By Bill Ivey
Workers today are expected to be on call 24/7.
The following is an excerpt from Handmaking America: A Back-to-Basics Pathway to a Revitalized American Democracy by Bill Ivey.
The Perpetual Workday
Jill Andresky Fraser’s book White-Collar Sweatshop details the movement of factory floor, scientific-management-style techniques into the office. Overall real wages scarcely budged in the 1990s, and earnings for college-educated workers actually declined by more than 6 percent. We might surmise that the lack of salary increases were offset, in part, by noncash benefits, but these too were extracted from the compensation package. “Lunch hour? An anachronism. Commuting time? A good chance to return phone calls. Sleep? Never mind if you were up until 2am on the phone with a client across the globe. Be at the office at eight.
“These days, workers are expected to be on call 24/7—24 hours per day, seven days per week,” writes Fraser. Seen in this light, innovations like flex time or working from home are in fact strategies to bring new sorts of workers—think women—into the job market and to subject them to a new set of (frequently electronic) rules and controls.