The Conditions of Youth Work in Fastfood and

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pursuing some strange line of research on "youth workers" in North. America. ..... wage fastfood workers in Harlem, the stereotype of the affluent, middle class teenage ...... Young workers themselves also frequently put me in touch with other co ..... whole than to providing detailed and localized descriptions of work and.
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YOUTH AND LABOR IN FASTFOOD AND GROCERY

A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE PROGRAM IN MODERN THOUGHT AND LITERATURE AND THE COMMITTEE O N GRADUATE STUDIES OF STANFORD UNIVERSITY IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

S tuart Tannock N ovem ber 1999

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Copyright by Stuart Tannock 2000 All Rights Reserved

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I certify that I have read this dissertation and that in my opinion it is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Penelope Eckert, Co-adviser

I certify that I have read this dissertation and that in my opinion it is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Glynda B ull, Co-adviser I certify that I have read this dissertation and that in my opinion it is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Miyaki

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I certify that I have read this dissertation and that in my opinion it is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Carol Stack A pproved for the University Committee on G raduate Studies:

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______

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IU

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Abstract Youths in N orth America often w ork in w hat are am ong the lowest paying, low est status jobs on the continent - in "dead end jobs" o r "Mcjobs" in the retail and food and entertainm ent service sectors. As a group, young w orkers (aged 16-24) have low er wages, few er benefits, less job security, and are less likely to be unionized than any oth er age group in the workforce. Employers of young workers, by contrast, frequently rank am ong the continent's largest, wealthiest and m ost pow erful. D espite their economic m arginalization and their im portance to N o rth A m erica's service econom y, young w orkers are often ignored by researchers, policy m akers an d trade unions. Age stratification in the labor m arket a n d workplace has not received the attention th at race, class and gender stratification have. W orkplace cultures have been described prim arily for older w orkers in professional, crafts a n d m anufacturing occupations, b u t rarely for young w orkers working in w h at O ppenheim er and Kalmijn (1995) call "life cycle stopgap jobs" in the service sector. This study addresses such gaps in the research an d policy literature by examining the w ork and union experiences of tw o groups of young unionized service workers - a group of fastfood w orkers in Canada, and of grocery w orkers in the US. Two broad issues are addressed: (1) W hat is the significance of age and tem porary stopgap status for these w orkers in the workplace? H ow are young workers positioned an d h o w do young w orkers position them selves in these sites? (2) H ow d o unions w ork w ith young w orkers in stopgap service jobs? In w h a t w ays d o u nions reduce, transform , iv

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or alternatively, reinforce youth m arginalization in such w orkplaces? In focusing on youths at w ork, this stu d y aim s to prom ote w id er consideration of youths as economic producers a n d not just as consum ers. In focusing on unions in the youth labor m arket, the study aim s to d raw attention to the possibilities of changing the work experiences of young w orkers, as w ell as to highlight problem s that arise in the interactions of union institutions and young tem porary service workers.

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Preface My interest in youth w ork and youth w orkers developed in a som ewhat roundabout way. I originally came to graduate school a t Stanford University interested in the study of language in social interaction. Research that I did in my first couple of years a t Stanford w ith Shirley Brice H eath first drew my attention to the topic of literacy, and to the education an d skills debates that have raged in the U nited States since (in their latest incarnation, at least) the early 1980's. A later opportunity to participate - in the role of discourse analyst - in Shirley's m ulti-year study of youth organizations in the United States further drew m y attention to the practices, com petencies and identities of teenagers who, though they often enjoyed lim ited success at school, became productive and engaged w orkers in the context of projects a n d program s that were run by neighborhood based youth groups. I began to w onder w hat happened to these youths w hen they m oved from the education-focused environm ents of schools and youth groups into the profitfocused environm ent of the youth workplace. I w anted to know , too, how the dom inant focus in the US on prom oting education and skills as the keys to individual success in this country obscured w hat w as really going o n as these and other youths first entered into the w orld of w aged labor. It was only once I had actually began this research study a n d started talking w ith young fastfood and grocery w orkers that m em ories of m y ow n service sector work experiences really began coming back to m e. M y fam ily background was different to the vast m ajority of the young w orkers I w as interviewing: I come from a n u p p er m iddle class family in C anada, a n d am vi

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the son of a doctor an d a hospital based research scientist. N evertheless, like m any youths in N orth Am erica - w hether they com e from poor, w orking class, or m iddle o r u p p er m iddle d ass family backgrounds - I w orked through m uch of m y youth (over eight years in total) in a series of sum m er, part-tim e and full-time jobs in local restaurants, delis, and coffee houses. Indeed, at the age of twenty nine and after six years of graduate school at Stanford University, I have still w orked longer in the restaurant industry than I have in any other industry sector. As I talked w ith young fastfood and grocery w orkers in the tw o cities that I am calling in this study "Glenwood" and "Box Hill," I fo u n d that m any of the w ork stories I w as hearing were similar to my ow n w orkplace stories. Restaurants can be miserable places to work. M anagers m icrom anage, ride high on tinpot pow er trips, and act as if they have no d u e of w h a t life is really like on the restaurant floor: how m any times by now has the utterly hackneyed phrase - "if there's time to lean, there's tim e to dean" - really been uttered by N orth Am erica’s ever creative food service m anagem ent? Restaurant customers, for their part, constitute an ever present source of possible aggression, hostility an d condescension in the w orkplace. A nd restaurant time seems to careen endlessly from panicked ru sh to deadened emptiness, so that if you are not having to handle the stress of a high paced w ork day, you are having to figure out how on earth you are going to get through the boredom and m onotony of a seem ingly never-ending six hour work shift. As for w ork stability in the food service environm ent, y o u can generally forget about it. W orkers are constantly coming and going: and in an at-will w ork environm ent, m anagers can freely tire staff w henever and w herever they desire. I can rem em ber w orking around the d o c k for days on

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end because a restaurant m anager had fired a couple of w orkers in a fit of anger w ithout having any replacem ents in line, a n d h ad left the rest of our crew horribly understaffed during the m iddle of a busy holiday season. O n the other hand, w hen business is slow in the restaurant industry, shifts are frequently shortened o r cut altogether at the last m inute - an d w hile I always loved having extra, unexpected free time away from m y w ork, the smaller pay checks that resulted could sometimes make it h a rd w hen I w as trying to pay my ow n rent. It was, after all, my personal incom e that m y em ployers were saving them selves o n w hen they w ere trying to cut d o w n o n their "nonfixed costs." Restaurant work, though, no m atter how bad it got, w as also, in my experience, a lot of fun a lot of the time. I m et a w ider, m ore diverse group of people through my restaurant w ork than I ever d id going th ro u g h school and in high school, I rem em ber how cool I thought it w as th at I h a d work friends w ho w ere a lot older than me, and who knew all about going clubbing, or about playing in a band, or even just about living o u t on their own. Many of my closest friends have been friends I m ade thro u g h low end restaurant work. Even in the w orst jobs I had, I w ould often look forw ard to going into w ork to catch u p on the latest gossip; to see w hat kinds of jokes, stories, and pranks we w ould all get into during the course of the night; or to throw in a tape and jam through a fast paced shift - being able to m ake m oney while listening to your favorite music never seemed too bad of a deal. For all the asshole m anagers and pinhead customers I've h a d in my restaurant career, I've also had som e awesome m anagers and m any favorite custom ers some of w hom I considered, like my co-workers, to be m y friends. Like the young fastfood and grocery workers I talked to for this research study in Glenwood and Box Hill, I felt, w hen w orking during m y youth, at

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once strongly invested but also at the sam e tim e disinvested and disconnected from m y various service sector jobs. N o m atte r w h at job I've had in m y life from my yo u th service sector jobs to m y g ra d school teaching jobs - I've throw n m yself in and given the best of m y e ffo rt W hen I w as a busboy working, while taking a year off from college, in a huge corporate chain restaurant and w atering hole called The Chicago Pizza Pie Factory, I w orked to be the best dam n busboy there w as at that restaurant a t the time. There w as a payoff to m y efforts - my tipouts from the waitresses w ere often a lot higher than w hat the other busboys were getting. B ut I rem em ber m y best friend at the restaurant - a struggling playw right nam ed Larry Barrow s - w ho thought I was nuts. For Larry, busboy w ork was "just a job," and he w asn't about to do any m ore w ork at that restaurant than he absolutely had to. I can recall nights w ith Larry trailing m e around the restaurant floor talking nonstop about the play he w as w orking on, and utterly oblivious to the dirty plates and silverware that w ere piling up everywhere, w hile I happily did the w ork of two busboys for the both of us. Despite m y ingrained work ethic, how ever, I alw ays saw restaurant jobs, like Larry, as being what we used to call "Joe Jobs" - n o t real jobs, not jobs that m eant anything. Putting u p w ith these kinds of jobs always m ade me feel licensed to take a little back from the local and corporate ow ners w ho I knew w ere making a bundle off of my ow n hard work, a n d w ho I knew really d id n 't care w hether it was me o r som ebody else w orking in their restaurants and cafes to m ake themselves their tidy little profits. Sometimes "taking a little back" m eant simply draw ing the line at w h at I w as an d w asn't willing to do at w ork. The Chicago Pizza Pie Factory had a tradition that I hated of having all of the staff sing "Happy Birthday" to custom ers on their birthday: as soon as I heard that birthday bell start to ring, I w ould m ake a beeline off of

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the floor a n d hide out in the loading bay a t the back of the restaurant until the singing w as done. The Factory also m ade all of its staff m em bers w ear personal nam e tags. But as busboys, w ho w eren't directly responsible for customers, w e used to hate having custom ers - w ho w ere often d ru n k o r w ell on their w ay - bothering us a n d calling o u t o u r nam es. W e quickly figured ou t that if w e switched nam e tags w ith one another at the start of o ur shifts, customers could call out our nam es until they w ere blue in the face and w e'd have little idea they w ere actually talking to us. 'Taking a little back" from m y Joe Job em ployers has also alw ays h ad quite a literal meaning. For no m atter w here I've w orked, low level pilferage has been considered by the staff to be one of the few excellent perks of working in the restaurant trade. W e'd help ourselves to food a n d drinks, a n d give out freebies and discounts to friends and favorite custom ers. At the en d of the day, w e'd load u p on leftovers to take hom e - som e of w hich w as completely legitimate activity, but some of w hich h ad to be helped along by our changing the dates on food items so they looked like they had expired w hen they really hadn't. I w as actually fired from an early m orning job I once had at a fresh fruit juice and ice cream stand called The Victoria Express after I w as caught giving a friend a free m ilkshake. At the time, I was living in a one bedroom apartm ent w ith four other guys, an d I'd kept the w hole lot of us well supplied w ith shakes, fruit, milk and juice for the b etter p a rt of two m onths. My employers, though, as it turned out, w ere not all th at shocked by m y thieving. They themselves w ere paying m ost of us u n d e r the table in envelopes stuffed w ith cash so as to save on governm ent charges and taxes. The day after I w as fired, I g ot a call from The Express to com e back and start working again because they needed som ebody to cover the five a.m. m orning

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shift. So goes life in the low end - w hich is also, quite frequently, the low trust - service sector. This study is an attem pt n ot to tell m y ow n story, b u t rath er the story of two groups of young grocery and fastfood w orkers in the US and C anada. There were m any overlaps betw een our experiences; b u t there w ere also m any differences. Most of the young w orkers I interview ed w ere from w orking or m iddle dass backgrounds; and while m any w ere either already in or expecting to go to college, few had any intentions - in the w ay th at I for a long time had - of going onto graduate school. I rarely w orked for large, corporate employers such as those that dom inate the fastfood and grocery industries - and thus I never had to deal, as young w orkers in Box Hill and G lenwood do, with "personality tests" w hen I got hired into my different restaurant jobs, w ith "mystery shoppers" coming in to spy on m y w ork perform ance, or w ith "incentive program s" or "team com petitions" that encouraged me to compete w ith fellow w orkers in order to see w ho could d e a n or sell or smile the most. Most different of all is the fact that the young service sector w orkers w hom I studied for this research w ere represented in their w orkplaces by trade unions. When I was w orking in the low end service sector, it never occurred to me that I could belong to a trade union. As far as I knew, unions were prim arily for old, adult w orkers in m anufacturing and the trades - my grandfather, w ho worked in the aircraft industry in England, had been in a union and had been a shop stew ard and later a union staff representative. My parents w ere professionals and belonged to professional employees assodations. But as a youth w orker in C anada during the 1980's, the only time I'd ever come across a union w as w hen I turned d ow n - o u t of a vague and inherited notion that scabbing w as a bad thing to do - a prom ised a n d rare

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opportunity for quick m oney from a group of school friends, w ho w ere driving dow ntow n to try to scab for Canada Post during a postal w orkers strike: as w as all too often the case in N orth Am erica at th at time, youths an d unions seemed to be w orlds apart. In this study, I explore w h at can h appen w hen youths and unions are together in the sam e w orkplaces - w hen youth service sector w orkers belong to unions, and w hen unions try or at least are supposed to try to represent the interests of youth service sector w orkers. Although this study is not an attem pt to tell m y ow n p a st w ork story, as I conducted research in Box H ill an d Glenwood - and later, as I looked over and analyzed all the various d ata I h a d collected during m y fieldw ork - I realized that my ow n w ork past, and, in particular, m y ow n failure to think much about my w ork past as constituting a central p art of m y personal history, w as actually highly relevant to the story of youth w ork in N orth America that I begin to tell here. For youth w ork in N orth A m erica is characterized precisely by its being largely invisible: it is so natural, so norm al, so inevitable that people often think little of it. N o m atter w h at background you come from and no m atter w hat future you arrive into, youths in this continent w ork - and they all tend to w ork largely in the same set of low end service and retail sector "youth" jobs. "Youth" jobs d o n 't m ark out any particular past nor future for the young w orkers w ho hold them ; they are simply w hat you do w hen you're young. W hen I have told adults in the U nited States and Canada about m y research, their response is often a version of: "So what? 1 did that too w hen I was young. W hat’s the big deal? They’re just kids!” In N orth America, we get concerned w hen youths from disadvantaged d ass and race backgrounds get stuck in youth jobs - w hen they are still w orking in youth jobs in their m id to late tw enties w ith no sign of being able

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to move onto anything better. The story of "getting stuck" is, indeed, a critically im portant story to be told, and it has been told m any tim es elsewhere. But the story of "getting stuck" is not, in the end, really a story about youth workers: for if one thinks about it carefully, it is really m ore of a story about adult workers. The story of youth w orkers that I begin to tell here is not about "getting stuck," b u t is rather about y outh w ork as constituting a phase in one's life - a phase that is often (although not always) disconnected from w hat comes before and w hat comes after in one’s life, a phase that I call in this study the stage of "stopgap work." The "big deal" about stopgap youth w ork in N orth America is that, despite its invisibility - despite the fact that it is accepted by so m any young w orkers (like myself) as a norm al a n d hum drum p art of w hat being young is all about - there is nothing natural, o r inevitable, or, alternatively, accidental about it. As I argue in the introduction and first chapter of this dissertation below, the reasons w hy youths work in the low end service and retail sectors in N orth Am erica have a lo t to do w ith governm ent, employer and trade union policies and actions that, w hen they don't just abandon youth w orkers in the labor m arket, actively discrim inate against them .

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Acknowledgements W riting a dissertation can be a profoundly isolating experience. The m any m onths I have spent sitting alone a t m y desk transcribing interview s, analyzing data, and w riting u p chapter drafts have m ade m e long for w ork that w ould bring m e back into close contact w ith others. From the solitude of my dissertation study, I could genuinely appreciate w hat the young grocery and fastfood workers w ho are the focus of this research w ere saying, w hen they explained to m e that no m atter how bad their jobs got, it w as the social relations they shared w ith their co-workers th at m ad e all the difference in the world. Nevertheless, despite the periodic and enforced individualism that comes w ith the line of w ork I have chosen for myself, and despite the fact that it is only m y nam e that appears as author of this text, both the research an d the w riting that w ent into this dissertation have been deeply collective and collaborative. I w ould like to take pause here to thank the m any people w ho have shaped not just my understanding of and ideas about the issues presented in the following pages, b u t my sense of self and of being in the world at large as well. If dissertation w riting is often m arked by isolation, dissertation field research can be a w onderful social engagem ent and experience. The young grocery and fastfood w orkers w ho are the subject of this stu d y m ust, out of concern for their individual privacy, rem ain nam eless; b u t I thank them all for the generosity of time and spirit that they show ed in agreeing to share w ith me a small piece of their lives. I never ceased to be am azed, w h en I w as doing my research, at how open and willing young w orkers w ere to talk w ith m e about their w ork - especially considering th at I often just show ed u p in their workplaces as a complete stranger o u t of the blue, claim ing to be x iv

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pursuing some strange line of research o n "youth w orkers" in N o rth America. While m y questions centered only on their experiences at work, m any of the young workers I m et w ere happy to chat freely as well about any num ber of other experiences and issues th at concerned them in their day to day lives - relationships w ith boyfriends a n d girlfriends, w ith parents, w ith school, w ith vacations and dances and cars and the latest Hollyw ood movies. I w ould like to express m y deepest appreciation, too, for the union leaders, staff and stew ards - w ho also m ust rem ain anonym ous - of the two union locals w here I conducted m y study, for w elcom ing m e into their union halls and for going out of their w ay to help me w ith m y research. Union leaders, staff and stew ards always m ade tim e to explain to m e w hat they were doing and trying to do in their w ork w ith their m em bers and workplaces, and they w ere instrum ental in helping p u t m e in contact w ith the young w orkers working in the fastfood restaurants and grocery stores th at they represented. I am occasionally quite critical of the w ork of these tw o unions in the following dissertation: I only hope that my critique will be taken by the people that make up these tw o locals as an honest and serious a ttem p t on my p art to give som ething back to them for the tim e and energy that they invested in me. Two individuals were very helpful in enabling m e to find m y two union local fieldsites. Sue Carter, who coordinated the C anadian Labour Congress' Youth Project, first told m e about the C anadian union local that I call in this dissertation, "Local C," and provided m e w ith valuable contact num bers and nam es as well as background inform ation on the local. Tony Sarmiento, form erly w ith the D epartm ent of E ducation at the A FL-Q O and now w ith the AFL-CIO's W orking for Am erica Institute, has long been as enthusiastic supporter of this research project, an d indirectly helped me to find my US fieldsite. Funding for m y fieldw ork in b o th C anada an d the US

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w as provided by Stanford University's G raduate Research O pportunity grant program . Conducting research out in the field can be exhausting work. I w as lucky enough in both of my fieldsites to have w onderful hom es to com e back to a t the end of each day. Ingrid Baur not only shared her hom e w ith m e at m y US fieldsite, but she also becam e a M end an d - as a longtim e activist in the local labor m ovem ent - both a teacher a n d an avid listener for the m any w ork and union stories that I w ould come hom e w ith each day. In Canada, m y brother Steve and his partner Kelley alw ays had a space for m e on their living room couch, no m atter how crow ded th eir one bedroom basem ent apartm ent w ould get (am I rem em bering correctly? d id w e really squeeze seven people in there one weekend?). Steve a n d Kelley's ow n concurrent y o u th w ork experiences in com puting, w aitressing and university research, along w ith those of their M ends, helped add context an d perspective to the fastfood and grocery w ork stories that I w as collecting daily out in the field. To help myself w ith developing the analyses and w riting u p the chapters for this dissertation, I have been able to take advantage of Bay area geography to p u t together a superb joint Stanford-UC Berkeley reading committee. Glynda Hull at Berkeley and Penelope Eckert at Stanford w orked as co-advisors on this project, and read each chapter draft as I w rote them along the way. Glynda and Penny are two of the m ost economical and insightful readers I have had in my academ ic career, and their criticism at early stages of my writing led m e to substantially rethink and rew ork w hat I was doing w ith my analysis. I thank them b o th for the invaluable and, at times, decisive input that they have had in this project. Carol Stack, also at Berkeley, has been a w onderfully supportive an d enthusiastic com m ittee m em ber, a n d has shared w ith m e h er insights an d experiences from h e r ow n

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research that she has been doing on young fastfood w orkers living in Oakland, California. Miyako Inoue, die fourth m em ber of m y reading committee, returned from a year aw ay from Stanford full of great ideas for developing the w riting and analyses in this dissertation. I w ould also like to thank tw o professors w ho, though they did not end u p on my dissertation comm ittee, w ere nonetheless instrum ental in helping me get to the point where I could p u t this project together. Elizabeth T raugott was my advisor for my first couple of years at Stanford, and although I never did m uch work in the areas w here Elizabeth's research interests lie, she always had the tim e and com m itm ent to help m e think through w h at it w as that I really w anted to do at g rad school. A t a point w here I was seriously thinking about dropping out of Stanford, Elizabeth's interventions helped m e to feel that there w as im portant and w orthw hile w ork that I could do through graduate study and research. Shirley Brice Heath, as I note in m y preface, has had a m ajor im pact on the course m y academ ic interests and ideas have taken while at Stanford. Shirley provided m e, while I w as at Stanford, w ith an invaluable series of opportunities to w ork on her m ulti-year y o u th organization research project, and has also been an active advocate in prom oting my w ork for publication and inclusion in academ ic conferences. Beyond the people directly involved w ith the research and w riting of this dissertation, I have been lucky to have many friends, colleagues and professors who, in a num ber of different and distinct ways, have all been sources of support, encouragem ent, challenge and inspiration. I w ould like to thank (in alphabetical order): Larry "Fred" Barrows, G ertraud Benke, M ichael Bristol, Sean Charpentier, D avina Chen, Jennifer Curtis, M ark Jury, D erek Kauneckis, Roger Keesing, Lisbeth Lipari, Monica Moore, Paul Ryan, Jennifer Snyder, Lisa Tannock and A ndrew Wyllie. Cindy Chavez and the 1996 U nion

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Sum m er staff an d interns m ade possible m y first experience of participant observation in the labor m ovem ent (sorry guys, I d o n 't think those release forms are coining). Rogers H all a n d D avid S tem an d the graduate students of UC Berkeley’s C enter for Research on E ducation and W ork (CREW) provided a stim ulating environm ent for the discussion of w ork an d education issues while I w as w orking on my dissertation w rite up. I w ould also like to thank tw o very special friends: Brad D avidson has been there since the very beginning of m y Stanford experience, and has been a personal agent and advocate for m e in grad school as well as being a good b u d d y throughout; Danny M urphy came back to the Bay area a t just the right tim e, a n d as m y weekend hiking, snow shoeing an d cam ping partn er d u rin g the w rite u p of this dissertation, increased m y w eekday w riting productivity m ore than he could ever know. Finally, I w ould like to thank the people nearest and dearest to me, w ho have done so m uch for m e over the years. My parents, Ian and Rosemary, have been a source of unw avering love, encouragem ent, and emotional and financial support - I couldn't have done any of this w ithout you. My partner, Keli, has stuck w ith me even after I disappeared for a year to do the fieldwork for this project. For the last four years, Keli has been my lover, my best friend, as well as being my num ber one editor a n d sounding board for the various half-baked ideas that I come u p w ith throughout the days. Keli is also in the final stages of her grad school career, a n d w ith the tw o of us, our tw o dissertations, and the pet rats that seem to m ultiply in num ber every time I take a trip aw ay from hom e, o u r one bedroom O akland apartm ent has som etim es seem ed awfully crow ded. For being w ith me, and for w orking w ith m e to see us b o th through, Keli, I thank you w ith all my heart.

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Table of Contents Abstract

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Preface

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A cknow ledgem ents

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In tro duction

1

PART ONE: YOUTH AND WORK

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C hapter One: Dead Ends: Reading the Research and Policy Literature on Youth W ork and Youth W orkers

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C hapter Two: On the Frontlines of the Service Sector: The Conditions of Youth W ork in Fastfood and Grocery

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PART TWO: YOUTH IN TFIE WORKPLACE

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C hapter Three: "Our Store is Different:" Store Level Solidarities in a Fastfood Restaurant Chain

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C hapter Four: Workplace Geographies: Age and D epartm entalization in the Grocery Store

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C hapter Five: Youth Work Cultures: Stopgap, Peer Group and Local Investm ent W ork O rientations

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PART THREE: YOUTH IN THE UNION

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C hapter Six: O utsiders in the Union: Youth Alienation in a Grocery Union Local

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C hapter Seven: "The Youth Union:" Intervention and Education in a Fastfood U nion Local

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C hapter Eight: H andling Time: Union Strategies and W orker Tactics

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S u m m ary

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A fterw ord

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A ppendix One:N otes o n Fieldw ork

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Appendix Two: The Youth Interview D ata

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N otes

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References

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Introduction In his 1999 State of the U nion A ddress, President Clinton proposed raising the federal m inim um w age in the U nited States from its current level of $5.15 p er ho u r to a new hourly base pay of $6.15 (a figure that w ould still be well below the real value of the m inim um w age at its high point at the end of the 1960's). Clinton's proposal resurrected a n old an d familiar set o f debates, claims and counter-claims, as progressives once again lined u p in favor of a m inim um w age hike, and conservatives positioned them selves generally against. In these debates, one of the key issues has long been the question of w h o the nation's m inim um w age earners are: teenagers or adults? A large portion of m inim um w age earners are "non p o o r teenagers," argue conservative think tanks such as The H eritage Foundation (Wilson 1999). N ot so, according to progressive analysts, w ho insist that adults an d not teenagers constitute the bulk of m inim um w age earners in the US. "An increase in the m inim um wage," trum pets a mid-1990 s report from the liberal Economic Policy Institute, "prim arily b e n efits] not affluent teenagers bu t full-time, adult w om en w orkers in low-incom e and m iddle-class families" (Mishel, Bernstein and Rasell 1995; em phasis added). N ot so hidden in these debates over w ho really benefits from increases in the m inim um wage lies a deep-seated, w idely shared and alm ost completely unquestioned age-based prejudice against youth (teenage) w orkers in America. For despite their m any differences, progressive and conservative adversaries alike in the m inim um w age debates either imply or directly assert th at the m ore teenagers there are am ong the pool of m inim um wage earners,

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the less argum ent there is for raising the m inim um wage. Progressives a n d conservatives in the m inim um w age debates d o not challenge one a n o th er so m uch in their depictions of teenage w orkers o r die rights o r interests of these w orkers in dem anding a raise in the m inim um wage, as they d o in their claims of w hether or n o t teen w orkers m ake u p the bulk of the m inim um w age workforce. Conservatives, arguing that the largest g ro u p of m inim um w age earners are teens, insist th at the m inim um w age should, therefore, n o t be raised; progressives, on the other side, in claim ing th a t m ost m inim um w age earners are adults, argue that the m inim um wage should be raised. W hen it comes to issues of w ages, health care benefits and overall w orking conditions in this country, yo u th w orkers are generally considered to be largely undeserving: they are seen as sim ply not m eriting the sam e attention as adult workers. In a nation that frequently professes heightened concern over the school to w ork transitions and the future social and economic well-being of its younger generations, there is a striking level of indifference to the plight of young w orkers an d a n am azingly open an d unconcealed age-based prejudice against the young (Males 1996, 1999). Statem ents that, were they to be m ade about other disem pow ered groups in the workforce (e.g., w om en or m inorities) w ould cause a nationw ide outcry, raise not even a stir w hen they are m ade about youth workers. In the US workplace, as Neil Howe and Bill Strauss (1993: 111) write, "bias against y o u th is so blatant that no one bothers m entioning it." It is, after all, a telling fact that w e live in a country where, though it is illegal to discrim inate against som ebody in the workplace because they are old (over the age of forty), it is perfectly legal to discrim inate against som ebody because they are young.1 There are a num ber of concerns th at can be raised about the w ay teenagers are spoken of in the m inim um w age debates; here I focus o n one.

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In these debates, one of the principal argum ents for w hy the presence of large num bers of teenagers am ong m inim um w age earners should be a sufficient reason for not raising the base level of pay in the U nited States focuses o n the issue of teenage "need." Teenagers, in the m inim um w age debates, are typically presented as being largely "affluent" - as a g ro u p th at can be contrasted w ith the ad u lt (and deserving) poor. Teenage m inim um w age earners, so the argum ent goes, are m ost often the children of m iddle class families, w ho w ork purely for discretionary income to sp en d on luxury purchases: teenagers, in other w ords, don't really "need" the m oney th a t they already earn, let alone the increased am ounts of m oney that a hike in the m inim um wage w ould bring. The ideological w ork that goes into constructing teens as w ealthy and adults as poor in the m inim um w age debates is really quite rem arkable. First, as Katherine N ew m an (1999) points out, in her stu d y of young, m inim um wage fastfood w orkers in Harlem , the stereotype of the affluent, m iddle class teenage worker obscures the fact that there is a sizeable group of teenage workers from w orking class and poor family backgrounds in the U nited States whose m inim um wage earnings constitute critical financial supplem ents to the well-being o: their parental families and households. Some of these teenage workers, m oreover, are even - as should b e w idely recognized from the national hue and cry in a separate set of debates over "teenage m others" having to attem pt to su p p o rt families of their ow n on w hat are often only m inim um w age paychecks. Second, to call teenage w orkers from m iddle class backgrounds "affluent" is to obscure the fact that w ealth in m iddle class families belongs to adults and not to youths. "Youngsters," as Esther Reiter (1991:17) notes, "generally have m inim al say in ho w family incom e is divided, so even

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teenagers from well-off families [may] need to earn m oney." The level of access to financial (as well as em otional and personal) su p p o rt that a youth has w ithin a family is sim ply not usually visible to econom ists' m easurem ents of overall household w ealth. Abusive fam ily situations m ay push some m iddle class youths o u t of their hom es, even as biased m inim um wage policies underm ine th eir ability to achieve financial independence. Even in closeknit m iddle d a ss families, of course, the ability of teenage workers to use their own pay checks to cover a t least personal expenses can be of invaluable assistance in easing pressures on w hat are these days frequently overburdened m iddle class family budgets. Perhaps the m ost rem arkable aspect of the affluent an d undeserving teen stereotype, though, is th a t d aim s of teenage w orker affluence are being m ade at a point in history w hen the gap betw een average teenage and adult earnings is w ider than it has b een in over thirty years (H ow e a n d Strauss 1993; Males 1999). As A nton A llahar an d James Cote (1994) have argued, N orth America is in the m idst of a decades long redistribution of w ealth th at has seen teenage - and m ore generally, youth - w orkers get poorer, an d older, adult workers get w ealthier relative to one another. Teenagers today, as a whole, earn less in both absolute and relative term s th an teenagers d id thirty years ago. Adults w ho are no w able to m ake casual assertions of the contem porary affluence of teenagers w ere actually them selves considerably better off than today’s teen w orkers w hen they w orked a couple of decades ago during their ow n youth. The propagation of the affluent teen w orker stereotype plays a central role in obscuring this critical fact of a declining overall level of youth earnings in the U nited States a n d a n increasing dependence of youth w orkers on the financial support of adults.

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N ow here is the incongruity an d hypocrisy of d a im s that teenagers do not "need" increased w ealth anyw here m ore striking th an in the changing relationship in the US betw een the federal m inim um w age and the average cost of college tuition. College tuitions in the last decade have skyrocketed; and student borrow ing has risen even faster (Flint 1998; Staples 1998; Zemicke 1998). M ore and m ore students are graduating from college buried under m ountains of debt. Yet at the same time, the real value of the m inim um w age in the U nited States has, since the late 1960's, declined considerably. Thus, w hereas in the m id 1960's, a college stu d en t w ould have had to w ork full time at the prevailing m inim um w age for about six an d a half weeks to pay for a full year's university tuition, in the mid-1990's, that period had alm ost tripled to a little under nineteen w eeks (Males 1999:315). While the nation's leaders argue that it is now m ore im perative than ever before for all youths to receive a college education, the country's m inim um wage policies are making it m ore difficult than ever before for w orking youths to help pay for such an education. As teenage ability to pay for a college education declines, a multi-billion dollar a year private sector student loan industry has, in the 1990’s, literally exploded - a n (adult ow ned and operated) industry that takes full advantage of increased youth poverty to rake in handsom e interest based profits (Babcock 1997).

This dissertation is a study of the contem porary w ork conditions and experiences of y outh (aged 16 to 24) workers in N orth America - in Canada and the U nited States. I begin w ith a discussion of the place of teenagers in recent m inim um w age debates in the US (debates w hich are not at all unlike those that take place in Canada), because it is critical to have a sense of the extent and em beddedness of the continentw ide prejudice against youth

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workers in o rder to understand, first, die current conditions of youth w ork in N o rth America, an d second, the reason w hy the interests a n d experiences of yo u th w orkers in N orth America are so consistently overlooked an d ignored. The m inim um w age debates illustrate how com m on and unm arked, how natural and easy it is to dismiss youth (and especially teenage) w orkers as n o t being "real" workers, and to pass over the interests of y o u th w orkers as being unw orthy of concern a n d /o r governm ent o r o th er form s of w orkplace in te rv en tio n . Youths today in N orth America typically w o rk in w h at are am ong the lowest paying, low est status jobs on the continent - in "dead end jobs" o r "Mcjobs" in the retail and food a n d entertainm ent service sectors. As a group, young w orkers have lower wages, few er benefits, an d less job security than any other age group in the workforce. Em ployers of young workers, by contrast, frequently rank am ong the continent's largest and m ost pow erful. Enorm ous, national and m ultinational corporations - such as M cDonald's, Pepsico/T ricon (ow ner of Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza H ut), and W alm art - have grow n profitable and wealthy, in small or large part, on the backs of low waged youth labor. Indeed, for industries such as fastfood, the "indispensable ingredient" for grow th and success, as som e com m entators have argued, has been less the w idely touted routinization of their labor process or the enthusiastic em brace of their franchising expansion schem es, and m ore the "systematic exploitation" of large pools of cheap (m inim um wage) teenage and youth w orkers (Gabriel 1998:127). N ot only d o youth jobs these days provide little in the w ay of support for college tuitions, they also tend to be jobs th at are often disconnected from the kinds of jobs th at m ost youths eventually m ove into in adulthood. For m ost young w orkers in N orth America, low en d service a n d retail jobs

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constitute w hat Valerie O ppenheim er a n d M atthijs Kalmijn (1995) call "life cycle stopgap jobs" (see also Jacobs 1993; an d Myles, Picot and W annell 1993). These are jobs w hich generally d o n o t lead anyw here in term s of career opportunities for youths, n o r are they expected by m ost young w orkers to become sites of career em ploym ent. They are tem porary way-stations, m ore or less discontinuous w ith the future career paths of individuals: future doctors, real estate brokers, truck drivers a n d waitresses m ay all w ork for a spell during their youth in one of the continent's hundreds of thousands of low wage service and retail jobs. Some young w orkers take on stopgap jobs during or betw een periods of schooling. Some take these jobs betw een finishing schooling and entering into career type em ploym ent. But w h atev er their particular trajectory m ay be, young w orkers take stopgap jobs prim arily because they are young. Better jobs aren’t readily available for the young in N orth America - in part, at least, because prim ary sector em ployers are free to discrim inate against youths in their hiring practices. Low wage, low status service and retail jobs are the jobs that youths can expect and are expected to find. Working in the low wage, low status service and retail sector has become alm ost a rite of passage for the y o u th of N orth America. Betw een entering high school an d entering career em ploym ent, m ost youths now w ork in a series of stopgap service and retail jobs. McDonald's alone claim s to have employed, a t one time or another, one out of every fifteen adults currently working in the US. The tim e a young w orker spends in any single service or retail job is usually not very long - a couple of m onths here, a few years there. But the tim e a youth spends in stopgap em ploym ent overall can often add u p to five, ten years o r m ore. T here are indications, m oreover, that, in both the US and C anada, as economic conditions w orsen for young adults,

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young workers' transitions to higher status, higher w age career type em ploym ent are, on average, taking longer th an previously. M ost youths in N orth Am erica d o eventually m ove u p an d o u t of stopgap service an d retail jobs into career em ploym ent. C ertain groups of youths w ho are disadvantaged by their race a n d /o r d a ss backgrounds are at greater risk of being unable to m ake this transition from stopgap to career work. But w hether a transition to career em ploym ent is eventually m ade or not, individuals across the continent are spending considerable am ounts of time during their youth and early adulthood in w hat are m arginalized and often exploitative conditions of em ploym ent. Even for those w ho do transition successfully out of stopgap youth work, as m uch as a fifth of their entire w orking lives may now be spent w orking in jobs that contribute m inim ally to their ow n futures, th at involve m undane, repetitive and often meaningless tasks, and that confer only m eager salaries and low-level status jobs whose m ost clear cut significance is the enorm ous am ounts of w ealth generated for those em ployers w ho have been eager to position them selves in the continent's low wage y o u th labor m arket (a m arket w hose existence, it m ight be added here, is, in p a rt at least, sanctioned by age-prejudiced goverm ent m inim um wage policies).

Despite their economic m arginalization an d their im portance to N o rth America's service economy, young w orkers are com m only overlooked or ignored by policy makers, researchers, w orkplace activists and trade unions. The erasure of youth w orkers in N orth A m erican public discourse as a coherent and distinct group w ithin the labor force that has legitim ate a n d pressing concerns about im poverished w orking conditions takes place in one of tw o ways. First, m any com m entators still fail to recognize the existence of

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stopgap youth w ork as a structural and substantive p a rt of N o rth A m erican society and economy. To this day, one can find m ainstream discussions of youth, w ork and education th at talk of norm ative "school to w ork transitions" as if youths in N o rth America m oved directly from schooling to adult, career em ploym ent, an d as if the intervening period of stopgap w ork did not even exist W hen w orkplace observers find that large num bers of youths "flounder" in the low end service sector betw een school and career, they often react w ith surprise an d attem pt to explain such a n "anomaly" by pointing fingers at the failings of the N orth A m erican school system, o r at deficits in the skills o r w ork attitudes of contem porary N o rth A m erican youths. Yet w hy should anyone really be surprised at the existence of stopgap youth labor on this continent w hen N orth Am erican society a n d econom y are structurally and centrally organized around having access to and use of large pools of low paid an d transient youth labor? Entire industries, as I have noted above, are fundam entally based on their having access to cheap youth workers; and as consum ers, w e all profit from the low priced goods th at low (minimum) w aged y o u th labor helps to make possible. The difficulty th at m any N orth Americans have in recognizing the structural existence of stopgap youth w ork derives, in part, from the simple fact that w e don't really know how to talk about y outh as w orkers, nor do we really know yet how to talk about w ork as a tem porary, short term and disjunct life cycle experience. Youths are thought of in o u r society not primarily as workers b u t as consum ers - and in particular, as consum ers of music, fashion, television and other m edia forms (Griffin 1993:138-145). Pick up any teenage o r youth studies read er in N orth America, a n d chances are it will have little if anything to say about the fact that youths w ork, and a whole lot to say about youths and their various sub-cultural "styles" th a t are

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consum ed and produced outside die workplace. Even though the overw helm ing m ajority of N o rth A m erican youths w ork a t som e point during their teenage years - and often w ork for considerable am ounts of time - youths in this continent are generally thought of w ithin the contexts of the school, the neighborhood and the street, b u t not the workplace. Work, m eanwhile, in N orth A m erica is generally thought of an d studied w ithin a long-term perspective and fram ew ork of class form ation and d a ss reproduction, of social stratification and mobility, of individual careers, and so forth. All of these fram eworks, how ever, are of lim ited use for describing and capturing the social position of stopgap y o u th labor. Stopgap youth work, for one thing, is fundam entally anti-careerist in nature, and is generally m ore o r less discontinuous w ith prior a n d future individual w ork and education paths. Youth stopgap w ork in the low end service sector, m oreover, involves youths w ho both com e from an d will later end u p in both the m iddle and w orking dasses. Since age, by definition, has only the tem porary m em bership of individuals - unlike the other dim ensions of workforce stratification that are comm only given recognition (race, gender, dass) - youth stopgap service sector w orkers can hardly be spoken of as constituting a long-term "dass" of w orkers in their ow n right: individual identification as a stopgap youth w orker is fleeting and ephem eral. We do, of course, know how to talk of and w orry about youths w ho get "stuck" in entry level service sector jobs well into adulthood, or of individuals w ho suffer long-term effects from early difficulties they experience during their youth in the labor m arket. But once w e start talking about such concerns, w e have really stopped thinking about youth w orkers per se an d m oved o n to the m ore fam iliar issues of class form ation a n d reproduction, and to the w ays in

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which youth w ork experiences affect the later well-being of adult rather than of youth workers. The second w ay in w hich the interests a n d dem ands of stopgap y o u th workers are placed u n d e r erasure in N orth A m erican public discourse recognizes the existence of stopgap youth w ork, b u t em ploys one or another variant of the undeserving youth w orker stereotype (seen in the m inim um wage debates above) to deflect attention from the voices a n d concerns of young stopgap workers. Some workplace observers d o acknowledge that most youths in N orth America w ork for a tim e in the low wage, low status service sector; b u t they argue that there is no need (or alternatively, no way) to "fix" or change anything about this system of stopgap w ork because there is allegedly a functional m atch betw een low e n d service sector jobs and the youth (teen) w orkers w ho fill them. Thus, o n the one hand, w e have the familiar im age of the "happy teen worker," w hom w e have already m et earlier in the m inim um wage debates. The prototype of the happy teen worker is the m iddle class teen w orker w ho is still a stu d en t in high school. For this worker, low wages are not a problem since he o r she is only w orking for extra spending money; part-tim e and irregular hours are not a problem because this w orker isn't having to support him self o r herself, and needs only to be able to fit w ork in around his or her high school classes; and low status and m onotonous w ork tasks aren't a problem , because this w orker is able to learn from and appreciate the experience of sim ply having a job for the first time in his or her life - the happy teen w orker learns w hat it is to have real w orld responsibilities, how to find ways to m anage his or her time and money effectively, an d how to w ork cooperatively w ith his or her co-workers, employers an d custom ers. W hat are bad jobs fo r adults, some workplace com m entators claim, are perfectly good jobs fo r teenagers o r youths.

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The flipside of the "happy teen worker" variant of the undeserving youth w orker stereotype is the equally w idespread im age of the "alienated youth worker." For the image of the alienated y o u th worker, the prototype is the high school graduate youth w orker, w ho com es from either the w orking class or the m iddle d a ss (as in the figure of the "slacker"). Just o u t of school, the alienated youth w orker drifts aimlessly through an endless series of empty, meaningless a n d dead end jobs; drops in a n d out of the workforce alm ost at random ; enjoys no real sense of connection w ith his o r her work, workplace, customers or employers; and finds the real focus of life after high school to lie outside the workplace in a fast paced and occasionally high risk social life that is shared w ith his or her sam e age peers. It m ay seem, a t first glance, as if the alienated youth w orker image w ould lend credence to the concerns an d complaints of young stopgap workers. But this is generally no t how the image functions. The alienated youth w orker image typically borrow s (either expliritly or im plidtly) on conventional "storm and stress” models of adolescence - m odels in which adolescence is thought of as being a difficult and stressful period in the natural m aturation process that sets youths apart from and puts them in conflict w ith the stable, responsible and adult w orlds of w ork and family (Griffin 1993). The alienated youth w orker image often presents stopgap w ork as being sim ply a natural epiphenom enon of adolescence: if youths are alienated in the workplace, this is because alienation (from work, from life, from adults) is the natural state of adolescence. W hen youths are genuinely ready to settle dow n into a life of adult, career w ork and responsibility, they will quite naturally m ove u p an d out of the youth labor m arket and into the adult labor m arket. Low end service sector work, in fact, is thus thought of b y some workplace observers as providing a reasonably functional fit w ith storm a n d

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stress adolescents, since this is one of the few kinds of w ork th at m atches these youths' alleged need to have little in the w ay of real com m itm ent, responsibility or investm ent - these jobs are designed on the assum ption th at the individuals holding them will not care all that m uch about the w ork they are doing, and will not rem ain in their jobs for very long periods of time. Since youth workers, in the alienated yo u th w orker image, are seen as n o t really caring at all about their stopgap service sector jobs, there is little p oint seen in talking w ith these young w orkers about w orking to change and im prove the youth workplace. W orkplace reform s th at involve the interests an d voices of workers are only w orthw hile to consider once youth w orkers have m oved on into adult, career occupations in which they can and often do feel a real sense of commitment, connection an d investm ent. A dolescence is a difficult time, w hether inside the w orkplace or out; the best thing w e can do as socially concerned observers, suggests the alienated yo u th w orker im age, is to hope that the period an individual spends in youth (or adolescent) stopgap work will quickly come to term ination. To begin to understand and engage w ith the experiences and interests of youth workers in the low end service sector in N orth America - to u n d o the erasures of the voices of youth w orkers - it is necessary, then, to m ove beyond these and other such fam iliar stereotypes of work, youth and y o u th workers. It is necessary to: first, acknow ledge the structural existence of stopgap youth work; and second, recognize that the social and economic environm ents of our continent's w orkplaces an d labor m arkets have produced a distinctive workforce identity (or social position) that is th at of the stopgap youth worker. Som ewhere in betw een the naturalized and silencing tw in stereotypes of the happy teen w orker an d the alienated youth w orker lie - as will be described in detail in this dissertation - the actual voices,

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experiences, interests an d agencies of contem porary youth stopgap workers w orking in N orth America's low end service sector. As stopgap workers, young w orkers, indeed, often d o accept that low end service w ork is a natural and even appropriate step for youths to take on their pathw ays u p into the ad u lt w orld of career work. M any young workers, consequently, embrace, engage and identify w ith their stopgap youth jobs in w ays that are simply not acknow ledged by the alienated youth w orker image. A t the sam e time, young w orkers also, as stopgap workers, critique and distance themselves from their lo w en d service jobs in w ays unacknow ledged by the happy teen worker image. Indeed, one of the prim ary reasons young service sector workers position them selves as stopgap w orkers in the first place is precisely because w orking conditions in N orth A m erica’s low end service sector are so fundam entally im poverished: precisely because, in other w ords, low end service sector jobs are considered by young w orkers to be, in one way or another, bad jobs.

This dissertation is concerned w ith describing the contem porary w ork conditions and experiences of youth stopgap w orkers in N orth America; b u t it is also concerned w ith m oving beyond the workplace passivity and sense of fatalism that characterizes the vast m ajority of discussions of y o u th w ork in C anada and the US. As seen above, the process w hich leads to the erasure of the stopgap youth worker as a distinctive and recognizable subject position in N o rth American public discourse also frequently leads to the stance that interventions to im prove the im poverished w orking conditions of the contem porary youth workplace are either unnecessary, unfeasible or undesirable. To this end, this study exam ines the significance of unionization in the youth workplace, from the p o in t of view of stopgap

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youth workers, in im proving w orking conditions. This study explores such questions as the following: H ow d o unions w ork w ith young w orkers in stopgap service jobs? In w h at w ays d o unions in the low end service sector reduce, transform or, alternatively, reinforce youth w orkplace m arginalization? W hat kinds of difference can unionization m ake in the work lives of young stopgap, service sector w orkers? One of the m ost striking features of youth stopgap labor in the low end service sector - particularly w hen considering the disem pow erm ent of youth workers in N orth America - is, in fact, its extremely low level of unionization. Young w orkers in both the US a n d C anada are less likely to b e m em bers of trade unions th an any other age group in the w orkforce. This virtual absence of unionization am ong young w orkers m eans th a t one of the m ost vulnerable groups of w orkers o n the continent - w orkers w ith little w ork experience, lim ited em ploym ent alternatives, low em ploym ent status, tem porary w ork orientations, and no protection from anti-discrim ination legislation - m ust typically confront som e of N orth Am erica's largest, m ost powerful corporations on an individual basis, w ithout the benefit or suppo rt of collective action and representation. U nder such conditions, quitting a job understandably becom es a young w orker's signature final solution to being faced with em ployer intransigence in response to his or h e r w orkplace dem ands. The low level of unionization in the youth labor m arket is not incidental to the existence of this m arket. If governm ent m inim um wage policies an d the absence of anti-discrim ination protection for young w orkers in the workplace have helped to foster a low wage, low status, stopgap pool of youth labor, so too has the w idespread abandonm ent of y o u th w orkers by the labor m ovem ent in N orth A m erica over the last half century. U nions,

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historically, have frequently tended to act in the interests of their ad u lt m em bers and to w ork against youths in the labor m arket, w hom they see as a threat to adult jobs and wages. Seniority rules an d restrictions on apprenticeship openings are b u t tw o com m on strategies unions have used for excluding youths from stable, well-paying jobs, and for relegating young workers to a secondary youth labor m ark e t Since the end of the 1970's, union abandonm ent of yo u th interests in the workplace has quickened. Between 1983 and 1991, the num ber of w orkers in the US aged thirty five and older w ho were union m em bers actually rose by one per cent, while the num ber of w orkers u n d e r the age of tw enty five w ho were union members fell by tw enty three p e r cent (Howe a n d Strauss 1993:112). Youth w orkers w ho rem ained trade union m em bers in this period w ere not necessarily all that better off than their non-union counterparts. "Nothing exemplifies [die] age-graded inequality" in the labor m ovem ent during the 1980’s, w rite How e and Strauss (1993:112), "more than the two-tier wage ladder" that began to be widely negotiated by m any unions during this decade. Tiered wage ladders protected the wages and benefits of older workers while establishing secondary, low er paying wage scales for new er, younger w orkers just coming into the workforce. Nonetheless, despite this occasionally dism al history of the N orth Am erican labor m ovem ent’s past dealings w ith the interests of youth workers, unionization rem ains im portant to consider for the possibilities th at it m ight have to offer for im proving stopgap youth w ork - for tw o reasons. First, unionization is still one of the m ost valuable and critical m eans w orkers have for transform ing and im proving their w orking conditions w ithout having to rely purely on em ployer voluntarism and goodw ill. T hough m any workplace observers today place their hopes for im proved

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working conditions in N orth Am erica in em ployer driv en changes in m anagerial strategy (especially in the highly touted "high perform ance" model), there is little reason to believe th at such changes will dram atically affect the low wages, low status and high stress levels of stopgap y outh w ork in the low end service sector: for those em ployers w ho have positioned them selves in the youth labor m arket have done so precisely to take advantage of cheap an d transient (i.e., high tu rn o v er b u t also high burnout) youth workers. While unionization am ong stopgap y outh w orkers in N orth America is rare, there are a num ber of unions operating in the N orth Am erican youth labor m arket; and the w ork these unions are doing w ith young stopgap w orkers has so far been alm ost com pletely ignored by researchers and policy makers. Second, over the last few years, there has been a shift (some w ould say a renaissance) in the N orth Am erican labor m ovem ent - particularly in the United States. Faced w ith an ageing and shrinking m em bership, and increasingly concerned about threats to the social and econom ic well-being of the younger generations on the continent, the N o rth A m erican labor m ovem ent has recently show n renew ed interest in organizing am ong the young. For the first time in decades, union recruiters are once again becoming a familiar presence on college cam puses across b oth C anada and the US; and, over the course of the 1990’s, stu d en t involvem ent in labor organizing has m ushroom ed. This renew ed u nion interest in youth, however, though exciting, like m any recent shifts in the N o rth Am erican labor m ovem ent, tends to be long on high profile rhetoric and short on any real com m itm ent to confront genuine past an d presen t problem s in the interactions of youth and labor. There is thus a vital need in this occasionally heady m om ent of increased interest in yo u th labor organizing to consider

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carefully the actual experiences youth stopgap w orkers w ho are already m em bers of trade unions have of the union m ovem ent: to focus n o t just on the highlights a n d trium phs of unionization in the youth labor m arket, b u t on the failures, shortcomings and misfires as well.

This dissertation explores the significance of stopgap w ork an d of unionization for young service and retail w orkers in contem porary N orth America by examining the w ork an d union experiences of tw o particular groups of young unionized service sector w orkers in the US and C anada. The study that form s the basis for this dissertation consists of eleven m onths of ethnographic fieldwork that I conducted in 1997-1998 w ith a gro u p of young unionized grocery workers w orking in a large city in the US that I call "Box Hill," along w ith another gro u p of young unionized fastfood w orkers working in a sim ilar sized d ty in C anada that I call "Glenwood." (To protect individual and organization privacy, all pro p er nam es involved in this research have been altered). The young Box Hill grocery workers I studied all w orked for large, m ulti-regional superm arket chains that dom inate the Box Hill grocery m arket. While there are som e significant differences betw een the three m ajor superm arket chains in Box Hill, in this study, I consider the Box Hill chains together as a group, and only occasionally and casually refer to them individually by nam e as "Good Grocers," "Food City" and "Grand Foods." The union local that represented the young grocery w orkers in Box Hill "Local 7" - had about twelve thousand m em bers at the time of m y research (about one third of whom were un d er the age of tw enty five). These m em bers w orked in a little over tw o hundred grocery stores in the greater m etropolitan Box Hill region.

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The Glenwood fastfood w orkers I studied, m eanwhile, all w orked in the outlets of a single m ultinational fastfood com pany in G lenw ood that 1 call ’T ry House." While m any Fry H ouses in N o rth America are franchised, alm ost all of the unionized Fry H ouse restaurants in Glenw ood w ere ow ned directly by the Fry House corporation. The union local that represented young Fry House w orkers in Glenw ood - "Local C" - w as a sm all b u t diversified service sector local w ith m em bers w orking in the hotel, building m aintenance, building security a n d restaurant industries in and around Glenwood. At the time of m y research, Local C represented about seven hundred and fifty Fry H ouse w orkers (about tw o thirds of w hom w ere u n d e r the age of twenty five). These w orkers w orked in approxim ately fifty different Fry H ouse restaurant outlets in the G lenw ood region. I chose the two research sites in Box Hill an d Glenw ood to study stopgap youth workers, in part, because superm arkets and fastfood restaurants are prototypical sites for stopgap y o u th em ploym ent: the grocery and fastfood industries are two of the largest y o u th em ployers in N orth America. In the United States, fully one third of w orking teenagers w ork either in restaurants (which include family style dinner houses an d coffee shops as well as fastfood outlets) or in grocery stores, m aking these tw o industries the nu m b er one and num ber tw o employers of Am erican teenagers respectively. For youths betw een the ages of 16 and 24 w ho are in the US workforce, one fifth w ork in either eating or drinking establishm ents o r in grocery stores (US Bureau of Labor Statistics 1996). Canadian statistics, though m ore out of d ate than the US labor force data, suggest that the proportion of youth w orkers in C anada working in grocery and fastfood is highly com parable to th at in the U nited States. In 1986, fifteen p e r cent of y outh w orkers aged 16 to 24 w orked either in restaurants or grocery stores in C anada (Statistics C anada 1989). Since

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y o u th em ploym ent in the C anadian service sector as a w hole has steadily increased over the past decade (see, for example, Rehnby and McBride 1997), it is likely that this figure is now considerably higher. I also selected the tw o research sites in Box Hill and G lenw ood because these sites offered the possibility of studying tw o different kinds of union experience am ong young stopgap service sector workers. Box Hill, in m any ways, may be said to represent a typical stopgap youth experience of unionism . While overall unionization rates am ong young service and retail w orkers in N orth America are very low, the second largest em ployer of teenage labor on the continent - the grocery industry - is actually a relatively highly unionized industry. Continentw ide, about a third of grocery w orkers are represented by trade unions; in Box Hill, as in a few other regions of the continent, over ninety per cent of the local grocery m arket is unionized. If high school age workers, then, belong to any union a t all in N o rth America, chances are they belong to a grocery union. Grocery Local 7 in Box Hill m ay be said to represent a fairly typical youth union experience in N orth America for tw o other reasons as well. Like m any N orth Am erican unions, the local practices w hat is som etim es referred to as 'business unionism" (Moody 1988; Parker and Gruelle 1999). Local 7 staff focus primarily on bargaining for w ages and benefits and on policing its collective bargaining agreem ent on behalf of its grocery m em bership;

they

are m uch less concerned w ith w orking to involve, mobilize o r educate its grocery m em bers in union affairs. Local 7 - again like m any N o rth Am erican unions - has also not h ad a n extensive history of targeting the needs a n d interests of its younger m em bers. To the extent that young grocery w orkers are spoken of a t all by Local 7 union staff, they tend to be spoken of as

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presenting problem s for u n io n staff: in the collection of u n io n dues, for example, o r in the enforcem ent of the union collective bargaining agreem ent. Fastfood Local C, on the other hand, in m any w ays, m ay be said to represent a fairly atypical exam ple of stopgap youth unionism . The fastfood industry, w hich is probably the m ost widely recognized em ployer of youth in N orth America, is alm ost com pletely non-union. Indeed, m y decision to conduct p a rt of m y fieldw ork research in C anada w as m otivated by the fact that are really no fastfood union locals (at least any th at h ave lasted over the years) anyw here in the United States. In Canada, by contrast, there are a handful of unionized fastfood chains and outlets w hich are scattered across the country. The Glenwood Fry H ouse bargaining unit, a t about fifty restaurant outlets strong, constitutes one of the largest as well as the m ost long lived (it w as first organized in the 1960's) of these u n io n fastfood units. Fastfood Local C in G lenw ood is further unusual in th at it belongs to one of the few unions in N orth Am erica that em brace w h a t is som etim es called a "social m ovem ent" m odel of unionism (M oody 1988, 1997). Beyond the negotiation of wages and benefits, Local C seeks to m obilize its m em bership, to involve them in union affairs, a n d to ed u cate them n o t just about unionism, b u t about b road social justice issues th at affect workers throughout contem porary N orth America. D uring the 1990's, Local C has also distinguished itself as being highly oriented to w orking closely w ith its youth members. Indeed, the local has gained a w idespread rep u tatio n throughout C anadian labor an d m edia circles as being one of the m ost successful union locals in the country in organizing a n d w orking w ith young, stopgap service sector workers. My fieldwork in Box Hill a n d Glenwood - w hich I describe in greater detail in a n appendix to this dissertation (see A ppendix O ne) - w as com prised

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of union and w orkplace observations; interview s of young w orkers, shop stew ards and union staff; a n d the collection of union an d com pany newsletters, training m aterials an d other such artifacts. Before m y study began, I m ade the decision to conduct m y research w ithout official em ployer involvem ent My study w as thus based n o t in the grocery a n d fastfood workplace, b u t in the two union locals in Box Hill a n d Glenw ood; it was approved an d facilitated no t by com pany m anagem ent, b u t by u nion local staff. M uch of m y time in Box Hill and Glenw ood w as spent sim ply hanging out a t the Local 7 and Local C union halls. For the better p a rt of a year, I w ent to every union meeting, social event, educational a n d conference in the tw o locals that I could get to. I travelled w ith union representatives as they visited their stores, a n d talked w ith them about how they d id th eir jobs. I attem pted to learn as best I could how these tw o union locals w orked w ith their young m em bers by observing all of the various points of contact betw een union and worker. I also w ent out and talked to young grocery a n d fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood. Many of these w orkers I found sim ply by visiting the stores represented by the tw o locals. Some w orkers' nam es w ere given to me by union staff and stew ards. A few w orkers I actually m et in the union halls. Young workers them selves also frequently p u t m e in touch w ith other co­ workers w hom they thought w ould be willing or interested in talking to me. My interviews, w hich typically ran a little u n d er an h o u r an d w ere held in locations chosen by m y interviewees (usually a local d in er or coffee shop), w ere unstructured and open-ended. M y goal in interview ing young w orkers was prim arily to hear them speak about w hat m attered m ost to them in their workplaces, as well as to learn w hat they thought about their unions. Some interviews ended up being highly focused o n one or tw o issues that w ere of

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particular im portance to the individual w orker talking, w hile others w ere m ore w ide-ranging. In total, I conducted a little m ore th an ninety interview s w ith young w orkers (about sixty in Box Hill an d thirty in Glenwood), as well as another tw enty odd interviews w ith older co-workers, union staff and shop stew ards (see Appendix Two for a list of m y interview s w ith y o u th workers). Since I conducted my research w ithout the official involvem ent of the employers for w hom Local 7 and Local C m em bers w orked, I w as unable to conduct extensive or intrusive observations in grocery and fastfood workplaces in Box Hill and Glenwood. I d id, though, spend m uch of m y tim e during m y eleven m onths of fieldwork as a casual w orkplace observer and customer, w andering almost daily through the public spaces of Box Hill superm arkets and Glenwood Fry House outlets. O ne of the advantages, after all, of doing research on low end custom er service w ork is that m uch of this w ork takes place in an open and sem i-public environm ent. 1 tound th at I w as often able to chat casually w ith young grocery and fastfood w orkers I m et while they were on the job, as well as to observe interactions young w orkers h ad in the w orkplace w ith their co-workers, custom ers a n d m anagers. W hen I visited stores in the company of local union representatives, I w as also able to visit stores' private, backroom spaces and to talk casually w ith store level managers. The experiences and opinions of grocery and fastfood managers, how ever - like those of grocery and fastfood custom ers - are not a central p art of this study: m y focus here is on the experiences a n d opinions of youth stopgap grocery and fastfood workers first, and on the relations betw een these youth w orkers and union staff a t L oad 7 and Local C second.

The dissertation is divided into three m ain sections. In P art One, "Youth and Work," I provide a background on the conditions and study of

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youth service sector work. C hapter O ne surveys the m ainstream literature o n youth, w ork and education th at has been alluded to in this introduction. I suggest that the youth, w ork and education literature in N orth A m erica can be usefully grouped into four prim ary stream s - a skills and deficits stream , a youth labor m arket stream, a student labor stream , an d a social reproduction stream - and argue that all of these stream s fail, in one way or another, to give full recognition to the social position of the stopgap youth w orker. C hapter Two introduces the workplaces and w orkers of the Box Hill superm arkets and the Glenwood Fry Houses, and describes the basic conditions of yo u th grocery and fastfood w ork in Box Hill and Glenwood. Since the im poverishm ent of workplace conditions in the low end service sector plays a central role in fostering the stopgap w ork orientations of young service sector w orkers, m y focus in this chapter is on describing w hy grocery a n d fastfood jobs in Box Hill and Glenwood are hard jobs o r bad jobs to have. In Part Two of the dissertation, "Youth in the W orkplace," I exam ine the active and collective presence of young w orkers w ithin the grocery and fastfood worksites of Box Hill and Glenwood. C hapter Three focuses solely on the Glenwood Fry H ouse restaurants. In this chapter, I em phasize the importance to young fastfood workers in G lenw ood of co-worker solidarities, workplace communities, and local, store-based senses of workplace investm ent - all of which are aspects of stopgap yo u th w ork typically overlooked in discussions both of youth workers (in general) and the fastfood industry (in particular). In C hapter Four, I describe sim ilar local solidarities am ong young grocery workers in Box Hill. My m ain focus in C hapter Four, however, is on examining the nature of age stratification in the youth workplace. Age as a dim ension of workplace stratification has largely been ignored in workplace studies - especially in com parison to the stu d y of gender

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an d race stratification. Young w orkers a re often described as (and condem ned for) having behaviors and attitudes w hich are attributed to yo u th identities that supposedly pre-exist entrance into the w orld of work. By focusing o n the position of the grocery bagger in the Box Hill superm arket, I attem pt to show how stereotypical "youth" traits can actually be reproduced by structures internal to the youth workplace itself. In the final chapter of Part Two (Chapter Five), I present an overall fram ew ork for describing youth stopgap w ork cultures in both Box Hill and G lenw ood. I argue th at stopgap w ork cultures are shaped by a t least tw o o th er alternatively com peting and m utually reinforcing w ork orientations am ong young grocery a n d fastfood w orkers that I identify as "peer group" an d "local investm ent" w ork orientations. Part Three of the dissertation, "Youth in the Union," describes the experiences young w orkers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood have of unionization. The day to day experiences young w orkers in these tw o sites have of their unions are m uch m ore sim ilar th an one m ight expect, given the tw o locals' embrace, a t higher levels of action, of w h at are sometimes radically different approaches to the practice of unionism . Nevertheless, there are significant differences in young w orkers’ experiences of the two locals that derive, in part, from distinctions betw een business a n d social m ovem ent m odels of unionism , and in part, from distinctions betw een w hat I call - borrow ing from Paul Ryan (1987) - an "adult centered" m odel of unionism th at is practiced by Local 7 in Box Hill, and an "all ages" m odel of unionism th a t is practiced by Local C in Glenwood. In the first chapter in Part T hree (C hapter Six), I docum ent the various w ays in w hich grocery youths in Box H ill are m arginalized by the practices of U nion Local 7. In C hapter Seven, on the other hand, I concentrate o n

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describing some of the partial successes in im proving y o u th w o rk experience in the Glenwood Fry H ouses th at have been achieved through the w orkplace interventions and education efforts of U nion Local C. M y presentation in these tw o chapters deliberately highlights differences betw een these two union locals and downplays similarities for the purpose of describing succinctly:

first, some of the lim itations of unionization in the y o u th labor

m arket; and second, som e of the possibilities th at unionization h as to offer for im proving youth labor m arket w ork conditions. In C hapter Eight, the final chapter of the "Youth in the Union" section, I exam ine one of the m ost critical workplace issues in Box Hill an d Glenwood: the handling of w ork time. In this chapter, I compare, first, im portant differences in Local 7 and Local C approaches to providing scheduling protections for their m em bers. I then explore the significance of gaps betw een union cultures and youth stopgap w ork cultures in allowing off-the-clock w ork (unpaid y o u th labor) to proliferate into a m ajor workplace problem in both Box Hill and Glenwood. I sum up the m ajor argum ents and findings of m y study in the "Summary" of the dissertation. T hen in the dissertation "Afterword," I consider in more d e p th the significance th at organized labor m ig h t have in transform ing the workplace experiences of stopgap yo u th workers, as well as the kinds of roles unions m ight play overall in im proving the general school to w ork to career transitions of youths in N orth America. I discuss som e of the various youth-union initiatives th at have led som e to talk of a recent renaissance in the N orth A m erican labor m ovem ent: y o u th program s th at have been launched by the AFL-CIO in the U nited States (such as the Union Sum m er program ); union involvem ent in the US governm ent's School to W ork program , and other union educational ventures; y o u th oriented strikes and labor actions (the m ost notable of w hich is the 1997 UPS strike);

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college student involvem ent in labor organizing; a n d u n io n organizing efforts by young stopgap service sector w orkers across b oth the US an d Canada. I argue that, in the context of these various initiatives, the findings of this study suggest that there are im portant roles that unions can play in im proving the w ork lives of y o u th w orkers th at are all too often ignored completely by m ainstream policy m akers, researchers, activists and educators. I also argue, however, that the findings of this study suggest th at are num erous problem s that can arise in the interactions of y o u th and labor on this continent. To m ake a difference in the lives of young w orkers, unions may need to change internally; b u t they also m ay need - like researchers, policy makers, educators a n d other workplace activists - to fully recognize and understand the social positioning of the stopgap youth w orker.

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Part One: Youth and Work

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Chapter One

Dead Ends: Reading the Research and Policy Literature on Youth Work and Youth Workers

There are tw o problem s that arise w hen one tries to read w hat the research and policy literature in N orth America has to say about youth w ork an d youth w orkers. The first is that there is no self-contained or discrete area of social research o r planning in N o rth America th at focuses solely and com prehensively on youth workers. The youth w orker is simply not a figure th at has attracted m uch attention in N o rth America in his o r h e r ow n right especially w hen com pared with, say, the youth gang m em ber, the teenage m other, or even the unem ployed youth. The studies of youth w orkers that there are tend to be dispersed throughout an enorm ous and sprawling body of literature that covers youth, w ork and education in general. Studies of youth workers tend to be tucked into disparate discussions of such topics as: the final years of com pulsory schooling; entrance into full-time, career em ploym ent; training and vocational education; and y o u th unem ploym ent and labor m arket instability (Griffin 1993). These discussions, in turn, are often conducted in the context of even larger, m ore sw eeping debates over m atters of race, poverty, welfare, economic restructuring, schooling, the family and so forth. The second problem that arises w hen one tries to read the research literature on y o u th w ork and the yo u th w orker in N orth Am erica stem s not so m uch from a lack of focus in the literature, b u t rath e r from an over-focus

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on a single way of looking (or, as the case m ay be, n o t looking) a t youth w ork and youth workers. Despite its complexity and enorm ity, the youth, w ork an d education literature in this continent has a certain an d banal uniform ity w hen it comes to the subject of the youth worker: alm ost all of the literature approaches the study of the youth w orker through the lens of w h at m ight be called the "pathway model." That is to say th at the literature is not prim arily concerned w ith youth work itself, as m uch as it is w ith the trajectories of youths from school (through the period of stopgap youth w ork) to career em ploym ent - or w ith w hat Griffin (1993: 28) calls the "one Big Question: the incidence and explanation of the inequalities in the m ove from full-time education to w aged work." The literature tends to focus on youths - their actions, attitudes, abilities, characteristics and m ovem ents - w ith w ork as a backdrop that is only vaguely sketched in. Its concern is less w ith w hat youths are doing w ith any particular job in any given w orkplace during their transition from school to career, and m ore w ith w here youths are coming from (in term s of schooling, gender socialization, racial and ethnic background, class status, etc.) and w here they are eventually going to (in terms of, for example, career em ploym ent, parenthood, and class mobility). The "pathway model" that structures m ost of the youth, w ork and education literature is, of course, simply a m anifestation of the dom inant, common sense ways of viewing youth in o u r society: youth is generally seen as a passage or m ovem ent from childhood (in this case, schooling) to adulthood (career) (Wulff 1995). But comm on sense or not, w hat the pathw ay m odel tends to do in the youth, w ork a n d education literature is erase the subjectivity and agency of youths as workers - it tends to erase the experiences, identities, and struggles that youths have as w orkers in the youth workplace. Such erasure occurs: first, because the pathw ay m odel focuses o n youths as

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they m ove betw een workplaces an d n o t as they act w ithin workplaces; and second, because the pathw ay m odel defines youths, even w hen they are working, in term s of their student o r educational status rath er th an their tem porary and specific stopgap occupational status. M any studies that are ostensibly about youth workers thus actually end u p providing very little inform ation about who youths are as w orkers or w hat youths d o in the workplace. Indeed, there is a resistance in m uch of the youth, w ork an d education literature to thinking of youths prim arily as workers: for to become a w orker in our society is essentially to become an adult an d reach a final stage in one's social m obility and educational developm ent The pathw ay m odel creates others problem s for the study of yo u th and w ork as well. N ot only does the youth w orker tend to disappear in the pathw ay m odel approach to the study of youth and work, b u t the details of youth w ork itself also tend to drop out of view. Since w ork in this m odel is seen m erely as a backdrop - as a m easuring stick for determ ining how far a youth has come in his or her progression into adulthood - researchers often rely on macro-analyses and statistical data to sketch out a hierarchy of jobs in N orth America that are tagged as being sim ply either "good" or "bad." Detailed descriptions of the am biguities and contradictions of actual w orking conditions of young workers are rare; and the labels "good" and "bad" often refer to little m ore than the level of wages and benefits a job has to offer. The agency and actions of youth em ployers, in particular, in shaping the w orking conditions of the youth workplace are w idely overlooked and ignored. Especially concerning about the pathw ay m odel approach to the study of youth and w ork - w hen considering the im poverished w orking conditions that m any youth workers face in this continent - is that the possibility of change in the youth workplace is also largely overlooked o r ignored. Indexed

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in the pathw ay m odel sim ply as constituting background terrain, the conditions characterizing good a n d b ad jobs in N orth Am erica (insofar as these are described) are generally assum ed to be natural an d inevitable - a t least to the extent that they cannot or should not be changed by an d for young workers. The pathw ay m odel, in fact, works to sever the intim ate and interactive connections that exist betw een youth w orkers a n d their w ork an d workplaces. Youths, in the end, are seen in this m odel as being m ore or less disengaged passers through in a static youth workplace: they are seen (to co­ opt a familiar expression) as m overs in the w orld of the w orkplace b u t definitely not shakers. In this chapter, I present a n overview of w hat the youth, w ork an d education research and policy literature in N orth America has to say about youth w ork and youth workers. The pathw ay m odel defines this literature only in the m ost elemental way, and does not capture im portant differences and divisions that exist w ithin the literature. In critical surveys of the youth, w ork and education literature, these differences and divisions have sometimes been fram ed as constituting an opposition betw een "m ainstream " and "critical" or "radical" approaches to the study of y outh and w ork (see, for example, Griffin 1993). Such binary representation, how ever, is of lim ited use in getting an accurate handle on w hat is a m ulti-dim ensional literature. Moreover, w hen it comes to discussions of youth, w ork a n d education these days, simple progressive/ conservative oppositions frequently tend to becom e convoluted and turned upside dow n. I suggest, therefore, th at it is m ore useful to think of the youth, w ork and education literature in N o rth America as being com prised of four prim ary stream s (or discourses, m odels, literatures, etc.). These are: (1) a skills and deficits stream; (2) a youth labor m arket stream ; (3) a stu d en t labor

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stream; a n d (4) a social reproduction stream . Each of these stream s m ay be identified as being the site of a n often vigorous debate that is conducted w ithin the fram ew ork of shared perspectives, assum ptions an d concerns, a n d through repeated reference to key texts. The skills and deficits stream is often identified as constituting the m ainstream , m ore conservative pole of the youth, w ork and education literature, while the social reproduction stream is generally seen as constituting the literature's critical o r radical pole. W hat I seek to show in this overview, though, is that all of these stream s contain w ithin them both highly conservative ideas as well as m ore progressive view points. The four youth, w ork a n d education stream s or literatures contrast in a num ber of ways, b u t it is their different approaches to constructing the significance of "youth" that are the m ost salient. Skills an d deficits authors tend to discuss youth in economic terms, as a resource o r investm ent. Youth labor m arket and student labor w riters both see youth prim arily as a developm ental a n d /o r social stage. A nd social reproduction analysts approach youths as m em bers of (or children of m em bers of) m arginalized social groups. In the following pages, I present a synopsis of each of these literatures, focusing on w hat each literature has to say in particular about y o u th w orkers and youth work. To keep the discussion relatively brief, I center my overview on one or two key texts from each literature. Following this overview, I outline how my study builds on and diverges from the youth, w ork and education literatures by approaching youths in the w orkplace not prim arily in term s of the pathw ay m odel; nor prim arily as investm ents, individuals in a particular developm ental stage, o r m em bers of m arginalized social groups; b u t through the lens of a m uch m ore im m ediate an d

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m undane identity: that of the youth as w orker - and, in particular, th at of the youth as stopgap worker.

Youth as Resource and Investment:

The Skills and Deficits Literature

The Commission believes that today’s youth present the nation with reasons for optimism, as well as a challenge and an opportunity. Our future has no room for complacency. Today’s young people are tomorrow’s workers and citizens. We cannot afford to lose any of them. If a large percentage of our young people are left to flounder in low-paid, futureless jobs, we face a nation divided between the educated and prosperous and the uneducated and underemployed.... America’s future prosperity depends on the energy, flexibility, and creativity o f a w e lltrained workforce.... Our economy, national security, and social cohesion face a precarious future if our nation fails to develop now the comprehensive policies and programs needed to help all youth. - The Forgotten Half: Non-College Youth in America,

William T. Grant Foundation Commission on Work, Family and Citizenship (1988a)

The skills and deficits literature is the dom inant and m ost influential literature o n youth, w ork and education in N o rth Am erica today - its argum ents an d assum ptions stand behind such m ajor policy initiatives as the 1994 School to W ork Act in the US. Explicitly policy oriented, and geared m ore to producing sweeping and global prescriptions for the econom y as a whole than to providing detailed and localized descriptions of w ork an d workplaces, the literature is dom inated by foundation-sponsored, m ulti­ author reports: the National Com mission on Excellence in Education's (1983) A Nation at Risk, the H udson Institute's (1987) Workforce 2000, the W illiam T. G rant Foundation's (1988a, 1988b) The Forgotten Half, and the N ational C enter on Education an d the Economy's (1990) Am erica's Choice being

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am ong the m ost well-known examples. Texts in the skills and deficits literature are m arked by a preoccupation w ith fixing y o u th deficits - of skill, m otivation, or attitude - w hich are seen as being a t least partly responsible both for the economic struggles of youth (their inability to secure, retain, or perform com petently in good, well-paying, stable jobs) an d for the economic struggles of the nation as a whole (stagnation or decline in national levels of productivity and competitiveness). As the quotation above suggests, youths are seen in this literature as a vital national resource ("hum an capital") which m ust be invested in for the nation to prosper.1 A lthough not always m ade explicit, the "youth" w ith w hich the skills and deficits literature is prim arily concerned are non-college bound youth: those high school graduates and dropouts w ho becom e N o rth Am erica's "frontline workers" (or, to use a term that is generally absent in this literature, the "working class"). The literature focuses on tw o principal areas of concern facing non-college youths: first, the decline in the economic fortunes of the non-college educated workforce that has occurred over the last several decades in N orth America - a decline m arked by the disappearance of good career em ploym ent for the non-college educated in the continent's m anufacturing sector; and second, the phenom em on of labor m arket "floundering" (or "milling" or "churning") th at occurs w hen young w orkers in N orth America first enter the workforce, an d that lasts until these w orkers settle into adult, career em ploym ent. "Floundering" is the term skills and deficits authors (and others) use to refer to the period of youth stopgap em ploym ent, during which time youths tend to m ove in and ou t of the workforce w ith considerable frequency, and to "job-hop" betw een low status, low wage jobs that are found typically in the service sector. These tw o areas of concern are not unrelated: the few er good career jobs there are for non-

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college youth, the longer they "flounder" in stopgap service and retail jobs; and the longer youths rem ain in stopgap em ploym ent, the w orse off they are economically. However, it is the skills a n d deficits discussion of yo u th labor m arket floundering that is m ost directly relevant to the topic of youth w orkers and youth work, and that I will review here. Floundering is commonly explained in N o rth America as resulting from youth im m aturity. Youths, so the conventional argum ents go, a re not responsible enough w hen they first finish high school to take on a career-type job. Youths aren't even interested in im m ediately launching into careers. During the floundering period, youths are m ore likely to be concerned about their social lives than about work; they are interested only in jobs th at w on't dem and too m uch from them, jobs th a t can provide them w ith a quick and ready supply of cash, jobs that they can pick u p and drop as fancy strikes. Youths just out of high school, it is com m only said, lack a strong sense of direction and purpose; they don't really know w hat they w ant out of life, and are certainly not yet ready to settle dow n. As a result, large, established employers, w ho make considerable investm ents in training their em ployees, are forced to w ait to hire young workers until after these workers have h ad time to "mature." Only employers such as restaurants and retail outlets, w ho depend less on a long-term, well-trained workforce and m ore on a cheap supply of unskilled and tem porary labor - and w ho can thus afford the costs of occasionally sloppy w ork perform ances and high turnover rates that inevitably come w ith young workers - are willing and able to hire the young and give them a chance to develop as workers: provided, that is, that the young d o n 't expect too m uch in the way of wages. According to the comm on sense view point, then, if youths flounder w hen they first come into the workforce, y o u th deficits are to blame. The

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skills and deficits literature, contrary to w h at one m ight expect, actually tends to reject such argum ents - at least as they a p p ear in such a n explicit form. A uthors in this literature generally look skeptically a t claims that yo u th is a distinct stage that m ust be w aited out. Youths are resources, and as resources, they can either be well-used or m is-used. The refrain repeated over and over throughout the literature is that if we, as adults, d o not expect m uch from o u r youths, th en w e will not get m uch from o u r youths in retu rn (see, for example, The Forgotten Half, 1988a: 9; Am erica's Choice, 1990:43). Youth floundering, according to the skills and deficits literature, is caused by the mis-use of youth assets, not by an accom m odation to youth deficits: The basic tru th faced by too m any y o u th is that regardless of how well schools do their job and regardless of how well high school graduates learn basic skills, m ost large, established em ployers seldom hire recent high school graduates for career-ladder positions, even at the entrylevel. Such employers typically w ait until these same youth, especially m ales - with no greater educational qualifications and no advanced work skills - reach age 20-22, even 25. In the m eantim e, young people alternate low paid w ork and unem ploym ent w ith a grow ing frustration that erodes their confidence. (The Forgotten Half, 1988a: 26; em phasis added) The reason that large, established em ployers w ait to hire youths is because they, like m any adults in N orth America, hold false and negative stereotypes of youths as being irresponsible, lazy, self-interested and anti-social stereotypes that, skills and deficits authors w arn, can "nevertheless, can become a self-fulfilling prophecy" (The Forgotten Half, 1988a: 9). M ost non­ college youths, the skills and deficits literature argues, w hen given the chance, in fact m ake "responsible," "resourceful" an d "resilient" w orkers (The Forgotten Half, 1988b: 4). If non-college youths take on low status, low wage jobs up o n leaving high school, this is n o t because they are unable to o r uninterested in perform ing m ore dem anding a n d high status kinds of w ork, 37

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b u t because employers, holding flaw ed a n d hostile perceptions of yo u th behavior, are unw illing to hire them into good jobs. A nd if non-college youths job-hop, this is not a sign of inability to m ake com m itm ents, b u t is because youths quite rightly see quitting and looking for another job as the best chance they have for im proving their prospects w h en they are stuck in a m arginal job w ith no room for advancem ent. Youth floundering, as T h e Forgotten H alf (1988a: 27) says forcefully if som ew hat vaguely, "reflects the logic of em ployer economics, n o t inherent youthful instability." The skills and deficits discussion of youth floundering is quite progressive. In shifting attention from the supposed im m aturity of yo u th to the attitudes and actions of em ployers, the literature opens u p the possibility for changing and im proving the early labor m arket experience of the young. "Blaming the victim," The Forgotten H alf states (1988a: 24), "is self defeating: Better to discover how to help our young be successful in a difficult and different world." One m ight expect, then, given such analyses and perspectives, that the literature, in m aking its policy recom m endations, w ould focus on ways of tackling the issue of age discrim ination against the young: on ways of pressuring those em ployers w ho do n o t hire youths to open up their hiring practices, and those em ployers w ho d o hire youths to both alter their organization of w ork (to take better advantage of the educational assets that high school graduates possess) an d im prove w orking conditions (so that young w orkers w ouldn't constantly have to keep job­ hopping). But this does not happen. Instead, in a p attern that can be observed throughout the literature, skills and deficits authors backtrack from their focus on adults and em ployers and focus their policy recom m endations prim arily on elevating youth skill levels.

