because They ‘Feel Exploited’

The world’s tiniest violin is playing just for them. From Mediaite:

Controversial undercover videographer James O’Keefe is under fire from two of his Project Veritas operatives, who complain exclusively to The Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz that O’Keefe’s handling of their so-called NPR “sting” made them “feel exploited.”

Shaughn Adeleye and Simon Templar, who carried out the “NPR sting,” accuse O’Keefe of “hijacking” credit for their story in order to “get his ‘comeback’ or his ‘redemption.’”

In all seriousness though, part of their complaint is that they did not get credit for their written work. May I suggest joining National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981/AFL-CIO? You can view more info as well at the Pay The Writer campaign site.

There is power in a union, folks.

Filed under James 'Keefe Politics protest NPR conservative conservatives sting exploitation GOP Union National Writers Union There is power in a union

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Hey, are you a designer? Have you spent years perfecting your craft? Do you want to work for a company with a billion-dollar market cap… for absolutely no money? Do you want to participate in a steel-cage death match with your creative peers… with absolutely no assurance of success? Do you want to devote hours of work to a project that may never see the light of day… never, never, never? Sure you do! Hell, who wouldn’t? So what are you waiting for? Get in on Huffington Post’s super-neat Politics Icon Competition! If you’re the winner your design will be used to brand HuffPo’s Politics vertical, and you’ll get nothing except the queasy feeling of knowing in your heart that you’ve given your work product away! Sound good?

Forbes Magazine, on Huffington Post’s recent foray into the exploitation of graphic artists and web designers. 

I’ve posted about the virtual picket line before, and this is just another piece of it. The pushback on the spec campaign generated enough heat that Huffington Post released this statement about it:

"We asked fans of HuffPost Politics to submit suggestions for social media icon designs as a fun way of enabling them to express their passion for politics—and for HuffPost. As readers of our site know, we frequently engage our community with requests for feedback and suggestions. So while AOL Huffington Post Media Group employs an in-house team of more than 30 talented designers, we felt this would be a lighthearted way to encourage HuffPost Politics users to express another side of their talents."

Mark Collins, who spearheaded the AntiSpec campaign against Huffington Post, replied with this in AdWeek:

There is nothing ‘lighthearted’ when it comes to the serious task of branding your business. To allow your online identity to be created by anyone with a copy of Photoshop is utter madness. The feedback from the design community is clearly negative towards HuffPost yet the spec comp remains open. It’s time for HuffPost to grow a set, apologise and drop this.

I agree. Even if you’re just starting out, the “exposure” principle (essentially, write/design for us for free and you get exposure) does not put food on the table, nor does it pay the rent. It does, however, allow a multi-million dollar corporation justify exploiting writers and designers who work very hard for low pay.

So, in conclusion, when Forbes even thinks you’re being an asshole, you just might be an asshole.

(Source: forbes.com)

Filed under Forbes Mark Collins Huffington Post virtual picket line politics spec work anti spec design exploitation

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Virtual Picket Line: Huffington Post

As a new member of the National Writers Union, here’s why you won’t see content from Huff Post on Cognitive Dissonance. I ask my fellow labor-supporting Tumblr folk to honor the virtual picket line. 

Janet Reasoner, NWU, May 25, 2011:

There has been a strike and boycott against the Huffington Post since last March, called by Visual Art Source and the Huffington Post Union of Bloggers and Writers (HPUB), and supported by the National Writers Union (NWU) and the Newspaper Guild (TNG). Please honor the electronic picket line; don’t post and don’t share articles on the Huffington Post until this is resolved.

In February, Arianna Huffington sold Huffington Post (the website and brand) to AOL for $315 million. This was possible in large part because of the work of thousands of unpaid writers and bloggers who made the site/brand what it is.

NWU’s goals in this dispute are:

  1. Get AOL/HuffPo to settle with writers/bloggers we represent for a share of the $315 million sales price;
  1. Set a standard that we can take to other online content providers to get writers paid;
  1. Build a bigger and more powerful NWU;
  1. Win a livable minimum wage for online content creators.

So what’s the big deal?

HuffPo was built on the hugely popular, yet unpaid, bloggers that populated the site with interesting and fresh content every single day. Arianna Huffington says that writers should be glad to write for free in exchange for all the free exposure they get. They can showcase their work and gain a following. That argument held water until Arianna got filthy rich[er] off of the web site and brand that all of these unpaid writers helped her build. Organized labor is about workers being treated fairly. Management/owners should not be able to get rich while treating their employees poorly or not paying them at all

A brief history:

In March of this year, Virtual Art Source (http://visualartsource.com) announced that the 50 writers they represent would no longer be providing free content to HuffPo. According to their site, they are striking for two demands:

  1. A pay schedule must be proposed and steps initiated to implement it for all contributing writers and bloggers.
  2. Paid promotional material must no longer be posted alongside editorial content; a press release or exhibition catalogue essay is fundamentally different from editorial content and must be either segregated and indicated as such, or not published at all.

Ms. Huffington was quoted as saying “The idea of going on strike when no one really notices… Go ahead, go on strike.” (http://www.thewrap.com/media/column-post/arianna-huffington-go-ahead-go-…)

On March 16, the Newspaper Guild posted a piece on their web site (http://www.newsguild.org/index.php?ID=10712) asking all writers to stop supplying content to HuffPo and for everyone to honor the electronic picket line. On March 21, NWU joined the battle (http://nwu.org/support-huffpo-strikers) stating, “We urge our members and everyone reading this, not to write for HuffPo until they are brought to the bargaining table.”

