Saturday, April 12, 2014

Florida GOP legislature bans teen interns from floor during abortion debate

I found this Gawker story through Daily Kos.  Even I'm a little surprised at it.  From
During discussion of controversial issues on abortion and fetuses Wednesday, Republican leaders of Florida's Legislature sent all of the House's teenage pages out of the chamber, and they weren't allowed back in until debate opened on the next issue: guns.
The unusual "precaution" was noted by members of the Capitol press corps who attended the House session yesterday. The Legislature is considering a bill that would effectively ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, as well as a "crimes against the unborn" measure to put stiffer penalties on criminals who assault pregnant women leading to the death of their fetus.
The House pages and messengers, who have served the state's legislators since at least 1865, are all students who spend a week running errands for lawmakers and learning the business of state government. But Wednesday they were led off the floor, presumably so they couldn't be tainted by that business of government.
Okay, first thing I'm going to comment on is that these Florida teenage pages probably know more about what is going on inside a woman's body than the Republican legislators could ever imagine--or even dream about!  Are the Republican lawmakers so afraid of having young teens learning such words as "uterus" and "vaginas" in the government halls?  Do Republican lawmakers even say the words "uterus," and "vaginas?"  What is even more ironic is how they teenage pages were banned from the chambers during the abortion debate, but then it was okay to let them in during the gun debate! 

Talk about crazy incompetence....

Saturday Morning Cartoons: A Corny Concerto

For this morning's Saturday Morning Cartoons, it is time to get Merrie with Merrie Melodies "A Corney Concerto."  The cartoon is a parody of Walt Disney's 1940 feature film Fantasia, in which the Disney film sets eight animation sequences to classical music.  Directed by Bob Clampett, and released in September, 1943, A Corney Concerto sets up two stories to Johann Strauss' waltzes, Tales from the Vienna Woods, and the Blue Danube.  The film was voted #47 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of All Time by animation professionals.

From YouTube:  A Corney Concerto:

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Happy Harmonies "To Spring!"

 After the week of rain we had here in the Bay Area (and we probably need more rain), the sun is out and Spring is here.  I found this MGM cartoon series Happy Harmonies short cartoon, To Spring!  Happy Harmonies was a series of 36 cartoons, produced by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising, from 1934 to 1938.  They were distributed by Metro Goldwyn-Mayer.

Harman and Ising started their animation work with Disney in the early 1920s, however, they dreamed of opening their own animation studio.  The pair created and trademarked an animation character named Bosko in 1928, hoping to capitalize on the new technology of motion pictures with synchronized sound with animation.   After a short stint at Universal, working on the Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons,  Harman and Ising created their pilot animation short, Bosko, The Talk-Ink Kid, which emphasized synchronized dialog and speech in animation over music.  Warner Brothers Leon Schlesinger saw the pilot film, and signed the pair to produce cartoons for Warner Brother's new Looney Tunes cartoon series, making Bosko one of Warner's first animation stars. 

In 1933, Harman and Ising left Warner Brothers over budget disputes, taking their trademarked Bosko character with them.  In 1934, they found work at MGM in creating both a new series of Bosko short films, and the Happy Harmonies animation series.  Harman and Ising worked on the Happy Harmonies, until the series went over-budget in 1937 and MGM fired them.  MGM then went on to build their own in-house animation studio, headed by Fred Quimby.

Harman and Ising would continue to work as animation freelancers, selling short films to both Disney's Silly Symphony series, and to Quimby at MGM.  In 1938, Harman created Peace on Earth, an anti-war morality tale which was nominated for an Academy Award.  In 1940, Ising would win the Oscar for his short film The Milky Way, becoming the first non-Disney animation film to win an Academy Award.  While both Harman and Ising attempted to create memorable cartoon characters in their later years, they were unsuccessful.  Where Harman and Ising's work especially shines is in the refined, quality of their cartoons, and their refusal to skimp on such quality to the producers who wanted cheaper budgeted cartoons.  You can view that commitment to quality in To Spring, as the elves wake up and start mining the colors that would grow into the green grass and colorful flowers.  But will Spring ever be able to release itself from the blowing snow and winds of Old Man Winter?  Will the colorful pumps of Spring coldly crash down in that final winter's storm?  Will the black-bearded elf ever get his pair of blue pants on?