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Youth floundering, according to the skills an d deficits literature, m ay be caused by the short-sighted an d prejudiced hiring practices of em ployers; bu t both youth floundering and exclusionary em ployer hiring practices are together exacerbated by the fact that the US (like Canada), unlike other developed nations, does not have a structured school-to-work transition system (such as the Germ an system of apprenticeship) for non-college youths. While the nation as a whole spends considerable time, m oney a n d effort on supporting the colleges and universities that help college youths m ake the transition from school to career, non-college youths are, for the m ost part, left to make it on their ow n in the labor m arket. Since the nation's high schools tend to be isolated from large, established employers, youths and career employers are unacquainted w ith one another w hen youths first leave high school: it is difficult, therefore, for non-college youths to m ake the leap directly from school to entry-level, career-track jobs. The policy recom m endations p u t forw ard by the skills and deficits literature, consequently, focus on developing a national netw ork of school-towork bridging program s - internships, apprenticeships, cooperative education, career inform ation centers, counselling an d m entoring services, and so on - that can take non-college youths swiftly and sm oothly from school to adult career. Given the skills and deficits analysis of youth floundering, one m ight expect that these bridging program s w ould focus on dispelling employer prejudice against youth - and, in fact, this is widely reported to be one of the m ost consistent effects of such program s (see, for example, Ryan and Imel 1996). But this is not the prim ary rationale offered by the literature for these program s. Skills an d deficits authors argue for the developm ent of bridging program s prim arily as vehicles for raising the skill levels and im proving the w ork-preparedness of non-college youth.

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"Programs w hich connect students in school w ith the w orld of w o r k T h e Forgotten H alf (1988a: 40) explains, "can give young people both know ledge of work and know ledge of themselves, experience they need to find a career pathw ay for themselves." The bridging program s proposed by the skills an d deficits literature m any of w hich have been adopted under the aegis of the 1994 School to W ork Act in the US - will quite likely be beneficial for a great num ber of non-college youths. For m ost individuals, young and old, extra opportunities to develop knowledge and skills are welcome in and of them selves; an d if increased knowledge and skills will also lead to a good career occupation, then so m uch the better. These program s, how ever, raise a num ber of questions and doubts. First, the call for bridging program s to solve the problem of youth floundering im plies that floundering is essentially a m atter of y o u th deficits. However, the skills and deficits literature its e lf accounts for youth floundering by pointing not to youth deficits, b u t to ad u lt prejudice and "employer economics." The solution thus just does n o t fit the problem . Second, in turning to bridging program s to take non-college youths m ore directly from school to career, the skills and deficits literature im plies that these youths can simply be lifted up, out and over the sea of low wage, low status service and retail jobs in which they are now m ired u p o n leaving high school. But what, then, is to become of these low wage, low status service and retail jobs? Are they expected simply to disappear? O r p erhaps to become the lot of some other, less fortunate (immigrant?) segm ent of the population? The literature never m akes this clear. One of the m ost serious lim itations in the skills a n d deficits explanation of yo u th floundering is that the literature, in discussing the "employer economics" that lead to youth floundering, focuses o n the actions

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of those career em ployers w ho do not hire youths, an d n o t on the tem porary employers w ho d o hire youths. The skills and deficits literature has been either unwilling or unable to consider the possibility of reform ing the workplaces w here youths now w ork - to consider w hether the poor conditions now characterizing low w age service an d retail jobs could e v er be changed, w hether these jobs could ever be transform ed into good career occupations, o r else im proved to become b etter first jobs (Bailey and Bernard t, 1997). Since low w age service and retail jobs continue to proliferate in N orth American economies - and a t a m uch faster rate (in absolute num bers) than high wage, high status jobs - and since it seem s likely, therefore, that, schoolto-work program s or not, large num bers of youths will continue to w ork in these jobs for the foreseeable future, the skills an d deficits literature's failure to address the question of reform ing these jobs places m ajor and undue restriction on possibilities for im proving the early w ork experiences of the young. The m isdirection in the skills and deficits policy response to the issue of youth floundering likely stem s from a num ber of sources. The current political climate in N orth America tends to m arginalize o r exclude any policies that w ould prom ote the interests of w orkers over the interests of employers - the kinds of policies that, for example, efforts to reform low w age service and retail workplaces m ight well require. A nd the ideology of skills the belief that increased skills will lead inevitably and justifiably to econom ic success and grow th - exerts a pow erful hold in N o rth Am erica on individuals of all political stripes an d in all walks of life: it is quite com m on for individuals to argue for increasing skills, even as they acknowledge th at the problems a t hand m ay well not be caused by skill deficits.

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The m isdirection in the skills and deficits policy response m ay also em erge from the literature's use of the pathw ay m odel of youth, w ork and education. The notion of youths "floundering" as they m ove along the p a th from school to career highlights the characteristics of youths and their m ovem ents betw een workplaces as being focal objects of concern, w h en the argum ents p u t forw ard by the skills and deficits literature itself suggest that the real objects of concern should actually be the activities of employers, an d w hat is happening w ithin workplaces. G iven their analyses, skills and deficits authors w ould be far m ore accurate a n d honest to frame their discussion of the period of stopgap youth em ploym ent not in term s of youth "floundering," b u t rather in term s of the "m arginalization" or "discrim inatory exclusion" of N o rth A m erican youths w ithin the labor m arket.

Youth as Social/Developmental Stage (1):

The Youth Labor Market

Literature

In m any ways, the contrary approach to the study of youth an d w ork to that taken by skills and deficits authors is not, as is often assumed, that of the radical social reproduction theorists, b u t rath e r that of the youth labor m arket analysts. For the youth labor m arket literature supports m any of the com m on sense views of youth "floundering" th at w ere explicitly criticized by the skills an d deficits literature above. Like the skills and deficits literature, the youth labor m arket literature - w hich is dom inated by the w ritings of economists - focuses on the labor m arket experiences of non-college youths. But unlike the skills and deficits literature, the y o u th labor m arket literature

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approaches youth not as a resource o r investm ent, b u t as a distinct social an d developm ental stage. The literature is n o t preoccupied w ith the deficits youths bring to work, b u t w ith the effects th at early w ork a n d labor m arket experiences have on youths as they progress into adulthood. The emergence of the y o u th labor m arket literature in N o rth A m erica can be traced primarily to concerns th at peaked in the 1970's w ith high levels of youth unem ploym ent across the continent. It w as in attem pting to account for some of the factors th at caused higher levels of unem ploym ent am ong youths than among adults, and in seeking to assess the negative consequences, if any, of early experiences of unem ploym ent, th at youth labor m arket theorists outlined the notion of a distinct floundering period in the early work experience of the young. M ost youth labor m arket texts are, consequently, concerned more w ith yo u th unem ploym ent than w ith yo u th employm ent. Because of this focus on unem ploym ent, because youth labor m arket authors are interested m ostly in pathw ays through the youth labor m arket and not in youth jobs per se, and because these authors tend to be economists w orking w ith quantitative analyses of large bodies of survey data, the youth labor m arket literature offers few detailed descriptions of the actual working experiences of the young. The concept of the youth labor m arket serves essentially to m itigate concerns about high levels of youth unem ploym ent. Youths in N orth America, on graduating from high school, d o not enter directly into a prim ary (adult, stable, career) labor m arket, b u t rather into a secondary (youth) labor m arket of low wage, low status, dead end jobs, often found in the service and retail sectors. Periodic, short-term bouts of unem ploym ent, y o u th labor m arket theorists argue, are a regular (natural, even) p a rt of young w orkers' experience in this labor market: m any jobs are only tem porary or seasonal;

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em ployers don't invest m uch in training w orkers, an d are thus quite w illing to fire employees as a prim ary m ethod of discipline; jobs are generally easy to learn, so young workers can get aw ay w ith quitting and starting u p again elsewhere at will; jobs offer little prospect for advancem ent, so there is an incentive to quit and look for other em ploym ent in order to im prove one's wages and working conditions. C ertain groups of youths (such as black males) do experience longer bouts of unem ploym ent and have great difficulty in ever moving out of this early period of unem ploym ent and job-hopping these youths thus seem to require outside aid and intervention. But m ost youths move after a few years' tim e and w ithout need of special assistance ou t of this period and into prim ary (adult, serious, career, well-paying) occupations - and this majority of youths show s few signs of "scarring" from their early labor m arket difficulties (Osterm an 1980; Freem an and Wise 1982)2 It is one thing for econom ists to claim that som ething like a y o u th labor m arket exists in N orth America; it is quite another for them to explain why this m arket m ight exist. The m ost com prehensive attem pt to p rovide such an explanation is found in one of the literature's foundational texts, Paul O sterm an’s (1980) Getting Started. O sterm an’s principal explanation is the argum ent, criticized above by the skills and deficits literature, th at the youth labor m arket is essentially caused by youth im m aturity: In the first several years after leaving school young people are frequently in w hat m ight be term ed a m o ra to riu m period in w hich adventure seeking, sex, and peer group activities are all m ore im portant than work. Some years later comes settling down, a stage characterized by a very different set of attitudes about w ork. This m ovem ent from m oratorium to settling d o w n is largely responsible for the mobility patterns [in the youth versus ad u lt labor m arkets], (p. 16)

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O sterm an borrow s the notion of a "m oratorium period" from psychoanalyst Erik Erikson's theory of adolescence. According to this theory, adolescence is a critical period of identity form ation in w hich adolescents need freedom (a "psychosocial m oratorium ") to experim ent w ith different roles and responsibilities in order to figure o u t w hat kind of people they really are an d w ould like to become (Osterm an 1980:150). In O sterm an's adaptation of Erikson's theory, youths, because of the m oratorium period, are unable to be stable and focused in their w ork and are thus unable to take on adult, career occupations. O sterm an argues th at there is a functional m atch betw een the needs of m oratorium youths a n d the needs of secondary employers: since m oratorium youths are unw illing or unable to m ake m uch of a com m itm ent to w ork, they take on low skill jobs in the secondary labor m arket that dem and little from them ; since firm s in the secondary labor m arket do n 't invest m uch in training their em ployees (and thus can afford high labor turnover), and since these firms prefer passive, tem porary employees w ho aren't going to expect m uch in w ay of raises - or worse, m ake attem pts to unionize - secondary firms hire y outh w orkers an d p u t up w ith their unstable, irresponsible behavior (p. 24). O sterm an recognizes the possibility that the term s of causality betw een youth workplace behavior and labor m arket structure could well be reversed: that the youth labor m arket may be created by structures of opportunity set by employers; and that youth behavior during the "m oratorium period" m ay be "completely dem and or opportunity determ ined," an d thus m ay no t be an inherent property of adolescence (p. 33). O sterm an's second explanation for the existence of the youth labor m arket, consequently, focuses o n the actions of prim ary employers:

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The hiring practices of ... prim ary firm s are probably the m ost im portant determ inant of the structure and operation of the youth labor market.... (p. 25) W hen prim ary firms refuse to hire them , y o ung people are forced into secondary jobs, w hich by their nature lead to m inim al w ork com m itm ent and unstable behavior, (p. 33) This is the explanation, as seen above, offered by the skills an d deficits literature for the floundering period o r y o u th labor m arket as w ell - the explanation that led skills and deficits authors to focus on w ays of convincing prim ary em ployers to hire m ore young w orkers. There are tw o serious flaws w ith O sterm an's prim ary em ployer explanation. First, O sterm an continues to assum e (w ithout m uch in die way of em pirical evidence) that m inim al w ork com m itm ent a n d unstable workplace and labor m arket behavior am ong youths is a self-evident fact. He is thus led into a chicken-and-egg type argum ent (youths are irresponsible because prim ary firms w on't hire them because youths are irresponsible), and ends up combining his prim ary em ployer explanation w ith his youth im m aturity explanation of the youth labor m arket: probably the best w ay to characterize the relationship [between youth behavior and labor m arket opportunity] is to argue th a t the m odem economic structure perm its the expression of characteristic adolescent patterns, (p. 150) But Osterm an's self-evident fact is not self-evident: b o th m y ow n research, as well as other studies of youths at w ork show considerable w o rk com m itm ent and stable workplace behavior am ong young workers, even in the low wage, low status secondary jobs w here one m ight not expect to find m uch com m itm ent or expenditure of effort. In fact, researchers studying young w orkers often find them selves struggling to explain w hy young w orkers say they like their fastfood and m all retail jobs as m uch as they do, o r w hy young w orkers w ork as h ard in these jobs as they d o - jobs that, by m ost accounts, 46

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should be seen universally as 'bad" jobs. As the skills an d deficits authors argue, m ost adolescents, w hen given an opportunity - a n d som etim es even in the face of denied opportunity - m ake responsible, resourceful and com petent workers. The second problem w ith O sterm an's argum ent - a n d this is a problem w ith explanations throughout both the skills an d deficits literature and the youth labor m arket literature - is the rem arkable y e t unreflected-upon claim that it is the actions of prim ary em ployers that are "the m ost im portant determ inant of the structure and operation of the yo u th labor market." There is, of course, some logic to such a claim: if prim ary em ployers offering high wages and good benefits in stable jobs w ith room for advancem ent w ere com peting for the same group of w orkers as secondary em ployers, then secondary em ployers w ould never be able to hire anyone by offering the low wages, poor benefits and poor working conditions that they do. But to make the claim that, therefore, the restrictive hiring practices of prim ary firms are responsible for the poor conditions of the youth labor m arket is to absolve secondary em ployers of all agency an d responsibility w hatsoever. Surely, the low wages, poor benefits and poor w orking conditions of secondary jobs are first and forem ost the responsibility of secondary employers. Secondary employers, to a certain extent at least, individually and collectively choose to treat their employees the way they do; in different social conditions or political climates, secondary employers could be required or pressured to choose to treat their employees differently. The youth labor m arket exists as a secondary labor m arket because em ployers in the youth labor m arket are willing and able to subject youths to low pay a n d po o r w orking conditions. Fram ing the youth labor m arket as the creation of prim ary em ployers is a

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mystification th at obscures possibilities for placing direct pressure on secondary em ployers to im prove the conditions of the y o u th labor m arket. W hen it comes to making changes in the early labor m arket experiences of the young, youth labor m arket theorists tend to call only for interventions to help those youths (m inority y ouths especially) w ho are having particular difficulty making the transition to stable, adult em ploym ent (see, for example, O sterm an 1980; K antor 1994). This call to focus intervention on helping the m ost needy can seem , especially in tim es of limited resources, to be only just, fair and sensible; it n eeds to be recognized, however, that the assum ptions w hich g ro u n d such a policy position are anything but. Youth labor m arket theorists rule o u t m aking broad interventions in the youth labor m arket n o t solely o u t of strategic considerations of sending help w here help is needed m ost, b u t also because they see the youth labor m arket as a natural a n d functional adaptation of economic structure to the "deeper foundation" of adolescent pyschology (Osterman 1980:150; see also Kantor 1994: 446). In o th er words, these theorists are averse to calling for changes in the youth labor m arket as a whole because they see the conditions in this market, though at tim es frustrating and difficult for youths, as essentially p a rt of w hat being young is all about. Youth labor m arket theorists also rule o u t m aking broad or internal interventions in the youth m arket because they question the need for such interventions. Youth jobs, they point out, though boring, stressful, deadended and low paying, do not seem to have long-term dam aging effects on m ost young w orkers, and thus do not need changing; focus interventions instead, they argue, on helping only those youths w ho are dem onstrably and negatively affected by the conditions of the y o u th labor m arket (Kantor 1994: 446-448). Yet w hile such an argum ent m ight seem fair an d sensible, the tu rn

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to the rhetoric of "effects" - to the extent th at this rhetoric is used to rule out the need for change as opposed to supporting calls for intervention - is deeply disem pow enng of young workers, w hether they are struggling or n o t In determ ining when and w here interventions in the youth labor m arket are called for, youth labor m arket theorists m ake no reference to the experiences, ideas, dem ands and im m ediate needs of young w orkers them selves. R ather than address young workers as subjects - to discover w hat they desire, w h a t changes in their working conditions they think need to be m ade - youth labor m arket theorists employ the language of effects in a clinical an d paternalistic fashion to underm ine youth subjectivity altogether. Only objectively a n d externally m easured "scarring" on the bodies and psyches of the young will determ ine w hether intervention will be sanctioned. A ccording to this fram ework, unless youths can dem onstrate (beyond a reasonable doubt?) sufficient negative effects from their youth labor m arket experiences, they have no claim for making work, workplace, o r labor m arket changes. Given the num erous shortcom ings in the analyses a n d politics of the youth labor m arket literature, it m ight seem that the literature has little to offer to a discussion of youth w ork and youth workers. The skills and deficits explanation of the youth labor m arket (floundering period) in term s of "employer economics" and ad u lt prejudice, a n d its critique of passivist acceptance of the youth labor m arket as natural and inevitable seem in m any ways to provide much m ore accurate and useful approaches to the early workforce experience of the young. But the skills and deficits approach to the floundering period, as seen above, also has its flaws. For in critiquing the naturalness of the youth labor m arket, the skills a n d deficits literature en d s u p dism issing the substantive reality of the y o u th labor m arket as well. Skills an d deficits authors simply d o n 't take the structures and practices of the

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yo u th labor m arket very seriously. T he y o u th labor m arket literature's concept of the youth labor m arket as a distinct stage - to the extent that it dem ands th at this "market" b e given serious consideration, an d to the extent that it recognizes that youths are often positioned differently in the w orkplace and in the workforce to adults - can be a very useful notion in discussions of yo u th work. Once one begins to think of youths a n d adults as constituting reasonably distinct groups in the workforce, one can start to recognize that as distinct groups of workers, youths and adults often have different sets of interests, an d that these interests can frequently be in com petition w ith one another. It is the notion of a w orkforce of y outh and ad u lt w orkers that leads Osterm an, and other youth labor m arket theorists, to suggest a th ird reason for w hy a youth labor m arket exists. Youths, O sterm an suggests, frequently w ork in the secondary labor m arket because "barriers to youth e m p lo y m e n t... have b een created to protect the jobs of adults" in the prim ary labor m arket (p. 153). Seniority rules, limited openings in apprenticeships and professional schools, m inim um age limitations, and com pulsory schooling (that restricts high school age youths to part-tim e em ploym ent) have all been used by adults as ways to protect their ow n interests in the labor m arket, and to exclude youths from good, stable occupations. Youths - along w ith other disem pow ered groups of w orkers such as w om en and m inorities - have been relegated to bad jobs in the low wage, low status service sector not solely because of the prejudice and short-sightedness of employers, b u t because adu lt w orkers (whites and males especially) are taking the good jobs in the h ig h wage, high status sectors of the economy. A ny society that has an occupational hierarchy of good a n d bad jobs, O sterm an points out, m ust relegate som e group(s) of w orkers to perform ing

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society's "dirty work" (p. 151). O sterm an argues th at since adults have families to support, adults have a better claim than youths to being em ployed, and adults have a better claim than youths to good, stable, well-paying jobs (p. 84). In recognition that som ebody has to take on America's b ad jobs, O sterm an suggests that the time youths spend in the youth labor m arket could be seen as an "informal 'national service'" (p. 151). O sterm an's argum ents can be criticized as being b o th flawed (W hat about adults w ho d o n 't have families to su p p o rt and youths w ho do?) an d offensive (Why should McDonald's and Burger King a n d other m ajor y o u th em ployers be the recipients of a "national service" perform ed by the youth of America?). O thers (as will be seen in the student w orker literature below ) reverse Osterm an's argum ent and propose th at youths have b etter claim s on avoiding bad jobs than adults do. But the critical point revealed by these various argum ents and counter-argum ents is that one cannot talk - as the skills and deficits authors do - of m oving youths around in a hierarchical occupational structure w ithout considering the effects such m ovem ent will have on other groups of workers.

Youth as a Social/Developmental Stage 2:

The Student Labor Literature

Since the 1950's, an increasing num ber of high school students in the US and Canada have w orked while a t school - either in p a rt tim e jobs durin g the academic year, a n d /o r in sum m er jobs during the off-term. A lthough still relatively rare in m any other countries, student labor has by now becom e a m ainstay of fastfood restaurants, superm arkets, m all retail outlets, m ovie theaters, them e parks, and so on, throughout N o rth America. In the 1990's,

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the overw helm ing m ajority of youths across the continent - w hether of m iddle class or w orking class background, m ale o r female, college b o u n d o r non-college bound - w ill have experienced som e form of p aid em ploym ent by the time they leave high school. Student labor, as Ellen G reenberger an d Lawrence Steinberg (1986: 3) w rite, "has becom e such a fam iliar p a rt of o u r social landscape that we may fail to note its unique character or to po n d er its larger social significance." The student labor literature, w hich has g ro w n in tan d em w ith the spreading phenom enon of stu d en t labor, attem pts to analyze precisely both this "character" and "significance" of stu d en t w ork experience. Like the youth labor m arket literature, the student labor literature approaches yo u th as a stage - understood m ostly as the socially defined period of school enrollment, b u t also frequently as a critical developm ental period of identity form ation and learning. Also like the yo u th labor m arket literature, the student labor literature - which is dom inated by the w ritings of psychologists focuses on the effects of w ork on youths. The dom inant concern driving the literature is to assess w hich kinds of w ork experience are good or bad for which kinds of students. Popular views in N orth America over the last few decades have tended to see teenage work as having overw helm ingly beneficial effects on youth socialization: w ork is said to build character am ong youths, to prom ote responsibility, and to boost feelings of usefulness and self-confidence; youths w ho work learn w hat "real life" is all about; they leam the value of m oney and punctuality; they acquire positive w ork values, an d they develop "basic com m unication skills" and "appropriate m odes of dress" (M ortim er and Finch 1986: 67). These positive effects are generally tho u g h t to be fostered by work, no m atter w hat kind of job is being done. E ven th e m ost m arginal jobs,

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m any will argue/ "require self-discipline, a m obilization of effort, and application to a task" (M ortimer and Finch 1986: 67). D uring the 1960’s and 1970's, concerns about yo u th degeneracy and a w idening "generation gap" led to w idespread support (among adults) for increased w ork experience for the young - experience which, it was believed, w ould bring youths into greater contact w ith adults, and w ould thus help youths a d o p t ad u lt perspectives more quickly, and pull youths away from their lives of crime, d ru g abuse an d general delinquency (Greenberger and Steinberg, 1986:41-45). The publication in 1986 of Ellen G reenberger a n d Law rence Steinberg's When Teenagers Work: The Psychological and Social Costs o f Adolescent E m ploym ent, one of the key texts in the student labor literature, turned popular views of youth w ork o n their head. D raw ing on research conducted w ith students aged 15 to 17 a t high schools in O range County, California, Greenberger an d Steinberg claim ed that the typical yo u th workplace, far from being an "arena where the generations [are] u nited in com m on tasks, is now an age-segregated adolescent stronghold" (p. 7). W ork experience, consequently, the authors argued, "may not advance the transition to adulthood so m uch as prolong youngsters' attachm ent to the p eer culture" (p. 7). Greenberger and Steinberg strongly questioned the notion that the kinds of jobs (restaurant and retail) generally available to teens offer rich and rew arding learning opportunities. Youth jobs, the authors claim ed, ten d to involve routine and repetitive tasks that require teens to w ork fast w ithout thinking: these jobs offer limited opportunities for decision making, cooperation or teamwork; training is alm ost non-existent; an d youth workers are m ore likely to spend their time cleaning a n d carrying things than using their reading, w riting o r m athem atical skills (pp. 66-67,100-103). As the authors stated bluntly: "w rapping fast-food item s in p ap er containers as fast

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as one can is unlikely to teach a w orker very m uch about self-reliance or decision making" (p. 67). R ather than b en efitin g youths, w ork, G reenberger a n d Steinberg claimed, can be extremely harm ful for high school age students - especially w hen teens start spending long hours a t w ork. G reenberger an d Steinberg presented a whole host of possible ills that can com e from too m uch w ork in fast paced, high pressure, m eaningless jobs: negative im pacts on school perform ance (through loss of hom ew ork time, a n d /o r loss of m otivation to w ork h ard in school); increases in delinquent behaviors (goofing off on the job, lying, stealing, vandalizing); increases in use of alcohol and m arijuana; and "increased cycnidsm about the pleasures of productive labor" (p. 6). "Consider for the moment," the authors w rote, as they w arned against the danger of allowing teens to work too m uch at too early a n age, "the im age of a fifteen-year-old worker, em ployed in her first job, p ad d in g the num ber of hours on her timecard, calling in sick w hen she isn't ill, or w orking while 'buzzed' on marijuana" (p. 173). G reenberger and Steinberg's claims rem ain fairly controversial in the student labor literature; but they have also been highly influential, and are partly responsible for stim ulating a lively and lengthy debate over the possible costs and benefits of teenage w ork experience that is by no m eans settled today. Determining w hat the effects of w ork "really" are, of course, is a difficult and slippery business, beset by problem s of ruling o u t confounding variables, establishing comparable data sets, definitions and m easurem ents, setting u p longitudinal studies to verify w hether effects are lasting an d significant, and so forth. Surveys of the stu d en t w orker literature suggest that, w hen it comes to making claims about the educational and attitudinal effects of teenage work in general, there is no real consensus (see, for example,

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C ham er and Fraser 1988; Stem et al., 1990a; Lewis et al., 1998). Rather, researchers m ake w hat is perhaps the com m on sense point that the educational an d attitudinal effects of teenage w ork tend to d ep en d upon: first, the quality of w ork (whether the w ork is - or is seen by youths as being challenging, meaningful, im portant, skilled, rew arding, related to school o r to future career goals, and so on); and second, the frequency or intensity of w ork (how many hours are w orked p er week). As m ight be expected, researchers have generally found that challenging a n d rew arding w ork can have positive effects on attitudes a n d school performance, while w ork th at is boring o r stressful m ay have negative o r neutral effects (see, for example, G reenberger e t al., 1982; Greenberger and Steinberg 1986; M ortimer and Finch 1986; Stem et al., 1990b; M ortim er e t al., 1993). Similarly, researchers have found that high-intensity w ork (over 20 hours per w eek during the school year) can negatively affect youth attitudes and school performance, while low -intensity w ork (under 20 hours per week) may have either neutral or positive effects (see, for example, D'Amico 1984; M ortimer and Finch 1986; C ham er and Fraser 1988; Stem e t a l, 1990b; Lewis et al., 1998). Despite the grow ing interest in the "quality" of different jobs, m ost researchers continue to characterize w ork and workplaces through a handful of schematic labels (often lim iting their descriptions of job quality to no m ore than the wage levels a n d /o r intensity of a given job) an d provide little discussion of w hat youths actually d o in their jobs. Given th at the variables upon which assessments of job quality are m ade vary considerably, it is often difficult to know w hether studies th at appear to be in agreem ent or disagreem ent w ith one another are actually agreeing or disgreeing on the sam e thing.

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Economic analyses, m eanw hile, continue to find positive econom ic effects (on future incom e an d future likelihood of being em ployed) of teenage w ork in general - apparently regardless of job quality or intensity (for review s, see C ham er and Fraser, 1988; Stem et al., 1990a). H ow ever, as D avid Stem an d his co-authors (1990a) point out, claims of positive economic effects m ay be challenged o n two grounds. There m ay be a confounding variable of p rio r ability or attitude am ong teens w ho work: "students w ho spend m ore tim e w orking during high school m ay possess unm easured characteristics - for example, personality traits such as industriousness o r am bition - th at also contribute to their success in the labor m arket after leaving high school" (p. 367). A nd m any of the positive economic effects d te d by researchers m ay only be short term gains, som e of w hich m ight be underm ined by the longer term costs of negative educational and attitudinal effects that seem to be associated w ith at least some forms of teenage w ork (Stem et al., 1990a: 367; see also M ortim er and Finch 1986). The student labor literature has several critical contributions to offer general discussions of youth w ork an d yo u th w orkers. First, the literature decenters the dem ands and structures of the w orkplace and the economy from its study of the lives of the w orking young: it introduces the critical notion that, in form ulating policy on yo u th w ork and youth workers, considerations such as the im portance of schooling and education for youth s should be given priority over the interests of yo u th employers. Second, the literature is unique am ong the youth, w ork a n d education literatures in focusing on the work experiences of m iddle class as well as w orking class youths, and on college bound as well as non-college bound youth workers. Third, in focusing on youth stu d en t status, the literature highlights one of the

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m ost im portant ways in w hich youth w orkers are differentiated from ad u lt w orkers in N orth America. Let me take a m om ent here to elaborate on this th ird contribution of the student labor literature. The youth, w ork an d education literatures all tend to interpret student status am ong the young fairly literally and rigidly: the student labor literature focuses prim arily o n youths w ho are enrolled in high school; and other literatures d raw sharp distinctions betw een college and non-college youths. In actuality, how ever, official stu d en t status is often m uch less cut and dry in the lives of w orking youths. M ore and m ore these days, youths in their late teens an d tw enties m ove back a n d forth betw een being enrolled and not being enrolled in school: youths take tim e off h o rn school (officially or unofficially); youths register for school sem esters that start a couple of m onths d ow n the line o r youths plan to retu rn to school in a year o r two; youths shift aro u n d from college to college, program to program ; youths take a course here a n d there, som etim es in degree-granting program s, accredited institutions and course subjects recognized in m ainstream educational circles and som etim es not. Regardless of w hat youths are actually doing w ith their education, however, the status of being a student (or m ore generally a learner) holds norm ative and alm ost definitive relevance in N o rth Am erica for the youth identity of individuals well into their tw enties (while adults these days are increasingly likely to be students as well, ad u lt student status continues to be m arked rather than norm ative). Youths in N orth Am erica, w hether w orking or not, are frequently seen, and see themselves, as actual, future or potential students: for to cease being an (expected) student or learner is, as I n oted at the beginning of this chapter, in a sense, to become an adult. Just as actual stu d ent status has obvious significance for the w orking lives of high school

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students - it limits them, for exam ple, to w ork outside of school h ours norm ative student status m ay likewise have significant effects on how youths of varying ages and enrollm ent statuses are positioned by others a n d position themselves in the w orkplace and in the workforce. N orm ative stu d en t status m ay play a central role in w hy m any youths w orking in the low end service sector are easily able to see them selves and be seen as being tem porary and stopgap service sector w orkers only. Despite its progressive insights, the student labor literature also has serious limitations in its approach to the study of y o u th w o rk an d youth workers. As the debate over the costs and benefits of teenage em ploym ent continues to rage, student labor researchers w ork to design b etter an d m ore com prehensive cross-sectional a n d longitudinal studies, com plete w ith m ore sophisticated m easurem ents and m ore careful definitions of job characteristics, youth attitudes and abilities. Yet while this research is im portant, it also risks being m isdirected. In their quest to p in d ow n objectively m easurable "real" effects of teenage work, researchers can be led further and further aw ay (as was the case above w ith the youth labor m arket literature's concern w ith effects) from engaging w ith the current subjectivities of teen workers. Student labor researchers often seem m ore interested in labelling teen workers as being either deviant or w ell-adjusted than they are in listening to or engaging w ith w hat teen w orkers have to say about their work, their workplaces and their experiences as workers. Defining youths as students, m oreover, can be extrem ely lim iting for discussions of youth and work. The student labor literature's proposed interventions into teenage w ork deem ed harm ful o r unproductive generally focus either on pulling youths out of the service an d retail w orkplaces w here m ost teens now w ork (through the institution of apprenticeships,

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internships, com m unity service program s, stru ctu red w ork experience program s and so on) or on lim iting the kinds of and am ount of regular paid work that youths are perm itted to do. In other w ords, since youths are seen as students rath er than w orkers, interventions center on separating youths from w ork and workplaces. W hile such interventions m ay be beneficial to m any young students, student labor researchers generally overlook the alternative or supplem ental possibility of helping youths as workers, an d of changing the workplaces in w hich y ouths now work. Researchers rarely consider the subjectivities and agencies of youths as service and retail w orkers, an d never consider the ways in w hich these young w orkers m ight them selves be assisted or educated in changing and im proving their stopgap w orkplaces and work. Service and retail workplaces are seen as a backdrop through which student workers pass on their way to college o r to serious, adult, career em ploym ent. The student labor literature approach to the study of yo u th and w ork also has a concerning tendency to depolitidze youth w orkplace behavior. Student labor researchers are particularly concerned about w hether early w ork experience fosters "good” o r "poor" attitudes am ong teenage workers w ith w hether teen w orkers becom e "deviant" or "w ell-adjusted" individuals. Such questions, however, are politically charged. For youths are typically said to have good attitudes to the extent that they do w h at em ployers and adults expect of them, and that they show respect and deference to those older and more powerful than them; youths are said to have po o r attitudes to the extent they resist and question adult and em ployer dem ands, an d fail to show adequate deference and respect. Little attention is paid in this literature as to w hether youths m ay ever be justified in resisting o r resenting the dem ands and actions of adults and employers.

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N ow here is this depoliticization of y o u th behavior m ore ap p aren t th an in the student labor literature's preoccupation w ith, as G reenberger and Steinberg (1986: 6) p u t it, youth "cynicism about the pleasures of productive labor.” Youth cynicism about their jobs - their perception that "companies do not care about their em ployees a n d that m ost jobs are not w orthy of a w orker's commitment" (Stem et al., 1990b: 271) - is treated throughout the student w ork literature as a m ajor concern, an undeniable evil, and a fundam entally flawed w ay of seeing the w orld. D avid S tem and his co­ authors (1990b: 278), along w ith m any other stu d en t labor researchers, thus em phasize the im portance and urgency of discovering w ays to "inhibit developm ent of a cynical attitude" am ong youths. But is cynicism necessarily a bad thing? T u rn the scenario around for a m om ent, an d imagine th at all youths fell in love w ith their low wage, low status service an d retail jobs an d w anted nothing m ore than to w ork in these w onderful jobs, as they currently exist, for the rest of their lives. W ould this be a preferable situation? Surely, the fact that m any youths react w ith some degree of cynicism to the jobs they are asked to do should come as a relief! In the right social and political context, cynicism about w ork - w hich can regularly co-exist w ith considerable com m itm ent to an d enjoym ent of one’s job - could become an im portant first step in achieving critical insight about the structures of w ork and industry in N orth America, an d in taking action to challenge an d change these structures. Finally, while stu d en t labor researchers debate vigorously the educational and attitudinal effects of student w ork, m ost, w hen it comes to considering the m aterial param eters of student jobs (scheduling, hours, wages, benefits), adopt a functional m atch perspective. M ost, that is, accept that w hat stu d en t jobs have to offer m aterially m ore o r less m atches the

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m aterial needs of m ost students. In both the research literature and in popular discussion of student labor, one commonly hears assertions that the m aterial aspects of jobs can be m easured differently according to w hether the individuals perform ing these jobs are adults or students (or youths more generally). As Greenberger and Steinberg (1986: 25) write, for example, w hat are "'bad' jobs for a d u lts ,... are in some crucial respects good' jobs for youngsters." Jobs in the food service and retail sectors generally offer part-tim e employm ent, shift work, irregular hours, and hours that are subject to change at short notice. Part-time hours are inadequate for adults who are economically independent, and irregular and changing hours are "likely to interfere with the responsibilities of adults" (Greenberger an d Steinberg, 1986: 25). Students, however, need part-tim e hours, shift work, and supposedly, d on't have the kinds of "adult responsibilities" that w ould make irregular and unstable hours a problem. Similarly, food service and retail jobs offer low wages and few if any benefits - conditions obviously undesirable for m ost adults. Most students, however, student labor researchers claim, work in order to have pocket m oney for "luxury" consum ption, not out of dire financial need; students can generally "afford to w ork at, or even below the m inim um wage, because they are subsidized by their parents" (Greenberger and Steinberg, 1986: 26). As for benefits, m ost students are presumably assum ed by student labor researchers to be covered by parental health care plans. Such functionalist argum ents clearly don't hold for college students. Most college students w ho w ork are w orking to help p u t them selves through college, and depend on a decent and regular wage. But even w ith high school students, functional m atch argum ents are problem atic. Most high school

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students have a range of family, com m unity, educational a n d extra-curricular responsibilities: irregular an d changing hours are thus hardly less of a problem for teenage th an for ad u lt w orkers. S tudent w orkers m ay need a n d student employers m ay offer part-tim e hours and shift work, b u t there is no guarantee that needs and opportunities for shifts and hours alw ays m atch u p to students' benefit. As discussed in the introduction to this dissertation, the notion th at teenagers d o n 't "need" increased w ealth, though a highly p o p u lar view am ong adults on this continent, is itself deeply problematic. The notion, furtherm ore, th at parents should be expected to "subsidize" the w ages of their adolescent children - and thereby subsidize the profits of m ultinational em ployers such as M cDonald's an d Burger King th at em ploy their children - in jobs that offer lim ited educational opportunities seem s as problem atic and offensive as Paul O sterm an's conceit of view ing yo u th service an d retail work as constituting an inform al national service. M any parents, m oreover, in the U nited States, are not able to provide health care coverage for their children: why should young workers be any less entitled to health care benefits than other workers?

Youth as Members of Marginalized Social Groups:

The Social Reproduction

Literature

Despite their different concerns an d perspectives, authors in the skills and deficits, the youth labor m arket, and the student labor literatures all generally share a view of N orth A m erican societies as being m ore or less fair and open: the problem of youth, w ork an d education is prim arily to sm ooth out transition difficulties and steer these societies successfully into the future.

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A uthors in the social reproduction literature approach the problem of youth, w ork and education from another tack altogether. For these authors, N o rth American societies are seen as being basically closed and unjust - as societies that are and have long been stratified by class, by race and ethnicity, and by gender. The central question addressed by these authors is h ow these uneq u al societies keep reproducing them selves. Far from helping youths transition into society or w orking to m aintain these societies, social reproduction authors are m ore interested - in an abstract and theoretical sense, at least w ith disrupting patterns of transition and w ith changing these societies radically. Many of the critiques of the rhetoric and politics of the skills and deficits literature that have been introduced above, as well as some of the critiques of the rhetoric and politics of the youth labor m arket and stu d en t labor literatures can be found in the social reproduction literature (see, for example, Apple and Zenk 19%; Borm an 1991; Griffin 1993; Kelly an d Gaskell 1996a). Indeed, the critical tradition that underlies the social reproduction literature - the tradition of investigating the politics that lie behind supposedly disinterested and "scientific" theories, of unpacking the rhetorical claims, implications and presuppositions of comm only accepted argum ents and policies, and of giving recognition to the interests and perspectives of m arginalized groups in society - is this literature's m ost im portant contribution to discussions of youth w orkers and youth w ork. A uthors in this literature have investigated the unstated m otivations behind the focus of m ainstream researchers and policy m akers on seeking educational solutions to economic problems; they have questioned the very notion of "skill," as well as the claims that increased skills lead directly to increased wages, o r th at im proved productivity an d com petitiveness lead autom atically to im proved

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quality of life for w orkers throughout society; an d they have pointed to forces and structures shaping N orth A m erican econom ies and societies that are largely ignored by other youth, w ork an d education literatures - the im pact of systematic racism and sexism, the conflicts of interest betw een the wealthy and the poor, and betw een business elites an d w orking citizens. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the social reproduction literature in N orth America that I should p oint o u t a t the o utset so as to avoid confusion am ong readers is its internationalism . These days, of course, m any m ainstream discourses of youth, w ork an d education have a tendency of crossing national borders. As D eirdre Kelly and Jane Gaskell (1996b: 1) write, "the global econom y leads to global educational rhetoric." The argum ents and assum ptions of the US skills and deficits literature, in particular, can be found in alm ost identical form not just in C anada, b u t throughout Europe and other developed nations as well. But w ithin the US, at least, m ost of the youth, w ork and education literatures, w hile they m ay have parallel literatures abroad, tend to focus specifically on US educational and economic concerns, and tend to d te Am erican research as reported in American texts w ritten by A m erican authors. This is not die case w ith the social reproduction literature. Two of the m ost widely d te d texts in the US sodal reproduction literature come from Europe: Paul Willis’ Learning to Labor (Britain, 1977) a n d Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron's Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (France, 1977). The m ajor w orks in the "American" so d a l reproduction literature have been w ritten by individuals w orking not ju st in the US - for example, Samuel Bowles an d H erbert Gintis (1976), M ichael A pple (19%), H enry Giroux (1983,1992), and Linda Valli (1986) - b u t in C anada (Jane Gaskell (1992), Peter M cLaren (1989)), Britain (Basil Bernstein (1971,1975), Christine

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Griffin (1993)), and in A ustralia and N ew Zealand (Colin L ankshear (1987), Alan Luke (1988)). Such internationalism w orks - a t least to a degree - in the social reproduction literature because the question these au th o rs are interested in is not solely h ow social inequalities are reproduced in the US, or in England, o r in France, etc., b u t how inequalities a re reproduced in capitalist democracies generally. A part from its general contributions m ade a t the level of social theozy and critique, the social reproduction literature actually has surprisingly little in term s of concrete and local studies to offer a discussion of y o u th w ork and youth workers in N orth America. The principal reason for this lack is that the social reproduction literature really has nothing to say about the phenom ena of youth floundering, the youth labor m arket, o r stu d en t labor that are the focal concerns of the other youth, w ork a n d education literatures. W hen Paul Willis (1977:182), for example, asks his by n o w well know n question - "how and w hy [do] young people take the restricted and often meaningless available jobs" - he is not referring to the tem porary fastfood an d retail jobs in w hich m ost youths (in N orth America) w ork for a spell during and imm ediately after schooling, b u t to serious, adult, career occupations: in particular, to m anual laboring positions in factory-based m anufacturing. There are a num ber of ways one m ight account for the absence of interest in the social reproduction literature w ith y o u th w ork. For one thing, the social reproduction literature is strongly school based. W hile authors speak of addressing the issue of how youths 'becom e" w orkers, their approach is essentially m entalist - focusing o n how youths develop inclinations to o r aptitudes for certain kinds of w ork in the context of schooling - rather than m aterialist - few texts focus o n the actual, practical experience of getting and learning a job, of perform ing paid w ork, of

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interacting w ith co-workers, m anagers a n d custom ers. M ost of the empirical, ethnographic research conducted by social reproduction researchers has been done w ithin school a n d classroom settings. If w ork experience is focused on to any great extent, it tends to be w ork experience youths have w ithin the context of internships, cooperative education program s, or structured w ork experience program s - in short, in settings w here youths are still officially students o r interns rather than w orkers p er se. Social reproduction authors m ay also overlook y outh w ork since they are prim arily concerned w ith w here youths begin their pathw ays from school to w ork (in term s of their classroom experiences, an d their dass, race and gender identities) an d where youths end their pathw ays as adults (in career occupations), b u t no t where youths pass through in betw een. Sodal reproduction authors are interested in the reproduction of p e rm a n e n t labor m arket stratification in capitalist dem ocrades - w hich generally occurs along the lines of race, d a ss and gender - not tem porary conditions of stratification. While youth w ork may constitute a m arginalized segm ent of the labor m arket, it is, of course, by definition a tem porary workforce experience for in d iv id u als. The sodal reproduction literature, alternatively, m ay exhibit an apparent lack of interest in youth w ork sim ply because m any of its central texts w ere w ritten in time periods a n d /o r countries w here youth floundering, the youth labor m arket and student labor d o n 't o r d id n 't have the significance that they do in contem porary N o rth America. Paul Willis' (1977) Learning to Labor, for example, focuses on the experiences of a group of working class "lads" w ho m ove from school m ore o r less directly into the factories w here their fathers w orked. A t the tim e an d place in w hich Willis conducted his research - the British M idlands in the early 1970's - m ale youths

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frequently m ade such a direct transition to ad u lt w ork in m anufacturing. It is only m ore recently, as Rosem ary Lucas (1997: 598) points out, th at "unskilled service jobs or stop-gap' jobs [have become] increasingly im portant as a n entry point to the labour m arket" for the young in Britain, as they have in the US and Canada. This last explanation for the absence of youth w ork in the social reproduction literature is, however, som ew hat dubious. For if w e read Willis' text closely, we find th at even in the M idlands in the 1970's, m ost of the "lads" w orked for a time in the retail a n d service sectors while they w ere in school: [T]he neighbourhood [is] scoured [by the lads] for jobs in small businesses, shops, on milk rounds, as cleaners, key cutters, ice-cream salesmen, and as stackers in superm arkets. Sometimes m ore th an one job is held. Over ten hours w ork a w eek is not uncom m on. From the fourth form onw ards, Spike thinks his w ork a t a linen wholesaler's is m ore im portant than school. H e gladly takes days and w eeks off school to work. H e is proud of the money he earns and spends: he even contributes to his parents' gas bill w hen they've had 'a bad week.' (Willis, 1977: 39) Willis notes th at the lads w ere driven to find casual jobs prim arily o u t of the need for cash to support their sodal lives. H e suggests that the "ability to 'make out' in the 'real world', to handle som etim es quite large cash flows, ... and to deal w ith adults nearly on their ow n term s strengthens 'the lads' selfconfidence and their feeling ... that they k n o w better' than school" (p. 39). H e also reports brief accounts of the lads stealing from and rebelling in their parttime workplaces. But for a book th at is supposedly about "learning to labor," Willis has surprisingly little to say about these first paid em ploym ent experiences of the lads - about how they learned the w ork in these jobs, their experiences perform ing this work, their interactions w ith m anagers, co-workers, and

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custom ers, and so forth. Willis apparently d id not consider that these tem porary service an d retail jobs w arran ted m uch attention in the overall schem e of how young m ales m ade die school-to-work transition in 1970's England. W hether or not th at such analytical judgem ent w as accurate and appropriate in the 1970’s, in the context of the 1990's in N orth Am erica (and in Britain), it is clear that service an d retail jobs have come to play an ever m ore significant role in the school-to-w ork transition of both young m en an d w om en, from both w orking an d m iddle d a ss backgrounds. There is another reason w hy the so d a l reproduction literature is lim ited in w hat it has to offer discusssions of youth w ork an d y o u th workers; an d that is, strange as it may sound, the literature's fundam ental conservativism. The sodal reproduction literature, of course, is generally seen as representing the progressive or radical pole of the youth, w ork and education literatures. Sodal reproduction authors m ake free and easy use of the stereotypical language of leftist argum ents and agendas - repeated d tatio n s of Marx and neo-Marxist theorists, references to capitalist exploitation, to d a ss struggle, to the working dass and so on. But the great irony of the sodal reproduction literature is that while au th o rs call for sw eeping "structural" changes in sodety at an a b strad and theoretical level - for 'long term changes in the structures of labor markets" (Apple and Zenk 19%: 89), or for a "transform ed class structure" (MacLeod 1995: 260) - the literature offers alm ost no vision of how changes m ight take place a t a local, concrete, im m ediate level w ithin specific workplaces, com m unities and m arkets. The literature is highly oriented to the world of schooling an d to making suggestions of w hat educators can do in the classroom to im prove the school-to-work transition experiences of their students (even after m ost so d al reproduction studies' analyses themselves dem onstrate th at changes need to occur outside the

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classroom and in workplaces). B ut the literature rarely offers parallel suggestions for concrete w orkplace reform s, w hether these be bottom -up, through the collective action of w orkers, consum ers or com m unity m em bers, o r top-dow n, through the intervention of state legislation an d enforcem ent of legislation through inspection a n d prosecution. Social reproduction theory ultim ately offers a static and frozen view of w ork and workplaces; the theory tends to foster essentializing an d naturalizing ways of looking at the w orld. By asking how social relations and structures are reproduced, theorists assum e th at these relations and structures are, in fact, being reproduced, and th at they are persisting unchanged throug h time. As Philip Wexler (1987) argues, in a harsh b u t trenchant critique of the social reproduction literature: M uch of the current thinking [in the social reproduction literature] about social relations, as p a rt of the effort to understand education socially, uses a surface language of Marxism b u t expresses a static organidst mentality.... Conflict is tacked on to a static essentialist core. The conservative im plications of this m entality are n o t vitiated by w riting the phrase "dass struggle" on it.... (p. 18) Reproduction theory naturalizes the present. It w rongly accepts the ruling groups' false d a im s th at their practices constitute a natural order. It disprivileges the alternative view of sodal life as a collective, conflictual historical accom plishm ent, (p. 20) Sodal reproduction theory predisposes analysts to look for w h at stays the same in sodety rather than w hat changes. As Lois Weis (1990: 4) notes, so d al reproduction theory developed during a period of relative so d al and economic stability w ithin w estern capitalist sodeties, in w hich lack of change could be m ore easily assum ed. But given the radical changes in N orth Am erican economies since the 1970's (deindustrialization, corporate dow nsizing and re-engineering, deunionization, increasing globalization, a n d

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so on) the invisibility of change in social reproduction theory seem s increasingly problematic. If the social reproduction literature displays little sense of concrete a n d local change in w ork and workplaces, neither does it show m uch sense of the agency of young workers at work. The actions that young w orkers (like all workers) take to change and im prove their w orking conditions - w hether these actions are collective o r individual, institutional o r inform al, sustained or fleeting, successful or unsuccessful - rem ain largely absent from the literature's discussion of youth, w ork an d education. Again, this absence occurs in p a rt because the literature is so highly school based: the social reproduction literature simply hasn't produced m any em pirical studies of youths at work. But this absence also likely occurs because social reproduction analyses continue to rely on "correspondance theories" to explain the reproduction of social inequality in the w orkforce (Apple 1980). To address the question of how youths from subordinate social groups take on m arginal jobs in the absence of any extensive physical coercion, social reproduction theorists generally attem pt to show how the education process instills in youths, either directly or indirectly, the kinds of characteristics, aptitudes and dispositions that will lead them to m ore m arginal jobs, and th at will "correspond" w ith or fit the perform ance dem ands of these jobs. A consequence of such analyses, Michael A pple (1980) has suggested, is that many reproduction theorists underplay the lack of correspondance or fit betw een young w orkers and their jobs, and generally pass over addressing and interpreting the significance of the resistance, initiatives a n d struggles that are frequently engaged in by young w orkers in the youth workplace.

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Youth as Worker: A Different Approach to the Study o f Youth and Work

The dom inant youth, w ork an d education literatures, despite their m any differences, all a d o p t a pathw ay m odel of looking a t youth and work that offers little vision o f the agencies and subjectivities of y outh as workers, of the complex and often contradictory nature of w ork a n d workplaces, o r of the possibility of (local, w orker driven) w ork a n d w orkplace change. The literature tends to focus on youths, w ith w ork as a backdrop, only vaguely sketched in. Youths are defined by their student or educational status, or by their ascribed characteristics (race, gender, dass), n o t by their specific and tem porary occupational identities: the concern is w ith w here youths are coming from and going to, and less w ith w here they are in betw een. W ork and workplaces are treated as black boxes, which are labelled as being "good" or "bad" b u t not opened up and investigated. The conditions characterizing "good" and "bad" jobs are seen as constituting a package deal, as being natural and inevitable - at least to the extent that they can n o t o r should not be changed by and for workers. Consequently, the dom inant youth, work and education literatures all tend to assum e that the only solution to problem s created by youths working in bad jobs is to rem ove o r stop youths from entering the kinds of jobs (fastfood, retail, etc.) they do now , moving them into w ork experience program s, apprenticeships, college, prim ary (adult) jobs, challenging jobs, progressive jobs an d so forth - as if this w ould make fastfood, retail and other "youth" jobs disappear. This study takes a different approach to the study of youth and work. In this dissertation, I focus on youths in term s of their specific and tem porary occupational identities. I am not particularly concerned w ith w here youths are coming from - w ith w hat's done in the schools, for exam ple - nor w ith

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w here youths are going - the future careers an d identities that youths will develop later in adulthood. My concern here is w ith youths as workers: w ith the w ork they do, the workplaces they w ork in, the em ployers w ho hire and m anage them, and the ways in w hich they are positioned as w orkers in the workplace and labor m arket. I em ploy a qualitative, ethnographic m ethodology to open u p the black box of the youth workplace, and to produce thick descriptions of the social w orlds of yo u th work, such as are all too often glossed or skipped over in the m ainstream youth, w ork and education literatures. To focus o n youths as w orkers is not, how ever, to turn one's back on the pathw ay m odel th at guides m ost of the youth, w ork and education literature in N orth America: it is, rather, to view this m odel from a different perspective. W hen one looks closely at young w orkers w ho w ork in typical youth workplaces (such as fastfood and grocery), it becom es apparent that m ost of these young w orkers constitute a distinct category of w orker. This distinct w orker identity is not linked prim arily to youths’ perm anent, ascribed characteristics of race, gender o r class background (though it may well be m ediated by these factors). N or is it linked prim arily to youths' particular educational or student status (though such status, again, may play a m ediating role). This distinctive w orker identity is b o th m ore global and m ore fleeting: for it is linked prim arily to young w orkers' age. Young w orkers in the low end service and retail w orkplace in N orth Am erica tend to position themselves and be positioned by others as being tem porary, stopgap youth workers - as just passing through jobs th at they hope a n d /o r expect will be m ore or less discontinuous w ith their p a st and future educational an d w ork paths. In other w ords, the pathw ay model, instead of being used by m yself as analyst to view youth m ovem ents from workplace to

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workplace, in this study, now reappears in the hands of youths as a way youths have of positioning them selves (and being positioned by others) as workers w ithin the w orld of a single workplace. In considering youths as workers, this study takes a different approach to thinking about the possibility of w orkplace change to that found in the dom inant youth, w ork and education literatures. By foregrounding instead of backgrounding youth w ork and youth workplaces, this study is able to investigate what, according to youth w orkers, are the "good” an d ’b a d ” characteristics of grocery an d fastfood jobs, and to consider how such characteristics m ight be transform ed and im proved. By considering youths as workers instead of students, the locus of change in this study is centered firmly w ithin the youth workplace. This focus on the question of changing the youth workplace does not m ean that I have magical answ ers for radically transform ing the w ork experience of the young. It m eans sim ply that I consider possibilities of change in the youth workplace - such as m ay be brought by unionization, for exam ple - th at are alm ost com pletely overlooked by the dom inant youth, work and education literatures. I reject assum ptions of the naturalness or inevitability of youth jobs and youth w orking conditions as they currently stand, and avoid the pathw ay m odel's tendency of severing the agency and subjectivity of youth w orkers from the w orkplaces in w hich they work; young w orkers have an interactive relationship w ith their workplaces, and work to shape and change these workplaces just as these workplaces work to shape and change young workers. In focusing on the experiences of youths as workers, this research project is by no m eans unique. There are a t least a handful of detailed, localized, qualitative and ethnographic accounts of young w orkers which serve as m odels for the current research. M any of these studies are rooted in

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one of fhe m ajor youth, w ork a n d education literatures th at have been described above; but they stan d o u t from these literatures because of their unusally d o se investigations of the w orlds of y o u th w ork a n d youth workplaces. K athryn Borm an's (1991) The First 'Real' Job, w hich describes the post-high school w ork experiences of seven young non-college m en an d w om en in three different sectors of the US econom y (m anufacturing, derical, service/retail), and w hich situates itself prim arily w ithin the social reproduction literature, is perhaps the best know n and m ost w idely d te d of these in-depth studies of the yo u th w orkplace. M ore recently, Katherine N ew m an's (1999) No Shame in M y Game: The Working Poor in the Inner City, a text that engages mostly w ith the skills and d efid ts and student w orker literatures, stands out as providing readers w ith a rare, com prehensive an d compelling account of the w ork and non-w ork lives of young fastfood w orkers in Harlem. Ethnographic studies of food service and retail workplaces, although not directly engaged w ith the literatures on youth, w ork and education, nonetheless also offer rich and insightful accounts of the w ork experiences of the youths who make u p such a large proportion of the food service an d retail workforce (Esther Reiter's (1991) Making Fast Food and Robin Leidner's (1993) Fast Food, Fast Talk are perhaps two of the best examples of these). Indeed, there is a large body of research in the sodology of w ork that focuses on describing the work cultures w hich are developed by w orkers w ithin the context of m anagem ent structured workplaces. M ost of this literature describes the w ork cultures of older w orkers w ho w ork in professional, m anufacturing and crafts occupations. The current study seeks to build o n the insights of this body of research by describing the w ork conditions an d

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w ork cultures of stopgap youth w orkers w ho w ork in the low end service and retail industries in N orth America. Despite the em phasis in this chapter o n the differences an d distance betw een the current research project and the dom inant youth, w ork and education literatures, I should note, finally, that m y aim has n o t at all been to w rite off these literatures altogether. Each one of these literatures asks critical questions that are not asked by any of the other literatures (nor b y the current study). Each of these literatures has also, as I have attem pted to indicate above, pointed to key issues and developed concepts that a re critical to any project of understanding the experiences of youths as w orkers in contem porary N orth America. The youth labor m arket literature, for example, suggests we take seriously the notion that there is a distinct period of stopgap labor in the lives of N orth America's young, and th at w e recognize that youth and adult w orkers are often positioned differently in the workplace. The student labor literature highlights the im portance of stu d en t status as being one of the key ways in which youth and ad u lt w orkers are differentially positioned in the workplace. The skills and deficits and the social reproduction literatures together urge that w e not take the period of stopgap youth labor as a natural given, and that we be skeptical o f accounts that explain this period of labor through reference to p opular stereotypes of deficits in youth attitude and behavior. W hat I have attem pted to argue in this chapter, however, is that unless the youth as (stopgap) w orker perspective is included as a central and critical p art of overall research an d policy on youth and w ork on this continent, attem pts to u n d erstan d the nature of youth an d w ork in contem porary N orth America, to confront the problem s of discrim ination against the young in o u r workplaces, and to

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engage w ith the interests, experiences an d dem ands of y o u th w orkers will inevitably be forced to m eet w ith dead ends.

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Chapter Two

On the Frontlines of the Service Sector: The Conditions of Youth Work in Fastfood and Grocery

"Reality Bites ” In the 1994 film, Reality Bites, high-flying Lelaina Pierce - college graduate, d a ss valedictorian, aspiring docum entary film m aker - loses her job as a production assistant on a TV talk show, and, after a series of futile attem pts to find a replacem ent job w ithin the m edia industry, is finally driven in desperation to apply for w ork a t a fastfood com pany called W ienerschnitzel. Lelaina is interview ed for the fastfood job by a cashier in a "W ienerdude" cap, w ho - while in a constant state of m otion preparing food, serving custom ers and barking out orders to subordinates - asks her: "Miss Pierce, do you have any idea w hat it m eans to be a cashier at W ienerschnitzel?" W hen Lelaina suggests th at being a cashier m ight involve taking orders and handling cash, the W ienerdude laughs:

W ienerdude:

No, it's a juggling act.... I m ean, you g ot people coming a t you from the front, coming at you from the back, from the side, people a t the condim ent exchange, people at the drive through, kids on bikes, and all depending on w ho?

Lelaina:

Me?

W ienerdude:

Yeah.... You got to be 150% on y o u r toes 150% of the time.

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The W ienerdude then gives Lelaina a verbal m ath quiz, asking h er to a d d 85 and 45 in her head as quickly as she can. A fter Lelaina three times comes u p w ith the w rong num ber - "140? 150? 160?" - the W ienerdude shakes his head sadly and scoffs, 'I t ’s not an auction, Miss Pierce. T here’s a reason I’ve been here six months." Lelaina, needless to say, is n o t offered the job a t W ienerschnitzel - b u t as W ienerschnitzel w ork is just about the last thing that she h a d w anted to be doing anyways, she is n o t all that disappointed that she had flubbed her chance to enter into the fastfood industry. Lelaina eventually manages to get her life back o n track, enjoys some initial successes as a film maker, and, by the end of the film, is even able to find true love in an old college friend. The W ienerdude, m eanw hile, after his brief b u t actionpacked cameo, is never heard from again. This dissertation is about the W ienerdudes of the world. It is about the young w orkers w ho w ork in those low end service and retail sector jobs that are the b u tt of countless jokes and endless derision in N orth America - jobs that, as many w ould say, "any trained m onkey could do." Stereotypes of fastfood and other low end service jobs (including grocery) typically trade on these jobs' supposed simplicity and sim ple-m indedness. Indeed, the film, Reality Bites, finds hum or in parodying the W ienerdude's apparently ludicrous and self-im portant inflating of the complex and dem anding nature of his w ork at W ienerschnitzel. W hat this chapter seeks to show, how ever, is that the W ienerdude is, in m any ways, absolutely right: w ork in fastfood, grocery an d other low end service jobs is - or, at least, can be - hard, tough, dem anding and unrew arding work. I begin this chapter by introducing the w orkers a n d workplaces of the Box Hill chain superm arkets an d the G lenw ood Fry H ouse restaurants. I describe briefly w ho the young w orkers in this stu d y are; w hat the jobs are

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th at they perform ; and w h at the com panies for w hom they w ork are like. Two characteristics of these w orkers a n d w orkplaces stand out. First, while stereotypes of "dead end" fastfood an d grocery w ork generally invoke a narrow , uniform - and often unflattering - im age of the youths w ho h o ld such jobs, young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood, as elsewhere in N orth America, are a diverse bunch, com ing from all kinds of family backgrounds, and reaching into all kinds of educational stages and statuses. Second, while young fastfood an d grocery w orkers are often thought of as being small and insignificant in the scale of things - and, indeed, are thus easy targets for facile derision - fastfood an d grocery is big business; and fastfood and grocery companies in Box Hill and G lenw ood (and elsew here in N o rth America) are enorm ous, pow erful an d extrem ely w ealthy. "I never used to think fastfood w as such a serious thing," a young cashier w orking at a Fry H ouse restaurant in Glenwood exclaims: "But it really can be, I w as shocked by that. I've learned that everything in life is im portant, even fastfood. It's serious in the way that they do things, how they go about running the store, dealing w ith the business, it all w orks into one big thing." After introducing the w orkers a n d w orkplaces of Box Hill and Glenwood, the rem ainder of this chapter focuses on describing the basic conditions of grocery and fastfood w ork in these tw o sites, and, in particular, on addressing the question of w hat m akes these jobs h a rd jobs to have. I discuss the high stress, low status and low w ages that characterize grocery an d fastfood work; the control and surveillance structures used by grocery and fastfood em ployers in their worksites; a n d the physical dangers to young workers of the grocery an d fastfood w orkplace. Injuries am ong young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood, in particular, are alarm ingly com m onplace; a n d throughout N orth America, grocery a n d restaurant w orkers face som e of

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the highest risks am ong all occupational groups of being injured, attacked an d even killed while on the job. Grocery and fastfood jobs in Box H ill and Glenwood, of course, a re n o t all bad. Unionization in these tw o sites, as I discuss in P art T hree of this dissertation, has brought m any im provem ents in w orking conditions although unionization has certainly not transform ed grocery an d fastfood in Box Hill and Glenwood beyond recognition of w hat such w ork looks like in the non-union sector. And as I discuss in P art Two of this dissertation, young w orkers in Box Hill and G lenw ood often find - as w orkers are generally w o n t to do under even the w orst of job circum stances (Rinehart 1978; M olstad 1986) - meaning, value and pleasure in their grocery and fastfood jobs: in the w ork itself, as well as in their relations w ith customers, co-workers and m anagers. M any young workers in Box Hill an d Glenwood, in fact, say that they like their grocery and fastfood jobs - a t least, for the m om ent - and, as w ith the W ienerdude of Reality Bites, take pride in w hat they are able to accom plish at work. There are tw o reasons for highlighting, in this chapter, the im poverished w orking conditions of grocery and fastfood jobs in Box H ill and Glenwood. The first is that, w hile fastfood and grocery jobs are generally recognized as being undesirable occupations for adults, w hen it com es to considering youth (and, in particular, student) workers, m any w orkplace observers are apt to make an about face and argue that such jobs are perfectly acceptable jobs for the youths of N o rth America. As Katherine N ew m an (1999:151) writes, in her study of young fastfood w orkers in H arlem : For a young person to enter the labor force at such a low level is no great tragedy. W hat is tragic is to see that same person stuck in a job that w ill never pay a living wage. For all too m any B urger B am workers, the future ends u p looking like the present. They do n o t

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graduate; they rem ain in jobs designed for teenagers an d try to m anage adult responsibilities on hopelessly inadequate wages. This study questions such logic: while having to w ork in a b a d job for a long time is, of course, worse than having to w ork in a bad job for a short time, this is no reason to suspend criticism of poor w orking conditions just because the individual worker having to en d u re such conditions is young, or just because th at individual w orker will only have to endure such conditions for a tem porary period in his or h er life. The second reason for highlighting, upfront, the im poverished w orking conditions of the jobs in Box Hill and G lenw ood is th at such conditions are critical to understanding the central w orkplace identities and positionings of young grocery and fastfood w orkers in these tw o sites. Young workers in Box Hill and Glenwood are, for die m ost part, stopgap workers: like the W ienerdude, m any consider six m onths to be a long period of tim e to w ork in these jobs; and while som e w ork in their grocery an d fastfood jobs for a year, two years, three years or more, m ost see these jobs as being tem porary jobs and fully expect a n d /o r hope to eventually leave these industries in order to find adult, career occupations. As I discuss in C hapter Five, the stopgap positioning of young grocery an d fastfood w orkers is shaped, in part, by their young age and by dom inant N o rth A m erican ideologies of youth that define stopgap service w ork as being appropriate for teenagers and young adults; but stopgap positioning is also decisively shaped by the poor working conditions of the grocery a n d fastfood industries in contem porary N o rth Am erica. Observers of the youth workplace, focusing o n the low wage, low status, repetitive and m undane n atu re of typical yo u th w ork, often lend support to dom inant stereotypes of die young service sector w orker as being a

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fundam entally alienated and disenfranchised w orker. In die final section of this chapter, I address such stereotypes, and argue th at these images of young service sector w orkers often reflect m ore o n w idespread stereotypes of youth in general than they do on the particular w orking conditions of the youth labor m arket. W hile there is a kernel of tru th in these descriptions of young workers, youth workplace alienation, as I discuss in P art Tw o of this disseration, is only one p a rt of the often com plex a n d ever changing workplace identities and positionings of young grocery and fastfood workers in Box H ill and Glenwood.

The Workers and the Workplaces M ost studies of youth w orkers in N o rth Am erica define y outh w orkers according to their educational achievem ent an d stu d en t status. There are, for example, studies of high school student workers; of high school graduate workers; and of high school dro p o u t workers. There are even a few although not m any - studies of college student w orkers. These groups of youths are often thought to be highly distinct from one another, and, therefore, to dem and separate and individual study. In the Box Hill chain superm arkets and the Glenwood Fry H ouse restaurants, how ever, workforces are com prised of youths of all kinds of educational statu s a n d achievement. High school students, dropouts and graduates, along w ith com m unity college and university students, dropouts and graduates (a handful, a t least, of the latter) m ay all be found w orking in these w orksites - a n d quite often, quite literally, they are working side by side one another. Young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill an d Glenwood, furtherm ore, have had a w ide range of experiences of schooling. There are those w h o are o r have been straight A students, w ho cram their grocery and fastfood jobs into days filled

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w ith school-based extra-curricular (sports, m usic, journalism , debating, etc.) activities; b u t there are also those w ho are or have been deeply alienated by their experiences at school, an d w ho have been endlessly frustrated by their being forced to participate in school-based activities a t w hich they are constantly being told that they are not very good. There are, of course, m any differences betw een the experiences of these different groups of youths in the grocery an d fastfood workplace. Nevertheless, one of die m ost notable aspects of the (grocery an d fastfood) y outh workplace is the way in w hich y o u th w o rk brings together som etim es radically different "types” of young stu d en ts a n d non-students, educational achievers a n d non-achievers. College track a n d rem edial high school students, w ho m ay never see one another a t school - o r w ho m ay attend completely different schools - can find them selves p aired u p bagging groceries and collecting carts at the local superm arket. "We com e from such different experiences," a high school senior and grocery bagger in Box Hill rem arks in am azem ent of h er teenage co-workers: "School's really im portant to m e, I'm going to college, and they all ask m e if I'm going to w ork o r go to college [w hen I g raduate from high school]. O f course I'm g oing to college! I'm trying to go to these com petitive colleges!" Studies of youth w orkers in N o rth A m erica com m only use the w ord "youth" as a proxy for tw o other w orker identities th at are generally left unm arked: "youth," in these studies, tends to m ean "male youth;" an d it also usually m eans "working class youth" (w hen researchers, on the other hand, w an t to signal that their interest is in the w ork experiences of m iddle class youths, they usually say that they are studying "student workers"). In this study, "youth" does n o t have any such covert g endering or d a ss identification. For in the Box H ill superm arkets a n d the G lenw ood Fry

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Houses, there are large num bers of both young m en an d w om en w orking. A slight m ajority of youths (aged 16 to 24) in the Box Hill superm arkets are m ale (about 55%); while a m ajority of youths in die G lenw ood Fry H ouses are female (about 70%). In later chapters, I address some of the differences in the w ork experiences of young m en an d w om en w orking in Box H ill a n d Glenwood; but in the dissertation overall, I discuss the w ork experiences of these two groups of w orkers together as a whole. Young grocery and fastfood workers in Box H ill an d G lenw ood also come horn a mix of d a ss backgrounds. Looking at just die occupation of these w orkers' parents, for example, there are young w orkers in Box Hill an d Glenwood w hose m others and fathers are professors, law yers, an d business owners; and there are also young w orkers w hose m others and fathers w ork as hospital orderlies, hotel m aids, building m aintenance w orkers an d bus drivers. The mix of m iddle and w orking d a ss youths that one finds in Box Hill grocery and Glenwood fastfood is, in fact, fairly typical of youth em ploym ent across N orth America. Youth w ork in this continent is m arked: first, in that m iddle d ass as well as w orking d a ss youths tend to w ork in the waged labor m arket; and second, in that m iddle and w orking dass youths tend to w ork in the sam e kinds of "youth jobs" (predom inantly in the low end service and retail sector) that are, overall, m ore or less discontinuous w ith both the career occupations of their parents, as well as w ith the career occupations that m ost of these youths them selves will later enter into as adults (I discuss the "stopgap" nature of yo u th jobs in greater detail in C hapter Five). To an extent, young w orkers of different d a ss backgrounds in Box Hill and Glenwood w ork in different stores to one a n o th e r superm arkets located in m iddle d a ss neighborhoods tend to em ploy m ostly m iddle d ass youths,

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while those in working dass neighborhoods em ploy mostly working d ass youths. In m any stores, however, youths of different d ass background work side by side. W hat can be said of class differences am ong young workers in Box Hill and Glenwood may also be said of differences in w orkers’ race and ethnirity. Workforces in both sites are radally and ethnically diverse. Union staff in Glenwood estimate that forty per cent of the Fry House workforce is visible minority, w ith significant num bers of w orkers of East Indian, Filipino, Fijian and Chinese descent. The grocery workforce in Box Hill, likewise, has a considerable m inority m em bership of African Americans, Asian Americans, and recent im m igrants from Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. Individual stores in both Box Hill and Glenwood vary considerably in their local radal and ethnic m akeup, but many stores - especially in Glenwood - have mixed staffs in which workers of num erous different racial and ethnic backgrounds work alongside one another. The Box Hill grocery store and the Glenwood fastfood restaurant overall, then, in term s of the educational, gender, class, and race identities of their workforces, are often - as Katherine Newm an (1999:145) has said of fastfood restaurants in Harlem - "living laboratories] of diversity."

The basic organization of the workplaces in w hich young grocery and fastfood workers in Box Hill and Glenwood come to work is likely to be not all that unfam iliar to m ost N orth Am erican readers. For not only are most of us regular superm arket - and possibly fastfood - customers, but m any of us have w orked in these kinds of workplaces w hen w e ourselves w ere young. After all, a single fastfood company alone - McDonald's - claims to have em ployed one out of every fifteen adults currently working in the United

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States. I thus highlight here only a few of the m ore salient and site specific characteristics of how jobs and w ork spaces are organized in the Fry H ouse restaurants in Glenw ood an d in the chain superm arkets in Box Hill. The Glenwood Fry Houses are notable for being extremely tiny worksites - small in both size and w orkforce num bers. Most, in fact, are sm aller than the average fastfood restaurant in N o rth America. A num ber of the Fry H ouse outlets are quite literally little m ore th an "holes in the wall:" take-out restaurants w ith no inside seating (except for possibly a single table or line of bar stools that are prim arily used by custom ers w aiting for their take-out orders to be ready), a single service counter and a cram ped kitchen space in back. In these take-out outlets, the workforce m ay num ber as few as ten employees; and during weekdays, these outlets m ay have only two employees - a cashier and a cook - w orking at a time. M any Fry H ouse outlets also have drive through w indow s (and thus em ploy a slightly larger staff than in the sm allest outlets), and som e outlets are full size restaurants w ith inside seating and a parking lot surround. These larger outlets m ay em ploy about thirty workers. In all of the Fry Houses, lim ited space is a constant issue: w orkers m ust watch to keep out of one another's way, an d even then are regularly brushing shoulders and bum ping into one another; w orkers m ust also continually negotiate w ith one another for the use of scarce floor, storage and counter space that they need to com plete their various w ork tasks. The Glenwood Fry H ouses are further notable for having a very simple division of labor - the job classification system used in these restaurants is, again, m uch sim pler than those found in m any other fastfood restaurants in N o rth America. Glenwood Fry H ouses have only three job classifications: cook, cashier an d shift supervisor (see box below). In practice, the organization of w ork and workforce in the Glenw ood Fry H ouse outlets is

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Job Categories and Work Responsibilities in the Glenwood Fry Houses Cooks

Prepare and cook the different chicken dishes sold in the restaurants; dean ovens and back kitchen areas

Cashiers

Interact with customers, handle money; dean front areas of the restaurants; make salads and gravy; deep-fry french fries and other sides; put together and pack meal orders

Shift supervisors

Generally share tasks with the store m anager may be responsible for supervising their co-workers when store managers are absent, for opening and d osing the store, for recording sales and costs and dropping off bank deposits, for ordering supplies, and for scheduling labor hours; also help out with cooking and customer service tasks

both less and m ore differentiated than the three official job titles w ould suggest. W ork and workforce organization are less differentiated because: first, m any cashiers and cooks are cross-trained and can w ork in either the front or the back of the store; an d second, a num ber of cooks a n d cashiers have been trained as "in-charges," m eaning that they can act as tem porary shift supervisors w henever the need arises. W ork and w orkforce organization are m ore differentiated in that - in large stores an d o n busy shifts especially - workers m ay be divided up an d set to w ork o n only a certain sub­ set of custom er service or cooking tasks. M ost stores, for exam ple, on busy shifts have a cashier w ho w orks as a "packer," reponsible fo r p u ttin g together meal orders that are taken by oth er cashiers. M any stores also have cashiers who are solely responsible for handling drive through custom ers, o r w ho are posted on a "freezer to fryer" shift, responsible for preparing french fries and other side orders. The Glenwood Fry H ouses, finally, are distinguishable fro m m any other fastfood restaurants in N o rth America in that they h ave a very lim ited

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m anagerial presence in their stores. M ost outlets have only a single store m anager - although some of the larger outlets m ay also have an assistant m anager. This m eans th a t Fry H ouse outlets often ru n w ith o u t having a m anager on the premises: for the store m anager is generally only scheduled to b e in the store for, at most, half the shifts in a given w eek. E ven w hen the store m anager is on the schedule, he or she m ay often leave the store w hether for legitimate (work-related) reasons o r not - for extended periods of time. Some Fry House restaurants in G lenw ood d o n o t even have a store manager. Store m anagers som etim es leave o r are transferred from a n outlet before a replacement m anager has been found, and thus outlets m ay be ru n for periods that can last several m onths - by in-store shift supervisors w ith only arm s length supervision from an area or regional m anager. The chain superm arkets in Box Hill contrast w ith the G lenw ood Fry H ouses in term s of absolute size, complexity of job classifications as well as in the levels of in store m anagerial presence. Box H ill grocery stores, while nothing like the size of, for example, car m anufacturing plants, are nonetheless large worksites: large enough that m any stores have m aps available for customers to pick u p as they enter the store, and large enough that training program s (are supposed to) include taking new hires on a "grand tour" of the store's front and back areas. For superm arket baggers, whose job duties include carrying custom er purchases o u t to their cars ("carry outs") an d retrieving shopping carts, w ork space extends outside the store itself and into the often vast surrounding parking lots. Superm arkets in Box Hill fall tow ard one o r another of tw o ideal store types: the "neighborhood store,” located in a predom inantly residential area, th at tends to be an older and sm aller store (w ith low ceilings an d narrow aisles), and that employs about forty or fifty w orkers; a n d the "superstore," a

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huge, cavernous w arehouse th a t is usually located along a m ajor shopping route or w ithin a larger shopping center, an d th at em ploys about eighty to one h u n d red workers. W orkers in neighborhood stores often refer to die people w orking in their store as a "family," an d are likely to know the majority of their co-workers. Those in superstores are m ore aw are of the presence of a corporate hierarchy w ithin the store, are less likely to be "familiar" w ith their store m anager, an d usually know m ost of their co­ w orkers in their ow n and neighboring departm ents b u t not beyond. At least ten different job classifications are used in the Box Hill grocery stores (see box below): baggers, stackers, checkers, grocery clerks, produce clerks, deli clerks, bakery clerks, and nonfoods clerks, w ho are all represented by Local 7; as well as m eatcutters and bakers, w ho are represented by other union locals, and are not considered in this study. Job classifications, in turn, are organized by departm ents. Baggers and checkers w ork in the "front end" departm ent, in and around the checkstand area of the store. Grocery clerks, produce clerks and stackers are based in the "back end" grocery and produce departm ents, and w ork both in the rear stockroom s of the store and on the superm arket floor itself. Deli, bakery and nonfoods clerks w ork behind service counters and display cases in "side departm ents" - which, as the nam e suggests, quite literally line the sides of the grocery store. In addition to these basic job classifications, Box H ill grocery stores have an extended and som ew hat confusing m anagerial classification system. In-store departm ents, as well as m any sub-departm ents, all have their ow n "managers." M ost of these "managers," how ever, are, in fact, hourly w orkers (and union members) w ho have been selected by the store m anager to ru n their respective departm ents. In larger departm ents, this w ork can involve supervisory, as well as scheduling, budgeting, ordering a n d inventory tasks.

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Job Categories and Work Responsibilities in the Box Hill Supermarkets Front end department

Checkers

Interact with customers, scan groceries and handle money; are also required by law to act as officers of the state, policing everything from the sale of alcohol and tobacco to the use of food stamps, WIC vouchers and other forms of government assistance

Baggers

Bag groceries; interact with customers and do "cany outs"; retrieve carts; run price checks and return unwanted products to their shelves ("go backs"); perform basic janitorial work such as cleaning bathrooms, breakrooms and side departments, and doing floor sweeps and mop-ups in the center aisles

Back end produce and grocery departments

Produce clerks

Stock, rotate, trim, clean and care for fresh fruit and vegetables (perishables); customer service

Grocery clerks

Run the dry goods, dairy and frozen foods subdepartments - stock shelves, take inventory and place orders; customer service. Includes night stockers, who restock grocery aisles at night

Stockers

Stock shelves; are also the grocery store's "everyman" and can be asked to do any task in the store except check groceries

Side departments

D eli clerks

Interact with customers, handle money; make sandwiches, salads and pizzas; slice meats and cheeses; oven-cook and deep-fry chicken and other meat and vegetable dishes

Bakery clerks

Interact with customers, handle money; limited baking work; decorate cakes; make cappuchinos and other hot drinks

Non-foods clerks

Interact with customers, handle money; other tasks depend on department - which may be floral, video, post office, customer service (where money orders, money grams, lotto tickets and refunds are handled)

But in sm aller sub-departm ents (dairy, frozen foods, salad bar, etc.), the "manager" m ay have no other em ployees w orking u n d er him o r her, a n d is simply expected to be responsible for keeping the sub-departm ent in w orking order. The proliferation of the "manager" title in Box Hill superm arkets thu s 90

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gives rise to a situation w here n o t all "managers" really m anage, an d n o t all "managers" are actually m anagers. A longside an d above the departm ent heads, Box Hill grocery stores generally have a strong an d constant "real" m anagerial presence, w ith each store em ploying som ew here betw een three an d seven salaried (and union exem pt) m anagerial staff.

If the Box Hill chain superm arkets an d the Glenwood Fry H ouses contrast in term s of w orkplace size and w ork organization, they are, nevertheless, highly parallel in term s of com pany size: these com panies are large. Fry House is a m ultinational corporation w ith thousands of restaurants w orldw ide and billions of dollars in revenues. The four chain superm arkets th at dom inate the G lenw ood grocery industry are, likewise, m ulti-billion dollar corporations w ith h u n d red s of stores throughout the U nited States (unlike in the fastfood industry, chains in the grocery business tend to be regional or m ulti-regional rath e r th an truly national or international in scope). T hrough the course of the 1990's, m oreover, the N o rth Am erican grocery industry has seen a rapid consolidation of ow nership through a spate of m ergers an d takeovers betw een different grocery companies. During m y year of fieldw ork in .Glenwood alone, all of the city's three major chains w ere involved in m ulti-billion dollar m ergers or takeovers w ith other grocery com panies across the country. The grocery and fastfood com panies for w hom young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood work, in fact, are not just large companies: they are some of the largest, m ost pow erful and w ealthiest com panies in all of N o rth America. For grocery and fastfood w orkers, such bigness can be overw helm ing: workers face distan t centers of pow er and decision-m aking th an can have dram atic and, a t times, unpredictable im pacts o n their w ork

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and personal lives; huge conglom erations of capital a n d influence th a t can often seem to be im pervious to w orker-applied pressures an d dem ands. Two key factors place young grocery and fastfood w orkers directly an d frequently u n d er the guns of their em ployer giants: first, w hile Fry H ouse and the chain superm arkets of Box Hill are enorm ously w ealthy a n d highly profitable, profit m argins in both industries tend to be very narrow ; a n d second, labor costs in b o th industries figure in a s one of the major, if not the major, areas of their non-fixed expenditures. Young w orkers in Box H ill a n d G lenwood, m any of w hom are entering the paid w orkforce for the first tim e in their lives, as they try to pick u p casual, p a rt time o r full tim e w ork in the grocery and fastfood sector, thus im m ediately come face to face w ith som e of the continent's m ost pow erful com panies - com panies that are deadly serious about and highly sophisticated in slashing labor budgets to the bone, an d in squeezing every last ounce of labor out of their yo u th (and adult) workforces.

