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Close-up of very red lips smiling.
An FYI from the marvelous Sarah Jaffe:
No, that waitress isn't flirting with you.

Neither is the barista at your local Starbucks, nor the counter server at the Pret A Manger near your office, and you might be surprised to learn that the stripper at your local club doesn't have a deep fondness for you, either.

In fact, for many service workers, women in particular, pretending to be happy and flirting are a key to keeping a job and making a living. If you're tempted to think of that as an "of course" kind of thing, think again. That's real work, to smile through the asshole saying things to you that under any other circumstances would be unpardonable sexual harassment, to smile on the worst day of your month when you really just want to cry, to laugh at the lamest jokes. And it tends to be work that the lowest-paid workers, especially women, have to do most.

And more:

  • The appeals court decision overturning President Obama's recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board would have similarly overturned hundreds of recess appointments since Ronald Reagan's first term, the Congressional Research Service found.
  • The National Nurses Union is pushing for a safe staffing ratio law for Washington, D.C., hospitals.
  • When someone says "human trafficking," does your mind go straight to sex trafficking? It shouldn't:
    Some 78 percent of forced labor is based on state- or privately-imposed exploitation, not forced sexual exploitation. [...]

    Immigration officials may categorize immigrant workers who are trafficked as undocumented workers and deport them. Police and labor inspectors may view involuntary servitude or debt bondage in sectors such as agriculture, construction, manual labor and manufacturing as "mere" worker rights abuses, and so not justifying a remedy. Prosecutions for forced labor are far fewer than those for trafficking for sexual exploitation (and even those are low).

  • New York Times editorial:
    Part of an effective agenda would surely include a higher minimum wage, which is overdue. It is one of the most effective ways to lift wages because raising the floor also raises wages higher up the income scale. Union membership can also push up wages through collective bargaining. In 2012, even as the share of American workers in a union fell to its lowest level in nearly a century, the median weekly earnings of full-time unionized workers was $943 versus $742 for comparable nonunion workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Yet the administration’s support for unions has been more rhetorical than real. Mr. Obama failed to keep a campaign promise from 2008 to advance legislation to make it easier for workers to unionize and made scant use of the bully pulpit as unions have come under prominent attack in Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 02:30 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  do you fit under the table? (16+ / 0-)

    i used to cocktail waitress- a table of guys asked me that. they thought they were hilarious. if anyone said that to one of my daughters now, i'd probably hit him w/ a baseball bat.

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 02:52:56 PM PST

  •  It's not just smiling either (7+ / 0-)

    It's putting up with comments and touching that are offensive.  One of the things that made getting older a good thing is that patients commented and touched (groped) a whole lot less as time went on.

    And, of course, supervisors or administration didn't intervene if you complained.  If they did, it was to admonish nurses that they should be more tolerant of "a sick man".  

    Of course, if it was a doctor who was the offender, you never went to admin or a supervisor.  Ever.  Your job would be at stake.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 03:01:27 PM PST

  •  People remember customers who (6+ / 0-)

    treat them politely and respectfully--and top decently. I recall being told 3 x in the same week at three different places (a  fast food joint and 2 grocery stores) how much they liked seeing us--simply because we took the time to ask how people were doing and to learn names.  And when it's applicable, we tip well.

    We have another neighbor, who lost his leg below the knee to diabetes, who makes John McCain look wsrm and fuzzy--he's the stereotype of "Get Off my Lawn" guy (and probably only around our age).  They hate his twice-weekly visits to the grocery store.  He complains about everything, argues with the butchers,  insults the checkout people and generally behaves like an asshole (he's the same way with those of us who share his subdivision; he's and Equal Opportunity Abuser--and the cops and the courts hate him because he loves to file idiotic lawsuits).  

    If you want service with a real smile,not a phony one, treat people with respect--and they will return the favor.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 03:02:14 PM PST

  •  Vive la différence? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    liz dexic, marina, LinSea

    Speaking as a man who worked in the service sector for 35 years, I liked most of the customers I waited on.  Sure, some customers were unpleasant, and it was an effort just to be polite.  But in general, when I joked with customers or exchanged pleasantries with them, it was sincere.

    I guess it could be different for women though.  I’ll let them speak for themselves.

  •  Study that I ran across in the last 6 mo (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LinSea, begone

    showed guys routinely misread whether a woman is interested in them. Either convinced she is or totally misses genuine interest. This kind of false interaction doesn't help.

    I used to have issues when the hospitals started trying to get staff to act like 5 star hotel employees.  My mom had post partum depression after I was born. I've never smiled as much as most people. Still remember the comments from a very young age.

     On top of that, I have hyper focused ADD. I use many strategies to keep from getting distracted. Like when I am carrying a narcotic pain med for a patient down the hall. I don't want to make eye contact and smile at people looking for help. They have already passed the nurses station. If they need more help, better to go back there than take my mind off essential, individualized assessments I need to do before giving the med, to prevent very serious consequences.

    I worked my way through nursing school as a waitress. Never had any problem being friendly and welcoming without resorting to flirting. That was something I spent age 12 to 55 avoiding like the plague. I am very familiar with people who insist it is just for fun. Problem is too many can't tell the difference.

    "People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed; never throw out anyone. " Audrey Hepburn "A Beautiful Woman"

    by Ginny in CO on Tue Feb 05, 2013 at 03:17:59 PM PST

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