FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The End of the Newspaper Worker

by DAVID MACARAY

With a daily circulation of approximately 17,000, the solidly right-wing Antelope Valley Press has proudly served the Palmdale, high desert area (about 60 miles northeast of Los Angeles) since its founding, way back in 1915. The AVP is the largest selling daily newspaper in the Valley.

But on August 1, AVP management informed its copy desk employees that their workload would be reduced to a maximum of 39 hours a week, thus making them ineligible for benefits. Only full-time, 40-hour a week employees would continue to qualify for benefits (Sorry, folks….you fell one hour short!).

This craven announcement was made by Cherie Bryant, AVP’s vice-president and general manager and was first reported on Jim Romenesko’s media blog. Instead of trying to maintain these benefits by resorting to creative alternatives (e.g,, moving employees into another group plan, backloading wages, gaining breathing room through voluntary/mandatory furloughs, etc.), AVP management invented a loophole and then arbitrarily and brutally exploited it.

What makes this move so disturbing is not simply that loyal, long-term newspaper staffers were abruptly stripped of their benefit package and banished to the economic wilderness, but that these sorts of company maneuvers are no longer rare enough to be shock-inducing. They no longer elicit outrage. Instead of public protests or collective fury or calls for government action, these maneuvers now draw responses like, “Hey, welcome to the club, pal,” or “It could be worse….at least you still have a job.”

Of course, the bitter irony here is not that this dreadful economic battering has become systemic, but that it’s occurring within the larger context of sociological triumph. Gays and lesbians now have equal rights; racial and ethnic minorities can’t be denied jobs simply because they’re not white; female secretaries can’t be routinely groped by piggish male bosses; schoolyard bullying has been rightly addressed. There are dozens more “triumphs” we could mention.

Not that bias and victimization no longer occur, because obviously they still do (if you happen to be a Moslem living in the U.S.—or a Sikh that people think is a Moslem, or a Mexican that people think is an Arab—good luck to you). But, clearly, since the 1950s, no one can deny that there has been profound emphasis placed on personal liberty and individual rights. When it comes to individual rights, expectations are sky-high.

Unless those expectations involve economics. Unless they speak to one’s economic future. Because when it comes to “economic rights,” worker expectations have not only been dramatically lowered, they are dangerously close to being in a state of free-fall. If this were a horror movie, workers expectations would be seen to have mutated into some horrific creature that not only terrorizes the community, but devours the mad scientist who created it.

To make matters worse, instead of being frightened—instead of being so terrified of the future that we set fire to our hair and go running into the streets—we hear people (not plutocrats but regular working folks) mindlessly parroting these lame, half-baked macroeconomic overviews that not only excuse the naked greed that’s been set loose upon the land, but actually defend it.

When standards and expectations get lowered beyond a certain point, no good can come from it. Yet people glibly say that decent, full-time jobs are anachronisms, that we have to recalibrate, that we have to adjust to the New Economy, that the days where sons and daughters followed parents into well-paying union jobs in factories and mills are over, and that we now live in a “global economy.” Okay, fine. We’re all fucked. But where’s the outrage?

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 22, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Good as Goldman: Hillary and Wall Street
Joseph E. Lowndes
From Silent Majority to White-Hot Rage: Observations from Cleveland
Paul Street
Political Correctness: Handle with Care
Richard Moser
Actions Express Priorities: 40 Years of Failed Lesser Evil Voting
Eric Draitser
Hillary and Tim Kaine: a Match Made on Wall Street
Conn Hallinan
The Big Boom: Nukes And NATO
Ron Jacobs
Exacerbate the Split in the Ruling Class
Jill Stein
After US Airstrikes Kill 73 in Syria, It’s Time to End Military Assaults that Breed Terrorism
Jack Rasmus
Trump, Trade and Working Class Discontent
John Feffer
Could a Military Coup Happen Here?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Late Night, Wine-Soaked Thoughts on Trump’s Jeremiad
Andrew Levine
Vice Presidents: What Are They Good For?
Michael Lukas
Law, Order, and the Disciplining of Black Bodies at the Republican National Convention
Victor Grossman
Horror News, This Time From Munich
Margaret Kimberley
Gavin Long’s Last Words
Mark Weisbrot
Confidence and the Degradation of Brazil
Brian Cloughley
Boris Johnson: Britain’s Lying Buffoon
Lawrence Reichard
A Global Crossroad
Kevin Schwartz
Beyond 28 Pages: Saudi Arabia and the West
Charles Pierson
The Courage of Kalyn Chapman James
Michael Brenner
Terrorism Redux
Bruce Lerro
Being Inconvenienced While Minding My Own Business: Liberals and the Social Contract Theory of Violence
Mark Dunbar
The Politics of Jeremy Corbyn
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Why It’s Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children
Binoy Kampmark
Laura Ingraham and Trumpism
Uri Avnery
The Great Rift
Nicholas Buccola
What’s the Matter with What Ted Said?
Aidan O'Brien
Thank Allah for Western Democracy, Despondency and Defeat
Joseph Natoli
The Politics of Crazy and Stupid
Sher Ali Khan
Empirocracy
Nauman Sadiq
A House Divided: Turkey’s Failed Coup Plot
Franklin Lamb
A Roadmap for Lebanon to Grant Civil Rights for Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon
Colin Todhunter
Power and the Bomb: Conducting International Relations with the Threat of Mass Murder
Michael Barker
UK Labour’s Rightwing Select Corporate Lobbyist to Oppose Jeremy Corbyn
Graham Peebles
Brexit, Trump and Lots of Anger
Anhvinh Doanvo
Civilian Deaths, Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Drones
Christopher Brauchli
Kansas and the Phantom Voters
Peter Lee
Gavin Long’s Manifesto and the Politics of “Terrorism”
Missy Comley Beattie
An Alarmingly Ignorant Fuck
Robert Koehler
Volatile America
Adam Vogal
Why Black Lives Matter To Me
Raouf Halaby
It Is Not Plagiarism, Y’all
Rev. Jeff Hood
Deliver Us From Babel
Frances Madeson
Juvenile Life Without Parole, Captured in ‘Natural Life’
Charles R. Larson
Review: Han Kang’s “The Vegetarian”
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail