My Blog List

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A powerless situation

When working, bosses own large quantities of power. They can hire, fire, cut wages, increase wages, add hours, take away hours (ect). However, employees also have some power. They can negotiate for better conditions. They can go on strike and unionize. However, Ehrenreich was powerless as an applicant employee at Walmart. In the hiring process at Walmart, there is no point where the applicant has the chance to ask for more money of benefits. This is because the process is quick, and the employers never told her she was hire until her uniform was handed to her. In addition, the applicant has to pass a drug test, which gives them the feeling of having to prove yourself. Ehrenreich explains the hiring process on page 149, "Tilts even further," towards the employer because of the drug tests and the lack of clarity. Clearly, Walmart has designed the process to get the most cheap labor in the door and working without giving them the power to negotiate their potential power. Once the employee is working, there is no turning back. If the employee wants higher wages, Walmart can easily relieve that employee of their duties, and find someone else to replace them. Ehrenreich has no power because she is easily replaceable, and isn't given any chances to use her potential power. The situation Ehrenreich was in is the same situation too many working poor Americans face.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The invisible effects of being poor

     The definition of poor, as defined by the New Oxford American dictionary, is "lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society". Although lacking money presents plenty of problems that the definition addresses, one problem not addressed is the intangible effects. There is a social hierarchy along with an income hierarchy in today's society. There is a stereotype assigned to the lower class that they made bad choices because they are stupid. Thus, people who live comfortably feel they have the right to treat people lesser if they are waiters or maids. Barbara Ehrenreich documents this social hierarchy in her novel "Nickel and Dimed". On page 100, Ehrenreich describes how she used to go to a supermarket after work, but she stopped going because of the stares, which is a nonverbal way of saying, "What are you doing here?" Clearly, poor people don't have enough dignity to be in necessary public places like a supermarket. Without self-confidence to brave the ugly looks they will receive, the lower class is restricted to where they can be welcomed. The feeling of not being accepted socially is felt everyday in the life of minimum wage workers. This and a slew of other problems is felt everyday by low income workers.