Albion Monitor /Commentary

Working for Free

by Jim Hightower

After putting-in a full day for AT&T, employees are urged to go door-to-door in their neighborhoods and among relatives to sell people on switching to their service
Here's an off-the-wall idea from America's biggest corporations: It's called "off-the-clock" work.

This scheme is stretching the typical work week to 50, 60 or even more hours by "asking" employees to take-on tasks outside the regular work hours . . . for no pay!

Taco Bell is one of these off-the-clock employers, pushing its low-paid, fast-food workers to come in early to chop onions, dice tomatoes and other prep work, ALL FOR FREE. Mervyn's is another, the discount clothing chain, is said to require its low-level managers to work through lunch, give-up their breaks and take paperwork home.

AT&T has even formalized its off-the-clock rip-off of employees, calling on them to participate gratis in its [quote] "Ambassador Program." After putting-in a full day for the phone giant, employees are urged to go door-to-door in their neighborhoods and among relatives to sell AT&T products and to get people to switch to AT&T service. Hey, why hire a sales staff when you can commandeer one?

Nonsense, an AT&T spokesman told Ellen Newborne of USA Today -- "No one's feet are being held to the fire. This is a case where workers are becoming more like partners in our business." Excuse me, but partners usually are well-paid. Plus, they split the profits.

Besides, workers' feet are being held to the fire in all of these off-the-clock scams. There is no job security for anyone these days -- millions of unemployed workers are desperate to hire-on; there is a constant threat that the company will fire everybody and move the jobs off-shore to Third World, low-wage hell holes. So when the boss says jump, you'd better say "how far?" -- or you'll be targeted for an early exit. It's an abusive work-atmosphere in which employees can't say no to extra work at no pay.

This is Jim Hightower saying . . . If you're getting fed-up call AFL-CIO organizing: 800-848-3021.

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Albion Monitor May 27, 1997 (

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