it is precisely that uncertainty which is part and parcel of the WalMart plan to keep wages low. If you can pit the various employees against one another based on an absence of secure hours, if you hire 100 "associates" to do the work of 75 full time workers, then you don't have to pay benefits to them because none of them are full time, you don't have to observe many of the regulations regarding work conditions because they never can attain full time status, and thus escape the safety net intended for workers.
It's a scam, a scandal and an outrage, but folks who don't have to live that life don't recognize just what a form of continual harassment it is. Life isn't a lot better for store managers, and thus they are encouraged to oppress their employees. I'd like to avoid that word oppress, because it's too Marxist in its associations for most people, despite being a perfectly good English word and an accurate description of what keeping someone down and under-paid is. But there is no other word which encapsulates what is being done.
Hospital work used to be a regular thing for me. As the taps were tightened, and those with technical education took jobs those of us with experience were doing, my own hours became changeable. It used to be that it required a week's notice for a schedule change, but now Department of Labour, sorry, I'm up here now, Ministry of Labour Regulations, seem to be routinely ignored. Now I could complain, and find I didn't get the hours, or I could have gone to the Ministry and suddenly found myself laid off, or I could try to accommodate them. It was a wretched existence, but I did it. This was part of why we ultimately moved to Britain.
Nevertheless, as an educated person with an understanding of the history of late 19rh Century enterprise and the roots of Labour law, I understood the game that was being played. There are numerous historical precedents, but there was a time when employers were effectively forced by legislation to be fair in their work practices. Then the idea of outsourcing took hold, and a particularly nasty model of cost cutting in businesses that could not be outsourced took shape. Hire the employees as independent contractors, or hire more than you need and don't give any of them full time hours and keep them in Part Timer Hell. As I said, it is a ploy, and a very clever one which demoralizes the employees and greatly reduces their ability for cohesive action. Effectively it means there is a need to create Unions all over again, and re-fight battles that were won 60 to 80 years ago.
Employees have to have some kind of collective representation, or this will happen everywhere to everyone eventually. If you can keep the jobless rate above 5% there will always be millions just waiting to take a job regardless of the hours or the conditions.
You think all this stuff happens by accident? Employers learn this stuff in business schools across the nation, and middle class people who worked so hard to claw their way into the middle class that they, or their kids, want to repudiate their working class heritage, diaparage the force that allowed them to crawl out of the working class, the power of collective action, and the ability to negotiate for a bigger share of the profit pie.
In the 70's contrived bankruptcy vied with the leveraged buy out as a ploy to strip employees' pension funds from them and turn those moneys over to the owners of the companies. That's how the game has been played, but the middle class whose own foundations were being attacked were so keen on repudiating their fathers' or grandfathers' struggles, they closed their eyes for fear of seeing the looming abyss.
If given a reasonable stipend, I could produce a researched study to prove all this, but all the research has already been done in many places , not least by those who created the problem of short hours and insecurity in the first place.
The odds are that any Republican with no personal insight into the origins of his or her good fortune, or with a hidden distaste for admitting that Dad was an Autoworker has his or her fingers in their ears by now going Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah. Hey, fine. My Dad's father was a Scots immigrant in the 1920's learned the grocery business and ended up managing a grocery store. My dad was therefore, able in the late 30's to attend College, and thus was an Officer Candidate when War came. He finished his degree on the GI Bill after the war, and his good fortune allowed me to go to University. But you only have to go back into the 19th Century Census for Scotland to find that his grandfather was a Cabinet Maker (a skilled trade) and his great grandfather was a fisherman. All the previous generations were fisher folk too, that's what you did if you lived on coastal Scotland, or you gathered kelp and seaweed and boiled it down and sold it to soap and food makers, and hoped to be taken on as a deck hand next year assuming you made it through the winter. I know where I came from, and I honour everyone who climbed each rung every day of my life, but I don't forget that if you weren't one of the landed gentry, you were part of the peasantry.
Rob Roy MacGregor was a strong independent man who hated the English and their toadying Scottish collaborators, and so to ensure a bit of a living for his family, he occasionally pinched cattle from the Scottish laird and sold them as his own. Fictional though the story is, it is the experience of the vast portion of humanity, and to forget it is to cut yourself off from humanity itself, just as the upper classes cut themselves off from humanity, particularly those who were junior impoverished members of the aristocracy. It's people on the borders of the social ranks who are most vociferous about their superiority to the rank below them.