The Conditions o f Fastfood and Grocery Work:

High Stress, Low Status, Low

W ages

"I w ould say the stress is the worst thing about it," a young Fry H ouse cashier in Glenwood says of her fastfood job: "Sometimes I get so stressed out. Cause some days you're in a b a d m ood yourself, you know , having to deal w ith people, you just d o n ’t w ant to, you'd rather be som ew here else, anyw here except work." H igh stress levels are the m ost w idespread com plaint young w orkers in Box Hill and G lenw ood have about their grocery and fastfood employment. Stress can be caused by virtually any an d all aspects of grocery and fastfood work: difficult relations w ith custom ers and

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m anagers; repetitive and unending, m onotonous w o rk tasks; low occupational status and sm all paychecks; continual w orkplace surveillance; and hot, greasy, slippery, a n d often dangerous w ork environm ents. But the num ber one factor young w orkers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood p oint to as the cause of workplace stress is die lack of time to d o die w ork they are expected to do. There are either simply not enough w orkers scheduled on a given shift to cover custom er rushes an d necessary p rep and cleaning w ork; o r else w orkers are not given long enough shifts to get their w o rk stations ready for lunch and evening rushes, or to clean u p their stations after such rushes are thro u gh. Lack of time lies behind alm ost all other causes of stress in the grocery and fastfood workplace in Box Hill and Glenwood. Young w orkers in these two sites, for example, regularly endure rudeness and abuse from their customers. Workers are yelled at, sw orn at, and told by custom ers they are "stupid idiots," "morons," an d other such derogatory nam es. They are frowned at, sneered at, and glared at by their customers. They are ignored, treated as social inferiors, and assum ed to be servants w hose role in life is to cater to and anticipate a custom er’s every w him and fancy. There are different reasons for such custom er abusiveness. Young grocery and fastfood workers make easy targets for the displacem ent of hostilities. "Often people come into Fry House," a cashier in Glenwood says, "because they've been yelled at by their bosses, they don't have anybody they can yell at, so they yell at us cause they think they can.” "Customers go off on som e grocery employee," says a young stocker in Box Hill, "cause it m akes em feel pow erful." Young grocery and fastfood workers also incite custom er abuse w hen their job responsibilities p u t them in direct conflict w ith custom er wishes,

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preferences and interests. Checkers in Box H ill often becom e the target of custom er anger w hen they are p u t in the position of having to police company rules on accepting checks, coupons a n d returns, o r of having to enforce governm ent laws on the sale of alcohol an d tobacco, o r on the use of food stam ps and WIC vouchers. In one superm arket, I w itnessed a checker politely and quietly decline to sell alcohol to a young couple w ho were extremely intoxicated - as she was required to d o by law u n d e r penalty of possibly losing her job. The couple stalked out of the store, and on their way out tu rned to yell a t the checker, 'Tuck you! Fuck you, you fucking bitch!," while giving her the finger. Beyond these various m otivations, how ever, m any young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood feel that grocery and fastfood custom ers are abusive primarily because they fail to appreciate the tim e pressures u n d e r w hich workers la b o r That's the w orst aspect of it for me, is having to explain to people [customers] that, well, this is how it works, because they don't know.... I've said, you're welcome to come back here, take a tour, sit here for an hour, w atch us w hen it's busy, please. Actually a lady who w orked here for about a m onth, and then she got another job, ... she said, 'You know, I used to get really m ad w hen I h ad to w ait for stuff, but I have a total new respect for people that w ork in fastfood. I know w hat you have do, I know w hat it's like, I feel so b ad for any tim e I ever blew u p at anybody.' She says, 1 don’t know how you guys d o it, how you can handle it. I really really really adm ire you guys for that, for keeping your cool the way you do, cause it's hard to do.' "They think w e're dum b and slow," a Fry H ouse cashier com plains of his customers, 'b u t they don't understand, if they cam e in here a n d tried to do w hat w e’re doing, they’ll be about three times as slow as we are." Young workers in Box Hill and Glenwood are often caught betw een a rock an d a h ard place in their relations w ith their customers: on the one hand, they are n o t given enough time or staff support by their em ployers to perform a t the

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speed and quality levels their custom ers w ould prefer; and on the other, they have neither the status no r the sw ay to be able to convince their custom ers to respect them for the w ork th at they do actually m anage to d o u n d e r w hat are often difficult an d stressful w orking conditions. Like grocery and fastfood customers, m anagers in Box Hill and Glenwood are another prim ary source of w orkplace stress for young workers. M anagers, like customers, frequently yell at their young employees, sw ear at them , talk dow n to them , and call them "stupid," "incompetent," "lazy," and so forth. M any young workers, in fact, believe th at the younger the worker, the m ore latitude m anagers feel they have in verbally attacking and belittling that worker. M anagers in fastfood and grocery, young workers say, often "go o n pow er trips," order w orkers around, and "tell y o u every little thing you do wrong" - all the while failing to provide encouragem ent or acknow ledgem ent of jobs well done. M anagers criticize w orkers b ehind their backs; b u t worse, they also dress employees dow n to their faces, w hile in front of their cow orkers and customers. Young w orkers in both Box Hill and Glenwood complain w idely of the stress caused in their stores by m anagerial favoritism by m anagers picking on workers they dislike and cutting favors for w orkers they prefer. M any young workers feel that m anagers will abuse their pow ers in trying to get rid of employees they d o n 't w ant w orking in their stores. "When a m anager doesn't w ant you to w ork there," explains a cook in Glenwood, "they look for things, they kinda set you u p so they can can give you som ething bad." As w ith custom er caused workplace stress, tim e pressures often stand behind m anager caused workplace stress. Young grocery and fastfood workers, for exam ple, som etim es encounter w h at they refer to a s "office m anagers" - m anagers w ho hide o u t in their office (claiming to be doing

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needed paperw ork) and w ho avoid com ing o u t onto the shop floor to help out w ith rushes. Since store labor budgets generally assum e that m anagers will w ork on the floor w hen needed, office m anagers p u t increased stress on w orkers as they attem pt to serve custom ers and complete other w ork tasks. M any young workers have to deal w ith "cheap" m anagers - m anagers w ho (often in efforts to keep their costs low an d thus earn themselves year end bonuses) skimp on allocating labor hours, o r w ho refuse to pay for needed repairs or for the replacem ent of broken o r m issing w ork tools. A nd young workers have to deal w ith m anagerial e r r o r w ith m anagers w ho regularly screw u p on subm itting w orker hours to com pany payroll, for exam ple, so that w orkers' checks are late o r incorrect; o r w ith m anagers w ho screw u p on scheduling, ordering or inventory tasks. '1 notice our m anagers forget a lot," one Fry H ouse w orker com plained to me: "So we have to explain to our customers, 'We have no fried chicken tonight.' 'H ow can you have no fried chicken w hen it’s Fry House?' W ell, o u r m anager forgot to o rd er chicken.’ It's crazy!" M anagers in the grocery and (especially) the fastfood industries come and go w ith great frequency. Store m anagers in the Glenwood Fry H ouses change over, on average, about every six m onths, while area m anagers may change over every couple of years. Store m anagers in the Box Hill chain superm arkets change over m uch less frequently than they do in Glenwood; b u t assistant managers come and go every few m onths. Young w orkers in both Glenwood and Box Hill often find th at they can develop a relationship an d system of doing things in their store o r departm ent w ith one m anager; that that m anager will quit o r be fired o r transferred or prom oted; and that they w ill then have to start all over again building u p a new relationship an d a n ew system w ith a new m anager. O ver tim e, instability of m anagem ent can

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be, for some, young w orkers, alm ost as stressful and w earing as b ad or abusive m anagem ent "Every tim e a n ew m anager comes in, they change everything," complains a Fry H ouse cashier: 'It's just like being hired, they have to retrain you on everything. It's pretty hard because once y o u get into something, you just keep w ith it. T hen som ebody else com es in a n d they're like, 'No, no! You're doing it w rong, you have to do it this w ay.’"

Grocery and fastfood w ork is not only stressful w ork, it is low status work. Fastfood work, especially, often carries w ith it a stigm a, so th at fastfood workers are stereotyped as being stupid, lazy, slow, lacking in life goals and initiative, and so on (Newm an 1999). Fastfood jobs, along w ith grocery "youth" jobs (baggers, Stockers), are also low in status sim ply because these are jobs that are seen as being typically held by young w orkers. "W hat’s the image of a fastfood job?," a cashier in Glenwood asks rhetorically: "You get the image of some kid w ith about a h u n d red pim ples on his face trying to take an order for somebody, and he doesn’t understand w h at to do." Young workers in Box Hill and G lenw ood are well aw are that if the grocery and fastfood w ork they perform ed w ere thought to be glam orous and im portant work, it w ould be adults and not youths who w ould be taking on these jobs. For m any young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood, grocery and fastfood work is work w ithout any real or intrinsic m eaning, interest, o r value. "You can’t be very proud of yourself as a grocery worker," says a young stocker in Box Hill: "What is your gift to the w orld [if] you w ork a t Good Grocers your whole life?" The problem w ith grocery an d fastfood w ork, for m any young workers, is that it is difficult to ever feel th at y o u are really accomplishing anything, that you are really building tow ard som ething or m aking substantive progress tow ard som e intrinsically m eaningful goal. A

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young bagger in Box Hill, for example, explains w hy she w ould never w ant a career in custom er service: It's tough to have a job w here it's just a constant flow of people and nothing ever ends o r begins, w here you're alw ays just providing a service, the same service over and over again.... It seem s like, to be a checker, to always be saying hello, how are you, have a good day, to always be doing the sam e thing-. I w ould like a job b etter w here I started an d finished som ething. Grocery and fastfood w ork tasks tend to repeat them selves over an d over and over alm ost w ithout end: the w ork is repetitive, m undane a n d often boring. Workers may find it a challenge to get and keep u p to speed in w h at are very fast paced workplaces: b u t once a basic set of tasks have been m astered, workers typically find that their workplace learning plateaus out, and they are left w ith the drudgery of sim ply executing tasks th at have long ago become second nature to them. Grocery and fastfood w ork is often said to be "low skill" w ork - and, indeed, m any young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood slam their jobs by saying that anyone "with half a brain" could d o the w ork they do. Attributions of skill, how ever, are notoriously tricky, an d tend to involve assessments of the social standing of a particular job an d of the kinds of people w ho hold that job, as m uch as they refer to any absolute an d objective m easurem ent of cognitive dem ands inherent w ithin a given set of work tasks. As I discuss in C hapter Five, young grocery and fastfood w orkers develop considerable local expertise in their jobs: know ledge of how best to handle individual custom ers and m anagers; of how to b en d official w ork rules so as to get w ork done effectively and efficiently on the ground; or of how to m ake ad hoc repairs and im provisations in the w orkplace w hen machines break dow n, w ork tools go missing, or the m addening ru sh of custom er dem and sim ply overw helm s norm al w orking procedures. W hat

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can be said of grocery and fastfood w ork is th at such local expertise emerges w ithin jobs w hich are seen overall - by w orkers, custom ers and m anagers - as being repetitive, boring, and low in status, m eaning, challenge an d value.

The low status of grocery and fastfood w ork, as I suggested earlier, feeds into general workplace stress. Young grocery a n d fastfood w orkers lack w hat som e researchers have called a "status shield" to protect them from custom er and m anagerial abuse (Hochschild 1983; L eidner 1983). As Robin Leidner (1993:132) writes, in her study of M cDonald’s w orkers, "customers w ho m ight have m anaged to be polite to higher-status w orkers [have] no com punction about taking their anger o u t on [low status service sector] employees.” Low status of grocery and fastfood w ork also feeds into low industry wages: since this kind of w ork is not considered to be particularly valuable or im portant, and since w orkers in these kinds of jobs are generally considered to be unskilled an d easily replaceable, pay levels in Box H ill grocery and G lenw ood fastfood rem ain depressed. Rabid em ployer determ ination to keep labor costs minimal, of course, further reinforces an d institutionalizes such dow nw ard pressures on grocery and fastfood wages. Unionization, as I discuss in Part Three of this dissertation, has had an im pact in Box Hill and Glenwood in raising w ages som ewhat, and in securing benefits that are unusual in the low end service sector in N o rth America. W ages for som e job classifications in the Box H ill grocery stores are relatively high com pared to other low end service and retail industries in the area, and wages in the Glenwood Fry Houses are high w hen com pared with other fastfood com panies in town. Overall, how ever, w ages in these tw o industries rem ain low: even w orkers w orking full tim e a n d earning top dollar in the Box Hill grocery industry only stand to m ake a b o u t the average yearly w age in

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the U nited States. The vast m ajority of grocery w orkers in Box Hill, how ever, do not w ork anyw here near full tim e hours - as the grocery industry (like the fastfood industry) mostly provides only p a rt tim e w ork for its employees. Grocery w ages in Box Hill, furtherm ore, are divided into three wage tiers: only checkers, grocery and produce clerks earn on die top wage scale; workers in side departm ents (predom inantly women) are p aid o n a m uch lower, second tier wage scale; and baggers and stackers (predom inantly youths) are not on scale, and are paid at a third w age tier w hich starts only slightly above the m inim um wage. U nionized grocery and fastfood in Box Hill an d Glenwood stand out m ore dram atically horn other, non-union low end service and retail industries in their respective regions w hen it com es to offering workers benefits (health care, pension, vacation, etc.). The difference here, in fact, is practically categorical: other low e nd service and retail industries rarely provide hourly workers with any kind of benefits w hatsoever, while unionized Box Hill and Glenwood grocery and fastfood do. Indeed, for m any workers (young and old) in Box Hill and G lenwood, the prim ary significance of being in a union is the benefits - particularly the health care benefits unionization brings to these jobs. In the G lenw ood Fry Houses, all workers receive health care benefits (which, in C anada, supplem ent universal, governm ent provided health care insurance). In Box Hill, though, as I will discuss in C hapter Six, m any young grocery w orkers are effectively denied eligibility for union negotiated health (as well as pension) benefits.

Grocery and fastfood jobs are often said to be b ad o r "dead end" jobs because they offer few opportunities for career advancem ent. In both Box Hill and Glenwood, it is true that opportunities for advancem ent and careers tend

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to narrow out very quickly as one m oves u p industry hiring ladders. Employers in these tw o sites encourage their young employees to join the ranks of store level m anagem ent; b u t it is m uch m ore difficult to m ove from die shopfloor to higher levels of m anagem ent - in part, because of the scarcity of positions, and in part, because em ployers often hire college educated w orkers from outside their ow n w orkforces for recruitm ent into higher level m anagem ent. Lack of career and advancem ent opportunities in Box H ill and Glenwood, however, though concerning, need to b e considered in the context of overall (high stress, low status) w orking conditions in the grocery a n d fastfood industries, and w ith respect to the dom inant orientations of young grocery and fastfood w orkers to their jobs. For it is simply not the case that all young grocery and fastfood w orkers are lining u p en masse ready to take up higher level positions and careers in grocery and fastfood w henever the opportunity arises; rather, grocery and (especially) fastfood employers sometimes have difficulty convincing their young em ployees even to take on the few m anagem ent and career positions that they already have available (and, once in these positions, to keep them). Store level m anagem ent positions are seen by m any young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood as being undesirable: turnover rates am ong low level m anagers are high, in large p a rt because w ork in these positions involves long hours, high stress, m enial tasks and low pay. M ost young grocery and fastfood workers in Box Hill and Glenwood are stopgap workers: and (as I discuss further in C hapter Five) as stopgap workers, they hope and expect to look elsew here - outside of the grocery and fastfood industries - to pursue opportunities for their advancem ent into adult careers.1

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Power in the Workplace:

Surveillance and Control

The fastfood and grocery industries have traditionally been characterized by w hat Paxil d u Gay (1996:114) calls '"low -trusf em ploym ent relations." Paying low wages, and offering little in the w ay o f enriching w ork environm ents o r w idespread opportunities for job advancem ent, fastfood and grocery employers have generally expected their workforces to have a high turnover, and their em ployees to have only lim ited com m itm ent to corporate goals. Indeed, one of the reasons these em ployers hire large num bers of youth workers is th at they expect these w orkers to be tem porary (and therefore cheap) workers. Fastfood and grocery employers have tried to control their tem porary, stopgap workforces prim arily through d o se direction (or routinization) and d o se surveillance of w ork perform ance (Reiter 1991; Leidner 1993; d u Gay 1996; Ritzer 1996). Signs of low trust em ploym ent relations are legion in the Box Hill superm arkets and the Glenwood Fry Houses. In b o th Box H ill and Glenwood, for example, em ployers m ake use of visible and hidden security cam eras throughout their worksites. In som e Box Hill superm arkets, row s of opaque brow n plastic balls, each containing a video camera, hang dow n over the entire lengths of the checkstand areas - w ith the opaque covering preventing workers (and custom ers) from know ing w hich w ay the cam eras inside are pointing. One Box Hill grocery chain has even introduced cam eras w ith audio capacity, so that m anagers sitting in the store office can listen in on conversations betw een w orkers and custom ers on the superm arket floor. Fry House, meanwhile, has been know n to secretly install h id d en cam eras as p art of "sting" operations in outlets w here it suspects the existence of em ployee theft or drug use; w orkers w ho have discovered such cam eras say

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they adopt the habit of w aving receipts for meals they eat in restaurant staffrooms in front of these cam eras' invisible eyes. Indeed, employers in b o th Box Hill and G lenw ood are deeply preoccupied w ith the possibility of w orker pilferage and theft in their stores even before such pilferage o r theft has even occurred. Grocery checkers in Box Hill, for example, are often prohibited from serving family m em bers, because of the tem ptation they m ight have to give fam ily m em bers special discounts. Checkers can be subject to discipline for serving a family m em ber even if no evidence of active w rongdoing (e.g., underringing the cost of an item) can be produced. As union officials in both Box Hill a n d G lenw ood are often at pains to tell their m em bers, employers can a n d w ill - if they w ish - try to fire employees for eating even a single grape (or french fry) th at they have not paid for or been given by their employer, o r for pocketing even a single penny that they have found on the store floor. Low tru st em ploym ent relations are initiated from even before the point at w hich young grocery an d fastfood workers a re hired into their jobs. Grocery workers in Box Hill are required by their em ployers to go for a drug test (urinalysis) before they are hired - som ething that, in C anada, is generally considered by the courts to be discrim inatory and therefore illegal u n d e r the strong language of the C anadian H um an Rights Act (see B indm an 1998). Many young grocery and fastfood w orkers (especially m ore recent hires) have also been required by their em ployers in Box Hill and G lenw ood to take pre­ em ploym ent "honesty" or "personality" tests. These tests, w hich are usually in the form of a m ultiple choice questionnaire, typically focus o n a prospective employee's background, character, values and beliefs. W orkers m ight be asked about illegal behaviors they have engaged in, such as w hether they have done drugs o r stolen anything in the past; they m ight be asked

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about their friends and acquaintances, such as w hether they know anyone w ho does drugs or steals; they are frequently asked to select adjectives that best describe their personalities, o r to identify general likes an d dislikes; and they are often asked to predict their workplace behavior, such as w hether they w ould pocket m oney they found lying on the shop floor, o r w hether they w ould quit if their hours w ere cut or changed. W orkers w ho have taken these tests note that questions "are repetitive sometimes, like the next page w ould have the sam e kind of question, to see if you'd change your answer" (for more discussion of such tests, see Duffy 1996; H ays 1997; Lindsay 1998). As has been described at great length in p ast studies of the fastfood industry, fastfood, grocery and other low end service sector em ployers in N orth America rely heavily on w ork routinization to m aintain centralized control of their dispersed restaurant and superm arket em pires (Reiter 1991; Leidner 1993; Ritzer 1996). From cooking to cleaning, bagging to packing, and stocking to selling, w ork tasks in both the Box Hill chain superm arkets and the Glenwood Fry Houses are laid out step by step, often in m inute and painstaking detail. W hen situations arise that cannot be covered by routinized w ork routines, em ployers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood will sometimes try to insist that their employees refrain from thinking of their own solutions, and check first with m anagers for official pre-approval of any non-routine workplace decisions or actions that m ay they take. Employer fear of independent w orker decision m aking in the grocery and fastfood workplace, in fact, as a young deli clerk in Box Hill points outs, can be so intense that it can often lead to ridiculous am ounts of bureaucratic rigidity, as well as to unnecessary levels of workplace stress an d tem poral waste:

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There's no freedom to m ake decisions there. If the deli m anager and assistant m anager aren't there, w e have to call the store m anager. A nd half die time they don't know w hat to do. I h a d a customer-, w e do dinners every night, we p u t cold ones [dinners] o u t in the case they can buy. There were two left of meatloaf, m ashed potatoes an d com . The guy w anted two pieces of meatloaf, just one co m an d potatoes. It was the biggest hassle in the world. I w as there by myself, I called the night m anager, she's, 'O h gees, I d o n 't know'.... She cam e over and had to m ake a decision. She said, 'I guess w e can do it for tw o dollars for the extra piece of meatloaf.' H ow hard w o u ld it be for m e to m ake that decision? It takes an extra fifteen m inutes, I have to b other her, it w ould be so m uch easier [for m e to m ake the decision myself]. As I discuss in Part Two of this dissertation, young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood often do go ahead and m ake their ow n decisions in the grocery and fastfood workplace: they makes changes in centralized w ork procedures and do w ork arounds to get their work done efficiently an d effectively on the shop floor. But for many workers, official prohibitions against m aking their ow n local decisions in the workplace interfere w ith their ability to perform their jobs well, and also make them feel that they look stu p id a n d incom petent in front of their customers.

One of the most politically charged w orkplace issues during my fieldwork in Box Hill and Glenwood w as the em ployers' intensified use of routinized "scripting" for custom er service interactions. C ustom er service scripts used in the grocery and fastfood workplace som etim es spell out for employees required comm unicative actions (greet the custom er, smile a t the customer, m ake eye contact, sell suggestively, thank the custom er, and so on); b u t sometimes they even dictate the exact w ords an d tu rn s of phrase that employees are expected to use. Grocery baggers in one superm arket chain in Box Hill, for example, are instructed that they m u st n o t ask custom ers "Would you like me to carry out your groceries?" - b u t instead m ust say: "I’d be happy to help you out w ith your groceries." The chain, w hich is trying to 105

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prom ote its c a n y out service, reasons that the latter, m ore direct phrase gives custom ers less im petus to feel they should politely decline offers of carry outs from grocery baggers. Staff rooms in b o th Box Hill a n d G lenw ood are literally plastered w ith posters that spell out each com pany's "four principles" or "five rules" or "seven steps" for achieving excellence in custom er service. In Box Hill, in particular, during the year of m y fieldwork, the over zealous prom otion and rigid enforcem ent of service scripts on the p a rt of grocery em ployers was frequently creating uncom fortable interactions for both w orkers and custom ers alike. Some young w om en w orking in the Box Hill superm arkets experienced great discom fort in having to smile at and m ake eye contact w ith all of their m ale custom ers, as they felt such behaviors, at times, w ere all too easily m isinterpreted as signalling personal interest or sexual openness. Many grocery w orkers found that com pany requirem ents to always thank customers by their proper nam es w ere inappropriate and even counter-productive: some customers, for exam ple, disliked having their nam es used by superm arket clerks w ho w ere strangers to them, or took offense w hen checkers m ispronounced the nam es they w ere attem pting to decipher from customer charge card receipts. Teenage custom ers, especially, sometimes found it hum orous and bizarre to be addressed as " M r/M s

"

by service workers who w ere the same age or older than they were. In some situations, service scripting in Box H ill has reached into the realms of the utterly absurd. In one chain, for exam ple, grocery baggers w ere expected to listen to checkers read custom ers' nam es off of charge card receipts and then follow checkers' suit and also thank custom ers by their full and proper names. As can be im agined in a busy a n d noisy superm arket, baggers often had a hard time making out w hat checkers w ere saying - and checkers them selves, as noted above, often w ere m ispronouncing custom ers' nam es

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in the first place. A couple of baggers I spoke to attem pted to handle such service requirem ents by m um bling approxim ations of custom ers' nam es, a n d hoping to high heaven that their custom ers d id n o t hear them . In another chain, stackers reported being treated by custom ers as if they w ere deranged social misfits, because they had been required by their m anagers to look up, smile, make eye contact, greet and offer assistance to customers not just the fir st time a customer walked dow n the aisle in w hich they w ere working, b u t each and every time a customer passed back along th at aisle. By trying to elim inate w orker decision m aking an d judgem ent calls in their interactions w ith custom ers, employers were risking turning these interactions into em pty, disjunct and robotic encounters.2 To ensure th at workers follow com pany designed service scripts, employers in both Box Hill and G lenw ood m ake w ide and liberal use of "mystery shoppers." Mystery shoppers are hired by corporate headquarters to pose as customers in company stores. They purchase meals o r groceries just like any other customer would, an d then once outside the store, w rite out individual employee and overall store evaluations based on their visit. These reports com m ent on anything and everything from w hether an employee smiled, made eye contact and followed service scripts; to the state of a n employee's uniform; to the efficiency an d knowledgability of service; to store cleanliness. While it has becom e a gam e am ong some young w orkers to "finger" or "out" the m ystery shopper, for the m ost part, individual w orkers being graded do not know w ho m ight be grading them. Since mystery shoppers' reports are p resented to em ployees som e tim e (often several days) after they have "been shopped," employees m ay not be able to recall who the m ystery shopper w as even after the fact - and, consequently, they may also be unable to judge for them selves the accuracy

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and fairness of the m ystery shopper's report. A t least one grocery chain in Box Hill requires employees w ho do poorly on m ystery shopper reports to attend a special custom er service re-training class (som etim e referred to by w orkers as "smile school"). M any young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood are pleased when they receive favorable reports from m ystery shoppers, for these provide them w ith w hat is som etim es rare positive feedback from their em ployers on their w ork perform ance. U nfavorable reports, o n the other hand, are widely felt to be unfair, since they generally fail to take into account overall and extenuating workplace contexts (a broken fryer, a sh o rt staffed crew, etc.) in order to focus in solely on decontextualized individual performances. Overall, m any young w orkers find th a t their ever possible surveillance by unknow n com pany spies is a contributor to increasingly stressful w orkplace conditions.

The current, intensified em phasis in the Box Hill chain superm arkets and the Glenwood Fry Houses on custom er service is shaped by shifts in the competitive landscapes of the grocery and fastfood industries. In b oth grocery and fastfood, com panies have tended to com pete by w orking to m inim ize costs and keep prices low. But as these industries have becom e m ore com petitive and have reached m arket saturation, traditional com petitive strategies have come to be seen as insufficient. As Thom as Stanback (1990: 90) writes: W ith a larger num ber of stores fighting for the custom er's dollar, efforts to im prove m erchandising an d pricing strategies do not suffice: Custom ers will go elsewhere if the shopping experience is n o t efficient an d pleasant. Grocery chains and fastfood com panies are thus now placing increased em phasis on providing "high quality" custom er service, and are focusing on

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ways of building up a n d m aintaining strong com pany loyalty am ong customers. "Service wars" have come to com plem ent an d even replace "price wars" as the prim ary lo d of com petition (Stanback 1990; W alsh 1993). W ith this increased em phasis on "high quality" custom er service has come a growing concern in the grocery and fastfood industries w ith recruiting and training a "high quality" or "high perform ance" workforce (du Gay 1996; Progressive Grocer 19%; Bailey an d B ernhardt 1997; Rosenthal e t al., 1997). Traditionally, as I have n oted above, fastfood and grocery em ployers have tended to view their em ployees as being essentially unskilled and disposable, and have expected their em ployees to have only lim ited investm ent in corporate goals. N ow adays, however, fastfood an d grocery em ployers often talk of wanting to find w orkers w ho, if not exactly skilled w orkers, are at least highly oriented to service w ork in their personalities; w orkers w ho will also be committed, enthusiastic "team players," willing to participate fully in the drive for company grow th and success. In order to provide truly high quality service to their customers, grocery and fastfood em ployers recognize, at a certain level, that they need m ore th an just service scripts a n d m ystery shoppers; they need em ployees w ho are willing and able to engage fully w ith their customers, and m ake their custom ers' shopping and eating experiences both pleasurable and timely. As Paul d u Gay (19%: 115) points out, in his study of retail w o rk in England, new service oriented com petitive strategies create contradictory impulses in the way low end service sector em ployers seek to control an d m otivate their employees: M anagem ent is faced w ith the classic dilem m a betw een the need to exercise control over the workforce, while a t the sam e tim e requiring its enthusiastic com m itm ent to corporate objectives.... The close direction, surveillance an d discipline of labour is m ore likely to

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destroy, rather than guarantee, the m obilization of discretion and diligence am ong the workforce.... [There are] em erging tensions betw een em ploym ent relations based o n 'low -trust' substitutability of [low-wage] labour a n d the im portance of 'service' in a custom er-led retail 'strategy.' In the Box Hill grocery stores and the G lenw ood Fry H ouses, such "tensions" have created a split in em ployer control strategies. O n the one hand, as seen above, em ployers continue to rely on their traditional d irect control technologies of routinization and surveillance. O n the other hand, though, employers also seek to foster a self-m o tiva tin g a n d self-m anaging "team" an d "competitive" spirit am ong their em ployees th a t w ill lead these em ployees to provide high quality service w ithout the interference of direct m anagerial control. H igh perform ance control strategies in Box Hill an d Glenw ood, as elsewhere, have tw o sides: one of these is high profile, the other low profile. High profile high perform ance strategies consist of launching various efforts designed to foster a team, entrepreneurial, com petitive spirit am ong workers. In com pany advertising, em ployee training an d in d u stry publications, one now sees constant references to building the com pany "team," an d to transform ing em ployees into "team associates," "team m em bers," and "company partners." W orkers are inundated w ith team m em ber and com pany partner rhetoric from the m om ent they set foot in the grocery and fastfood workplace. In Box Hill, grocery em ployers liberally extend the title of "manager" to num erous hourly employees, so th a t a t m om ents it can seem as if everybody in the superm arket is a m anager o r assistant m anager of som ething. In b o th Box Hill and G lenwood, em ployers also extend m anagem ent responsibilities to workers: as n oted earlier, for exam ple, G lenw ood Fry Houses now generally r u n w ith o u t a full tim e in-store m anagerial presence.

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Employers in Box Hill and Glenwood seek to foster w orkplace investm ent am ong their employees through sponsoring w ork based social events: picnics, outings to see local professional sports teams, com pany baseball games, Christmas parties and so on. M ost of all, though, employers in these tw o sites seek to instill team spirit in th eir w orkforces through the use of a dizzying and constantly changing array of incentive program s. These incentive program s usually involve running individual o r team com petitions w ithin or betw een stores in a single chain: w ho can sell the m ost of a new product; whose store can be kept the cleanest; w ho can raise the m ost m oney for a company's adopted charity. Program s seek to increase employee com m itm ent to corporate goals an d to personal excellence in w ork perform ance through offering a combination of m aterial rew ards (cash, coupons, free dinners, prizes) and intrinsic satisfactions (the thrill of competition, the pride of being the best, the pleasure of being engaged in a defined project, or the joy of feeling a sense of belonging to a coherent team effort). M aterial rew ards in these program s range from the banal (pins, m ugs, t-shirts, dinners with the store m anager) to the extraordinary (personal stereo systems, vacations in Hawaii). Incentive program s are not new to grocery and fastfood; b u t their use has become m ore intensive, a n d their design ever m ore inventive (see box below). In addition to these high profile control strategies, em ployers in Box Hill and Glenwood use another set of low er profile strategies that are just as, if not more, critical to the high perform ance m odel. Just as in the m anufacturing sector, where high perform ance gains in productivity have been sought through the adoption of "just-in-time" inventory an d ordering systems, high perform ance productivity gains are being sought in the low en d service sector through the use of "just-in-time" labor system s (Parker and

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Two Examples of Incentive Programs Run by Box Hill Grocery Chains The TECS (Total Excellence in Customer Service) Campaign

The TECS campaign centers on the use o f X-cards. Stacks of X-cards are located all around the supermarket Managers can give these cards to employees, or employees can give them to one another, as a token of appreciation for someone doing something extra special in their work performance. The giver of an X-card fills out on the card his/her name, the name of the recipient, the date, and a brief description of why they are awarding a card. The recipient keeps one portion of the card, and puts the other portion in a box for a quarterly drawing. Winners of quarterly drawings receive a $10 gift certificate (for the recipient of the drawn Xcard) or a $5 gift certificate (for the giver of the card). Drawings are held at a voluntary Saturday morning TECS meeting, which is held on employees' own time - in addition to the raffle, employees discuss at this meeting the TECS campaign goal of improving supermarket service. There is also a quarterly prize awarded to the employee with the most X-cards in a quarter. And there are awards based on the total numbers of X-cards received: 10 cards, for example, wins a TECS pin; 100 cards wins a gold name badge, a certificate and a watch; 200 cards wins a watch and another certificate. Safety Bingo

A program to "improve" health and safety standards at work. Workers in each supermarket department are given a bingo card for the department as a whole. For every week that passes in which noone in a given department has a time-loss injury, that department receives a number to put on their bingo card. When a department completes a row of numbers on its bingo card, every employee in the department receives a cash bonus. If, however, a worker in a department reports a time-loss injury before the department has completed a row of numbers, the slate is wiped dean, and the department has to start a new bingo card all over again.

Slaughter 1988, 1994). Employers in both Box H ill an d G lenw ood are turning to ever m ore sophisticated com puter program s to m ap business flows over the course of each day, each week, each m onth, an d so on - often in increm ents as small as fifteen m inutes each. Program s are then used to schedule labor hours ever more precisely, according to m inute, predicted changes in service dem ands. By relying on shorter and m ore irregular shift scheduling, com panies are able to m inimize the possibility of "excess" labor th at previously m ight

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have been "wasted" during brief lulls in business. The overall result for w orkers, inevitably, is a loss of labor hours, a n intensification of w ork and an increasingly stressful workplace environm ent. Just in tim e labor system s reinforce w ork team com m itm ent and investm ent am ong young grocery and fastfood w orkers, while helping em ployers avoid the necessity of having to rely on traditional m ethods of direct control to ensure high w ork perform ance from workers. W orkers a re m otivated to w ork h a rd and to cover for one another in the grocery and fastfood workplace not so m uch - or at least not solely - because of direct m anagerial surveillance. They are "selfm otivated" and "self-managed" to w ork h a rd through a com bination of their com m itm ent to team identities, as well as the pressures of constantly and literally running out of time to get done the jobs that they expect a n d /o r are expected by their employers to be able to do. H arried co-workers, im patient custom ers, and an employer fostered sense of investm ent in team competence and success drive many w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood to get their jobs done well and to get them done fast.

Health in the Workplace:

Accidents, Injuries and Attacks

A stereotype that many people in N o rth Am erica have of youth is that youths are not particularly concerned w ith m atters of health, illness and injury - w hether in the workplace or elsewhere. Such issues are thought to be the concerns primarily of older adults; youths, after all, are generally lucky enough to enjoy good health, and thus do n o t have to w orry so m uch about health problem s in either their w ork or non-w ork lives. In Box Hill grocery and, especially, Glenwood fastfood, how ever, these stereotypes sim ply d o no t hold. Accidents, injuries and attacks are a com m on p art of young fastfood an d grocery workers' lives. Teenagers a n d y o ung adults w orking in these

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industries, expecting to look forw ard to long lives ahead of them , often w orry that jobs that are supposed to be meaningless, stopgap places of em ploym ent may have lasting and detrim ental im pact on their bodies a n d o n their future life activities. 'I'v e seen the physical side of w orking a t the store," says a teenage stacker in Box Hill: "I m ean this girl, a checker, she's already got tendinitis in h er shoulder a n d stuff. She's tw enty years old a n d she's already got problem s of an older person. A nd m e, I got a backache, I'm eighteen years old. It's just, I d o n 't know , it's n o t w o rth it" W orkplace health an d safety concerns are m ost pressing for young w orkers w orking in the G lenw ood Fry Houses. W hile the g ro u p of young Fry House workers that I interview ed in G lenw ood w as n o t a controlled sam ple of workers, it is nevertheless striking that tw o thirds of the w orkers I talked w ith had had m inor injuries at work, w hile one q u arter h a d suffered m ajor w orkplace injuries (injuries requiring hospital intervention a n d /o r tim e off the job). Com m on forms of injury in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses include bu m s from the splashing or spilling of h o t shortening; cuts; back, head and knee injuries caused by slipping and falling; and back injuries caused by lifting heavy loads. Bums, especially, for many young Fry H ouse w orkers are so common that they have largely come to be accepted as sim ply being p a rt of the job. "My arm s are all scarred,” a Fry House shift supervisor told me, as she rolled up h er sleeves to provide proof: That one's from a fryer, that's from a fryer.... This arm I’ve got quite a bit on, they go all the w ay u p m y arms. That's from falling, o n the floors. You get used to it though. Some young w orkers in G lenw ood com plain of having problem s breathing in the workplace - problem s th a t they feel are caused by inhaling flour, grease, or chemicals used in cleaning. O ther w orkers are concerned about rashes and

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skin conditions that they likewise attribute to w orking w ith pow erful cleaning chemicals, or to w orking in a hot, greasy w orkplace environm ent. Custom ers provide further sources of w orkplace d an g er in the lives of young H y H o u s e workers in Glenw ood. M any young w orkers describe having been verbally attacked a n d / o r threatened by their custom ers. 'I'v e had custom ers threaten my life," exclaims one cashier in disbelief, 'because I d id n ’t give them a breast instead [of the chicken leg that is regularly p a rt of a special meal package]." Young w orkers in G lenw ood have been grabbed, punched and pushed by custom ers - custom ers w ho are typically d ru n k or high. "I d id n 't d o anything to the custom er,” a shift supervisor com plains, recalling a particularly nasty w orkplace injury: "He w as d ru n k in the drive through and punched the w indow , the glass shattered in m y eye.... M y w hole eye w as filled with blood, and I had to go in for an operation. I could have lost my sight" Several Fry H ouse restaurants in G lenw ood have been robbed; som e m ultiple times. W hat is particularly concerning about these robberies is the way in which low trust em ploym ent relations in the fastfood industry often w ork to increase the risks young w orkers are willing to take in preventing robberies: I w as robbed ... by a custom er, he had som ething in a bag.... W hen the guy came up to m e w ith a bag, I didn't know w hat I w as supposed to do, I was kind of new a t the w hole thing. I was on cash, and of course my m anager had w andered off som ew here behind m e. W hen he said he w anted all the money, I ju st w ent to d o a d raw er skim, to give him all the money.... I guess I felt kind of guilty because I w as giving it to somebody, and I didn't really know if I w as being threatened, if I w as in danger, or w hat w as going on.... You could take it as a set up, I guess, I d id n 't like that, that w as w h at hung over me: "I w onder it that's w hat they [the managers] are thinking".... I w as m ore concerned about that, because w henever anyone else w as robbed-, one of the girls a t th a t store h ad been robbed once. Som eone

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p u t a g u n to her chest and took h e r m oney. Well, obviously you’re gonna give the m oney, you're not going to w orry about w hat people are going to think.... But I never got a vicious person.... W as he really trying to rob me? Was he joking? You feel stupid afterw ards and you don't know. But I w as never laid blam e or anything like that, w hich I think w as really good, because I have heard of people th at have been blam ed for robberies, w hich I don't think's fair. Fry House forbids workers from trying to break u p a robbery o r from chasing robbers out of the store - un d er penalty of being fired. But the com pany apparently also has a policy of threatening to fire w orkers if they have m ore than a certain dollar am ount of cash in their tills w hen they are robbed. "You were eight dollars from being fired," one young cashier reports being told by her m anager after a drive through robbery. Cashiers are supposed to regularly rem ove cash from their tills and "drop" it into store safes. But cash drops are som etim es forgotten or postponed by cashiers during rushes, as they focus on trying to satisfy dem anding custom ers. Thus another cashier in G lenwood, w ho, like the cashier quoted above, had been robbed by a m an holding a p ap er bag that he later found out had not actually been concealing a firearm , argues that if he is robbed again in the future and has too m uch cash in his till, he m ight as well try fighting off the w ould-be robber. ’W ell, if I’m gonna get fired for this guy robbing me, w hy not get fired the big way?," the cashier explains: "Why not get fired for beating the crap out of him, stopping him from taking the money, anyways?" Robberies, custom er attacks, bum s, cuts, falls and so forth are also workplace health and safety concerns for young grocery w orkers in Box Hill although the frequency and intensity of injuries an d attacks seem s to be som ewhat less than in the Glenwood Fry Houses. W hereas the young workers I interview ed in Glenwood could often list a series of injuries that

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they had experienced during their fastfood tenure, w orkers in Box Hill w ere m ore likely to describe a single (although not necessarily any less serious) injury incurred a t work. Of particular concern to young grocery workers w ho have been w orking in their jobs for extended periods of tim e are injuries that are cum ulative in nature: repetitive stress injuries in arm s and wrists; back, hip, knee and feet ailments that w orkers attribute to having to w ork standing up for long stretches of time, a n d /o r to die pounding caused by walking on concrete superm arket floors; and back and knee injuries caused by repeated heavy lifting. O ne tw enty four year old checker I interview ed in Box Hill, for example, h ad w orked a grocery checkstand p a rt time or full time for the last six years of her life. Three years prior to our interview, the checker had been on w ork tim e loss for four m onths due to tendinitis in h e r right shoulder. A lthough now back on the job, the checker continues to experience pain and num bness in her shoulder and arm , as well as aches d o w n her back. She has restricted shoulder motion, and is no longer able to braid her ow n hair. Like other checkers in her store, the checker lives on A dvil a n d Alleve. She tries to be conscious of slowing dow n her pace and of alternating hands w hen scanning groceries, b u t finds that the pressure of custom er line ups, com bined w ith the tendency of a new m irrored scanner to record a n item multiple times if left for a m om ent too long in front of its electronic eye, keeps her moving m ore quickly than she w ould prefer. Both the Fry Houses in Glenwood and the chain grocers in Box Hill have health and safety program s in operation. Young w orkers are officially expected to follow health and safety guidelines w hen they work, and are trained in how to w ork safely w hen they start their jobs. M any young workers in Glenwood and Box Hill, however, find health an d safety

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guidelines in their workplaces to be of lim ited use - and even to be a n a d d ed source of w ear a n d frustration in their lives. H ealth and safety guidelines are of lim ited use because they often focus on a n individual w orker's actions w ithout recognition o f the realities of actual w orking environm ents. A produce clerk in Box Hill, for example, w ho now experiences considerable back pain, reflects on the value of "safe” lifting procedures: I saw the video [on safe lifting procedures], of course it was all perfect on the video, everything w as easy to get to. But for example, the other day, I didn't trim celery because I w ould have h ad to reach over another case or two, grab it from the side an d pull it o u t a nd tw ist and lift u p and over, w ith m y arm s o u t here, a fifty five p o und case of celery. I w as just like, too bad, no celery, should have broken the load better. I d idn't do it. Stuff like that happens all the time. A fifty pou n d bag of onions, you gotta lift it straight u p w ith one arm over som ething. As a stocker w ho w orked at the sam e store as the produce clerk quoted above pointed out, lifting problems are not just caused by im proper 'breaking" of the load (sorting and stocking bulk deliveries in the back of the store), b u t by the fact that the superm arket's backroom is very small. In cram ped storage space, it is alm ost inevitable that needed item s frequently end u p being difficult to access; and under pressure of time, it isn't always feasible to pull everything out of the storage room and then replace everything once a desired crate or box had been obtained (a solution th at w ould in any event only m ultiply one's lifting tasks). In both Box Hill and Glenwood, young workers com plain of the strain p u t on their w ork by lim ited space - as well as by broken equipm ent, shoddy equipm ent, an d m issing equipm ent. W ith stores operating under tight spending allowances, m anagers are, to say the least, n ot alw ays quick to repair, replace o r im prove equipm ent that d o not directly an d dram atically affect custom ers' shopping experiences.

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H ealth and safety guidelines becom e a source of w ear a n d frustration in young w orkers' w ork lives because they are often used by com pany m anagem ent in Box Hill and G lenw ood to shift responsibility for w orkplace accidents and injuries aw ay from the design of w orkplace environm ents and onto individual workers. O ne young cook recalls his experiences following a severe b u m he suffered while w orking in his Fry H ouse outlet: I w as burned in the back of m y leg here, a couple of m onths ago, it w as pretty gruesome.... My boss tried to blam e it o n me, well n o t blam e it on m e, but get m ad a t m e for it, because I'm n o t w earing the extra type of apron [required by Fry H ouse safety guidelines w hen w orkers carry hot shortening]. But I show ed th at w ith the exact b u m location, it doesn't cover the apron, so I told him even if I w as w earing it th a t it w ouldn't have done nothing. I took tw o days off.... It w as pretty bad sitting in the hospital, w ith m y pants d ow n like that! As the cook goes on to explain, the reason th at he - like so m any young workers in Box Hill and Glenwood - doesn't alw ays follow safety guidelines w hen he is working is due to the pressure of time, as well as to the unofficial preference of his m anagers (w hen p ush com es to shove) for getting w ork done quickly rather than safely: The Fry H ouse safety guidelines are so m uch safety, it p retty m uch takes three times as m uch tim e to d o it, just the safety things th an actually do the thing. You're supposed to, w henever you clean the fryers, you're supposed to w ear apron, gloves, there's a certain kind of way you're supposed to do it. I d o n 't d o it cause ... if you w ear all that stuff, it just gets in the way, m akes it m ore tim e, you need all the time you can get w hen it gets really busy. If it w as really dead, no customers, I w ould pretty much do it the way they w ant m e to do it, especially if a m anager is looking at me, m aking sure I do it the p ro p er way. But if it's really crazy, they say, ok, do it the w ay you d o it, get it done, we need your help. Young workers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood can be disciplined an d even fired if they fail to follow health an d safety guidelines at w ork. Thus several young workers I interviewed told m e th at they d o n 't alw ays re p o rt w orkplace injuries if these injuries happened w hen they w ere n o t following p ro p er 119

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safety procedures. '1 just got m y finger cut," says a young deli clerk in Box Hill: '1 d id n 't report it because I d id n 't have a [safety] glove on.... Even if I did need stitches, I probably w ou ld n 't a said it w as o n the job, because I d o n 't w ant them to be like, you're going to get suspended, or you're going to get fired."

The Stereotype o f the Alienated Youth Worker In a recent youth studies reader, Generations o f Youth (1998), Susan Willis published a report of a n ethnographic study she conducted of young non-college bound workers in D urham , N o rth Carolina. In this report, Willis briefly enum erates the im poverished w orking conditions of these young w orkers' jobs - most of w hom w ere consigned to w orking in D urham 's low wage, low status service sector - and then goes on to present a general portrait of the contemporary teenage service w orker as being alm ost the ultim ate example of the alienated an d disenfranchised w orker. N o t only d id the w orkers Willis interview ed dislike the w ork they d id - articulating w hat Willis calls a "take this job and shove it" attitude - they w ere also num bed into a profound sense of passivity an d apathy by their early em ploym ent experiences: O ne m ight stock shelves in a superm arket, w ork the counter in a fast­ food restaurant, or service video rental custom ers - 'there's n o t m uch difference, a job's a job.' In m outhing this cliched colloquialism , a teen dem onstrates how teen em ploym ent parallels and approxim ates a consum erist society. Jobs, like the brand-nam e item s on the superm arket shelf, are really no different from one another. Consequently, things like w orking conditions an d hours are akin to the details of a product's packaging. N either is significant - n o t w orth fighting over. (Willis 1998: 351) For Willis (1998:356), while teens m ay be active as consum ers o utside the w orkplace in forming inventive y o u th cultures, inside the w orkplace they

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"function ... as individuals unaw are of any sort of collectivity they m ight represent as workers." "The atom ization of the teen workforce," w rites Willis (1998: 356), "is a consequence of expanded part-tim e and service-sector em ploym ent coupled w ith dim inished job security. [Teens] float from job to job ... all the w hile channelling their desire for com m unity [outside the workplace and] into music and fashion styles associated w ith subcultural affiliation." Willis's portrait of yo u th w orkplace alienation and disenfranchisem ent supports w idespread N orth A m erican stereotypes of the youth service w orker - and, in particular, of the non-collage bound, high school graduate or high school d ro p o u t youth w orker, w ho is condem ned to float eternally from one dead-end job in the low wage, low status service sector to another. Conservative com m entators tend to attribute youth alienation and disenfranchisem ent in the workplace and labor m arket to im m aturity or internal character failings am ong youths. Progressives, m eanwhile, often point to the kinds of im poverished w orking conditions that have been described in this chapter, and argue that alienation and disenfranchisem ent am ong youth w orkers are only to be expected given such dire workplace and labor m arket circumstances. In the Box Hill chain superm arkets and the G lenw ood Fry Houses, these stereotypes of the alienated youth worker simply d o not fit. Job conditions in these tw o sites, as has been seen in this chapter, are, indeed, im poverished; and im poverished w orking conditions d o often lead to feelings of alienation and disenfranchisem ent am ong young Box H ill and Glenwood workers. As will be described in Part Two of this dissertation, however, such feelings and w ork orientations are only one p a rt of w h a t are complex and m ulti-sided w orkplace positionings of young grocery and

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fastfood w orkers. Young w orkers in Box Hill a n d G lenw ood - w hether they are high school dropouts, college-bound seniors, or college stu d en ts - often like at least some aspects of the w ork they do; they frequently develop positive social relations in the workplace w ith their custom ers and m anagers; and they generally have a strong sense of collectivity a n d solidarity w ith their fellow grocery and fastfood co-workers. It m ay, of course, be th at young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood are highly atypical, and th at y o u th w orkplace alienation is, in fact, the norm throughout the rest of N orth Am erica. T here are reasons, how ever, for thinking that this is n o t the case. D epictions of the alienated youth w orker tend to be long on stereotypes of youth behavior and attitudes th at are very fam iliar to us from outside the w orld of the workplace, and short on detailed descriptions of actual workplace structures, practices and interactions. Willis, for example, in her study o f teen w orkers d id not attem pt to visit or study closely youth workplaces in D urham ; in her article, she actually spends the bulk of her time discussing p o p culture images of youths, such as are found in the cult movie classic, Slacker. W hat I will argue in C hapter Five of this dissertation, in particular, is th a t it is critical to recognize and understand the nature of the im poverished w orking conditions of the contem porary youth workplace, not because these conditions lead universally and im m ediately to a d eep sense of alienation and disenfranchisem ent am ong young workers; but, rather, because such conditions lead fundam entally to the alm ost universal stopgap workplace positioning of young service sector workers.

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Part Two: Youth in the Workplace

This section of the dissertation tu rn s from the previous discussion of the general stu d y and conditions of youth w ork to consider the active and collective presence of youths w ithin the fastfood and grocery workplaces of Glenwood and Box Hill. Young fastfood an d grocery w orkers in G lenw ood and Box Hill are, for the m ost part, stopgap w orkers - a n d "the tem porary stay" and lim ited w ork com m itm ent definitively m ark y o u th positioning in these workplaces. But "the tem porary stay" a n d lim ited w ork com m itm ent are only p art of the story of youth w ork experience in fastfood and grocery. For youths in these w orkplaces also develop strong com m itm ents to their jobs that are based o n their day to day experiences of w ork du rin g the m onths or years of their short-term tenures. W orkplace com m unities are critical in these two sites both in attaching - and even attracting - young w orkers to their low paying, low status w ork, and in helping young w orkers to actively m old and - to a certain degree - reshape their jobs. In the last chapter of this section (C hapter Five), I present an analytic fram ework for describing the stopgap w ork cultures of young workers in bo th the Glenwood Fry Houses and the Box Hill chainsuperm arkets. But first, I p u t the issue of these w orkers' stopgap identities to one side in order to focus on other critical aspects of young workers' w ork experiences that tend to be overshadow ed by dom inant images of the young w orker as tem porary drifter. In C hapter Three, I focus on the local, particularistic a n d com m unal attachm ents young fastfood w orkers in G lenw ood develop for their

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individual restaurants. These "store level solidarities" illustrate the central im portance of w orkplace com m unities even in a n industry th at is so w idely taken to represent the epitom e of atom ized w orking conditions, an d even for a group of w orkers (stopgap youths) w ho are so often presented as being oriented aw ay from the workplace and tow ard other (school, personal) aspects of their lives. In C hapter Four, I focus on the phenom enon of age stratification in the Box Hill superm arkets. The Box Hill grocery store is a m arked site for studying age stratification since it is n o t only a m ajor youth employer, b u t it also clearly identifies certain jobs (baggers, stackers) w ithin the grocery store as being youth jobs. While yo u th behavior in the workplace is often a ttributed to intrinsic and worksite external characteristics of youth, I analyse how, in the Box Hill superm arkets, the positioning, identity and behavior of youth at w ork is actively constructed by structures internal to the worksite.

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Chapter Three

"Our Store is Different:" Store Level Solidarities in a Fastfood Restaurant Chain

Uniformity across space and tim e - achieved through the centralization of control and routinization of the w ork process - is the hallm ark of the fastfood chain. Go into any M cDonald's anyw here in N orth America, com m on wisdom tells us, and it w ill be the sam e as any other. This experience of uniformity is, adm ittedly, usually described from the custom er's viewpoint - as George Ritzer (1996: 10) puts it: "The Egg McMuffin in N ew York will be, for all intents and purposes, identical to those in Chicago and Los Angeles." But uniform ity is also widely posited to be the experience of fastfood workers (Reiter 1991; Leidner 1993): Fast-food restaurants try in m any ways to make the w ay w orkers look, speak and feel m ore predictable.... Employees receive instructions not only about doing the w ork, b u t for thinking about the w ork, the customers, and even them selves as fast-food employees.... Training program s are designed to indoctrinate the w orker into a 'corporate culture' such as the M cDonald's attitude and way of doing things. (Ritzer 1996: 84) M ost com m entators recognize, of course, th at there will be, here and there, individual variation and deviation from centrally designed com pany program s; b u t the restaurant crew s w ithin w hich such variation occurs are generally assum ed to be more or less uniform throughout each fastfood chain. One of the m ost striking aspects about young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenw ood, given this conventional assum ption of fastfood uniform ity, is th at these w orkers alm ost universally insist o n the distinctiveness of the 125

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particular Fiy House outlets in w hich they w ork. "Our store is different/' Fry H ouse workers in G lenw ood proclaim , in a statem ent th at for them is a m atter of pride. Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood do not (pace Ritzer) talk m uch of sharing in a generic 'T ry H ouse attitude" or "way of doing things:" global corporate culture, for these w orkers, is m ore often seen as com pany PR, and as som ething that can be opportunistically em braced o r rejected as different circumstances arise. Instead, G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkers are m ore likely to talk of (for example) the "M acArthur Street (store) w ay of doing things," or of the "Lakeshore Boulevard (restaurant) attitude," o r of the crew w ho w ork the Fry House outlet d o w n at Seventeenth an d G rand - "now th o se guys are really nuts!" It w ould be one thing if, in claim ing inter-store difference, young Fry H ouse w orkers were talking about environm ental differences betw een restaurants. For it is fairly obvious th at outlets of a fastfood chain are located in different kinds of neighborhoods, and thus will have different clienteles, levels of sales volume and patterns of custom er flow; and also th at different outlets will often be of varying architectural design, size, age, and state of disrepair, all of which can subtly reshape the nature of the w ork done inside. But Fry House workers in G lenw ood are talking about m ore than environm ental differences. These w orkers are claiming th at is the w orkers them selves in a given restaurant - the backgrounds of w hom , to be sure, will vary according to store location and environm ent - that m ake that restaurant's particular "way of doing things" different. Thus while conventional w isdom says that fastfood w orkers are unskilled w orkers w ho are therefore easily and completely interchangeable, young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood say th at this is not true. Particular individuals, these

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workers argue, m atter in the Fry H ouse workplace: change one crew m em ber, and you can change the dynam ics of an entire store. Young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood thus claim considerably m ore workplace agency than is usually credited to fastfood w orkers. These young fastfood workers are striking in tw o other respects as well: claim s of difference and agency are tied u p w ith strong feelings of w ork com m itm ent and co-worker solidarity. W hile fastfood jobs in G lenw ood (as seen in the previous chapter) are low wage, low status a n d high stress jobs - jobs, in other words, that m ost people w rite off as being "bad jobs” - m any young Fry H ouse workers articulate a positive sense of investm ent in their Fry H ouse w ork. It is not the case that m ost Fry H ouse w orkers love the w ork they d o - they d o n ’t. Young Fry House w orkers complain endlessly of the p overty of their w orking conditions, and often can't w ait to g e t on w ith their lives and move u p into better, m ore satisfying occupations. Nevertheless, d u rin g the period of their lives at least in w hich they are w orking in the fastfood business, m any young Fry House w orkers express high levels of w ork com m itm ent. The third notable aspect about young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood is that their com m itm ent to their jobs is generally form ed a ro u n d a sense of solidarity w ith their co-workers. There are, of course, divisions w ithin Fry H ouse restaurant crews that are based upon job titles, personality conflicts, race, ethnicity, gender differences and so forth - indeed, som e crew s are polarized along the lines of such divisions. The significance of these divisions, however, is often reduced in the Fry House w orkplace, an d m any Fry House restaurants in G lenw ood have tightly knit w orking com m unities. Fastfood restaurants - and the custom er service industry in general - are som etim es said to generate highly atom ized w ork environm ents.1 Young, stopgap w orkers are som etim es described as having loose ties to the social

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w orld of the workplace, and as being job hoppers w ho are m ore oriented to schooling and personal interests than they are to work. But in the Glenwood Fry Houses, store level solidarities am ong young fastfood w orkers, even though they may only be tem porary, are often extraordinarily strong. This chapter discusses the experiences of difference, com m itm ent an d solidarity that are central to the workplace positionings a n d identities of young fastfood w orkers in Glenwood by focusing on the w ork com m unities that fundam entally shape these experiences. In the first section of this chapter, I explore young Fry H ouse workers' claims that "our store is different" by describing some of the actual differences th at exist betw een the working comm unities of different Glenwood Fry H ouse restaurants. I argue that the existence of these different com m unities supports young Fry House workers' assertions that they have significant, although locally contained, workplace agency. But I also argue that both perceptions an d practices of difference and uniqueness am ong young Fry H ouse w orkers are, to some degree, deliberately fostered by Fry House employers. These perceptions and practices help m otivate high levels of w orker com m itm ent to low wage, low status jobs, and are, consequently, an im portant com ponent of m anagem ent control in the Fry H ouse workplace. In the second section of this chapter, I consider the w ays in w hich divisions and prejudices betw een young w orkers in the G lenw ood Fry Houses shape, limit and fracture these w orkers' store level solidarities. Workers are divided both by worksite internal differences in identity (job titles, seniority status) and by differences in identity that originate outside the workplace (age, race, gender, etc). W orksite internal divisions betw een young workers in the Glenwood Fry Houses, although significant, are often m uted by labor force and workplace structures: the organization of w ork in these

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restaurants thus provides further support for the developm ent of workers' store level solidarities. W orksite external divisions - of w hich ra d a l and ethnic difference are am ong the m ost significant in the G lenw ood Fry Houses - can, paradoxically, also w ork to strengthen store level solidarities. M anagerial hiring practices, combined w ith w orker practices of isolating in the workplace workers w hom they see as failing to fit in w ith their workplace communities, can lead to individual Fry House outlets becom ing m ore and m ore (racially, sexually, etc.) hom ogeneous and, as a consequence, more and m ore closely knit over time. The politics of conform ity an d exclusion that sometimes buttress w orker solidarities w ithin Fry H ouse restaurant crews are a rem inder that w ork com m unities can have a negative as well as a positive im pact on the w ork lives of individual young w orkers. In the final section of this chapter, I consider ho w typical the Glenwood Fry Houses are in the N orth American fastfood industry as a whole. Arguing that these restaurants constitute an unusual b u t not radically unique site in the continent's fastfood industry, I briefly discuss the significance that difference, com m itm ent and solidarity am ong young G lenw ood Fry House workers may have for rethinking popular images of the youth worker and of the fastfood industry, as well as for questioning som e of the school to work prescriptions that have been produced by the m ainstream youth, work and education research and policy literatures.

Store Level Solidarities Store level solidarities in Glenwood are readily ap p aren t in the w ay that young Fry H ouse w orkers talk about their restaurant crews. W orkers commonly refer to their crew as a "team," a "family," o r even "a group of friends just hanging out." They point to their co-w orkers as the m ost

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im portant part of their jobs. 'T he people is w hat m akes it w ork or n o t work," one young cashier says of her Fry H ouse job, "and the people I w ork w ith are great." Some w orkers say that their ties w ith their co-workers are the central reason w hy they have stayed w ith their Fry H ouse jobs, in place of m oving on to find other forms of em ploym ent: We w ork as a good team, w e go into work, w e d o o u r job, b u t w e have fun doing it, it's really fun. It's am azing to think, well, yeah, w h at job's like that. But it's really true.... Because w e get along so g o o d ,... no one w ants to leave. Because ok, you m ight find another job b u t not w here w e're all such good friends. So it's really h ard to leave th at job. There's been a few times w hen I've felt m aybe I could, b u t I d o n 't w an t to quit. I've been there five years, even though som etim es it is only one shift a week. A couple of workers I spoke w ith in G lenw ood had held onto their Fry H ouse jobs even after they had m oved aw ay from the neighborhoods in w hich their stores w ere located. T hough now facing h o u r long com m utes to get to work, they have resisted the option of applying for transfers to closer outlets because of their com m itm ents to the w orkers in their hom e stores. W hen young Fry House w orkers d a im that their store is different to other Fry H ouse restaurants in Glenwood, this is, in part, sim ply a way of affirming a n d bounding their sense of store level solidarity. It is also, in part, a way of saying that workplace com m unities m atter - that they make, so to speak, a difference. Claims of inter-store difference, however, are not pulled out of thin air. M any Fry House w orkers have w orked in m ore than one Fry House outlet: either they have transferred betw een stores, o r they have covered shifts in other stores, or had training shifts in different stores. W orkers also hear reports of w hat w ork life is like in other Fry House restaurants from their co-workers, from store m anagers w ho have m anaged in different Fry H ouse restaurants, and from area and district m anagers w ho regularly go from store to store in Glenwood. Taken together, these personal 130

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and secondhand experiences lead m any young Fry H ouse w orkers to their conviction that w ork is done differently in their store to the w ay it is done in other stores, an d that the people w orking in their store are different to the people in other stores. "Every store," as a shift supervisor p u ts it simply, "has its ow n little system." The differences that young Fry H ouse w orkers perceive betw een Fry H ouse restaurants are, to a certain extent, real. Some Fry H ouse restaurant crews are sim ply not as together as others - 1 w ill consider these crew s in the next section of this chapter. But even in Fry H ouse restaurants w ith tightly knit w ork crew s there is great variation. Store level solidarities am ong young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood come in m any different shapes an d colors. To provide readers some sense of this variation, I present below "snapshots" of three different Fry H ouse restaurants. I call these restaurants the "Sisters Store," the "Green Shirts Store," an d the "Players Store."

(1) T he Sisters Store The Sisters Store is not m uch to look at. O ne of Fry H ouse's older stores in Glenwood, the store is in a state of considerable disrepair - walls and w indow s are yellowing, w ater stains appear on the ceiling, and outside, large pieces of asphalt are missing from the store's drive-through lane. The store is located in one of Glenwood's outlying suburbs, along a comm ercial strip dotted w ith other fastfood restaurants, a few banks, some low rise office buildings. Small and non-descript, the restaurant seems, even w ith its lighted tow er sign, to fade into the suburban background. Inside the restaurant, however, is a different story: for w orkers there have transform ed the decaying building into a w arm and open center of com m unity. Alm ost all the workers a t the Sisters Store are w om en. A couple o f years ago, workers say, there w ere m ore m en w orking in the store, an d the atm osphere was different - m ore w ater a n d food fights, less w ork getting done, an d at least one w om an w ho felt she w as being sexually

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harassed by one of her co-workers. But since the m en have left, the crew have come together: Even w hen w e're crazy busy, w e get along g re a t Everyone is becom ing a little bit like sisters, w e're becom ing m ore closely knit. Everyone's like, 'Can you help m e w ith this?' W orkers help each other finish their w ork tasks, cover for people w h o are having "off days" by taking over on difficult custom ers a n d the m ore m enial chores, and come in on their ow n days off to help their co-w orkers o u t in a crunch. W orkers try to keep one another relaxed during their often hectic w ork shifts. One cook likes to em barrass cashiers while they are serving custom ers by loudly singing songs in the back kitchen. "Sometimes it's kinda stressful u p front,'" she says: "I like to p u t a little smile on their face." W orkers in the Sisters Store range in age from the m id teens u p to the late thirties. Younger w orkers frequently hang o u t together outside of the store, having potiucks and parties at one another's houses. They b u y one another small gifts, and will som etim es lend each other m oney for groceries w hen they're in a tight spot. W hen a shift supervisor w as prom oted to the position of assistant m anager, a co-w orker baked her a cake - w hich the whole crew then sat around in the store office and ate. A nother w orker bought flowers for her m anager w hen the m anager w on a com pany aw ard. In w hat has now become a tradition at the restaurant, w orkers take their teenage co­ workers out for a special bar night w hen they come of legal drinking age. '1 totally love the people I w ork with," a young cashier at the store says: "I know they w ould do anything for me, and I w ould do anything for them." Finding such intim ate com m unity in a tem porary w orkplace can be bittersweet. "I always knew I never w anted to w ork there for the rest of my life," the cashier continues: "But I'll miss the people, if I do quit [this year], I’ll really miss them." For a num ber of the w orkers at the Sisters Store, close ties an d w arm feelings extend beyond their co-workers to include their custom ers as well. The store has a large group of regulars, m any of w hom w ork in the businesses along the strip outside, and some of w hom come into the restaurant alm ost every single day. W orkers take tim e o u t of their busy w ork days to sto p and talk to regulars, catching u p on events in their custom ers' lives. W orkers typically will give their regulars "freebies" - extra size helpings or d rinks "on the house." In return, they find they them selves often get deals on coffees and lunches w hen they visit the businesses d ow n the street w here their customers work. A couple of w orkers have received gifts, birthday a n d Christmas cards from their regulars. Some have become friends w ith their customers, and m eet u p outside of w ork hours. In such circum stances, the notion of "customer" can become quite diluted. One cashier laughed as she observed that "some custom ers d o n 't even b u y anything anym ore w h en they come into the store." The food is too expensive (by the stan d ard s of fastfood)

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to buy everyday, the cashier explains, so these "customers" just d ro p by to chat. The Sisters Store is not w ith o u t its tensions. W orkers com plain th at Fry House is cutting back o n providing training hours: w orkers w ith a year or tw o seniority express frustration w ith new hires w ho have n ev er been properly trained, and thus are slow er an d less independent in their w ork; new hires complain they have never been given the opportunity to fully learn how to do the w ork that is expected of them . Business is slow overall, especially in the w inter m onths: this m eans less repairs for the store, less hours for the workers, and fears of being closed o r franchised out. N ew hires com plain that their hours are cut m ore than anyone else's d u rin g the slow m onths. In the past, the store has had problem s n o t only w ith (male) workers, b u t w ith m anagers w ho com e an d go - som e of w hom have caused considerable disruption to the store's w ay of working. W hile relations betw een w orkers and the current m anager are friendly, w orkers com plain that the m anager understaffs the store and regularly screws u p their scheduling assignm ents.

(2) The Green Shirts Store From the m om ent one tu rn s off the freeway and sees the large, stand alone restaurant, almost completely encircled by a landscaped ring of grassy m ounds and small hedges, the G reen Shirts Store looks different to the Sisters Store. The store is bigger, new er and busier than the Sisters Store. A full size family restaurant with indoor seating, the store is alm ost constantly serving customers - at the drive through w indow , over the ph o n e for delivery orders, and along the front inside counter. Gleaming an d spacious, the store has a distinctly m odem feel; it looks the spitting im age of the picture restaurants show n in Fry H ouse television commercials. The m ost rem arkable differences betw een the G reen Shirts Store and the Sisters Store, however, are to be found not in the physical contrasts betw een the tw o restaurants, b u t in the restaurants' w orking com m unities. W orkers at the Green Shirts Store articulate a strong "us and them " attitud e w ith respect to their m anagers a n d even, at times, their shift supervisors - a contrast they colloquially invoke via the color of the shirts w o rn by each group in the workplace (m anagers w ear w hite shirts, supervisors red, and cooks and cashiers green). Solidarity in the Green Shirts Store is distinctly color coded. While, for example, w orkers a t m any Fry H ouse outlets elect shift supervisors to be their union stew ards, w orkers a t this outlet insist o n having a cashier or cook do the job. W orkers w ere incredulous w hen, durin g the last stew ard election a t the store, a shift supervisor ran for the position:

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I thought a shop stew ard w as someone w ho represents the union and protects you against the w hite shirts a n d red shirts. So w hy the hell w ould I vote in a red shirt o r a white sh irt to protect u s against [them]? Needless to say, the cook w ho ran against the shift supervisor in the election w on the stew ard job by a landslide. Even w hen w orkers at the Green Shirts Store express sym pathy for their managers, they retain their shirt-typing language. "He gets so m uch slack from the store," one cashier said of her m anager: "Chicken's missing, salad's missing, m oney goes missing, w e're sh o rt this night, over this night, everyone's telling him to go fuck himself." The cashier says th at she is one of the few w orkers in the store w ho listens to h er m anager w h e n he asks her to do "extra" job tasks. Why does she listen? Because of the color of his shirk You are the boss, this is your job, that's w hy you have a w hite shirt, [and] I have a green shirt. I'll do w hat you say. If you go out of reason, I'll tell you to hoof it, b u t as long as you are in reason. A recently hired cook at the store says that m anagers have attem pted to counter such "us and them" attitudes in store m eetings: "They d o n 't like it w hen we treat them like they're totally high up, because then people take advantage of it. Like, 'Well, you're a white shirt, so y o u should d o this.' A nd that's not the w ay it should be. So they w ant us to treat them m ore like they aren't [high up]." As suggested by the cashier above, shirt typing consciousness in the Green Shirts Store is sometimes coupled w ith a n alm ost cavalier disregard for official com pany protocols. M ost workers freely help them selves to m ore food and drinks at work than company policy allows; a n d a handful of w orkers ru n scams stealing w hat are sometimes considerable sum s of money out of drive through transactions (drive through skim m ing is easier than front counter skim m ing since w orkers' handling of cash in d rive through transactions is less visible to customers, m anagers and co-workers). While other workers resent the tensions caused in the store by this stealing of m oney, they are resistant to "ratting on" co-workers to their m anagers. Silent on the m atter of theft, workers also cover for one another for unofficial smoke breaks, for leaving the store during w ork hours to go d ow n the road to pick u p pizza or slurpees for the crew, or - on particularly d ead nights - for hanging out in a bar across the road from the Fry H ouse restaurant until a w orker at the store signals that extra help is needed. Despite such activities, it w ould be a m istake to view the G reen Shirt crew sim ply as a group of oppositional and alienated workers. The store is a high volum e store, and w orkers em phasize their pride in being able to keep u p w ith the pressure - som ething w orkers com ing in from other, slow er stores often aren't able to handle. If workers frequently refuse to perform their m anagers' m ake-w ork tasks during slow periods, they w ork quickly, efficiently an d effectively du rin g the store's long custom er rushes. W hile 134

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w orkers don't talk m uch of helping one another in their individual w ork tasks, they do talk of working together - both during rushes and at other times - to create a less stressful w orking environment: The cooks'll start singing, then everyone’ll start singing. O r doing the accents, talking in the accents.... We just make fun of each other, you can't help but laugh, it really takes the stress off you. W hen it's really busy, you get to go back there [to the kitchen] and start laughing, then go back up front.... W e're all doing som ething silly, all the customers will cotton on too, it's not so uptight. If we're all uptight, they’ll be uptight. If it's m ore of a calmer, dow n to earth atm osphere, customers calm dow n too, which is a lot of help.... [One time], Ralph [a cook] was singing in the back, going on and on, I w as just laughing.... So one of the custom ers said, 'I’m trying to ord er.’ He starts yelling, he's like, 'Oh, sorry!' They’re yelling back and forth, I’m in the middle.... The custom er will be like, 'I don't w ant gravy.' H e’ll be like, 'Oh yeah, that's not any good anyway.' W orkplace fun, while generally w orker centered at the Green Shirts Store, can also involve customers, and m ay alter and even im prove the kind of service provided at this particular Fry House outlet. W orkers at the Green Shirts Store do not socialize m uch outside of their store: some workers say they w ould be "nuts" to spend any m ore time with their co-workers than they already do; others just say that it’s too hard to fit co-wrorkers in w hen they have busy schedules and full sets of school an d neighborhood friends to see as well. Nonetheless, workers at the store talk of themselves as being "extremely close," and like other Fry House workers, they express a strong identification w ith their particular restaurant. "I've talked with my [assistant] m anager about where she worked before, at other Fry Houses," one young cashier says: "She said, w here she w a s ,... it was totally different. Everything w as done the way it was supposed to be, but it alm ost m ade it boring." "There w as no talking going on, no socializing whatsoever," a co-worker chimes in: "I don't think I’d be able to stand that, I'd w ant to be able to talk to someone." "A little chit chat," she adds, "I don't see w hat's w rong w ith that."

(3) The Players Store "We're on a big cleaning frenzy right now," a cashier reports from her Fry House restaurant, a small and som ewhat decrepit b u t busy outlet that is located right by one of the m ain stops of G lenw ood’s subw ay line: "We’re nom inated for cleanest store [in the region], and we're really cleaning so we

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can see if w e can w in i t Cause the m ore aw ards you win, the m ore free dinners you get, it's kinda fun." While m any young Fry H ouse w orkers are either am bivalent about or openly skeptical of the com pany's m any com petitions a n d incentive program s, w orkers a t the Flayers Store love to compete - and to win. The store has been certified as a "First in Quality" store - a certification that individual restaurants can voluntarily apply for from Fry House an d th at dem onstrates that a restaurant has achieved die highest com pany standards in custom er service, cleanliness, and overall w ork perform ance. The store has also w on a num ber of prom otional and sales com petitions at Fry House, bringing employees free dinners, cash prizes and other aw ards. W orkers a t the Players Store n o t only com pete and w in com pany competitions - they compete and w in in a store that, like a num ber of Fry Houses in Glenwood, has been left w ithout a store m anager for over half a year. O ne young worker at the restaurant, in fact, contrasts her school and w ork experiences in terms of the disappearance of authority figures once she came into the w orld of work: W ork and school are just two different worlds.... School is people telling you w hat to d o and you d o i t W ork is m ore w e d o w h at w e do.... It's not like there's a m anager alw ays over our heads saying, N o w do this, and do this.' You just kinda go w ith the flow.... Once you've been there a while, you know w h a t has to be done, you d o it, and it just kinda happens.... If som eone's doing som ething, you help them out. There's not like an authority figure and then the workers.... W e're all doing the sam e thing, except for som e of us have less paperw ork than others [i.e., the shift supervisors]. None of the w orkers who 1 spoke w ith at the Players Store knew how their store had got to be the way it was - although they w ere well aw are of their difference from other stores. The process had essentially snowballed: "We got one aw ard, w e thought great, keep it up, keep it up, keep it up, until we just got better and better and better.” W orkers at the store speak of valuing the thrill of com petition, the pleasure of being complimented for their accom plishm ents, and the satisfaction brought by their material gains (which w ere occasionally fairly substantial) from winning company com petitions. H ow ever, m ore than these factors, they speak of valuing the sense of belonging to a cohesive and well coordinated "team" of workers w ho take p rid e in their w ork an d care about their jobs: We all take a lot of pride in o ur store, I think w e really do. W e really care about w hat goes on around there, a n d how w e do financially, and that kind of thing. We all try to m ake it w ork the best w e can. Actually, I've never seen a store that's th a t close, that gets along and

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helps each other that m uch. It's th at team w ork thing w e have, w hich just works for us so well, it's great. "We're the kind of people in o u r restaurant," a cashier a t the Players Store says, "where if som ebody still has garbage to take o u t and things to clean, an d this to do, and th at to do, an d I'm done everything I'm supposed to do, I’ll help the other person out." "Other stores," die cashier adds, "they're n o t like that." '1 know it's pretty wierd," reflects another cashier: "But it's fun, you know, and I think that's w hy everyone's been there so long. Everyone loves the job." Like young w orkers a t other Fry House outlets, w orkers a t the Players Store have a strong sense of ow nership of their store - a sense strengthened by the fact that they w ork w ithout in-store m anagem ent, and by their feeling that "it's o u r choice to w ork the way w e do." The ability of w orkers to take over and possess the social space of their restaurant is sym bolized for the Players Store crew (as it is for w orkers in other outlets) by the private nicknames workers have for one another and use in the restaurant, by the inside jokes they know an d tell, by the gossip an d w orkplace history they share betw een themselves, and by the fact that w orkers can listen to their ow n music while at work. The drive to succeed in com pany com petitions and the sense of store ownership can som etim es p u t young w orkers in the Players Store in conflict w ith their customers and w ith up p er levels of com pany m anagem ent and planning. Com pany and custom ers alike can infuriate w orkers w hen they interfere w ith in-store efficiency levels. C ustom ers are som etim es indecisive, confused, and slow in ordering their food. "I generally d o n 't like w orking with the public," says one cashier at the outlet, "because the general populace is stupid." She explains: "They look at a m enu board, and then ask you the price of things. They ask you how m any pieces of chicken are in a twelve piece meal, and after a w hile, you're just like, 'Oh, m y god!’" C ustom ers w ho are recent im m igrants and w ho have difficulties speaking and understanding English are sometimes singled out in w orkers' com plaints about their jobs. W orkers express frustration w ith Fry H ouse's new ly introduced roast chicken, since it is hurting their cooking efficiency: the chicken takes a long time to cook, expires in a fairly short time, and is difficult to predict how well it will sell. W orkers also com plain of the occasional stupidity of up p er m anagem ent decisions. "I sw ear sometimes the people th at w ork in the store could ru n the company better than the people th at actually ru n the company," a young cashier sighs: "Cause w e know w hat’s going on, and we know w hat people want."

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There is nothing particularly unusual about the three stores that I have just described in the "snapshots" above. All Fry H ouse outlets have their ow n distinct feels, histories an d practices. There are other Fry H ouse restaurants in Glenw ood that stand ou t as having other distinct types of workplace comm unities. There are also store-based com m unities th at blend elements found in the stores which I have referred to here as the Sisters, Green Shirts and Players stores. Some Fry H ouse restaurants in Glenwood are m ore alike in term s of their working com m unities, others further apart. W hat c an w e m ake of such variation in w orkplace com m unities across the outlets of a single fastfood chain? Are w e seeing here the failure of a m anagerial project of centralization of control over and routinization of fastfood work? Should w e celebrate these different com m unities as emblems of youth resistance an d w orker autonom y in the h eart of w h a t has so often been held up as being one of the w orld's m ost completely a n d thoroughly routinized industries? The story that em erges from the Glenwood Fry H ouses is not so simple. The w orking com m unities found in the different Fry H ouse outlets are not solely the creation of workers, b u t are the result of the interactions between workers, m anagers and local environm ents - as well as the union local that represents these workers. Local environm ent, as noted earlier, obviously plays a key role in introducing difference to the w orking communities of any corporate chain. But w hat is m ore im portant to recognize is that store level solidarities in the Glenwood Fry H ouses - along w ith the differences betw een solidarities that inevitably em erge am ong stores in a chain w hen w orker identities are focused on co-w orkers w ithin a single store rather than on the chain as a whole - are, in p art, fostered, w hether directly or indirectly, by deliberate m anagerial intervention.

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In her study of the routinization of contem porary service w ork, Robin Leidner (1993: 35) points out that fastfood an d oth er service companies seek n ot only to routinize the services they offer custom ers, b u t to make routinized services seem individual and spontaneous to custom ers as well: Since consum ers often resent routinized interactions, perceiving them as mechanical and phony, organizations can try to design routines that have some of the qualities of m ore spontaneous interactions.... Sometimes it is the w orkers' job to deliver w ith sim ulated sincerity lines that are clearly scripted.... Sometimes the w orkers are expected to personalize highly routinized interactions w ith eye contact and a smile, w hich supposedly constitute 'treating the custom er as an individual.' In other words, the idea is to hide the routinization from servicerecipients, to make them believe th at the conversation is not scripted. Leidner's focus here is on the custom er an d the service encounter; but w hat Leidner says here of the custom er and the service encounter can be said of the service w orker and service w ork w rit large as well. In the Glenwood Fry Houses, a t least, company m anagers seek n o t only to routinize work, b u t also to make routinized, chain-store w ork seem for their w orkers to be individual, personal and local. Fry House employees are literally bom barded alm ost every day w ith company rhetoric about the im portance of being a "team member." To a degree, such rhetoric attem pts to secure w orker com m itm ent to a global "Fry House team." But far m ore often, the team s in which employees are urged to participate are local, store-based team s comprised of the co-workers w ith whom they m ust cooperate on a regular basis. Com pany w ide com petitions and incentive program s typically p it store against store. W hich store can pull together and show the m ost team w ork? W hich store can be the best? How does your team rank in com parison to other Fry House team s? Fry H ouse's sometimes rabid prom otion of the team concept runs parallel to the embrace of self-managing w o rk team s a n d other form s of

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w orker participation schemes th a t are p a rt and parcel of the currently po p u lar high perform ance m odel of w ork and workplace. H igh perform ance - b u t not high wages - has, as I noted in the previous chapter, come to the fastfood industry. W ith high perform ance has come a new , supplem ental m anagerial strategy for controlling workers and increasing productivity and profits. Companies such as Fry House n o t only utilize the form s of technological an d bureaucratic control that come through the routinization of w ork, they also seek to utilize a form of w hat James Barker (1993: 411-412) and others call "concertive control:" [Concertive control] represents a key shift in the locus of control from m anagem ent to w orkers them selves, w ho collaborate to develop the means of their ow n control.... Concertive control becomes m anifest as ... team m em bers act w ithin the param eters of value system s and the discourses they them selves create. These new collaboratively created, value-laden premises (m anifest as ideas, norm s, and rules) become the supervisory force that guides activity in the concertive control system.... Under bureaucratic control, employees m ight ensure they came to work on time because the employee handbook prescribed it and the supervisor had the legal right to dem and it, b u t in the concertive system, employees m ight come to w ork on tim e because their peers now have the authority to dem and the w orkers' willing compliance. M ost Fry House outlets in Glenwood operate w ithout a full-time m anagerial presence in the store - and some outlets, as I noted in m y discussion of the Players Store, are left for m onths on end to ru n them selves w ithout any store m anager at all. Fry House ensures that workers will w ork hard: first, by deliberately fostering a sense of team m em bership, store ow nership and distinctive store-based identity am ong its employees; and second, by using a "just-in-time" labor system, cutting w ork hours so tightly that w orkers have to cooperate closely w ith one another and w ork h a rd sim ply if they are to m ake it through the w ork day.

