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On the clock : what low-wage work did to me and how it drives America insane

by Guendelsberger, Emily,

Format: Print Book 2019.
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Summary

After the local newspaper where she worked as a reporter closed, Emily Guendelsberger took a pre-Christmas job at an Amazon fulfilment centre outside Louisville, Kentucky. There, the vending machines were stocked with painkillers and the staff turnover was dizzying. In the new year, she travelled to North Carolina to work at a call centre, a place where even bathroom breaks were timed to the second and finally, Guendelsberger was hired at a San Francisco McDonald's, narrowly escaping revenge-seeking customers who pelted her with condiments.

Across three jobs and in three different parts of the country, Guendelsberger directly took part in the revolution changing the U.S. workplace. ON THE CLOCK takes us behind the scenes of the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce to understand the future of work in America - and its present. Until robots pack boxes, resolve billing issues and make fast food, human beings supervised by AI will continue to get the job done. Guendelsberger shows us how workers went from being the most expensive element of production to the cheapest - and how low wage jobs have been remade to serve the ideals of efficiency, at the cost of humanity.

ON THE CLOCK explores the lengths that half of Americans will go to in order to make a living, offering not only a better understanding of the modern workplace but also surprising solutions to make work more humane for millions of Americans.

Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "When the Philadelphia newspaper where Guendelsberger worked folded in 2015, she embarked on the series of jobs she profiles here: an order picker at an Amazon fulfillment center in Louisville; an AT&T call-center representative in Hickory, North Carolina; and a McDonald's cashier in San Francisco. She lays out her methodology and her thesis: that the white-collar world's idea of service-industry work is thirty years out of date quaint, even. In reality, advances in technology make it routine to monitor and pressure workers, forcing them to operate under undue levels of stress and with diminishing rewards. In her finely related chronicle of experiencing this work first-hand (each position for one to two months) she incorporates histories of labor, scientific management, and trade deals, as well as the psychology of work and stress. Guendelsberger can go from light-hearted to dead-serious on a dime, writing with a conversational, contemporary, and heavily footnoted bent. (There are also extensive notes and further reading.) This clear inheritor to Barbara Ehrenreich's seminal Nickel and Dimed (2001) is bound to open eyes and change minds.--Annie Bostrom Copyright 2019 Booklist"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "In this spiritual sequel to Barbara Ehrenreich's 2011 Nickel and Dimed, journalist Guendelsberger takes jobs at an Amazon fulfillment warehouse, an AT&T call center, and a McDonald's franchise to investigate the sheer implausibility of living on minimum wage and the Kafkaesque features of service industry work. These include the Tylenol- and Advil-dispensing vending machines at the Amazon warehouse, a symbol of the excruciating pain that is an expected part of the job; bosses changing time sheets to deduct minutes employees spent in the bathroom; and screaming customers flinging condiment packets. Guendelsberger's coworkers are charismatic and charming, and completely unaware that they deserve a lot better from their employers: one of her fellow employees suffers a panic attack that requires emergency services and another attempts dental surgery on herself. Interspersed throughout are references to early 20th-century moguls like Frederick Winslow Taylor and Henry Ford (who pioneered the use of assembly lines to control workers' pace, a predecessor to Amazon's pace-tracking practices), giving historical background on how the plight of today's overburdened working class came to be. Guendelsberger's narration is vivid, humorous, and honest; she admits to the feelings of despair, panic, and shame that these jobs frequently inspire, allowing for a more complex and complete picture of the experience. This is a riveting window into minimum-wage work and the subsistence living it engenders. Agent: Lydia Wills, Lydia Wills LLC. (July) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved."
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Guendelsberger, Emily.
Working class -- United States.
Unskilled labor -- United States.
Minimum wage -- United States.
Publisher New York :2019.
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description xi, 335 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Bibliography Notes Includes bibliographical references (pages 319-324) and index.
ISBN 9780316509008
0316509000
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