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Letters: America's harsh working environment

April 10, 2013
  • Phil Richards, who drives a forklift at a warehouse in Santa Fe Springs, is required to wear a headset through which he is told what to do and how quickly he must do it. "We're just like human machines," he says.
Phil Richards, who drives a forklift at a warehouse in Santa Fe Springs,… (Jay L. Clendenin, Los Angeles…)

Re "The tougher workplace," two-part series, April 7 and 8

I am an attorney representing injured workers, and daily I see the physical, mental and emotional toll on employees who are pushed to the limits for the sake of efficiency. Squeezing more work out of fewer employees may save labor costs up front, but in the long run it is a recipe for increased on-the-job accidents or injuries and higher insurance premiums. Ultimately, these costs are passed along to the consumer.

It is time to bring back a humane approach to running a business.

Vanessa Ticas

Alta Loma

As a recently retired manager in a mid-sized corporation, I have seen vast changes in the attitudes of workers in the last 48 years. Until the 1980s, personal phone calls were infrequent and for important communication only. Then cellphones became available and personel calls became frequent, lengthy and irrelevant to the job. Then came social media.

When you are checking your email or your Facebook page, you are not working. Your body is there but your mind is elsewhere. The same goes for texting, especially during meetings (and very few things are important enough to warrant that kind of disruption).

I understand why employers are more closely monitoring their staffs. They are paying for their workers' time and attention. I do not understand why employees think they have the right to spend their work time not doing their jobs.

Linda Wida

Laguna Woods

Thank you for giving a rare platform to working people.

You quote one employer as saying that if everyone does a little more, that can mean "one less employee you have to hire. That's one less health and welfare package." How perfectly that captures the sorry state of the "social contract" that once expected businesses to be at least partly responsible for the well-being of employees, whose labor creates profit.

And how telling that many of these companies lobby government to keep taxes on their profits low, depriving the public of money that could go a long way toward funding health and welfare packages for those who don't get them from their employers.

"Corporations are people, my friends," as a certain former presidential candidate once said. He left out the part about how they are often mean, heartless and selfish "people," especially toward those who are responsible for their wealth.

Ambrose Bruce Terrence

Marina del Rey

This is brought to you by vulture capitalism: profit and wealth for very few, and race to the bottom for the rest.

Donna Handy

Santa Barbara

I watched with dismay as President Reagan busted the air traffic controllers union. I feared that this was the beginning of a trend. Unfortunately, I was right.

Unions are the only protection that workers have against exploitation by their employers. It has gone from employers saying to workers, "Thank you for the good job," to, "You're lucky to have a job, so here's more work for the same pay, and, by the way, feel free to work off the clock."

Unions have been vilified even by those who need them the most. Maybe it is time for workers to join those unions again and to stand up for themselves.

Joanne Polvy Cohen

Sherman Oaks


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