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Young workers in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses are m otivated to w ork in the w ays expected in their particular restaurants' w ork com m unities through the positive desire to be core m em bers of their w ork com m unities, and through the negative desire to avoid the ire a n d censure of their co-workers, should they be viewed as "bad" w orkers w ho cause other w orkers disruptions to preferred ways of working. In b oth these positive and negative senses, cow orkers form the focus of young w orkers' w ork attention. W ork h a rd not so m uch for yo u r corporate em ployer, Fry H ouse tells its employees: w ork hard for your co-workers, w ork hard for your team . This is "your store," corporate ow ners say, throw ing the ball into their em ployees' court: you can m ake it as good as you w ant it to be; and if you try hard enough, you can even becom e one of the elite stores of the Fry H ouse chain. All workers have to d o is ask, an d com pany officials will come into their store, test them , and - if they pass the test - formally certify them as being a "First in Quality" store. Of the Fry House outlets portrayed in th e snapshots above, it is the Players Store that is easiest to see as a m anagerially supported w ork team , and as a successful instantiation of the concertive control m odel. But in the other stores too, a sense of pride, co-worker solidarity and distinctive identity w hether that be the notion that "we cover for one another" in the Sisters Store, or the sense that "we can handle the toughest rush there is" in the Players Store - motivate workers, at times at least, to w ork extrem ely h a rd in their jobs. Barker's comment (in the block quotation above) about w orkers in the concertive control m odel pressuring one another to show u p for w o rk on tim e is particularly apt for the Glenwood Fry Houses. As I will discuss in C hapter Eight, off the clock w ork is a w idespread phenom enon in the Glenwood Fry Houses: and one of the key factors that leads some young workers to provide free labor for their em ployers is precisely a sense of

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teamwork, a com m itm ent to their co-workers, a pleasure in participating fully in their store's particular w orkplace com m unity. The sam e set of m otivations often stand behind young w orkers' willingness in the G lenw ood Fry Houses to skip over health and safety protocols in o rd er to w ork faster and cover customer dem and - all the while putting their o w n health a t risk or to come in on their days off to cover for sick em ployees or for unexpected business rushes. W orkplace com m unities in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses, of course, are not entirely reducible to a m anagerial agenda of extending w orkplace control. Young Fry House workers are well aw are of their em ployer's interest in fostering team identities: a n d in my interviews w ith them , m any sought to distinguish their w orking com m unity from the com pany's team w ork program . "We're a team," said a cook in the Sisters Store, "but I w ouldn't say, you know, 'WE’RE A TEAM!"’ By this she sought, am ong other things, to indicate her w ork crew's ambivalence tow ard Fry H ouse com petitions and incentive program s. Indeed, com pany com petitions and incentive program s, to the degree that they pit store against store, can w ork to discourage team spirit as much as they encourage it: for every store that w ins a competition, m any m ore m ust lose. Stores that find them selves perennial losers can soon grow jaded about such programs: There's a lot of people at our store that, w hen a contest comes out, [they say], 'Oh, another one we can lose.' Cause they p u t y o u r scores u p in the computer, so everybody in [all the Fry Houses in] C anada know s w hat your score is, and we're alw ays one of the lowest. Even w orkers at a winning outlet such as the Players Store insist th at their store level community goes beyond com pany designs for w orkplace teams. "We d o n 't help each other o u t because w e saw a training video th at says,

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T here's no I in TEAM,'" a cashier scoffs: "We help each o th er o u t because it's common decency to help som ebody out."2 More significantly, store level com m unities in the G lenw ood Fry Houses support practices and attitudes am ong young w orkers that, if not always completely oppositional to company goals and preferences, are a t least often separate and critical of them . Store level com m unities, as seen in the snapshots above, generate their o w n ways of being and doing things in the workplace: ways of being and doing things that m ay include both the illicit (worker theft, giving out freebies to customers, poaching o n com pany time) and simply the alternative (playing a particular kind of m usic, organizing the store in a particular w ay, m aking local and m odest adjustm ents to dress codes and other official com pany protocols). Store level com m unities generate critiques of company practices. As seen above in the discussion of the Players Store, Fry House workers often argue that they w ould be b etter able to run their stores if company m anagers w ould only listen to them m ore closely. Fry House workers also w idely com plain of not being paid enough, of not being given enough labor hours, o r of not being given enough appreciation or discretion in the handling of abusive customers to p u t in the high levels of effort in their jobs that they do. Store level com m unities can at times generate collective action am ong workers in defense of local workplace practices. Fry H ouse m anagers, as I have noted before, come and go w ith great frequency - a fact that has contradictory significance for the strength and developm ent of w orkers' communities. O n the one hand, every time a new m anager comes into a store, workers are faced w ith the need to renegotiate agreem ents over the term s and practices of their work: w e don't care w hat official com pany policy says, in this store we organize o u r w ork space in this way, o r w e sequence

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w ork tasks in this m anner, or w e take o u r breaks like so. O n the other hand, high m anagerial turnover can actually strengthen w orkers' h an d in protecting local practices: Usually, because everybody's been there so long, the new [manager] th a t comes in is always like, 'Ok, well, w hat goes o n aro u n d here? H ow do you guys do things?' Cause they know w e're a store that’s been w ith the same [core] staff for quite a while.... Sometimes they'll say, 'Ok, w e’re going to try this and do it this w ay.' W e’ll say, 'Ok, let’s try it, see how that works.' If it doesn't work, we'll go back to the old way we used to do it. Some new m anagers tread carefully w hen they arrive at a Fry H ouse restaurant, because they know that they m ust rely at first on a n experienced and cohesive staff to keep things m oving in w hat is to them an unfam iliar restau ran t environm ent. W hen new m anagers fail to respect past store practices, young Fry House w orkers can be quite forceful in their responses. "We’re pretty bad for that," a cashier in the Sisters Store says: "The [new] m anager comes in, w e sit dow n w ith them, go, 'Ok, look, you can change this and this, b u t you can’t touch this."’ In cases w here a restaurant crew decide they d o n 't like a new m anager, they will occasionally come together to try to pressure that m anager to leave their store: We were trying to get rid of the manager.... We m ade it so bad for him that he had to quit. N ot refusing to cooperate, just m aking it harder, acting in a way, giving him the attitude, b u t not enough that he can yell at you. Stuff that in the back of his m ind, he know s th at they don't like doing it and they're not happy. It was pretty m uch the whole store [working against the manager].... The people that knew he was bad and w asn't good for the store got together. "It's fun to see," says a cook in another Fry H ouse outlet, w ho, w ith six years work experience un d er his belt, has seen a steady stream of store m anagers come an d go: "People at o u r store, they'll com plain like th at to the [area] m anager in a second. If they d o n 't like the new m anager, you can tell they're 144

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going to rebel right away.” "They'll actually stan d u p [to the m anager]/' the cook says of his co-workers: and m ost of the tim e, "the new m anager will crack u n d er the pressure." Solidarities am ong young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood m ay thus w ork both to secure w orker consent to em ployer initiatives and agendas and to spur (locally contained) worker resistance a n d opposition to these initiatives an d agendas. These solidarities, how ever, are neither accomm odationist com pany loyalties, nor are they broad based oppositional w orker solidarities: they are, rather, local, store based solidarities that exist at the interstices o f worker, employer and manager initiatives. The locally grounded nature of these solidarities is perhaps m ost clearly articulated in the m ost forceful critiques young Fry House w orkers m ake of their com pany employers. W hile workers in the Glenwood Fry Houses, as seen above, frequently com plain that their em ployers d o n 't m eet their personal needs and interests (in term s of insufficient pay, hours, respect, etc.), they often reserve their harshest criticisms for their feeling th at their em ployers aren't m eeting the needs and interests of their individual stores.3 Workers in the Glenwood Fry Houses are constantly asking store and area m anagers to make needed repairs and replace broken o r missing equipm ent in their stores; managers, w ith their eyes o n tight an d strict corporate-determ ined store budgets, are frequently reluctant to respond to these requests unless they feel that repairs and replacem ents are an absolute necessity. In interviews, many young Fry H ouse w orkers responded to my questions about the changes they w ould like in o rd er to m ake w ork better for them by focusing first on im provem ents that could be m ade in their workplaces - this despite the fact that m ost of these w orkers identified themselves as tem porary, stopgap w orkers w ho, sooner o r later, w ould be

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leaving these workplaces. "It's pretty b ad w hen you have to p u t u p cups to pro p u p the drive through window," com plained one young cashier: 'I t just makes die store look so cheap, like nobody cares about it" "Maybe [we could get] a new store," a shift supervisor and college stu d en t w ho knew she w ould be leaving her Fry House restaurant w ithin a few m onths sighed: "This one's a piece of crap. But that's in m y dream s, whatever."

Division and Prejudice in the Workplace W hile my discussion in the previous section highlighted the prevalence of store level solidarities in the G lenw ood Fry Houses, there are, of course, many differences and divisions th at cut across the Fry House workforce. In m ost Fry House restaurants in G lenwood, differences and divisions betw een workers co-exist, on the whole, w ith strong store based identifications. In some restaurants, how ever, divisions and hostilities betw een co-workers disrupt the emergence of any sense of w orking together as a unified team. And in other restaurants, division and prejudice have led to store level solidarities being preserved only at the cost of excluding individual workers and groups of w orkers in and from the workplace. Restaurant crews in the Glenwood Fry H ouses are internally stratified along the lines of job categories and seniority status. Crew s are divided betw een shift supervisors and cooks/cashiers (supervisees); betw een cooks and cashiers; and between senior w orkers and new hires. Shift supervisors, in m any Fry Houses, act as de facto m anagers, taking over responsibility for store budgets, staff scheduling, as well as day to day w ork supervision on the shop floor. While the Green Shirts Store w as unique am ong the Fry H ouses I visited in Glenwood in draw ing clear and rigid distinctions betw een

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cooks/cashiers and shift supervisors, these responsibilities can lead to tensions betw een supervisors an d the rest of their crews. Cooks and cashiers in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses often have semi­ separate social circles w ithin their restaurants' overarching store based w ork communities. Separate social circles em erge, in part, because the w ork tasks of cooks and cashiers in Fry House restaurants are physically and functionally separate: cooks, obviously, tend to w ork w ith o ther cooks in restaurant kitchens, while cashiers work prim arily w ith other cashiers a t restaurant front counters. But they also em erge because cooking and cashiering are gendered jobs: Fry House, like m any fastfood em ployers, tends to hire m en as cooks and w om en as cashiers. Cooks and cashiers, as one young (male) Fry House cook explains, may sometimes segregate them selves because they view one another's interactions as being gender typed: You have your cashiers, then your cooks. Most of us cooks get along well. I don't like putting d ow n g en d er or nothing, but m ost of the cashiers are female.... Tbey're alw ays arguing w ith each other, they're alw ays talking behind each other's back, gossipping. Us cooks, w e just, no, guy things, you just talk about w hatever, you d o n ’t argue.... It's real separate. W hen we [cooks an d cashiers] talk to one another, w e get along fine, we don't argue w ith each other. They just argue by them selves. Cooks an d cashiers, in some Fry H ouse restaurants, get angry w ith one another for not pulling their weight on the job; each side argues that the other doesn't have as m uch work - or at least as m uch "skilled'' o r ’’real” work - to do in the fastfood restaurant as the other. It is a particularly sore point am ong m any young Fry H ouse cashiers that they are paid slightly less than are Fry House cooks. N ew hires and senior workers can also find them selves a t odds in th e G lenw ood Fry House restaurants. As seen in the snapshot description of the Sisters Store above, senior Fry House w orkers (some of w hom m ay only be in 147

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their late teens) sometimes com plain that they have to "babysit" younger and new er workers, since these w orkers aren't alw ays able to w ork independently and d o n 't always have the sam e com m itm ent to their store's success and identity that senior w orkers do. N ew hires, for their part, som etim es com plain that they can’t w ork independently because they have never been properly trained. N ew hires are also unlikely to feel a strong com m itm ent to their jobs until they feel they have becom e full m em bers of their restaurant w ork com m unities.4 W orksite internal divisions thus can and d o place lim itations on the solidarities young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood feel for one another. H ow ever, all three of the internal divisions discussed above are often m uted in the Glenwood Fry Houses by labor force and workplace structures. Tensions betw een supervisors and cooks /cashiers, for example, are frequently m inim ized since: (1) m any cooks/ cashiers are them selves "in-charges" (they can act as temporary supervisors w hen the need arises); (2) m any cooks/cashiers themselves are invested in and thus share a concern for the success and well-being of their individual restaurant; and (3) m any cooks/cashiers are of the same age as their supervisors, share close friendships with their supervisors, and, quite often, knew their supervisors before they were prom oted to their current supervisor positions. Cooks and cashiers in the Glenwood Fry Houses, likewise, are considerably less segregated than is typically the case w ith gendered production and service positions in m any other custom er service industries. Because cooking is so highly routinized a t Fry House, cooks there d o not have the status distinction th at cooks in m ore up-m arket restaurants enjoy. Physical and functional separations of w ork tasks for cooks an d cashiers are actually quite minimal: cashiers are responsible for m any cooking tasks

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themselves and thus are frequently w orking in kitchen areas alongside cooks. Food turnover is high a n d food production cycles short in the fastfood industry: this m eans th at the tasks for w hich cooks a n d cashiers are responsible are highly interdependent and require close coordination of tim e and effort. G endered hiring patterns for cooks an d cashiers a t Fry H ouse are not as rigid as they are in other service businesses; Fry H ouse, m oreover, is increasingly starting to cross-train w orkers so that they can w o rk as both cooks and cashiers. As w ith supervisor/crew and cook/cashier divisions, divisions betw een new hires and senior staff in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses are also frequently m inim ized - in this case, by high labor turn o v er rates. It generally does not take long for new hires to become accepted as p a rt of a restaurant's core staff - typically a m atter of m onths. N ot only d o m ost senior staff in Glenwood Fry Houses see them selves - like the new hires com ing into their restaurants - as being only tem porary, stopgap workers; b u t they also tend to be very close in age to m any of their newest hires (in the average G lenw ood Fry House restaurant, the core staff are in their late teens and early tw enties and have about three years of w ork experience). Store level solidarities in Glenwood, therefore, are not only the product of the deliberate interventions and outside interests of employers, m anagers and workers; they are also supported by the (integrated) internal organization of w ork an d (m uted) division of labor in the Glenwood Fry H ouse restaurants.

As w ith any workplace, Fry H ouse w orkers bring w ith them into the fastfood restaurant external differences and prejudices - differences in age, gender, race and ethnicity, class background, educational status, personality and so forth. Personality conflicts, sexual harassm ent, elitist attitu d es a n d age

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prejudice can all em erge from tim e to time to d isru p t an d d iv id e w orker solidarities. In the Glenw ood Fry Houses, how ever, differences in w orkers' racial and ethnic identities are probably the m ost significant external divisions to shape restaurant w ork comm unities. The G lenw ood workforce is racially and ethnically diverse: Local C union officials estim ate th at forty per cent of the Fry H ouse restaurant staff are visible m inorities; and there are significant num bers of Fry H ouse w orkers of East Indian, Filipino, Fijian and Chinese descent.5 In m any outlets, young Fry H ouse w orkers point to th e multi-ethnic, multi-racial m ake-up of their restaurant crew s as an integral attraction of their work, and argue th at racially and ethnically variegated crew s a d d to the services offered at their particular Fry H ouse outlets: We have pretty m uch everyone from one p a rt [all parts] of the w orld [working here].... I'm from Central America, w e have som ebody from Iran, somebody from Croatia, just different parts. They explain each other's culture to each other. 'Oh yeah, in m y culture, so an d so does this.’ They open to the other person their culture.... Q uite often you get a lot of customers, they speak their language, but they're having a lot of troubles [speaking English], they d o n 't make sense w hen they order. So if there's a Spanish person, I usually say ok, and start talking to them , 'W hat w ould you like?' W e have Oriental people working and Filipino and all that. If they're having trouble, we call that person, if that person's on shift, to go help see w hat they [the customers] want. Indeed, w hen some young Fry H ouse w orkers say that their Fry H ouse outlet is different to other outlets, they are referring, in part, to their restaurant's unique racial and ethnic mix of workers. But Fry H ouse restaurants are not alw ays pictures of in ter-rad al and inter-ethnic harm ony. Race tensions betw een w orkers have left a t least one restaurant crew in Glenwood radically polarized, w ith w hite an d East Indian workers in the restaurant in a n alm ost constant state of laten t hostility tow ard

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one another. In other restaurants, race tensions e ru p t periodically. Conflicts som etim es em erge over w orkers' differing w ork habits: w orkers accuse workers of different race o r ethnicity of not having a "work ethic;" of being overly bossy and dom ineering; or of being ru d e and racist in th eir treatm ent of custom ers of different race or ethnic backgrounds. Conflicts also arise over race-based joking and insulting am ong crew m em bers that gets o u t of hand: [The cooks] are rappers, and obviously I'm like a freaker [goth] guy.... So there's a big d a s h of sodety right there.... We joke, like, 'Eh, nigger!' Like you know, although they're ra d a l rem arks, they're n o t m eant to be, they're just m eant to be joking rem arks.... We joke aro u n d w ith each other all the time, but sometimes w e take it too far a n d w e have to stop.... We just get angry at each other, you know, a n d that's not any way to work, to be angry at people. Perhaps the m ost explosive race and e th n iaty related issue in the Glenwood Fry H ouses is the use of languages other than English in the workplace. English for m any Fry H ouse workers in G lenw ood is a second language, and for these workers, the opportunity to speak their m other tongues - Tagalog, Punjabi, Urdu, M andarin and so on - w ith co-w orkers while on the job can help make w ork m ore fun, relaxing and easier to handle. For w orkers w ho d o n 't understand these languages, however, hearing co-w orkers speak in w hat are to them unintelligible tongues can be an alienating and even threatening experience. "I understand them talking [w anting to talk] in their ow n language," a young Fijian cook - w ho him self occasionally speaks Punjabi at w ork - says of his Tagalog-speaking Filipino co-workers: "But sometimes I feel a little b a d ,... like hey, they talking about m e o r what?" If ra d a l a nd ethnic - along w ith other external (age, sex, etc.) - divisions som etim es fragm ent store level solidarities in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses, they can also actually work to reinforce store level solidarities by e x d u d in g certain groups of w orkers from individual restaurants a n d causing these restaurants

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to becom e increasingly hom ogeneous in their ra d a l o r ethnic (or age or sex, etc.) composition. H om ogenization of individual Fry House restaurants happens in tw o ways. First, Fry H ouse m anagers typically rely o n w orkers' so d al netw orks to hire new employees. W orkers can thus influence w ho comes in to their restaurant to work; an d the friends and contacts they recom m end to their m anagers are often of the same race or e th n id ty (or age or sex) as they are. H om ogenization of individual Fry H ouses also occurs as w orkers w ho do not fit in w ith a restaurant’s core staff are m ade to feel isolated, ex d u d ed or otherwise uncomfortable, and thus eventually d e d d e to q u it their Fry H ouse jobs. One young shift supervisor, for exam ple, w ho is one quarter East Indian, transferred out of the Fry House w here she first started in p a rt because of the pressures put on her by the majority East Indian workforce there to date "within h e r race," and in p art because she d id n 't like h er co-workers' habit of speaking Punjabi (which she herself did not speak) at work: [The East Indian Fry H ouse workers] w ere so rude. There'd be custom ers in there, they’d be yapping away. It’s like th a t custom er's Chinese, that custom er's Caucasian, th at custom er's black, there's all races coming into that Fry House. W hy do you speak your language? It's so rude, they do it right in front of customers. 'O h hi, I'll be w ith you in a m inute,' and they finish off their conversation. In another restaurant, an East Indian w om an quit her job shortly after a w hite co-worker left her an anonym ous letter saying that she had a "very distinctive body odor," and suggesting that she try using deoderant. Exclusion and isolation does not only occur along the lines of race and ethnicity: in a third restaurant, a w om an in her forties quit her Fry H ouse job after only a w eek or tw o because she didn't feel comfortable w orking w ith - and especially, being supervised by - her predom inantly teenaged co-workers. As a result of these "in-migration" and "out-migration" forces, there are Fry H ouse restau ran ts in

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G lenw ood that have alm ost all w hite, all E ast Indian, all male, all female, or all youth crews - a fact that further contributes to young Fry H ouse w orkers' sense of inter-restaurant difference.6 Social exclusion in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses can at tim es be deliberate, strategic and conspiratorial. In a couple of restaurants I visited, w orkers spoke of actively trying to pressure individual co-w orkers w hom they felt d id n o t fit in w ith their w ork com m unities to quit their jobs o r transfer stores: It's kind of bad, I hate to say w e d o this, b u t there is som eone w e totally single out a t work.... W e're pretty bad, w e sit around and cook u p plans to get her to leave. W hat can w e do to g et h er to quit? It's gotten to the point w h e re ... [people at w ork] d o n 't even listen to her anym ore. You just ignore her, don't give h er any responses, w alk away. W orkers claim that they single out individual co-w orkers because of their inadequate work competence and perform ance: these w orkers d o not or cannot w ork in the w ays that are m ost valued by their w ork com m unities, and are consequently labelled by their co-w orkers as being "lazy," "slow," "sloppy," too "serious" or too 'b y the book" in their w ork practices. Q uite often, how ever, workers who are singled o u t for censure are also separated from their co-workers in term s of external differences of identity - in race or ethnicity, age, sex, personality, or even health status. O ne of the biggest complaints, for example, that w orkers had about the co-w orker they w ere trying to get rid of in the above quotation was that this w orker had been through a series o f m ajor illnesses. "She's caused problem s w ith shifts," one cashier explained: "She'll have to go hom e sick. A nd she had some illness, she took tw o weeks off, which p u t us in a tight situation [w ith scheduling]."7 Both store level solidarities an d inter-store differences, then, in the Glenw ood Fry Houses, are, at times, based on the w orkplace exclusion and persecution of individual workers an d groups of w orkers. There is a

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tendency in workplace studies to celebrate w orkers' com m unities as being unequivocally positive social form s - especially w hen these com m unities are found in highly technological, bureaucratic and routinized w orkplaces such as the fastfood restaurant. External social divisions and prejudices in the Glenwood Fry House restaurants show u p the m ore oppressive aspects of these communities an d serve as a rem inder that w ork com m unities can have negative and harm ful as well as positive im pacts o n the lives of young workers.

Youths in Fastfood I have argued, in this chapter, that the experiences of inter-store difference, strong w ork com m itm ent, an d store level solidarity are central to the workplace identities an d positionings of young fastfood w orkers in the Glenwood Fry House chain. I suggested a t the beginning of the chapter that these experiences run counter to m any of the popular stereotypes of yo u th workers and of the fastfood industry. The question that rem ains to be addressed, then, is the issue of how typical or atypical the G lenw ood Fry Houses are in the context of the N orth Am erican fastfood industry as a w hole. There are three factors particular to Glenwood and the G lenw ood Fry Houses that likely play a role in strengthening the store based w ork comm unities found am ong young Fry H ouse w orkers in this city. First, the G lenwood Fry Houses are small in com parison to other fastfood restaurants, w ith staff sizes in each outlet ranging from under ten to over thirty w orkers. M cDonald's outlets, by way of contrast, each employ an average of sixty five workers and can employ over a h u n d red w orkers in a single restau ran t (Leidner 1993:52). Small size probably contributes to the em ergence of a

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cohesive store level sense of solidarity. Second, G lenwood, a t the tim e of m y research, was experiencing extrem ely high levels of youth unem ploym ent. According to w orkers a n d Local C union officials, high unem ploym ent has led to young w orkers staying on in their Fry H ouse jobs for longer periods of time than they have in past eras - and for longer periods o f tim e than is the norm in the high turnover fastfood industry. W orker longevity, of course, is generally considered a contributing factor to the developm ent of strong w ork com m unities. The third factor that has likely fostered the developm ent of store level comm unities in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses is unionization. U nionization fosters youth w ork com m unities indirectly through m aking fastfood jobs more attractive to young w orkers and thereby encouraging and enabling these workers to stay on at their jobs for longer periods of time th an they m ight have otherwise. As I will discuss further in C hapter Seven an d C hapter Eight, Local C provides young Fry House w orkers w ith higher wages, m ore benefits, and greater job and scheduling security th an they w ould get at other fastfood jobs in Glenwood. U nionization also fosters youth w ork communities more directly. In a num ber of Fry H ouse outlets, Local C has actively intervened in the past to assist w orkers in getting rid of a particularly bad manager: We had a really bad m anager once.... We had to call [the union] and make lists of w hat he'd done, things tow ard you. Everyone p u t the list all together, highlighted the names. They [the union] said th at you have to build everything [to m ake a case against the m anager]. The union tells you, 'Ok, w rite d o w n everything th at he's done. M ake sure, try to rem em ber everything, the longer the list the better.' Local C has also intervened in m any outlets to insist that m anagers com ing into unionized stores operate by the w ork term s an d rules th a t guaranteed by the collective bargaining agreem ent. W hereas in non-union stores, an

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arrival of a bad m anager or a series of sudden and unilateral changes in w ork terms and rules m ay lead to an exodus of employees, in Glenw ood, unionization som etim es helps young w orkers tu rn back such adversity and continue on in their jobs* Despite these m arked characteristics, how ever, there is reason to believe that the kinds of store level solidarities found in the G lenw ood Fry Houses are likely to be found elsewhere in other fastfood (and other service industry chain) outlets. Katherine N ew m an (1999) has recently described the existence of strong, insular, close-knit and w orker-em pow ering "workplace cultures" am ong the young fastfood w orkers she studied in H arlem . Robin Leidner (1993) discusses the presence of a "worker culture" in the Chicago area McDonald's she studied that she argues was significant in attaching young M cDonald's w orkers to their co-workers and th eir jobs - although Leidner claims that this "peer culture w as ... not a unified one th a t could enforce alternative definitions of adequate work" (Leidner 1993: 134). Stephen Herzenberg, John Alic and H ow ard Wial (1998:104) re p o rt that Taco Bell in the U nited States has experim ented w ith running its stores w ithout full-time store m anagers, relying instead on the developm ent of selfm anaging teams of workers: reduced in-store m anagerial presence, as seen in the Glenwood Fry Houses, is both a condition that can foster increased store level solidarity among w orkers and a strategy that em ployers are only likely to embrace if they feel that employees' store level solidarities are already strong enough to keep stores running effectively even in the absence of m anagers. Assessing the extent and significance of inter-store difference in other fastfood chains is m ore difficult It is an irony of the sociological study of the fastfood industry that researchers w ho claim to docum ent the success of

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fastfood com panies in establishing the com plete routinization and uniform ity of work across their geographically dispersed operations generally study only a single fastfood outlet (e.g., Reiter 1991; Leidner 1993), or else d o not conduct empirical research in fastfood restaurants a t all (e.g., Ritzer 1996). The one book-length study that reports on the experiences of w orkers across a num ber of different outlets of a single fastfood chain - N ew m an's (1999) N o Shame in M y Game - describes a singular w orkplace culture that is apparently alike across different outlets. The H arlem "Burger Bams" portrayed by N ew m an are undifferentiated pictures of w orker-m anager cooperation; of shared w orker com m itm ent to getting w ork d o n e "w ithout skipping a beat;" of inter-racial harm ony; and of social insularity - w ith w orkers’ prim ary social ties being based in workplace relations an d w ith w orkers spending m uch of their leisure as well as w ork tim e in one another's com pany (N ew m an 1999: 102-149). W hile N ew m an paints the H arlem fastfood restaurants th at she studied w ith a single stroke, how ever, she does suggest that the experience of fastfood work for poor, inner d ty youths in H arlem is likely to be far different to th at of m iddle class, suburban youths elsew here (N ew m an 1999: 123). The argum ent th at fastfood w ork, w orkers and w ork com m unities can differ radically across different outlets of fastfood chains is perhaps m ost vividly, if anecdotally, supported by Robin Kelley in his 1994 book, Race Rebels. In the introduction to Race Rebels, Kelley com pares his experiences w orking as a youth in tw o different M cDonald's outlets in Pasadena. The young crew m em bers in the first M cDonald's Kelley w orked in - w ho w ere predom inantly from p o o r African A m erican and Chicano families - w ere an assertive an d rebellious crow d, stretching o u t breaks, breaking dress codes,

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fighting w ith m anagers to play preferred radio stations in the store, "stylizing" routinized w ork tasks, an d engaging in acts of petty theft: Like virtually all of m y fellow w orkers, I liberated M cDonaldland cookies by the boxful, volunteered to d e a n 'lots and lobbies' in o rd er to talk to my friends, an d accidentally cooked too m any Q uarter Pounders an d apple pies near dosing time, know ing full well that w e could take hom e w hatever was left over.... Because w e w ere underpaid and overw orked, w e accepted consum ption as just com pensation. (Kelley 1994:1-2) Kelley later w orked in another M cDonald's outlet in Pasadena an d had a m uch different w ork experience. "The 'crew ' there," Kelley (1994: 229) writes, "was predom inantly white an d very efficient. They took the job so seriously that I was suspended for tw o weeks for n o t asking a custom er (who turned out to be a m anager from another store pretending to be a custom er) if he w anted a n apple pie." If co-w orker solidarity, w ork com m itm ent, an d inter-store differences are, in fact, central com ponents of young fastfood w orkers' w ork identities beyond just the Glenwood Fry Houses, then the experiences of young Fry House w orkers in Glenwood have im portant im plications for rethinking popular images of youth labor and fastfood work. The fastfood industry is conventionally described by sociologists through the fram ew ork of work routinization: researchers point to routinization, along w ith close m anagerial supervision and the indoctrination of w orkers into a global corporate culture, as the key elem ents of m anagem ent control in the fastfood workplace. The example of the Glenwood Fry H ouses suggests that patterns of control and m anager-w orker relations in the fastfood restaurant m ay be more complicated. Fastfood employers m ay also seek to control w orkers - an d at the sam e time, may give u p a m easure of their v au n ted uniform ity in their global operations - through fostering a sense am ong w orkers of local identity,

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ow nership and control of their individual w orksites. From the p o in t of view of young fastfood workers, at least, it m ay be th at inter-store differences across fastfood chains are as, if not m ore, im portant to their w orkplace identities a n d positionings as are inter-store uniform ities. The workplace identities and positionings of young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood also complicate popular images of young, stopgap w orkers as having lim ited personal investm ent in o r com m itm ent to their w ork, a n d as having little agency in their workplaces. Solidarity, com m itm ent a n d agency are all im portant aspects of young w orkers' w ork experiences in the Glenwood Fry Houses - although, as w as seen in the three snapshot descriptions of individual Fry H ouse restaurants, the particular form s th at solidarity, commitment and agency take can vary considerably. In describing the im portance of co-w orker solidarities and local w ork investm ents in young Fry House w orkers’ w ork lives in this chapter, I have deliberately backgrounded the im portance to these w orkers of their stopgap w ork identities. In Chapter Five, I present an overall fram ew ork for describing youth w ork cultures in the low level service sector workplace, and I w ill there consider m ore carefully how stopgap, peer group solidarity and local investm ent work orientations interact in the w ork lives of young service sector workers. The work experiences of young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenw ood, finally, raise questions about some of the school to w ork prescriptions, described in Chapter One, that have been p roduced by the m ainstream youth, w ork and education research and policy literatures. Youth labor m arket theorists, it will be recalled, som etim es advocate a passive stance of accepting current youth w ork conditions as being the natural outcom e of a certain stage (the "moratorium") in youth developm ent, d u ring w hich tim e y o u th s are

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simply n o t ready to make a serious com m itm ent to their w ork lives. In die Glenwood Fry Houses, however, one finds young fastfood w orkers w ho are com m itted, invested and responsible w orkers, an d yet w ho still struggle w ith low wage, low status and high stress jobs. Skills and deficits theorists, on the other hand, frequently argue that the reorganization of w orkplaces aw ay from Taylorist, routinized w ork m odels an d tow ard high perform ance m odels will, in an d of themselves, help to im prove youth w ork conditions. H igh perform ance models have already come to the fastfood w orkplace - young workers in the Glenwood Fry Houses are already being given increased self­ m anagem ent responsibilities - a n d w ork conditions have not, d u e to these changes at least, dramatically im proved for the average young fastfood worker.

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Chapter Four

Workplace Geographies: Age and Departmentalization in the Grocery Store O ver the course o f the tw entieth century, the workplace in which young people are employed has become increasingly agesegregated. Rather than working side by side w ith adults adults who m ight serve not only as on-the-job instructors but as confidants and mentors - today's young people are more likely than not to work side by side w ith other adolescents. A s a consequence, one o f the m ost im portant fu n ctio n s that e a r ly work experience may have served in the past, nam ely, the integration o f yo u n g people in to a d u lt society, has been considerably eroded. Rather than m ingling the generations a n d providing a context fo r the informal interaction o f young people w ith their elders, today's adolescent workplace has become a bastion for the adolescent peer group. - Ellen Greenberger and Lawrence Steinberg, When Teenagers Work (1986)

The contem porary youth workplace is often said to be highly age segregated: in the alarm ist rhetoric of Ellen G reenberger and Lawrence Steinberg (1986), it has deteriorated into "a bastion for the adolescent peer group" (p. 79). Invoking the image of the prototypical youth workplace - the fastfood restaurant - Greenberger and Steinberg raise the specter of work sites w here "sixteen-year-old employees are supervised by eighteen- or nineteenyear-old 'managers'" w ith not an "adult" in sight (p. 81). "Under these conditions/' the authors (who concern them selves w ith the value of youth work for integrating youths into adult society) w arn ominously, "involvem ent in a job m ay not advance the transition to adulthood so m uch as prolong youngsters' attachm ent to the peer culture" (p. 7). Indeed, G reenberger and Steinberg argue, "it w ould not be exaggerating to say that the

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new adolescent workplace has been just as effective as the schools in segregating youths from adults" (p. 88). Looking back nostalgically in time, G reenberger and Steinberg - along w ith m any other w orkplace observers - lam ent the passing in N orth America of a n earlier era of w orkplace apprenticeships, a n era in w hich adults and youths w orked side by side, older generations passed on valued trade skills, in the shelter of the workplace, to new er generations, and youths entered directly into the w orkplaces and occupations th at they w ould rem ain in for the entire length of their adult w orking lives. W hatever tru th there m ay or m ay not be to this im agined apprenticeship-based society of die past, the notion of there being a deteriorated, age segregated youth w orkplace in the present itself contains a num ber of built-in an d largely unreflected upon assumptions: first, th at today's youth workplaces are, in truth, predom inantly age segregated; second, that age segregation is harm ful for youths - that youths benefit from the presence of adults in th eir workplaces and suffer from adult absence; and third, that adults in a mixed-age workplace will tend to act as "on-the-job instructors," "mentors" and "confidants" to their youthful co-workers.1 At first glance, the N orth Am erican grocery industry of the late 1990's w ould seem to represent a counter-example to the idea th at the typical youth workplace is radically age-segregated. As the continent's second largest employer of high school age workers, the grocery industry actually employs about twice as m any adults as it does youths. In the unionized superm arkets in Box Hill, youths make u p only a m inority - albeit a large one - of the local grocery workforce (see box below). Despite the strong presence of adult workers in the grocery workplace, however, the contem porary grocery store is, in fact, highly age segregated - although not in the sim ple sense, suggested

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Local 7 Membership Statistics By Age, Box Hill 1997 2 NUMBER OF MEMBERS

%AGE GROUP/TOTAL

Under 20 20 to 29 30 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 59 Over 60

2744 3505 2762 1772 853 396

23% 29% 23% 15% 7% 3%

TOTAL

12032

100%

by G reenberger and Steinberg, of having an all-youth o r even a youth majority workforce. In the Box Hill chain superm arkets, adults a n d youths work, to a degree at least, side by side. As expected by workplace observers such as G reenberger and Steinberg, young grocery w orkers in Box Hill often speak of the benefits of the "mingling of generations" in their workplaces, and of the intimacy and m entorship they are able to find w ith their older, adult co-workers. But adults and youths in the Box Hill superm arkets are also often divided from one another through their differential positionings in the grocery workplace. Youths and adults in the grocery store constitute tw o distinct groups of workers - and these tw o groups are frequently at odds. For young grocery workers in Box Hill, problem s caused by age segregation in the workplace do not arise because the grocery store has becom e a "bastion for the adolescent peer group:" they arise, rather, because young grocery workers have becom e a m arginalized m inority in w h a t is frequently an a d u lt dom inated w ork space. In this chapter, I describe the w orkplace identities an d positionings of young grocery workers in Box Hill through exploring the complex age

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geographies of the contem porary su p erm ark et Despite the w idespread claims, by Greenberger and Steinberg an d others, that youths w ork in age segregated w ork sites, the local (and varying) construction an d significance of age and age difference for young w orkers w ithin the "youth workplace" has not been widely discussed. I begin this chapter by presenting an account of the departm entalized organization of the superm arket workforce - since departm ental divisions are one of the prim ary structures through w hich youths and adults are segregated in the grocery store. Unlike in the Glenwood Fry Houses, w here fastfood w orkers generally express strong store level solidarities, grocery w orkers in the Box H ill chain superm arkets, though they may identify w ith their stores, are m ore likely to express solidarities w ith the particular departm ents in w hich they work. After delineating the nature of superm arket departm entalism , I then tu rn to describe how the m eanings of age and age difference are m ultiply an d variously constructed in the m ixed-age superm arket workforce. Along w ith departm ental divisions, the contrastive career structures of youth a n d ad u lt grocery w orkers give Box Hill superm arkets distinct age-based geographies: worker age in the grocery store varies across space, function (or w ork responsibility) and time. Age segregation in the superm arket, how ever, is not rigid: workers of different ages form bonds both w ithin and across the dividing lines of departm ental and career identity. Thus, for young grocery workers in Box Hill, age is significant in the workplace in tw o contrastive ways: to the degree that age differences are m inim ized in the mixed-age grocery workplace, young workers speak of the positive opportunities they enjoy at w ork for social interaction a n d com m unity w ith their older (adult) co-workers; w hilst to the degree th at age differences are m ade salient and

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reinforced in the grocery workplace, young workers speak of their sense of feeling m arginalized and excluded by their adult co-workers. In the third section o f this chapter, I focus in m ore closely on die positioning and identity of a single category of youth w orker in the Box Hill supermarkets: the grocery bagger. T hrough a n analysis of the bagger job position, I show how youth is constructed in the grocery store as a (subordinate) social category in a w ay that reinforces popular and negative stereotypes of youths in A m erican society. Youths - and particularly the youngest, minority age youths w orking as grocery baggers - are n o t only a distinct social group w ithin the grocery store; they are also a m arked group, whose behavior in the w orkplace is constantly observed, evaluated, interpreted and condem ned by old er w orkers, m anagers and union staff. D ue to the structures underlying the bagger job position, even young w orkers themselves are often a t a loss as to say w hen bagger behaviors in the workplace are fostered by the bagging position itself, and w hen these behaviors are fostered by some pre-existing "youth" identity. In the final section of this chapter, I consider the w ays in w hich age segregation can vary across workplaces and industries in the yo u th labor m arket by comparing the age geographies of the Box Hill superm arkets w ith those of the Glenwood Fry H ouses. Age stratification in the w orkplace has not received anyw here near the am ount of attention that, for exam ple, race and gender stratification have; there is, consequently, a pressing need to develop m ore nuanced understandings of the differing form s w hich age stratification in the youth w orkplace can take. While there are som e parallels in age structuring in Box Hill an d G lenwood, the age positioning of young fastfood workers in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses contrasts dram atically w ith th at of young Box Hill grocery w orkers. Young workers in the G lenw ood Fry

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Houses generally constitute die m ajority of the w orkers in each outlet, are a t the center of each outlet's w ork com m unity, an d w ork in jobs that are defined prim arily as "youth jobs."

D epartm entalization W orkplace solidarities in the Box Hill chain superm arkets tend to be organized by departm ents rather than by stores. Young grocery w orkers in Box Hill, like young fastfood w orkers in Glenwood, do often express a sense of their store being different from other stores in the chain in w hich they work. Stores are know n for the neighborhoods in w hich they are located, for the clientele they attract, for their m anagers, sales volume, new ness an d size. W orkers in small stores frequently em phasize their sense of being "like a family," and express their distaste for the idea of w orking in one of their chain's superstores. Stores m ay also be know n for their role or position within a chain: some stores are used as training stores, test stores, flagship stores and so forth. But for the m ost part, departm ental and not store identity provides the focus for young w orkers' w orking com m unities. Indeed, in larger stores especially, the differences between, say, the produce departm ent's working com m unity and the checkers' w orking com m unity can be as large as, if not larger than, any inter-store differences in w orkers' w ays of doing work and being in the workplace. "You're in your ow n little w orld w ithin a world," says a young bakery clerk in Box Hill, w ho identifies and w orks closely w ith the rest of her bakery crew, but m uch less so w ith the larger superm arket beyond. D epartm ental solidarities in the Box H ill chain superm arkets em erge because grocery workers' departm ental co-workers are generally the people they spend die m ost time w ith a t w ork, an d are the people w ith w hom they

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m ust w ork m ost dosely an d negotiate agreed up o n ways of w orking negotiate, that is, the local variations on offidal com pany guidelines for how w ork space, w ork tim e and w ork style will be organized a n d perform ed within any given departm ent. W hen young grocery w orkers in Box Hill talk of w orking "as a team" in the workplace, it is generally their departm ental co­ workers to w hom they are referring, and not to the store as a whole. W hen young workers develop so d al ties w ith co-workers outside of the workplace, it is often departm ental co-workers w ith w hom they have the m ost connections. "I hang o u t w ith the girls from the bakery," a bakery d e rk answers w hen I ask w hether she sees any of h er co-w orkers socially. "We were a pretty good family on the front end," a young checker says of the checker crew w ith w hom she w orked before transferring stores: 'W e w ould go to little parties at one person's house, they all did m y bridal show er, w e’ve done other people's bridal showers." "We play basketball an d go golfing," says a young produce d e rk of his produce crew. Some young grocery w orkers form departm ent based connections and solidarities w ith w orkers w ho w ork in the sam e departm ent in other stores - stores in w hich they m ay have worked previously or covered shifts. Some produce d e rk s d aim , for example, that they can alw ays tell a produce d e rk ap art from o th er grocery store d e rk s because produce d erk s "all have the sam e sense of hum or." In providing a focus for workers' w orking com m unities, departm ental identities in m ost grocery stores in Box Hill do not, of course, p re d u d e the developm ent of solidarities betw een workers in different departm ents. M ost grocery workers form w orking and sodal relationships w ith w orkers from multiple departm ents - and young grocery workers, w ho are particularly likely to transfer u p out of entry level departm ents (bagging, stocking) into higher paying departm ents, frequently retain solidarities w ith w orkers in

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their form er job positions.3 C ross-departm ental com m unities in m any grocery stores emerge around shared breaktim e activities and "hangouts" around the store. Smoking brings w orkers together in the lot outside the store: The workers here ... well, everybody just w ants to stay in their o w n departm ent.... Some of us, w hen w e're outside sm oking a cigarette or w hatever, we'll start talking this and that, b u t once w e go in the store, w e d o n 't talk to each other. It's only w hen w e’re o n breaks. "My smoke group," a bakery clerk at another superm arket says w ith a little m ore positive force than the speaker above, "pulls together from every departm ent, so you always get the dirt on everybody else in every departm ent." In stores where bakeries sell coffee, the bakery can become a m eeting place for employees on breaks, an d bakery clerks can be a t the center of an exchange of information, stories and jokes from around the store. Back stockrooms, too, out of sight of custom ers and floor m anagers, can becom e centers for talk, play, as well as for coordinated w ork activity for w orkers from different departm ents. In som e Box Hill chain superm arkets, how ever, departm ental identity provides not so m uch a focus for workplace com m unities as it does a dividing line betw een workplace communities. For som e young grocery workers, divisions and hostilities betw een departm ents can be m ore w earing than their relations w ith m anagers and customers: Everybody's kinda paired off in their ow n little departm ent. You're checking, you're grocery, that's w hat everything is in this store. If you're from checking, people from produce d o n 't like you. It's like being in high school again, you're in a clique. Because produce, w e’ll call back to them, like, 'H ow m uch are y o u r bananas p er pound?' A nd they're like, 'You're dorks.' So they think everyone from checking's a m oron. Everybody from checking is m ad a t produce because they d o n 't call you back enough, so it's like an ongoing thing.

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Dairy d erk s get irritated w ith die floral departm ent for putting their flowers in the dairy cooler, w here they get in the way, tip over easily, and spill w ater all over the floor. Stockers o n evening d ean in g d u ty get irritated w ith side departm ents for abusing their services, an d no t dean in g u p m ore after them selves during the day. Baggers resent checkers ordering them around and treating them as personal gofers. The list goes on. Hierarchies often em erge in the grocery store betw een different departm ents. "Sometimes you feel like you're just there alm ost as like a slave," a young deli d e rk complains of her grocery store job, "sometimes you feel like you d o n 't g et enough respect.” The target of the d e rk 's anger is not so m uch store m anagers (or customers) as store checkers: "It's like, I un derstand they get in trouble if som ething w on't scan correctly, bu t we've got other stuff to do, we can't stop and go and change everything for them everytim e they call." "There are specific checkers that are really bad about it," the deli d e rk says, "there are a few that feel they're better than you." Indeed, in m any chain superm arkets in Box Hill, the deli departm ent is seen as being one of the lowest departm ents in the grocery store in w hich non high school age w orkers can work. "Anybody that has w orked in a grocery store," another deli d e rk laughs, "or anybody that knows anybody that has w orked in a grocery store, does NOT w ant to w ork in the deli." "The deli," the d e rk explains, "is just the scum of the store. Because deli w ork is shitty work, you're standing over gross fryers, slicing meats." '1 w alk out of there at the end of the night," the d e rk says, "and I'm just covered in grease. I smell like a big piece of fried chicken." The em ergence of departm ental as opposed to store level solidarities in the Box Hill superm arkets - w hether they be open-ended or d o se d and divisive - m ay seem to follow naturally from the size of Box H ill grocery

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stores. The smallest superm arkets in Box Hill, after all, are alm ost tw ice the size of the largest Fry Houses in G lenwood, w hile the largest grocery stores are over tw enty times the size of G lenw ood's sm allest Fry Houses. In th e bigger grocery stores, m any young w orkers aren't able to even recognize w ho all of their co-workers are, let alone know their nam es or share w ork histories and practices w ith them. Strong departm ental identities, how ever, follow not solely from store size bu t from the spatial, social an d econom ic organization of w ork in Box Hill grocery stores as well. Every departm ent in the grocery store (w ith the exception of baggers and stackers, as will be discussed below) has its ow n clearly defined space for working. In fact, superm arket departm ents are colloquially referred to by grocery w orkers in Box Hill according to their spatial distribution in die grocery store: checkers w ork a t the "front end," deli, bakery and floral clerks w ork in "side departm ents," and produce and grocery clerks w ork "in the back." Spatial separation is reinforced by functional separation - or by w hat James W alsh (1993: 132) calls the "relatively low interdependence am ong [superm arket] departm ents." Side departm ents, for example, often have their ow n cash registers, so w orkers there can serve and sell to custom ers w ithou t needing the cooperation of w orkers in any other departm ent. Stockers and grocery clerks can fill store shelves w ith groceries hours and even days before these products come through checkers' checkout lines - stackers, grocery clerks and checkers thus do not need to w orry too m uch about closely coordinating their w ork tasks. Unlike the G lenw ood Fry Houses, m oreover, w here there is a considerable am ount of cross-training of w orkers, grocery w orkers in Box Hill (with the exception of stackers) w ork exclusively in their o w n departm ents. U nion rules prohibit w orkers from low er paid

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departm ents w orking in higher p aid departm ents w ithout special compensation; higher paid w orkers can w ork in low er paid departm ents but m ust be paid their regular wage, and thus they are rarely asked to d o so by store managers. Pay differentials, in fact, betw een departm ents in Box H ill grocery stores are enorm ous and further contribute to departm ental segregation: baggers are paid 40% of the top (checker, grocery/produce d erk) departm ent wages, while side departm ent derks (deli, bakery, floral) d o ck in at just over 70% of the top wage (in Glenwood, by way of contrast, only a 5% difference separates the top and bottom job dassification wages). These differentials n o t only act as disincentives to m anagers letting w orkers w ork in other departm ents, they are also often the focus of considerable dissatisfaction and resentm ent am ong workers in low er paid departm ents. '1 think it's the m oney thing," one young grocery w orker says in trying to explain her store's divided workforce: I think the problem is produce m akes way m ore m oney than w e do, and people in the m eat departm ent m ake way m ore m oney, and I think that's why the departm ents are sectioned off. Because everybody knows how m uch everybody makes, or has a good idea.... You're kind of like, 'Grrrr.' If the difference w asn't so big, I think th at has a lot to do w ith this. 'Well, I ain't going to do that, you d o that, you're getting paid for it.' Those kinds of things. Grocery workers in Box Hill are also separated from one another by the som etim es radical differences in their w orking conditions and central workplace concerns. While checkers, for example, struggle w ith w ildly fluctuating schedules and w ith not being able to get full tim e w ork horn’s, produce clerks are m ore likely to enjoy fairly stable schedules and, if anything, have to deal w ith the problem of excess overtim e in their w eekly w ork hours. Likewise, while deli clerks (as seen earlier) have to deal w ith the discom fort of greasy w ork environm ents, m ost other grocery w orkers find th at grocery

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work, w hatever its other draw backs m ay be, a t least is a fairly "dean" form of service sector em ploym ent.4 Departm ental solidarities - and, more indirectly, departm ental divisions - in the Box Hill superm arkets, like store level solidarities in the Glenwood Fry Houses, are also, in part, the result of m anagerial attem pts to develop decentralized forms of control in the w orkplace - to develop, if not always self-managing teams of w orkers, then a t least w orker-m anaged w ork teams. Box Hill grocery stores, unlike the Glenwood Fry H ouses, generally operate w ith a constant m anagerial presence. But individual departm ents w ithin grocery stores, like the G lenw ood Fry H ouses, often function as semiautonom ous business units (i.e., scheduling, ordering, budgeting an d on-thejob training generally take place a t the departm ental level) an d are frequently ru n by non-m anagerial departm ent heads. Grocery chains in Box Hill, furtherm ore, in seeking to ensure th at workers w ork hard w ithin each departm ent, ad o p t som e of the sam e strategies as does the Fry H ouse corporation in Glenwood: n u rtu re a sense of shared team identity am ong departm ent w orkers and em ploy a "just-in-time" labor system to reinforce the need for close cooperation an d m axim um effort from team members. M any grocery stores ru n com petitions a n d incentive program s that pit departm ents rath er than stores against one another: departm ents, for example, m ay com pete to see w ho can raise the m ost m oney for a grocery company's adopted charity. As in Glenwood, departm ental communities both support the developm ent of alternative w o rk practices and workplace critiques am ong w orkers in a given departm ent, as well as helping employers extract high levels of w ork perform ance from grocery w orkers even including, at times (as will be seen in C hapter Eight), free labor in the form of off the clock w ork.5

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A final factor that contributes to the social separation of workers in different departm ents in the Box Hill superm arkets is the identification of different grocery jobs w ith different (worksite external) categories of people. Grocery jobs are strongly gendered: front end and side departm ent jobs are widely seen by workers as being w om en's jobs, while back end jobs are seen as m en's jobs. W orkers in "m en’s" or "women's" departm ents often act indirectly a n d /o r directly to exclude w orkers of the opposite sex from entering into their w orking communities. W om en produce d erks, in particular, are p u t under the microscope by their m ale colleagues to see if they are really up to doing a "man's job." "I don't think a w om an could ever w ork in produce," says a young (female) deli d erk , 'because the m en w ould probably m ake her go insane." 'I ’m not even pointing fingers," the d e rk explains: "The two guys I see in produce, I talk to them, they're nice as could be. I just think it's a guy thing." Male d e rk s who w ork in superm arket side departm ents, m eanwhile, can find their masculinity and sexuality being questioned by co-workers. "I know a couple of m en in bakery at other stores," a young (female) bakery d e rk says: '1 think that they get stereotyped to be a foo-foo job. Kind of like, you know, 'Oh, you work in THERE!' type of thing." Male and female dom inated departm ent com m unities tend to develop highly gendered w ork practices and relationships - which in turn reinforce the exdusion of m em bers of the opposite sex from departm ent activities. To have fun at work, a young deli d e rk says of her mostly female crew, "we just talk about girl stuff, girl problems." Male produce crews, likewise, have fun at work by talking about "guy stuff," running football pools, setting u p garbage can basketball "hoops" in the back stockroom, com peting to "out-razz" or outinsult one another, and so on.6

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As I will be discussing in detail through the rem ainder of the chapter, grocery jobs are also strongly age-typed. Bagging jobs, although held by increasing num bers of retirees an d ad u lt im m igrants, rem ain clearly identified in Box Hill as jobs for m inority age (high school age) teenagers both male and female. These jobs, in fact, are so strongly age-typed that youths w ho are still w orking as baggers w hen they tu rn eighteen often start to feel self-conscious about still having a "kiddy job," and about being the "oldest" bagger in their store (they usually d o n 't include retirees and adult im m igrants w hen they m ake these comparisons). Stocker jobs are also identified as youth jobs: as jobs prim arily for m ales in their late teens (women in their late teens tend to m ove into grocery store side departm ents rather than into stocking work). The rem aining jobs in the superm arket are all negatively age-typed as n o t being youth jobs. Side departm ent (deli, bakery, floral) jobs are negatively age-typed in that they are rarely held by workers under the age of eighteen. And checker, produce and grocery clerk jobs are, likewise, negatively age-typed in that they are rarely ever held by teenagers.7

Age in the Grocery Store Age is a highly salient category for young grocery workers in Box Hill. In interviews, w orkers frequently talked at length about the significance of being young or old in the grocery workplace - m uch m ore so than did the young fastfood workers I spoke w ith in Glenwood. Age in the grocery store m atters to young w orkers in Box Hill in at least tw o distinct, and in some sense, opposing ways. Young workers talk o f age, first off, in term s of opportunity an d of the opening u p in the w orkplace o f social interaction betw een individuals of different ages and identities. Such positive accounts

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of the significance of age in the w orkplace are usually m ade through w orkers contrasting their work experiences w ith their experiences of the rigid and narrow age stratification of the high sc h o o l O n the other hand, how ever, young w orkers also talk of age in a m ore negative sense, com plaining of their ow n workplace m arginalization and exclusion, a n d of the closing off in the workplace (generally along the lines of departm ental an d other w ork site divisions) of social interaction an d com m unity betw een w orkers of different ages and life stages. In this section, I explore b o th the m ore open an d positive, and the m ore closed and divided age geographies of the Box Hill superm arket. The (unionized) grocery store is, in m any ways, a rem arkable w ork site in term s of the great diversity in the ages and life stages of its workforce. This is distinctly n o t the "age-segregated adolescent stronghold" that G reenberger and Steinberg and others invoke w hen describing the typical youth w orkplace today. In the grocery store, high school students w ork alongside high school dropouts, high school graduates, college students and college dropouts; they w ork w ith young m en and w om en in their tw enties and thirties w ho m ay be starting their ow n families, m aking their o w n homes, building their o w n lives; w ith w om en in their thirties and forties w ho have been at hom e raising young children and are now returning to the workforce; w ith old tim ers in their forties, fifties and even sixties w ho m ay have been w orking grocery since before their high school age colleagues were even bom ; and with retirees, as young as forty but m ore often older, w ho have had careers and lives elsewhere and who, attracted by union pensions and health care benefits, have now come into the grocery industry to finish out their w orking years. All of these workers, in their great diversity, w ork together in single stores un d er the shared identity of being grocery com pany employees.

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For the youngest workers coining into the grocery industry, this diversity of age and life stage in superm arket w ork com m unities can b e a dram atic and welcome contrast to prio r o r concurrent experience w ith highly and narrow ly age stratified school based comm unities. While som e young grocery workers in Box Hill find - w hether to their great disappointm ent or u tter delight - that w ork com m unities are m uch the sam e as school communities, m any m ore find significant differences betw een the two. Young workers often speak of their m ove from school to grocery w ork com m unity as a form of liberation: for the grocery com m unity provides them w ith new opportunities for developing relationships w ith a w hole range of older people. They speak w ith pride and pleasure of the w ork and social relationships they have form ed w ith co-workers and m anagers in their late teens, twenties, thirties, forties and on up: w orkers who, m ost significantly, are all older than they are. M any young w orkers see these relationships as confirming their sense that they have reached a developm ental stage beyond their chronological age. "I'm m ature for m y age," a young stocker tells me, in w h at w as a com m on refrain am ong young Box Hill workers: '1 mostly hang o u t w ith older people at work." "I h ad to grow up real quick, I had a shitty life," says a young deli clerk w ho feels she has finally found a social group in her mixed-age deli crew. '1 get along better w ith older people better than I do w ith people my ow n age," a bagger says quite simply. Forming relationships w ith older co-workers can be both an exciting and tentative process for younger w orkers, w ho may initially feel hesitance at approaching "adults” in the w orkplace - m any of w hom are in such very different life stages to young w orkers - as peers and friends:

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I was intim idated by th at [being young at work]. I sm oke outside, and someone else from the store w ould come o u t and have a cigarette, especially adults, people in their thirties and forties. I’d alw ays feel so awkward, it's like Fd w an t to say, 'Come d o w n a n d join m e.' B ut you know, you can't say th at to them . But most, they'd come d ow n anyw ay an d talk to me. O ne young deli d e rk describes how , even though she has g row n to feel d o se to an older co-worker at w ork, she still isn't sure if it is appropriate to ask her co-worker to go out socially outside the workplace. "Rosemary," the eighteen year old d e rk explains, "she's alm ost fifty years old. Every tim e I w ork w ith her, we find o u t how we're exactly the same. I call her m y m om , I have so m uch fun w ith her." "I w ould love to go out [socially] w ith her," the d e rk says: "But she’s thirty years older than me. How d o I say, you know, T)o you w an t to go out and do something?"' Entrance into the grocery w ork community can be liberating for some young workers in Box Hill in that the sodal categories and divisions a n d the cultural capital that w ere so im portant in high school often have m uch less significance in their new w orkplace communities. O lder w orkers, espedally, simply do not p artidpate in such high school based economies of m eaning. As one young d e rk puts it, it no longer m atters so m uch exactly how old yo u are when the ages of your co-workers are all over the map. It no longer m atters exactly w hat clothes you w ear w hen your co-workers are all in uniform, w hen your co-workers share the fashion tastes of different age groups and generations, or w hen y o u r co-workers simply d o n ’t have so m uch vested in their clothing styles as do students in high school: In school, you have to w orry about peer pressure, about trying to fit in, trying to w orry about w h at other people think, w earing the right dothes, driving the right car. To me, that's just a lot of BS. [At w ork,] you don't have to w orry ab o u t w h at other people think, you d o n 't have to w orry about-, you w ear uniform s [That's because] all sorts of people become grocery w orkers, there's the high school crow d, you've

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got your people w ith families. I think it's all sorts of people, all sorts of age groups, all sorts of ethnic backgrounds, a w hole bunch of different people w ho can come together. A nd not, you d o n 't have to w orry about how old that person is, o r w here th at person comes from, w h at kind of family they come from.... One thing I hate is cliques, I don't like cliques, I w as never in one in high school. That's the one thing I hated about school w as the cliques and the w ay you needed to fit in. A t w ork, there's no cliques.... You m ight have your deli people, b u t it's not like they just stick w ith deli people, they w on't associate w ith other people in the bakery o r floral.... You don't have your cliques or y o u r groups, y o u r skaters over here. We've got all different kinds of people in there. W e've got your gossip, we've got your redneck. N obody cares w hat you are, and I like that. I like that. Similar observations are m ade by m any other young grocery w orkers in Box Hill. A stocker, for example, described his misery at school - w here students would be concerned that "so and so wears this brand of jeans, while so an d so wears this brand of jeans" - and his com parative relief a t w ork to be able to hang out w ith older w orkers in their tw enties and thirties w ho d id n 't particularly care w ho wore w hat kind of jeans. These are people "you can learn from," the stocker tells me, "they have life experience."8 Indeed, the "mingling of generations" in the m ixed age grocery store can provide young w orkers not just w ith new and m ore diverse and open social relationships w ith their older co-workers, b u t w ith valued learning experiences as well. O lder workers, as well as managers, act - as G reenberger and Steinberg and other com m entators on the youth w orkplace hope they would act - as m entors and confidants to their young grocery co-workers. Older workers teach younger co-workers tricks for getting by and succeeding in the grocery workplace; b u t they also share their know ledge, experience an d feelings about life outside of and beyond grocery. A teenage stocker a n d high school dropout, for example, w ho w asn’t sure w hat he w anted to do w ith his life - but w ho w as toying w ith the idea of becom ing a trucker - found a friend

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and counselor in a fifty year old grocery d e rk w ho also w orked a t his superm arket: Elizabeth has been like a m om to m e. She used to drive trucks, so I talk to her about truck driving a lot. She's a real nice lady.... She's given me a lot of good advice. She probably thinks I d o n 't listen to her, but I do. She doesn't w a n t me to be a trucker. She told m e to quit sm oking too! I told her I w anted to get a tattoo on m y right arm , she's like, N o , don't do that.' I w on't listen to her on th at one, though. If I get enough m oney, I’m getting one.... But she's outstanding, she's the kind of friend you w a n t For m any young grocery workers, the "older" co-w orkers w hom they look to learn from m ay actually be only a year o r tw o older than they are - workers w ho are just o u t of high school, or w ho are a grade o r tw o ahead of them. Young w orkers in Box Hill sometimes talk of how they have been able to m eet and becom e friends w ith in the grocery w orkplace older youths whom they feel they never w ould have been able to m eet as easily in their schools o r elsewhere. Friendships w ith older y outh co-workers can bring valued access to inform ation about education and em ploym ent paths beyond the high school, as well as access to new social w orlds - to local party o r club scenes, d rug connections, sexual relationships and so on.

If, however, age in the Box Hill superm arkets is spoken of by young workers in term s of the opening up of opportunities and social interactions, it is also pointed to as a factor in their workplace exclusion an d m arginalization. For m any young grocery w orkers in Box Hill find them selves either on the periphery of or altogether outside their grocery stores' central w orking comm unities. Youths are m arginalized in grocery store com m unities through both the departm ental and career structure of the grocery industry. As noted previously, the youngest grocery w orkers in Box Hill often w ork in different departm ents to their adult co-workers - they w ork as baggers and 179

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stockers - and, as such, they frequently find them selves separated from older workers in term s of status, w ork responsibilities, space and social netw orks. Bagger and stocker w ages place young w orkers in these departm ents in a class far below adult dom inated classifications of checkers, produce and grocery clerks; bagger and stocker work tasks are, similarly, w idely seen in the grocery store as being simpler, less skilled and less im portant th an the w ork tasks perform ed by other w orkers in adult dom inated departm ents. Bagging work tasks, furtherm ore, place young baggers quite literally o n the outer edges of grocery w ork communities: baggers w ork prim arily a t the front ends (bagging groceries) and even outside of superm arket buildings in adjacent parking lots (collecting grocery carts). 'It's such a big store," one young bagger says, explaining w hy she has little knowledge of w ho h e r co-w orkers in other departm ents are: Most people, you don't really see them.... It took m e a couple of m onths to realize w here certain people did w ork. I just knew they w ere around occasionally. They're back behind doors in the back, and I'm sorta stuck up front. On the one hand, baggers have greater freedom of m ovem ent in the superm arket than m any of their adult co-workers - w ho are largely confined to checkstands or departm ent counters. But on the other, baggers have no space in the superm arket to call their own: the space in w hich they move is almost entirely public, custom er space. In the spatial sym bolism of the superm arket, then, baggers are still sem i-outsiders to the w orld of the workplace whose m ovem ents rem ain concentrated in those areas that have been consigned to superm arket visitors. Stockers, too, experience som ething of this blend of hom elessness and freedom of m ovem ent in the grocery store. Stocking w ork tasks can bring stockers into contact w ith w orkers all over the superm arket; b u t they can also

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isolate stockers from their co-workers, as stockers spend m uch of their tim e w orking by themselves, filling shelves o u t o n the superm arket floor. Stockers, consequently, like baggers, can som etim es be left "out of the loop" in the circulation of inform ation betw een older and m ore experienced grocery employees. "The only reason I’m plugged in," an eighteen year old produce d e rk says, "is because of the position I'm in [having a job in the produce departm ent], which is unusual [for a teenager]:" Stockers, they are like jerked around all the tim e [by managers] just because they're low, they're young.... I know so m uch about w hat goes on, how things should be ru n just from being in the backroom w ith all these people that have been there forever. I know all this stuff, hearing em talk about it.... They [stockers and baggers] have no d u e as to w hat's going on.... There's a big separation betw een older people and younger people [working in the store].... Most [people m y age] are baggers, stockers. They're separated, they don't talk to any of the older people. O lder people are just people they see working, not to talk to o r say hi to. Stockers a little bit more, but baggers especially. The produce d e rk tries to pass along inform ation w h en he can to his friends w ho are still w orking as stockers a nd baggers in his store: "If som eone says, T h ey ’re m aking me do this,' and I know th at’s not the way it’s supposed to go, I'U say, 'You shouldn't, don’t do it, it's not yo u r job, it’s not your responsibility."’ For some stockers, the d e rk even says, 'Til talk to m anagers [on their behalf]." But beyond this, according to the young produce derk, young stockers and baggers in his store are often left in the lurch. In addition to departm ental divisions, young w orkers in Box Hill are also m arginalized in the workplace by grocery industry career structures. Unlike fastfood jobs, which in the Glenwood Fry H ouses, as elsewhere, are seen as being prototypically "youth jobs" (despite the presence of older workers), grocery jobs in Box Hill are seen as being held by tw o distinct

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categories of people: "lifers" - older, long-term em ployees w ho constitute the core of the grocery workforce and w ho usually w ork as d o se to fulltim e hours as they can during the weekdays; and "students" - younger, stopgap and peripheral employees, who are prototypically high school students working part time during non-weekday hours as they m ake their w ay through school. Many grocery workers, of course, fall betw een these tw o categories of workers: b u t the categories norm atively structure how w orkers identify themselves and are identified by others in the grocery workplace. The grocery workforce, in terms of age and life stage, is a distinctly tw o tiered workforce. As w ith departm ental solidarities in Box Hill grocery, career status solidarities generally form an open ended focus for w orkplace com m unities younger, tem porary workers tend to work, identify an d socialize m ore w ith other young, tem porary workers than they d o w ith older, perm anent workers (and vice versa). Career status differences, in fact, introduce a tem poral dim ension to the age geographies of the Box Hill grocery store. While teenage wom en, for example, m ay w ork in the sam e superm arket bakeries and delis as do older women, younger and older w orkers in these and other departm ents often w ork on different shifts to one another. O lder, perm anent workers tend to w ork weekday shifts, while youths an d students are m ost likely to w ork irregular hours in the evenings and on weekends. Between three and five o'clock on weekday afternoons in Box Hill superm arkets - and between the Friday and Saturday m orning shifts - the average age of w orkers working on the grocery shop floor can drop suddenly an d dramatically. In some Box Hill superm arkets and superm arket departm ents, career status solidarities - again, like departm ental solidarities - can produce social divisions and hostilities betw een younger a n d older workers. As a young deli clerk explains of h e r fractious superm arket deli staff, th e com bination of

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(worksite external) age prejudices and (worksite internal) age-based shift divisions can sometimes m ake w orkplace interactions betw een w orkers of different ages and life stages particularly nasty: The m orning crew [in the deli] an d the night crew d o n ’t g et along, and the m orning crew is older ladies, and then the night crew is younger people.... They don’t like each other, they always telling on each other, day crew didn't do this or night crew d id n 't d o th a t It's like tw o generation gaps betw een them, because there's old people in their forties, and then young people in their twenties.... They [the older workers] talk about us, like, T hey talk too m uch and they're lazy’.... You’d think old people w ould w anna give young people some wisdom, you know. N ot them , they w ant to keep it all to them selves and act m ean tow ard us, snotty, give us the shoulder, talk behind our backs.... They talk too, you know , they talk, laugh, they be eating food while they m ake the p arty trays [which they're not supposed to do].... We just d o n ’t tell on them because w e don't care. Popular discourses that portray younger generations as lacking a w ork ethic o r sense of responsibility color some older w orkers' view s of their younger co­ workers. For their part, younger w orkers som etim es tread on popular discourses of the universal possibility of individual upw ard m obility in America, and look on older grocery co-w orkers as having in som e w ay personally failed in their career trajectories. "The deli," the young deli w orker quoted above - a student w orker w ho is in training to become a nurse at a local Box Hill college - says derisively of her older deli co-workers, "is th eir LIFE!"9 In addition to such prejudices about the w ork perform ances and w ork orientations of youth workers and lifers, beliefs about preferential m anagerial treatm ent and feelings of job com petition can further entrench age based divisions in the grocery store. O lder grocery w orkers in Box Hill often express sym pathy for their younger co-workers, and feel th at store m anagers abuse younger w orkers because these w orkers have n o t yet learned how to stand u p

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for them selves in the workplace. But, o n the oth er hand, som e grocery w orkers in Box Hill - both young an d old - feel that younger w orkers are actually sometimes treated better by superm arket m anagers th an are older workers. The deli clerk quoted above, for exam ple, notes th at m anagers in her grocery store seem to cut younger w orkers m ore slack, gran t younger w orkers m ore favors, and praise younger w orkers m ore th an they did w ith older w orkers. The reason for this, she suggests, is that "we're the younger ones coming in and they [the m anagers] w ant to keep their people at Good Grocers." In other words, some young grocery w orkers m ay be able to get their w ay m ore w ith m anagers than older w orkers can, since m anagers m ay be interested in trying to keep young w orkers - as self-identified tem porary w orkers - from leaving their em ploy. M anagers m ay neglect older w orkers because: (1) as long term or perm anent w orkers, older w orkers have no special need of convincing to stay on at w ork; or alternatively, (2) m anagers actively prefer younger workers, since they tend to be cheaper w orkers and (possibly) fresher workers less jaded and tired ou t by accum ulated w ork experience.10 W hile tem porary and perm anent grocery w orkers tend to m utually reinforce the differences (and in som e cases, the divisions) betw een them in the grocery store, it is the perm anent grocery w orkers w ho stand at the center of superm arket social netw orks - and perm anent workers, too, as will be seen in C hapter Six, who dom inate grocery union positions and agendas. One of the clearest symbols of this dom inance m ay be found in the planning of grocery store social events. A lthough held relatively infrequently (a couple of times a year usually), store social events constitute direct representations for som e young w orkers of their peripheral status in grocery w o rk com m unities:

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We [our store] had a little party a t the Blue M oon Q u b [this Christm as], but minors w eren't included. So I felt kinda bad, you know. I w as going to go b u t then-, b u t then I read on the paper, *No m inors allowed.' I can understand why, because a club th at serves alcohol. I mean it w as no hard feelings by any of us because it w as like, half of us [underage workers] probably w asn't going to go anyway. But I w as going to go. So it w as just Uke, oh well, you know, T hursday night, we can go out and do som ething else. A t a num ber of superm arkets in Box Hill, young grocery w orkers com plained that store social events h ad been held in places th at they w ere unable to get to (because of not having cars, for example), that older w orkers w ould disappear at store social events into bars w hich d id n 't allow m inors to enter, or th at younger workers simply w eren't particularly encouraged by m anagers a n d older workers to come out to store social events. At one store, a couple of teenage stockers responded to this sense of social exclusion by organizing to hold a separate store party especially for younger workers: We said, forget this, w e're throw ing a party for underaged em ployees, for just us, on our ow n time. We planned it ourselves, used o u r ow n money, it was not affiliated w ith the store, w e had to do it ourselves. "There’s so m uch tension in our store," one of the stockers explained, "we could really use a store party, w here everybody’s m ixing together, having a good time." If their store w ouldn’t throw a party that included younger workers, the stockers decided, then they w ould have to do it for themselves. The exclusion of young, tem porary w orkers in Box Hill from store social events has prim arily a symbolic significance - and young w orkers, as seen above, can sometimes create their ow n m atching social events. The marginalization of some young grocery workers from in-store social an d inform ation netw orks can likewise, to a n extent, be m ade u p for th rough the creation of parallel and adjacent netw orks am ong young, tem porary w orkers themselves. But the m arginalization an d exclusion of young, tem porary 185

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workers from union positions a n d agendas in Box Hill - a m arginalization and exdusion that both follows from and leads to m arginalization and exclusion of young, tem porary w orkers w ithin grocery w ork com m unities limits young grocery workers, as will be discussed in C hapter Six, in ways that, w ithout alternative avenues of collective, form al representation, they are sim ply unable to overcome.

The Grocery Bagger:

Constructing Youth in the Workplace

Age is an act, a performance in the sense of something requiring a c tiv ity and labor, and age is norm ative. Whether we do it well or poorly, according to the dominant rules or not, our accomplishment of age - indeed age itself is always collective and social. However, age is not simply shaped by social forces; it is constituted in interaction and gains its meaning in interaction and in the context o f larger social forces. We all perform or enact age; we perform our own age constantly, but we also give meaning to other ages and to age in general in our actions and interactions, our beliefs and words and feelings, our social policies.

- Cheryl Laz, "Act Your Age”

Youths in the Box Hill grocery store are not just a distinct social group: they are also a m arked social group. For the behavior of youths in the superm arket workplace is constantly com m ented upon, judged, interpreted, and quite frequently, com plained about and condem ned by older workers, m anagers, customers and union staff. The behavior of young w orkers, m oreover, is on display in the workplace as representing som e essential nature of youth. If an adult grocery w orker is lazy, late, careless o r irresponsible, or likes to play around, that w orker's behavior is rarely said to reveal some truth about adulthood a t work; rather, that w orker is likely to be called simply a bad or possibly a disgruntled or alienated w orker. If, o n the

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other hand, a young grocery w orker exhibits the sam e set of behaviors, these behaviors are likely to be said to be caused by that w orker's yo u th - and by implication, by his o r her im m aturity. Similarly, a young w orker w ho shows himself o r herself to be a com m itted, responsible, eager an d serious w orker in the grocery workplace is as likely as not to be called n o t just a good worker, b u t a w orker w ho is particularly "mature for his (or her) age." This m anner of evaluating the w ork behaviors of young grocery workers, of course, serves to m aintain and reinforce p opular and negative stereotypes about youth - and especially, the current generation of youth - as workers. Youths cure frequently said to lack a w ork ethic, to have poor w ork attitudes, and to lack com m itm ent to their jobs; yo u th labor is generally seen as being unskilled labor and therefore as lacking in value a n d status distinction (youths don't need to be paid m uch and are thus easily and eternally replaceable in die workplace). In this section, I analyze how structures internal to the superm arket construct youth as a relevant (and subordinate) social category in the workplace, and w ork to further m aintain and reinforce these popular youth stereotypes. The key site for this workplace internal construction of youth as a m eaningful category is found in the job position of the grocery bagger. For it is the behaviors and stances of minority age grocery baggers, m ore than any other group of young w orkers in the superm arket, that are the object of attention and concern w hen stereotypes of youth start getting bandied about in the Box Hill grocery store. Bagging, as I have noted above, is clearly identified in Box Hill as a youth job. As a rule, Box Hill superm arkets will generally not hire teenagers u nder the age of eighteen for any other position in the grocery store. Many grocery stores actually invoke state and federal child labor law s as central reasons for this de facto segregation of high school aged labor in their

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workplaces: child labor law s prohibit w orkers u n d e r the age of eighteen working w ith dangerous m achinery, and m ost o th er jobs in the superm arket involve som e such "dangerous" w ork (e.g., w ork w ith ovens in the bakery, m eat slicers in the deli, trash com pactors and balers in stocking jobs). Some baggers thus blame the state rather than their em ployers for n o t being able to m ove u p into other (higher paying) grocery departm ents: Once I turn eighteen, 1 can w ork in all of the departm ents. I can't use m ost of the equipm ent till I'm eighteen.... If it w as an ideal j o b ... I w ould be able to p u t things in the garbage can [and be a stocker]. I'm not allowed to touch the garbage crusher, cause I have to be eighteen. W hich is like, yeah. I'm going to throw m yself in there.... I don’t think w hen I tu rn eighteen I'm gonna get a brain. I kinda thought I had one already. But I guess the law thinks I have to be eighteen to have one so. In fact, grocery stores' invocations of child labor law s to restrict m inority age youths to bagging positions are quite arbitrary. For in practice, grocery stores in Box Hill d o em ploy m inors in departm ents o th er th an bagging, and while some do so in violation of child labor laws, m ost can easily accom m odate these laws through asking m inors to leave those few tasks that they are legally prohibited from perform ing to their older co-w orkers. Child labor laws, in this context, are thus significant to Box H ill grocery em ployers prim arily for their role in legitim izing and naturalizing - th ro u g h invoking the authority of the state and the scientific know ledge th at is presum ed to stand behind such authority - a rb itra rily restrictive hiring practices. M inority age youth, by way of governm ent law, come to be defined in the Box Hill grocery store as being inherently able to do nothing m ore than bagging work. The bagging w ork that m inority age youth are consigned to perform is the lowest status, lowest paid, least independent, a n d - a t least in its official job description - the least varied, least dem anding a n d m ost boring w ork there is to d o in the Box H ill superm arket. O ne of a bagger's prim ary

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responsibilities is to assist grocery checkers (w ith bagging groceries, running price checks, exchanging dam aged items, finding products that custom ers couldn't find on the store shelves, returning products th at custom ers decide they don’t w ant and so forth). This m eans th at baggers, unlike other grocery workers, in effect have two sets of bosses: checkers as well as store m anagers. It also means that baggers (again, unlike other grocery workers) are rarely able to get through a w ork shift w ithout having som e other w orker in the grocery store tell them w hat they should be doing. Baggers' general checker assistant role is ripe for abuse, for it is all too easy for checkers to treat baggers as personal gofers whose o n ly responsibility is to w ait on them individually hand and foot. In addition to being general checker assistants, baggers, in m ost Box Hill superm arkets, are also store janitors, responsible for em ptying store trash cans, doing clean-ups and floor sweeps, and - m ost disliked of all their chores - cleaning staff toilets. For m any Box Hill baggers, these janitorial duties are a stark rem inder, in case they needed one, th at their rank in the superm arket is, as one bagger p u t it, the "lowest of the low:" The baggers h e re ... they don't ge t respect. They do everything, garbage, hey, do this for me, do this for me, bag here, bag there, carts. W hen you're a bagger you’re the slave of the store. "Bagging is basically doing all the little things noone else w ants to do," says one bagger: "If a job's w orth doing it’s w orth doing, b u t if it's not w e give it to the bagger kind of thing." Slavery is, in fact, w idely used by young w orkers in the Box Hill superm arkets as a m etaphor to refer to the position and role of baggers in the grocery store. W hen m inority age youths in the Box Hill superm arket are identified solely as baggers, and w hen bagging is identified as being prototypically (minority age) youth w ork, the characteristics of bagging jobs - low status, low value, low independence, low skill - all too easily ru b off 189

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o n people's evaluations of (m inority age) youths as workers: these youths come to be seen and treated as a class below (i.e., slaves) the rest of the grocery workforce. The identification of baggers as m inority age youths - an d the corresponding identification of m anagers and checkers as adults - often leads to m anager-bagger and checker-bagger interactions being m odelled as if they were parent-child interactions. Baggers in Box Hill widely com plain th at they are talked to at w ork as if they w ere "four years old." Some baggers com plain of m icro-m anagem ent and of the tendency of m anagers and older w orkers to hyper-explain w ork tasks to them: [Baggers] are usually treated as not being very intelligent.... Sometimes they [managers] dum b things do w n a lot, like, "You need to go, and there's the m op in the broom closet w ith the bucket of w ater, a n d I w ant you to m op the floor. Do you w ant som eone to help you w ith it?' I'm like, I can m op the floor. D o you know how to d o a floor sw eep?' I'm like, yeah, I just take the broom and ru n it across the floor.... 'Do you know w hat a go-back is? Do you know w here these item s are? Do you w ant a map? Can you do this? Do you w ant me to get som eone else to do it? Many grocery workers in Box Hill - w hether old or young, baggers o r not also feel that baggers are ordered about, disciplined and yelled at by m anagers (and by some checkers) in ways that w ould never happen to older w orkers working in other departm ents. One young bakery clerk, for example, w as particularly upset at the way m anagers in her store treated baggers as if they w ere sm all children: W hen I say they [baggers] are treated like the m anager is their m om or d ad, it's well, 'You know w h at you should b e doing!' I've seen em yell at em, in front of customers, aw ay from custom ers. In m y opinion, there should never be a time that a m anager should ever yell a t a w orker, that is just not appropriate. I m ean, m om m y does that b u t m anagers don't. You know, one of the baggers w as acting rather im m ature and storm ed o u t one evening w h en her shift w as over. The m anager followed her o u t a n d said, 'W hat’s your problem ?'

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'N o w had that been as a d u lt/' the bakery d e rk asked rhetorically, "would they have done that?" By d in t of their very job position in the grocery store, then, baggers are singled o u t for differential age-based treatm ent. Their behaviors in the grocery store th u s often respond to a different level and type of m anagem ent than is experienced by older, adult w orkers w orking in other grocery departm ents. The flipside of m anagers (and checkers) treating baggers as children is that managers, older w orkers a n d even young w orkers them selves often come to expect and accept that young baggers will, in fact, act like children in the workplace. M anagers will som etim es tolerate behavior am ong young baggers - food fights, for exam ple, "goofing around" o n the job, o r disappearing into neighboring video arcades to play video gam es while supposedly collecting carts in the parking lot - that they w ould likely not tolerate nearly so well am ong older workers. Many young grocery w orkers in Box Hill w ho started as baggers and since have been prom oted to higher positions say, for their part, that it w as only w ith their prom otions that they really became committed, serious w orkers - and it was only w ith their prom otions that they really felt they w ere expected to becom e com m itted, serious workers. As one young stocker (and reform ed bagger) p u ts it: "As baggers, you're just kids, all you are is a bagger. Nobody really cares w hat you do o r w here you are." In addition to these direct ties that link bagging w ork and yo u th identity, there are other, m ore indirect ways in which the groceiy bagging position reinforces popular, negative stereotypes of youth w orkers. M anagers and older grocery workers often com plain that youths/baggers are lazy and unm otivated at w ork and that they frequently stan d around doing nothing other than staring the ceiling. Baggers, how ever, point out that it is the

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structure of their w ork scheduling a n d responsibilities th at can cause such im pressions of bagger laziness: [Checkers] are always com plaining to the m anager about u s baggers, saying that we're lazy. I think, there's only tw o baggers w orking at one time, or one, and there's fo u r checkstands open. W e can't bag for all four of them at the sam e time. There are never as m any baggers on the grocery floor as there are checkers: thus during custom er rushes, checkers often feel that baggers a re n 't doing their w ork properly because they find them selves having to bag som e of their customers' groceries all on their ow n. D uring custom er lulls, baggers find themselves in a catch 22. If they leave the checkstand area to take care of other tasks, they frequently find them selves paged over the store intercom as soon as a checker has a custom er w hose groceries need bagging, an d they are often accused w hen they retu rn to the front end area of "disappearing" and "goofing off' on the job. If, on the oth er hand, they w ait a ro u n d the checkstand area for custom ers to com e through the checkout lines, they are just as likely to be accused of "counting tiles [on the ceiling]" a n d "slacking o ff’ on the job. M anagers and older grocery w orkers som etim es com plain that youths/baggers are not com m itted to their jobs and that they are m ore oriented to their lives outside the w orkplace than they are to grocery store w ork communities. H ow ever, as I have pointed o u t above, baggers are physically, socially and departm entally m arginalized in the grocery store: their very job position m ilitates against full w orkplace com m unity m em bership and involvem ent. T w o other factors contribute fu rth er to such workplace isolation. First, turnover in the grocery store is largely concentrated in the bagging departm ent. There are m any baggers, w ho (possibly because of the highly im poverished an d subordinate n atu re of

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bagging work) quit their jobs after only a w eek or tw o of w ork. Grocery workers in other departm ents say they feel as if baggers in th eir stores are always coming and going, and they often take m uch longer to introduce themselves and interact w ith new baggers than they d o w ith new w orkers in non-bagging departm ents - m any will w ait to approach baggers until they have been on the job for a t least a good num ber of weeks. The second factor lim iting bagger w orkplace involvem ent is store m anagers' tendency in Box Hill to hire m any m ore baggers th an they really need. M anagers are loathe to sacrifice flexibility in their scheduling options and are also well aw are of the high turnover levels am ong baggers: they thus tend to overload in bagger hires. As a consequence of this overloading, baggers often find they are unable to get as m any hours as they like, and some find - particularly dining the slow w inter m onths - th at they can be working as little as one four hour shift a week. Such m anagerial overhiring and underscheduling practices, of course, do little to foster strong workplace involvem ent am ong baggers. Baggers, as I have already noted, are paid the low est w ages in the grocery store - only slightly above m inim um wage - an d are thought by m any grocery workers to be responsible primarily for the repetitive an d largely mindless task of bagging custom ers’ groceries. Low wages, low status, and young age, however, conceal the fact that baggers actually perform some of the m ost im portant w ork there is in the grocery store. As one Box Hill bakery clerk p uts it: Baggers are the w orst paid [in the superm arket]. They're just baggers. A nd [yet] they talk to custom ers all the time. They talk m ore to customers than we do, cause they have to take em o u t an d load em u p [carry customers' groceries o u t to their cars]. They see w h at their car looks like, see w ho's in the car, basically get to know the family. They're just baggers, b u t they should be p a id m ore.