From YouTube:  Happy Harmonies, "To Spring!"

Thursday, April 03, 2014

UPS fires 250 workers after they protest against a long-time co-worker's firing

I'm not sure how to respond to this NewYork Daily News story, via Think Progress.   From the New York Daily News:
UPS has delivered a special message to 250 of its Queens drivers: You’re fired!
The Atlanta-based company is booting 250 of its unionized drivers from its Maspeth facility because they walked off the job for 90 minutes Feb. 26 to protest the dismissal of a long-time employee, UPS told the Daily News.
Twenty employees were terminated Monday after their shifts — and the remaining 230 notified that they’ll be canned as soon as replacements are trained, a company spokesman said.
“They just called me in ... (and) said, ‘Effective immediately, you are no longer on the payroll,’” said Steve Curcio, 41, a 20-year employee earning $32 an hour.
The mass firing has enraged Tim Sylvester, head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 804, especially since the company gets some lucrative perks from the city.
Apparently UPS decided to fire a 24-year employee and union activist, Jairo Reyes.  The NY Daily News story does not provide details on why Reyes was fired by UPS.   After Reyes was fired, 250 unionized UPS workers staged an impromptu strike for 90 minutes, in protest of the firing.  UPS escalated in firing those 250 workers.  ThnkProgress is reporting that Reyes was fired over a "complicated saga" regarding hours that senior UPS workers can hold.

The rest of the story is about the city of New York trying to get UPS and the workers into negotiations, due to the fact that UPS has a $43 million city contract to provide delivery services to city and state government agencies, and that UPS participates in a special city program to reduce and expedite parking ticket fines and payments to the city.  Some New York City officials are now wondering whether to threaten UPS in negotiating with the workers, or cancelling these contracts.

I don't want to get into the details on Reyes' dispute with UPS, or whether UPS was justified in its firing of Reyes.  But I will say that UPS has a public relations disaster on their hands.  Do the UPS managers even watch the news stories regarding the labor strikes by fast food workers demanding living wages?  Or the McDonald's workers suing several stores in three states over wage thefts?  Or the stories of WalMart paying their employees so little that they employees are forced to apply for government food stamps?  Let alone, WalMart's own wage theft issues.  Like it or not, there is a battle growing between big Corporate America and their employees.  The employees have watched their own jobs being outsourced, wages stagnate, working conditions deteriorate, pensions and retirement eviscerated, and the endless demands of Corporate America to "do more with less," while not receiving any benefits for their increased productivity.  On the other side is Corporate America, with ever-growing productivity gains, increasing profits, and soaring multimillion paychecks and golden parachutes to their CEOs.  UPS may have been justified in their firing of Reyes, and the 250 employees who went on strike to support Reyes.  However, in this larger narrative, UPS is looking like the cold, uncaring corporation whose only interest is to screw their employees--UPS can always remove higher paying, experienced older workers for cheap, minimum wage scabs and make more profit due to reduced labor costs. 

UPS is projecting itself as being the "bad guy" in this story--rightly or wrongly. 

Supreme Court kills overall limits on individual political campaign donations

This is from the Los Angeles Times:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court struck another major blow against long-standing restrictions on campaign money Wednesday, freeing wealthy donors to each give a total of $3.6 million this year to the slate of candidates running for Congress.
Rejecting the restriction as a violation of free speech, the 5-4 ruling struck down a Watergate-era limit that Congress wrote to prevent a single donor from writing a large check to buy influence on Capitol Hill. It was the latest sign that the court's conservative majority intends to continue dismantling funding limits created over the last four decades.
Under those limits, donors could give up to $5,200 to any individual candidate for Congress per election cycle, and no more than $123,200 to all candidates and political party committees put together.
Acting on an appeal from the Republican National Committee, the high court left the individual candidate limits intact but declared the overall limit unconstitutional.
As a result, individuals will be able to give the individual maximum to every candidate for Congress, either directly or through contributions to a political party. That in effect raises the new maximum that can be given to candidates and party committees during a two-year election cycle to $3.6 million.
We now have the very best political system that money can buy.  If you have $3.6 million dollars, you can give to every candidate and through both political parties to make sure that your political viewpoints are heard above everyone else.  Toss in the practically unlimited corporate campaign contributions of Citizens United,  and you can pretty much purchase your own congress-critter.  It seems like we're moving away from a one man / one vote, to a $1 / one vote.  What choice is there between corporate and ultra-rich sponsored Candidate A, and corporate and ultra-rich sponsored Candidate B, when both candidates have pretty much the same political opinion on business regulations, environmental regulations, labor, wages, and economic issues?  When both candidates support big business and the ultra-rich? 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Morning Cartoons--South Park parodies Monty Python's "Dead Parrot" sketch

I found this over at Americablog, and it is just fricking brilliant!  Seems like the creators of South Park created a parody of Monty Python's famous Dead Parrot sketch--one of the best of the series. 

