Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot
Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.
As a retail worker for 10 years, I regularly knew my schedule no less than a week in advance. I was a buyer in a health food store. I sold lotions at a tiny storefront. I was the manager of a women’s clothing boutique. Every once and a while, my manager or worker would ask for me to cover a shift. Maybe a few times I was “on-call.” But only when I worked two jobs one summer during college break did I create my own lousy schedule—I sold clothes at Express on Columbus Avenue during the day, and once my shift ended at 7 p.m., I’d walk across the street to a neighborhood pizza shop, Peretti’s, and run the counter until 1 a.m. But I had no kids. I had no responsibility except to collect my paycheck. I had no problem being at the mercy of my schedule.
But now, as a mom, I’ve frequently thought back to those chaotic days and marveled at how impossible it would be to raise children while working unpredictable jobs. And so I was pretty shocked to read yesterday’s article in the New York Times about Starbucks’ computerized scheduling.
Starbucks offers a number of perks to its employees. Bonuses. 401K. Stock options. Adoption assistance. Health coverage. A full-tuition reimbursement through Arizona State University.
With–up until today–one exception.
If you’re a single mother juggling childcare and work at Starbucks, you’ve most likely been at the mercy of Starbucks’ scheduling software, which uses sales patterns and data to plan work hours all of its baristas. The New York Times’ Jodi Kantor just profiled Jannette Navarro, a 22-year-old Starbucks barista and single mother yesterday–Navarro rarely learns her schedule more than three days before the start of a workweek. Writes Kantor: “Ms. Navarro’s degree was on indefinite pause because her shifting hours left her unable to commit to classes. She needed to work all she could, sometimes counting on dimes from the tip jar to make the bus fare home. If she dared ask for more stable hours, she feared, she would get fewer work hours over all.”
Her chaotic schedule included doing back-to-back shifts—she was scheduled to work until 11 p.m. on a Friday night and then asked to come back to the store at 4 a.m. the next morning. Though profits have increased from these new scheduling tools, there are complications that computers can’t possibly take into effect, such as planning for childcare or commuting time.
Today, Starbucks’ CEO announced that he had read the NYT article and changes to this policy were imminent. But other companies–such as Radioshack and Payless–use similar scheduling software, too.
Navarro’s pay check was somewhere between $400 to $500 every two weeks—and those were the good weeks. How is a single parent able to schedule their life when companies like Walmart, Ashley Stewart, McDonald’s and most other large scale retailers use a scheduling program that prioritizes its business metrics over its employees’ basic needs? As Navarro said: “You’re waiting on your job to control your life.”
As parents try to find child care while juggling a low-income job, and that job’s sales-based scheduling system, it seems unlikely to be a concidence that some women are leaving their children to play in parks while they work a shift.
Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China
Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti
“Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA
Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.
Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada
Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway
Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.
Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.
Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million
Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.
Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon
Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.
Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico
Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.
Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.