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All of the Box Hill chain superm arkets are now placing ever increasing emphasis on im proved custom er service as a key com petitive strategy: and baggers play a critical p art in this strategy. Baggers are responsible for "carry outs" - walking customers' groceries out to their cars - and, as the bakery clerk above points out, this responsibility puts baggers in the position of talking w ith customers as they leave the store, and of providing custom ers w ith their all-im portant final im pressions of their superm arket visits. Baggers do m uch m ore than carry outs in Box Hill superm arkets. A fair num ber of baggers in Box Hill are of m inority backgrounds and speak languages other than English: Spanish, Russian, Thai, Tagalog, Vietnamese and so forth. W hen custom ers come into the store w ho need help w ith translation, it is baggers who are often called u p for interpretation duties. Similarly, w hen custom ers have other special service requirem ents, it is quite often baggers w ho are called upon to help them out. A num ber of baggers I interviewed, for example, said they regularly helped senior citizens w alk around their stores and find everything they needed w hen did their superm arket shopping. The very perform ance of these an d other such services - let along their value - is all too often overlooked because of a selfperpetuating tautology in the grocery store that links young age w ith low value (or skill) w ith low pay: young workers are low value and are therefore low paid; young workers are low paid and therefore m u st be low value; workers are low value because they are young, and therefore should be low paid; etc., etc., etc. The job category of bagging, then, in the Box H ill superm arkets, produces, in a num ber of different (direct as well as indirect) ways, identities, stances and behaviors th at clearly m atch the identities, stances an d behaviors that are popularly and negatively attributed in o u r society to young workers.

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Through the linking of bagging jobs w ith m inority age w orkers, youth is reproduced w ithin the institutional structures of the grocery store as a relevant an d subordinate social category. O ne telling sign of this reproduction is that m any grocery workers in Box H ill - even w hen they are sym pathetic to the plight of m inority age w orkers in the superm arket workplace, and even w hen they themselves are young and have w orked or are w orking as grocery baggers - have a hard tim e telling w hen certain behaviors and stances among young baggers are caused by the bagging position an d w hen they are caused by baggers' youth: You don't see a lot of us doing other jobs. You see m ost of the teenagers in there [the superm arket] as baggers o r stockers. You don't see them w orking in the deli, o r at the checkstand, o r in the m eat departm ent. Because who's gonna hire som ebody my age, a teenager to w ork in those big positions? They're p u t in those positions w here they're treated, they're at the lowest p art of the triangle.... I think if a teenager goes in there and they're treated like a teenager, how are they supposed to grow and become m ore m ature, m ore an adult?.... But a lot of em [teenage baggers] AREN'T m ature, a lot of em don't w ant to w ork either. I m ean I don't know if that's the cause of the w ay they're treated or what. But a lot of em don't, they just w ant the bagger position so they can goof off and do nothing, and get paid to just sit around and talk to one another. I don't know, 1 guess it just depends on the individual. Do young baggers act out, not w ant to work, and fail to take their jobs seriously because the work they are asked to do is shitty work and because they are treated so poorly in the grocery store? O r d o they act out and not take their jobs seriously because they are young and are n o t yet ready for real responsibility? A ttem pts to separate out youth as a n essential identity from institutional structures and social settings are b ou n d to be futile and self defeating. For as Cheryl Laz writes in the epigraph to this section, age its e lf is a social production created through interactions in die context of social

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institutions. In the Box Hill superm arkets, (m inority age) y o u th is actually constituted by the position of grocery bagger - in the context of various o th er worksite external and internal (career status, departm ental) age shaping a n d constituting structures. To be a m inority age youth in the Box Hill grocery store is, after all, to be a grocery bagger; and to "act one's age" as a m inority age teenager in the Box Hill grocery store is to act as a grocery bagger acts.

Age Segregation in the Contemporary Youth Workplace A t the start of this chapter, 1 d te d Greenberger and Steinberg's claim that the contem porary youth w orkplace has "become a bastion for the adolescent peer group." In describing the significance of age an d age difference for young w orkers in the Box Hill chain superm arkets, I have suggested that age segregation is indeed a critically im portant issue in the youth workplace, b u t that the nature of age segregation in the grocery store is considerably m ore complex than is portrayed by G reenberger a n d Steinberg. Grocery stores are adult centered worksites in w hich adults an d youths often work, quite literally, side by side. But while ad u lt workers in the grocery store can and do act as m entors and confidants for their younger co-workers, departm ental and career status divisions in the superm arket separate ad u lt and youth workers, and in some cases, turn them against one another. Youth workers do not always and autom atically benefit from a d u lt presence in their workplaces. Moreover, as I have argued in m y discussion of grocery baggers, grocery store structures not only separate youths from adults b u t actively help to construct youth as a subordinate social category in the w orkplace in a w ay that supports popular and negative stereotypes of the youth w orker. It is useful to com pare the nature of age segregation in the Box Hill superm arkets w ith that of the G lenw ood Fry Houses. For age segregation in

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the youth workplace, it is im portant to recognize, is not always and everyw here the same; age an d age difference d o not alw ays an d everyw here have the sam e m eaning for young w orkers w orking in different w orkplaces and industries in the youth labor m arket. The Glenwood Fry H ouses come m uch closer than the Box Hill superm arkets to being the "age-segregated adolescent strongholds" described by G reenberger and Steinberg: over two thirds of the Glenwood Fry H ouse workforce is un d er the age of tw enty five. It is far from clear, however, that young fastfood w orkers in G lenw ood suffer m ore from the effects of age segregation - as G reenberger an d Steinberg's argum ents suggest that they should - than d o their counterparts in the Box Hill chain superm arkets. There are parallels in workplace age structuring in Glenwood and Box Hill. Like young Box Hill grocery workers, young Fry H ouse w orkers speak of the pleasures - and initial trepidations - of interacting in the w orkplace w ith older workers: I'm one of the youngest there [at the Fry House restaurant], everyone else is either going to university or college.... I thought it w ould be pretty intim idating, b u t everyone’s like, 'Oh hi, how are you!’.... W hen you first walk on, you feel really funny, like, 'I d o n 't know anything, oh my god, if I m ess u p everybody's going to be so m ad at me.' But they're really understanding, cause they've been there before too. Fry House restaurants often have older (mostly women) w orkers in their thirties, forties and fifties w ho becom e friends, m entors and allies of their younger co-workers. But for the m ost part, "older workers" are generally only a few years older than younger w orkers, and it doesn't take long for new hires to see themselves as being p art of the sam e basic "age group" as m ore senior workers: age difference, in other w ords, tends not to retain as m uch salience

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over time in the G lenw ood Fry Houses as it does in the Box H ill grocery stores. Young Fry H ouse w orkers speak, as d o young grocery w orkers in Box Hill, of the workplace pleasures of being able (or being forced) to mix w ith individuals of a variety of different backgrounds and identities in ways they had not experienced in school. O ne young cashier, for exam ple, w ho selfidentifies as a "freaker," describes the fun he has interacting w ith som e of the cooks in his outlet, w hom he identifies as "rappers." "I personally d o n 't like rappers," the freaker-cashier says. But at work, he explains: "Some of them , they're nice, you get to know them , because you have to h av e compatibility.... You know, you have to w ork as a team." Unlike in Box H ill grocery, though, young Fry H ouse workers, like the freaker-cashier above, tend to attribute the bridging of social divisions in the workplace to their being w orkers an d team members, and do not usually invoke the im portance in this regard of having older workers in their w orkplace social groups. Like young grocery w orkers in Box Hill, young Fry H ouse w orkers also speak of age based divisions in their workplaces. As 1 n o ted in the previous chapter, new hires and senior w orkers - w ho tend to be differentiated a t least marginally in age - som etim es conflict over w ork perform ance, w ork commitment, an d w ork scheduling. Older, adult w orkers in the G lenw ood Fry Houses som etim es have negative views of the w ork ethics of their younger co-workers; and, as will be discussed in C hapter Seven, som etim es question the union com m itm ent of their younger co-w orkers a n d blam e these workers for having accepted a weak contract in a recent ro u n d of collective bargaining w ith the Fry H ouse employers. Y oung Fry H ouse workers, for their part, occasionally com plain of older w orkers trying to claim authority in the w orkplace because they are older - even th o u g h younger

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workers m ay have m uch m ore seniority and Fry H ouse w ork experience. Young Fry House workers also som etim es look dow n on their older, ad u lt co­ workers for w orking in a job th a t they see as being fit only for youths w ho are still on their way to bigger an d better careers. As in the Box Hill superm arkets, older workers in the Glenwood Fry Houses tend to w ork weekday shifts, and younger w orkers evening and w eekend shifts, so that inter-shift conflicts are, at times, also overlaid w ith age-based prejudice. Despite these parallels, how ever, the significance of age an d age difference in the Glenwood Fry H ouses contrasts radically w ith the Box Hill superm arkets. First, youths com prise the majority of the G lenw ood Fry House workforce; in m ost Fry H ouse outlets in Glenwood, a d u lt w orkers constitute a small if im portant m inority. Second, youths an d adults are not segregated from one another in the Glenwood Fry H ouses by departm ental divisions: while shift supervisors tend to be slightly older th an cooks and cashiers, there are plenty of teenage shift supervisors in G lenwood, and none of the Fry House job positions have a clear age m arking. A dults and youths in the Glenwood Fry Houses w ork in the same job categories as one another, and are not differentiated in term s of status, pay, space o r w ork responsibilities. The third contrast betw een Box Hill and G lenw ood is that w hereas the grocery workforce in Box Hill is symbolically split betw een "lifers" and "students," fastfood jobs in the Glenwood Fry Houses are generally seen by workers as entry level jobs - prim arily for youths b u t also for recent immigrants. This is not to say that there are no long-term w orkers in the Glenwood Fry Houses: for there are older w orkers in G lenw ood w ith over twenty years of Fry House w ork experience. Indeed, m any young, stopgap workers in Glenwood them selves stay w ith their jobs for three, five o r even

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eight years or m ore before m oving on to jobs an d careers elsewhere. But there is no core-periphery structure in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses of (older) lifers and (young) stopgap workers. Fastfood jobs in the G lenw ood Fry Houses are quintessentially youth jobs (although they are increasingly seen as im m igrant jobs as well); and young, stopgap w orkers are generally a t the center of each Fry H ouse restaurant's w orking com m unity. The central positioning of young Fry H ouse w orkers in their restaurant com m unities has clear significance in G lenw ood for age relations w ithin the workplace. While in m ost Fry H ouse outlets, older, a d u lt w orkers are full an d often dom inant participants in youthful w orkplace com m unities, in outlets w here young a n d adult w orkers are experiencing tensions and hostilities, it is generally ad u lt w orkers w ho end u p being m arginalized and excluded in the workplace, and w ho are positioned by their younger co­ workers as a m arked social group whose behaviors are to be observed, com plained about, and com m ented upon. The central positioning of young Fry House workers in their restaurant com m unities has perhaps even greater significance outside the w orkplace in union-w orker relations and activities. For as will be discussed in C hapter Seven, youths in G lenwood, as core m em bers of their restaurant staffs, have, to some degree, been able to m ove into leadership roles w ithin their union; and youths, as a clear majority of the Glenwood Fry H ouse workforce, have been able to have their workplace interests and concerns paid close attention by Local C in its collective bargaining and contract adm inistration practices.

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Chapter Five

Youth Work Cultures: Stopgap, Peer Group and Local Investment Work Orientations I One I way o f dealing with a tedious and unrewarding job is to see it as a stop-gap measure that merely fills in time until you can go on to better things. This kind o f adaptation involves a low commitment to the job, planned instability, and not having to accommodate your sense o f self to your job. - Jane Gaskell and Marvin Lazerson, "Between School and Work"

Early jobs are often not part o f an institutionalized career path but instead represent a particular type o f 'stopgap job' - a job w hich is often dom inated by w orkers w ho, fo r life-cycle related reasons, have m arginal labor m arket and job attachm ents. The youth in these jobs are frequently combining employment w ith school attendance and may, depending on the circumstances, continue in these jobs for a period after leaving school or between schooling spells.... Stopgap jobs are poor predictors o f later job type and status. - Valerie Oppenheim er and Matthijs Kalmijn, "Life Cycle Jobs"

Young grocery and fastfood workers in Box Hill and Glenwood are, for the m ost part, stopgap workers. Young workers in these sites expect - or hope - that their grocery and fastfood jobs will be tem porary places of employment that will be largely discontinuous w ith their future, ad u lt careers and identities. They see their jobs as being "youth jobs" - and little more. To call young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood "stopgap workers," then, is to characterize their subjectivities as workers, and to describe the way these young w orkers position and orient them selves in the workplace. As Jane Gaskell and M arvin Lazerson suggest above, stopgap w ork orientations am ong young workers are essentially "ways of dealing" or "strategies of

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coping" w ith tedious, low status a n d low paying w ork. It is, after all, easier to accept such w ork if one believes - o r if one rem inds oneself - th a t it is only tem porary. Though they m ay be "ways of dealing" a n d "strategies of coping," stopgap w ork orientations am ong young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood are n o t altogether unrealistic. In past eras, the "m yth of the tem porary stay" was a central p a rt of the early w ork experiences of young w orking class m en and w om en as they m oved directly from high school into m anufacturing jobs - jobs that, despite their best intentions an d highest aspirations, often d id become for them perm anent or long term places of em ploym ent (see, for example, Chinoy 1992/1955; Pollert 1981). But grocery and fastfood jobs in N orth America in the 1990's are not the m anufacturing jobs of the past. Middle class and w orking class youths alike e n ter grocery stores and fastfood restaurants looking for tem porary employm ent, as age m ore than class shapes w ho takes on such w ork. While some youths d o "get stuck" in the grocery and fastfood industries, m ost eventually m ove on to other occupations and identities: some of w hich will be w orking class and some m iddle class. Young grocery and fastfood w orkers are thus also stopgap w orkers in the sense that is quite likely that the m ajority of them w ill only w ork tem porarily in grocery and fastfood, and that m ost of them w ill m ove on to other careers and identities m ore or less discontinuous w ith their youthful places of employment. Stopgap w ork orientations m atch - to an extent stopgap w ork realities. To call young grocery and fastfood w orkers "stopgap workers" is to characterize the likely place of grocery and fastfood jobs in these young w orkers' life courses. As Valerie O ppenheim er and M atthijs Kalm ijn w rite above, stopgap jobs overall are distinguishable by being "poor predictors

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of later job type an d status." Youths in N o rth America w ork predom inantly in a narrow band of low end service sector jobs; w hen youths m ove into adulthood, however, the occupations in w hich they w ork are all over the m ap.1 There is a third sense in w hich young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood are stopgap workers. They are stopgap w orkers in the sense that they are only expected by their em ployers to be tem porary w orkers in the grocery and fastfood industries. Both grocery and fastfood em ployers these days make a lot of noise about the costs of high labor turnover an d the need to improve labor retention in their worksites. But m ost of the time, em ployers are talking about their desire to im prove stability in their stopgap workforces - in other words, to have w orkers stay in their jobs for a year or tw o rather than a week or tw o - and not about any w ish they m ight have to create fully careerist workforces, or to take on the social and financial responsibilities that such workforces w ould bring. There is a reason, of course, why grocery and fastfood em ployers have positioned them selves in the youth labor market: the ability to rely on a steady supply of young, tem porary workers w ho can be paid low w ages is considered in these industries to be highly cost effective and highly profitable.2 In this chapter, I present a general fram ew ork for describing the stopgap w ork cultures of young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Q enw ood. The chapter builds closely on the two previous chapters th at have detailed the shape and form of workplace com m unities in Box Hill and Glenwood; but whereas the stopgap status of the young w orkers w orking in these tw o sites was largely backgrounded in these earlier chapters, it is here brought to the fore. W orkplace cultures have been described in the sociological a n d anthropological w ork literature prim arily for older w orkers

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in professional, crafts a n d m anufacturing occupations, b u t rarely for young workers working in stopgap jobs in the service sector. My prim ary concern in this chapter is to explore how young grocery an d fastwood w orkers - as stopgap workers - are positioned an d position them selves w ithin their places of work. Stopgap status is com m only thought to be linked w ith increased passivity in the workplace. As James Tucker (1993: 40) writes, for example, in his study of young, tem porary, college-bound and college student workers: Transiency ... allows aggrieved employees, know ing they will d ep art the organization at som e tim e in the near future, to e n d u re un p leasan t experiences. It is sim ply n o t w orth exerting energy on m atters th at w ill disappear in the norm al course of events anyway. Besides, if the problem is unbearable, the option of departing prem aturely and securing em ploym ent elsew here is often available. Stopgap status is also, as can be seen in the tw o epigraphs to this chapter, typically assum ed to engender low levels of workplace investm ent o r engagem ent among young w orkers - ’’low job commitment" in the w o rd s of Gaskell and Lazerson an d "m arginal job attachm ent" in the w o rd s of O ppenheim er and Kalmijn. There is, as I will discuss below , a core elem ent of tru th in these associations that are m ade betw een stopgap status and workplace passivity and disengagement (or alienation). How ever, as I have suggested in the tw o previous chapters (Chapter Three, in particular), these portrayals of stopgap w ork culture are m uch too sim ple. Young stopgap w orkers can w ork "temporarily" in grocery an d fastfood jobs for m onths and even years. While stopgap status may fram e their overall participation in these w orksites, day to day interactions w ithin the w orkplace tend to foster am ong young w orkers other form s of work agency, investm ent and engagem ent as well. In Box Hill and Q enw ood, stopgap youth w ork cultures are shaped by a t least tw o

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additional w ork orientations: a "peer group" w ork orientation th a t involves having a n d valuing d o se ties w ith one's co-workers, a n d th at often leads to the blurring of w o rk a n d leisure activities in the w orkplace; a n d a 'local investm ent" w ork orientation th a t consists of a sense of local expertise in and ow nership of the w orksite and labor process. Stopgap, peer group and local investm ent w ork orientations alternatively com pete and m utually reinforce one another in the w ork lives of young grocery and fastfood workers. While stopgap status, as is so often argued, m ay often lim it young w orkers' w orkplace investm ent an d engagement, it can also, as I argue below, foster the kinds of attachm ents th at come via peer g ro u p and local investm ent w ork orientations. Like stopgap work orientations, peer group a n d local investm ent w ork orientations, are both "bottom up" an d "top down:" they are Gaskell and Lazerson's "ways of dealing" or "strategies of coping" that young w orkers a d o p t to (subjectively) position them selves in the grocery and fastfood workplace; and they are also the products of industry structures of labor control a n d w ork organization that (objectively) position young workers in the grocery a n d fastfood workplace. While m y focus in this chapter is on the way young w orkers see their ow n positioning in the workplace, I will point repeatedly to the w ays in which em ployer interventions shape young w orkers' self positioning at work. Singly and together, stopgap, peer group an d local investm ent w ork orientations shape the nature of youth consent and resistance to the grocery and fastfood w ork process in Box Hill and Glenwood. N ot just stopgap status, b u t peer group engagem ent an d local workplace investm ent as w ell can lead to y outh passivity in the workplace and to their increased acceptance of or indifference to cu rren t jobs an d w orking conditions. These w o rk orientations

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can also m otivate young w orkers to w ork in w ays their em ployers prefer - to p u t extra tim e and effort into their jobs. O n the other hand, each of these w ork orientations - a n d all of these w ork orientations together - generate among youth w orkers forms of w orkplace critique as well as alternative and, a t times, confrontational and subversive w ork practices. Youth w ork cultures in Box Hill and Glenwood emerge in the context of em ployer created structures of w orkplace control; but n o t only are they not reducible to these structures of control, they place limits upon them . Describing stopgap w ork cultures am ong young service sector w orkers is a critical p a rt of developing a n understanding of the positioning of these workers w ithin the workplace. It also has considerable significance, as I will discuss at the end of this chapter, for the w ay researchers, policy m akers and trade union activists in N orth Am erica think ab o u t reform ing and im proving the youth workplace. There are those trade unionists, for example, w ho feel that unionization efforts in the y o u th labor m arket are not w orthw hile because young stopgap w orkers have such low job com m itm ent they are not likely to w ant to w ork to change their w orking environm ents: such stances, I w ould argue, are m istaken. W ith the decline of the m anufacturing base in N orth America, it has becom e com m on for researchers and policy m akers to call on service sector em ployers to provide their young employees w ith the career jobs that the m anufacturing sector once offered. To the degree that these dem ands are m ade w ithout envisioning radical changes in the w ay service sector w ork is organized, I w ould argue that these stances, too, are also equally m isguided. Before entering into the discussion of yo u th w ork cultures in Box Hill and Q e n w o o d below, a couple of caveats are in order. First, the analysis in this chapter th at describes sim ilarities across tw o different industries in tw o

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different cities (and countries) takes place at a fairly high level of abstraction. Similarities betw een youth w ork cultures in the Box Hill chain superm arkets and in the Glenwood Fry Houses exist because of sim ilarities in w ork conditions and em ployer control strategies, and because of the com m on stopgap positioning of young w orkers in both of these sites. H ow ever, as I have described in the tw o previous chapters, there are considerable differences in youth w ork experiences not just betw een these tw o industries and sites b u t w ith in them as well: differences betw een departm ents, stores, workers of different racial an d gender identities, an d so forth. Second, my descriptions below of youth w ork cultures in Box Hill and Q en w o o d are based prim arily on interview s w ith young grocery and fastfood w orkers w ho had w orked in their current jobs for at least three m onths.

I

spoke w ith only a few w orkers w ho had less than a season's job tenure; an d with m any workers w ho had a couple of years or m ore of job tenure. Labor turnover in both fastfood and grocery is often concentrated in the early m onths of employment: there are a fair num ber of young stopgap workers, consequently (especially in the Box Hill chain superm arkets), w ho q u it their jobs after only a few weeks or even days of working. My depiction of youth work cultures here, then, refers to those young stopgap w orkers w ho have stuck w ith their tem porary grocery and fastfood jobs for at least a short while; young workers w ho quit grocery and fastfood w ork alm ost im m ediately after being hired are m uch less likely to have the kinds of w orkplace engagem ents and investm ents that I describe below.

Stopgap Work:

"It's not fo r life or anything"

'1 started working here w hen I turned fifteen," a young Fry H ouse cashier in Glenwood says: "I h ad this thing w here m y cashier num ber was

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eighteen, an d that was the year I was supposed to leave Fry H ouse and go som ew here else." The cashier, w ho is no w eighteen and a half (and just out of high school), explains that alm ost since the day he started w ork at Fry H ouse he had planned a point of d ep artu re - to come no later than tw o weeks after his eighteenth birthday. M uch to his disappointm ent, th at deadline has come an d gone w ith no change in his em ploym ent status. 'I'm looking for a change," the cashier says, "but it has to be a good change, a sm art change, a change for the better, for b etter pay, and not just to go back dow n and w ork my way u p again." Young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and G lenw ood have all sorts of ways of timing themselves o u t of their grocery and fastfood tenures. For some, it is a particular age that they reach. For some, it is a stage of their lives: they w ant to be working som ew here else by the time they finish high school or college. And for some, it is a n absolute length of time. In the Glenwood Fry Houses, for example, som e young cashiers and cooks use the fact that seniority based wages stop increasing after three years' w ork tenure as a good m easuring stick for w hen they should be looking to find new occupations. After all, they reason, if seniority based wages stop increasing after three years, then this is probably the point by which their em ployers and union representatives expect them to be leaving their Fry H ouse jobs. Timing out is a central p a rt of young grocery and fastfood w orkers' stopgap w ork orientations. Almost universally, these young w orkers express their convictions, expectations or hopes that their grocery and fastfood em ploym ent is strictly tem porary. "It's just a job, not a career.” 'It's n o t w h at I w ant to d o for my whole life." "It's a kiddy job." "It's not a real job." 'It's just for now." "I'm definitely gonna be o u tta here, I'm not a lifer." "It's not for life or anything." Occupations a n d organizations all have their ow n age

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grading and tim etables for tenure and mobility (Lawrence 1984; Ronai 1992). There are occupations w hich w orkers expect to have for years - for life, even an d there are occupations in w hich w orkers are still considered young w hen they are in their thirties an d forties. But in grocery and fastfood in Box Hill an d Glenwood, young w orkers age quickly and expect them selves to have their grocery and fastfood jobs for only short periods of tim e during discrete (and early) stages of their life course. '1 feel old already," says a tw enty four year old Fry H ouse cook as he looks at his predom inantly teenaged co­ workers and his six years of Fry H ouse w ork experience: "It's like Tve been there forever. I gotta leave now." On top of this age g raded sense of tem porality, stopgap w ork orientations are distinguishable for being decidedly double sided. O n the one hand, young w orkers see their grocery and fastfood jobs as being good - or at least acceptable - jobs to have for short periods of tim e w hile they are young a n d /o r in school: This is a job to get m e through school. Cause I still can get as m any hours as I w ant, and have it w ork around m y schedule a t school. So it's just an ideal job for me. A nd the pay's pretty d am n good for w hat I'm doing. Really, that's all it is. This is not m y career. P art time and irregular (evening and w eekend) hours, in particular, m ake grocery and fastfood w ork attractive to young w orkers w ho are still in high school or college. As m any observers of the youth w orkplace have pointed out, w hat is a bad job for m ost adults can be seen as a good job by youth workers. There is, how ever, another side to young w orkers’ stopgap w ork evaluations. For as stopgap workers, young w orkers also see grocery and fastfood w ork as being bad an d even terrible w ork th at they on no account w ould w ant to take on as an ad u lt career: real jobs, good wages, interesting work, an d job security are to be found later, elsew here a n d in o ther industries.

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Grocery an d fastfood em ployers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood benefit enorm ously from their young em ployees' stopgap w o rk orientations, since these orientations frequently foster increased w orker passivity a n d consent in the workplace. Young w orkers sim ply do not m ake the dem ands on their grocery and fastfood jobs that they expect to m ake on their later, career sites of employment. They are passive not only due to their sense of transiency, b u t because they also accept, to a degree at least, th e popular N orth A m erican ideology that positions youth w orkers as a separate d a ss of w orkers to adult workers, and that decrees that y outh w orkers deserve less th an d o a d u lt workers. Good jobs are predom inantly the privilege of adulthood. Young workers m ust be content a t first to spend their tim e in a tier of low er quality service and retail em ploym ent. D ream s of m eaningful w o rk m u st be deferred. The bargain - the term s of such deferm ent - is th at y oung w orkers will be able, allegedly, to find, once they reach adulthood, the kinds of jobs and occupations that they truly desire. W hen young w orkers in Box Hill and Q e n w o o d evaluate their grocery and fastfood jobs as being good jobs, they do their em ployers the favor of comparing them selves not to the rest of the workforce, b u t to oth er y o u th workers. M easured u p against the non-union restaurant an d retail jobs w here m any of their young friends work, union Fry H ouse an d grocery jobs, not surprisingly, look pretty decent to young Box Hill an d Q e n w o o d workers: I'd say Fry House is on the better side, they treat you well, pay you well.... My friends m ostly w ork in fastfood places, the kinds of jobs for young people, m ovie theaters, restaurants. They go through som etim es worse stuff. I know that the m ovie theaters a t the m all, their m anagers give them a lot of c ra p ,... they sort of o rd e r them around a lot. I think it sounds a lot w orse than Fry H ouse. Young workers in Box Hill and Glenw ood generally accept that, as young stopgap workers, they cannot expect to enjoy the w orking conditions an d

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rew ards th at they could dem and if they w ere adults. Wages, especially, are widely interpreted through the lens of w orker age. "They had m e start out at six bucks an hour," says a Box Hill stacker, "and for m y age th at w as a lot of money. I mean, not m any people at sixteen m ake th at much" (em phasis added). 'I'm getting paid w h at I deserve," says a Fry H ouse shift su p erv iso r '1 mean, m aybe I should be getting paid tw enty dollars an hour, b u t the money is good enough because I am young" (em phasis added). N ot only can grocery and fastfood em ployers count on their young stopgap em ployees to evaluate their grocery an d fastfood jobs lightly through the prism of young age and tem porary tenure - b u t they can also generally rely o n the fact that m ost of their young em ployees will not make dem ands to turn these casual service sector jobs into well paying, secure and meaningful careers as they get older. For as stopgap w orkers, young grocery and fastfood w orkers largely accept the notion th at there will be d iscontinuities in their em ploym ent paths into adulthood. W hile the career goals of young workers in Box Hill and G lenw ood are all over the m ap, and range from the highly specific - "I w ant to be a m edical illustrator" - to the vague and unknow n - "I don't know w hat I w ant to do w ith m y life" - m ost of these w orkers are fairly certain, at the least, that they d o not w ish to turn their grocery and fastfood jobs into lifetime em ploym ent. To m ove on up into the m ore rew arding and lucrative occupations o f adulthood, m ost young workers accept - an d indeed, expect - that they will leave the grocery and fastfood industries behind. Thus it is not just young w orkers' acceptance of grocery and fastfood jobs as being good jobs that helps secure their passivity and consent in the workplace; it is also, som ew hat paradoxically, their rejection of these jobs as being fundam entally bad jobs.

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The flipside to this story of stopgap passivity, acceptance and consent in the w orkplace is that young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Q enw ood, as stopgap anti-careerists, are hardly doe-eyed about accepting o r embracing everything their grocery and fastfood em ployers have to offer them. Young w orkers can often be highly negative in describing their jobs, and w hen they explain w hy they do not w ant grocery or fastfood careers, fire off w hat are sometimes blistering attacks o n w hat they see life in these industries as being like: I look around a t some of the people in grocery w ho have been in this stuff for a really long time ... and they look depressed. A nd the m anagers, the closing managers, a lot of them have been there for a w h ile ,... they just look pissed off, they d o n 't look h ap p y w ith w hat they're doing w ith their life. Maybe they’re m aking good money, grocery m anagers and store directors.... But w ould I w an n a be stressed out and have to deal w ith thinking, 1 d o n 't w anna be a t w ork this day, I don't w anna be here?' I w anna have som ething I enjoy to do for a living, som ething I really love to do, that I'd be happy to come to w ork everyday.... W hatever it takes, I'll do th at to get to th at level. Young workers in Box Hill and Glenwood, it is im portant to point out, do not focus prim arily on low wages w hen they explain their stopgap orientations for wages, they imagine, w ould increase as least m arginally w ere they to move u p in industry ranks. W hat they cannot im agine changing, and w hat they complain about m ost w hen explaining their stopgap orientations are the working conditions in the grocery and fastfood industries: the stress of fastfood and grocery work; the irregular hours an d the unstable scheduling; the repetitiveness of the work; the lack of intrinsic interest an d challenge in these jobs, and so on. Young grocery and fastfood workers, after all, are n o t stopgap w orkers solely because they are young; they are also stopgap w orkers because of the im poverished w ork environm ents that have been created by their grocery an d fastfood em ployers. W itnessing these w ork environm ents from the

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ground level a n d from a point in their lives at w hich m ost young w orkers believe them selves to have other and b e tter career options, young stopgap grocery and fastfood workers can be som e o f these industries' harshest critics. In the Box Hill grocery industry, especially, w here there is a core of perm anent grocery workers, young w orkers are able to point to w hat they see as the dam aging effects of grocery w ork o n the bodies an d souls of grocery lifers as being the living lessons of w h a t happens if one works in grocery for too long. "Lifers look older than they really are," says one young stocker. "Lifers are all alcoholics," quips another. 'I t really changes people," a young checker says of the grocery business in general: "People become bitter because they p u t up w ith crap for so m any years. I d o n 't w ant to be like that." Stopgap anger, critique a n d alienation am ong young grocery an d fastfood w orkers can create challenges for the interests and agendas of industry em ployers. While neither the Box H ill chain superm arkets nor the Q en w o o d Fry Houses show any signs of desiring fully careerist workforces and indeed, profit from their cheap and relatively undem anding stopgap pools of w orkers - employers in both sites do regularly seek to recruit tiny m inorities of their young employees for prom otion into career and m anagem ent ranks. As is the case w ith the grocery a n d fastfood industries continentw ide, employers in Box Hill a n d G lenw ood som etim es find it difficult - in the context of dom inant stopgap w ork cultures and im poverished workplace conditions - to convince even a small num ber of their young employees to consider grocery an d fastfood w ork as legitimate career options (see also H ughes 1999). Even aside from the issue of career recruitm ent efforts, dom inant stopgap w ork cultures can m ake it hard for em ployers to persuade their young em ployees to stay in their jobs for extended though tem porary durations, o r to consider their jobs as anything

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m ore than casual form s of em ploym ent that they can pick u p a n d d ro p at w ill. Stopgap anger, critique and alienation can also foster subversive and oppositional workplace behaviors am ong young grocery and fastfood w orkers that can m ake these w orkers hard for em ployers in Box H ill and G lenw ood to m anage and control. Seeing their jobs as being only tem porary and expedient y o u th jobs, some young w orkers do not feel the need to take their grocery an d fastfood w ork overly seriously. Young stopgap w orkers som etim es slack off and adopt cavalier attitudes tow ard com pany policies, program s and goals - in a way they say they w ould no t do w ere they to see their jobs as leading into career work: I'm a slacker, I'll be honest, I goof off all the time.... [I cut] com ers, in speed I guess.... I go for speed not quality, to a point, [because] you can't leave everything dirty, it's gotta look good, everything that has to be done gets done.... The goal is to get tim e to sit on yo u r ass, doing nothing.... Some people are different. I'm a slacker, w h at can I say. Stuart:

Why are you a slacker?

It's not like I don't care about the place. I w ouldn't w ant it to b u m to the ground or anything. But basically, it's I'm not going to be there forever, like I'm not going to w ork m y w ay u p the Fry H ouse corporate ladder. Seeing their jobs as being only tem porary an d expedient, som e young w orkers are also m ore inclined to quit (or threaten to quit) their jobs outright rather than give in to disliked m anagem ent dem ands. In Box Hill, superm arket m anagers are occasionally exasperated by young baggers w ho, rather than w ork a Friday or Saturday night shift that they have been unable to get o u t of, will simply u p and quit their jobs - often w ithout telling anyone. O n the other hand, a num ber of young w orkers 1 spoke w ith in b o th Box Hill an d Glenwood said they had successfully used threats to quit their jobs to force

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m anagers to back dow n in confrontations w ithout actually ever having to lose their jobs. If it is true, then, as Jam es Tucker a n d others have argued, that transiency can lead to increased passivity in the workplace, it is also true that tem porary, stopgap status can foster increased senses of agency, authority an d liberty am ong young workers. For one thing, if young w orkers are planning to quit their jobs in the near future in any event; then the risk of getting fired for standing u p for their rights m ay n o t seem so daunting to them . "I'm young," a young Box Hill produce clerk proclaims: "I’m n o t afraid to tell him [the store manager] w hat I think at all, because I d o n 't need this job nearly as m uch as they [older workers] do." M ore than this, though, if young stopgap workers see themselves as being b o u n d for greater things than grocery or fastfood work, then they m ay also come to reject assum ptions of their subordinate status in their interactions w ith customers, m anagers a n d senior ad u lt workers in the grocery and fastfood workplace: If they [customers] are really bitchy, if they have th at tone, I'll talk to them in that tone and be sarcastic about it. It's a tw o w ay street, I'm n o t going to treated as som eone lesser than they are. The thing is, people think that just because you're w orking in a fastfood place, th at you're nobody, that you're not doing anything w ith your life. If they knew that I went to university an d that I w as actually doing som ething w ith m y life, then maybe they w ould have m ore respect for m e. I’ve had people talk to me in a rude way, they're like people from the street, an d I'm probably m ore sm art and m ore intelligent than they are. The young Fiy House cashier w ho is quoted here claims w orkplace authority not because she is a fastfood w orker (or a good fastfood worker, etc.), but because she is a university stu d en t w ho hopes and expects one d a y to becom e a corporate lawyer. M any young stopgap w orkers in Box Hill and G lenw ood likewise adopt w hat are essentially elitist attitudes that, som ew hat paradoxically, simultaneously accept th at grocery and fastfood w orkers should

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have subordinate status in N orth A m erican society, w hile rejecting th a t subordinate status for them selves because of the m itigating influence of their stopgap identities. These kinds of refusals of subordinate status can lead, as suggested by the quotation above, to m ore assertive behavior on the p a rt of young w orkers in workplace interactions w ith customers, as well as w ith ad u lt co-workers and store managers.3 In the introduction to this chapter, I argued th at young grocery and fastfood workers in Box Hill and Glenwood are stopgap w orkers not just in the sense that they position them selves and are positioned by their em ployers in the workplace as stopgap workers, b u t in the sense also th at the m ajority of these workers do actually, sooner or later, leave their grocery an d fastfood w ork for other, adult occupations. M any young stopgap w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood leave their grocery an d fastfood jobs quickly an d easily: after a few m onths or a couple of years, they m ove on w ith their schooling, w ith other stopgap jobs, and, eventually, w ith their future careers and adult identities. As I suggested in my discussion of "timing out" above, how ever, for some young grocery and fastfood workers, these transitions out do not come as quickly or as easily as they m ight have im agined, hoped or expected. Indeed, one of the greatest fears of some young stopgap w orkers is the danger of becoming "stuck" or "trapped" in w hat are supposed to be only entry-level, tem porary sites of employment. After all, in the Q e n w o o d Fry H ouses as well as the Box Hill chain superm arkets, there are at least a handful of adult workers for w hom fastfood and grocery w ork has become a long-term if not perm anent occupation. For m any young grocery and fastfood workers, stopgap w ork orientations n o t only place a tim e fram e around their em ploym ent status, bu t also act to make their jobs seem less and less desirable as tim e goes o n w ithin

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the period of their grocery a n d fastfood tenure - a d o ck of d edining job satisfaction starts ticking, as it were, alm ost from the m om ent these young workers hire in to their jobs. A twenty three year old cook in Q en w o o d , for example, w ho has over seven years of w ork history w ith Fry House, describes how the m eaning of his fastfood em ploym ent has changed for him personally over the years: W hen I w as fifteen, it w as a cool job. Because I guess from w orking in high school, if you w orked, if you h ad a job w hen you w ere fifteen ,... that w as kind of a cool thing because m ost of m y classmates d id n 't have jobs. If you had a job, especially one that paid higher than the m inim um [wage], it was something that w as really cool to have a t that time.... It was a good job, it was nice and stable. I guess I would be a person w ho doesn't like changes very m uch, that's why I’ve been working there. I kept m y job, I didn't go out to look for other jobs. But as high school ended, the job became less and less cool.... It gets very repetitive, I guess that's w hat a fastfood restaurant is all about, test production, repetitive p ro d u ct... It w as m ore or less, as you m ove on to university, people get into other work, m ore related to w hat they were doing [in college classes]. I couldn't see myself, I d o n ’t think anyone going to university saw themselves as w orking in a fastfood restaurant.... We joke about it a lot now . There's another cook a t my store that started w hen I did.... We keep joking, we're gonna be here for the next twenty years, w hen w e're fifty, we're still going to be working there.... If you were to look a t it, I've been there m ore than a third of my life.... I'm not saying Fry H ouse is a bad place to work, I'm just saying it's still in the image of a fastfood chain.... W hen you're in your twenties, working in Fry House is something that's kind of loser.... I w ant to move on definitely sooner or later.... W hen I graduate [from college], hopefully I can find a job other than Fry House. Personal inertia, tight job m arkets, accumulated consum er debts and financial responsibilities, and lim ited educational accomplishm ents are all factors that can conspire to prevent a young stopgap w orker from leaving his or her fastfood or grocery job to look for other, possibly m ore lucrative and rew arding forms of em ploym ent. This is especially true in the Glenwood Fry

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Houses a n d Box Hill chain superm arkets, w here unionization has secured benefits and raised wages at least a degree above th a t w hich is commonly available in other entry level service and retail jobs in tow n.4 Carol Rambo Ronai (1992), in an intriguing article entitled, "Managing Aging in Young Adulthood," has described h ow strip-tease table dancers, working in an industry th at is oriented prim arily tow ard young workers, m ust, as they get older, negotiate either their departure from table dancing as an occupation, or alternatively, find them selves a "niche" in w hich their age does not detract from their right and ability to continue on w orking in the table dancing milieu. M anaging aging an d m anaging occupational tim etables are, likewise, a comm on preoccupation of young stopgap grocery and fastfood workers who, like strip tease table dancers (albeit in a different vein), also work in industries that are heavily youth oriented. M any young workers, as I have already noted, develop strategies for "tuning them selves out" - they make personal com m itm ents to leave their jobs at certain points in their lives so as to ensure that they don't "get stuck" there. O ther workers, having missed their expected points of departure, w ork to renegotiate the boundaries of stopgap youth m embership. A tw enty four year old bakery clerk in Box Hill, for example, who, after graduating from college, found herself once again w orking in a stopgap service industry job, em phasized her relief to find that at least she w asn't the oldest w orker in h er store w ho still refused to accept grocery w ork as career work: 'I t m akes m e feel a lot b etter to know that there are people I'm working w ith that are thirty a n d disgruntled like I am . I still got a couple more years!" (emphasis added). Some young stopgap workers, finally, attem pt to m anage their aging and occupational timetables by trying h ard not to becom e too comfortable in or attached to their grocery an d fastfood jobs and w o rk com m unities. O ne

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eighteen year old stocker I spoke to in Box Hill, w h o h ad seen his ow n father end u p an em bittered lifetime grocery em ployee, w as painfully anxious about the dangers of "getting stuck" in his first ev er real job - even though he h a d only held his job for a little over six m onths: This is m y first job.... It's cool, it's a job B ut I d o n 't w an t to take it too seriously because then I'll be stuck there all m y life. But if I just, w hen I’m there, just do w h at I need to do, try to keep m y m ind on other things. Cause m y d a d has been w orking in grocery stores all his life, he's been there since sixteen. H e's a produce m anager now — So like, I'm kind of afraid, I d o n 't w an t to d o that. I see all these other people in m y store, they been checking for tw enty six years. It's like, no thank you, I don't w ant to do this for the rest of m y life.... A lot of people bicker at work. I'm over here, cause I d o n 't w ant to get into it. You know, IB S w ith them, shoot the breeze.... But I try not to have too strong opinions, cause I don't w ant it [grocery work] to be too im portant to me.... I w anna follow m y dream s. Recently, the young Stocker's superm arket em ployer held a softball tournam ent for all of the local stores in the chain. 'I t w as fun, I had a good time, I adm it, unfortunately," the stocker said ruefully. "That's one thing I'm starting to fear," he explains: "Cause I'm m aking friends w ith everybody there, going and doing stuff w ith them , an d I'm going to enjoy going to w ork, and then I'm going to be stuck."

Peer Group Relations:

"It's the people"

In 1996, Harvey Krahn and Julian Tanner, tw o C anadian social scientists, published the results of a study they conducted on the w ork experiences of young high school dropouts in Edm onton, Canada. M ost of the dropouts in the study were w orking in E dm onton's low w age, low status service sector. Som ew hat to K rahn and T anner's surprise, m any of these workers, despite the m arginal and often repetitive n atu re of their work, expressed fairly high levels of job satisfaction. O ne of the prim ary reasons for

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these high levels of job satisfaction, K rahn a n d T anner (1996: 80-81) argue, is that young workers tend to place high value on w orkplace social relationships, and the workers they studied in Edm onton often enjoyed very positive social relations w ith their service sector co-w orkers (as well as, interestingly enough, w ith their customers). My research in Box Hill and G lenw ood produced findings quite sim ilar to those of Krahn and Tanner. In interview s w ith young grocery and fastfood workers, I heard over and over again som e variant of the phrase - "it's the people" - as these workers explained w hy they, a t times a t least, actually enjoyed w orking in their grocery and fastfood jobs. As I have already described in the two previous chapters, co-w orker solidarities, w hether organized at the store level (as in Glenwood) o r a t the departm ental level (as in Box Hill), are central to young grocery and fastfood w orkers' w ork experiences and identities, and are critical in fostering am ong m any of these workers a strong sense of workplace engagem ent. W hile co-worker solidarities are, in some cases, centered on relations young w orkers have w ith older, adult co-workers in their workplace (as discussed in C hapter Four), m ost often young workers' workplace social relations are shared predom inantly w ith other (broadly defined) young stopgap workers. Krahn an d Tanner, in attem pting to explain w hy young service sector w orkers m ight be expected to place high value on workplace social relations, produce w hat are two disconnected and apparently contradictory conclusions. O n the one hand, the authors (1996: 73) suggest, "the em phasis on positive aspects of social interactions a t w ork m ight have been a form of coping w ith, or com pensating for, absent extrinsic an d intrinsic w ork rew ards." In other w ords, in a situation w here good jobs w ith high p ay and rew arding w ork are sim ply not available to them, high school d ro p o u t w orkers focus on being

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able to have fun w ith their co-workers as a w ay of getting by and of at least finding so m e redeem ing value in their low w age, m enial occupations. O n the other hand, Krahn and T anner offer, in addition to this situational explanation, an explanation that focuses on allegedly intrinsic and essentialist characteristics of teenage youth: G reater em phasis on w orkplace social relationships am ong younger dropouts m ight reflect a different set of w ork orientations, m ore of a preoccupation w ith fun and friends, and less concern about careers and personal self-fulfillment at work. (p. 72) And also: The fact that younger d ropouts particularly liked the social aspects of their jobs fits w ith o u r understanding of the 'pre-career' life interests of teenagers, which frequently tend to focus o n friends and fun. (p.81) Krahn and Tanner are implicitly invoking here the notion of the "m oratorium period," w hich (as seen in C hapter One) has com m only been used by youth labor m arket theorists to explain youth job-hopping (milling, churning, etc.) in the labor m arket. N ot only, we are now told by K rahn and Tanner, do youths skip from job to job because of their being in a stage of developm ental im m aturity in w hich fun m atters to them m ore than w ork; but even w hen youths are at w ork and in the workplace, they focus on "fun and friends" m ore than they do on "careers and personal self-fulfillment." K rahn and Tanner's analysis of peer group w ork orientations am ong young service sector workers is deeply problem atic; however, I introduce it here, since it provides a very useful w ay of differentiating m y account of peer group w ork orientations from popular and negative N orth A m erican stereotypes of youth workplace im m aturity. There are at least three problem s w ith K rahn and Tanner’s analysis. First, p eer group w ork orientations are described as existing largely independently of the internal structures of the service sector workplace - the authors invoke only a general absence of

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alternative (extrinsic and intrinsic) w ork rew ards as being a w orksite centered factor in fostering these orientations. Second, situational a n d essentialist explanations for peer group w ork orientations rem ain com pletely disconnected from one another - the authors m ake little attem pt to explain how these two root causes m ight interact w ith one another. A nd third, K rahn and Tanner assume a n d /o r im ply through their argum ent that teenage w orkers don't particularly care about careers a n d self-fulfillment a t work; that adult workers in good, career jobs don't particularly prioritize social relations a t work; an d that the difference betw een adolescents an d adults is caused by a com bination of internal processes of m aturation and developm ent, along w ith the pressures of the increased m aterial needs and responsibilities that come w ith adulthood. In Box Hill and Glenwood, peer group w ork orientations am ong young w orkers are shaped fundam entally by the organization of w ork and the structures of workplace control in the grocery and fastfood industries. If young workers in these sites valorize social relations w ith age g ro u p peers in the workplace, it is im portant to recognize that they do so, in the first place, because they are able: a distinguishing characteristic of the grocery and fastfood industries, as two of the continent's largest youth em ployers, is that their workplaces tend to be filled to the brim w ith young workers. Young workers' appreciation of being able to w ork in the y o u th labor m arket is sometimes fostered and reinforced by prior and reported experiences of w idespread adult exclusion of youths in other workplaces. A n u m b er of young workers I spoke to in Box H ill an d Q en w o o d h ad previously w orked in office environm ents - often in the offices w here one of their parents worked. Even though these office jobs w ere often higher status - a n d in some cases, higher paying - than grocery a n d fastfood work, m any of these young

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workers said they preferred grocery an d fastfood w ork because they found that, as youths, they had been isolated and excluded in adult-dom inated office settings. Valorization of peer g roup relations in the low w age, low status service sector, then, need not alw ays be (pace K rahn and Tanner) solely a response to a lack of opportunities to m ove u p into higher status, higher paying work. Young grocery and fastfood w orkers valorize socializing a n d having fun w ith co-workers in their workplaces, in large part, because they are actively encouraged to do so by their employers. As I discussed in the tw o previous chapters, em ployers in Box H ill and G lenw ood are constantly pushing the rhetoric of teams, team efforts and team m em bership on their employees. A combination of negative reinforcem ents - labor bud g ets cut to the bone th at force young w orkers to tu rn to one another for su p p o rt just to make it through the w orking day - as well as positive ones - the intrinsic rew ards of team participation and spirit, and the extrinsic, m aterial rew ards that often come w ith w inning com pany team com petitions a n d incentive program s - w ork to foster a strong sense of co-w orker solidarity am ong many young w orkers in both Box Hill an d Glenwood. In addition to the rhetoric of team w ork, Box Hill and G lenw ood grocery and fastfood em ployers also constantly p u sh o n th eir em ployees the messages that "work is fun" and that "the grocery sto re/fastfo o d restaurant is a fun place to work." Such m essages are m otivated by tw o principal factors. First, as youth employers, superm arkets and fastfood restaurants seek to orient m any of their control an d m otivation strategies to a predom inantly teenage audience. Since these em ployers (like m any N o rth A m ericans) see teenagers as being prim arily oriented to "fun and friends," they attem pt to portray w ork and the workplace as fitting in w ith a fun-loving y o u th culture.

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"Have you seen the Fry House training videos?/' a young cashier in Q en w o o d asks m e as she shakes her head, laughing: Oh, they're bad, they're so cheesy, they're just, "Hi, I w ork a t Fry H ouse and I'm so happy!" I m ean it's kind of funny. It's true in a sense, it's like, w e're kind of like that, b u t n o t to th at extent...! We m ake fun of them [the videos], the little rappers, they d o som e rap in there sometimes. It's so funny, they try to make it look cool, b u t it just doesn't look it. Right! Ah, they're trying! Internal workplace structures thus w ork to reproduce w orksite external ideologies of youth: in w hat m ay often be a self-fulfilling stereotype, teenage workers are actively positioned w ithin the w orkplace by their o w n em ployers as being m ore oriented to fun than to w ork. The second reason that grocery and fastfood em ployers try to m ake their em ployees think of w ork as being fun is because, as custom er service businesses, they need their em ployees to be able to provide "sincere" and happy, welcom ing, friendly service to the customers that they serve. It is m uch easier, of course, for w orkers to provide "sincerely" happy service if these workers really feel th at they are happy and having fun in their workplaces. Grocery and fastfood employers in Box Hill a n d G lenw ood foster peer group work orientations am ong their young em ployees indirectly as well as directly. For young w orkers' peer group orientations are reinforced by their stopgap work orientations; which, in turn, as I have suggested, are themselves reinforced by the industry w ork conditions that have been created by grocery and fastfood employers. As I discussed in the previous section, young grocery and fastfood workers in Box H ill a n d G lenwood, because they see their jobs as being only tem porary an d stopgap, do not dem and the meaning and rew ard from these jobs th at they w ould expect from adult, career em ploym ent. They consequently becom e m ore willing to embrace peer

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group relations as being a prim ary site of value, identity a n d practice in their (tem porary, stopgap) low wage and low status service sector jobs. A t this point, it m ight be useful to pause m om entarily to clarify some of the differences betw een m y argum ent and th at of K rahn and Tanner. Obviously, I have focused here on w orkplace internal structures that m otivate young grocery and fastfood w orkers' peer group w ork orientations. But m ost im portantly, it is the notion o f a stopgap w ork orientation that: (1) provides an alternative to the idea, em braced by K rahn and T anner and m any others, that young workers' workplace behaviors can best be explained by their positioning in a "pre-career" m oratorium stage of age developm ent; and (2) provides a way of bridging K rahn an d Tanner's situational and essentialist explanations for young w orkers' p eer g ro u p w ork orientations. Krahn and Tanner, it will be recalled, claim th at young w orkers are unconcerned about "careers an d personal fulfillm ent a t work" - these workers, supposedly, are at a "pre-career" level of personal developm ent. But in Box Hill and Glenwood, this is sim ply n o t true. M any of the young workers I spoke w ith had strong feelings about w anting to find intrinsically meaningful an d interesting career occupations: it is ju st that, as stopgap workers, they were willing to defer their demands for meaningful and interesting work. The stopgap w ork orientations th at stand behind such deferments, moreover, do not arise solely because of young w orkers' age or developm ental status. They are powerfully shaped, rather, as I suggested in the previous section, by young w orkers' internalization of po p u lar N orth American ideologies of youth, and by the im poverished w orking conditions of the jobs in w hich youths are com m only able to find em ploym ent. Peer group work orientations, like stopgap w ork orientations, play a central role in the organization of young w orker consent an d resistance in the

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grocery and fastfood workplace. Strong peer g roup relations am ong young w orkers often w ork to the benefit of grocery an d fastfood employers. As K rahn and Tanner suggest, w orker valorization of w orkplace social relations can help m itigate dissatisfaction w ith low wages, low status, and boring and repetitive work. Co-worker solidarities can foster a strong sense of workplace engagem ent am ong young w orkers, and m otivate them to w ork h ard in their grocery and fastfood jobs (as discussed in C hapter Three). The blurring of fun, socializing an d w ork can not only m ake w ork tim e seem m ore acceptable an d attractive to young workers, but it can also lead them to bring w ork and the w orkplace into their leisure time. M any young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood come into w ork early, stay late, and d ro p by their worksites on their days off just to visit their co-workers an d catch u p on the latest w orkplace gossip. As I argue in C hapter Eight below, such out of w ork hours visiting habits can easily lead to young w orkers agreeing (w hether w ittingly o r not) to w ork for their employers for free in the form of off the clock labor. Strong peer group relations, on the oth er hand, can also lead young w orkers to challenge, suspend or ignore em ployer regulations, policies and dem ands. As I discussed in C hapter Three, co-w orker solidarities can lead to the developm ent of local and alternative w ork practices am ong young workers, and can, at times, move workers, both individually and collectively, to challenge em ployer initiatives and interventions in their workplaces. In looking to the workplace as a site for socializing a n d fun, moreover, and in blurring the lines betw een work and leisure, som e young w orkers do not take their w ork as seriously as their m anagers feel they should, as they allow leisure activities to creep steadily into their w ork time. Grocery and fastfood em ployers encourage their employees to m aintain friendly and chatty store environm ents. There are m any times, though, w h en w orkers get m ore

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caught u p in talking w ith one another a n d w ith their custom ers than w ith perform ing the various other w ork tasks th at are expected of them .

In b o th

Box Hill and Q enw ood, m anagers are forever feeling obliged to tell young workers to "stop talking and get back to work." Playing on the job, as well, is a com m on p a rt of w orkplace experience for young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and G lenwood. Food a n d w ater fights, for example, are com m on. Indeed, for som e young workers, the food-based service and retail w orkplace seem s to present an alm ost endless series of opportunities to engage in extended ro u n d s of horseplay - as in the following story, told by a young stocker in Box Hill, as he recounts one of his m ost m em orable "work" experiences: It started originally that w e w ere in back. W e had tw o hours to face the bread.... W e’re just like, E h , let's do som ething, w e’re bored.' So we took a half hour break, we w ere o u t back on the loading dock, there w as a bag of m ildewing bagels th at w e decided to play golf with, w ith a broom that w as back there th at w as broken.... W e're sm acking bagels o u t into the parking lot, w e're having fun, an d then he [a fellow stocker] goes ou t to start picking som e up, an d I start throw ing em at him. He throw s em back at me, then I w ent running inside.... I'm like, I'm gonna go to the bathroom .' A nd apparently he knew a little trick on how to open the bathroom door and threw an egg in there. I'm like, 'Oh, you're going to get it.' You could hear him laughing all the w ay out there.... So I w ent into the backroom , and he w as doing the dairy.... I hold u p the dozen eggs, I flip it open. H e's like, H e y m an, better be careful.' So I start lobbing eggs a t him, a n d then he grabbed a dozen eggs, w e started going back and forth, the dairy's covered w ith eggs. Then I w ent running o u t the dairy door, a n d he threw a carton of milk an d th at splattered o n the floor, and I w ent running ou t the m ain doors, that's w h en he lobbed the egg, it m issed m e and splattered at a m anager's feet. It w as like, 'O h m an, this is n o t going to be good'.... He's [the m anager is] real quiet, he's like, 'G et a m o p .' In addition to food and w ater fights, young w orkers play tag at work; they ride grocery carts in the parking lots; they lock one another in walk-in freezers; they untie each others' aprons; they p lay basketball, football a n d 227

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hockey in the backrooms; and they race an d try to toss one a nother off of stockroom forklifts and pow er jacks. W orkers eat, drink, sm oke, and occasionally, d o drugs together, all w hile o n em ployer time. Sexualized play joking, teasing, gossipping, flirting, pinching, slapping and so on - is also w idespread in the grocery and fastfood workplace. As a young Fry H ouse cashier in Glenwood puts it, flirting and joking on the job "makes the w ork m ore fun, m ore liveable, like you can be there, it's not like, Ach, w ork, o h no!' Like I look forward to it." Young grocery and fastfood w orkers' valorization of w orkplace social relations, of course, is not w ithout its limits. As I discussed in C hapters Three and Four, superm arket and restaurant solidarities are som etim es broadly divided by both worksite internal and external differences in w orker identity. Sexualized play in the workplace easily and frequently deteriorates into sexual harassm ent. Joking and teasing, likewise, in these m ulti-ethnic, m ulti-racial workforces, can rapidly unravel into racial a n d ethnic worksite tensions an d hostilities. W orkplace gossip slides all too sm oothly into character attacks and sim ple m eanness that can alienate w orkers and turn them against one another. Young workers' valorization of w orkplace social relations is also lim ited by their stopgap w ork orientations. As seen in the previous section, some young workers deliberately restrict and distance them selves from their co-worker interactions for fear of becom ing overly attached to and comfortable in their stopgap jobs. For other young workers, m eanw hile, the appeal of workplace socializing and fun quickly starts to lose its luster as they near a n d /o r pass the points at w hich they, as stopgap w orkers, feel they should be leaving their grocery an d fastfood jobs far behind.

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Local Workplace Investments:

"That's m y store/my customer/my kitchen"

"When I w asn't bagging/' a young Box Hill stocker recalls of the first year of his superm arket em ploym ent that he spent w orking as a grocery bagger, "I'd be u p there cleaning. I even got the nicknam e of Mr. G ean." The stocker tells the story of an entire day that he once spent cleaning the floor of his superm arket's backroom s: I took a nine hour shift, scrubbing the hell o u t of b o th [staff] bathroom s, the breakroom and the m anagers' room. I h ad to totally strip the floor, then I had to wax it, m ost of m y shift w as sp en t scrubbing the hell o u t of the floor. Those floors looked new. T hen I w ent in there an d I waxed them, they looked awesome. I took pictures, I w as so p ro u d of m y floors, man. "About a m onth and a half later," the stocker says, "this kid w en t in there an d used bleach on my floors, I coulda killed him" (emphasis added). The stocker yelled at his errant co-worker, com plained to his m anager, and tried to insist that the co-w orker take another full shift to restrip a n d rewax the now tarnished floors. "Nine hours," groans the stocker as he rem em bers the incident, "right there, wasted." Despite (and perhaps even because of) their stopgap w ork orientations, many young workers in Box Hill and Glenwood express a strong sense of local investm ent - of local ow nership an d local expertise - in th eir grocery an d fastfood workplaces. Young w orkers' sense of local ow nership is, perhaps, m ost simply and symbolically expressed in the way young w orkers casually refer to "my kitchen," "my customers," or "my floors;" or, collectively, to "our store" o r "our departm ent." A lthough they w ork in corporate ow ned chains that have highly centralized system s of control, young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood generally experience corporate ow ners as being physically and socially distant from the stores and departm ents in w hich they work: it is workers w ho actually inhabit, fill o u t and take possession of com pany ow ned

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property. The w ork that w orkers perform subtly shapes an d reshapes company spaces, so that grocery and fastfood workplaces come, over time, to reflect the activities and identities of the w orkers w ithin them . W orkers can point to their regulars - to the custom ers w ho come into their stores and ask for them individually by nam e - and say th at those are "my regulars th at I got started here." W orkers can point to display cases and produce racks, to floors and parking lots, to prepared m eals a n d repaired machines, to sales figures and custom er counts, and say th a t it is their w ork that m ade these things look the way they do. W orkers take possession of their local w orksites not just through production b u t through consum ption as well - th rough the familiarity of repeated use of w ork props and tools. W orkers have cash registers, mops, fridges and freezers, four wheelers and pow er jacks that they use day in and day out, that they use m ore than anyone else does, that they know the particular quirks of b etter than anyone else, and th at they come to see as belonging, in a sense, to them. Local investm ent w ork orientations among young grocery and fastfood workers in Box Hill and Glenwood are further based on a strong sense of local expertise. W orkers come to claim a knowledge-based authority in their workplaces that is derived not from official job training or certified trade skills but rather from the sim ple fact of their 'being out there." "We’re in the trenches doing all the hard work," a Fry House cook says of his restaurant w ork crew: "You [managers] could [should] listen to u s , ... get som e advice from us, cause we know w hat's going on in the store." M any young w orkers in both Box Hill and Glenwood, in fact, view centralized w ork policies and procedures that are produced by their corporate employers as being hopelessly o u t of touch w ith the day to day realities o f the grocery an d fastfood business,

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and develop, accordingly, their ow n "work arounds" to get the w ork that needs to be done in their stores done right and done o n time. In the G lenw ood Fry Houses, for example, the em ployer has introduced, fairly recently, a Com puterized Cooking Schedule (CCS) which, using calculations based on a store's past sales, tells cooks how m uch chicken to cook at different times of the day, on different days of the week. Cooking the right am ount of chicken is a tricky business for Fry H ouse cooks: chicken can take anyw here from fifteen to forty m inutes to cook, and only lasts an hour or so once cooked. Cook too m uch chicken a n d a store's "overcook" w aste sky rockets; cook n o t enough and a store w ill lose custom ers. While the CCS can be quite helpful for new cooks, m ost of the m ore senior Fry House cooks I spoke to regarded the CCS w ith a high degree of skepticism: They have a little chart saying this is how m uch you should have of this p roduct a t this time, and it's usually pretty w rong. I m ean, we know, w e're there five days a week, w e know w h at w e need, an d w hat [different] days are [like]. Sometimes it m ay surprise you, it's busier one day, dead another day, you never know w ith fastfood.... They think there's a science, b u t there's not. You just gotta go w ith the flow of how the evening's going. Many Fry H ouse cooks rely on their past experience in their stores to add or subtract chicken from w hat the CCS tells them to cook. "The cooks at our store," says one cook, "cook just by instinct, they cook w hatever's needed." Similar stories are told by young grocery w orkers in Box Hill. Some grocery chains, for example, distribute centralized "schematics" show ing the kinds and am ounts of products they w ant stocked in dairy cases a n d on produce racks and tables. Clerks, however, frequently m ake their ow n adjustm ents to these schem atics (often in opposition to the o rd ers of district managers) as they know that some products sim ply d o n 't sell very well in their stores:

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They send us pictures of die rack that's p u t in right, w e're supposed to m ake ours exactly like th a t They w ant every single store to be the same, but you can't do that w ith tiny neighborhood stores [like o u r store] Say we're carrying large oranges an d sm all oranges, a n d their schematic has these big displays of b oth of them , an d the sm aller ones are cheaper. In our n eig h b o rh o o d ,... they're going for the cheaper stuff, the big ones aren't selling hardly a t all. So w e w idened o u t o n the small ones, w e keep the big ones sm all so w e w ouldn't throw em all aw ay [when they w ent unsold]. "You gotta know your store," says a young dairy clerk. Otherw ise, he explains, you'll forever be short on som e products an d long on others, throw ing them away w hen they go unsold p a st their expiry dates. W hile the application of w orkers' local expertise can often be blocked in Box Hill and Glenwood by store m anagers and centralized control systems, local investm ent w ork orientations am ong young w orkers are generally supported and fostered by grocery and fastfood employers. Em ployers in both sites regularly encourage their em ployees to think of their w orkplaces as their own, to w ork as if they were the ow ners of their stores and departm ents, an d to m ake their stores and departm ents the best they can possibly be (see C hapter Three for discussion). Younger grocery an d fastfood workers, especially, w ho view their jobs through a contrast w ith high school, and w ho see their jobs in the context of their transition from being youths to being adults, can be highly receptive to such em ployer driven messages. As Jane Gaskell an d M arvin Lazerson (1981: 89-91) have succinctly argued: Being at w ork m eans being seen as and treated as an adult. School, on the other hand, defines students as children. It is a 'people processing' o r custodial institution, preparing y o uth for adulthood, defining them as n o t yet fully responsible.... A form al consequence of m oving o u t of an institution w here you are being 'processed' into a n institution w here you are doing the processing is that the w ork is clearly for someone else's benefit; that, after all, is w hy it is paid.... Producing som ething for som eone else, som ething th at [is] really valued, [makes] young people feel responsible an d grow n up. Instead of producing

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essays or bookends that no one [cares] about, they [are] producing w ork that [matters] to someone else beside them selves. "Accomplishing a n externally defined if routine task an d getting rew arded for it," Gaskell and Lazerson (1981: 91) add, "is a public definition of competence" that "provides a public identity th at com pares favorably to the identity of the non-worker." The m ore ow nership and investm ent young w orkers have in their w ork and worksites, the m ore "adult" they m ay see them selves (and m ay be seen) as becoming. The receptivity of young w orkers to em ployer exhortations to invest themselves fully in their stopgap jobs, m oreover, m ay be fostered by their orientation not just to their past experiences of schooling an d th eir present experiences of m oving into adulthood, b u t to their future experiences of becoming career workers as well. Growing u p in N orth America, young workers are positively inundated w ith m eritocratic ideologies that link hard w ork w ith future success: even though young w orkers see their grocery and fastfood jobs as stopgap jobs and not career paths, m any still believe in the im portance of developing, early on, strong and com prehensive w ork histories and identities. Those young w orkers w ho expect them selves to go on to college, and to one day enter into the professions, som etim es seek - w ith their employers' blessing - to get a headstart on m odelling the professional (self-motivated, comm itted, hard working) behaviors that will be later dem anded of them as career adults, while they are still youths w orking in stopgap grocery and fastfood jobs. Em ployer fostering of young w orkers' local w orkplace investm ents also occurs indirectly and by default. Both Box H ill and G lenw ood em ployers insist of keeping store budgets trim m ed to the m inim um so as to m axim ize com pany profits. This frequently m eans that, for exam ple, broken equipm ent

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in stores goes unrepaired an d m issing equipm ent unreplaced; and this, in turn, m eans that young w orkers are quite literally forced to care for their stores and departm ents o n their ow n as best they can. In Box H ill and Glenwood, young w orkers fix broken appliances, locks, taps, and switches in their workplaces; they tape u p busted mops, broom s an d dustpans; they p ro p u p drive through w indow s that no longer stay open w ith pencils, straw s and stacks of paper cups. Some stores and departm ents, in fact, are able to keep running on tight budgets largely because their w orkers are willing and able to come u p w ith a d hoc repairs, innovations an d adjustm ents in o rd er th at they can effectively do their jobs. Employers clearly benefit, then, from their em ployees' local w orkplace investm ents. Because of their em ployees' willingness to intervene locally, em ployers are able to get aw ay w ith cheap store budgets, as well as w ith w hat are often inadequate centrally designed w ork procedures. W orkers' sense of local ownership, expertise and agency, furtherm ore, frequently m otivate them to w ork hard in their grocery and fastfood jobs. As Joanne Miller (1988: 340) writes, there is great value to em ployers in providing small an d local opportunities for their employees to apply their ow n expertise and agency in their workplaces: W orkers' m anipulation of the people, m achines, a n d procedures regulating the conditions of w ork creates the individual challenge an d felt autonom y essential for job involvem ent and required for strategic functioning on the job.... The individual achieves a sense of competence and control from these job experiences.... The com pany benefits from the enhanced functioning an d stability of the production structure it created. W orkers' sense of local ow nership and investm ent can even lead them , o n occasion, to "forget” the corporatized and centralized structures of organization and control that fundam entally shape their grocery an d fastfood

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workplaces. In one interview I conducted in a Box Hill grocery store staffroom , a young stocker told m e how he liked to greet all the custom ers he m et w hen he w as stocking shelves o n the grocery floor. 'Is th a t Good G rocer policy?," I asked. "That's my policy," the stocker replied. "So they d id n 't tell you that you had to d o that?" "No-," the stocker started to answ er. But he then looked u p at a Good Grocer custom er service policy notice th at w as posted on the wall of the staffroom behind m e, an d read aloud through the "Six Steps to Excellent Service:" one of these steps required em ployees to greet all customers w herever they w ere in the store. '1 w as wrong," said the stocker, '1 guess it is their policy." But locally invested em ployees also create headaches for employers. Young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and G lenw ood pester their m anagers for workplace im provem ents and are often resistant to following the letter of company protocols a n d w ork procedures. While, as I have suggested above, this can often w ork (in the long run) to the advantage of com pany bottom lines, it can also, a t times, be m ore costly for em ployers and, m ost critically, it represents a lim it and check on centralized em ployer authority and control in the w orkplace. Locally invested em ployees in the service workplace, furtherm ore, despite com pany policies dictating that "the custom er is always right," are likely to assert increased authority over their custom ers. Seeing their workplaces as their ow n, some young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood feel at liberty to independently ad o p t and enforce a set of stan d ards for behavior in their restaurants an d stores w hich they expect their custom ers to respect and follow: There's a lot o f times that 111 ask them [customers] if they w ant ketchup or something, they’re like, "Yeah." I'm like, "It w ould be nice if you said, yes thank you, o r yes please." M ost of em, they smile, "Yeah, right." It's like, "No n o n o no no! It w ould be nice to have

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some m anners." O r w hen som ebody m akes a big m ess o n the counter w ith their food, there are som e jerk custom ers, they 11 strew their food all across the counter, then I have to go d e a n it up. I’m alw ays, when they're leaving, "Thank you very m uch for d e an in g u p y o u r mess." A couple of times I've said, '1 d o n 't get p aid for d ean in g u p y o u r mess." They'll kind of d e a n it up, they'll try really hard. Locally invested employees, finally, can come to dem and b etter w orking conditions and higher wages for themselves. A lthough young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood, as stopgap w orkers, often accept their low wages as a natural p art of stopgap yo u th w ork life, as w orkers w ith a strong sense of local ow nership and expertise, they som etim es question and challenge their low status, low wages and lack of voice in the workplace. "They're so high u p there," a young Fry H ouse cashier com plains, in a way that is typical of young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood: "Like the Fry H ouse company, the presidents, they just look a t the m oney and the big planes they're sitting on and stuff. I personally d o n 't think they look at who's really making the m oney for them very m uch. They d o n 't take into consideration the stuff we do and the crap w e go through." Local workplace investm ents interact in contradictory ways w ith stopgap and peer group w ork orientations. Peer group relations and local workplace investm ents, as I discussed in the tw o previous chapters, often combine to forge strong store based and departm ent based solidarities. But peer group relations can also limit young w orkers' sense of w orkplace investm ent, as w orkers becom e m ore caught u p in socializing a n d having fun w ith co-workers at work, and less concerned w ith their actual w ork and workplaces. The story is similar w ith stopgap w ork orientations. W hen talking of their grocery and fastfood w ork w ithin the fram ew ork of stopgap em ploym ent, young w orkers in Box Hill and G lenw ood are willing to focus on the challenges of their work, on the interest, the variation a n d local

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nuances, the tricks of the trade and the hidden (tadt) skills that they need to excel in the grocery and fastfood workplace. But as soon as young w orkers start thinking of grocery an d fastfood w ork as possible sites of career employment, and begin contrasting this w ork w ith the "real jobs" they hope to find as adults, all such excitem ent typically begins to fade. Y oung w orkers then tend to focus on the unskilled nature of their w ork, and on the negative, limiting, m eaningless, routine and boring nature of jobs in the contem porary grocery an d fastfood industries. 'It's just like the sam e thing everyday, really," a stocker in Box Hill sighs: 'Till the milk, fill the beer, fill the pop. It gets kinda old. You get good at it, and then it's the sam e thing, everyday."

Youth Work Cultures Youth w ork cultures in Box Hill grocery and G lenw ood fastfood are neither fully oppositional nor completely accom m odationist. They are stopgap w ork cultures, b u t harbor not just passivity an d alienation b u t workplace investm ent and engagem ent as well. U nlike the w ork cultures of (for example) academics and professionals, youth w ork cultures have a distinctly local base of know ledge and identity. They are, furtherm ore, shaped strongly by young w orkers’ age: stopgap status, for young grocery an d fastfood workers, is highly age correlated; the peer group social relations that are so central to these cultures take o n particular forms (certain styles an d contents of workplace conversation and interaction, for example) w hich are tied closely to w orker age; and local workplace investm ents, as I have suggested earlier, are often strengthened by young workers' negotiation of personal paths out of schooling and into adulthood. Youth w ork cultures have considerable significance for thinking about w hether and how to p ursue reform s in the contem porary N o rth A m erican

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youth workplace. Unions often avoid organizing in the youth labor market, in part, since they, like so many others, do not see youth workers as being "real workers." Some unionists doubt that youth w orkers have the job com m itm ent and investm ent to w ant to w ork to change their working conditions. Young grocery and fastfood workers in Box Hill and Glenwood, however, though they are stopgap workers, express strong senses of workplace investm ent and co-worker solidarity. The young workers in this study, of course, are already unionized. But there is little reason to expect youth work cultures in non-union grocery and fastfood sites to be radically different, since these cultures are shaped primarily by youth stopgap status and em ployer systems of w ork organization and control - and not by union presence (see C hapter Three for discussion of likely differences betw een union and non-union w ork comm unities in the youth service sector). As I discuss in the Afterword to this dissertation, there is some evidence from across N orth America that young stopgap w orkers in the low end service sector are willing to take the step of trying to im prove their workplaces through union organizing efforts - but, it is critical to recognize, they are generally willing to take such steps as stopgap and not career workers. Many researchers and policy makers, w ith the decline of N orth America's m anufacturing base, are now calling for service sector employers to provide their young employees - particularly those w ho not college bound w ith the career em ploym ent that m anufacturing industries previously offered (see, for example, Bailey and Bernhardt 1997; Herzenberg, Alic and Wial 1998). These individuals som etim e risk m aking the opposite mistake to that of unions (and others) w ho shun the youth labor market. First, these researchers and policy analysts generally insist on considering low level service workers as potential career w orkers and not at

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all as stopgap workers. Second, these resesarchers an d analysts focus on w hether and how industries such as grocery and fastfood m ight offer w orkers high wages, full time hours and job security; they tend n o t to be overly concerned w ith the broader issue of how w orkers experience day to day w orking conditions in low level service industries, nor d o they usually attem pt to imagine radical changes - beyond the introduction of high perform ance type m odels th at low level service industry em ployers them selves already prom ote - in the w ay w ork in these industries m ight be organized. It is critical to recognize, however, th at young grocery and fastfood w orkers actively position them selves as stopgap (anti-careerist) w orkers, and that they do so not solely because of the low wages an d job security their grocery and fastfood w ork provides; they position them selves as stopgap w orkers prim arily because they dislike the w orking conditions of these industries. Indeed, wages for som e job positions in the unionized Box Hill grocery stores are already high enough - an d job security strong enough - th at some young grocery workers fear becom ing trapped by the lure of prom ised money in w hat they hope are only tem porary, stopgap sites of em ploym ent. Fears of becoming trapped in a stopgap job are, it is true, connected to m atters of wages and job security: m any young stopgap w orkers know that w ages th at seem high to them during their youth will soon plateau o u t and come to seem low to them w hen they are adults trying to su p p o rt families. B ut young workers' fears of becoming trapped in stopgap w ork are centred far m ore on the im poverishm ent of contem porary grocery and fastfood w ork environm ents. I thus conclude this chapter w ith the w ords of a young Box Hill grocery bagger, who, though she thoroughly enjoys h e r grocery w ork for

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the m om ent, explains w hy she, for one, w ould hate to be a grocery w orker for life:

My ideal job isn't standing o n m y feet eight hours a day, forty hours a week. It's not constant- [change], things are changing a lot. M anagem ent's changing, the procedures w e're supposed to follow are changing, our schedules are always changing.... W ork should be som ething that you enjoy, and it should be som ething you're interested in. Cause it's kind of pointless if you d o n 't like it. It should be a challenge.... A nd you shouldn't have to w orry about bills and everything, they should just pay you enough so that, yeah.... T here sh o u ld n 't be boring, m onotonous w ork. T hat's w hy I said y o u r job should be interesting, you know , there's no reason that one person has to do, like, all the filing or som ething. They should split it up, let everybody-. I m ean, all of yo u r job can't be fun, so they should split it u p so one p e rso n 's job is n 't com pletely fu n a n d the o th e r p e rso n 's job isn 't completely bad.

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Part Three: Youth in the Union

The typical study of yo u th an d w ork in N orth America, after docum enting the problem s that confront youth w orkers in this continent, will look everywhere except in the youth workplace itself for solutions of how to im prove the conditions of youth work: nine tim es out of ten the study will suggest that som e changes be m ade in the classroom o r in the educational system so as to b etter help the chances youths have of succeeding in the w orld of work. This study takes a different approach. In this section of the dissertation, I exam ine the experiences that young grocery a n d fastfood workers in Box Hill a n d G lenw ood have of unionization in o rd er to address the question: Could unionization play a significant role in transform ing an d im proving the conditions of youth, stopgap w ork in N o rth Am erica in general? While the relations that Local C and Local 7 have w ith their young m em bers are more closely sim ilar than one m ight expect - given these tw o locals' often radically contrasting approaches to unionism a t higher levels of action - there are significant differences betw een them. In this section, I deliberately highlight these differences for the purpose of describing clearly, first, som e of the lim itations of unionization in the yo u th labor m arket, and second, some of the possibilities that unionization has to offer for im proving youth labor m arket conditions. In C hapter Six, I focus o n Local 7 in Box Hill, and describe the ways in w hich young grocery workers are m arginalized in their union. In C hapter Seven, I focus on Local C in G lenw ood a n d describe

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the connections the local has been able to m ake w ith its young m em bers through its workplace intervention and education efforts. I argue th at the differences betw een the tw o locals can best be captured as a difference betw een "adult centered" and "all ages" unionism , and betw een "business" an d "social m ovem ent" unionism . In the last chapter in this section (C hapter Eight), I focus on one of the m ost critical issues young grocery an d fastfood w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood face in the workplace: th at is the handling of w ork time. I describe first the contrasting ways in w hich Local 7 and Local C have sought to secure scheduling protections for their m em bers. The greater success of Local C in providing scheduling security for its young m em bers dem onstrates the im portance of strong contract language for im proving the conditions of yo u th w ork, and reinforces the perhaps obvious b u t nevertheless im p o rtan t notion th at unions are neither all alike n o r all equal in term s of w hat they can d o for young, stopgap workers. I then consider the phenom enon of off the clock w ork (unpaid youth labor), w hich has been endem ic in both Box Hill grocery and Glenwood fastfood. I argue that this proliferation of off the clock w ork illustrates how gaps betw een union cultures and youth stopgap w o rk cultures in Box Hill and Glenwood can underm ine the ability of unionization to resolve structural problem s in the youth workplace.

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Chapter Six

Outsiders in the Union: Youth Alienation in a Grocery Local If we ivere to be totally honest, we'd probably have to say that we don't have the hearts and minds of all of our younger members. - Grocery Local 7 Political and Education Director

W hen the Political and Education Director of Grocery Local 7 in Box Hill concedes that his union local m ight not have the hearts and m inds of "all" of its younger m em bers, he m akes a considerable understatem ent: Local 7 does not "have the hearts and m inds" of a great num ber of its younger members. This is not to say that young grocery w orkers in Box Hill d o n ’t generally prefer w orking in a un io n job over a non-union one - they do. Most appreciate their union for the wages, benefits and sense of job security it provides. They look dow n on com parable youth jobs - in fastfood, especially that pay only m inim um wage, offer no benefits, and im pose the arbitrariness and precariousness of an at-will em ploym ent contract. But beyond such baseline appreciation of unionization, young grocery w orkers in Box Hill articulate a deep sense of alienation from their union local. Young grocery w orkers in Box Hill often have little sense o f w ho their union is and w hat it does. They express frustration and anger w ith union policies, actions and inactions. They have alm ost no involvem ent in union activities and m inim al contact w ith union p erso n n el E ven w ith the core union currency of wages, benefits and job security, m any young w orkers

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express dissatisfaction. Wages, for the m ost part, are still low - especially for the job classifications in w hich m ost grocery youths w ork. Benefits are not available to som e young part-tim e and tem porary w orkers and are not particularly w anted by others. Job security and union protection rem ain, in m any ways, in the realm of the im aginary rather than of experienced reality: for few young w orkers have actually witnessed concrete union interventions to protect either their ow n jobs o r the jobs of their co-workers. M any young w orkers in Box Hill, in fact, feel that their union prim arily serves the needs and interests of their older, ad u lt co-workers, and not the needs and interests of youth. O ver the past few decades in N orth America, both the US and C anadian labor m ovem ents have m oved increasingly to address an d confront the ugly reality of racism and sexism in their past an d present histories. Labor activists have focused on attacking both the blatant and m ore subtle form s of race and sex discrim ination in their unions, and on changing those everyday practices of traditional unionism (styles of discourse, for example, or the timing and location of union meetings) that have effectively if indirectly w orked to m arginalize and exclude w om en and m inorities. At the same time, however, as this consciousness raising over racism a n d sexism in the labor m ovem ent has been developing, there has been by com parison a deafening silence over the history and practice of ageism - of the m arginalization of youths - in the N orth Am erican labor m ovem ent. Indeed, not only has there been a striking absence of discussion over union ageism, but, as I noted in the introduction to this dissertation, since the late 1970's in this continent, unions have increasingly engaged in one of the m ost blatant form s of age and generation based discrim ination th at there is in the labor m ovement: that is the negotiation of tw o-tiered w age a n d benefit contracts.