From YouTube:


And here is the original Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch:

I'd like to see how South Park parodies other Monty Python sketches, such as the Spanish Inquisition, or Spam, or even the Upperclass Twit of the Year Games.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Supreme Court hears arguments in Hobby Lobby case for corporation's religious rights

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc, where Hobby Lobby is challenging the Affordable Care Act's insurance coverage for birth control is violating the religious beliefs of the owners of Hobby Lobby, and that the company should be exempt from this birth control requirement.  This is from CBS
Two privately-held, for-profit companies -- Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. -- are suing the United States government over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires large employers to offer their workers comprehensive health coverage, including contraception, or pay a fine. Hobby Lobby's owners, David and Barbara Green of Oklahoma, say they have strong objections based in their Christian faith to providing health care coverage for certain types of contraception. The Pennsylvania-based Hahn family, the Mennonite owners of Conestoga Wood Specialties, have the same complaint.

For Christian conservatives, the cases represent the threat of government overreach.
"This case will decide whether a family gives up their religious freedom when they open a family business," Lori Windham, a senior counsel for the Becket Fund, which is representing Hobby Lobby, told CBS News. "The question here is whether the Green family can be forced to do something that violates their deeply held religious conviction as a consequence of the new health care law."
Reproductive rights advocates, meanwhile, consider the notion that some businesses could pick and choose which contraception methods to cover "out of touch [and] out of line," Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro Choice America, told reporters.
Contraception is "integral with our economic security and our ability to hold jobs for our lifetime," Hogue said. "We've had enough of this idea our reproductive health is somehow separate from our economic well being... Our bodies are not our bosses' business."
The two cases, however, have implications that go well beyond the so-called "wars" on women or religion. If Hobby Lobby and Conestoga prevail, it would prompt "a fundamental shift in the understanding of the First Amendment," David Gans, the civil rights director for the Constitutional Accountability Center, told CBS News.
That shift in thinking could open the floodgates for unprecedented protections for corporations that some say amount to a license to discriminate. The ramifications could be felt nationwide, in states that are enacting laws to shield businesses from regulations that may violate their "religious beliefs." Gov. Jan Brewer, R-Ariz., last month vetoed one such bill, which would have allowed Arizona businesses to refuse to serve gays on religious grounds. A number of other states across the country have been considering similar legislation.
The ramifications could theoretically go further than that. U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued in a brief to the court that siding with Hobby Lobby "would entitle commercial employers with religious objections to opt out of virtually every statute protecting their employees" -- such as laws that ban gender discrimination, minimum wage and overtime laws, the collection of Social Security taxes, or mandated health coverage for vaccinations.
This case certainly worries me.  The big question I would have to ask is, who defines a corporation's religious belief?  Hobby Lobby is a privately held company,  so I can see the Green family's religious argument against providing birth control.  But who defines a publicly-held corporation's religious belief?  The CEO?  The Board of Directors?  The shareholders?  Will such religious beliefs have to be placed up for a shareholder vote on the next shareholder meeting?  How does such religious beliefs in God, Satan, Original Sin, birth control, relate towards selling of shoes by Nike Corporation?  Wait--Jesus Christ wore shoes.  How does religious beliefs relate towards the selling of  iPhones and iPads by Apple Computer Corporation?

There have been a lot of arguments that I've read criticizing Hobby Lobby, and their arguments for corporate religious beliefs--Talking Points Memo, Huffington Post, Daily Kos has multiple postings on their site, and Americablog has four postings.  What worries me is that if the Supremes rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, then we may see that floodgate of corporate protections on taxes, discrimination, exemption on regulations on everything--all based on religious beliefs.  Corporations only believe in one God--and that is the God of Money!  They will say anything and do anything they can to accumulate even more of their God. 

