Talkin' trash to the garbage around me.

21 February, 2007

Labor hell

Imagine working for a boss like this:
Mr. Smith said he viewed most stories of drug use and physical abuse as exaggerations. “I don’t put a lot of stock in them because, to be brutally frank with you, abuse is like beauty. It’s in the eyes of the beholder,” he said. “A loud voice, anything, can be called abuse.”

Welcome to the world of the itinerant, door-to-door magazine solicitor, an occupation that doesn't cry so much to be organized as it does to be completely abolished.
The sellers have few labor protections because they are classified as independent contractors, which also insulates the companies from regulation, taxes and liability. Categorized as outdoor sellers, the door-to-door peddlers are also exempt from most federal and state minimum wage and overtime requirements.

This is yet another reason to universalize worker protections. Nobody should have to live and work under the conditions described by these workers.

I've had these kids knocking on my door at least three times in Eugene. I remember two distinct stories. The first, referenced in the article, are the ones claiming to be earning points for a trip. The other I remember is that the solicitor was in a job-rehabilitation program for at-risk teens. I may have actually bought a subscription through one of them. I'm now left to wonder what my ethical obligation is the next time someone's on my doorstep offering me a savings of 60% off the cover price.

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