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How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell


How the New Flexible Economy is Making Workers’ Lives Hell

Robert Reich

These days it’s not unusual for someone on the way to work to receive a text message from her employer saying she’s not needed right then.

Although she’s already found someone to pick up her kid from school and arranged for childcare, the work is no longer available and she won’t be paid for it.

Just-in-time scheduling like this is the latest new thing, designed to make retail outlets, restaurants, hotels, and other customer-driven businesses more nimble and keep costs to a minimum.


I’m adding worker angst to my list of despicable economic externalities…


Bill Clinton has enjoyed an 8 figure ($17 million in 2013 alone) annual “corporate speaking fee” income since they moved to NYC in 2001. Add to that the corporate money the Clinton Foundation gets and you are talking real money.

As soon as Obama signs his income inequality exacerbating TPP and TTIP the Obama family will also have a lifetime ticket on the corporate speaking fee gravy train.

Perhaps “income inequality” isn’t as big an issue as Obama recently told us it is ?


Important article. Thank you, Mr. Reich.

To add to the tumult of the Temp Market are these new “flex” schedules.

“But these laws haven’t kept up with software that enables employers to do just-in-time scheduling – and inform workers minutes before their shift that they’re not needed.”

Let’s not attribute this to the software. The same mentality that drove NAFTA and is driving the TPP and TIPP. All are well-planned efforts directed at GUTTING the middle class and turning this planet back to the era of nobles and serfs (or slaves). It will resemble a wastelands…

If the 1% and their corporate oligarchs did not own the ENTIRE media, political process, "law"makers, too much of academe, and the ways and means to both shape AND control public actions and opinions, this type of ASYMMETRIC WARFARE aimed at the working class COULD not occur.

It’s beyond insidious!

I know two low income people who used an on-line tax return service filing claims in late January and early February who are yet to see a dime. Neither is able to cover basic rent and they’ve awaited this income tax return money to tide them over.

Add in the taxes and fees on everything, the insidious way that things like parking tickets and vehicular penalties are being used to force jail time (which in turn rings up fees), and it’s clear that the 1%-- now secure in their ownership of all the metrics of power–are turning the screws on everything and everyone else.

My idiot state governor is pushing for fracking! Florida has very fragile ecological structures and fracking will increase sink holes and likely pollute the precious network of springs this state is blessed with.

Every day shows more and more evil, ignorance, law breaking, and promoting of sickening things like the spread of war and misery… I heard it said that anti-depressants are now the 3rd most widely sold drug in the world. That’s Disaster Capitalism’s direct impact on human psychology; or as a dear friend of mine put it: “How do you live with what you know?”

The misery index IS overwhelming. THAT is why people shut down or shut out the truth… it’s too much to handle and so much feels out of their hands with injustice, graft, corruption, sadism, immorality, and sheer EVIL positioned to run roughshod over so much… inclusive of every sacred thing.


Making the matter about Hillary and Bill is a way of taking the spotlight off the corporations that own our government today. THEY are the power-factor with morally bankrupt political operators the puppets. Those who focus on the puppets hang to a “People Magazine” level of personality politics, and it’s precisely this level that ensures that a wide-scale understanding of the true metrics of power will not be known. You are helping to keep politics at the level of the World Wide Wrestling Federation’s theatrical performance by retaining an emphasis on who’s in the ring rather than exposing the ring masters.


Do you think that the student-loan program is actually the mechanism by which academia has been bought off by controlling interests - at taxpayer expense yet?



Fair question. Anyone who’s read my 10,000 posts knows that I never look to singular causative agents or agencies. I think this is ONE aspect; but far more insidious I think is the tie-in between professors’ tenures and them attracting the financial backing/largesse of corporations. It is no secret that reductions in budgets and thus academic funding allows the Corporate masters to step in as benefactors. Just as major campaign “contributions” call for quid pro quo in the form of enacted policy agendas, if Monsanto is funding the genetic research conducted at a university or paying for a new science wing, then this influence will have a direct bearing on the types of research results produced or published.

Since your moral outrage is quite limited to Israel, surely you notice how difficult it is for university professors to speak ill of this country or host open debates on that delicate (for some special interests) subject. The same mechanism is at work to censor (overtly or through more subtle means) anything else deemed taboo.

The funding of football is another piss-poor priority that robs academics so that BALLS can be played with, another majority male pastime and obsession.


Dear Dr. Reich, Professor Emeritus, University of California Berkeley Department of Economics,

I’ll be brief. Read “Capital” by Karl Marx. It’s all explained in there.



…and it WILL come. I have no doubt about that.


What has changed is that during the 1930s nearly 10% of US voters voted for socialist or communist presidential candidates, thereby giving Congressional Democrats (and even some GOP) cover to toss the 99% a few crumbs in the form of the New Deal. They reasoned that the crumbs were a small price for them to pay to keep the US from going commie.

In 2012 with 98% of US voters voting corporate Democrat or corporate GOP, with the two socialist candidates combined getting 1% of the vote, the Democrats have zero incentive to toss any crumbs to the 99% and every incentive to give the 1% everything they want, while racing the GOP to see who will be first to kill what remains of the New Deal.


"New York’s attorney general has sent letters to 13 national retailers, including Gap Inc, Target Corp and JC Penney Co Inc, about “on-call shifts” in which workers are told whether to report to work a day or less before a scheduled shift…Letters were also sent to Abercrombie & Fitch Co, J. Crew, L Brands Inc, Burlington Coat Factory, TJX Cos Inc, Urban Outfitters Inc, Crocs Inc, Ann Inc, Sears Holdings Corp and Williams-Sonoma Inc.

Sears and Ann Inc both said they do not use on-call scheduling. Representatives of the other retailers did not immediately respond to requests for comment."

Sounds like the start of a new boycott list.


Who will raydelcamino be voting for, or for that matter the rest of the CD respondents? I’m not trying obnoxious with this question, I’m just curious.


Frankly, voting, especially in those quadrennial extravaganzas, is not very important. It the organizing you are doing the other 1461 days is what is important.

Sure, vote strategically with a mind for damage control - for the real leftist candidate in safe states or districts and for the least worst of the two candidates in contested states or congressional districts. But otherwise, spend your efforts of organizing.


What is clear is management now holds ALL the cards but have a perfect ruse to use-oh, we do/don’t need you right now, blah, blah. I would really hate to be one of these people who participates in this cavalier moving of human capital around according to the whims of this new business model. I mean, at a certain point, PEOPLE are just in the way of all of this. Dovetails into the GOP philosophy-life would be so nice if all these different people with all these need would just go away, not be seen, and leave “us” alone to enjoy the spoils of capitalism.