And one more thing, the Supreme Court will rule 5-4 in favor of Hobby Lobby, with Justice Kennedy being the swing vote.  Because corporations are people too, my friend.

Jack Daniels faces Tennessee "Whiskey Rebellion"

I found this story through the Yahoo Food Section, with the source story from the Wall Street Journal.  Starting with the Yahoo Food Story:
There’s a whiskey brawl going on! Not the typical post-drink brawl, but a brouhaha that was born before the whiskey even made it to the people. Let us elucidate the details.
Jack Daniel’s Whiskey: Whiskey made (1) in Tennessee (2) from at least 51% corn, (3) filtered through maple charcoal and (4) aged in new, charred oak barrels.
Tennessee Whiskey: Whiskey made (1) in Tennessee (2) from at least 51% corn, (3) filtered through maple charcoal and (4) aged in new, charred oak barrels.
See the similarity there? That’s because Jack Daniel’s—or rather, Brown-Forman Corp., the company that owns Jack Daniel’s—urged Tennessee lawmakers to require anything labeled “Tennessee Whiskey” to fit that bill. (The bill that Jack Daniel’s fits.) This is important because that “Tennessee Whiskey” label sells bottles—it’s part of why the American liquor business is booming—and without, it, the Other Guys have less of a chance in the marketplace.
Tennessee Whiskey, According to the Other Guys: Whiskey made (1) in Tennessee (2) from at least 51% corn, (3) filtered through something (maybe?) and (4) aged in some kind of barrel. This is what both small Tennessee distilleries and Diageo, the company that owns top-selling George Dickel “Tennessee whiskey,” want—looser terms—so that they can experiment with grains and woods and use family recipes, if they have them.
"If you don’t want to use new barrels or charcoal filtering, you can’t call it ‘Tennessee Whiskey.’ You can call it ‘whiskey from Tennessee’ or ‘whiskey made in Tennessee’ or any other combination,” Phil Lynch, a Brown-Forman spokesman, told Yahoo Finance.
You just have to love this ridiculous fight going on here.  Jack Daniels used the Tennessee state government to pass legislation requiring any whiskey labeled "Tennessee Whiskey" to be produced according to Jack Daniels' requirements.  Jack Daniels wants to use the term "Tennessee Whiskey" for themselves as a marketing term, and shut the rest of the distillers out.  According to the Wall Street Journal, Jack Daniels sells about 90 percent of Tennessee's whiskey, with Diageo PLC's George Dickel's Tennessee Whiskey in a distant second place.  There are also some small craft distillers in Tennessee that want to experiment in creating specialty whiskies, and are complaining about the stringent requirements and short supply of new wood barrels.  Ironically, Jack Daniels makes its own, oak barrels.  Legislators in Nashville are planning to debate the possible rule changes and amendments to roll back some of these requirements.

In one sense, I can see what Jack Daniels is doing for "Tennessee Whiskey," in imposing regulations for the term is similar to such regulations for terms of  "Scotch," and "Champagne."  Unfortunately, I would say that they've gone a little too far in imposing their production requirements for the term.  Jack Daniels covets the therm "Tennessee Whiskey," as it is prominently displayed in their label.  Now that competitor distilleries are coming into Tennessee to produce their own whiskeys, Jack Daniels is fighting to maintain their own monopolistic market share.  And one way is to keep the "Tennessee Whiskey" term for themselves. 