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In the 1990's, there has b een a shift in the N orth A m erican labor m ovem ent and a renew ed interest am ong unions in reaching o u t to and w orking w ith youth workers. There has still not, though, been any w idespread discussion of ageism and y o u th m arginalization in the labor m ovem ent - a discussion that, I argue, will have to take place if unions are ever going to able to dram atically im prove their record in w orking w ith young w orkers in the w ay that they have been able to d o w ith w om en an d m inority w orkers. In this chapter, I focus o n the phenom enon of youth alienation in Grocery Local 7 in Box Hill in o rd er to highlight som e of the key problem s th at arise in contem porary N o rth A m erica in the interactions of unions and stopgap yo u th workers. U nion staff and stew ards in Local 7 - like union staff elsew here on the continent - to the extent that they consider an d acknow ledge the problem of y o u th alienation in their local, alm ost inevitably construe the phenom enon as a reflection of the nature of contem porary young workers, and not as a reflection of the nature of the union local's ow n institutions and practices. Explanations for youth alienation from the union range from the em pathetic to the explicitly prejudicial and hostile. Youths d o n 't learn about unions in school, and so don't fully understand the value of unionism . Youths come from families w ho are indifferent or opposed to the idea of unionization. Youths haven't w orked in other (non-union) jobs, and so d o n 't have the benefit of experience to appreciate the difference unionization makes. Youths are stopgap, tem porary w orkers w ho are prim arily oriented to schooling and their lives outside the workplace; thus they have little tim e for and care little about unions - or, for that m atter, any other w orkplace instititutions. Youths are im m ature, lazy, selfish and in search of im m ediate gratification, a n d thus

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d o n 't like having to pay union dues o r p u ttin g in extra effort to su p p o rt their union in re tu rn for long-term gain. M any of these explanations for y o u th u n io n alienation in Box H ill n o doubt have som e validity. H ow ever, the characterizations of y o u th and youth experience upon which such explanations are based are stereotyped an d not always accurate. As was seen in P art Two of this dissertation, young workers - even w hen they are tem porary, stopgap w orkers - can be highly invested in w orkplace institutions and can be strongly m otivated to p u t in extra effort and initiative while on the job. M any of the young w orkers I spoke w ith in Box Hill had w orked in other (non-union) jobs prio r to their current grocery employment, and probably all young grocery w orkers in Box Hill have friends w orking in the non-union y o u th labor m arket. Since Box Hill is a city w ith relatively high levels of unionization (by US standards), young grocery w orkers there often come from families w ith a t least one parent or close relative who is a trade union m em ber. Schools in Box Hill aren't as negligent in the area of labor studies as some union activists in Local 7 think they are. As one young grocery bagger com plained of the first Local 7 general m em bership m eeting she attended: Everybody in there w as ta lk in g ,... saying that schools d o n 't inform high school students of the union, b u t m y school did. We just got finished w atching the film, Norma Rae. I really liked it. I know all about how unions were. They taught us, before W orld W ar One, and in 1978, w hen the movie took place. I w anted to say, 'Well, yeah, schools actually do teach us about it.' But I think w e just m oved on. It is true that m any young grocery w orkers in Box Hill do not learn m uch about trade unions in high school. But it is also im portant to recognize that increased know ledge of labor history is n o t necessarily connected w ith increased acceptance and embrace of unionism in one's contem porary place of em ploym ent. Young grocery w orkers m ay learn in school that unions in

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the past have helped bring about m any w orkplace im provem ents; they m ay learn from their ow n w ork experience th at their particular union local is not bringing about the w orkplace im provem ents th at they need or desire. In this chapter, I approach the phenom enon of y outh alienation in Grocery Local 7 by focusing on factors internal to the institutions, practices an d industry contexts of Local 7 itself that - along w ith various external factors shaping young workers in Box Hill - contribute to such alienation. I argue that youth alienation in Grocery Local 7 reflects n o t prim arily problem s w ith young w orkers but rather problem s w ith unionism - a t least w ith that particular form of unionism as is found in Local 7. I suggest th at Local 7 fails its younger m em bers by practicing an "adult centered" form of unionism that frequently marginalizes the interests of young grocery workers; and by practicing a form of staff centered, discipline oriented, wages and benefits focused "business unionism" that isolates m em bers from un io n activities and decision making, and that ignores broader issues of im proving overall workplace conditions in the grocery industry and elsewhere (see Parker an d Gruelle 1999 for a more detailed definition of business unionism ). A dult centered unionism and business unionism often am ount to the sam e thing: as I discuss below, for example, the "new m em bers meetings" that introduce young w orkers in Box Hill to their union, in being staff centered and discipline oriented, often appear to young grocery w orkers to be far too m uch like the ad u lt dom inated institutions of traditional schooling in the U nited States. At the end of this chapter, I describe briefly some of the successes Local 7 has had in im proving the w ork experiences of its younger m em bers. F or in focusing o n the phenom enon of y o u th alienation in Local 7 , 1 d o n o t w ish to completely overshadow the contributions th at unionism in Box H ill has

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m ade for young, stopgap grocery workers. As I stated above a t the o utset of this chapter, m ost young grocery w orkers in Box Hill do enjoy at least som e union advantages. Indeed, there w ould be little point in w orrying ab o u t a n d challenging ageism and yo u th m arginalization in trade unions if these unions d id not show at least som e prom ise of being able to m ake significant im provem ents in w orking conditions in the youth labor m arket: for if unions w ere entirely unhelpful to young, stopgap workers, it w ould be far sim pler to argue that there is just really n o place or no need for increased unionization of traditional youth jobs. M y argum ent here is n o t at all th at unionization in Box Hill has been, in sum , a negative experience for young grocery workers. It is, rather, th at unionization in this setting - as is all too com m on w ith unionization throughout N orth America - has n o t been the force for reducing the workplace and labor m arket m arginalization of young w orkers that it could and should be.

Introducing Young Workers to the Union Any union that w orks in the high turnover youth labor m arket faces a constant pressure in introducing new m em bers to the union. Unions that w ork w ith more stable workforces often rely on contract negotiations typically held every three years in N orth America - as the prim ary occasion for m em bers to become m ore involved w ith and learn m ore about their union. But unions that w ork w ith tem porary, stopgap yo u th w orkers sim ply cannot afford such luxury. In Local 7, in the three years betw een contract negotiations, thousands of young m em bers will have joined and q uit the u n io n . Local 7 is one of the few union locals in N o rth America w orking w ith young, tem porary workers that has recognized and attem pted to address the

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problem s caused by high levels of turnover am ong youth w orkers through the creation of a n outreach program explicitly oriented to new union m embers. Since the early 1980s, the local has ru n m onthly "new m em bers meetings." The goals behind these m eetings are high-m inded - they seek to educate new m em bers about the union and unionism in general, an d to increase m em bership involvem ent in the local. But they are also expedient. Up until 1998, the local d id not have a n autom atic dues checkoff clause in its grocery contracts and thus had to spend large am ounts of time, m oney and effort in collecting dues m onies from m em bers. Educating new m em bers about their union w as seen as a strategy for increasing the willingness of these members to pay dues voluntarily, w ithout having to be chased d o w n by union representatives. Local 7 commits considerable resources to the n ew m em bers program . N ew mem bers m eetings are held every m onth, a t fo u r different locations around Box Hill and at tw o different times during the day. Each m eeting lasts one hour, and is ru n by tw o union representatives (or "reps"). As an incentive to increase attendance, m em bers w ho come to these m eetings are granted a twenty five to fifty per cent reduction in their union initiation fees. The com m itm ent of Local 7 to its new m em bers - w ho tend overw helm ingly to be its younger m em bers - has d raw n a fair am ount of attention from labor circles in Box Hill and beyond as a showcase example of how unions today are reaching out to and w orking w ith youth. Indeed, it w as Local 7's new m em bers program that first brought m e to the local. A contact in the regional labor council suggested that if I w as interested in the relationship betw een unions and youth, then the Local 7 new m em bers program w ould be an excellent place to start.

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How, then - a n d how well - d o these new m em bers m eetings w ork? To answ er this question, I describe below w hat is a typical new m em bers m eeting that was held one sum m er m orning in 1997 in the Local 7 u n io n hall. I will then present some of the responses to these m eetings of young grocery workers I interviewed in Box Hill, an d will discuss the position of the new m em bers meetings in the overall context of how young w orkers in Local 7 are first introduced to their local.

New M em bers M eeting, Grocery Local 7, Box H ill The m ain m eeting room in the Local 7 union hall rem inds one of nothing so much as a traditional school classroom: row s of hard-backed chairs line up to face a large table that stands a t the room 's front end. In a com er next to the table stands a n Am erican flag. A few decorations line the room's colorless walls: a m ock traffic sign reading 'Scab Crossing;' a flyer th at pronounces 'Union Beer Only;' a series of heritage posters depicting 'linages of Labor;' a copy of the local's first grocery contract, negotiated back in the 1930's. The time is eight o'clock in the m orning of the first W ednesday of the m onth - the day that the local holds its introductory m eetings for its new ly joined members. Six of these m em bers now sit scattered a ro u n d the room: two young m en side by side w ho came to the m eeting together; a young m other rocking a crying baby; three others seated a respectful distance apart. As is the norm w ith these m eetings, the m em bers here today are young: in their late teens and early twenties. Four other people are in the room as well: myself, the local's Political and E ducation Director, and the tw o union reps w ho will be running the m eeting. A part from the reps asking the young workers to sign in as they arrive a t the hall - so th at they can be properly credited w ith a discount on their union initiation fees for atten d in g the meeting - nobody is speaking. Except for the baby crying, the room is quiet. A t a little after eight, the tw o union reps start the m eeting. T heir presentation is closely scripted - even the jokes an d asides are shared an d recited by other union reps as they ru n sim ultaneous new m em ber m eetings at other sites around the city. M oney is the first o rder of business for the meeting: union m oney. Rules are spelt out slowly, alm ost tediously. M embers are told w hen, w here a n d how to pay their union dues. "It's your responsibility," the first rep w arns h er silent spectators, "to g et the m oney in by the first of the m onth." O ne m o n th of m issed paym ents leads to a

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delinquency notice and a five dollar surcharge; tw o m onths brings suspension from the union an d a heftier reinstatem ent fee. Those w ho have n ot yet paid their initiation fees and first m onths' dues are welcom e to d o so at the m eeting's end. W e move to benefits. The second union rep takes over, a n d the tone of the m eeting changes. The rep is excited, he speaks in a volum e that seems, perhaps, as if it m ight be m ore appropriate for a packed auditorium . H e gestures wildly, he grows red in the face. H e is here to sell his audience on the union. "We feel,” he pronounces, ’’th at w e have one of the best insurance program s o u t there. W e've done com parisons on th e m ajor companies in the area, a n d o urs beats them hands downl" "And the best thing of all," the rep now m oves in w ith his punchline, "is you're gonna pay nothing for this coverage. It's entirely employer paid!" The re p then races through a dizzying array of benefits, acronym s, eligibilities, restrictions, conditions and coverages. Medical. Dental. Family. Vision. H ospitalization. Time loss. COBRA paym ents. Preferred provider organizations. Prescription drugs. Claims forms. Life insurance. W orker com pensation. M em ber assistance program s. Pensions. The baton is passed back to the calm orderliness of the first union rep, w ho now comes to the young w orkers assembled to speak of the problem s of workplace discipline. Grazing - eating p roduct that is n o t paid for - is a no no. You w ill get caught, and you w ill be term inated. Failure to record - not ringing u p m erchandise im m ediately - w i l l lead to term ination. Store security will get in your checkout line just to see if you are doing w h a t you are supposed to do; and if you fail to record, they will w alk you off an d you will be term inated. U nderringing - charging less than w hat a n item costs. You're taking m oney from the store and that is called theft. D on't p u t yo u r job on the line. Drugs an d alcohol. N o drugs and alcohol o n com pany property. Period. Time card violations. W orking off the clock is illegal. Leaving early and having som ebody else clock you out is stealing tim e from the com pany which is considered the sam e as stealing m oney. You can and w ill be term inated. Back now to the second union rep a n d a discussion of union privileges (listening to the tw o reps, I am given the sense of a good cop, bad cop routine going on). Unions give you just cause job protection, access to grievance an d arbitration procedures, an d the right to union representation at disciplinary meetings. N on-union workers have none of these. U nions give you a say in w hat goes in your contract - the em ployer cannot dictate the term s of the contract. Indeed, the rep goes on to say: "If you leave here with nothing else, leave here know ing w h o the union is. W e’re not the union, w e ’re your hired hands. You folks are the union, you tell us w here and how y o u w ant this union run." "You have a voice," the rep proclaim s to a group of young workers, who, a t this, their first union m eeting, have yet to say o r b e asked to say a word. There is just a little business left o n the m eeting agenda: political action and the need to give m oney to su p p o rt the union's lobbying activities. 251

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The oratory of the second union rep is in high gear now . It is crucial th at we, the active w orkers of America, lobby o u r Congressm en to vote for the bills that affect the w orking class. Employers, the rep decries, are spending billions for corporate interests. Nobody’s rights are sacred when Congress is in session. We m ust hold o u r Congressm en to task, to m ake sure they w ork f o r us, not against us. That they h e lp us, not h u rt us. We have been able to defeat bills that w ould have severely h u rt grocery w orkers in America. B u t don’t think they're dead forever, folks. They'll be back, you can bet on it, and w ell be facing the same thing again. It is crucial th a t w e have y o u r m oney so we can fight to protect your rights. A little m ore th an forty m inutes have now passed, a n d the reps have been talking non-stop. Finally, the first rep opens the floor to the seated members: "Do you have any questions at all regarding this all?" But the moment is not to be. The rep pauses for only a second before starting to w rap up the m eeting w hen the second rep breaks in: First rep:

Do you have any questions at all regarding this all? (1.0) If not, thanks [for-

Second rep:

[I have a question. Do w e have any baseball fans out there? H ow about football? Basketball? Any of these sports I m entioned, you all have som ething in common, you all have a contract th at spells o u t your wages and w orking conditions. These people m ake millions of dollars a year, b u t they realize the im portance of having a contract.... All too often, w e m iddle class America, we have a tendency to listen to o u r m anagers, listen to our corporate Am erica, T ru st us, you don't need a union, we'll take care of you.' Ok, that's it for o u r presentation today. Thanks for coming.

W ith this the m eeting ends. Five of the young w orkers disappear immediately, leaving as silently and separately as they h ad come. One w orker stays briefly to ask a question about w hy the union had retu rn ed her initiation fee check, and then leaves too. The union reps do not know w ho the w orkers are to w hom they have just introduced the union: not their names, the stores w here they work, their personal histories, workplace experiences, union questions, concerns, ideas, nothing. N either have the six young workers w ho h ad com e to the m eeting learned anything about each other, or about w hat w as going on in stores other than the store in w hich they them selves worked. T hey have been told that they have a "voice" in their union, that they are the ones w ho direct and control their union: b u t from the w ay in w hich this n ew m em bers m eeting had unfolded, it was hard to see exactly how they w ere m anifesting th at voice. After the m eeting has ended and the m em bers have left, the union officers gather together to assess how the m orning h as gone, and to explain to 252

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m e some of their objectives. '1 ju st hope," the first rep says to no one in particular, "that it sinks in. T hat they get it."

O ther new m em bers m eetings ru n b y Local 7 in Box Hill have slightly m ore interaction betw een union m em bers and officers than in the m eeting I have described above. In some m eetings, reps ask m em bers their nam es at the beginning of the meeting, and provide brief spaces during the m eeting for questioning. In some meetings, young w orkers are able to chat casually w ith union reps and co-workers from other stores before and after the meeting. But in general, new m em ber m eetings are fundam entally non-interactive and non-partidpatory affairs. They are centered u p o n monologic presentations of the union to its m em bers by union staff. They d o not seek to create spaces in which m em bers them selves talk, act, reflect, critique, strategize, form new links or enter into new projects. The union practice m odelled by the new m em bers m eetings contradicts and underm ines union staff rhetoric of having a m em ber centered, m em ber driven union. In new m em bers m eetings, union staff have a voice, union m em bers are silent. Union staff acts and initiates, union m em bers sit passively by. Beyond this obvious silencing of young workers, the new members m eeting also presents w hat is a fairly narrow , financially focused, technically oriented and authoritarian im age of th e union local. Em phasis is placed on discipline - in the collection of dues an d p ro p er workplace behavior - and on m oney and the provision of various fin an d al benefits. The portrait lim ned o u t in these meetings is one of the union as dues collecting m achine, rule-m aking body and benevolent insurance com pany.

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Young workers' reactions to Local 7’s n ew m em bers m eetings are fairly expectable: they tune out. The young w orkers I interview ed in Box Hill w ho h ad been to a new m em bers m eeting alm ost invariably described these m eetings as boring, as events th at had to be en d u red in o rd er to receive their initiation fee reduction. Many said they h ad a h a rd tim e recalling w h at w as even spoken about at these m eetings. "1 can't rem em ber m uch from it," a bagger says: "Just the fact that everything w as very serious about being disciplined. I w asn't used to that." Young w orkers com plain that n ew m em ber m eetings do not seem oriented to the interests of younger un io n m em bers. 'I t really is hard," one young bagger explains, "for som eone to sit th ro u g h a m eeting learning abou t health care w hen they're insured through their p aren ts still, o r retirem ent, w hich they don't get for another thirty years." A teenage checker describes how she quickly stopped listening to the reps' presentation as they d ro n ed on about family benefits provided by the union: "I w as just like, 'Oh, this isn’t for m e, this m eeting is not designed for som eone m y age.'" Young workers com plain that the new m em bers m eetings do n o t give them the "real deal" about the union. The m eetings explain little about w h at the union does, how it works, w here their dues m oney is going, or how they can actively use their contract in their w orkplace. Instead, the m eetings go over 'basic stuff" that young workers feel they either already know or could easily read in their contract booklet. As such, new m em bers m eetings are seen by m any as being a "waste of time." Young workers, finally, com plain that they have little oppo rtu n ity in Local 7's new m em bers m eetings to talk, ask questions or express view points. O ne young checker, w ho had w orked as a supervisor in a non-union d ru g

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store before entering the grocery trade, com pared staff m eetings at h e r previous job favorably to the new m em bers m eeting she h ad attended: I w ent to meetings all the tim e a t m y other job. In a w ay, I felt m ore like I could open u p and speak, b e c a u se ... it w as open to the floor.... I felt like I could speak u p an d voice m y ow n opinion and they w ere going to listen to me.... See, then again. I've never been in a union either, this is the first time, an d I h ad no d u e [about w hat to expect]. I wish, a bagger reflects, that "they could structure the m eetings to m ake it m ore active."

Many young grocery w orkers in Box H ill never attend one of Local 7's new m em bers meetings. A nd m any w orkers w ho d o attend these m eetings have already been w orking in the Box Hill superm arkets for several m onths. Thus for many young w orkers in Box Hill, introduction to the union comes well before or aw ay from the site of the new m em bers m eeting. A n all too often recurring them e am ong young grocery w orker's descriptions of how they first had contact w ith their union is their becom ing aw are of their un io n only w hen the union approached them to collect on its debts. "I didn't find out the store had any un io n until three o r four m onths after I started working," com plains a young deli derk: "W hen the guy [union rep] came in looking for union dues an d stuff like that, I w as like, W a it a m inute, we have a union?' So I ended u p having to fork o u t alm ost tw o h u ndred dollars for back union dues a n d this an d that an d everything else." The story is typical. Many young w orkers in Box Hill report not being told about the union before they w ere hired - o r if told that there w as a union, n o t being told that they had to join it. Subsequently, the first they learn of the union is often a letter or visit from a union rep dem anding back paym ent of union initiation fees a n d dues: for som e young grocery w orkers, in troductio n

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to the union comes under threat from the union of suspension for non­ paym ent of union monies. Local 7 has a hard time keeping track of new hires: in fact, as I describe below, tracking changes in the m em bership occupies a great portion of a Local 7 union rep's time on the job. Em ployers are often less than fully cooperative either in telling the local about new hires, o r telling new hires about the local. In the m idst of this difficult situation created by high turnover rates, however, young grocery w orkers in Box Hill often end u p feeling resentful that they are the ones blam ed by their union for n o t joining the union a n d paying their union fees according to contract requirem ents. W hile the un io n is eager to tell young w orkers w h at they ow e the union, m any young w orkers feel they are left in the dark about w hat the union is, and w hat the union can d o for them. If lack of inform ation about and dem ands for m oney by the union characterizes young grocery w orkers' introduction to their union in Box Hill, so too does lack of choice about joining Local 7: young w orkers are introduced to their union as an organization of w hich they have no choice b u t to become a member. Some young grocery w orkers in Box Hill rankle at the obligation that they becom e union members: I think it should be an optional thing to be in a union. If they're so great, then we're gonna want-, if they're so good, w hy d o they need to force people to join. It m akes sense in a w ay because then you'll have m ore power, have m ore control, b u t if they’re so great, everyone’ll join them anyways. There are at least tw o ways to read such sentim ents. The first is to focus on the dem and for voluntary union m em bership itself. In a high turnover industry such as grocery, unions w ould (and in right to w ork states, do) face a positively sisyphean task if they w ere required to actively recruit each and

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every new hire coming into the industry. It is at least im portant to recognize, however, th at com pulsory union m em bership m ight be a factor in causing youth union alienation, and in fostering a sense am ong young w orkers of trade unions as not really being truly democratic, m em ber centered and m em ber d riven organizations. The second way to read such sentim ents is to focus o n w hat lies behind the dem and for voluntary union m em bership. As I suggest in the next section of this chapter, there is a sense o n the p art of m any young grocery workers in Box Hill that their union is prim arily an ad u lt centered union that is not particularly concerned w ith attending to their ow n w orkplace needs and interests. Youth resentm ent of com pulsory union m em bership is thus fuelled by frustration at having to pay m oney to join an organization th at m any young workers in Box H ill feel does n o t fully w ork for them .

A d u lt Centered Unionism Youths are often thought of in term s of m edia - w e regularly hear references to the "MTV” o r the "internet" generation. Labor activists and staff sometimes talk as if the only problem that comes betw een unions and youth is one of com m unication packaging: find the rig h t vehicle o r m edium and all will be well. "Unions a n d youth, huh?," a union rep a t Local 7 asked m e when I described to him m y general research interests: "You know , w e're planning on setting u p a web page for the local. All the young people are on computers, they're brought u p on it." Put u p a web page for the local, the rep tells me, an d w e ll really be able to start m aking links w ith the younger members. O ther labor staff search for a youth lingo or dialect into w hich they can translate their ow n unionspeak. Throughout m y research, I w as repeatedly asked by labor personnel w hat w ords, discourses a n d cultural

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referents were current am ong today's younger generation - as if there w as some youth m aster code just w aiting to be cracked by a n intrepid labor researcher or union organizer. Focusing on com m unication difficulties as a source of yo u th union alienation is not, as I suggest above in my discussion of Local 7's new m em ber meetings, entirely misplaced. There is a danger in labor circles, how ever, of assum ing that com m unication problem s are the prim ary o r even the only union-internal source of y o u th union alienation. W hen young w orkers and the parents of young w orkers - in Local 7 com plain about having to join the union and pay high union dues, Local 7 staff generally assum e th at these individuals are m isinform ed about the value of unionism , and that the local simply needs to do a better job of com m unicating w h a t this value is to its members. W hat I suggest here is that young w orkers' com plaints about Local 7 are not always m isinform ed: Local 7 is an adult centered union that frequently neglects the interests and needs of its youngest m embers. Substance and not just form is at the heart of youth-union problem s for Local 7 in Box Hill. Paul Ryan (1987), in analyzing the effects of unionism on young w orkers' pay in Britain, distinguishes betw een a d u lt centered form s of union practice (Ryan's exact term is "adults only" unionism ) a n d "all ages" form s of union practice. T rade unions, Ryan observes, m ay either act in the interests of their typically ad u lt dom inated m em berships - a n d thus frequently against the interests of young w orkers in the labor m arket and w orkplace - o r they may act in a m ore universalist m anner, in su p p o rt b o th of their ow n younger m em bers as well as youths in the workforce a t large. Ryan's fram ework, I suggest, is very useful to a d ap t into N o rth A m erican discussions of labor as a way of highlighting the issue of ageist versus non-ageist practices of trade

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unions o n this continent. In m y discussion here of a d u lt centered unionism in Box Hill, I use the term "adult centered unionism " to refer to: (1) union practices th at m arginalize o r neglect the interests of y o u th workers; a n d (2) union practices th at discourage the union participation of young union members by appearing to be adult oriented o r ad u lt dom inated. I focus my analysis in this discussion of a d u lt centered unionism in Grocery Local 7 on the bagger and stocker job classifications in Box Hill superm arkets. While Local 7 neglect of its younger m em bers extends beyond individuals w orking in these tw o classifications, this is w here age bias in the union is m ost explicit and visible. As I have noted previously, baggers in Box Hill are predom inantly high school age teenagers, a n d stackers are m ostly young m ales in their late teens. O ther age groups w ork in both classifications - m any retirees, for example, now w ork as baggers - b u t b o th jobs are clearly seen w ithin the industry as being predom inantly yo u th jobs. How , then, does Local 7 practice an a d u lt centered form of unionism? First, it m akes its younger m em bers pay, on average, higher dues rates than older m embers. All grocery workers in Local 7 pay m onthly dues to their union. Dues are loosely correlated w ith an individual's hourly wage, an d at first glance, appear to be roughly equitable across grocery job classifications. The ratio of m onthly dues to hourly wage is about the sam e for a low-wage bagger as it is for a higher-wage journeym an produce clerk (although the bagger rate is actually slightly higher). The real problem is that baggers tend to w ork m uch few er hours in a m onth than journeym en produce clerks, so th at the ratio of m onthly dues to m onthly earnings tends to be m uch higher for the bagger. A typical bagger w ho w orks fifteen hours p e r w eek in Box Hill will pay m ore than double the proportion or his o r h e r m onthly earnings in union dues than will a typical produce clerk w h o w orks thirty five hours p er

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week. By tagging dues rates to hourly w ages instead of m onthly earnings, Local 7 discriminates against all of its p art tim e workers; and yo ung grocery w orkers are m uch m ore likely to be p a rt tim e w orkers th an are ad u lt grocery w orkers. Second, Local 7 offers its younger m em bers, again on average, less in the way of wages, benefits and contract protections than it does its older members. Baggers' hourly w ages in Box H ill are only slightly higher th an the state's m inim um wage. In fact, a t the tim e of m y fieldwork, a bagger w ho w orked ten hours or less p er w eek (which is not a t all unheard of for Box H ill baggers during the school year) actually earned less than the state's m inim um wage in take-home pay - thanks to the local's practice of having wage-based instead of eam ings-based dues rates. This does n o t even include the cost to the bagger of the local's high initiation fees, which, in 1997, w ere about nine times a bagger's starting hourly wage.1 Stocker w age rates, m eanwhile, effectively constitute an age-based w age tier in Local 7’s grocery contracts. Stockers can perform any job in a grocery store except checking. Yet stockers, unlike other grocery w orkers whose w ork they can and do perform, are excluded from grocery wage scales. Stuck at an essentially flat wage, stockers can w ork for years carrying o u t job duties for which other - typically older - grocery clerks can earn up to as m uch as double w hat a stocker is paid. Young grocery workers in Box Hill are less likely to be eligible for union negotiated benefits than are adult grocery w orkers - a result, largely, of young workers' part-tim e and tem porary w ork status. To its credit, Local 7 has m anaged to negotiate em ployer-paid health care benefits for its part-tim e m em bers w ho w ork fifteen hours or m ore p er week. How ever, those w ho w ork less than fifteen hours p er w eek - m ostly high school age baggers - are

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not eligible for these benefits. M oreover, health care benefits do n o t kick in until after three m onths of em ploym ent.

Since m any young stopgap grocery

workers do not work in the industry for m uch longer than three m onths, they thus are unable to take full advantage of union health benefits.2 In Local 7 new m em bers m eetings, union reps seek to convince young workers that they should see the local's pension plan as being in their best interests. "I know all of you are young," the second rep in the m eeting described above tells his audience w hen he introduces the subject of pensions: A nd you m ight think I'd like to have that tw enty five cents [the am ount of the hourly pension contribution for baggers an d stockers] in m y paycheck, forget about the pension plan, w ho needs that, right? Well, I thought the sam e filing thirty years ago w hen I started, a n d I'm sure glad I have that pension program now. Even though you're young and m ay not think of it now , it's never too young to start saving for retirem ent. W hat reps in the new m em bers m eetings do not generally elaborate u p o n is the fact that it takes five years for a w orker to becom e vested in the union's pension plan. The vast majority of Local 7's young grocery workers leave the industry after a far shorter period of tim e than five years. The pension contributions that have been p aid in their nam e stay w ith the plan, a n d go to subsidize the coverage of the perm anent grocery workforce. Given the current pension vesting requirem ents in Local 7, m any young stopgap grocery workers, contrary to the rep’s claims above, w ould actually be better off having their pension contributions folded into their weekly paychecks.3 Local 7's preoccupation w ith the interests of its older, adult and perm anent members an d relative neglect of the interests of its young, stopgap m em bers can, in fact, be usefully illustrated by com paring the local's pension plan w ith its college scholarship plan. W hen one talks to young (particularly teenage) grocery workers in Box Hill, they rarely express m uch concern about

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having a pension for retirem ent. They do, how ever, w orry a lot about having m oney to pay for college and university tuition. A fter all, as I noted in the introduction to this dissertation, college tuition rates in the U nited States are skyrocketing, and along w ith them , college student debt seem s to reach new record levels every year. Yet while Local 7 offers a universal pension plan th at is available to all of its m em bers w ho w ork for five years or m ore in grocery, its college scholarship program is a m erit-based com petition ru n by the local's international parent union. In a good year, title local is lucky to have one individual - o u t of its thousands of m em bers w ho are either attending or hoping to attend college - w in a union scholarship. Imagine if the local w ere to ru n its pension plan in sim ilar fashion! Age bias against youth w orkers in Local 7's grocery contracts is frequently an indirect effect of young grocery w orker's part-tim e and tem porary work status. But in some instances, bias is m ore direct. Stocker w age tiering is one example of this. So too is the explicit exclusion of baggers and stockers from certain contractual protections. W hile m ost grocery workers in Box Hill m ust be p aid extra w hen their em ployer asks them to come in early or stay late after their scheduled shifts, baggers and stockers are explicitly denied unscheduled overtim e prem ium s. A nd w hile m ost grocery workers in Box Hill are guaranteed to have at least four hours of paid w ork on each work shift (unless they them selves are unable to w ork for four hours), stockers are guaranteed only tw o hours of w ork per shift, and baggers enjoy no m inim um shift length w hatsoever.4 W hat is critical to recognize in G rocery Local 7 in Box Hill is that the m arginalization of youth interests via the bagger an d stocker classifications is neither natural nor inevitable, b u t is rath e r the direct result of years of age based discrimination on the p a rt of both Box Hill grocery em ployers and Local

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7 union staff. Indeed, youth interests in Box Hill grocery w ere n o t alw ays m arginalized to the degree that they are today; such m arginalization and neglect has instead em erged gradually over the local's sixty year history. In the local's first grocery contracts in the 1930's, there w ere no separate bagger or stocker classifications. Youths entering the grocery trade w ent directly onto a single wage scale, starting as "beginner clerks" and w inding u p as "journeyman clerks" twelve m onths later. Grocery em ployers in Box Hill, however, repeatedly pushed in contract negotiations over the years to have a separate classification for young student workers. Em ployers essentially based their dem ands on the age prejudiced argum ent that it w as sim ply absurd or n ot right to have youths w ho w ere still in high school earning top dollar in the grocery trade. In the mid-1950's, Local 7 union staff agreed w ith the Box Hill grocery employers and negotiated the local's first separate job classification for young grocery workers. The original youth job classification in Local 7 - colloquially know n as the 'box boy" classification - provided for a separate low er w age to be paid to grocery w orkers who were eighteen and a half years or younger, a n d w ho worked twenty four hours o r less per week. The age cut-off for the box boy classification was determ ined by Local 7 staff visiting Box Hill high schools to find the average age at which youths graduated. Box boys, in these early contracts, could do any of the w ork in the grocery stores that o lder grocery workers did. The only reasons that they were paid less th an older w orkers were because they were young and w orked part-tim e. In the 1960's, Box Hill grocery em ployers pushed through a second agebased w age tier in their negotiations w ith Local 7. In addition to teenage box boys, new grocery contracts now provided for a "junior clerk" classification, in which grocery workers who w ere u n d er tw enty-one years old w ere to be p aid

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a separate and low er wage to older grocery clerks. Once again, the sole basis for the new w age differential w as age based discrim ination. The box boy and junior clerk classifications o f the 1950's an d 1960's have gone through a complex series of perm utations to becom e today's bagger and stocker classifications. Two general changes are particularly significant. First, by allowing young grocery workers to be p aid a low er wage in Box Hill, Local 7 created an incentive for employers to substitute youth for adult labor. To protect the jobs of older grocery workers, Local 7 has, over the years, sought to limit em ployer use of youth labor by restricting the kinds of w ork that baggers are perm itted to perform in superm arkets, an d by restricting the percentage of overall superm arket labor hours that can be w orked by stockers. The second general change, w hich occurred d u rin g the 1980's, was that first stockers and then baggers lost their explicit age designations. This removal of age designations w as not in any w ay m otivated by an attack on grocery contract age discrim ination on the p a rt of Local 7. Rather, Box Hill grocery employers pushed for the removal of age restrictions for baggers and stockers in part, at least, as a response to dem ographic changes in the U nited States: there w ere fewer youths available to work, an d bagging and stocking positions w ere becoming h ard er to fill. The rem oval of age designations from the bagger an d stocker classifications, w hatever m otivation it had, m ight seem to have been a boon for young grocery workers in Box Hill. It w as not. Baggers and stockers in the Box Hill superm arkets continued to be predom inantly young, and usually teenage, workers. But w hereas previously, baggers a n d stockers had a t least been guaranteed to be prom oted to higher paying positions in the grocery stores once they reached a certain age, the rem oval o f age restrictions now

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m eant that they had lost any such guarantee. Baggers a n d stockers can now be stuck in their low w age positions indefinitely. The particular history of contractual ageism in Local 7 has today created a peculiar situation in w hich m any union staff and activists feel angry that the bagger and stocker classifications no longer have age designations. The current president of the local, for example, explained to m e how she w ould like to see a return to the age-grading of past contracts so that baggers and stockers w ould not be stuck for long periods of tim e on low-level wage tiers so as "to give them," the president explained, "a light a t the end of the tunnel." Thus, paradoxically, m any union personnel in Local 7 are driven by a strong sense of workplace social justice to call for a retu rn to explicit form s of age discrim ination in grocery contracts. For treating young, teenage grocery workers as a separate, low er class of w orker has now come to seem natural to many older workers in the industry: w hat is seen as n o t being natural is the removal of a prom ise th a t youths can progress, as they m ove into adulthood, into full grocery citizenship.5 The practice of a d u lt centered unionism in Local 7 is now , and likely has always been, a self-perpetuating phenom enon. The m ore youths are m arginalized in Local 7 contracts, the m ore m arginal positions they occupy w ithin grocery store hierarchies and comm unities. The m ore m arginal youths become in grocery store comm unities, the m ore m arginalized they tend to be in term s of their union participation. The m ore m arginal youth participation in union activities and contract negotiations is, the m ore new ly negotiated contracts are likely to m arginalize yo u th interests. The current split in Box Hill superm arket w ork com m unities betw een a core of perm anent lifers and a periphery of stopgap youths b o th follows from a n d reinforces a long history of youth m arginalization w ithin Local 7.6

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A n Outsider in the Workplace:

The Union

Young grocery workers in Box Hill d o w icked im personations of Local 7 union reps. '1 m et my union rep once," a teenage stocker nam ed Luke says to m e, explaining that that brief m eeting constituted the full extent of his contact w ith his union: I w as u p front [in the grocery store] bagging, it w as really busy. I was walking to p u t a cart o u t in the cart dock area, Fm walking o u t and the union rep's coming in. She looks a t m y nam e-tag- ((Luke comically shoots his head forward and down, staring at a spot on my shirt as if attempting to read my name tag.)) It's like a robot, you know, w hen she's talking to you. She's like: ((Luke puts on an artificially friendly voice)) "Hi...., Luke? I'm Sheila Davis, I'm a union rep. H ere's my card if you ever need to talk to anybody." A nd that’s it. She leaves. I'm like ok, whatever, bye. I d o n 't care. I have no use for the union. The story is repeated by young w orkers all over Box Hill. A union rep walks into their store one day, after m onths of their never seeing anybody from the union, and, as a complete stranger, uses their nam e tag to artificially assum e som e kind of casual familiarity. The re p urges the young w orker to get in touch if he or she has any questions or problem s at w ork, b u t - often w ithout even breaking stride - keeps on walking right p ast the young w orker an d o u t of their lives, rarely to be seen or heard from again. O ften the rep plays Santa Claus and hands the young w orker a pen, box knife or schedule pad com plete w ith local union insignia. These gifts are presented as freebies: b u t given the high dues and steep initiation fees young w orkers pay and the lack of other visible returns from the union, some young w orkers see these "freebies" as the m ost expensive pens and box knives they have ever bought. Local 7 has minimal shopfloor presence in Box Hill grocery stores. The union is n o t a p a rt of young w orkers’ w orking com m unities and it is generally seen by young grocery w orkers as a w orkplace outsider. M aintaining a regular and effective shopfloor presence is difficult for any

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service sector union, since service sector unions generally represent w orkers in small worksites spread out over fairly large geographical areas. Local 7's twelve thousand m em bers are dispersed in over tw o h u n d red superm arkets spread across an eleven hun d red square mile area. But in the context of such adverse conditions, the culture and structure of Local 7 - the local's practice of a strongly staff centered business unionism - does little to help the union strengthen its position w ithin die grocery w orkplace. Like m any business unions in N o rth Am erica, Local 7 has a w eak and undeveloped shop stew ard system. Prior to the 1980's, the local h a d no shop stew ard system at all. By 1997, the local had stew ards in only about one fifth of the superm arkets it represented. M oreover, the stew ard system that Local 7 launched du rin g the 1980's was m inim alist in nature. U nion staff w ere w ary of giving too m uch pow er and authority to shop stew ards, and nervous about the possibility of workplace disruptions that could be caused by m eddling, illinform ed an d uncontrolled stew ards. Thus, unlike other union locals (such as Local C in Glenwood) that give stew ards the role of handling initial stages of workplace grievances, Local 7 allocates its stew ards only a passive, observer role. Stew ards are supposed to be the "eyes a n d ears" of the local in the workplace and an inform ational conduit betw een union staff and m em bership. They are expected to report w orkplace issues and events to union reps, introduce the union to new hires, a n d w hen possible, answ er m em bers' questions about their contract rights and responsibilities. They are n o t expected to be proactive in the w orkplace.7 U nion reps in Local 7 do little to m ake u p for the absence of a strong shop stew ard program . A union rep usually visits each superm arket in the union for only about one hour once o r twice a m onth. N o t only are rep store visits short an d infrequent, but the structure a n d purpose of these visits

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generally minimize the chances of young grocery w orkers interacting w ith union reps while they are in their store. Reps w ork a regular w ork w eek and thus tend to visit Box Hill superm arkets in the daytim e on w eekdays; young grocery workers tend to w ork on w eekends and weekday evenings. Reps are evaluated in their job perform ance (by their boss, the union president) prim arily in term s of their "numbers" - in term s of how m any outstanding initiation fee and union d u es debts they have in the stores for w hich they are responsible. They are n o t evaluated in any system atic w ay on (for example) how m any form al or inform al grievances they have resolved for union members (activities w hich are obviously difficult to evaluate and m easure), how many worksite problem s they have brought to the union's attention, or how m any m em bers they have brought into union activities and program s. This m eans th at w hen reps visit Box Hill superm arkets, their prim ary objective is determ ining w ho has been hired, term inated an d prom oted in the store by cross-checking union records w ith in-store w ork schedules; their prim ary objective is n o t learning w hat w orkplace conditions are like in a particular store, o r the nature of a particular store's em ployees' m ost pressing needs and interests. Consequently, the bulk of a rep's tim e in the superm arket is often spent in the store office rather than on the store floor, and in talking to store m anagers rath er than workers.8 Local 7 reps typically do a quick w alk-through around the superm arket floor on each visit, during w hich they introduce them selves to w orkers and hand out business cards and other union paraphernalia. But the w orkers w ith w hom reps stop to have conversations longer th an a quick "Hello, my nam e is...," tend to be older w orkers w hom the reps are m ore likely to know and have a shared history with. It is rare for a rep to talk at any length w ith a young stopgap grocery worker during a store visit: if a re p does seek o u t a

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young grocery worker, it is usually to ask him o r h er to pay his o r her union dues a n d /o r initiation fees. The lack of a strong union presence in Box Hill superm arkets has im portant implications for the relationship of young grocery w orkers to their union. It is difficult for young w orkers to access inform ation about their union and collective bargaining agreem ent w ithin their ow n workplaces. Some young grocery w orkers have never even received a copy of the union contract booklet. Thus there is a fair am ount of ignorance as well as m isinform ation among young grocery w orkers in Box Hill about w h at their union negotiated rights an d privileges are, and w h at they can do if these rights or privileges are denied them by their managers. Even w hen they are aw are of their workplace rights, som e young w orkers hesitate at contacting their union for help w ith w orkplace problem s because they see the union as a w orkplace outsider, a strange an d unknow n entity, and - at best - a w hite knight w ho m ay be able to intervene in the m om ent b u t w ho w on't be around for the long term to help deal w ith the possible repercussions of its interventions. O n the one hand, som e young w orkers fear w hat the union will do if they report a w orkplace problem . '1 d o n 't w ant to get anyone fired," says a young deli clerk w ho w as being harassed by one of her managers: "I just w ant to have everybody sit d ow n together and talk things over." The clerk called her union rep w ith the hopes of securing assistance in setting u p such an inform al meeting; b u t w hen the clerk described the situation to h er union rep, "his voice got really serious." N o t knowing the rep very well, a n d not trusting w hat he m ight do, the deli d e rk d e d d e d - in spite of w hat w as a rapidly deteriorating w ork environm ent - th at she w ould prefer trying to deal w ith the harassm ent herself, w ithout un io n assistance.

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O n the other hand, young grocery w orkers som etim es fear w h at their employers will d o if they com plain to their union about w orkplace problems. "Everybody knows," a teenage bakery clerk explains w h y she has never gone to the union to com plain about a broken and unsafe oven that had already sent two of her co-w orkers to the hospital w ith bum s, an d that her em ployer had still not fixed m onths after the problem w as first reported: If you go to the union too often, and the m anagers find out, they're going to find a reason to fire you. If you're going to the union a lot, they're going to get sick of that. You're going to end u p fired because you w ere one m inute late twice in a row , or som ething [like that]. Many young grocery w orkers in Box Hill suspect that if their m anagers decide to single them out for discipline and dismissal, their u n io n w on't be in the workplace everyday to help them out. Union outsider status in the grocery workplace can thus create am ong some young w orkers a sense of a strategic economy of grievances in w hich w orkers delay involving their union in workplace problem s until they encounter that perennial future and hypothetical w orkplace situation w hich is really insurm ountable. Union outsider status in the grocery workplace, finally, fosters the sense among m any young w orkers in Box Hill th at their union is o u t of touch w ith workplace realities, and that Local 7 leadership doesn't really care about w orkers’ daily grind in the superm arket business. "One thing I’ve never seen a rep do," com plains a grocery clerk w ho h ad w orked in his store for over two years, "is go in and see - Are there stools for everybody to stand on? Is everything working? A re things broken? I never see anybody come in and check." Young grocery w orkers across Box Hill argue th a t the union, to be effective and useful for them , needs to come into th eir stores m ore often: I think the union needs to com e in and m ake em ployees feel that they're w orth som ething.... I feel they need to come in and w ork w ith the employees, w ork in the store, actually get behind a checkstand at 270

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night, at m idnight, see w hat w e're going through. They need to come and stock, get dow n on their hands and knees, see the situations we deal with. For the m om ent, as one young deli clerk says resignedly: "People's job environm ents aren't the best. A nd unions don't know th at because they're n o t there everyday."9

S ta ff Centered Unionism Few young grocery w orkers in Box Hill ever becom e involved w ith their union. Many never even make it to a new m em bers m eeting, let alone participate in union activities beyond this entrance point to the local. During the eleven m onths of my fieldwork, only a small handful of young grocery w orkers u n d e r the age of twenty-five ever attended Local 7's bi-monthly general m em bership m eetings and only a couple o f youths show ed u p to these m eetings m ore than once. A t the local's annual sum m er picnic, the only youths in sight w ere the children of older grocery w orkers, along w ith a troupe of interns from the AFL-CIO's Union Sum m er program - a program w ith which Local 7 has been involved since it w as launched in 1996.10 The reasons for this lack of yo u th union involvem ent, as I have suggested above, have as m uch to do w ith Local 7's practice of unionism as it does w ith any essential nature that can be attributed to contem porary young stopgap workers. For young grocery workers in Box Hill, Local 7 appears as an institution that is socially, symbolically and geographically distant from their ow n work lives. In addition to the symbolic a n d social distance that act as disincentive to young grocery w orkers becom ing interested in participating in their union local, simple physical inaccessibility acts as a m ajor deterrent to yo u th union participation. Local 7 general m em bership m eetings are always held in the local's union hall - a hall w hich is located in a n industrial area of

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central Box H ill that is poorly served by public transit, a n d th at is far from the residential suburbs w here the bulk of Box H ill grocery w orkers live and work. Especially for young workers w ithout a car, the local hall is o u t of the w ay an d difficult to visit. For those one or two young grocery w orkers w ho do m ake it o u t from their w orkplace to the Local 7 union hall, and w ho d o express an interest in becom ing m ore involved w ith their union, these individuals find that, young or old, there is little in their union in w hich grocery w orkers in Box Hill can actively participate. C ontrary to u n io n staff rhetoric about having a m em ber centered, m em ber driven union, Local 7, like m any unions in the U nited States, practices a staff centered form of business unionism . Virtually all of Local 7's meetings, program s and activities are organized, coordinated and dom inated by Local 7 staff. In this respect, the local's new m em ber m eetings w ork exceedingly well in that they accurately m odel the kinds of union practices that characterize the local as a whole: union staff act, m em bers are passive; union staff talk, m em bers listen. M em ber alienation and disengagem ent from their union is, in reality, not really a problem for Local 7 union staff. Rather, it is business as usual - a sign, even, that all is well w ith the local. As the union local president explained to me: '1 w ouldn't know w hat to do if a thousand people show ed u p for a [general membership] meeting. I'd feel scared, like I m ust be doing som ething wrong." Typically, only about sixty to eighty individuals ou t of the local's tw elve thousand m embers atten d its bi-m onthly m em bership meetings. M em ber participation is taken by union staff as a "barom eter of how good a job w e're doing" - bu t in quite the opposite w ay to w hat one m ight e x p ect Low turnout to meetings can be interpreted by union staff as

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m eaning that members m ust be reasonably hap p y in the stores; larger turnouts signal problem s.11 Local 7's bi-m onthly m em bership m eetings constitute the prim ary occasions for m em ber participation in the local. W hen union reps tell newly joined young grocery w orkers in new m em bers m eetings th at they "have a voice" in their union, they tell these w orkers th at "at general m em bership meetings, you can raise your hand an d get u p and voice your concerns, and let the president know w hat yo u r feelings are." "This," reps prom ise young workers, "is how you get it [your opinions] out." Yet the prim ary function of general m em bership m eetings is n o t to have m em bers talk to union staff, b u t to have union staff present to union m em bers reports of w hat the union has been doing since their previous m eeting. As m uch as ninety per cent of the time at a general m em bership m eeting is spent by union staff talking about their ow n activities, thoughts and goals. O pportunities for m em bers to introduce their concerns, desires and ideas are usually relegated to a rushed "new or unfinished business" slot at the very end of the m eeting - at a tim e w hen m any individuals are needing to leave and head back to hom e o r to work. O ther than the general m em bership m eetings, there are few regular forum s or opportunities for grocery m em bers to have a say in how their union should be run, to debate w hat w orkplace issues their union should be addressing, and so on. Local 7 has a w om en's com m ittee. But this com m ittee is not for wom en grocery workers, nor does it address issues of concern to w om en w orking in Box Hill superm arkets. The com m ittee is for w om en staff m em bers at the local, an d it focuses on issues of concern to w om en w orking in unions. Local 7 has a political action com m ittee. B ut w hen union staff describe this comm ittee to m em bers at general m em bership

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m eetings, they do not invite m em bers to com e o u t and participate in shaping the local's political agenda and program s. Instead they ask m em bers for their m oney: they ask m em bers to m ake donations to support the political action committee, so that this staff-run com m ittee can strategize a n d act on behalf of the m em bership. D uring m y year of fieldw ork in Box Hill, Local 7 w as involved in its triannual contract negotiations w ith grocery employers. The local's staff centred practice of unionism w as strikingly apparent throughout the negotiation process. M em bership involvem ent in the contract negotiations w as minimal. There w ere no open forum s for m em bers to negotiate w h at contract dem ands the local should make, n o r w as there ever a n o pportunity to debate w hether or not to accept the final contract proposal that w as recom m ended for m em bership approval by Local 7 union leaders. Indeed, neither the local's nor the em ployers' original contract dem ands w ere ever m ade know n in detail or entirety to union m em bers. N egotiations w ere conducted almost solely by Local 7’s union president and secretary-treasurer in an atm osphere of quasi-secrecy - even the rest of the union staff w ere often in the d ark as to the exact state of ongoing negotiations. N o m em ber-based bargaining committee w as ever form ed. M em ber input on w hat Local 7's contract dem ands w ould be was essentially lim ited to responding to a m ultiple choice questionnaire m ailed o u t by the union to all of its m em bers. The questionnaire asked m em bers to rank in im portance a series of nine contract issues that had been pre-selected by union staff. No space on the single-page questionnaire w as m ade available for m em bers to write in issues th at w ere im portant to them b u t that w ere not included in the multiple-choice questions. M any m em bers w ho sent in their questionnaires scraw led their ow n d em ands and opinions in the m argins a n d

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on the backside of the form; b u t in the tabulation of title questionnaires, such informal insertions w ent unrecorded and w ere thus lost to the negotiation process. The tabulated results of the union questionnaire w ere never m ade public to Local 7 members. Instead, these results becam e the basis upon which Local 7 union leaders could claim that their actions in the contract negotiations - w hatever these actions m ight be - w ere based upon the m em bership's wishes. The results of the questionnaire - w hich h a d been first shaped by question design a n d subsequently were only ever casually alluded to by union staff in general m em bership m eetings - becam e the vehicle through w hich ow nership of the "voice of the m em bership" could be transferred from the m em bers to the union staff. A few m em bers here and there m ight have felt that there w ere im portant issues n o t being addressed by the union in its negotiating; b u t it w as the union leaders and not these few m em bers w ho had the results of the questionnaire in hand, and who, consequently, could claim to know best w hat the m em bership as a whole w anted. M em bership voting o n the final recom m ended contract proposal w as likewise restricted by Local 7 union staff. Details of the proposal w ere not released to the m em bership until the day o n which contract voting took place. Only w hen m em bers cam e into Local 7's polling stations could they view the proposed contract. A t th at point, num erous un io n staff w ere on hand to explain to each individual m em ber w hy the contract w as a good one an d w hy he or she should vote for it. Thus no t only d id Local 7 grocery w orkers never have a chance to discuss the contract proposal w ith co-w orkers in their stores or to come to a general m em bership m eeting to hear the proposal debated, they quite literally h a d no time to sleep on the contract

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proposal - no time really to m ull it over before coming to a deliberated decision. W hen the recom m ended contract proposal w as p u t to a m em bership vote, it w as small surprise th at th e proposal was overw helm ingly approved by Local 7 members. O n the d ay of the contract polling, there w ere a fair num ber of young grocery w orkers w ho came out to vote. B ut neither they nor their older co-workers had m uch to do w ith the basic shape an d n a tu re of the new contract that Local 7 w as in the process of adopting for the next three years. The contract, strong or w eak as it m ight be, was, like m ost other union activities and projects in the Box Hill grocery local, at heart the w ork of the Local 7 union staff.

Disjunctures:

Youth Workplace Cultures and Local 7 Union Practices

D isjunctives betw een youth workplace cultures in the Box Hill superm arkets and Local 7 union practices ru n throughout all th a t has been discussed so far in this chapter. Young grocery w orkers are active, vocal participants in their workplaces, but are silenced, passive or absent in union affairs. Young grocery w orkers m u st often act and m ove u n d e r the threat and around the edges of em ployer discipline in the workplace; Local 7, in new members meetings, positions itself in the em ployers' shadow s as a seconding disciplinary body.12 Young grocery workers are oriented to a stopgap status in grocery, as m ost look forw ard to college and careers beyond their current places of employment. Local 7 union practices - w hether these be charging high initiation fees irresepective of m em ber tenure or focusing o n five year vested pension plans a n d failing to develop a substantial college tuition plan of any kind whatsoever - suggest an orientation to a perm anent, career, adu lt grocery m em bership.

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T here is another critical disjuncture betw een y o u th w orkplace cultures in Box H ill and Local 7 union practices th at has n o t yet been been directly addressed. Young grocery w orkers in Box Hill, through their p e er group and local investm ent w ork orientations, dem onstrate an interest in shaping their w ork environm ents, in altering the conditions of their w ork, and in m aking w ork for themselves m ore m eaningful and enjoyable. Local 7, on the other hand, practices, for the m ost part, a dollars and cents form of business unionism that focuses on raising m em bers' w ages an d benefits b u t that largely fails to address the issue of w orking conditions in Box Hill superm arkets.13 Some of Local 7's interventions, in fact, actually w ork to w orsen w ork conditions for grocery w orkers in the nam e of protecting grocery w orker wages. The "wages only" versus "working conditions too” disjuncture betw een union and youth in Box Hill is em blem ized by the "problem," endem ic to Box Hill superm arkets, of young baggers w orking outside of their job classification (usually to perform stockers' job tasks). Local 7 union rules prohibit baggers from perform ing w ork outside of a n explicitly described and narrow set of responsibilities - essentially lim ited to bagging groceries, returning carts h o rn the parking lots and janitorial duties. As noted above, Local 7 has deliberately restricted the w ork baggers can d o in superm arkets so as to protect the wages of higher paid job classifications, from stockers on up to grocery clerks. Union staff argue that if young baggers are to perform m ore job responsibilities than w hat are laid out in the contract for baggers, then it is in baggers' best interest to be paid more than a bagger w age. To prevent baggers from w orking o u t of classification, Local 7 occasionally conducts "sting" operations, in w hich un io n staff com e into a store to see if they can catch an y baggers doing w ork they're n o t supposed to

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do. If the union can show th at a bagger has been to ld directly by a m anager to w ork out of classification, th en the union can dem an d th a t th e bagger's em ployer pay th at bagger stocker w ages for all h o u rs w orked d u rin g the w eek in w hich the offense occurred. H ow ever, as u n io n rep s som etim es w arn young w orkers a t new m em bers m eetings, classification violations often come dow n to a bagger's w ord against a m anager's w ord. In such cases, it is the bagger w ho is at risk of being held responsible an d disciplined for violating the union contract. Baggers regularly w ork ou t of classification in Box H ill superm arkets. A ccording to the Local 7 grievance departm ent, the reasons for this have to do, first, w ith baggers w anting to get ahead and be upw ardly m obile - baggers perform extra w ork for th eir m anagers in hopes of p rom otion - and second, w ith baggers n o t understanding o r respecting the union contract, w ith baggers being resistant to w h at the union is trying to d o for its m em bers. In o ther w ords, the union's project of im proving the grocery w orkplace is being frustrated by w rong-headed, selfish and ignorant high school age teenagers. Talking to young baggers in Box Hill, how ever, reveals reasons beyond sim ple brow n-nosing, ignorance o r anti-union sen tim en t th a t m otivate them to w ork o u t of classification. One reason for w orking o u t of classification is that doing stocker w ork can be m ore interesting, m ore m eaningful and can help pass the tim e at w ork .more quickly than if one w ere to lim it oneself to bagger work: My title is bagger, b u t baggers do some stocker stuff, I've been doing that, it's pretty h ard . It's not really cool, th at's w hy a stocker gets paid m ore.... But being a stocker, the tim e flies by, cause y o u 're constantly w orking. A nd w hen you're a bagger, it's p retty laid back, you're n ot really doing anything. W hen you're a stocker, y o u 're p retty im portant, the store needs you. You're constantly being asked to do som ething. The first tim e I w as stocking, I kept hearing m y nam e over the intercom , 'C an you do this? C an you do that?' 278

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[The w orst p art about bagging] is ju st boredom .... It's n o t fun a t all, I ju st w atch the tim e.... W hen it's n o t busy, as a bagger, you g o t nothing to do, so you ju st hang around. B ut as a stocker, you're constantly w orking, I like th at p a rt of being a stocker. M any young grocery w orkers in Box H ill say th at bagging w ork is the m ost boring, u nrew arding and disem pow ered w ork there is in the superm arket. Local 7 has been so successful in restricting the w ork baggers can d o (in o rder to reduce com petition w ith o ld er w orkers' w ages) th a t it has helped m ake bagger w ork an eternally tedious occupation. W hen baggers - even though unjustly denied increased w ages by their em ployers - take on stocker w ork so as to increase th eir w orkplace pleasure, they are rejecting as insupportable Local 7's w age supporting strategy of im poverishing the you th w ork e n v iro n m en t. A second reason baggers offer for w hy they w ork o u t of classification is their com m itm ent to their w ork team and th eir in terest in helping co­ w orkers out: [The union] m akes it so th at there's only certain things I can do, w hich m eans th at legally I can't go help in floral. I can g et fired cause it's n o t in m y contract, w hich is kind of dum b. A nd I can't, like if a Stocker's behind, I can't help him stock, it's n o t in m y contract an d I'll get fired if a union person sees m e.... So it's very lim ited, I think it's kind of silly.... If w e’re behind, I d o n 't see w hy I can’t help out. For som e young baggers, Local 7*s restrictions on w orking o u t of classification dim inishes the quality of th eir w orking environm ent n o t only th ro u g h m aking th eir w ork m ore boring b u t though m aking th eir w ork less collaborative as w ell. It is no t necessarily alw ays though selfishness th at baggers reject th e Local 7 contract; it can be, ironically, through an increased sense of w orkplace solidarity th a t they tu rn th eir backs o n th e union. The gap betw een a y ou th w orkplace culture th at is frequently focused on transform ing an d im proving w orkplace conditions, an d a union th a t 279

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often presents itself as being in different to w orkplace conditions and preoccupied only w ith w ages an d benefits m eans th at there is little constructive dialogue betw een y o u th w orkplace cultu res in Box H ill superm arkets and Local 7 un io n institutions. It is possible to im agine th a t the issues th at m ove youth w orkplace cultures could be taken u p by Local 7 as p a rt o f its union agenda; and th a t Local 7 interventions - w hether educational, contractual, o r m obilizing in n atu re - m ight shape an d d evelop youth w orkplace cultures. B ut in Box H ill th is d o esn 't happen. Few young w orkers, for exam ple, ever file eith er form al o r inform al w orkplace grievances w ith their local to correct w orkplace injustices o r to pu sh throu g h w orkplace im provem ents.14 Few young w orkers, as I have n o ted previously, ever come out to union m eetings to voice their w orkplace concerns. A nd few young w orkers ever atten d union-run educational program s - for the sim ple reason that these largely do not exist.15 For now , Box H ill presents an irony th at is w ell encapsulated in th e follow ing com m ent from a young unionized deli clerk w orking in one of the superm arkets represented by Local 7. C om m itted to environm ental issues and doing w hat she is able w ithin h er ow n d ep artm en t and am ong h e r ow n co-w orkers to reduce departm ental pollution an d w aste, the deli clerk sighs as she expresses her sense th at there really is little she can do to affect h er em ployer's overall environm ental policies. '1 could probably m ake a fuss," says the teenage grocery w orker an d m em ber of a tw elve thousand w orker strong union local: 'B u t it w o uld n 't do anything, because it takes a g ro u p to m ake a change."

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The Union Advantage [A couple of years ago] I had my first child. Two days after [he was bom] he was taken to Children's Hospital, for medical reasons, and after a while, it totalled $100,000 in doctor's bills. Without the union, I don't know if all that would have been paid, or if it was paid, the employer would have gotten whiny with me, may have done something against me just to stop it. [The union] just took care of everything that I could possibly want.... Up until my son went into the hospital, the union had done nothing for me, as far as I could tell. Now that I see w hat they've done, I'll gladly pay my thirty dollar union dues, forty, fifty dollar union dues, whatever is needed. Cause I know what it takes. I tell everybody that says, 'Well, what does the union do for me?' I tell everybody what it did for me. - Box H ill grocery worker and Load 7 union member in his early twenties

This chapter has exam ined th e factors internal to th e practices, structures and industry contexts of Local 7 th at contribute to the y o u th u n io n alienation prevalent in Box H ill grocery. The po int of focusing on th e u n io n internal causes of youth alienation in Local 7 has been to highlight general problem s th at can exist in the in teractions of unions an d y o u th in N o rth Am erica. It is im portant to recognize, how ever, th at to talk ab o ut y o u th u nion alienation is not the sam e as talking about anti-unionism am ong young grocery w orkers. A s I noted a t the outset of this chapter, young grocery w orkers in Box H ill generally express a t least a baseline appreciation fo r the value of unionism . Even w hen highly critical of their ow n u n io n local, young grocery w orkers in Box H ill o ften talk positively of the w ages, benefits a n d /o r job security th at come w ith a unionized grocery job b u t th a t they w ould be hard pressed to find elsew here in the youth lab o r m arket. I conclude this chapter by briefly considering the successes Local 7 h as h a d in

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providing at least som e of its young grocery m em bers w ith a d istin ct u n io n advantage. The strongest expressions of su p p o rt for Local 7 by young grocery w orkers com e from those w ho have had need to m ake use o f th e un io n's health care benefits - as in the quotation above from a young Box H ill pro du ce clerk. Benefits, after all, are w here Local 7 has often push ed h ard est in contract negotiations. W hile m any young grocery w orkers in Box H ill eith er d o n 't gain eligibility o r d o n 't feel a need fo r Local 7's h ealth benefits, m any young grocery w orkers, equally, b o th need an d are able to jo in the union health care plan. Part-tim e grocery w orkers w orking fifteen h o u rs a w eek or m ore have access to full health care coverage for them selves from th eir w ork, and those w orking tw enty hours a w eek or m ore have access to h ealth coverage for their dependents. Full em ployer p ro v id ed h ealth benefits are alm ost unheard of in the low en d service and retail sector in th e U nited States. In this area a t least, unionism can m ake a dram atic difference in the lives of young stopgap w orkers. M any young grocery w orkers in Box H ill also appreciate th e sense of job security provided by unionization. Few young w orkers h av e ever seen their union actively intervene in the w orkplace to p ro tect o r assist eith er them selves o r a co-w orker (w hether inform ally o r form ally th ro u g h the grievance process). Thus often young grocery w orkers' sense o f security is based on a hypothetical and im aginary future: even though they m ay never end u p contacting the union in tim es of w orkplace trouble, an d th u s m ay never know w hether o r no t the union can really help solve w orkplace problem s for them , they like having the idea th a t the union is som ew here o u t there, available to back them u p an d com e to th eir assistance "just in case" they ever decide th at they n eed and w ant to use th e u n io n 's help.

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But young grocery w orkers' sense of the u n io n p ro v id in g them w ith job security is also based o n m ore concrete and im m ediate w orkplace experience. For the union plays a preventative ro le in constraining the possible range and n atu re of grocery em ployers' disciplinary actions tow ard th eir unionized w orkers. U n ion rules su bstitute "just cause" requirem ents for em ployee discipline a n d dism issal in place of the arb itrary "at will" em ploym ent contracts th at govern the m ajority of US w orkplaces. U nion rules also require that - o utside of offenses such as th eft o r d ru g abuse w hich can lead to im m ediate dism issal - em ployers m ust go th ro u g h a system of progressive discipline (including verbal and w ritten w arnings) before term inating an em ployee for m istakes o r problem s they have h ad a t w ork. As a young produce clerk explains the n atu re of this unio n backed job security: If you w anna keep y o u r job security, if you w anna be able to com e to w ork today and m aybe be w earing tennis shoes, cause you forgot your shoes, if you w anna n o t g et fired for that, th at's w h at yo u need the union for. You need the union to protect you from ju st th e stu p id little prejudice they m ay have against you - y o u 're w alking slow today. I m ean you can g et fired for anything a t ano ther com pany, w here here you can't get fired unless you do som ething really w rong. T here's a certain procedure th a t has to be gone through. As another young grocery w o rker p u t it to m e m ore directly: "The union m akes it so I can't get fired unless I really fuck up. T hat's nice." Some young grocery w orkers in Box H ill sim ply like the security they gain from having a contract booklet available to them in w hich th ey can read exactly w hat the rules are governing their w orkplace. "W hen y o u ’re young," says a teenage bakery clerk, "you think y our m anager w ill tell you the rig h t thing. W ell, they w on't alw ays tell you the rig h t thing, so it's nice to go b y the rules." W hen the clerk feels th a t her m anager is telling h e r som ething she

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d oesn 't feel is right; she is able to pull o u t h er ow n contract booklet a n d show h er m anager exactly w hat should be being done a t w ork. In th at han dfu l of Box H ill superm arkets w ith sh o p stew ards, som e young grocery w orkers find they have an im p ortan t frien d a n d ally in th eir store's shop stew ard. 'Jan et rocks!,'' one young deli clerk exclaim s abo u t h er store's stew ard, to w hom she regularly goes to seek advice about w orkplace issues: '1 alw ays talk to Janet!" A bakery clerk in the sam e store talks of how she w as having a h ard tim e paying h er union initiation fees, and told Janet, her stew ard, th a t she w ished she could pay in installm ents: 'Jan et's like, 'W ell, you can, can 't you? N o? W ell, th at’s n o t right, I’m going to call them u p .' She gets rig h t on the phone and everything!" In an o th er store, a stocker describes how his stew ard "has been like a m om to me." N ot only has the stew ard helped the teenager o u t w ith scrapes he's gotten into at w ork, b u t w hen he w as kicked o u t of his p aren t's house after a fight w ith his father, the stew ard let him come and stay w ith her fam ily. For a teenage deli clerk in a superm arket w ith one of Local 7's tw o youth shop stew ards, having a stew ard w ith w hom she w as close in age helped p u t h er a t ease in talking about troubles she w as having w ith her departm ent m anager: '1 know [my stew ard] an d feel com fortable w ith her, so it's not like telling on my m anager, tatty-tale. I feel like she w on 't m ake fu n of me, b u t w ill tell som ebody w ho can do som ething." For those few young grocery w orkers w ho come o u t to union m eetings and other activities at the Local 7 hall, the union can be a site of interest, excitem ent and learning. B ureaucratic protocols an d staff m onologues, say young w orkers w ho have atten d ed Local 7's general m em bership m eetings, can be deathly boring. But these m eetings are n o t all boring all the tim e. A teenage bakery clerk recalls a m em orable experience a t a Local 7 m eeting in

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w hich the possibility h ad been discussed o f a new state law being p assed th a t w ould have allow ed grocery em ployers to req u ire th eir em ployees to pay for th eir ow n uniform s: You learn a lo t [at the union m eetings], every tim e you go there, you learn m ore an d m ore. Stuff you d o n 't ev en th in k about, about dress codes, how they can change them rig h t u n d e r yo u an d no t even know it.... O ne tim e I w as very shocked th a t th e Secretary T reasurer, he started crying at a m eeting, because of the d ress codes, and he thought, he's very com m itted. That ju st really shocked m e, how som ebody could be so dedicated to this, and I th in k th at's g re a t H earing union staff and union m em bers talk critically ab o ut issues affecting the grocery w orkforce can be a new an d invigorating experience for young grocery w orkers. A t som e general m em bership m eetings, em otions rise as debate and discussion from the m em bership floor flies d u rin g the closing new an d unfinished business m inutes. Finally, there is the m atter of w ages. B agger w ages are clearly low in Box H ill grocery. Stocker and side departm en t (deli, bakery, floral, etc.) w ages are m ore of a m ixed bag. W orkers in these d ep artm en ts are poorly p aid com pared to checkers and grocery and produce clerks in Box H ill superm arkets, especially considering th a t they d o m uch the sam e w ork as these higher p aid classifications. But w ages in these m id-level d ep artm en ts are still generally b etter than w hat young sto p g ap w orkers can find in m any o th er (non-union) low end service an d reta il jobs in tow n. For th a t m inority of young w orkers w ho m anage to get them selves o n a checker, produce or grocery clerk w age scale, and w ho stay w ith these positions for the eq uivalent of the tw o years of full-tim e w ork th at it takes to reach the to p of these scales, unionized grocery in Box H ill can offer w h at are b y m ost any reckoning high w ages for a young stopgap w orker. A t the tim e of m y fieldw ork, a journeym an checker o r produce o r grocery clerk could m ake about tw o an d a

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h alf tim es die state m inim um w age - in a d d itio n to receiving h ealth care an d various o th er (vacation, holiday, sick leave) benefits. In the end, the o u ter lim its to the success o f Local 7 in transform ing and im proving the grocery w orkplace for young (and old) w orkers can perhaps best be seen not by looking a t those young grocery w orkers m ost m arginalized by local union practices, b u t by looking at th at sm all gro u p of young w orkers w ho w ould seem to have been b est served by the local: th e higher w aged checkers and produce and grocery clerks. U nion success - and union failure - is illu strated vividly in th e follow ing thoughts of a teenage produce clerk, as he discusses - in a m anner typical of higher w aged young grocery w orkers in Box H ill - w h at he sees as the rightful place of grocery w ork in his lifetim e career expectations: This is a stepping stone, it's n o t a career a t all.... If I w as going to try to m ake m oney, I w ould have taken th e m anager position. B ut basically w hat I'm looking for is, I stick w ith G ood G rocers. O ne of the big reasons I stick w ith them is they’re good about transferring people to o th er stores.... W hat I plan on doing w ith this is getting journeym an, so I'm m aking [top w ages], taking school as I'm going here, then transferring to a store in LA w here the in d u stry is, the m usic in d u stry . [Once there,] I can w ork tw enty hours, barely enough to g et by, an d ju st go around to the recording studios a n d go, H ey, I'll sw eep y o u r floors, let m e in.' So it'll give m e a w ell-paying job dow n w here I n eed to be.... [The older grocery w orkers] are all th ere n o t by choice, ju st because they got the job, it paid em w ell w hen they w ere young. C ause for som eone my age, [a wage tw o and a half tim es the m inim um w age], th at's a good w age, that's good pay. A nd it paid w ell enough to g et you stuck in to a lifestyle th at you're used to, and then you end u p getting m arried, th en kids, then you gotta pay th e bills, and you can 't afford to ju st quit, an d go to school and do som ething for real.... T hat's the story I've h eard from every single person.... I w as only planning on doing th is for a couple of m onths w hen I sta rte d , y o u'll see, you’ll see.’ I’m like, no, I'm not going to see, I w ill n o t see, d o n 't say that. U nion success is apparent in the w ay th at th e young produce clerk speaks of his grocery job as a job to be held o nto as h e w orks to realize his d ream of

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becom ing a sound engineer. This is no longer any o ld low end stopgap job as good or as bad as the next one: this is a job in w hich unionization has h elped secure a level of w ages and job security significantly d ifferen t to o th er low en d service and retail jobs. U nionization has, for th is produce clerk a t least, helped transform a stopgap job into som ething he can view as a valuable stepping stone job. U nion failure, though, is ev id en t in the th reat an d fear the young produce d e rk alludes to of becom ing trap p ed in his stopgap grocery job - a th reat and fear recognizable as th at of young w orking class w orkers in decades p ast as they headed into factory and assem bly line m anufacturing jobs. T his is the w orry th at a supposed stepping stone job ends u p being one's only job. The w ages are good to begin w ith and are enough for a young w o rk er to becom e accustom ed to a lifestyle th at carries w ith it serious fin an d al responsibilities. But after decades of unionization in Box H ill, w ages are still too low and w orking conditions still too im poverished for grocery to be considered by m any youths com ing in to the in du stry to be desirable a d u lt or career em ploym ent. U nion failure, in o ther w ords, is evidenced by the very stopgap w ork orientation itself th at young grocery w orkers take to w ard s grocery w ork - by the conviction of m ost young stopgap w orkers in grocery th at they on no account w ant to becom e grocery lifers.

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Chapter Seven

'The Youth Union:" Intervention and Education in a Fastfood Local

The president of Fastfood Local C in G lenw ood likes to tell the sto ry of a fifteen year old Fry H ouse w orker w ho, a num ber of years ago now , joined the local's health and safety com m ittee - a com m ittee th a t m eets m onthly w ith com pany representatives to address outstanding h ealth an d safety issues in the G lenw ood Fry H ouse restaurants. A fter only a relatively sh o rt tim e on the com m ittee, the teenager, som ew hat to the p resid en t's d isappointm ent, q u it his job at Fry H ouse and d ro p p ed o u t of contact w ith the u n ion local. The president never knew w hat had happened to the young w orker u n til ju st recently, w hen she received a letter from him . The young m an w as w riting to the local president because he w anted h e r to know th at he had ended u p becom ing an occupational health and safety officer w orking for the g ov ern m en t. The president's story of th e young health and safety com m ittee m em ber offers a striking exam ple of the advantage unionism can bring to young, tem porary, stopgap service sector w orkers. In this chapter, I take the opposite approach to th at of the preceding chapter, and focus on the connections th at are m ade in G lenw ood betw een Local C and its young Fry H ouse m em bers. By highlighting Local C 's successes in im proving the w ork experiences of young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood, I seek to provide a p o rtrait of the kinds of possibilities th at unionism m ay have to offer fo r im proving y o u th labor m arket conditions elsew here in N o rth A m erica. As

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the president's teen h ealth an d safety com m ittee m em ber story suggests, the advantages th at unionism can b rin g to young stopgap service secto r w orkers can be described n o t ju st in term s o f im m ediate gains in w ages, benefits an d job security - although these, of course, are extrem ely im p o rtan t - b u t in term s o f m ore far reaching, longer term educational gains as w ell. Local C is "the yo u th union." In recent years, in p articu lar, the local has earned a rep u tatio n in b o th regional an d national lab o r a n d m edia circles in C anada as being a union th a t stands o u t from o th er unions as a union th at w orks b o th for and w ith young stopgap service sector w orkers. This is a rep utatio n th at is actually based largely on a recent strin g of organizing successes the local has h ad in G lenw ood’s y o u th labor m arket. B ut the repu tation also rides o n the fifty o d d Fry H ouse restau ran ts in an d aro u n d G lenw ood th at Local C has represented for alm ost th irty years - a bargaining u n it th at constitutes one of N o rth A m erica's largest a n d m ost long lived groups of unionized fastfood w orkers. Youths, for Local C, are central to its very identity. W hile staff in o th er unions (such as Local 7 in Box H ill) often talk about youth as a problem to be addressed - w heth er in the collecting of union dues or the com m unicating of the value of unionism - Local C staff are m ore likely to talk about y o u th in term s of opportunity: o p p o rtu n ity for social change, union grow th, learning and em pow erm ent.1 There are five critical areas in w hich Local C h as w orked successfully to enhance the w ork lives of its young Fry H ouse m em bers: (1) im proving job security and increasing youth as w ell as ad u lt w ages an d benefits in the Fry H ouse unit; (2) intervening frequently in the Fry H ouse w orkplace via the inform al an d form al grievance process to defend the in terests a n d rig hts of young Fry H ouse w orkers; (3) providing o p po rtu nities fo r lab o r education

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an d union participation a n d activism (prim arily th ro u g h the position of union shop stew ard) for a tiny m inority of young Fry H ouse w orkers; (4) fully involving, in the m ost recent (1998) ro u n d of co n tract negotiations, young Fry H ouse w orkers in the collective bargaining process so th at they could have a voice in setting the term s of th eir ow n w orking conditions; a n d (5) providing young Fry H ouse w orkers w ith a level of scheduling security th at is alm ost unheard of in N orth A m erica's low en d service sector (this last area of im provem ent I leave u ntil the follow ing ch ap ter on handling tim e in the youth w orkplace to discuss). Local C has been successful in m aking connections w ith its young Fry H ouse m em bers in these an d o ther areas, in p a rt, because of its com m itm ent to w hat I call (after Ryan (1987)) an "all ages" m odel of unionism . By "all ages" unionism I m ean those union practices that: first, p ro tect and rep resen t the interests of youth as w ell as ad u lt w orkers; an d second, encourage the central participation of y o u th as w ell as a d u lt m em bers in union affairs. The local has also been successful in w orking w ith young service sector w orkers, I w ould argue, to the degree th at it is com m itted to w hat K im M oody and others have called a "social m ovem ent" m odel of unionism - th at is to say, a m odel of unionism th at em phasizes m em ber edu cation an d union participation, th at com m its itself to pursu in g b ro ad social justice issues in the w orkplace th at go far beyond m ere w ages and benefits concerns, and that approaches unionism as one tool am ong m any for effecting w idespread social change (M oody 1988,1997). As I said in the previous ch ap ter of the relationship betw een a d u lt centered unionism a n d b usin ess unionism in the practices of Local 7 in Box H ill, all ages unionism an d social m ovem ent unionism in Local C in G lenw ood often am ount to the sam e thing. In seeking to increase m em ber involvem ent in w h at is a y o u th dom inated

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w orkplace, Local C staff try to ad ap t th eir un io n practices to the kinds of w orkers youth w orkers are (e.g., tem porary, hig h turnover, stopgap): as seen in th e p resid en t's health and safety com m ittee m em ber story above, for exam ple, they have learned to recognize, accept an d value the fact th at young Fry H ouse shop stew ards and activists - in w hom they often invest considerable am ounts of m oney in training - m ay w ell n o t stick around in their union for long periods of tim e. In highlighting the successes of Local C in G lenw ood, m y in ten tio n is not to overlook the m any lim itations an d failures th at occur in Local C's interactions w ith its young Fry H ouse m em bers. Y outh union alienation is quite w idespread in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses, as it is in the Box H ill superm arkets. A lthough there are clear differences betw een Local C in G lenw ood and Local 7 in Box H ill - as w ill becom e apparent thro u gh o ut th is chapter - the reasons for youth union alienation in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses are often the sam e as or sim ilar to those th at w ere discussed in th e previous chapter on Local 7. Like Local 7 in Box H ill, Local C often fails to m aintain a regular w orkplace presence in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses; consequently, m any young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood frequently feel isolated and cut off from union institutions and leaders. H ow ever, rather than spending a lo t of tim e repeating the kinds of concerns and criticism s th at I have already o u tlin ed in the preceding chapter, in this chapter, I focus on som e of the problem s in youth-union interactions in G lenw ood th at are caused n o t just by an absence of union in terv ention an d education, b u t rath er by the particu lar form s th a t Local C 's union interventions an d educational efforts in th e G lenw ood Fry H ouse restau ran ts take. O ne of the key problem s in Local C 's interactions w ith its young Fry H ouse m em bers is that of union individualism . Local C, as I w ill explain in

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m ore detail below , generally appears to young Fry H ouse w orkers to b e an in div id ualist an d individualizing in stitu tio n ; the local, alth ou gh in theory the institutional em bodim ent of collective action in the w orkplace, is actually only rarely ever able to provide young w orkers w ith collective, collaborative or solidaristic, group union experiences. W hile I w ould suggest, based on th e exam ple of Local C in G lenw ood, th at unions in N orth A m erica could conceivably come to play an im p o rtan t educational and in terv en tio n ist role throughout the continent’s y o u th lab o r m arkets, the problem of union individualism does pose a considerable challenge to the ability of unions to provide young stopgap, service sector w orkers w ith collective, sup portive an d stru ctured environm ents for w orkplace learning, activism an d change.

A ll Ages Unionism '1 w ould not degrade m yself by w orking at M ickey D's," a young Fry H ouse shift supervisor in G lenw ood says p o in t blank. The su pervisor articulates a sentim ent, w idespread am ong the G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkforce, th a t unionization has m ade Fry H ouse w ork far sup erio r to w ork in other m ultinational fastfood chains such as M cDonald's: [M cDonald's] is p retty brutal, the p a y ,... because they d o n 't have a union or anything to back them up.... I have a friend th at I m et there [at M cDonald's], she w orks there.... S h ell ju st tell m e of the problem s she has.... The ow ners are like, w hatever, we d o n 't care, this is w hat you get paid, if you d o n 't like it- Talking about raises, she's been w orking there three years, the only raise she got was w hen the m inim um w age w ent up.... I'm telling h er to come over to Fry H ouse, I m ean not only do w e start [ ] above the m inim um wage, you go u p to [ ] after 500 hours o r seven m onths.... H igher starting wages, guaranteed raises, em ployer provided benefits an d ju st cause job protection from arb itrary m anagem ent discipline an d term in atio n constitute the basic union advantage for young G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkers.