On April 12, former HuffPo blogger and former NWU President Jonathan Tasini (still a current NWU member) filed a class action lawsuit against Ms. Huffington, Huffington Post, AOL, and Kenneth Lerer in U.S. District Court. The complaint, on behalf of a putative class of over 9,000 writers, asks for at least $105 million in damages for uncompensated writers and bloggers for HuffPo.

What’s happening now?

AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka, United Steelworkers (USW) President Leo Gerard, and UAW International President Bob King are honoring the boycott and support is growing.

There are three Facebook pages devoted to the strike against HuffPo — Union of Huffington Post Writers and Bloggers, Huffington Post Justice Campaign, and “Hey Arianna, Can You Spare a Dime?” On the first page, the Huffington Post Union of Bloggers and Writers (HPUB) have a link to the NWU website urging their members to join NWU. They will be speaking at the DA in Detroit, June 23-26.

Many labor and progressive/liberal folks are still getting the message about the strike and virtual picket line. Just last week, there was a link from a large union’s Facebook page to a HuffPo posting (since taken down after several of us pointed out the problem). Many of you are still likely to see your Facebook friends posting links to HuffPo articles. If you do, please send them the link to this article.

You can also send them the link to the Daily Kos posting, Why I’m Boycotting The Huffington Post, And I Hope You Will Too, from April 2. (http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/04/02/962560/-Why-Im-Boycotting-The-H…).

Filed under Huffington Post picket line union unions politics exploitation

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This is America.
Update:
mohandasgandhi said: This was shown to be inaccurate. According to the NY Times, Paul Allen was up for LIFE in prison and Roy Brown pretended he had a gun, thus the higher sentence.
Ultimately, federal prosecutors sought 6 years versus a life term for Allen. The New York Times article cited on Reddit doesn’t even mention Allen as being up for a life term. That was the mastermind of the scheme, Lee Farkas. Here’s Allen’s plea agreement.
Roy Brown exhibited remorse and gave back what he stole. The feds have been unable to locate most of the assets stolen by Allen and his co-conspirators.
Did Brown commit a crime? Yes. But why is a man who steals $3 billion somehow worthier of a lesser sentence? Where was the greater harm?
Here’s why Roy Brown says he committed his crime:

A man who said he robbed a downtown Shreveport bank because he was out of a job and hungry has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for first-degree robbery.

Here’s what the US Justice Department said about Allen:

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an e-mailed statement, “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that corporate fraud by senior executives will not be tolerated.” Sean Ragland, 37, a former senior financial analyst at Taylor Bean who also pleaded guilty to the fraud, was sentenced today to three months in prison.

I do get your point. But I feel Paul Allen and his ilk caused much greater harm than Roy Brown ever will.

Some men rob you with a six-gun, others rob you with a fountain pen. - Woody Guthrie

This is America.

Update:

mohandasgandhi said: This was shown to be inaccurate. According to the NY Times, Paul Allen was up for LIFE in prison and Roy Brown pretended he had a gun, thus the higher sentence.

Ultimately, federal prosecutors sought 6 years versus a life term for Allen. The New York Times article cited on Reddit doesn’t even mention Allen as being up for a life term. That was the mastermind of the scheme, Lee Farkas. Here’s Allen’s plea agreement.

Roy Brown exhibited remorse and gave back what he stole. The feds have been unable to locate most of the assets stolen by Allen and his co-conspirators.

Did Brown commit a crime? Yes. But why is a man who steals $3 billion somehow worthier of a lesser sentence? Where was the greater harm?

Here’s why Roy Brown says he committed his crime:

A man who said he robbed a downtown Shreveport bank because he was out of a job and hungry has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for first-degree robbery.

Here’s what the US Justice Department said about Allen:

Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an e-mailed statement, “Today’s sentence sends a strong message that corporate fraud by senior executives will not be tolerated.” Sean Ragland, 37, a former senior financial analyst at Taylor Bean who also pleaded guilty to the fraud, was sentenced today to three months in prison.

I do get your point. But I feel Paul Allen and his ilk caused much greater harm than Roy Brown ever will.

Some men rob you with a six-gun, others rob you with a fountain pen. - Woody Guthrie

Filed under inequality Injustice america politics crime criminal injustice system white collar justice white collar crime exploitation

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Any business owner who uses largely unpaid labor, with a handful of underpaid, nonunion employees, to build a company that is sold for a few hundred million dollars, no matter how he or she is introduced to you on the television screen, is not a liberal or a progressive. Those who take advantage of workers, whatever their outward ideological veneer, to make profits of that magnitude are charter members of the exploitative class. Dust off your Karl Marx. They are the enemies of working men and women. And they are also, in this case, sucking the life blood out of a trade I care deeply about. It was bad enough that Huffington used her site for flagrant self-promotion, although the cult of the self has reached such dizzying proportions in American society that such behavior is almost expected. But there is an even sadder irony that this was carried out in the name of journalism.

Chris Hedges (via azspot)

^^ True story. I’ve quit visiting Huffington Post over this shit.

(via savagemike)

Filed under Chris Hedges Huffington Post exploitation