It is rather ironic, because Jack Daniels is okay--but it is not the best tasting whiskey out there.  To me, it is good as a mixing drink, but I would prefer the more subtle tastes of micro-brewed whiskies or bourbons.  To me, Makers Mark is a better tasting whiskey than Jack Daniels--and Maker's Mark is supposedly an inferior bourbon.  According to the WS Journal:
Brown-Forman—which is based in Kentucky (And maker of Jack Daniels)—is casting the debate in near-apocalyptic terms, saying in a news release Friday that Tennessee Whiskey was "under attack."
It accused Diageo of trying to undermine the designation by watering down regulations that would "dramatically diminish the quality and integrity'' of Tennessee Whiskey and make it inferior to bourbon.
Bourbon, the most famous type of American whiskey, is made with a recipe similar to Jack Daniel's. Under longstanding federal regulations, any whiskey labeled "bourbon'' must be distilled in the U.S. using at least 51% corn and aged in new oak barrels that have been charred. Unlike Tennessee Whiskey, bourbon doesn't require maple charcoal filtering. It can also be made in any state, although more than 90% of bourbon is produced in Kentucky.
There is no federal regulation governing the term "Tennessee Whiskey.''
Part of what makes bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey unique is the substitution of barley and other grains with corn, typically making them sweeter than other whiskies such as Scotch. Brown-Forman says new barrels are another important difference, delivering unique flavor and turning the spirit orange-brown without caramel coloring. Charcoal filtering produces a smoother sip, it says.
To me, the best-tasting whiskey would have to be a single malt Scotch.  And there are a wide variety of single malt scotches out there, with so many different flavors, aromas, and subtleties.  Unfortunately, single malt scotches have gone up in price.  So I've switched over to the next best thing in bourbon.  Go into a BevMo store, you'll find a number of interesting bourbons--each with their own subtleties in their distillation and production process.  Half the fun is trying out different bottles of scotches and bourbons and comparing them to each other.  Apparently Jack Daniels is saying that watering down the regulations would '"dramatically diminish the quality and integrity'' of Tennessee Whiskey and make it inferior to bourbon.'  I've tasted unique bourbons in Makers Mark, Knob Creek, Elijah Craig, Woodford Reserve (Which is OWNED by Brown-Forman), Rock Hill Farms, and a few others that have a better taste and complexity than Jack Daniels.  There are plenty of whiskies and bourbons that are superior to Jack Daniels.

The term "Tennessee Whiskey" is not under a "near-apocalyptic" attack.  Jack Daniels use of the term "Tennessee Whiskey" is. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Saturday Morning Cartoongs--Top Ten Worst Nostalgic Cartoons

For today's Saturday Morning Cartoons, how about the Top Ten Worst Nostalgic Cartoons?  Presented by Pause / Break Reviews, it appears these are reviews for cartoons shown in the 1990s and 2000 decades.

From what I've seen on cartoons, Cow and Chicken was just too weird of a story for me to watch.  I couldn't understand the show at all.  Sonic the Hedgehog was a bad rip-off of the video game.  In fact, quite a few of the cartoons were bad rip-offs of  video games, or movies, or who knows what toy tie-in.  Ghostbusters as a cartoon?

It is rather interesting about how much of a tie-in there is between cartoons and merchandise.  It doesn't matter whether the merchandise came out first, or the cartoon.  I will say that the Number One cartoon in this list is based on a Japanese trading card game (No, not Pokemon).  Hell, I even remember the blatant tie-in between the G.I. Joe cartoons of the 1980s and the rampant toy merchandising that came out the next day.  Seems like nothing has changed.

The one cartoon that I disagree on is his Number Four pic on the Fairly Oddparents.  It is not the best cartoon, but still somewhat entertaining.  The reviewer complains that each episode follows the same plot line structure:  Timmy makes a wish from his godparents, Timmy gets in trouble from making his wish, Timmy and his Godparents find a way to resolve the trouble and turn everything back to normal.  To me, it is not about the story or plot of the show--it is about the details and inside cultural and social jokes within the show that makes Fairly Oddparents entertaining.  I see Fairly Oddparents plot structure similar to the Road Runner cartoons of the 1950s--Coyote wants to catch Roadrunner.  Coyote invents schemes with gadgets in attempt to catch Roadrunner.  Each attempt fails, and Coyote goes back to drawing board to invent new scheme with new gadgets.  The fun part here is seeing the design of the scheme, the gadget, and how the Coyote will fail in the attempt.  I'll take watching Fairly Oddparents over the rest of these cartoons in this list.

Then again, maybe I grew up in a different time in watching cartoons.

