Monday, January 06, 2014

Monday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material to start your week.

- Tim Harper and the Star's editorial board each offer up some hope that 2014 will be a more productive year in politics than 2013 was. And Nora Loreto offers a suggestion as to how to make that happen:
Young workers, like all workers, need the labour movement to invest in organizing... Through working at the grassroots, creative options will emerge that will make it easier for unions like CUPE to take on organizing workers that are difficult to organize.

Through a concerted and coherent effort to organize, CUPE could not just figure out how to get around the complicated issues that arise when organizing temporary, short-term or non-traditional workers, but they could leverage the strength they have within the sector to force widespread change. They could find ways to represent residence workers not just at Carleton, but at other residences too. Maybe it would look like a traditional union, but maybe it wouldn't.
How about making 2014 the year of the organizer?
- Meanwhile, Adam Davidson points out that retailers figure to benefit from offering reasonable pay and greater respect to their workers, rather than treating them as a cost to be minimized wherever possible:
Even the most coldhearted, money-hungry capitalists ought to realize that increasing their work force, and paying them and treating them better, will often yield happier customers, more engaged workers and — surprisingly — larger corporate profits. This sounds Pollyannaish, sure, but a study co-authored by Marshall Fisher, a Wharton professor who specializes in retail-management studies, backs it up. For every dollar of increased wages, one retailer that was studied by Fisher brought in $10 more in revenue. For more-understaffed stores in the study, the boost was as high as $28.

The problem results from the way many companies consider their workers. Ikea, for instance, has more than 130,000 global workers. In order to manage all these people, it uses something called work-force-management software, which ensures that there are enough workers — but not too many — to handle the forecasted in-store shopping traffic. (Walmart, which has 16 times as many workers, does, too, as do most larger retailers.) The software typically codes workers as a cost — one of the biggest — and aims to find the most efficient number of employees that can handle expected traffic. A trip to a big-box store reveals this algorithm’s logic in practice. There always seem to be endless aisles of merchandise but no one to answer your questions.

Ton, however, argues that workers are not merely a cost; they can be a source of profit — a major one. A better-paid, better-trained worker, she argues, will be more eager to help customers; they’ll also be more eager to help their store sell to them.
- Dan Leger highlights the Cons' selective populism - as the same government spending millions of public dollars attacking a few telecommunications providers is using far more resources to encourage the oil industry to extract whatever it can for minimal public benefit.

- Finally, in an interview with Derrick Harris, Jonathan Reichental argues that any good government should embrace open data - rather than seeking to control and suppress information which might prove inconvenient.


  1. Anonymous1:27 p.m.

    Thanks for the links.

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