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U nionization in the G lenw ood Fry H ouse chain n o t only im proves th e m aterial rew ards of fastfood w ork for young w orkers; it also h as had an im pact on how young Fry H ouse w orkers evaluate th e stan d in g of th eir fastfood em ploym ent in term s o f its social status. U nionization - and, in p articular, the higher w ages th a t com e w ith u nion izatio n - helps young w orkers feel th at m uch of the stigm a associated w ith w orking in a "dead end" fast food job in this co ntinent is rem oved: W hen people ask m e w here I w ork, an d I say Fry H ouse, I so rt of th in k they're laughing, like h a ha, loser place. B ut th en they ask how m uch I g et paid an d I tell them , they'll be like astonished. They give m e m ore resp ect "A lo t of people look dow n o n fastfood," says an o th er young Fry H ouse w orker: "but if you ever say you're un ion in a Fry H ouse, people nearly d ro p ."2 M any young Fry H ouse w orkers m ake a connection betw een th eir receiving higher w ages th an o th er fastfood w orkers an d th eir belief th a t they w ork harder an d provide hig h er quality service th an o th er fastfood w orkers: Fry H ouse pays m ore [than w hen I w orked a t M cD onald's], I like Fry H ouse better.... The w ork w as easier at M cD onald's.... It's ju st m ore to do [at Fry House]. I'm a cook, b u t I’m cross train ed, so I can pack as w ell. But cooking [here] is a lo t h ard er th an w orking grill an d m aking burgers a t M cD onald's. T here's a lot m ore to clean, th ere's less staff, there's m ore for one person to d o a t Fry H ouse. G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkers w idely claim th at they w ork w ith few er people on shift, have responsibility for a w id er array of tasks, an d have m ore dem anding individual tasks - w heth er these be in the cooking o r custom er service process - than do w orkers at o th er fastfood chains. W hatever objective validity these claim s m ay o r m ay n o t have, w h at is significant to note ab o u t them is their sym bolic im portance to young w orkers. In G lenw ood, young Fry H ouse w orkers' sense of having h igh er p ro d u ctiv ity

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th an o th er fastfood w orkers com bines w ith a recognition of th e ir having higher w ages and better w orking conditions th an o th er fastfood w orkers to reaffirm their sense of having hig h er statu s w ork th an o th er fastfood w orkers.3 The basic union advantage of w ages, benefits, job security and statu s that Local C confers on its Fry H ouse m em bership in G lenw ood is sim ilar to that conferred by Local 7 on its grocery m em bership in Box H ill. But w hereas the value of unionism for w orkers in Box H ill grocery varies dram atically according to w hether one is young o r old, tem porary o r long term , p a rt tim e o r full tim e in the w orkforce, such distinctions are m uch less salient in Local C's Fry H ouse bargaining un it. For Local C, unlike Local 7, dem onstrates a strong com m itm ent to the practice of all ages unionism . U nlike w ith young grocery w orkers in Box H ill, one very rarely hears young Fry H ouse w orkers com plain th at th eir union local provides m ore ad v an tag e in term s of low er union dues, higher w ages or m ore benefits to older m em bers th an it does to younger m em bers. Local C keeps the cost o f unionism low for its young, p a rt tim e and tem porary m em bers. Dues rates are tagged to the n um ber of h o u rs m em bers w ork each m onth, so that b o th p a rt tim ers and full tim ers pay roughly the sam e percentage of their m onthly earnings in du es. In itiatio n fees, w hile not tagged to the length of a m em ber's tenure, are kep t low for all m em bers: initiation fees cost approxim ately one and a half tim es a Fry H ouse w orker's starting hourly w age. U nlike Local 7 in Box H ill, w here steep in itiation fees costing anyw here from nine to sixteen tim es a grocery w o rk er's startin g hourly w age (depending u p o n th e d ep artm en t in w hich a w o rk er en ters the industry) - are a frequent source of irritatio n for young grocery w orkers, Local

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C 's initiation fees do n o t seem to cause young fastfood w orkers in G lenw ood m uch distress. Local C also w orks to m ake su re th e value of unionism is quickly m ade apparent to all m em bers - including its young, new , tem porary and p a rt tim e m em bers. Unlike w ith Local 7 in Box H ill, there are no separate, low er paying "youth" job classifications: all young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood are able to enjoy the advantage of union negotiated w ages. The low est starting w age in the bargaining u n it is, according to young G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkers, significantly high er th an w h at o th er fastfood restau ran ts in the area offer to young w orkers (w hich is typically the provincial m inim um wage). Fry H ouse w orkers are all on w age scales, so th a t everyone is guaranteed a series of tenure based raises. Fry H ouse w orkers also all have seniority rights to job prom otion (to th e slightly h igher paying su pervisor and in-charge classifications) so th at new w orkers d o n o t have to be stuck in low er paying cashier and cook positions indefinitely. All of th is contrasts m arkedly w ith Local 7 in Box Hill, w here the startin g w age for baggers varies only m arginally from the m inim um w age, w here baggers an d stockers are stuck at essentially flat w ages, and w here n eith er baggers no r stockers have seniority rights to job prom otion. U nion negotiated, em ployer p rov id ed h ealth an d pension benefits, likew ise, are m ore accessible to young, tem porary an d p a rt tim e Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood than they are to young grocery w orkers in Box Hill. There is no m inim um hours req uirem ent to be eligible fo r Local C's health care plan (as com pared w ith the fifteen hours p er w eek eligibility cut-off in Local 7's health care plan). Young Fry H ouse w orkers are eligible to en ro ll in th eir health care plan after the first m o n th of th eir em ploym ent (as opposed to a three m onth w aiting p eriod in Local 7). A nd Local C 's pension p lan has a

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three year vesting period, after w hich tim e w orkers are entitled to all m onies that have been p aid into the p lan in th eir nam e (Local 7's vesting period, by contrast, is five years).4 M ore senior Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood do accrue m ore union benefits than starting Fry H ouse w orkers. V acation benefits, for exam ple, increase w ith em ployee tenure, and d en tal benefits only becom e available to Fry H ouse w orkers after one year of w orking fo r the com pany. But in general, Local C has m ade an overt and explicit com m itm ent to m inim izing differences betw een junior and senior, and yo ung and old w orkers in the Fry H ouse bargaining unit. W age differentials in th e u nit, in particular, have been deliberately kep t narrow by the local. In place of stretching out w age scales so th at senior em ployees can earn high w ages w hile junior em ployees earn only low w ages, o r of creating separate job classifications so that certain (older) w orkers can earn high w hile o th er (younger) w orkers earn low - tw o strategies w hich have been used by Local 7 in Box H ill - Local C has sought over the years to p u sh u p all w ages in its Fry H ouse bargaining u n it together. Local C has not been as successful as Local 7 h as been in the Box H ill grocery industry in pushing up the top w ages in its Fry H ouse bargaining unit. But it has been m uch m ore successful than Local 7 in securing a basic union advantage for its en tire m em bership th at m inim izes contractual age discrim ination betw een the old and the young.5

Union Interventions in the Workplace In addition to providing young Fry H ouse w orkers w ith the basic union advantage of increased w ages an d benefits, Local C intervenes regularly and assertively in the Fry H ouse w orkplace in defense o f its young m em bers. Indeed, one o f the m ost striking differences b etw een Local C in G lenw ood an d

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Local 7 in Box H ill is in the relative frequency of young w orker grievances. In Box H ill, as I noted in th e previous chapter, alm ost none of d ie young w orkers I spoke to had experienced o r even w itnessed a u n io n grievance (w hether inform al o r form al) in th eir stores; Local 7 un io n staff confirm th a t the vast m ajority o f the in d ividual grievances th a t they conduct are o n b ehalf of th eir ad u lt m em bers.

In G lenw ood, on th e o th er h and, alm ost all of the

young Fry H ouse w orkers I spoke w ith a t least knew of a young w orker in th eir restau ran t w ho h ad been involved in a form al o r inform al grievance procedure, if they h a d n 't been involved in a u n io n grievance them selves. The experience of having a u n io n rep resen tativ e com e in to p ro tect one's interests in the w orkplace against m anagerial abuse can b e a pow erful experience for young w orkers. To p ro v id e som e sense of this experience, and of the kinds of grievances th at are fought in th e G lenw ood Fry H ouses, I briefly describe below w hat are four fairly typical grievance stories th at w ere recounted to m e by young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood: •

Lydia, a teenage Fry H ouse cashier, w as fired by h er m anager w hen a hun d red dollars w ent m issing from h e r till. A ccording to official com pany policy, cashiers are ind ivid u ally responsible for th eir registers, w hich they and only they are supposed to have access to d u rin g their shifts. In practice, though, Fry H ouse cashiers, supervisors and m anagers regularly use one ano th er's registers in o rd e r to m ake service m ore efficient during custom er rushes. W hen L ydia called Local C fo r help, union staff challenged the m anager to p rod u ce concrete evidence th at she h ad taken the m issing m oney. W hen th e m anager ad m itted he d id n 't have any such evidence, the union w as able to g et L ydia h er Fry H ouse job back. It w as later discovered th at an o th er w orker a t the store h ad been regularly stealing m oney from th e com pany; this w orker w as subsequently dism issed.



Toni, a Fry H ouse cashier, found th a t she w as, fo r som e reason, disliked by a new m anager w ho h ad ju st com e in to h e r Fry H ouse restau ran t. W hile Toni h ad been w orking five days a w eek a t Fry H ouse for m onths, the m anager slow ly started reducing h e r w eekly shifts - a classic strategy th a t fastfood com panies an d m anagers u se to g e t rid of disliked em ployees 297

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(Reiter 1991; Leidner 1993). A t first, T oni w as reduced to th ree shifts a w eek; then she w as dow n to only one shift a w eek. Since Local C has negotiated scheduling protection for its young Fry H ouse m em bers (see C hapter Eight), union staff w ere n o t only able to insist th a t T oni be retu rn ed to her regular shift schedule, b u t they also secured backpay for h er m issed shifts. This b o th p rev en ted Toni from having to b e ar die financial consequences o f h e r m anager's m ism anagem ent, as w ell as p roviding the com pany w ith a disincentive to rep eatin g such action. •

A th ird cashier, D eepa, w as unfairly d en ied prom otion to a shift supervisor position in h er sto re by h e r m anager. D eepa had, after six m onths of em ploym ent a t F iy H ouse, asked to be prom oted to supervisor w hen a spot becam e available. The m anager told her, how ever, th at she w as too young and im m ature, an d d id n 't have enough experience. D eepa accepted her m anager's argu m en t u n til a few m onths later, w h en he b ro u g h t in a new hire, w ho h ap p en ed to be a personal acquaintance of the m anager who needed a job, an d w hom he prom oted directly to shift supervisor. Since the union had neg o tiated seniority rig h ts to prom otion for its m em bers, and since D eepa’s w o rk record w as spotless, the union w as able to insist that she be im m ediately train ed for and prom oted to the supervisory position.



A gro u p of young Fry H ouse w orkers suffered w hen a particu larly abusive and dishonest m anager arriv ed a t th eir store. The m anager sw ore a t th e w orkers regularly, insulted them , an d told them they w ere incom petent. The m anager w ould throw out em ployees' personal belongings if they left them in the back of the store - alth o u g h previous m anagers h ad long allow ed w orkers to leave w ork shoes an d o th er item s ov ern ig h t in the restaurant. The m anager also tried to cu t com ers on cleaning, an d pay w orkers under the table to m ake his sto re b u d g et look b etter. W hen w orkers com plained to the Fry H ouse corporation about the m anager, th eir com plaints w ere ro u n d ly ignored. So w orkers called u p the union; an d u n d er union pressure, the com pany quickly took action an d en d ed u p deciding to fire the abusive m anager.

T hese grievance stories highlight som e of the m ost com m on issues th at are a t the center of w orkplace grievances in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses: w rongful discipline o r term ination; w orkers having shifts o r h o u rs unfairly taken aw ay from them ; m anagers failing to prom ote an em ployee o r to p ay an em ployee p roper wages; and m anager harassm ent. W hile all o f the stories listed above involved p ro tracted conflict betw een u n io n an d com pany 298

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m anagem ent, and m ost h ad to be tak en to a t least the first step of a form al grievance proceeding, union interv en tio n s in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses are often sim ple, brief an d inform al: a u n io n staff m em ber o r shop stew ard talking casually to a store m anager o n a w orker's behalf to correct a m isunderstanding in the w orkplace.

T here are a t least fo u r key factors th at m otivate and facilitate Local C 's w orkplace interventionism : three o f these arise o u t of th e local's practice o f social m ovem ent unionism ; one, how ever, rep resen ts a force in th e union th at sits uneasily w ith the local's practice of social m ovem ent unionism . The first factor th at m otivates Local C 's interventionism is th e local's staff u n io n culture. Local C publications, conferences and staff p resentatio ns all articulate a com m itm ent to actively challenging u n fair em ployer practices in the w orkplace no t ju st during trian n u al co n tract negotiations, b u t th ro u g h o u t the life of the collective bargaining agreem ent. Local staff continually seek to go fu rth er in their w ork w ith Fry H ouse w orkers th an sim ply m inistering the Fry H ouse contract or focusing solely on sim ple w ages an d benefits u n io n ism .6 Second, in support of this staff com m itm ent to w orkplace activism , Local C em ploys (in theory if n o t alw ays in practice) a strong an d pivotal shop stew ard system th at is ru n by its union m em bership. Shop stew ard s are Fry H ouse w orkers w ho are (again, in theory a t least) elected in each Fry H ouse restau ran t by their co-w orkers, and w ho are thus accountable to b o th union staff and - a t the individual store level - union m em bership. M ost im portantly, shop stew ards - unlike stew ards in Local 7 in Box H ill - are expected by Local C to be w orkplace activists. Stew ards are (in theory a t least) responsible in Local C for h andling th e initial stages of the form al grievance

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process, as w ell as for dealing inform ally w ith w orkplace problem s th a t never come to form al grievance. Shop stew ards in the G lenw ood Fry H ouse bargaining u n it play (this tim e in practice, not ju st in theory) a central role in Local C 's w orkplace interventionism . W hile the grievance stories reco un ted above all involved union local staff, union interventions in th e Fry H ouse w orkplace are also carried o u t by shop stew ards. As one young Fry H ouse cook p u ts it, 'T ve never had to call [the union], because [the shop stew ard] has b een there, she's really good." Shop stew ard presence in the Fry H ouse w orkplace, in th e best circum stances, provides young w orkers w ith b o th access to inform ation about and im m ediate local su p p o rt from their union: A nything th at w e d o n 't u n d erstan d ab o u t the union, any rig h ts th a t w e d o n 't know about, as soon as anything goes dow n in th e store, it doesn't m atter how little or big it is, he [the stew ard] is in there. A nd he know s w hat he's doing, so he know s w h at rig h ts w e have, he know s w hat w e can say, w hat w e can't say, w hat w e can do, w hat w e can't do. H e's rig h t in there to back us rig h t aw ay, so it w orks good, it w orks really good. Shop stew ard presence helps to p u t a fam iliar face on the un io n an d to increase young w orkers' com fort levels in contacting th eir local. "N atasha's o ur shop stew ard," says a teenage Fry H ouse c ash ie r "A nd she know s everything th at happens to m e a t w ork anyw ay. So it's n o t like I need to go talk to som ebody I d o n 't even know [w hen I have a problem a t w ork], th at I'm not even close to." Even w h en stew ards are not directly involved in union w orkplace interventions, they are o ften in stru m en tal in encouraging co-w orkers to g et in contact w ith th eir local in the first place, so th at such interventions can continue forw ard. The th ird factor th at facilitates Local C 's interventionism is the strong language of the local's Fry H ouse collective bargaining agreem ent. A s m ay be

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seen in the individual grievance stories recounted above, Local C staff an d stew ards are often able to p u rsu e form al and inform al grievances in the Fry H ouse w orkplace because they have the con tract language - o n scheduling security, for exam ple, o r on seniority rights to p rom otion - to back their dem ands u p. Local 7 union staff in Box H ill are often unable to p u rsu e the kinds of grievances that are successfully fought by Local C in G lenw ood sim ply because they eith er lack the contract language (for exam ple, they have no strong seniority rights to job prom otion) o r because the contract language th at they have is rendered largely ineffective by its vagueness a n d its loopholes (as w ill be discussed in d etail in C hapter Eight, this is the case w ith Local 7's scheduling protection language). There is a fourth factor th at m otivates an d facilitates Local C interventionism th at sits in an uneasy relation sh ip w ith the th ree factors discussed above: th a t is th e persona o f the un io n p resid en t herself. W hile there are o th er staff in the local w ho w ork w ith th e Fry H ouse m em bership, it is the p resid en t w ho takes prim ary responsibility fo r the union. For m any young Fry H ouse w orkers w ho have h ad som e contact w ith Local C, the local p resid en t is the union - ask them to talk ab ou t th e union, and they w ill describe the president's personality. Young Fry H ouse w orkers talk w ith pleasure of how they can interact w ith the p resid en t o n a first nam e basis, o r of how the president is quick to understand and com e to the su p p o rt of their w orkplace concerns. Indeed, the president of Local C is an unusually effective com m unicator w ho can be b o th a passionate an d in spirin g speaker, as w ell as a w arm , approachable and careful listener; she is also seem ingly tireless in h e r com m itm ent to intervening personally in th e F ry H ouse w orkplace in su p p o rt of w orkers. Yet the presid ent's charism atic lead ersh ip stands in an

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uneasy a n d am biguous relationship to the local's in stitu tio n al stru ctu res th a t have been designed to foster an d su p p o rt collective w orkplace staff and m em ber activism . O n the one h an d , p resid en tial charism a can increase young w orkers' com fort and w illingness to m ake u se of grievance an d o ther union structures. O n th e o ther hand, as I w ill discuss in th e next section of this chapter, the reliance in Local C on charism atic presid en tial leadership w hich is one exam ple o f w hat I have called "union in div idu alism ” in the introduction to this ch ap ter - m ay also w ork to subtly underm ine such in stitu tion al structures: in particular, it m ay u n d erm in e th e local's activist stew ard program .

Local C 's w orkplace interventionism , as m ay b e seen from the grievance stories above, can brin g im m ediate an d concrete m aterial benefits to young Fry H ouse w orkers. B ut u n ion in terventionism also has other, m ore in d irect effects. Participation in a union grievance can be an im p o rtan t educational experience for a young w orker. G rievance procedures n o t only allow young w orkers to see how th eir union w orks - o r in the case of grievances th at progress to a labor board hearing, to see how the p ro v in id al labor board w orks - they also allow young w orkers to recognize the lim its to th eir store m anager's authority, as senior com pany rep resen tativ es and union staff challenge and overrule in-store m anagerial decisions. U nion grievances, in fact, are a m ajor site in Local C for young Fry H ouse w orkers deciding to becom e m ore involved in their union: m any o f to d ay ’s shop stew ards in the local first cam e into contact w ith union staff v ia a w orkplace grievance. U nion interventionism creates an in terp lay b etw een Local C union culture an d the yo uth w orkplace cultures of th e Fry H ouse restaurants. U nion w orkplace interventions help y o u th w orkplace cu ltu res survive tim es

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of crisis th a t are created by m anagerial tu rn o v er in the Fry H ouse restau rants. As w as seen in C hapter Three, young Fry H ouse w orkers are som etim es able to p ro tect their jobs and local w orkplace practices - w hen these are th reatened by the arrival of a new store m anager - by calling on u n io n assistance to either g et rid of the new m anager o r to shape u p the new m anager's w orkplace behavior. In these instances, young Fry H ouse w orkers often w ork collectively in conjunction w ith un ion lead ersh ip to docum ent m anagerial abuses against them (in su p po rt of form al u n io n grievances), an d in parallel w ith u n io n leadership as they p u rsu e their ow n in-store strategies fo r p u ttin g pressure on the disruptive m anager (see C h ap ter T hree for fu rth er discussion). Interventionism also helps young F ry H ouse w orkers w ork o n an ongoing and regular basis to defend by themselves th eir u nio n n egotiated rights and privileges. W ith the credible th re a t o f u n io n in terv en tio n behind them , and w ith their rights and privileges laid ou t clearly in a u n io n contract, som e young Fry H ouse w orkers are able to negotiate effectively w ith store an d area m anagers w ithout ever involving eith er shop stew ards o r u n io n staff: The little green [union contract] book.... I love th at book! E verytim e I'd read it, 'Ben [the store m anager], you g o tta p ay m e m ore, cause it doesn't m atter, if I w ork six days a w eek, o n m y sixth shift I'm supposed to get double tim e.' H e’d say, T im e a n d a half....' H e’d try and get aw ay w ith it and say, T im e and a half.' I'd say, 'N o, Ben.' I'd say, 'O pen it, read it.' A nd then h e'd pay m e.... I've never h ad reason to call the union, like Ben's never p u t his foot d o w n and said no to m e about anything, he alw ays backs dow n.... If I had a big problem [and the store m anager d id n 't back dow n].... Before I w ould go to the union, I w ould go to o u r area m anager.... I w o u ld n 't w ant Ben to lose his job o r som ething, cause he's alread y h ad dealings w ith the union before.... I'd call the area m anager, I'd say, 'Ben and I are not getting along, w e're n o t seeing eye to eye. C ould you com e dow n here, cause I'd rattier go to y o u th an go to the u nion.'

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Particularly in stores w hich have h ad a histo ry of union intervention, y oung Fry H ouse w orkers often fin d th a t the m ere th rea t of calling th e union is enough to sp u r com pany m anagem ent into action. Indeed, m ost young Fry H ouse w orkers express a preference for solving store problem s at the store level. "If it’s som ething big, w e go to the union," explains a Fry H ouse shift supervisor, "but m ost of the tim e w e try to fix things ourselves, because w e know w hat's going on."7 Local C w orkplace interventionism , finally, enters into youth w orkplace cultures in the G lenw ood Fry H ouse restau rants as an object of play. W orkers in one restaurant, for exam ple, read to one an oth er the grievance stories reported in the Local C new sletter, evaluating both the union an d w orkers in other Fry H ouse ou tlets according to the stand ards of their ow n w orkplace com m unity for w hat co n stitu tes a legitim ate w orkplace grievance: I'd like to see m ore grievances in th eir new sletter, those are funny.... We all like reading them , blah blah b lah w as, you know , it w as funny. The stories about people going to the union com plaining about th eir m anager, w hat's being done about it, w e ju st sit there and laugh at them . I don’t know , we ju st think it's funny, find o ut w ho's getting crap.... If it's legit, th en we think it's ok, w e laugh. Then if it's not legit, like som ebody got scheduled like th ree less hours than they w ere supposed to, then w hat a big loser, you know . Three hours! God! Young w orkers in another restau ran t som etim es use m ock threats to call the union on one another as a resource in playful teasing and insulting rou tines, or in the context of escalating food an d w ater fights. In a th ird restau rant, a supervisor laughs as she rem em bers a young cook w ho playfully deflated th eir m anager's blustering threats to fire anybody w ho called the u n io n o n him by placing - in the m anager's presence - a m ock call throu g h to the Local C president: "So Jared m akes this joke, he picks u p the phone. H e d id n 't

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actually call the union, b u t he goes, 'A h yeah, is this the u n io n president? A h yeah, m y m anager says if I call y o u h e’s gonna fire me!'"8

Youth Shop Stewards '1 try to find o u t as m uch as I can before the m eeting" - a young Fry H ouse cashier and shop stew ard w ith several years' w ork an d union experience is explaining how she p rep ares for a grievance m eeting w ith h er store m anager. In the grievance m eeting, th e stew ard says, '1 alw ays th in k of m yself as being there for the em ployee, arguing for h is o r h e r case against m anagem ent" But to su p p o rt h e r co-w orkers effectively, th e stew ard has to first be w ell-inform ed o f the details of the case. As a full tim e college stu d en t w ho w orks p a rt tim e for Fry H ouse, the stew ard does n o t alw ays have first­ h and know ledge of the events beh in d a co-w orker’s com plaints: I try to find o u t as m uch as I can before the m eeting. First off, num ber one, by talking to the em ployee. T hen if th e em ployee nam es o th er nam es, like o th er em ployees involved, I'll try to talk to them , find o u t w hat happened, as m uch as I can. A couple of tim es, I w ould try to have a quick talk w ith the m anager about w hat's going on. T hen I p lan out w hat w e should do, w hich approach here. T hen w h en the tim e comes, I w ould say my b it in defense of the em ployee, see if th at w orks. Some grievance m eetings, the stew ard explains, are c u t an d dry: "Som etim es m anagers com e and go, they d o n 't really know m uch ab o u t the contract agreem ent, they d o n 't know the rules an d procedures. So it's ju st basically sitting dow n and show ing it [the contract] to them ." O ther m eetings are m ore com plicated: "Things th a t w ere arbitrary, they can go eith er w ay, it's one person's w ord against another perso n's w ord." In a couple of grievances the stew ard has w orked on, she has b een unable to com e to a resolu tio n w ith the store m anager and the grievance has h ad to go o n to step tw o of Local C's form al grievance procedure. A t th is p oin t, th e stew ard an d sto re m anager

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step aside, and the grievance is d eb ated betw een a Local C un io n representative and a Fry H ouse area m anager. O ne of the m ost rem arkable aspects of Local C 's w ork w ith young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood is th e im p o rtan t roles th e local enables these w orkers to play b oth in th eir u n io n a n d in th eir w orkplace. U nlike Local 7 in Box H ill, Local C offers at least a han d fu l of its young m em bers op p ortun ities for participating actively in u nion affairs. T eenagers an d yo uth s in th eir early tw enties - along w ith older, a d u lt co-w orkers - have, in Local C, becom e shop stew ards, atten ded labor educationals an d conferences, w orked as u n ion organizers, and joined bargaining an d health and safety com m ittees. As can be seen in the young shop stew ard 's descrip tion of h e r Fry H ouse stew ard w ork above, these various union p o sition s prov id e young w orkers w ith vastly increased leadership roles, social responsibilities an d learning opportunities over w hat is typically available in the low end service sector w orkplace. W hile young G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkers are train ed b y th eir em ployer how to act so as to best please th eir custom ers and increase th eir em ployer's profit m argins, young Fry H ouse shop stew ard s an d u nion activists are given an opportunity by th eir union to learn how to act in sup p o rt of their fellow co-w orkers ag ain st un fair m anagerial an d com pany practices, and how to push for the b ro ad er accom plishm ent of w orkplace social justice. It is im portant to em phasize th a t only a tiny m inority of young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood are ev er able to take on activist roles in th eir union. N evertheless, the experiences of the sm all g ro u p of y o u th stew ard s an d activists in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses are valuable to describe, since these in dividuals' experiences help to sh ed lig h t on the b ro ad , educational significance th at unionization in th e y o u th labor m ark et could conceivably

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have for young, stopgap, service sector w orkers elsew here in N o rth A m erica. W hat I seek to show in this section is th a t y ou th stew ard sh ip in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses dem onstrates the rem arkable educational opportunities th at u n io n activism can have for y o ung service sector w orkers; b u t it also highlights som e of th e educational lim itations th at un io n activism can have - at least w hen it is practiced in the w ay th a t it is in G lenw ood. Local C 's training of young w orkers as shop stew ard s in th e G lenw ood Fry H ouses rests o n its com m itm ent bo th to social m ovem ent unionism an d to all ages unionism . Local C staff, in encouraging y o u th w orkers to g et involved w ith th eir union, reject p o p u lar and prejudicial stereotypes of youth apathy an d disengagem ent h o rn stopgap w ork. W hen given the opportunity by institutions such as Local C, union staff argue, stopgap youths are quick and eager to take on tem porary leadership p osition s in the union and w orkplace as elsew here. W hen the local has h ad b ad experiences w orking w ith young stew ards an d activists, they generally d o n o t invoke prejudicial stereotypes of yo u th im m aturity and irresponsibility (as is so often done in this continent), b u t in stead p o int to the m any p ositive experiences they have had in w orking w ith young stew ards an d activists, an d attrib u te individual difficulties to factors o f individual character an d context. In training young w orkers to be shop stew ards and union activists, Local C has also had to learn to look beyond the bou n ds of its ow n institutional structures. M ost young Fry H ouse w orkers are sto p gap w orkers w ho leave their fastfood jobs after relatively brief p erio d s o f tim e. Local C is neither a w ealthy nor a large local: and it costs the local a considerable am ount of tim e, effort an d m oney to have to train a n d re tra in y o u th w orkers to be shop stew ards and activists as they continually e n te r an d leave the Fry H ouse bargaining unit. In som e w ays, it w ould be ch eap er for th e local to

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reserve shop stew ard and activist positions for older, a d u lt Fry H ouse w orkers w ho are generally m ore likely to stay in th eir Fry H ouse jobs fo r longer periods of tim e. R ather th an do this, how ever, th e local has m ade a deliberate com m itm ent to training young stew ards and activists, accepting, as p a rt of this com m itm ent, th a t these young stew ards an d activists w ill occasionally have very short Fry H ouse tenures. The local justifies its extra expenses in w orking w ith young stew ards an d activists w ith the hope an d belief th at the experience these young stew ards and activists have w ith Local C, in the short run, w ill benefit both these youths an d C anadian society as a w hole, in the long ru n .9 To train its stew ards, Local C ru n s a w eekend long shop stew ard course that it offers at least twice a year; stew ards w ho com e to the course are com pensated by the local for lost w ork tim e. The stew ard training course, w hich brings together new stew ards from different b argaining u n its in Local C and neighboring locals, m akes extensive use of role playing, buzz groups and team problem solving in o rd er to help new stew ards flesh o u t the com plexities and subtleties th at often com plicate stew ard w orkplace strategy and action. Stew ards are trained how to read th eir collective bargaining agreem ent closely; how to d istinguish grievable offenses from "violations" of w orker rights and interests that are not protected by u nion contract; how to investigate, w rite u p and fight different kinds of w orkplace grievances; an d how to act as a stew ard in a fair and ju st m anner th at w ill m aintain the respect of both one’s m anagers an d co-w orkers. S tew ards are also introduced to provincial labor codes and hum an rights legislation, to w ays of recognizing and confronting harassm ent in the w orkplace, an d to th e u nion's b ro ad er political and educational program s. N ot all of th e Fry H ouse stew ards I m et in G lenw ood h ad taken Local C 's stew ard training d a ss; b u t all h ad been

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invited to atten d the d ass, an d if they h a d n 't taken it already, expected to do so in the n ear future. In th eir ow n w orkplaces, young Fry H ouse shop stew ard s perform a num ber of im p o rtan t roles in ad d itio n to han d lin g form al grievances. Stew ards provide accessible an d non-threatening sources of u n io n and w orkplace inform ation and advice for o th er young Fry H ouse w orkers. "People com e to m e before they go to the m anager," a teenage Fry H ouse stew ard says: "M ainly because I'm their age an d w e can talk, they w on't be afraid th eir head w ill be b itten off. The m anager w o u ld n 't do th at, b u t they can speak m ore freely w ith me." Stew ards also are frequently able to interact inform ally w ith store m anagers on behalf o f th eir co-w orkers - corrections in shift scheduling and p ro p er paym ent, for exam ple, can usually be handled w ithout a form al grievance m eeting. O ne stew ard recalls a tim e shortly after he had first becom e shop stew ard in w hich he w as able to convince his m anager, sim ply through casual conversation, n o t to susp en d a recently h ired co-w orker for repeated lateness. The co-w orker h ad in d eed been late to sh ift several tim es; bu t th e stew ard pointed o u t th at th ere w ere a couple of long term Fry H ouse w orkers in the restau ran t w ho h ad been chronically late for years w ithout anything ever being said to them . The m anager agreed th a t the fairest thing to do w ould be to w ipe everyone's p rio r records d e a n and to announce a new in-store policy of d isd p lin in g all an d an y w orkers in the fu tu re for m ultiple late arrivals to shift.

Being a stew ard in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses is n o t alw ays an easy position to hold. T he best courses of action to take in th e w orkplace are n o t alw ays d e a r, as som e problem s seem to defy easy solution. Fry H ouse stew ards m ust som etim es struggle w ith d erid in g h ow to handle difficult o r

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am biguous w orkplace situations: an d they often en d u p m aking m istakes. U nderstanding the kinds of dilem m as young stew ard s in G lenw ood face, along w ith the kinds of erro rs o r "m isfires" they m ake in perform ing th eir stew ard w ork, is a critical p a rt of understan din g th e kinds of on-the-job w orkplace learning contexts these stew ards are able to experience. It is also, how ever, a critical p a rt of recognizing som e of the lim ita tio n s to these stew ards' learning processes th at are created by Local C union practice and structure. To provide a sense of the n atu re of "on-the-job" learn in g am ong young Fry H ouse shop stew ards, I describe below three fairly typical stew ard struggles and "misfires" th a t w ere m ade in th e course of th eir everyday union w orkplace activism : •

Dan, a young Fry H ouse shop stew ard in his early tw enties, talks in an interview of how he struggles to balance being an activist in the w orkplace w ith being too aggressive w ith his m anagers an d co-w orkers. H e know s and his co-w orkers confirm - th at w hile som etim es he is very successful in his w orksite interventions, a t oth er tim es he ends u p m aking everyone at w ork unhappy. A recently hired cook a t th e Fry H ouse w here D an w orks describes, for exam ple, h er am bivalence about a tim e w hen D an tried to come to her assistance w ith a problem she w as having at w ork: I w as cleaning the fryers, and I have to change the oil. I have to em pty it into a bucket, take it outside, around, up , d um p it in th e pit. I w as like, 'O h m y god, I d o n 't w ant to d o this.' I w as ju st freaking out, I w as new .... 'O h m y gosh, it’s hot, grease, ow , ooh, I d o n 't w ant to do it.’ D an realized I really d id n 't w ant to do it. I w as ju st scared, h o t grease, I w asn't used to handling it in the first place. It w as only the second tim e I'd p u t it in the fryers.... B ut I guess there's p ro p er lids you're supposed to have on to p [of the buckets], w e do n 't have those. [Dan] said to th e m anager, 'I'm n o t going to le t h er do that.' H im and [the m anager] h ad ju st had a confrontation, so I w as, 'O h god, no, I can take it, I'll take it out, d o n 't w orry about it'.... D an's like, 'N o, she's a trainee, th ere's n o t p ro p er lids for these things, I'm n o t letting h er take it out. If she gets bu rned w ith these, it's your h ead. She's n o t taking it o u t.' So [the m anager] ended u p taking them [the buckets of h o t grease] out.

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"At tim es [Dan] does look o u t for everyone e lse/' the young cook says, "but som etim es I think he's doing it [speaking out] ju st to piss off the m anager." 'D an 's really good at w hat he does," says an oth er young Fry H ouse em ployee, w ho has w orked a t th e restau ran t for a couple of years: "W hich I guess is w hy he's so nosy. C ause h e kinda h as to be. B ut h e's gotta learn, th at's w hy people sh u t him out: 'Y ou're too nosy, sh u t u p , b u tt out.'" D an took Local C's basic shop train in g course w hen he first becam e a stew ard a little over a year ago. B ut since th at tim e, he has h ad no real extended interaction w ith anyone from the u n ion - a n d he has never m et any of the o ther Fry H ouse stew ard s to hear of or com pare their w orkplace experiences. For the m ost p art, D an attem pts to judge how he is doing as shop stew ard from the varying po sitive an d negative reactions he receives from his co-w orkers. •

A nother young Fry H ouse stew ard, Lucia, talks of the (m ostly in tern al) struggles she has w ith know ing how b est to h andle th e problem of em ployee theft of com pany m oney - a problem th a t is endem ic in h e r Fry H ouse restaurant: Ok, you're a t w ork, you know som ebody's stealing m oney.... I h av e to protect this person if they're saying-. I m ight know it, b u t I can 't really say, look, this person's stealing. I d id th a t once an d I feel b ad ab o u t it, I got th at person fired. This w as before I w as shop stew ard. N ow if I do it now , I d o n 't know w hat w ould h ap p en to m y shop stew ard statu s. So I ju st say, 'H ey, if you steal, w hatever you do, d o n 't com e to m e, I w o n 't protect you’.... It's hard, though.... [If a co-w orker w ho h as been stealing does com e to m e for help] even if I know it, th en I have to protect this person. A nd th en I think in my ow n head, ok this perso n 's probably doing the w rong thing, b u t I've gotta do m y job, th a t's w hat I'm here for. So in th a t case, that's w here I d o n 't like th e union. People use it to th eir advantage. In Local C shop stew ard classes, union in stru cto rs em phasize that, although the union has the d u ty of fairly representing all of its m em bers, stew ards need to be w ary of appearing to su p p o rt w rongful actions o n the p a rt of their co-w orkers, as this can un d erm ine th eir credibility in the w orkplace. H ow ever, L uda know s from personal experience th at Local C union staff have in the past p ro tected w orkers in h er store w ho really w ere stealing m oney from losing their jobs by dem anding th a t the em ployer produce concrete evidence th at show ed these w orkers w ere actually stealing - evidence w hich the em ployer d id n o t have. A ssum ing th a t h er union local is in the habit of protecting b ad w orkers, L u d a has n o t trie d to talk w ith union staff of h er m isgivings.

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A th ird Fry H ouse stew ard, P eter, recounts an early m istake th a t he now regrets m aking in w hich he actually ended u p getting a co-w orker fired. The co-w orker in question h ad started raising a fuss in th e restau ran t about other w orkers' habit of giving discounts on com pany food an d drinks to Fry H ouse delivery d riv ers w hen the d riv ers w ere off shift. W hile official com pany policy states th a t delivery d riv ers (unlike in-store em ployees) are only entitled to discounts d uring th eir shifts, w orkers a t the restau ran t felt th at drivers w ere being treated as second-hand citizens by the com pany, and th at they should be given the sam e discounts th at everybody else in the store w as entitled to.10 The w orker refused to let the m atter drop. The w orker herself, how ever, w as also breaking official com pany food policy by taking a free d rin k hom e w ith h e r every n ig h t after sh e w as off shift: She ju st has a big tim e giving th at thing [com plaining ab o u t the delivery drivers]. T hen every n ig h t before she leaves, she gets a cup, fills it w ith ice, fills it w ith pop, and w alks o u t of th e store. I said, 'W hat do you call that?' I said, T h a t's a theft, tho u gh it's ju st a sm all thing, it's a theft.' So I w rote a letter as a shop stew ard. I b ro u g h t it to the m anager, saying this is w hat happ en ed and could you please take appropriate action, according to the food policy an d the collective agreem ent.... She totally denies she's no t doing it, and th e [security] cam era is right there. So they p u ll o u t th e [video tape evidence from the] cam era. '1 w rote the letter ju st w anting her to g et disciplined," says Peter, "I d id n 't know it w as gonna be all the w ay, th at she w as gonna be o u t of the com pany." Peter had felt th at, to keep things fair a t w ork, if a w orker w as going to be self-righteous ab out getting o th er w orkers in trouble for breaking com pany food policy, th at w orker should be held to her ow n high standards. P eter has not had a chance to really talk to un io n staff o r o th er union stew ards about how he un d ersto o d an d h an d led the en tire situation: he now treats the incident as a personal learning experience and as som ething his conscience w ill ju st have to live w ith. "Som etim es y o u look bad," Peter now says ruefully, "just because you try to d o the rig h t th ing ."

W hat is striking in listening to th e young Fry H ouse shop stew ards above talk about som e of the difficult decisions they have h ad to m ake in th eir w orkplaces is th eir isolation from each o th er a n d from u n io n staff. Stew ards sim ply do n o t have any reg u lar o p p o rtu n ity to talk w ith and lea rn

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from other union activists ab o u t th eir various experiences, strateg ies, successes and failures in conducting stew ard w ork. They freq u en tly have to struggle through the decisions they m ake as stew ards alone. M ost Fry H ouse stew ards have been able to go th rou g h one of Local C 's stew ard sh ip classes: b u t once they are finished w ith this w eekend class th ere is n o in stitu tio n al stru ctu re in th e union for ongoing feedback and dialogue b etw een u nion and stew ard. Stew ards, of course, can an d do call into the Local C office for assistance on specific problem s o r questions th at they are n o t su re h o w to respond to: b u t these calls d o n o t ten d to be occasions for general reflection an d sharing of young w orkers' overall experiences in perform ing stew ard w ork in the Fry H ouse restauran ts. Local C used to ru n a regu lar local-w ide stew ard m eeting a t its un ion hall: b u t it cancelled this m eeting som e years ago d u e to lack of attendance. D uring the eleven m onths of m y fieldw ork, the local held one single stew ard m eeting (again, at its G lenw ood hall). This m eeting w as fo r stew ard s from all of Local C 's bargaining u n its and it w as not attended by any young stew ards from the G lenw ood Fry H ouses. It is not entirely clear (to m e at least) w hat kind of institutional stru cture Local C could create - o th er th an the general union-hall-based-and-local-w ide stew ard m eeting form at th a t ev iden tly has n o t w orked well in the p ast for young Fry H ouse stew ards - th a t w o u ld be m ost effective and useful in bringing young Fry H ouse stew ard s in to som e kind of regular contact w ith th eir u n io n and w ith one an other. It does seem clear to m e, how ever, from m y conversations w ith young Fry H ouse stew ards, th at their w orkplace isolation in the Fry H ouse b arg ain in g u n it creates an u nsu p po rted learnin g environm ent fo r these y o u n g u n io n activists th at can, a t tim es, constitute a serious o b stad e to these young

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stew ards' ability to be successful in perform ing the union w ork th at Local C relies u p o n its shop stew ards to handle. T he in dividual isolation from their un io n and from each o th er of young Fry H ouse shop stew ards - w hich constitutes a second exam ple of the union individualism th at I referred to in th e in tro d uctio n to th is chapter - is largely a passive isolation th at is shaped by a lack of collective and interactive practices and structures in Local C. But Fry H ouse stew ards are also som etim es actively (if unintentionally) isolated by the practices of Local C union staff. Some young Fry H ouse stew ards com plain th a t u n ion staff perform union w ork for w hich stew ards are supposed to be responsible. W hile the shop stew ard is, in theory, the un io n local's fro ntline in handling w orkplace problem s, som e stew ards com plain th a t th eir co-w orkers ten d to call directly into the union office for help w ith questions o r concerns a t w ork and th at the union office (w hich, as I noted earlier, generally m eans the union president) readily receives an d responds to these w orkers' calls. "I guess they d o n 't know th at / am the union," one young stew ard sighs about his co-w orkers: "They figure they gotta phone [the unio n president]. I g otta get it th ro u g h th at I am the union: 'D on't w orry, 1 m ight n o t know one h u n d red percent w hat I’m doing all the tim e, b u t I’m learn in g .’" Stew ards in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses p o int to tw o problem s that can arise w hen the union p resid en t (or o th er staff) take ov er the initial handling of w orkers' questions an d problem s at w ork. First, shop stew ard credibility risks being underm ined: W hat Jenny d id , instead of com ing to m e w hen she w as told about getting disciplined, [me] being shop stew ard, she d id n 't com e to m e, she w en t straig ht to the union. So d id G arrett. I said, H ey , I'm there, th at m akes m e being like n o t w orthy of sh o p stew ard'.... It's like if I w ant to talk to m y area m anager about som ething, I have to go, I feel strongly, to talk to m y m anager before I talk to him . It's n o use ju st jum ping

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there, m issing a step. Going step by step, th at's th e w ay y o u w ant to com e dow n.... I feel like w hen Fm there, if y o u com e to m e firs t If I d o n 't do anything to satisfy you, go to d ie union.... The union d id n 't have m uch talk w ith m e in b o th those things [Jenny's an d G arrett's w ork problem s], they d id n 't com e back to m e. W hen stew ards are cu t o u t of the union m em ber-union p re sid e n t/sta ff loop, the union w ork th at they are supposedly expected by Local C to perform in th eir w orkplace can be m ade m ore difficult, as they m ay lose stature in the eyes of th eir co-w orkers and m anagers. The second problem , som e stew ards say, w ith u n io n staff doing the initial handling of w orkplace grievances, is th a t un io n staff are outsiders to th eir w orkplace and thus often d o n 't have a good feel fo r the overall w orkplace dynam ics of a particular restau ran t w hich inevitably stand behind each and every individual grievance: If they tell [the union president] som ething, [the u n io n president] is gonna g et half the m essage. If I'm there, an d som etim es m aybe I'm p resen t right w hen the thing happened. I can talk to another person, another packer o r another cook, if I'm n o t there. I'll be able to have a b etter picture, and I know this person b e tter th an any of the union staff [do].... It's not like just w hatever happ ened in th a t very m om ent. You got to look back and forth, w hat was happening, how this thing-. Because w hen a problem creates, it ju st d o esn 't create by the m om ent, these things g et b u ilt up.... If th e m anager's n o t h appy, o r he's not happy w ith the m anager, everybody starts giving attitu d e to each other. Before the union ju st jum ps onto it, they sh ould w ork w ith the shop stew ard. W hen u nio n staff intervene to resolve an in d iv id u al g riev ance w ithout know ing the full w orksite picture, o th er Fry H ouse w orkers m ay come to feel d isgruntled w ith the union's m eddling. In som e instances, the course outside union intervention takes m ight, given the specific w orksite context, actually be m isguided (as is arguably the case, fo r exam ple, w ith the union's defense of thieving w orkers in Lucia's store above).

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The Local C union p resid en t and h e r staff are in a som ew hat difficult position in term s of know ing w hen and w heth er it is b est to red irect m em bers' calls to shop stew ards. In lig h t of the m iscues th a t stew ards can be expected to m ake as they attem p t to learn th eir roles in isolated w orkplace settings, union staff m ay som etim es feel th at directly h andling w orkers' grievances and problem s them selves offers the best form of assistance to the m em bership that, after all, they have been elected to represent. Stew ards, on the o th er hand, as w orkplace insiders, m ay often b e b e tter placed to intervene in their w orksites than are union staff as w orkplace outsiders. F urtherm ore, direct interventions by the union p resid en t m ay also, as I suggested earlier, over the long term , underm ine the very in stitutional stru ctu res th a t the union has created to foster an d su p p o rt w orkplace activism in th e Fry H ouse restaurants. Presidential in tervention feeds back into the problem of u nsupported shop stew ard learning environm ents: for the m ore th a t the union president (and o th er union staff) take over the handling of w orker questions and grievances, the less pressure there is on the local to take seriously and begin to ad d ress the problem s caused by th e in d ivid u al w orkplace isolation of Fry H ouse shop stew ards.

Youth Union Alienation:

The Problem o f Union Individualism

D espite Local C's w orkplace interventionist stance, m any young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood - like young grocery w orkers in Box H ill com plain of being isolated from th eir union. "We never see them ever," a young Fry H ouse cashier says som ew hat angrily: It w ould be nice if the un io n w ould call to see how things are going, check-ins, is everything alright.... It ju st seem s they take o u r m oney an d d o n 't even care. They say they care so m uch in th eir n ew sletter but.... It seem s they d o n 't care how w e're doing. N ot th a t it's th at big

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of a deal, b u t it w ould be nice to have a phone call The only tim e I've heard from the u n io n in the last tw o years is w hen [the local president] called about [being interview ed for this research project].... W orkers in o u r sto re joke, I s the u n io n still alive? W e h av en 't heard anything.' They never com e o u t to the store. A phone call, a le tte r to acknow ledge you're still alive, th at w e still exist, som ething. N ew Fry H ouse w orkers, especially, often know next to no th in g about w ho or w hat the union is. As a three year veteran Fry H ouse cashier, w ho h ad herself filed a couple of grievances w ith th e union, explains: "The new people [w orking in o u r store], they d o n 't even really know w hat's going on in the union. They sign a form saying they'll be in the u n io n and th at's it, th at's as far as they know." The causes of youth u n io n alienation in Local C are, in m any w ays, m uch as the sam e as w ere seen for Local 7 in Box H ill in the preceding chapter. The local frequently fails to m aintain a strong w orkplace presence in all of its stores, o r even to m ake m inim al connections w ith all of its young m em bers. In part, young Fry H ouse w orkers' sense of u n io n abandonm ent is due to the industry stru ctu re of the Fry H ouse bargaining u n it. Local C’s Fry H ouse m em bers w ork in fifty separate w orksites (w ith ab out ten to thirty w orkers p er site), tw o th ird s of w hich are sp read o u t over a seven h u n d red square m ile area around m etropolitan G lenw ood, and one th ird of w hich are located in sm all, outlying tow ns th at are anyw here from fifty to over four h undred and fifty m iles d istan t from Local C's G lenw ood u n io n hall.11 As a relatively sm all local th at rep resen t w orkers in diverse service in d u stry sectors, Local C's resources are greatly overtaxed in its efforts to m aintain regular and effective com m unication w ith its scattered m em bership. As w ith Local 7 in Box H ill, how ever, y o u th un io n alienation in Local C is also caused by the local's union culture and practices (or, as the case m ay be, by its lack of practices). Local C has no outreach program fo r introducing

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new m em bers to the union; m any young startin g Fry H ouse w orkers, in fact, say they have never even received a copy of th eir union contract, so th at they are unable to see fo r them selves th eir union negotiated rig h ts and privileges.12 Local C does n o t have its union staff do any regu lar visits to Fry H ouse restaurants: instead, it predicates its ability to in teract w ith its m em bership - and to in tro du ce new m em bers to the u n io n - on having an active shop stew ard system inside the Fry H ouse w orkplace. B ut this strategy has several flaws, n o t the least of w hich is the fact th at as m any as a th ird of the G lenw ood Fry H ouses have no shop stew ards in them . In the high turnover fastfood in du stry , it is, as I suggested earlier, h a rd for Local C to hang onto its stew ards. In som e Fry H ouse restaurants in G lenw ood, though, crew s have been w ithout stew ard s for such long periods of tim e th a t the very concept is alien to them . A useful and com prehensive w ay, I suggest, of describing the problem s Local C has in interacting w ith its young m em bers in the G lenw ood Fry Houses is by invoking the concept of union individualism . By union individualism , I m ean to refer to a unionism th at fails to generate, allow for, o r rely on opportunities fo r collective, group, solidaristic learning and activism am ong u nion m em bers, and th at functions a n d presen ts itself instead as an in stitution of, by, and for individuals. O ne exam ple of union individualism in Local C is th e local's reliance on charism atic presidential leadership to keep the local going. As I have suggested above, the m ore the local relies on p residential (or even union staff) interv en tio n s, the less pressure there is for it to provide adequate su p po rt to its stew ard netw ork - or, for th at m atter, to m ake su re th at there are stew ards in all of its stores. A second exam ple of union individualism is the local's failu re to establish regular and collective interactions am ong its shop stew ards, an d betw een

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stew ards an d union staff. The resu ltan t isolation of stew ards, I have suggested, places lim itations on stew ards' ability to learn and act effectively in th eir w orkplaces; it also causes a fair am ount of personal dissatisfaction am ong Fry H ouse stew ards. The w eaker the stew ard netw ork is in Local C, the less presence it has in its Fry H ouse w orkplaces, an d the greater the chance is for w idespread yo uth union alienation. There are o th er im p o rtan t exam ples o f u n io n individualism in Local C's practices. Local C's presence in each separate Fry H ouse o utlet in G lenw ood ten ds to be highly individualized: its presence, a t best, is generally lim ited to and constituted by the presence of a single shop stew ard. For young Fry H ouse w orkers w ho are not shop stew ards, there are really few opportunities to participate in any m eaningful w ay in th e life of their union. Positions on the local's bargaining com m ittee (w hich I discuss in the follow ing section) are available only once every three years. Positions o n the local's health and safety com m ittee, although they have been h eld by young Fry H ouse w orkers, are lim ited to three spaces an d are thus n ot a possibility for m ost w orkers: m oreover, op p ortun ities for union activism , such as they do exist in Local C, are frequently given to and taken u p by th e local's shop stew ards. Local C general m em bership m eetings are held bi-m onthly a t the Local C u nio n hall: b u t these "general m em bership" m eetings are essentially a burlesque, ru n by un ion staff on the ap p aren tly nonsensical (though correct) assum ption th a t the general m em bership w ill n o t be show ing up .13 Local C 's national p aren t union ru n s one o f the strongest educational program s of any union in N orth A m erica. C ourses are offered in a participatory classroom form at o n issues such as w orkplace h ealth and safety, hum an rig h ts, w om en's issues in the w orkplace, environm ental aw areness, confronting new form s o f w orkplace m anagem ent a n d so on. Local C sends

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m ore of its m em bers to these labor educationals th an any o th er o f the national union's G lenw ood locals.

H ow ever, m any of die m em bers Local C

sends to its educational program s are from its new ly organized an d less established bargaining units (w here educatio n can serve as a w ay of strengthening the local's position w ith in these new w orksites). Local C's union literatu re proclaim s th a t its educational program s are available to any g roup of (fifteen o r m ore) w orkers w ho d esire a p articular course. B ut the vast m ajority of young Fry H ouse w orkers are unaw are of the very existence of Local C's educational program , let alone having p articip ated in one of its classes. In an irony founded u p o n th eir w orkplace isolation, several o f the young Fry H ouse w orkers I interview ed in G lenw ood suggested, on the assum ption th at it d id not already have one, th a t the local w ould d o w ell to create an educational program for its m em bership. The fact th at the shop stew ard in each G lenw ood Fry H ouse o u tlet tends to be the only active, in store link betw een Local C and its m em bers has several im plications for youth-union interactions. First, young Fry H ouse w orkers tend to see the shop stew ard as the only w orker in their store w ho really needs to be concerned about union affairs. In o th er w ords, they see the union as being individualized in the p erso n o f the shop stew ard; they certainly d o n 't see them selves as being involved w ith o r constituting "the union." Second, stew ards' ind ividu al isolation in th e G lenw ood Fry H ouses is increased, since stew ards often d o n 't have anyone in th eir ow n w orkplaces to w ork w ith on union issues. T hird, if young w orkers are dissatisfied w ith their stew ard, they are som etim es as a p t to tu rn th eir backs on the u n ion as a w hole, as they are to call for a new stew ard in th eir store. In theory, election of shop stew ards in Local C should (according to th e local's bylaw s) be "held a n d /o r review ed annually" w ith in each Fry H ouse

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restau ran t - suggesting th at the perform ance of stew ards is accountable to the general m em bership. But in practice, the local has no regular stru ctu re in place for com m unicating w ith o r keeping tabs o n its Fry H ouse stew ards, o r for soliciting m em bers' opinions ab o u t th eir stew ards. Som e young w orkers com plain th at their shop stew ard s are inactive, th a t they know little abo u t the u nion contract and do little to assist th eir co-w orkers in the store. H ow ever, since the stew ard is generally th e w orker m ost closely linked w ith the un io n in each Fry H ouse restaurant, w orkers w ho are dissatisfied w ith a stew ard are o ften unlikely to initiate calls to th eir u n io n to ask for a new stew ard election. They are m ore likely to sim ply resign them selves to the fact of having an inactive union presence in th eir w orkplace - o r even, as one Fry H ouse cashier p u t it, to the conviction th a t "the unio n ju st d o esn 't w ork for m e."14 Local C's w orkplace grievance activities, w hen com bined w ith the general isolation of m ost young Fry H ouse w orkers from union staff an d program s, constitute another area of u n io n individualism . For young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood w ho are n o t shop stew ards, the only contact they really have w ith local union staff tend s to be through in-store w orkplace grievances: The only tim e you ever see them [the union] is w hen th ere's a grievance. They hold it [the grievance m eeting] in the lobby over your lunch rush, and you kind of think, 'W hat’s this? W ho's she? W hy is she yelling at th at person?' T hat w as the only interaction you ev er got. A part from their shop stew ards, union staff ten d to know only those Fry H ouse w orkers w ho have come to them w ith grievances: the rem ain d er of th e Fry H ouse w orkforce is to them essentially unknow n. Fry H ouse w orkers, for their part, tend to know the u n io n only as an entity th at com es in to their w orkplaces sporadically and tem porarily to help individual

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w orkers grieve outstanding w orkplace problem s: o th er possible contexts for union-m em ber interaction are to them also essentially unknow n. This narrow identification o f the u n io n w ith grievors a n d grievances in th e G lenw ood Fry H ouse chain has several im plications for relations betw een the union and its young Fry H ouse m em bers. For one thing, there is a w idespread feeling am ong m any young Fry H ouse w orkers th at the union prim arily intervenes in the w orkplace to h elp (a) older, m ore senior w orkers, and (b) bad or problem w orkers. W ith no general in troduction to th e union, and w ith little active union presence in th eir w orkplace, it can take young Fry H ouse w orkers som e tim e to learn th at u nio n in tervention m ight be available to them . W hen new w orkers see senior w orkers calling in (w hat are to them ) unknow n union officials for assistance, they often think these senior w orkers have som e special relationship w ith the union th a t young, new w orkers d on 't have. "[The local president] w as alw ays very scary to me," says a young Fry H ouse shift supervisor, w ho by now has come to feel com fortable w ith union leadership: '1 tho ught she'll never do an ything for m e. _

A

"

A broader im plication of the n arro w "union equals grievance" identification for union-m em ber relations in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses is th at m any young Fry H ouse w orkers once again come to see the union as being (paradoxically) an essentially in d iv id u alist and individualizing institution. By individualist, I m ean specifically, in this instance, th a t the union is typically seen by young Fry H ouse w orkers as a body th at can help w orkers w ith individual w orkplace problem s th a t can be resolved fairly sim ply via a one-tim e u n io n in terv en tio n - getting a w orker his o r h e r shifts back, for exam ple, or even getting rid of an abusive m anager. The union, how ever, is no t seen by Fry H ouse w orkers as being m uch help in d ealin g

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w ith structural w orkplace problem s * w ith situations th at w o u ld req u ire for th eir resolution an ongoing an d collective program of education, strategizing an d coordination of effort a t levels b o th inside an d outside th e w orkplace. I analyze one such stru ctu ral w orkplace problem - th at of handling speed up, off the clock w ork an d general tim e pressures a t w ork - in the next chapter. O ther exam ples in the G lenw ood Fry H ouse restau ran ts include: w orking in w ays and in environm ents th at p u t o ne's h ealth and safety a t risk (a problem th at is in p a rt related to tim e pressures); w orking w ith abusive custom ers; and w orker dissatisfaction a t no t having m uch con trol o v er shaping and im proving store, p ro d u ct an d service quality. Such stru ctu ral w orkplace problem s are sim ply n o t easily addressed w ith a n in d iv id u al grievance filed by a union w ith lim ited w orksite presence. "As soon as the union gets involved," a young Fry H ouse cashier says of deeding w ith violations of health and safety procedures in h er restau ran t, "they're [the m anagers are] kinda like, 'O h ok, you guys have to d o this now .' But th at only lasts about a week." '1 used to call the union," a cook sighs ab out chronic understaffing in his store: "But nothing ev er changes, you're w asting y our time. It's im possible to change. You’re back a t w herever you w ere." Local C is also seen by m any young Fry H ouse w orkers as an individualizing in stitutio n . U nion interventions in the F ry H ouse w orkplace no t only frequently focus o n an individual's problem s a t w ork, they also often p it individual Fry H ouse w orkers against one another. O ne of the classic interventions, for exam ple, m ade over an d over by Local C in the Fry H ouse bargaining u n it is to re tu rn shifts and hours to senior em ployees th at had been unfairly taken aw ay from them by store m anagers a n d g iven to m ore junior em ployees. A p art from its trian n u al negotiation of a new union contract (a process I discuss below ), Local C provides its Fry H ouse

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m em bership w ith few if any o pp o rtu n ities to w ork o r p articip ate collectively as a group in a defined u n io n project (a project, for exam ple, th at one could im agine m ight involve w orkers com ing together to red ress one of the structural w orkplace problem s listed above). The president of Local C often rolls h e r eyes w hen she hears of young Fry H ouse w orkers enthusiastically com peting in one of Fry H ouse's m ultitude of incentive program s: she see such program s as being divisive, as pitting w orker against w orker w ith in the Fry H ouse chain, an d as being contrary to the union sp irit of w orker solidarity. B ut for m any young Fry H ouse w orkers (as w as discussed in C hapter Three), com pany incentive com petitions are taken u p precisely as an op p o rtu n ity to w ork together as a team in a defined project. For m any young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood, it is th eir em ployer w ho pro v id es them w ith o p p o rtu n ities - th a t they can selectively and strategically seize if an d w hen they d esire - to w ork as a collectivity. A nd it is th eir u n io n w ho, in failing to p ro v id e them w ith opportunities for collectivity - w h eth er these be in the context of labor education or union activism - frequently isolates them as in d iv id u als in the w orkplace.15

Contract Negotiations:

The Importance o f Youth Involvement

The problem s of u nion individualism an d m em ber isolation in Local C, discussed above, can be traced, in part, to the Fry H ouse bargaining unit's contract negotiation history - a history in w hich m ost young Fry H ouse w orkers have been, a t best, only ever m arginally involved. C hanges in the Fry H ouse bargaining u n it's m ost recent (1998) ro u n d o f contract negotiations - negotiations w hich, for the first tim e in the u n it's history, centrally involved large num bers of young Fry H ouse w orkers - d em onstrate the d e a r

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im portance fo r you th unionism of y o u th involvem ent in th e negotiation of collective bargaining agreem ents. These changes could also possibly lead in the fu ture to a reduction of union individualism a n d m em ber isolation in the Local C Fry H ouse unit. There are tw o facts about the Local C Fry H ouse u n it's p ast th at are particularly im p ortant to note: first, the union th a t w as originally form ed in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses w as essentially a com pany union; an d second, until recently, the Fry H ouse bargaining u n it has been th e ju n io r tw in of a second an d larger bargaining u n it represented by Local C in a p o p u lar chain of fam ily style din n er houses in the G lenw ood area called T he O ld B allpark restaurants. U ntil the late 1980's, the G lenw ood Fry H ouses and The O ld Ballpark restaurants w ere u n d er com m on an d local (province based) ow nership. These tw o com panies w ere first "unionized" d u rin g th e 1960's. A t the tim e, there w as a considerable am ount of union organizing going on in G lenw ood, an d w hen ru m o rs started surfacing of un io n activity am ong The O ld Ballpark restau ran t staff, the ow ner of the chain acted pre-em ptively and voluntarily signed a labor agreem ent recognizing w h at w as essentially a com pany union (later described by one labour relations b o ard rep o rt as having "less than an 'arm 's length' relationship w ith the em ployer"). This original union w as called The O ld B allpark R estaurant Em ployees Association (OBREA). A few years later, the ow ner signed the G lenw ood Fry H ouse chain into this em ployees association as w ell. T hrough the course of the 1970's an d 1980's, the em ployees association th at had started o u t as OBREA started to gain increasing independence from the em ployers and slow ly began to negotiate stron g er contracts (the association also w ent through a series of nam e changes an d m ergers to becom e today's Local C). R estaurant w orkers w alked o u t o n strike a t The O ld

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B allpark restauran ts in the mid-1970's, an d again, for m ore th an ten w eeks, in the late 1980's (a strike th a t secured O ld B allpark and , subsequently, Fry H ouse em ployees the strong scheduling by seniority co n tract language th at w ill be discussed in the next chapter). N o strikes - an d n o strike votes, even - w ere ever called at the Fry H ouse restaurants, as em ployees there h ad a "piggy back" contract based upon w hat The O ld B allpark restau ran t w orkers w ere able to negotiate for them selves. This early history o f the Fry H ouse b argaining u n it likely had an im pact in shaping the u n it's current problem s w ith u n io n individualism and m em ber w orkplace isolation. For a t no tim e d u rin g th is period in its h isto ry d id Local C (or its predecessor unions) ever need to launch a large scale m obilization o f the Fry H ouse m em bership. O riginal u n io n organization w as top-dow n and em ployer driven. A nd subsequent contract negotiations w ere based upon the m obilization of The O ld B allpark restau ran t m em bership, not the Fry H ouse workforce. Thanks to the activism of T he O ld B allpark restau ran t w orkers and the com m on ow nership of The O ld B allpark restau ran t chain and the G lenw ood Fry H ouse chain, Local C could afford to have a largely inactive an d uninvolved Fry H ouse m em bership and still be able to negotiate relatively good bargaining agreem ents for the unit. Since the late 1980's, how ever, tw o significant changes have sw ept through the Fry H ouse bargaining u n it and altered how its contract negotiations are conducted. First, shortly after the sta rt of the 1990's, the G lenw ood Fry H ouse chain w as reacquired by its international parent com pany. For the first tim e in Local C 's history, The O ld B allpark restauran ts and the G lenw ood Fry H ouses had separate ow nerships. C ontracts in the tw o u n its now had to be negotiated independently.

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The significance of this changeover in ow nership w as first felt by Local C in its 1995 Fry H ouse contract negotiations. D uring these negotiations, the new Fry H ouse ow ners an d the Local C bargaining com m ittee reached an im passe. Rejecting the em ployer's "final co ntract offer" as inadeq u ate, Local C w as m oved to initiate the Fry H ouse bargaining u nit's first ever strike vote. The strike authorization vote w on the m ajority su p p o rt of th e G lenw ood Fry H ouse m em bership. H ow ever, the new Fry H ouse ow ners took ad van tag e of a provincial law th at allow ed them to b yp ass the bargaining com m ittee and force a d irect m em bership vote on th e co n tract proposal th at the bargaining com m ittee h ad already rejected. Sw eetening th eir proposed d eal w ith five h u n d red dollar (for full tim e em ployees) an d three h u n d red d o llar (for p a rt tim ers) signing bonuses, the Fry H ouse ow ners w ere able to get a m ajority of th eir G lenw ood w orkforce to vote, against th e recom m endation of the Local C bargaining com m ittee, in favor of th eir offer. A t the tim e of m y fieldw ork, Local C union staff (along w ith m any Fry H ouse w orkers) explained the outcom e of th e previous ro u n d of contract negotiations by pointing to the pivotal role of the youngest, m ost tem porary w orkers in the Glenwood Fry H ouses - those w orkers w ith less th an three years job tenure. This sizeable group o f w orkers generally had m inim al interaction w ith their union (for the k in ds of reasons th at have been discussed above), and consequently, w ere n o t fully aw are of the u nion's argum ents for rejecting their em ployer's "final offer." M oreover, as tem porary, stopgap w orkers w ho did n o t expect to stay long in their Fry H ouse jobs, this group of w orkers also ten d ed to believe that an u p fro n t signing bonus that m easured in the h u n d red s of dollars w ould be w o rth m uch m ore to them than the few extra cents th a t Local C w as w anting to tack o nto their hourly wage. G oing in to th e 1998 contract negotiations, therefore,

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u nio n staff a t Local C w ere particularly concerned - in a w ay they h ad never h ad to be before - about reaching o u t to the m ass of young, stopgap Fry H ouse w orkers. A second set o f changes th a t took place in an d arou n d Local C d u rin g the 1990’s reinforced the atten tio n union staff p aid to young Fry H ouse w orkers in the lead-up to the 1998 Fry H ouse contract negotiations. It w as d u rin g this last decade that, thanks to its h ig h profile organizing in G lenw ood's youth service sector, Local C began to acquire its rep u tatio n as "the y o u th union." W hile it h ad long p layed second fiddle to The O ld B allpark restau ran t u n it w ith in Local C, th e Fry H ouse u n it (w hat w ith its y o u th dom inated m em bership) now sta rte d to g ain increasing prom inence. W ith outside labor and m edia in terest grow ing in Local C s w ork w ith y o u th w orkers, local staff could p o in t to th eir Fry H ouse u n it as a site in w hich they had been w orking w ith young tem porary service w orkers for decades. A s "the yo u th question" cam e to fram e their external im age, Local C unio n staff, at the tim e of the 1998 Fry H ouse contract negotiations, w ere thus highly orien ted to thinking about, in general term s, how unionism could best w ork for young, stopgap service w orkers, an d in m ore specific term s, how the local could reach out and centrally involve young Fry H ouse w orkers in the 1998 contract process.16 As a result of these tw o general sets of changes, Local C, in its p reparatio n for the 1998 Fry H ouse contract negotiations, w orked to m obilize the seven hundred m em ber stron g Fry H ouse w orkforce in a w ay it h ad never fully attem pted to do before. The local began p reparing fo r negotiations in 1998 by calling all of its Fry H ouse stew ards an d union activists to g eth er for a general "pre-contract negotiation" m eeting. The p u rp o se of th is m eeting w as b o th for union staff to learn from ran k an d file activists w h at cu rren t

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conditions w ere like in th e Fry H ouse restauran ts, an d for w orkplace activists to learn from union staff the larg er com pany, u n io n an d in d u stry context in w hich the upcom ing negotiations w ould be taking place. The local then asked the Fry H ouse stew ards and activists to re tu rn to their stores and hold "w orkshops" w ith th eir co-w orkers th a t w ould replicate in m iniature w hat had been done at the u n it w ide pre-n eg o tiation m eeting: in this case, w ith stew ards explaining to their co-w orkers the "bigger picture," and co-w orkers talking to stew ards ab out the w orkplace issues th a t w ere of m ost concern to them . To help stew ards stru cture th eir w orkshops, th e local p repared a survey form w ith a series o f open-ended questions th a t asked m em bers to w rite in their ow n m ost pressing w orkplace concerns as w ell as to discuss the relevance to them selves o f a series of w orkplace issues th a t u n io n staff thought m ight be problem atic th ro ughout the u n it (m em bers being pressured to w ork off the clock, race an d gender based harassm ent, h ealth an d safety concerns, inadequate training, and so forth).17 O ver the next couple of m onths follow ing the initial p re-n eg o tiatio n m eeting, Local C called tw o m ore contract negotiation p rep aratio n m eetings. The purpose of these m eetings w as fo r Fry H ouse stew ards to discuss th eir experiences in running th eir ow n in-store w orkshops an d to rea d o ver the survey form s th at had been filled o u t by and collected from th e Fry H ouse m em bership a t large. A t the second of these m eetings (the "steering com m ittee m eeting"), Local C staff asked the Fry H ouse stew ard s to develop an initial set of contract dem ands - based on the inform ation they h ad gathered from the w orkshops an d survey sheets - an d to elect a bargaining com m ittee to be m ade up of four of th eir peers. From this p o in t on, the contract negotiation process p ro p er began, and the bargaining com m ittee took over prim ary responsibility for representing the general Fry H ouse

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m em bership. The bargaining com m ittee, how ever, co n tin u ed to use the inform al stew ard-based, in-store w orkshop system th a t th e local h a d just created as a w ay of m aintaining tw o-w ay com m unication w ith o th er Fry H ouse w orkers. Local C 's early m em bership m obilization efforts p a id off th ro u g h o u t the 1998 contract negotiation process. O nce again, th e local w as pushed by em ployer intransigence to take a strike au th o rizatio n v o te - and th e local again received overw helm ing su p p o rt from Fry H ouse w orkers to call a strike should the need arise. Once again, the Fry H ouse ow ners attem pted to bypass the local’s bargaining com m ittee by forcing a d irect m em bership vo te o n its contract offer th at the bargaining com m ittee h ad already rejected. This tim e, the Fry H ouse ow ners offered th eir G lenw ood em ployees an eight hundred dollar signing bonus if they w ould accept its contract proposal. U nlike in 1995, how ever, G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkers in 1998 rejected th eir em ployer's supposed "final contract offer” and signing b o n u s bribe. The Fry H ouse contract negotiations th en w ent into provincial lab o u r b o ard m ediation, and the m em bership ended u p voting to accept a m ediator (and bargaining com m ittee) recom m ended contract th at h ad none of th e forty o d d concessions initially dem anded by their em ployer, an d th a t had k ep t m any of the union's original dem ands (albeit a t reduced levels) th a t had first been form ulated a t the local's Fry H ouse steering com m ittee m eeting several m onths previously. Local C 's m obilization of its Fry H ouse activists a n d m em bers w as a clear success w ithin the context of its 1998 contract negotiations. N o t only did the negotiation process lead to the securing of a strong th ree year bargaining agreem ent - an agreem ent th a t Local C union staff say is, fo r the first tim e ever, stronger than the agreem ent now in place in T he O ld B allpark

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restau ran t chain - b u t th e process itself offered young Fry H ouse activists and m em bers w h at w ere potentially pow erful learning experiences. B argaining com m ittee m em bers (one of w hom w as u n d er tw enty-five) w ere active an d present at every step of the negotiation process. Y oung Fry H ouse stew ards an d activists, too, w ere centrally involved in b o th th e local's p rep aratio ns for negotiations, and in m obilizing and educating th eir co-w orkers during the contract negotiations.18 As for young Fry H ouse w orkers as a w hole, they w ere asked to participate in stew ard ru n w orkshops, to fill in open-ended un ion surveys, an d to cast th eir votes o n three separate occasions d u rin g th e negotiations (on strike authorization, on the em ployer's contract offer, and on th e final labor board m ediator suggested contract). As Local C staff pointed o u t to m e, the larger significance of this voting experience is th at Fry H ouse w orkers w ere able to see: (1) th at th eir em ployer's "final contract offer" w as n o t necessarily the final contract that they could get th eir em ployer to offer them ; and (2) th at they could approve a strike vote, reject a "final co ntract offer," and secure a preferred contract w itho u t actually having to go on strike. Local C 's m obilization of Fry H ouse stew ards, activists an d m em bers during its 1998 contract negotiations m ay help lead to fu tu re im provem ents in reducing u n io n individualism an d m em ber w orkplace isolation in the G lenwood Fry H ouses. A t the very least, it seem s likely th at the u n it's first real m ass m em ber m obilization w ill have increased young G lenw ood Fry H ouse w orkers' fam iliarity w ith th eir union (in p articu lar) and w ith unionism (in general). Increased u n io n fam iliarity cou ld lead to m ore young w orkers becom ing stew ards o r activists in th e u n io n - as p a st history in die u n it suggests th a t successful union in terventions o ften lead to increased m em ber activism . W hether o r n o t th e 1998 co n tract negotiations w ill have a

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m arked an d lasting im pact o n reducing u n io n in d iv id u alism an d m em ber isolation in die Fry H ouse bargaining un it, how ever, d ep en d s in large p a rt on the fu tu re actions o f Local C union staff. F or it rem ains to be seen w hether the local's staff, having w itnessed the benefits of increased m em ber involvem ent fo r contract negotiations, w ill keep w orking to increase the op p ortun ities for collective learning an d activism am ong young Fry H ouse w orkers du rin g non-contract years - w hether, in o th e r w ords, Local C staff w ill m ake a m ove tow ard fostering the sense a n d practice of union collectivism an d solidarity am ong young w orkers th at, I argue, is essential for any un io n in N o rth A m erica th at w ants to have m axim um im pact on im proving the w ork experiences of young, sto p g ap w orkers in th e continent's low end service sector.

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Chapter Eight

Handling Time: Union Strategies and Worker Tactics July 4th is a time for picnics and family - but not for retailers, who are not so privileged.... D O N O T ASK FOR CRITICAL TIME OFF DURING THE JULY 4TH WEEKEND. THE NEEDS OF THE STORE COME FIRST. - notice posted in staffroom of a

Box Hill supermarket

There's no respect there.... IGood GrocersJ always comes first, everything else is secondary. They make people come in {to work1 even when they're really sick.... They don't respect the family lives or the needs of their workers.

- 24 year old produce clerk, Box H ill

It is an old saw in N orth A m erica th at p aid w ork in the form al econom y instills in the young w orker a n ap preciation of and respect for tim e. "W ork," as the sociologist W illiam Julius W ilson (1996: 73) w rites grandly: is not sim ply a w ay to m ake a living.... It also constitutes a fram ew ork for daily behavior and p attern s of interaction because it im poses disciplines and regularities.... R egular em ploym ent prov id es the anchor for the spatial and tem poral aspects of daily life.... In the absence of regular em ploym ent, life ... becom es less coherent. W orking d u rin g one's adolescence in low level food service and retail jobs, m any com m entators argue, can help y oung N o rth A m ericans "learn those skills th at w e [em ployed adults] take fo r g ran ted. You learn w hat it m eans to w ork, to get u p in the m orning, to be on tim e, to p lan yo u r day an d plan y o u r activities" (W illis, quoted in W idalvsky 1989: 37). W hile w ork in the M cD onald's of this w orld, these com m entators say, m ay be poorly p aid a n d

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even dem eaning a t tim es for youths, this w o rk experience can be instrum ental in reinforcing in the young w orker a strong w ork ethic - a critical p art of w hich is the young w orker's com ing to u n d erstan d the im portance of tim e discipline.1 But such conventional notions of th e significance o f tim e in yo u th w ork experience represent, a t best, a highly apolitical and unidim ensional portrayal of th e n atu re of tim e m anagem ent in the typical y o u th w orkplace. For tim e in the fastfood restau rant and grocery o u tlet is no t sim ply given a (norm ative o r proper) o rd er an d regularity by em ployers th a t is th en passively learned or acquired by young w orkers. Time, rath er, in these and o th er such w orkplaces is m ore often a battleground: a site of constant struggle betw een w orkers and em ployers as each group seeks to p u rsu e w h at are som etim es overlapping b u t m ore o ften conflicting sets of interests. Tim e in the service and retail w orkplace is valued as both resource and rew ard; a n d em ployers and w orkers alike continually seek to gain control over how tim e is to be used as a resource at w ork and how it may be dispensed as rew ard for w ork. Indeed, for young service an d retail w orkers in contem porary N orth A m erica, the handling of tim e is, perhaps, one of their m ost critical w orkplace issues. H ours, scheduling, breaks, sick tim e, holiday tim e, vacation tim e, overtim e and off the clock w ork (w orking for free for one's em ployer) are a t the h eart of som e of the m ost pressing concerns and com plaints of young (and old) w orkers in grocery and fastfood in Box H ill and G lenw ood, as elsew here across the continent. Tim e in th e low end service and retail w orkplace, w hen subject to the u nco n strained w him s of service an d retail em ployers, is often far from "regular" o r "disciplined." H ours, schedules, breaks an d overtim e in such in d u stries all continually th reaten to fluctuate

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w ildly, an d to introduce disorder and instability into the life of the in d iv id u al service an d retail w orker. It m ay w ell be true, as so m any com m entators have argued, th at w ork experience helps young w orkers learn to respect tim e - th eir em ployers' tim e especially. B ut it is also all too often the case th a t w ork experience in the form al econom y teaches young w orkers th at th eir em ployers can and regularly w ill fail to respect (as th e young p ro du ce clerk quoted in one of the tw o epigaphs to th is ch apter com plains) e m p lo y e e s' tim e - th at is, em ployees' personal, fam ily, w ork and (in the case of w orking students) school tim e. In this chapter, I continue m y discussion from the tw o previous chapters of how unionization shapes the w ork experiences of young grocery an d fastfood w orkers in Box H ill an d G lenw ood by focusing on the im pact (or lack thereof) th at unionization has h ad on tw o of th e m ost im p o rtan t tim erelated w orkplace issues in these tw o sites: scheduling and off th e clock w ork. My purpose in discussing these tw o issues is threefold. First, I seek to show th at tim e m anagem ent in the contem porary youth w orkplace is a site of conflict an d concern for young stopgap w orkers: it is n o t sim ply a "skill” taught to young w orkers by their em ployers. Second, in considering the problem of w ork scheduling in Box H ill an d G lenw ood, I highlight im p o rtan t differences in the ways Local 7 and Local C have sought to im prove the scheduling of w ork for their young m em bers. W hile b o th u n ions have secured som e protection for their m em bers against the w orst vagaries of scheduling th at appear in non-union service w orkplaces, Local C has gone m uch fu rth er in this area than has Local 7. Thus, as in the tw o previous chapters, I em phasize the im portance to young stopgap w orkers o f differences in union institutions and strategies. T hough it m ay ap p ear to be only stating the obvious, it is nevertheless im p o rtan t to p o in t o u t - in a co ntin ent in

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w hich m ost are not accustom ed to thinking of unions w hen th ey ad d ress the problem s of youth w ork - th at unions are neither all equal n o r all alike. Finally, in considering the phenom enon of off the d o c k w o rk in Box H ill and G lenw ood, I explore som e of the problem s th a t arise o u t of th e gaps th a t exist in these tw o sites betw een union in stitu tio n s an d strategies, on the one hand, and youth w orkplace cultures - and th eir associated w orksite tactics - on the other.2 W hen young grocery and fastfood w orkers in Box H ill and G lenw ood w ork off the dock, they are either "choosing" (often in the context o f stressful w ork situations) to provide free labor to th eir em ployers, defining them selves as having no choice b u t to provide free labor to th eir em ployers, o r defining th eir actions as constituting som ething o th er th an the provision of free labor to their em ployers. U nion officials in b o th Local 7 an d Local C adam antly oppose the practice of off the d o ck w ork - w hich, in any event, is illegal in both C anada an d the US - an d define the practice of w orking for one's em ployer for free as being shortsighted and even selfish o r anti-union. A nalysing this discrepancy betw een young service an d retail w orkers an d the union offidals w ho rep resen t them helps b o th to explain (in p art) w hy the problem of off the d o ck w ork is so w idespread in Box H ill an d G lenw ood, and to show in greater d etail som ething of the character of th e m ore general disjunction betw een u nio n offidaldom and y ou th w orkplace cu ltu re in Box H ill and G lenw ood th at has been m entioned in the tw o previo u s chapters.