From YouTube, Top Ten 10-6:

From YouTube, Top Ten 5-1:

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Target's new, anti-union video

I found this Gawker story, via Daily Kos.  From
Target is America's third-largest retailer. It is also as staunchly anti-union as they come. In 2011, we showed you the cheesy anti-union video all Target employees were shown. We now bring you the new cheesy anti-union video all Target employees must endure.
The existence of Target's new anti-union employee training video (entitled "Think Hard: Protect Your Signature") was first reported today by Josh Eidelson at Salon. And we have obtained the actual video, which is above. It features Dawn and Ricardo, a cool, knowing, multiracial pair of Target employees who are here to talk to you, the Target team member, about the dangers of unions. "Someday, someone you don't know may approach you at work, or visit you at home, asking you to sign your name to an authorization card, petition, or some other union document," Ricardo warns.
Stranger danger!
"At Target, an open door policy isn't just a catchphrase," clarifies Dawn, in her smirky, Rachel Maddow-esque way. "It's a policy." She's referring to the sort of policy that caused a former Target manager to tell us, of the store's HR policies, "on paper it sounds great but the reality is a horror story."
"Unions want what we have" the video declares. How so? Ricardo explains, as if speaking to a child: "We're a target, because unions are threatened by us. And here's why: when we take business away from retailers that are unionized, those companies may downsize, reducing the number of employees. And that means the union loses members, which is a big problem for the union business. Did you notice how I just called it a business? Because that's what it is."
Target, which posted $73.3 billion in revenues in 2012, is presumably not a "business." Businesses sound bad.
The video can be found on the Gawker website, here.

Listening to this video, I'm struck by how much Target doesn't really trash the unions, but attempts to compare the unions as a business that is only interested in building membership and collecting dues--but not doing anything else.  There was a lot of corporate propaganda Target presented in a fast-paced manner that I had trouble to process, and keep straight.  I would imagine a young, new, Target employee would be instilled with fear that the big, bad unions would take away their wages, their jobs, or even Target's business.  Besides, unions are not needed, because the federal government take care of everything that the unions used to take care of.   So the new Target employee doesn't look into joining the union, or is afraid to be fired by management for talking about unions.  Target continues its successful anti-union crusade. 

Time Warner CEO to get $80 million golden parachute for two months work

Robert Marcus, chief executive officer of Time Warner Cable, could receive a "golden parachute" pay package worth up to $79.9 million if Comcast's take-over of Time Warner Cable is approved. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg / June 11, 2013LA Times

There is not much to comment on this LA Times story:
Robert Marcus, the chief executive of Time Warner Cable, is up for a compensation package worth as much as $79.9 million if the sale of the company to Comcast Corp. closes.

The cable giants said in February, when Marcus had been in the job of CEO for less than two months, that Comcast would buy its rival for $45.2 billion. 
According to a regulatory filing, the "golden parachute" pay package for Marcus includes $20.5 million in cash and $56.5 million in stock and options. He's also up for a $2.5-million bonus depending on the company's performance until the closing of the deal.
His equity compensation will consist of $40.3 million in restricted stock and $16.2 million in unvested options.
Comcast's takeover of Time Warner Cable, which will allow it to provide television, telephone and Internet service to nearly 30 million homes across the country, requires approval from the Federal Communications Commission and U.S. Department of Justice.
Media watchdogs and politicians have expressed concern over letting one company have so much control. 
Marcus isn't the only executive coming out of the deal with a substantial sum. Time Warner Cable's chief financial officer Arthur Minson Jr. is up for $27.1 million in compensation, including $7 million in cash, $19.3 million in equity and a $675,000 bonus.
So Robert Marcus has only been on the job as CEO of Time Warner Cable for less than two months, and he's getting an $80 million paycheck.  


Welcome to Just-In-Time Retail--Otherwise known as On-Call Scheduling

I found this Nation story:
A century ago, the misery of New York’s urban poor was embodied by the iconic scene of the morning shape-up at the docks, where rough-hewn longshoremen lined up anxiously to see if the boss would pick them for that day’s crew or turn them back empty-handed. These days, the city has a different kind of shape-up—a less visible mill of workers staffing its bustling boutiques and vendors. Instead of assembling at the waterfront, they call the manager to find out how many hours they can get on a given day—stressing about whether they’ll clock enough hours this month to make rent, or hoping their next workday doesn’t interfere with their school schedule or doctor’s appointment.
This anxiety of living not just paycheck to paycheck but hour to hour is the focus of a new policy brief on the impact of unfair schedules on wage workers. The report, published by the progressive think tank Center for Law and Social Policy and the worker-advocacy groups Retail Action Project (RAP) and Women Employed, reveals the flipside of the “flexibility” and “dynamism” of twenty-first-century retail: the tyranny of the daily schedule.
On top of the economic hardships of working a part-time job that does not pay living wage, retail workers are often further burdened by the stress of the on-call schedule: They have to call in first to see if hours are available, wait for word from the boss and, sometimes, end up with just a four-hour shift. The labor of the whole ordeal might then be offset by the financial costs of commuting and the disruption of their entire day. Ironically, while this scheduling structure brings chaos to workers’ lives, it stems from a hyper-mechanized system of computerized staffing configuration. Under huge employers like Walmart and Jamba Juice, this Tayloristically efficient programming often leaves workers at the mercy of variables like the weather (a hot day demands reinforcements for a lunchtime juice rush) or consumer whims (a slump in sales means temporarily downsizing sales-floor staff). Even full-time workers might get saddled with erratic shifts, or are pressured to work extra hours on short notice.
These strenuous schedules reflect the “Just-in-Time” business model and the parallel “need it now” consumer culture. Ever-fluctuating schedules are designed to react instantly to every fad and seasonal spasm of the market, which ties into a frenetic global manufacturing system, stretching from sweatshops in Bangladesh to Fifth Avenue show floors.
Welcome to "Just-In-Time" Retail Sales--Otherwise known as On-Call Scheduling.

 Just-In-Time is a production process in controlling just the right amount of inventory at the right time and right place to manufacture the right amount of a product for sale.  The system was created in Japan in the 1970s, with American manufacturers starting to adopt the system in the 1980s.  If done right, you can achieve incredible efficiency and reduced costs through the reduction of excessive inventory, and controlling waste--you are only producing enough product to satisfy demand.  The hard part is determining how much demand is needed.

 In a sense, it is not surprising that retailers are looking into the Just-In-Time process.  Brick-and-mortar retail stores will always have higher labor and store costs in selling retail goods over that of online stores.  In order to compete, such brick-and-mortar stores will cut costs as much as they can, in order to sell their goods in the lowest price--and labor is a huge cost.  Employee wages for retail positions are already starting at minimum wages.  Hours are being reduced to part-time, possibly as a means to avoid paying any benefits to employees.  But employee work schedules still need to be created to staff the retail stores--you still need warm bodies to man the fort!  And you need those bodies in the store, irregardless of whether the store gets busy with customers, or slows down for the day.

So in the endless quest for efficiency, the retailers have come up with this variation of Just-In-Time production, only renamed On-Call Scheduling.  The employees have become nothing more than inventory parts, to be used in the last minute of production, when the company needs such inventory parts.  Employees have to call the company to see if they are working on a shift that day, or wait for the employer to call them in.  In a sense, the employee has become a slave to a company's computerized staffing programs, waiting each day to see if they will be needed for work.  The company has complete control over their employees lives--both in the workplace, and away from the workplace.  According to The Nation:
The erratic labor structure robs workers of control over their lives. Being constantly on call, without set hours, makes it extremely hard to budget for basic living expenses, like housing and childcare, and sometimes near-impossible to plan ahead for, say, saving for college. And for the working poor, irregular schedules could undermine access to safety-net programs and benefits, which is, sadly, a key resource for many low-wage retail workers who earn so little that they must rely on public welfare programs. Working too few hours, according to the report, “may limit their eligibility to claim firm-provided benefits like health insurance and sick days.” And paradoxically, if they do cobble together enough hours to pay the bills, they might then wind up earning too much to qualify for Medicaid benefits
A RAP survey of New York City retail workers found that about 70 percent did not know their schedules more than a week in advance. According to a nationwide workforce survey cited in RAP’s latest report, “approximately 50 percent of low-wage hourly workers reported having limited control over their work hours.” Moreover, millions nationwide have been forced into “underemployment,” working part-time because they cannot secure full-time work. Many join the burgeoning temp-work sector, where a $10-an-hour, no-benefits gig can morph into a long-term, miserable livelihood.
It is more than just the low or erratic pay here for employees.  If employees do not know their work schedule in advance, they may not have the ability to plan for their personal lives--not if they have to keep calling the company each day before they may or may not be working, and may or may not get paid.  The employee's personal life is placed on hold, at the whim of the company.  The budget life is completely at the whim of the company, as the employee may not know if they'll have enough work to make enough money to pay for the monthly living expenses.  

 How much more control can companies get from their employees?