Scheduling Scheduling ... is the number one issue in service sector hospitality (collective bargaining] agreements. That’s the key for service sector workers: the ability to manage their lives, the hottrs that they're scheduled.... Knowing that a schedule

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is posted and that shifts won't change without your agreement; none of this stuff where you arrive at work and are told that they've cancelled your shift tonight because they're a bit slow. - staff leader of a Canadian

service sector union

In h er ethnography of a M cD onald's re s ta u ra n t R obin L eidner (1993: 62-64) describes som e of the scheduling insecurities th at the M cD onald's w orkers she stu d ied frequently confronted. W orkers in the restau ran t w ere n o t able to count o n having a regular num ber of w ork h o u rs from w eek to week. Instead, store m anagem ent retained full control over th e w eekly dispensation of labor hours so th a t (1) they could enjoy com plete flexibility in scheduling according to the needs and optim um convenience of the restaurant; and (2) they could have an ad d ed m easure of leverage over their em ployees in being able to freely grant an d take aw ay their w eekly w ork hours. W orkers w ere expected to com pete w ith one an o th er fo r labo r hours and to prove them selves w orthy (in th eir m anagers' eyes) of th e h o u rs of w orktim e they desired "through conscientious job perform ance" (p. 62). M anagers regularly cut back individual w orkers' ho urs to show their displeasure w ith w orkers' perform ance an d attitu d es, an d o ften g o t rid of w orkers they d id n 't like th ro u gh decreasing the h o u rs these w o rk ers w ere scheduled to w ork "until they g o t the m essage" (p. 62). W orkers, of course, had little if any outside recourse to challenge th eir m anagers' scheduling decisions. W eekly shifts as w ell as hours w ere often unp redictab le fo r these M cDonald's w orkers. In the fastfood in d u stry as a w hole, ho u rly em ployees, although alm ost universally classified as p a rt tim ers, are generally expected by their em ployers to have full tim e w ork availability - again, so th a t store m anagers can enjoy m axim um flexibility in scheduling w orkers fo r a variety

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of different shifts from one w eek to the next (see also Reiter 1993: 88-%). Leidner points out that in the M cDonald's restaurant she studied, even w hen workers placed restrictions on their w ork availability, they w ere not guaranteed stability in scheduling. Store m anagem ent frequently scheduled workers at times w hen they had said they w ere not available to work. "Once on the schedule," L eidner writes, w orkers "were held responsible for finding a replacement" (p.64; see also Garson 1988: 32-33). Business in food service and retail establishm ents tends to come in waves and lulls. While some of these waves a n d lulls are fairly predictable lunch rushes, food stam p distribution at the beginning of the m onth, Christmas shopping and so on - others are m ore dep en d en t on the vagaries of the w eather a n d the like. In Leidner's M cDonald's, restau ran t m anagers adopted a series of scheduling practices to m ake their em ployees b ear m uch of the cost of such business uncertainty : O n the w ork schedule, posted one w eek in advance, a line for each crew person show ed the hours she or he w as scheduled to work. A solid line indicated hours the em ployee could count on w orking, and a zigzag line m arked an additional ho u r or so. If the store w as busy w hen a worker's guaranteed hours were finished, she or he w ould be required to w ork that extra time; if it w as not busy, she or he w ould be asked to leave. In addition, it w as quite com m on at unexpectedly quiet times for m anagers to tell w orkers they could leave before their scheduled hours w ere com pleted or even to pressure them to leave w hen they w ould rather have kept on w orking. I heard one m anager say, 'Come on, can't I m ake a profit today?,’ w hen a crew m em ber resisted being sent hom e fifteen m inutes early. Conversely, w hen the store w as busy, m anagers w ere reluctant to let w orkers go w hen their scheduled hours, including the optional time, w ere done. (p. 63) As L eidner notes, the uncertain schedules th at follow ed from these kinds of tim e m anagem ent practices a t M cDonald's m ad e it difficult for w orkers to p lan around their w ork time: "Arrangem ents for transportation, social activities, child care, and so o n could be disru p ted by unexpected changes in

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the schedule" (p. 64). Schedules that changed from w eek to w eek m ade it difficult in the first place, to plan other non-w ork activities w ith m ore than a few days' notice (see also Reiter 1993: 96). W ith uncertain hours, w orkers could not easily predict how m uch m oney they w ould earn each week, making it difficult for them to plan o u t budgets. Leidner's description of M cDonaldland scheduling insecurities provides a useful baseline portrait of the kinds of scheduling problem s that are frequently endured by young stopgap w orkers w orking in the contem porary non-union food service and retail industries in N orth America. In addition to the concerns raised by L eidner - w orkers not having a say in their weekly shifts o r hours, o r in the stability and predictability of their weekly schedules - other w idespread scheduling concerns involve scheduling overloads - workers being required to w ork excessive num bers of hours in a day or days in a week - and, conversely, scheduling "underloads" - w orkers not getting enough weekly hours, or workers being asked to w ork such m inuscule shifts that it becomes hardly w orth their w hile to m ake the trip from hom e to w ork and back. In the following pages, 1 consider the im pact that unionization can have on such scheduling problem s by presenting the scheduling experiences of the young unionized grocery and fastfood workers of Box Hill and Glenwood. In both Box Hill and Glenw ood, unionization has brought increased protection for young w orkers against scheduling insecurities: b u t only in the Glenwood Fry H ouses has unionization h ad a m arked im pact in largely elim inating scheduling insecurities as m ajor workplace problem for the bulk of young (and old) un io n m em bers. The reasons for this varying significance of unionization in Box Hill and Glenwood are found prim arily in the details of w h a t are som etim es arcane

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sounding b u t nonetheless critical scheduling language provisions of the Local 7 an d Local C union contracts.

The m ost critical scheduling protection th at unionization has b ro u g h t young grocery workers in Box H ill is to provide these workers w ith som e say in the am ount of w orktim e they are scheduled from w eek to w eek th rough granting them seniority rights to labor hours. Unlike in Leidner's McDonald's, grocery m anagers in Box H ill cannot easily play favorites w ith their employees or get rid of em ployees they - for one reason or another * have come to dislike through their w eekly dispensation of w ork hours. Individual workers in Box Hill superm arkets are not guaranteed a specific num ber of weekly labor hours. But they are assured that, to the degree that they w ish to maximize their weekly worktim e, their m anagers cannot arbitrarily reduce their scheduled w orktim e by giving m ore hours to junior than to senior employees w ithin any given job classification. The longer a young grocery worker in Box Hill stays at his o r her job, the m ore secure his o r h er claims become, all else being equal, on having the m axim um num ber of w ork hours - up to the full time w ork load of a forty hour w eek - he or she desires w eek in and week out. U nionization has also brought grocery w orkers in Box Hill som e protection against last m inute changes to their w ork schedules. By contract, an employee's w ork schedule, once posted, can only be changed by store m anagem ent if that em ployee has been given forty eight hours' notice (in Leidner's non-union McDonald's, o n the o th er hand, store m anagers could legally change a posted w ork schedule w henever an d how ever they w anted to). If a w orker voluntarily agrees, o n the day of his o r her shift, to com e in early or stay late, then that w orker is entitled to a n unscheduled overtim e

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"bonus" - to a w age prem ium (of thirty five cents p e r hour) o n top of his o r h er regular pay. Schedule overloading an d underloading, too, are, to som e degree, protected against by the Local 7 union contract. A general system of wage prem ium s provides both a disincentive to Box H ill grocery em ployers from asking employees to w ork excessively long hours, and a rew ard to em ployees w ho are, nevertheless, requested by their em ployers to w ork such long hours. O vertim e w ork in Box Hill in excess of eight hours p er day m ust be paid at time and a half.3 W orkers w ho are asked to w ork six days in a w eek m ust be paid tim e and a half for w ork on the day the least num ber of hours are w orked. A nd w orkers w ho have had less th an ten hours betw een scheduled shifts (for example, a closing shift th at ends at m idnight follow ed by an opening shift the next m orning th at starts a t seven) m ust be p aid tim e and a half for any hours w orked prior to the expiration of the ten ho u r period. While grocery w orkers in Box Hill do n o t have a m inim um n um ber of w eekly hours, they are contractually guaranteed that their daily w ork shifts m ust each be at least four hours long - w ith the exception, that is, of stackers, who can have as short a shift as tw o hours, and baggers, w ho have no m inim um shift length protection at all. Finally, in a relic of Local 7's struggles in decades long p ast to preserve a standard six day w ork w eek and eight to six w ork day in the local grocery industry, grocery workers in Box Hill w ho are asked by their em ployers to work irregular hours are contractually granted a further series of w age prem ium s: tw enty cents an h o u r extra for evening work; fifty cents a n h o u r extra for night work; and tim e and a half for Sunday work. Today, these prem ium s act m ore as w age supplem ents th an as disincentives to Box Hill grocery em ployers asking em ployees to w ork irregular h ours (ironically, the

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tim e and a half Sunday w age, negotiated originally so that Box H ill grocery w orkers w ould n o t have to w ork often o n Sundays, now m akes Sunday w ork a highly sought after shift in Box Hill). Local 7's irregular h o u r prem ium s are relevant to the current discussion prim arily for the w ay they "interfere" w ith the local's scheduling overload prem ium s - as will b e explained m om entarily.

Despite the various scheduling protections in Local 7's grocery contract that have just been described, scheduling instability, u nderloading and overloading rem ain issues of great concern to young grocery w orkers in Box Hill. Indeed, the scheduling problem s faced by these w orkers are not at all dissim ilar to those described by L eidner for non-unionized M cD onald's employees. Why should this be so? There are, to begin w ith, a num ber of minor, although b y no m eans insubstantial lim itations to Local 7's contract scheduling language. M any young grocery workers in Box Hill, as noted previously, are explicitly excluded from some contract scheduling protections. Baggers a n d stockers are n ot only denied the four h o u r m inim um shift requirem ent, they are also specifically n o t entitled to the unscheduled overtim e prem ium s th at all other grocery workers can receive w hen asked to come in early or stay late after the en d of their shifts. Baggers and stockers thus have lim ited protection against schedule underloading an d last m inute schedule changes. W age prem ium s for long hours are lim ited in their effectiveness for all Box Hill grocery w orkers as disincentives against scheduling overloads in that Local 7's contract stipulates th at prem ium s cannot be "pyram ided" - a w orker can only receive one of the various prem ium s to w hich he o r she m ay be entitled a t a time. Thus Box Hill grocery em ployers can (and often do)

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schedule workers to w ork late into a Saturday night an d then sta rt w ork again first thing Sunday m orning: since em ployers have to pay the Sunday w ork prem ium anyway, the 'less th an ten hours betw een shifts" prem ium does not apply.4 Likewise, em ployers can (and often do) schedule w orkers w ithout penalty for six days of w ork from Tuesday through Sunday - since, once again, the Sunday prem ium cancels o u t the sixth day prem ium . Because, furtherm ore, Local 7’s contract says nothing about the relation of one w eek's schedule to the next, grocery em ployers in Box Hill can (and again, often do) schedule workers for eight, nine, o r even ten o r eleven days straight across a tw o week period w ithout a day off and still not have to p ay w orkers anything extra for such w ork overloads.5 But beyond these and other such m inor lim itations,6 Local 7's contractual protection against scheduling insecurities in the grocery workplace has tw o fundam ental flaws. First, grocery workers in Box Hill have no seniority rights whatsoever to working on specific shifts or days. Managers can schedule workers for any day of the week and any tim e of the day they wish. Young grocery w orkers in Box Hill thus com plain frequently that their schedules are "all over the place” - that the shifts they w ork from one week to the next can change over completely. Since w ork schedules only have to be posted by m anagers on the Thursday evening for the w ork week that starts the following Sunday (a lead time of just tw o full days), w orkers have little advance notice of the hours they are scheduled to w ork each week. As w ith Leidner's M acDonald's workers, Box Hill grocery w orkers com plain that such scheduling vagaries m ake it difficult for them to p lan the rest of their lives around their w ork time. Grocery w orkers in Box Hill can gain som e control over th e shifts they m ay be asked to w ork each w eek by placing restrictions o n their w ork

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availability. H igh school and college students w orking in the Box Hill superm arkets, of course, m ust block off time from w ork for the periods during w hich they need to be in classes. But restricting one's w ork availability is problem atic in Box Hill. Grocery w orkers are usually required to state their w ork availability prior to being hired: if they place too m any restrictions on their availability, they may n o t be offered a job; while if they place too few, they m ay be offered a job, b u t end u p having to w ork hours that are disruptive to their non-w ork lives. As w ith Leidner's M acDonald's w orkers, som e young grocery workers in Box H ill find that, in any event, their em ployers often schedule them outside of their stated w ork availability. Grocery em ployers in Box Hill, workers say, are particularly intolerant of having to schedule aro u n d a worker's second job (even though w orkers often are fo rced to take on a second job because their grocery em ployers w on't give them enough w ork hours in the first place). W orking students, m eanw hile, also say that their grocery em ployers are sometimes careless in scheduling them for w ork at times w hen they should still be at school. One bakery clerk and comm unity college student I spoke to ended u p quitting her grocery job over this issue: I w as like, you know w hat, I can see that they are n o t going to give me any help w ith dealing w ith hom ew ork and school and stuff.... The week before last, they gave m e a shift from 2 to 9 on a school day. Well, my last d ass lets out at 2, ok, I w ould have h a d to skip m y d ass in order to get to w ork on time.... They knew that and they d id n 't care. I missed [came in late to] work that day. I'm sorry, I do not, if you give in once and skip d a ss and go to work, they'll d o it again, and they'll do it again and they'll d o it again. You cannot give into that. Since Local 7's grocery contract provides no punitive m easures for employers w ho schedule w orkers outside of their stated availibility, there is really little disincentive from the union for em ployers n o t to try p u sh in g the scheduling limits of their employees. 344

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The real problem , however, w ith restricting one's w ork availability in Box Hill is created by the second fundam ental flaw in Local 7 contract scheduling language. According to the Local 7 contract, grocery w orkers in Box Hill have seniority rights to weekly w ork h o u rs provided that they are available to w ork the particular shifts th at their em ployers ask them to work. This "availability clause" is taken by som e grocery em ployers in Box Hill to m ean that if a n em ployee has any restrictions o n his o r h er w ork availability w hatsoever, then that em ployee forfeits all of his o r h er seniority rights to w orktim e - even w hen it w ould be perfectly feasible for a m anager to schedule that em ployee for full time or m axim ized h ours w ithin the constraints of his or her lim ited w ork availability, a n d w hile taking into account the various scheduling needs, dem ands and rights of th at employee's other departm ental co-workers.7 Grocery w orkers in Box Hill can thus find them selves in a Catch 22 situation. While they m ay desire m ore stability in their w ork schedules, m any w orkers deliberately do n't block any of their w ork availability for fear of losing seniority rights to weekly labor hours. Grocery w orkers, m eanwhile, w ho have had to place restrictions on their w ork availability - students or workers w ith a second job - m ay effectively be denied their seniority rights to weekly w ork hours. Thus, despite having a union contract w ith an array of ostensible scheduling protections, some young grocery w orkers in Box Hill may find them selves to be little better off - in term s of their scheduling stability, a t least - them w orkers in non-union food service an d retail establishm ents.8 The weaknesses in Local 7 contract scheduling language d o m uch m ore than just affect the stability of grocery w orkers' schedules in Box Hill: they also help to shape social and political relations betw een w orkers an d

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m anagers w ithin Box Hill superm arkets. M any young Box Hill grocery w orkers say th at they - and their older co-w orkers - often hesitate to challenge their m anagers, or to call their union for assistance w ith w orkplace problem s, because they fear their m anagers will retaliate by "using the schedule" to punish them. Local 7 contract language prevents grocery m anagers in Box Hill from arbitrarily reducing the hours of w orkers w ho have som e seniority in their departm ents (although, as w as seen above, this is, in som e cases, contingent u p o n w orkers not having any restrictions on their w ork availability). But m anagers in Box Hill d o have the discretion to arbitrarily assign disliked em ployees "bad shifts" - w here w h at counts as a b ad shift, of course, will to some degree vary according to each individual employee. Free m anagerial shift scheduling discretion, in fact, enables Box Hill grocery m anagers - like their counterparts in the M cDonald's restaurant studied by Leidner - to regularly play favorites w ith their staff by rew arding preferred employees w ith optim al weekly shifts a n d schedules. A nd, as in Leidner's M cDonald's restaurant, m anagerial freedom in the scheduling of shifts frequently leads to workplace situations in w hich young grocery w orkers find them selves having to com pete w ith one another to get the shifts they desire. "You have to suck u p to the m anager," a young bagger in Box Hill explained to me quite m atter of factly, "to avoid getting stuck w ith crappy hours." O ver the long run, such scheduling insecurities and resultant in­ store w orker-w orker com petition can be d raining for Box Hill grocery w orkers. 'T m sick of the politics of the schedule," a young checker w ith six years' w ork experience com plained to m e, as she explained one of the prim ary reasons w hy she w ould never consider a career in the grocery industry: "I just can't stand having to be 'Angel of the Week' all the tim e so you can get rew arded w ith the best schedule."9

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If scheduling issues, then, in the unionized Box H ill superm arkets an d in Leidner's (non-union) M cDonald's restaurant contrast only by a m atter of degrees, scheduling in the unionized G lenw ood Fry H ouses has been lifted into another realm altogether. For unionized Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood d o not, for the m ost part, speak of scheduling insecurities as being one of their major workplace problem s. U nionization has bro u g h t young stopgap workers in Glenwood a m easure of scheduling stability th at it has not m anaged to secure in Box Hill. The critical difference betw een Local 7 a n d Local C contract scheduling protection is that Local C has secured for its Fry H ouse m em bers constraints on Fry H ouse m anagem ent's discretion in the weekly scheduling of shifts. As w ith young grocery w orkers in Box Hill, young Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenwood have seniority rights to the num ber of weekly h ours they are allotted. But they also have seniority rights to be assigned their preferred (they choose, typically, betw een day o r night) w ork shifts each week. Thus not only is there no "availability" loophole in Local C’s contract language on seniority rights to w ork hours; b u t Fry H ouse w orkers can often stabilize their weekly w ork schedules w ithout having to place special restrictions on their w ork availability - thanks to their seniority rights to shifts. Local C's contract, m oreover, goes further th an just establishing the principle o f shift preference by seniority: it also provides senior Fry H ouse w orkers w ith "set shifts." W hen a Fry House w orker has been w orking a specific shift - say, for example, the Tuesday night closing cashier shift - for a period of six consecutive m onths, then that shift becom es a contractually protected "set shift" th at cannot be arbitrarily taken aw ay from th at w orker by Fry H ouse m anagers.10

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The workplace consequences of Local C's strong contract scheduling language are dram atic - the "politics of the schedule" th at dom inate w orkplace social environm ents in som e Box H ill superm arkets a re largely absent from the Glenwood Fry Houses. Unlike in Box Hill, one rarely hears young Fry House w orkers in G lenw ood com plain of m anagers "using the schedule" to punish w orkers to w hom m anagers have taken a disliking, and one rarely hears of scheduling "favoritism." Fry H ouse w orkers w ith a year o r m ore seniority tend to have fairly regular schedules - w ith only the particular days off they have each w eek changing around - and w orkers w ith tw o years or m ore seniority often have m ostly set schedules, in w hich they generally w ork the same shifts and sam e days from w eek to week. Unlike grocery workers in Box Hill w ith com parable levels of seniority, one rarely hears these more senior Fry H ouse w orkers com plain of scheduling instability, or of the attendant problem s - so commonly experienced by N o rth A m erican food service and retail w orkers - of not being able to p lan the rest of their lives around their worktim e. Shift preference by seniority is, by far and away, the cornerstone of Local C's Fry House contract scheduling protections.11 But there are other scheduling protections th at the local has negotiated into its collective bargaining agreem ent that also have a m arked im pact on the w ork lives of its Fry H ouse m embership. M any are quite sim ilar to the various scheduling protections found in the Local 7 contract in Box Hill that have been described earlier.12 One other area, though, in w hich Local C has pushed m uch further than Local 7 is in protecting its Fry H ouse m em bers from being required to w ork long, unbroken series of shifts w ithout days off in betw een. Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood cannot be forced by their em ployers to w ork m ore th an five days (total) in a single w ork week, nor can they be m ade to w ork m ore

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than seven days consecutively over tw o w ork weeks. Should a Fry H ouse w orker voluntarily choose to w ork such extra shifts in a one w eek or tw o w eek w ork period, then he or she m ust be paid a t an overtim e rate of double his o r her regular pay. N eedless to say, at these w age rates, the "business requirem ents" that em ployers in other food service an d retail establishm ents sometimes d a im force them to schedule their em ployees extended series of shifts w ithout days off som ehow d o not seem to crop u p quite as often in the Glenwood Fry H ouses.13 Scheduling insecurities have not disappeared com pletely from the lives of young Fry H ouse w orkers in Glenwood. Two problem s, in particular, rem ain w ith Local C's scheduling protections - one of w hich is external to, and one of w hich is integral to the set of strategies the local has adopted for achieving scheduling security for its Fry H ouse m em bers. The first problem in scheduling issues - one faced by all young Fry H ouse w orkers - is the problem of new m anagers. M anagerial turnover rates in the G lenw ood Fry Houses, as has been noted previously, are high - w ith an average of a new store m anager starting every six m onths. Incom ing m anagers often have no prior experience m anaging in a unionized restaurant, a n d the Fry H ouse head office does not seem to go out of its way to prepare its m anagers for the differences that come w ith m anaging in a unionized as opposed to a nonunionized Fry H ouse restaurant. Glenwood Fry H ouse w orkers th u s face regular and periodic struggles in getting new m anagers to schedule according to Local C contract requirem ents. The second problem w ith scheduling security in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses is a m uch deeper one. Since Local C uses w orker seniority as its guiding principle in achieving greater scheduling security for its Fry H ouse members, the m ost junior Fry H ouse w orkers still often fin d them selves

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unable to w ork the num ber of hours they w ould like each w eek, and unable to count on a stable weekly schedule. W orkers w ho have only recently started w orking for Fry H ouse in G lenw ood can find them selves w orking on w hat is essentially an "on call" basis, in w hich they are assigned w hichever shifts happen to b e left over once m ore senior w orkers have b een given the shifts to w hich they are entitled (the type and num ber of 'le ft over" shifts each w eek varies according to predicted business dem and a n d w hether or n ot senior workers have asked for extra tim e off). As w ith L eidner's non-union M cDonald's w orkers, these junior Fry H ouse w orkers som etim es confront scheduling insecurities that can make it difficult to plan and b u d g et for their non-w ork lives. As one young Fry H ouse cashier w ith just tw o an d a half m onths' w ork tenure complains: Everybody else [working in the restaurant] gets five days [of w ork each week]. W ith me, I'm just below Allie [in seniority], an d she gets all her hours, and everybody above her gets all their hours, and I g e t w hatever I get.... It's really hard.... I gotta get another job, cause I can't-, I can't just go into work and find out I only got three shifts [this week]. A nd then som ehow I gotta figure out how I'm going to pay my rent, where I'm going to get the m oney from. Indeed, a num ber of the m ore junior Fry H ouse w orkers I interview ed in Glenwood said that they, like the cashier quoted above, had considered looking for either a different o r a second job since they w ere unable to count on being able to support them selves on their irregular Fry H ouse w ork schedules. In considering the problem of scheduling insecurities for new hires in the Glenwood Fry Houses, it is im portant to recognize, first off, the overall accom plishm ent o f Local C's scheduling by seniority language in the context of the N orth A m erican fastfood industry. Scheduling insecurity - as suggested, for example, by Leidner’s McDonald's study - is typically a m ajor

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problem for fastfood w orkers in N o rth Am eria. But in the G lenw ood Fry Houses, scheduling insecurity is no longer a fastfood worker's problem , it is now only a newly hired fastfood w orker's problem . In this light, it is not surprising that, despite the difficulties that they suffer from being at the low end of the seniority totem pole in their individual restaurants, m any new ly started Fry House workers say that they like the idea that as they gain seniority at w ork they will - unlike their counterparts in non-union restaurants - be able to count on ever greater security in th eir weekly hours and shift assignm ents. As one young Fry H ouse cook (w ith tw o m onths' w ork tenure) reflects on the significance of unionism in his w ork life: I can't really see a dow nside to having a union in there.... It's got better w ages for us, benefits, fair workplace, no discrim ination, totally guidelines, o u r green [contract] book's about th at thick.... I'd like to w ork a little bit more, of course. But everybody does, everybody w ants to m ake m ore money. Actually, th at m ight be one dow nside of the union is that, the seniority list. But w hen it comes to that, I totally have respect for people's been w orking there longer than me.... I figure, I'll keep working, and I'll m ake m y fair share eventually. Newly started Fry H ouse workers m ay well find that they are able to get m ore work hours m ore quickly in non-union fastfood restaurants in G lenw ood than they are at Fry House. This is because increased scheduling insecurities in these non-union restaurants often w ork to the advantage of new hires: m anagers there are m ore free to arbitrarily take hours aw ay from m ore senior workers. O ver time, though - as m any of these junior Fry H ouse w orkers recognize - scheduling insecurities in non-union restaurants can quickly come back to h au n t initially favored w orkers as well. But if recognition of the overall value of Local C's scheduling language is im portant, the scheduling concerns of new ly hired Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenwood should by no m eans be dism issed o u t of hand. Instead, these concerns need to be taken as providing b o th opportunity an d reason for 351

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thinking critically about the possible effectiveness of seniority based system s for im proving the scheduling lives of young (and old) w orkers throughout the N orth A m erican food service a n d retail industries. Seniority in union circles is often treated as a sacred cow. But seniority - as is particularly transparent w hen one is concerned w ith the problem of workplace discrim ination against the young - is not, of course, a perfect system for securing workplace social justice (since seniority typically correlates w ith age, workplace systems that favor m ore senior w orkers tend also to favor older workers). Seniority systems, m oreover, can come in a variety of different shapes and colors, so there is m ore than one w ay to base scheduling on w orkers' seniority status. Seniority can be a highly useful concept to w orkers w hen it is taken to be a tool for achieving workplace social justice that can be w orked w ith and adapted; b u t less so w hen it is considered as being beyond the pale of discussion and debate. In Glenwood, the critical issue for m any new ly starting Fry H ouse w orkers - especially those w ho are relying on their jobs to support them selves w ith rent and other major expenses - is w hether the scheduling securities th at arrive w ith seniority will come to them quickly enough, before the p oint at w hich initial scheduling insecurities force them to look for alternative places of em ploym ent. For the moment, em ployee tu rn o v er in m ost G lenw ood Fry H ouse restaurants is high enough that newly started w orkers generally start gaining scheduling seniority rights quite rapidly - typically w ithin a few m onths of their hire date. But w hat if conditions w ere to change, so that the mass of Fry H ouse workers started staying on a t their jobs for extended periods of time? H ow long is it reasonable and fair to expect junior em ployees to tolerate unstable schedules, w hile their m ore senior co-w orkers - som e of w hom m ay only have a few m onths' o r w eeks' seniority o n them -

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can regularly count on scheduling stability in their w ork lives? Should it be a m atter of m onths? Of years? Should there be a set time by w hich a w orker knows he or she will be able to count on increased scheduling security? O r w hat of cases - to take another concern w ith straight scheduling by seniority system s - w here a few senior w orkers perm anently m onopolize the best shifts in a workplace, so that as long as they are still working, their m ore junior colleagues - even though they m ay also have years' w orth of w ork tenure - will never have a chance to w ork these shifts? Should w idely preferred a n d /o r dispreferred shifts be rotated am ong workers of com parable seniority? O r w hat of taking into account differential need am ong employees? A single m other in h er early tw enties w ith young children m ight be said to have greater need to w ork a regular w eekday schedule than does an older w om an in her fifties w hose children have already grow n u p and left hom e - even though that older w om an's w ork seniority m ay give h er first rights to prem ium weekday shifts. Should - and if so, how should differential w orker need be considered in w orkplace scheduling systems? These questions are the kinds of questions that Local C (and other unions), to rem ain com m itted to a n all ages m odel of unionism that benefits young and old, junior and senior w orkers alike, m ay need to start exploring in order to consider possible m odifications and im provem ents to its current scheduling by seniority system. For quite ap art from em ployer created scheduling instabilities (such as the disruptions caused by m anagerial turnover), there is still m uch room in the G lenw ood Fry H ouses for fu rth er im provem ent in the scheduling lives of young (and old) w orkers. These questions, however, are also the kinds of questions, I w ould p oint out finally, that Local C's scheduling by seniority system - by developing a structure in w hich w ork scheduling is based firm ly o n (general) w orker need and interest

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- m akes it possible to focus on seriously in the first place. For w h en these are the kinds of subtleties and complexities th at are the subject of scheduling concerns in a workplace, then w e can know th at w e have com e a long way, indeed, from the wildly insecure tem poral w orld that characterized the M cDonald's restaurant that w as studied by Robin Leidner an d described at the outset of this chapter section.

O ff the Clock Work Question #8: Do you ever start your shift early or roork past your scheduled time without getting paid for it? Answer: Yes.... Question U10: If the answer to question #8 is yes, do you ever stop to think how much money you are owed if you added it up over a week, a month, or a year? Answer: No, nor do 1 want to. I might smack m yself in the head.

- Local C Fry House pre-contract negotiation survey with one member's response

Breaks, hours, these things are already protected in the contract.... You have an absolute right to breaks.... Why is there hesitation to enforce what we already have? This is important to address, because we can have the best contract in the world, but if toe don't get what's in there.... - Local C President, speaking to Fry House

workers at a pre-contract negotiation meeting in which off the dock work had emerged as one of the largest issues in the bargaining unit

In the 1936 Charlie C haplin film, Modern Times, a group of salesm an visit the factory w here Chaplin's little tram p character w orks to try to sell the ow ner o n the virtues of their new "Bellows Feeding Machine." This machine, the salesmen explain to the factory ow ner, "autom atically feeds y o u r m en while at work.... [It] will elim inate the lunch hour, increase your production, and decrease your overhead." "Don't stop for lunch," runs the

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salem en's motto: "Be ahead of y o u r com petitor." The Bellows Feeding Machine, it seems, how ever, is not yet quite u p to snuff. D uring a riotous scene in which Chaplin's little tram p is strapped into the m achine for a trial dem onstration, the m achine goes hayw ire and leaves the astonished C haplin covered in food. The factory ow ner has seen enough a nd rejects the idea of the feeding machine. "It's n o good," he says, "it isn't practical." In the food service a n d retail industries in 1990's N o rth Am erica, employers have come u p w ith a m uch m ore effective w ay - than w h a t w as offered by the m echanistic Bellows Feeding M achine - of p ressuring w orkers to work through their lunch and other rest breaks: they sim ply reduce staffing levels in their w orksites to an absolute bare m inim um so th a t the rem aining w orkers feel p ushed - w hether by custom er d em an d , loyalty to their co-workers, m anagerial instigation, fear for their jobs, or their ow n desire to ease the stress of the rest of their w orking day - to sacrifice their breaks, to jum p up and keep on working, and to grab a bite to eat on the fly as best they can. Off the clock w ork - the term that refers to w orkers m issing breaks as well as workers starting w ork early or w orking late w ithout receiving extra overtim e pay - is one of the m ost com m on com plaints employees m ake against th eir em ployers in N orth Am erica today (N eubom e 1997; Reckard 1997; Tum ulty 1997). US D epartm ent of L abor records show that, in the United States, the tw o biggest industry offenders in off the clock and other wage an d hour violations of the law are restaurants - especially fastfood restaurants - and grocery stores and superm arkets (Tum ulty 1997).14 In Box Hill and Glen w ood, Local 7 and Local C are b o th strongly opposed to the illegal practice of off die clock w ork, and b o th u nions have included m easures in their contracts (beyond the stan d ard grievance procedure) and launched union action initiatives th at specifically ad d ress

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issues having to do w ith off the dock w ork violations. D espite such union stances, m easures and actions, however, off the d o c k w ork has been and continues to be w idespread in the Glenwood Fry H ouses as well as in m any of the Box Hill superm arkets. In the Glenwood Fry Houses, in fact, off the d o ck w ork is endemic. A pre-contract negotiation survey of the Fry H ouse membership conducted by Local C in early 1998 found th at 48% (104 of 215) of workers responding were not always getting their contractually guaranteed work breaks, and 46% (100 of 215) had started w ork shifts early o r w orked late after the end of their shifts w ithout getting paid for doing so. In som e cases, missed breaks and unpaid overtime were fairly sporadic occurrences; b u t in other instances, off the d o ck w ork w as a daily fact of Fry H ouse w o rk life. At the time of my fieldwork, there were Fry H ouse restaurants in G lenw ood w here no w orker ever took any of his or her contractually provided for fifteen m inute breaks at work, or w here the entire restau ran t staff routinely started w ork fifteen o r so m inutes before their scheduled shifts began.15 For union leaders and staff in Box Hill and G lenwood, the prevalence of off the d o ck work in their bargaining units is som ew hat puzzling. It is understandable w hy workers in non-union food service an d retail establishments m ight w ork off the d o ck under em ployer pressure - for these workers often have little im m ediate institutional protection a t hand to support any resistance they m ight make to em ployer dem ands. But surely, w ouldn't union w orkers be able to turn to their union before having to start skipping breaks or w orking unpaid overtime? Union staff in Box Hill and Glenwood sometimes try to explain the phenom enon of off the d o c k w ork in their stores by pointing to worker short-sightedness: w orkers see off the d o ck w ork as the sim plest and easiest way to ease stressful w orkplace situations an d don't recognize that their actions provide only a b an d aid solution that

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can actually m ake these situations worse, as their em ployers com e to regularly expect the free provision of labor. U nion staff in Box H ill also sometimes point to w orker greed and selfishness: w orkers w ork off the d o ck in the (often m istaken) hope that they will g a m e r their m anagers' good favor and earn them selves prom otions; in the process, they "steal" p aid hours of labor from their co-w orkers (and themselves) by freely perform ing w ork that their em ployers w ould otherw ise have had to pay som ebody to do. Short-sightedness and self-interest, indeed, do play som e role in workers in Box Hill an d Glenwood choosing to w ork off the dock. As the quotation at the beginning of this section suggests, for exam ple, m any young fastfood and grocery w orkers agree to w ork an extra ten m inutes here and an extra fifteen m inutes there for their employers w ithout being paid, in p a rt because it seem s petty to them to dem and paym ent for such short am ounts of time; these w orkers d o n 't always give m uch thought to h ow such small increments of time can a d d up w hen they becom e a regular p a rt of their work lives. Relief of workplace stress, too, is a m ajor factor behind off the d o ck w ork - as will be discussed more below. But off the d o c k w ork in Box Hill and Glenwood is a m uch m ore complex phenom enon than is suggested by these kinds of casual explanations. Off the d o ck w ork in Box Hill and Glenwood results from the interaction of three forces: w orkplace conditions that p u t great tem poral pressure on workers; unions th at have lim ited workplace presence and restricted ability to confront structural problem s from w ithin the workplace; and youth workplace cultures th at diverge from preferred union strategies for handling time at w ork. Before entering into a discussion of these three m otivating factors that stand behind off the d o ck work, it may be useful to describe briefly a t the outset the basic param eters of w hat off the d o ck w ork consists of in Box Hill

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an d Glenwood. For this purpose, w e can think of off the d o ck w ork in these sites as having three basic "types:" (1) Missed breaks: Local 7 and Local C contracts provide b o th for p aid rest breaks (fifteen m inutes every four hours) and for unpaid m eal periods (half an h o u r in shifts longer than five hours). There are two potential problem s that can arise over breaks: first, a w orker regularly being denied his or h er breaks; and second, a w orker being p ushed to w ork through a break w ithout receiving extra com pensation. (2) Working late and starting early ( ”unpaid overtime #2"): W orkers in G lenw ood an d Box Hill can w ork for as m uch as an ho u r or m ore of unpaid overtim e before o r after their shifts. More commonly, though, w orkers w ork unpaid overtim e for shorter periods of ten, fifteen, o r tw enty m inutes a t a time. (3) O ff site errands and work on days off ("unpaid overtime #2”): Particularly in the Glenwood Fry Houses, w orkers are often asked to ru n errands for their em ployers - to go to the bank o r to pick u p needed supplies - on their ow n time. W orkers also sometimes come into w ork to help out in a crunch on their days off w ithout docking in. Several Fry H ouses in G lenw ood have held "pizza d ean in g parties" in w hich w orkers are asked to come in o n their days off to d e a n the store in return for pizza b u t no wages.16 The w orksite conditions that foster each of these various types of off the d o ck w ork are created in the first place by the incessant efforts of Box H ill an d Glenwood grocery and fastfood em ployers to maximize their profits through elim inating every last possible m inute of "excess" labor from their production budgets. Employers in both Box Hill an d Glenwood m ake use of com puterized scheduling program s that m ap their business flows over the course of each day, week, m onth and so o n - often in increments as sm all as fifteen m inutes - and that schedule labor hours precisely according to predicted changes in service dem ands. These program s spit out weekly labor

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budgets that set the maxim um num ber of hours a store or departm ent is perm itted to have. W orkers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood often know exactly w hat the labor budget is for their store or departm ent, and know that labor budgets are, as far as m anagem ent is concerned, considered to be set in stone. "That's one of Fry H ouse's majors," a young shift supervisor (w ho like m any supervisors in Glenwood is responsible for draw ing up her store’s weekly schedule) tells me: "Do not go over labor budget, death becomes you. If I don't hit labor budget [for the week] I get in trouble." At the same time, workers know, they are held to task by their managers for making sure they complete all of the w ork for which they are responsible before they leave at the end of their shifts.17 W orkers in Box Hill and G lenw ood point out num erous problem s with tight and rigid labor budgets. For one thing, actual schedules are generally set to be about one shift u n d e r com puter generated labor budgets. This is to accommodate the possibility of employee illness or absenteeism: if a w orker misses a shift that then has to be covered by someone else a t an overtime rate of pay (e.g., at time and a half), then this could push an initially m axim ized schedule ov er the allowed labor budget. A nother problem is caused by "office managers." Labor budgets typically assum e a certain am ount of hours will be w orked on the floor each w eek by managers. But some m anagers "hide out" in their offices (or m ake them selves otherwise unavailable) and thus leave these w ork hours unaccounted for. More fundam entally, w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood criticize their em ployers’ efforts to "scientifically" predict sales and m atch sales to labor hours. Custom er flow frequently runs counter to expectations - and excessively tight labor budgets leave w orkers little extra capacity to be able to handle unexpected customer rushes. Labor hours, in any event, workers say,

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cannot be as closely tied to sales figures as em ployer scheduling form ulas try to m ake them. As a Box Hill deli clerk explains, for example, even on a low sales day, particular patterns in custom er flow o r service dem and can necessitate overtim e work: [Food City has] me on such a tight schedule, especially at night, that if one custom er comes up, they can throw m e com pletely off schedule. T hen I feel like Fm being ru d e to th at person because they're m aking m e u p s e t Especially if they w ant som ething special [like freshly sliced deli meat], if Fve just cleaned the slicer, one person can set me back tw enty minutes.... Ninety percent of the tim e I'm late off because of customers. Every once in a while, w e ll be slow all day, then w hen I get alone [on the evening shift], I get a string of people. I notice that w hen people come in at night, they w ant to take their time.... They think w e have all the tim e in the w orld to w ait o n them . The m anager never closes so he doesn't k n o w ,... no m atter h ow h a rd you try to explain it to him, that it can be one custom er th at sets you behind.... You'd think th at as long as you w ere taking care of a custom er, w ith [Food City’s] em phasis on custom er service-. I think he [the m anager] thinks w e just stand around at night and talk. I w ish I got to stand even for tw o seconds at night, running here, running there. I get so w orn out, w hen I get out, I just sit down, I don't w ant to d o anything. W orkers in both Box Hill and Glenwood com plain th at their em ployers often don't schedule them extra hours (or enough extra hours) to take care of basic prep an d cleaning work, to train new hires, or to perform the new tasks or make the new products that are constantly being a d d e d to their regular w ork loads. Employers in Box Hill and Glenwood use a variety of techniques to turn back their employees' claims on extra (paid) w ork time to finish the tasks for w hich they are responsible. M anagers insist th at labor budgets are sacrosanct and frow n heavily on requests for overtim e. M anagers secure extra u npaid work from their employees by 'Targeting" to send em ployees for their breaks, or by getting irritated and expressing uncertainty w henever em ployees ask them w hen they w ill be able to sit d o w n for their lunch m eals

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or rest periods. Certain tasks - counting o u t cash register floats, for exam ple, at the beginning and end of one's shift - are defined by m anagers as "pre­ work" and "post-work" tasks that em ployees are expected to d o before they clock in and after they clock out. O vertim e in Box Hill and Glenw ood is generally only paid for w hen it has been officially approved by a m a n a g e r m anagers, however, don't alw ays m ake them selves available at the end of a worker's shift to quickly give their ok to w orking overtim e - an d if they are available, they generally kick u p a fuss about having to go over labor budget. Since m any of the com panies in these tw o sites tie m anagerial bonuses to their ability to keep store labor hours on o r u nder budget, m anagers have strong incentive to turn back em ployees' extra paid w ork tim e dem ands. Other, m ore indirect m ethods for resisting claims on ad d ed p a id w ork tim e are also available to Box Hill an d G lenw ood m anagers. E.P. T hom pson (1967), in his classic essay on the developm ent of tim e consciousness in early industrial society, writes of how , before w atches w ere widely ow ned, factory em ployers in the nineteenth century used to m anipulate the clocks at w ork to extract extra labor from their employees. Circumstances, it seems, m ay have changed only slightly over the last century. Some w orkers in Glenw ood talk of there being T ry H ouse Time." Fry H ouse restaurants all have com puters, linked to the Fry House head office, that have centrally set clocks. Fry H ouse com puter time, workers say, is generally slow er - by as m uch as ten m inutes th en m ost peoples' watches. Some w orkers religiously open and close their stores on T ry House Time," arguing that this, after all, is the tim e th ey are paid by. But other workers say that different clocks in their restaurants m ay give times that vary by as m uch as fifteen m inutes, an d that m anagers often seem to have a preference for using the fastest clock to open the store - since

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the first customers tend to start arriving by the fastest d o c k - and the slowest one - which is usually Fry H ouse Time - to shut it down. More significant than 'T ry H ouse Time" is the practice in Box H ill and Glenwood of "editing" w orkers' tim e cards. If a m anager sees that a w orker has punched in o r w ritten in for overtim e that either w asn't offidally approved or that the m anager believes w asn't necessary, the m anager will "edit out" that overtim e claim. Employers argue that editing is required to prevent employees from being able to p a d their weekly labor hours by willfully showing u p early and staying late w ithout due cause. Employees, on the other hand, see the practice as cheating them of pay for w ork they have perform ed for their em ployer’s benefit. As a Fry House cook explains the process: We didn't have to punch in o r out before, now w e have to punch in when we get there. But then they go back and edit it. Say you started at twenty to or quarter to [for a shift that begins at five o n the hour]. They go back and edit it, you d id n 't start until five o'dock. I'm off a t ten after or twenty after [nine], I go back and punch it out.... They go back and edit it, you w ere off at nine, you w eren't off at nine tw enty. So there's forty m inutes, you think you're getting paid for the extra half hour, you don't get paid for it. Even when em ployers offidally approve overtim e, they can subsequently sometimes "forget" to add in the extra pay to a n em ployee's paycheck. Securing proper pay for m issed breaks or unscheduled overtim e, w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood say, can require constant vigilance and pressure on their employers. Payroll "mistakes" can be particularly effective in lim iting labor expenses for employers w ith high school age w orkers - who, in the excitement of having the first paychecks in their lives, say th at they sometimes forget to check carefully the precise accounting details th at go into producing their bi-weekly wage.

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These, then, are som e of the basic o r root w orkplace conditions that foster off the clock w ork in Box Hill and Glenwood. W orkers speak of the intense tem poral pressures th at are created at w ork by their em ployers as placing them in a Catch 22 situation. M anagers kick u p a fuss if w orkers d o n 't finish their assigned tasks by the end of their shifts. M anagers kick u p a fuss if workers ask to w ork overtim e to finish their assigned tasks - or, alternatively, if workers w ork overtime to finish their tasks and then ask to be paid for it. And, well, m anagers say that w orkers shouldn't be w orking off the clock, b u t they don't actually seem to m ind all that m uch if a w orker skips a break (without asking for extra com pensation) or stays late (w ithout asking for or receiving extra pay) to finish his or her work. Both Local 7 and Local C have attem pted to provide their m em bers protection against such pressures to w ork off the clock. In the new m em bers meeting that it runs in Box Hill, Local 7 tries to educate incom ing w orkers about off the clock w ork as a m ajor workplace problem . U nion staff use a chart to show new m em bers how an extra free fifteen m inutes of w ork each day can quickly add up over the weeks, m onths and years to cost individual employees large am ounts of m oney, and also to cost the union jobs th at could have been m ade available to other workers. Local 7 staff urge new hires to resist workplace pressures to w ork off the clock, to insist on punching in for every single m inute that they work, and to contact the union if they have problems resulting from their refusal to w ork for free. In the year before I began m y fieldwork, Local 7's p aren t union actually launched a class action law suit against one of the chain superm arkets in Box Hill that focused specifically on the problem of off the d o c k w o rk and that dem anded back pay for w orkers w ho had been pressured into donating free labor. The law suit charged th at the com pany had knowingly, deliberately and

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systematically pressured its employees into off the d o c k w ork violations of union contract and labor law. Videos that docum ented b o th the problem and the law suit w ere produced by the parent union an d w ere m ailed to all of the chain's employees in Box Hill. W orkers w ho h ad been pressured to w ork off the dock in the past w ere urged to fill in a back pay claim form and join the lawsuit. As of the sum m er of 1999, the outcom e of the law suit was still pending.18 Despite such aggressive m easures, the message Local 7 sends to its young (and old) m em bers about off the dock w ork is a m ixed one. Local 7 has no involvem ent w hatsoever in the off the d o c k d a ss action law suit being ru n by its parent union. The reason? In the early 1990s, Local 7 signed a letter of understanding w ith Box Hill grocery em ployers prom ising never to become involved w ith any d ass action litigation or corporate cam paign against any o f the signatory employers. Young w orkers a t this grocery chain are thus being approached about the topic of off the d o ck w ork through the mail by an institution that is even m ore far rem oved from them than their already distant union local. Local 7 union representatives - whose faces, at least, are som ew hat familiar to young w orkers in this chain - can say nothing to these workers about their partidpating or not in the parent union's lawsuit. Several young workers I spoke to in this chain said they vaguely rem em bered receiving a video about a union law suit, b u t that, while they had worked off the dock, they d id n 't know enough about the law suit to be m oved into filling out the necessary paperw ork to p u t in a daim for backpay. O utside of the d a ss action lawsuit, Local 7's approach to protecting its youngest m em bers against off the d o ck w ork becom es even m ore m urky. Some union staff feel that off the d o c k w ork isn't really th at m uch of a n issue in other chain grocers in Box Hill. If staff do continue to see off the d o ck

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w ork as a live issue, they often feel th at it prim arily affects older, m ore senior grocery workers in Box Hill - in particular, departm ent heads - an d do not w orry too m uch about m onitoring possible abuses of younger, m ore junior w orkers.19 Most problematically, how ever, Local 7 has included a clause in its collective bargaining agreem ent that holds individual em ployees responsible for off the clock work violations, that positions the union as a policem an of such violations, and that threatens em ployees guilty of such violations w ith losing their jobs.20 Local 7 staff occasionally try to ru n "stings" to catch a w orker suspected of w orking off the d o c k in the a c t In such circum stances, it is perhaps not surprising that grocery w orkers in Box H ill w ho m ay have been pressured in the past into w orking off the d o ck do not come running to their union local for advice or assistance. Local C's approach to o ff the d o ck w ork in Glenwood, like that of Local 7 in Box Hill, is also som ething of a m ixed bag. In an attem pt to rem ove any and all ambiguity over how an d w hether "extra" w ork tim e in its Fry H ouse bargaining unit should be com pensated for, Local C has negotiated into its collective bargaining agreem ent a painstaking array of tim e-based language. All m inutes of overtime w orked should be accum ulated over the w ork week, then rounded u p to the nearest quarter hour, and then added to em ployees' tim e sheets. A half hour lunch break that is interrupted by an em ployee being called back to the shopfloor to help his or her co-workers should be recom menced after the point of interruption and continue on for a full and uninterrupted half hour rest. Paid rest breaks and unpaid lunch periods w hich are m issed - as the union recognizes will inevitably h ap p en from tim e to time in the unpredictable food service business - m ust be paid for by the employer. Indeed, Local C's contract provides a n entire chart detailing exactly

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how extra pay for different com binations of m issed breaks o n shifts of various lengths should be calculated. O n the dow n side, though, Local C has no general education program to talk to its new (and old) Fry H ouse m em bers about the problem of off the clock work, and, w ith limited day to day contact betw een union staff a n d workers, it is not always able to m onitor w hether or not its m em bers are being pressured in their individual stores into w orking off th e dock. Indeed, it w as largely via my research presence in Glenwood that Local C staff first became aw are of off the dock w ork as a m ajor problem in the Fry H ouse bargaining unit: they subsequently sent mailings to all of the Fry H ouse restaurants urging workers to d a im for all u n p aid w ork time; they in d u d e d questions on the topic in their pre-contract negotiation survey to gauge the full extent of the problem; and in pre-contract negotiation m eetings held at the beginning of 1998, they talked w ith Fry H ouse stewards about how and w hy w orkers were agreeing to forgo breaks and overtim e pay. "Why," the local president (as quoted in the second epigraph to this chapter section) asked the gathered stewards, "is there hesitation to enforce w hat w e already have [secured in our current contract]?"

Why, indeed, do young w orkers agree to w ork off the dock? For off the d o ck w ork in Box Hill and Glenwood is not solely the effect of em ployer pressures and union workplace absences: it is also m ediated by the workplace cultures in which young w orkers are active and creative p artid p an ts. Two factors are key to recognize in understanding the practice of off the d o c k w ork w ithin y outh fastfood and grocery com m unities. First, off the d o c k w ork varies from worker to worker an d situation to situation: despite its basic roots in em ployer created workplace tem poral pressures, off the d o c k w ork is

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n o t always an d everyw here the same. N o t only are there different types of off the dock w ork (as described above), b u t w orkers vary in their aw areness of w orking off the dock (some w orkers w ork off the d o ck w ithout fully realizing it, while others know exactly w hen they are w orking off the dock) as well as their emotionality and sense of voluntarism in w orking off the d o c k (some w orkers feel distraught over being forced to w ork off the dock, others see it as largely a free choice they make). The second factor to recognize is that youth fastfood an d grocery com m unities them selves generate tem poral values an d practices w hich ten d to blur rigid distinctions in the w orkplace betw een w ork tim e a n d rest time, em ployer time and personal time, paid time and free tim e (see also M arshall 1986 for a similar argum ent). These values and practices are not solely the result of workplace time pressures. But in the context of tight a n d rigid labor budgets, these values and practices can som etim es m ake it difficult for young workers to know w hen they are w orking off the d o c k because they w ant to, an d w hen they are doing so because they are forced to (through being given insuffident w ork tim e by their em ployers). These values and practices also tend to w ork against the m ain strategy th at Local 7 and Local C have both adopted for protecting their m em bers against off the dock w ork. For neither Local C n o r Local 7 really attem pt to w ork in conjunction w ith their young m em bers to tackle and change the basic or root conditions that foster off the clock w ork in their workplace. Instead, b o th locals essentially rely on a strategy that calls for w orkers to respond to these conditions by predsely and rigidly m easuring an d accounting for every single m inute of their w ork time. The problem w ith this strategy, as w ill be seen, is th at the central orientations of yo u th w orkplace cultures in Box Hill

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and Glenwood tend to veer aw ay from such highly bureaucratic form s of time consciousness. One cultural practice th a t can lead som e young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood into off the dock w ork is w orkplace socializing. It is not uncom m on for workers to show u p to their w orksites early so th at they can see their co-workers who are working the earlier shift. Young w orkers sometimes come into their w orksites o n their days off to check in o n w hat's going on w ith their friends a t work. A nd young w orkers m ay stick around w ork after the end of their shifts - possibly to w ait for a friend w ho doesn't get off w ork until a half hour or hour later. In each of these situations, it is easy for the visiting off the dock w orker to pitch in a little, to d o a little w ork - for helping their on the dock friends can, of course, g a m e r a few extra m inutes of chat time. It is also easy, though, in these situations for the visiting off the dock w orker to start taking on w ork tasks that are no t so m uch casually helping o u t his or her co-workers as they are consistently helping o u t his or her employer. A Fry House cashier, for example, articulates ju st this sense of ambiguity: I start early cause it's voluntary, I do n 't m ind. I m ean, you know , the company m ight be getting w ork from me. W hatever, I d o n 't care. It m ight be like ten m inutes.... IH just go stand in the packing area and just like gab to everybody. [I go in early] just to be sodal, b u t I don't usually do any work, I might pack a small fries or som ething.... [I go in to] see how busy it w as, catch u p on the latest gossip, I guess, see w hat [the manager's] done th at day, w hat she hasn't done.... Like I'm on at four o'dock, 111 go in today at three thirty, a n d just sit in the office and read cc-mail [the com pany's daily em ail messages], and just gab to everybody.... I usually set the [store] safe early, cause I have to get out to the bank [to deposit the day's earnings]. I guess that's an issue, I shouldn't be starting the safe until four o'dock.... But sometimes I don't have tim e to do it [open the safe a n d go to the bank at the start of my shift], cause w e get real busy a t four o 'dock, a n d then I have to stay.

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The cashier begins by em phasizing his personal reasons for starting w ork early and by highlighting the contingent n ature of any w ork tasks he perform s off the dock. But it then em erges th at the cashier is also regularly having to come in early to take care of off the shopfloor tasks that are not easily done w hen his shift offidally starts, d u e to a n im m ediate rush of customers. In both Glenwood and Box Hill, it is, in fact, com m on for em ployers to come to expect their em ployees to take care of such "pre-work tasks" - w hich often involve paperw ork of one kind or another - before they d o ck in to their offidal shifts. The value placed on workplace sodalizing is a contributing reason to w hy some young workers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood w ork through or shorten their breaks at work. Breaks are often thought of in the sodological literature on w ork as an im portant tim e for w orker sodalizing (Linder and N ygaard 1998). But in small worksites such as the G lenw ood Fry Houses, the reverse can actually be true. In these worksites, breaks are generally taken one w orker at a time. W orkers can find breaks thus to be isolating and boring: for the so dal action in their workplace is centred o n the shopfloor. The incentive can be strong, then, to stay on the shop floor w hile on one's break. If one is on the shop floor during one's break, one quickly finds th at one's co­ w orkers will have m ore time to chat and sodalize if one helps them in taking care of custom ers as they come in. But if, finally, one's em ployer starts to squeeze the restaurant's labor budget, one m ay start to find th at w orking through or shortening one's breaks starts to becom e a necessity rather than a luxury, and th at the pace of work, even w ith such "extra" help, doesn't ever seem to let up much. Closely overlapping with w orkplace sodalizing as a factor in off the d o ck w ork is the strong com m itm ent m any young w orkers in Box Hill and

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Glenwood have to helping their co-workers out at w ork. W hen Local C surveyed its Fry House m em bership on the topic of off the clock work, helping co-workers out was the num ber one reason w orkers gave for m issing breaks and working unpaid overtime. O ne Fry H ouse shift supervisor I interview ed spent hours doing paperw ork for her restaurant - inventory, ordering, scheduling, and so o n - on h e r ow n tim e a t hom e. W hile she w asn't particularly happy about having to do this, she couldn't bring herself to sit in the office doing her paperw ork while on the d o ck at the restaurant w hen she saw w hat she felt w as an understaffed crew struggling to handle massive custom er flow. Instead, she regularly joined her co-workers on the floor w hen she was at work to help out w ith cooking an d service tasks. W orkers w ho w ork off the dock to help their co-workers m ay seem to be responding directly to workplace tim e pressures. But this practice is culturally m ediated in that workers, in the face of tim e pressure, actively prioritize helping co-workers out over the alternative practices of getting all their breaks or receiving pay for all the overtim e they work. This practice also show s itself to be culturally m ediated in th at w orkers will som etim es shorten their breaks a t w ork to help one another o u t even w h en it is not absolutely necessary. As a Fry House shift supervisor, w ho w orks in a restaurant w here w orkers constantly fail to get their breaks, observes: Missed breaks is a big big big big thing a t o u r store.... We need to start giving ... breaks. I mean, when I'm w orking I should say, 'Ok, go sit dow n for half an hour.' But a lot of them w on't. One custom er com es in the door and they're up, they’re helping m e. A nd I a p p re d ate it, I think it's great, it's good to know that they have that ap p red atio n or respect for m e too, that they w ant to help me. B ut w e have to start enforcing it. But it's hard, it's h ard to say you have to go sit dow n for half an ho u r and forcing the issue. Sometimes they just w on't. To say that w orkers sometimes interrupt breaks to help their co-w orkers o u t w h en they d o n 't really need to do is not, the shift supervisor emphasizes, to 370

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say that off the dock work is entirely a voluntary m atter that em ployers can d o little about. The supervisor lays the original blam e for off the d o c k w o rk in her restaurant on the understaffing th at follows from overly tight labor budgets, an d tells stories of co-w orkers having to w ork seven and eight hours straight w ithout even having a chance to go to the bathroom once because they had nobody else to cover them while they w ere off the floor. A third m otivation young w orkers in Box Hill an d G lenw ood point to for w orking off the dock is their investm ent in and com m itm ent to the quality of their work, their custom er service, their products an d their stores. Some young workers buy into the labor b udgets their em ployers give them, an d feel proud w hen they are able b oth to d o a good job at w ork and com e in u n d er or a t labor budget - as I noted above, w orkers are widely aw are of the hours of labor time that they have been allotted. M any workers, w hen p u sh comes to shove, prioritize being able to do a good job over being able to secure all of their breaks and overtim e pay. Those Fry H ouse w orkers in G lenw ood w ho show u p for "pizza deaning parties" do so out of the pleasure of workplace sodalizing, the desire to help their co-workers, as well as their investm ent in the quality of their stores' appearances. In som e instances, w orkers' willingness to w ork off the d o ck to im prove or m aintain quality in their stores comes u n d er extrem e duress. W orkers in one Fry House restaurant that I visited, for example, regularly w orked off the dock, partially out of the fear that their restaurant - w hich had been losing sales in recent years - m ight be disdplined, franchised out o r even dosed: [Fry House] only gives us [X am ount] of [weekly] hours. Even th en it's really short staffed sometimes. The u n io n says w e're supposed to get a half ho u r break. H a ha, never, ever.... So there's, actually, if you look at m ost of our schedules, they say no breaks. Sometimes we're paid

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extra if we miss breaks, it depends really. Cause w e don't w a n t to go over our hours either. So som etim es if w e're m axed out o n hours th at day, w e ll say ok, no problem . S tu a rt Why don’t you ju st go over the hours? Because then it goes against o u r store's food costs and against our store's labor. So it just m akes o u r store look really really b ad. So if w e already know, if w e know w e can kinda save face, then w e will. It's like, no problem, w e ll w ork through break. It's a lot of sacrifice, I go in there early all the time w ithout getting paid, I stay late w ithout getting paid, I go in on m y day off. Stuart: W hat w ould h a p p en if y o u w ent over hours an d the store looked worse? I don't know if they'd close it o r franchise it out. O r w hatever, the store w ould get disciplined anyw ays. They w ould either c u t a person, say we can't have an extra person o n Friday, it'd ju st m ake things worse. In other instances, investm ent in the quality of their w ork drives w orkers to voluntarily w ork off the clock even in circum stances w h en it is n o t absolutely necessary. A young dairy clerk I spoke to in Box Hill, for example, w as p ro u d of being able to keep the dairy case in his store - for w hich he w as solely responsible - looking fully stocked throughout the day. The clerk explained that he w ould sometimes be finished w ith his shift, w alk past the dairy case on his way out and see that there had been a sudden ru n o n the m ilk or the yogurt that had left a gaping hole in the n eat row s of product. Frequently, w hen this happened, the clerk w ould tu rn back and take an extra ten m inutes or so to fill the hole back u p - w ithout bothering to clock back in. "That [dairy case] wall," the clerk explained cheerfully, "that’s m y reputation."21 As union leaders in Local 7 and Local C recognize, w orkers in Box Hill an d Glenwood will also often w ork off th e clock to ease the stress of the rest of their working day. For the m ore tim e a w orker has to com plete all of his o r h er tasks, the m ore relaxed the pace of his o r w ork can be. One Fry H ouse

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cashier I spoke to in Glenwood explained th at he regularly tried to start w ork at least a half h o u r early so that he could m ake w ork less "hell" a n d m ore "fun:" I come in an hour early all the time. If I'm half an h o u r early, th en I'm late.... I come into a mess som etim es, a m ad house, because it's been so busy and they [the early shift] haven’t had tim e to dean.... [I go in early] just to help out, I d on't go in to have fun.... I don't go in to look for extra money. It'd be nice if one day they saw the effort I'm m aking an d say, H ey, we'll give you a prize.' But I’m n o t in there for that. I just want to m ake sure I d o the job as best I can, m ake sure m y cash area is dean, stocked up, so w hen I get on shift, I d o n 't have to d o anything, I can just deal w ith custom ers. T hen as my stock gets low er, I can ru n back w hen it's not busy.... Because otherwise, it's just hell, and you don't w ant that, you gotta enjoy w h at you d o o r else it's n o t gonna be fun. W ith their em ployers' labor budgets being tied ever m ore d o sely to custom er sales, workers in both Box Hill an d Glenwood find that, to avoid an exhaustingly test paced w ork day, they are having to dip into their ow n personal time in order to take care of required prep and d eaning tasks at work. Once again, though, the d e d sio n to w ork off the d o c k to ease the pressure and slow the pace of w ork is a complicated one, and young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood do neither alw ays nor autom atically link this ded sion w ith actions their em ployers have taken to squeeze d o w n labor costs. The optim um pace of work varies from w orker to worker. Some young workers - espedally those who have just started an d are still getting the hang of their jobs - feel hesitant to ask their employers to pay for m issed breaks and overtime, because they blam e them selves for being slow w orkers. O ften such workers are likely to try to hide the fact that they are having to w o rk extra to complete their tasks at w ork. W ithin a few m onths, m any n ew w orkers find, after all, th at jobs th at once took them an extra half hour of overtim e to

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complete, they can now w rap u p in no tim e a t all. Some w orkers, o n the other hand, actively decide th at they prefer to w ork slower, to have time during the workday to relax o n the shop floor, to chat w ith custom ers an d co­ workers, perhaps even to play around and have a w ater fight o r two. The cost of being able to shape the preferred pace and mix of activities in their w orkday is having to start a little early, w ork a little late, miss a break here and there. W orkers w ho see them selves as fast or good w orkers com m only will blame o th er workers for being slow or lazy and for requiring them to w ork off the dock. In both Box Hill and Glenwood, day shift w orkers and night shift workers frequently get into sparring m atches as they blam e one another for leaving their w ork stations filthy and unstocked a t the end of th eir shifts. In many cases, such hostilities are dearly misplaced: p rep and d ean in g w ork are often left incomplete because the day shift o r the night shift w ere understaffed and were simply overw helm ed by trying to handle custom er rushes - rushes that workers on the alternate shifts aren't around to see. But it is also true that some workers are slow er than others, that some w orkers do like to chat or play around at w ork m ore than others, and thus th at some w orkers are m ore likely to complete all of their prep and deaning tasks by the end of their shifts than others. Union leaders in Local 7 and Local C som etim es give lip service to the im portance of respecting the fact that w orkers inevitably w ork at different paces. But there is nothing in these locals' collective bargaining agreem ents and there is no active and general discussion betw een these locals and their m em berships - that addresses the right of w orkers to w ork at different paces, or the right of workers to have a say in the pace of their w ork day or in their preferred mix of w orkday activities. There is, in other w ords, as I noted above, no real attem pt to address the basic, root conditions of off the d o c k

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w ork th at w ould help w orkers gain m ore control over b o th the length and texture of their w orking days. W ithout such a dialogue in place, it becomes difficult for young workers to know w h at they can consider to be acceptable paces and pressures at work, and w hat unacceptable. Lack of dialogue betw een union staff an d m em bership over w hat should be considered ideal or preferred tem poral w ork pacing and texture also affects the im pact of one final cultural value or practice th at leads young workers in Box Hill and Glenwood into off the clock w ork. In addition to the various m otivations discussed above th at m ove young fastfood and grocery workers into blurring lines in the w orkplace betw een on the clock and off the clock time, w orkers also blur tem poral lines at w ork because such blurring is itself a cultural value. Many w orkers I interview ed in Box H ill and Glenwood spoke of their preference for having som e tem poral "give and take" in their w ork lives - they d id n 't like the idea of having to m inutely account for every m om ent of time that passed a t w ork. In their ideal cultural model, w orkers get a little extra time here, em ployers get a little extra time there, and it all balances out in the end.22 While Local 7 and Local C contracts specify precisely the length, tuning and num ber of rest breaks at work, m any young w orkers (in Glenwood especially, b u t also in Box Hill) opt not to take set breaks. In part, this decision has to do w ith workers' desire to socialize at w ork (as I have suggested previously). But it is also a decision that is g u id ed by a "give an d take" tem poral logic - as can be seen in the following discussion of breaks by a young Fry H ouse cashier: W e've all come to an agreem ent [in m y restaurant], w e don't take our half h our, fifteen, whatever.... W e kinda w o rk it o u t th at we take staggered breaks, cause the m ajority of us sm oke. So w e ll go back and eat, smoke, sit there, cause w e got a m onitor in the office [that show s

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the front of the restaurant]. W e can ju st w atch the m onitor, eat and smoke and gab. Sometimes it w orks w e get m ore [break time], sometimes it works we get quite a long time, I w ould say! I’d say som e days w e ll sit there for like tw o hours, it'll be so dead.... A nd then som e days w e don't get a half ho u r break, n o t even a fifteen. "Give and take," then, functions w ithin a single shift so that w orkers w ork during their play and rest periods in order that they can play an d rest m ore during their w ork periods. But it also functions across shifts so that o n slow days workers take extra breaks, while on busy days they take few er (if any) breaks. Blurring of rigid break rules, in m any ways, m akes a lo t of sense from a worker's point of view. As M arc Linder and Ingrid N ygaard (1998:42) w rite of typical break rules in N orth America: The m ilitary precision and discipline w ith w hich w orkers have historically been required to comply w ith rest-period rules ... seem alm ost designed to subject them to fu rth er anxiety and nervousness rather than to relax them . Blurring of break rules helps w orkers restore restfulness to their rest periods. '1 like not having scheduled breaks," a Fry H ouse cook says, "[because] that way you're not making sure you take a n exact half h o u r break." But blurring of rigid break rules also p u ts young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood at greater risk of tem poral exploitation a t the hands of their employers. W orkers' sense of tem poral give and take across slow an d busy days helps their employers transfer the cost of w aves and lulls in business to their employees. This sense of give and take across slow and fast days reflects an understanding among young w orkers that they are being paid for specific tasks they actively perform a t work. W hen w orkers have few er such tasks to perform on slow business days, they feel th at they are "taking" tim e from their employers. Fastfood restaurants and grocery stores, how ever, a re tw o paradigm atic examples of businesses that trade o n their public image of being 376

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open a t all hours of the day and o n all days of the w eek - com petitive pressures drive employers in these tw o industries to stay open even during slow and unprofitable days and hours (Fine 1990: 98; Tilly 19%: 163). Fastfood and grocery workers, then, m ore so even th an m any other categories of workers, are paid for their time of sim ply being a t their worksites to be ready for possible walk-in customer dem and. Since neither Local C n o r Local 7 dialogue w ith their mem berships about the n atu re of w ork pacing across shifts, m any of their mem bers are voluntarily - and perhaps unnecessarily giving u p union w on rest periods o n busy days and shifts because their em ployers happen to suffer, from tim e to time, unexpectedly slow days and shifts. Blurring of rigid tem poral lines in the w orkplace, m ore generally, p u ts young workers at risk of tem poral exploitation because their em ployers’ accounting of tem poral "give and take" tends to be highly one-sided. There is rarely - as m any young workers start to realize after a few m onths or years on the job - a "two way street" in the w orkplace w hen it comes to tem poral accountancy: all too often, em ployers take, take, take; a n d w orkers give, give, give. Employers can be very casual w h en w orkers choose to com e in early o r leave late; but reverse the term s - attem pt to arrive late or leave early - and em ployers can suddenly become m inute counters w ith the best of them . So long as Local C and Local 7 rely on precise tem poral accounting to protect their m em bers' time in the workplace, young w orkers' decisions to abandon such things as set breaks make it difficult for these w orkers to enlist union assistance w hen their em ployers start to renege o n inform al (and ostensible) "give and take" understandings. For w h en you n g w orkers' tem poral practices diverge from preferred un io n tim e handling strategies, union grievance procedures can often have little to go on.23

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Off the dock w ork, then, in Box Hill and Glenwood is a product not just of em ployer time pressures and union absences, b u t of y outh w orkplace cultures - and of the ability of em ployers to hook into a n d profit from these cultures, combined w ith the inability to Local C and Local 7 to w ork w ith as opposed to against the tim e values an d practices of their young (and old) members. Foregrounding the agency of youth w orkplace cultures in fostering off the d o ck work, as I have done here, m ay create the im pression am ong some readers that employers are less responsible for off the d o c k w ork as a m ajor workplace problem of the 1990's than, say, unions w ould have them be. This impression would be m isguided. As I have em phasized throughout this section, the basic, root conditions for off the d o ck w ork in Box H ill and Glenwood are created by em ployer labor budget cutting in the service of profit m axim ization. In discussing the nature of tim e practices an d values w ithin youth workplace cultures in Box Hill and Glenwood, it is critical to differentiate young workers' acceptance of (and even preference for) less rigid boundaries betw een on the d o ck and off the d o ck tim e at w ork from the acceptance of less paid w ork time m ade available to perform w ork tasks in the fastfood restaurant and grocery store. While young w orkers in Box Hill and Glenwood often accept a n d /o r prefer blurred time at w ork, these w orkers also generally complain of their em ployers' insistence on slashing labor budgets and understaffing stores. I d ose this section, therefore, w ith a typical complaint about lost work time that w as m ade by a nineteen year old Fry H ouse shift supervisor. This shift supervisor w as deeply invested in the quality of her store and in the sotial relationships she h ad w ith her co­ workers, and she had voluntarily logged m any hours of off the d o c k w ork in d u ding missed breaks, early starts, an d pizza d eaning parties o n her days

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off. I asked this shift supervisor to w ard the end of m y conversation w ith h er w hat changes she w ould m ost like to see in her workplace. This w as her response:

If I could have w hat I w anted a t work? Probably just th e hours. If I could just have that m any m ore hours, it w ould m ake m y life so m uch easier. I could afford to sit in m y office [and do paperw ork w hile on the dock]. My staff could afford to p u t the apron o n and th e gloves u p to here and die stupid goggles [they could follow the p ro p er safety procedures th at they currently skip over]. A nd everything else b u t w e don't have the time so w e d o n 't d o it ever. That's w here a lot of it comes from. The stressing o u t com es from it. The negligence [the m istakes w orkers m ake a t work] comes from it.

Time, Unionization and the Young Service Worker I began this chapter w ith a discussion of the conventional w isdom th at holds that work experience is good for the young because it teaches them to respect time disdpline. In exploring the nature of scheduling a n d off the d o c k w ork in Box Hill and Glenwood, I have suggested that tim e at w ork is not sim ply som ething em ployers beneficently teach youths to value, bu t is instead a central and highly politid zed site of struggle betw een em ployers and their young employees. Scheduling an d off the d o ck w ork are only two am ong a num ber of tem poral concerns faced by young w orkers in the contem porary N orth A m erican service workplace. O thers - som e of w hich have been touched on parenthetically in this discussion - in d u d e the problem s of involuntary p a rt tim e w ork, speed-up, forced overtim e, and (as suggested by the tw o epigraphs th at lead into this chapter) holiday tim e a n d sick time.

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In discussing scheduling in Box Hill a n d G lenw ood, I have attem pted to show how unionization can m ake a dram atic difference in the lives of young (and old) service sector workers. This is a difference th a t benefits n o t just full tim e w orkers b u t also part time stu d e n t w orkers w ho are trying to balance w ork w ith school and study. The success of unionization in transform ing and im proving the scheduling lives of young w orkers depends not just on a high level of union w orkplace presence, b u t on hard bargaining and strong contract language. In discussing off the d o ck w ork, o n the other hand, I have sought to show some of the distance unions such as Local C and Local 7 have to go in order to fully connect w ith the w orkplace cultures of their young (and old) m em bers, and in o rd er to help their m em bers handle and transform structural problem s in the w orkplace - such as those w hich are created by employers' control over and tightening of labor budgets. Continuing a them e that w as central in C hapter Six of this dissertation, and present as well in C hapter Seven, this chapter argues that, for at least some critical and structural workplace problems, it w ill likely take a m uch different and m ore radical form of unionism than is typically found in N o rth America today to substantially reshape and better the all too often ignored a n d overlooked w ork lives of the young.

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Summary In 1997, a teenage high school student participating in a school to work biotechnology program in Oakland, California, w rites a resum e for herself as part of a school assignment. She lists tw o jobs in the resum e: first, her most recent w ork experience as a laboratory assistant in the local utility district (a job she secured through the auspices of the biotechnology program ); and second, an earlier job she had held as a cashier a n d cook in an O akland Burger King outlet - a quintessential youth job. Two years later, in 1999, the young biotechnology intern - now a student at com m unity college - w rites a second resume. Once again, she lists but tw o jobs: the laboratory assistant position she had previously held w ith the local utility district; and now a m ore recent job that she had as a biological analyst w orking for a m ultinational pharm aceutical company. The Burger King job, m eanw hile, disappears. This simple act of rew riting one's resum e as one gets older - a cultural practice that will be familiar to m ost w orking adults - provides a concrete yet emblematic exam ple of how the experience of y o u th w ork in N orth America is quite often and quite literally m ade to be invisible. As she m oves into career em ploym ent type situations, this young O akland biotech intern - like m any other young adults across the continent - evidently no longer considers it relevant (or possibly admissable) to state that she began her w orking life as a fastfood employee. H er rew riting of her resum e presents itself as reasonable, sensible and utterly natural; yet in severing h er y o u th w ork experience from the portfolio of "real jobs" that she will carry w ith her in to adulthood, the intern quite remarkably, in the span of only tw o years, causes her first waged 381

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job at Burger King to disappear from the record of h er personal job history w ithout a trace.1

In the first chapter of this dissertation, I argued that the dom inant youth, w ork and education literatures in N o rth Am erica all approach the topic of youth and work through a "pathw ay m odel" th at m akes youth w ork and youth workers largely invisible. Youth w orkers are not considered prim arily as workers in a youth labor m arket, b u t rath er in term s of w here they are originally coming from (as students), and w here they are eventually going to (as adult, career employees). Youth workplaces tend to be treated as blackboxes that can be labelled either "good" o r "bad:" they are considered to be significant only as way-stations o n youths' overarching trajectories from school to career. Youth employers are generally n o t focused o n as having any extensive agency in or responsibility for shaping the nature of contem porary school to w ork transitions for N orth A m erica youths: rather the key players in such transitions are considered to be lim ited to a cast of schools, governm ents, and prim ary (adult, career) em ployers. In this study, I have taken a different approach to the study of youth and work. My interest has been in understanding the positioning of youths as workers in the youth workplace and labor m arket. I have been concerned w ith describing the complexities and w orking conditions of the youth sector workplace. I have argued that youth em ployers play a m ajor role and bear considerable responsibility for the often im poverished conditions in w hich m any youths in N orth America first enter into the w aged labor force. I have attem pted, in sum, to make visible som e of w h a t is all too often rendered invisible o r obscure in m ainstream a n d po p u lar discussions of youth, w ork an d education across this continent In the following pages, I briefly

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sum m arize some of the m ajor argum ents and findings that have been presented in the preceding chapters.

(1)

Stopgap Workers

Youth workers in N o rth America occupy a distinct social position or identity in the continent's labor m arkets a n d workplaces: they generally w ork as stopgap workers in the low end service an d retail sector. To call youth w orkers "stopgap workers" is to say som ething of their objective positioning in the workforce - the fastfood, grocery and oth er low end service and retail jobs in w hich youths w ork are generally tem porary jobs w hich are m ore o r less disconnected from youths' past and future schooling and career identities. To call youth w orkers "stopgap w orkers" is also to say som ething of their subjective positioning in the w orkforce - young w orkers in low end service and retail jobs expect or hope that these jobs will be tem porary places of em ploym ent that will be largely discontinuous w ith their future, adult careers and identities. Stopgap self-positioning among youth w orkers is shaped by tw o key factors. First, youths - like their em ployers and custom ers - accept, to an extent, a w idespread ideology of youth in N o rth Am erica that positions youths as being a separate and inferior category of workers to adults: stopgap w ork is currently accepted as som ething w hich youths should "normally" pass through on their way to adult, career em ploym ent. Second, youths see the jobs that are typically m ade available to them in this continent as being fundam entally bad jobs. They therefore d o n o t generally seek to tu rn their youthful, stopgap jobs into career jobs, b u t instead look to other industries an d occupations in their search for career em ploym ent. As stopgap workers, youths accept the presence of discontinuities in their em ploym ent p ath s in to

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adulthood. Youth rejection of y o u th jobs as being quintessentially b a d jobs, it is critical to point out, does not rest solely (or even principally) o n the low w ages associated w ith these jobs. Rather, such rejection rests o n the overall im poverished nature of w orking conditions w ithin these jobs. Recognition of the social position of y outh as stopgap w orker is critically im portant for policy an d research discussions of youth an d work. The notion of "stopgap worker" offers a w ay of identifying youth w orkers as a distinct a n d im portant category of w orker, while avoiding com m on stereotypes of youth w orkers (i.e., the im ages of the "happy teen worker" an d the "alienated youth worker" th at w ere discussed in the introduction to this dissertation), and while avoiding reference to prejudiced, flaw ed and essentialist theories of adolescence (as in the discussions of "m oratorium " youths). The notion of "stopgap worker" also offers a way of understanding the organization of workplace consent and resistance am ong young service and retail sector workers. O n the one hand, youth service and retail em ployers quite literally bank on their young employees being stopgap workers; on the other hand, these sam e em ployers may find th at stopgap w ork alienation, anger and critique am ong their young em ployees can m ake these em ployees difficult to m anage an d control. The youth stopgap w orker constitutes a category of tem porary and contingent worker. Over the last decade in N orth America, there has been considerable attention paid to the spread of tem porary a n d contingent w ork am ong the adult workforce; all too often, yo u th stopgap workers have not been included in these discussions over the problem s inherent in tem porary and contingent work. While a d u lt w orkers in this continent can, and increasingly do, experience w ork as stopgap work, I w ould, how ever, argue for the life stage distinctiveness of the social identity of the y outh stopgap

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worker. The reason for m aking such a claim is th at adolescence (or yo u th m ore generally) is ideologically a n d institutionally constituted as a stopgap life stage w rit large in N orth America: stopgap w ork th u s m eshes w ith institutions and ideologies of yo u th outside the w orkplace in a w ay that it does n o t m esh w ith non-w ork institutions and ideologies of adulthood.

(2)

Solidarity and Engagement Among Youth Workers

Stopgap workers - and tem porary w orkers in general - are often assum ed to be passive and uncom m itted in the workplace. M uch of m y discussion of young fastfood a n d grocery w orkers in G lenw ood a n d Box Hill has been dedicated to show ing th at such assum ptions are, at best, overly simplistic, and at worst, simply untrue. Youth stopgap w orkers often articulate strong senses of solidarity w ith co-workers (and som etim es w ith custom ers and m anagers as well) an d of investm ent, ow nership an d expertise in their low end service and retail workplaces. Both peer group solidarities and workplace investm ents am ong young fastfood an d grocery w orkers are shaped by their stopgap youth w ork identities, and by em ployer system s of workplace organization and control. Along w ith stopgap w ork orientations, peer group and local investm ent w ork orientations shape the basic patterns of youth workplace consent and resistance. The fact that youths in N orth Am erica are often relegated to w orking in the low end service sector is often explained by reference to a n alleged lack of workplace solidarity and engagem ent am ong w orking youths. Docum enting the existence of w orkplace solidarity a n d engagem ent am ong youths in the low end service sector pushes o u r analyses of the reasons behind youth stopgap w ork aw ay from supposed intrinsic and absolute traits of yo uth in general, and tow ard the prejudices, ideologies and institutions of

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employers, unions an d governm ents in the contexts of the y o u th labor m arket and youth w orkplace in particular. D ocum enting w orkplace solidarity and engagem ent am ong fastfood an d grocery youths furthers pushes us to rethink popular (and negative) images of y o u th w orkers as well as of low end service sector workers overall. The existence of w orkplace solidarities and engagem ents am ong young service sector w orkers suggests contrary to w hat som e com m entators on youth and w ork claim - th at m any of these young workers are both interested an d invested in their w ork and workplaces enough so as to w ant to p u sh for change and im provem ent in the conditions of their ow n w ork and workplaces. That being said, there are tw o im portant constraints o n young fastfood and grocery workers' workplace solidarities and engagem ents. Young fastfood and grocery w orkers' workplace solidarities and engagem ents tend to be local, store or departm ent based, and exist a t the interstices of worker, customer, em ployer an d m anager initiatives; they are thus neither accommodationist com pany loyalties nor broad based oppositional w orker solidarities. Young fastfood and grocery w orkers' w orkplace solidarities and engagements are also curtailed (as well as being m ore broadly shaped) by their stopgap w ork orientations. Such solidarities and engagem ents are likely to dissipate to the degree that young w orkers are asked o r p ushed to think of their jobs as possible career jobs - w ithout the prom ise of any radical reorganization of w ork in these jobs - as opposed to being sim ply stopgap sites of em ploym ent.

(3) Age Discrimination and Age Stratification at Work Age discrim ination against die young an d age stratification of young an d adult workers are critical phenom ena in the labor m arket a n d in the

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workplace that have been sorely under-acknow ledged and under-discussed by researchers and policy m akers in N orth America. W ith the ongoing erosion of life time, career em ploym ent across this continent, it is likely th at age - at both ends of the age spectrum - will only increase in im portance as a key site of labor m arket stratification Age discrim ination against the young w ithin key labor m arket institutions - employers, unions, and governm ent bodies - plays a central role in shaping the very existence an d conditions of y o u th stopgap w ork in N orth America. Youths o n this continent have little to n o legal protection from age based discrim ination in the workplace. The m inim um w age in C anada and the US is kept low, in part, through w idespread prejudice against youth workers. Prim ary (adult) em ployers freely discrim inate against youths in their hiring practices. Secondary (youth) em ployers, m eanw hile, see youths as a separate and subordinate class of workers w hom they are free and welcome to exploit as they see fit in pursuit of their o w n greater profit. Unions, for their part, have frequently turned their backs o n o r have actively w orked to exclude and m arginalize youths in the workforce. Age stratification separates youth from ad u lt w orkers b o th in the labor m arket an d in the workplace. As w ith race and g ender stratification, the nature and process of age stratification can vary significantly across different industries and occupations - as I have attem pted to dem onstrate in this study in m y com parison of age stratification in the Box H ill superm arkets and the Glenwood Fry Houses. The very social m eaning of age, it is critical to recognize, is in part constructed by and through the institutions and ideologies of the workplace. Thus while the behaviors and orientations of youth w orkers are often attributed to essentialist characteristics of "youth” w rit large, in the Box Hill superm arkets, it is possible to see how stereotyped

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an d prejudiced images of the young are actively reproduced w ithin the workplace environm ent through the job position of the grocery bagger.

(4)

The Agency and Responsibility o f Youth Employers

O ne of the m ore striking aspects of m ainstream discussions of youth, w ork and education is how often youth em ployers escape attention and censure. W hen researchers and policy m akers consider problem s in the school to w ork transitions of youths in N o rth Am erica, they m ost com m only point their fingers at the role of schooling, calling for changes in the classroom and in the educational system. G overnm ents are called u p o n to provide school to w ork bridging program s and enriched w orking environm ents. Prim ary employers are asked to set u p apprenticeships and internships, and to open their doors to the continent's young. Youth employers are allowed to fade into the background. In this study, I foreground the role of yo u th em ployers in the early w ork experience of youths. Youth em ployers have both agency and responsibility in creating im poverished w orking environm ents for the working young. Stressful and dangerous w ork environm ents, wage and hou r violations, m onotonous and low status work: these are all the active creation of youth employers. If youth school to w ork transitions are ever to be dram atically im proved in N orth America, than pressure will have to be brought to bear on youth employers to change the conditions of the youth workplace.

(5)

Changing the Youth Workplace

Indeed, the im portance and possibility of changing the youth w orkplace constitutes the fifth and final general them e th at ru n s through this