Category Archives: American Gulag

A System Rigged and Rotten

In trying something different today I am going to share an email that I received from an acquaintance of mine on the injustices of the modern slavery system that the working poor, the victims of offshoring, globalization looter capitalism, state assisted monopoly, economic arbitrage or whatever else that capitalism gone cancerous can be called. I’m not a socialist or a communist or anything other than one who believes that what is inaccurately pimped off as free markets by the rapacious disciples of Milton Friedman is nothing but another of those big lies that puts up a false façade on criminal behavior. A bit more lipstick on the pigs who have been methodically strip mining this country, enslaving the population with crushing loads of debt and then changing the rules for bankruptcy to benefit the banks and creating a cruel feudal system designed to destroy the middle class while treating the United States as if it were nothing more than a property to be bled by slumlords.

While the plight of the growing legions of sub-citizens in the twenty seventh year of the the great undeclared class war is documented pretty well in books like Thom Hartmann’s Screwed, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickle and Dimed and David E. Shipler’s The Working Poor among other books the voice of Al is a damning indictment of the miserable gulag system that too many Americans are forced into. Subhuman, subsistence work for one of those great recently reclassified “manufacturing” jobs that are all the work that millions must settle for in the looter’s paradise of post-Reagan, Social Darwinist America:

I have now found out what it takes to be hired as a minimum wage ($6.67 per hour in Florida) delivery driver at a Pizza Hut take out, delivery, and carry-out restaurant here in St. Pete. This is one of the smaller restaurants, and it does not even have “dine-in” facilities.

It takes the typical paperwork of filling out a job application, plus the paperwork of confirming one is either a U.S. citizen or qualified to work in the U.S.

But it also takes filling out an 80-question questionnaire.

Additionally, once one is hired, one is shown approximately 2 hours straight of corporate promotional videos on the Pizza Hut restaurants.

If one’s hiring manager is preoccupied with a manager of his own having come from outside the immediate chain to oversee him and ask him questions that day, one will have no training that day.

If one’s hiring manager tells one he will telephone you the next day to confirm he will be in the next day to give one training, and he does not give you that phone call, he simply does not give you that phone call. Then if you show up, and he is not there, he simply is not there.

If he fobs off the training that second day on a subordinate with a thousand different tasks that subordinate is performing, and if you show and the subordinate on whom the training’s fobbed off is put into the situation wherein the thousand different tasks interfere with his being able to adequately train you, you don’t get training and it’s preferred you leave before the end of your shift, so the company will save money on the paltry $6.67 per hour they are paying you; if you leave before the end of your shift that day, you simply don’t get paid.

Additionally, you are to wear black pants. And you are to purchase them yourself. The organization does not purchase them. You do. I purchased two pair, and they cost me $40.00 for the two at a Target.

Additionally, you must wear a certain kind of shoe, and you must purchase them. The organization does not purchase them. You do. I was told they could cost me up to $40.00, and the money would come out of my paycheck.

This is on a paycheck of minimum wage of $6.67 per hour.

Part of your responsibility — and you are told this in the promotional videos — is to “hustle.” They tell you, “hustle” from the restaurant to your car, and “hustle” from your car to the home of the customer who is receiving the delivery.

They also tell you to be careful of crime, because delivery drivers get victimized by criminals. But they also tell you, no firearms are allowed in the restaurant. I had a concealed firearms carrying license, and I did not reveal that to my hiring manager. While I was fully within my legal rights to carry my concealed firearm, since I had a Florida concealed firearms carrying license, the restaurant tells employees in a restaurant that handles cash, and employees who handle cash when they deliver to customers, no firearms. This is sort of like telling a seal to swim glibly and gayly and utterly without a care within an ocean full of great white sharks.

The interesting thing was, when I came for my first day on the job, I was sent to the back of the Pizza Hut restaurant. The hiring manager was there for that day, and he set me up in front of the video player, and had the 5 videos I was to sit and watch for the next several hours in front of me. He informed me that there was originally supposed to have been an orientation of 5 people, not 1 person, but I was the only one who, in his words, “worked out.”

The day previous to that day, I had met him at another restaurant where he was working to answer to his telephone call and he had said on that earlier occasion that I’d so far been the only one who had worked out.

Additionally, they give you a motor vehicle check, if you’re to be a delivery driver. And before hiring you, they check into your driving background. They did that with me, and again, apparently, I was the only one who checked out okay.

Their turnover rate is evidently so high that this sort of thing is conventional and typical with them.

After being there 2 days with no training, spending 40 bucks on two pairs of pants out of my own money, realizing I’d have to spend 40 more on shoes, realizing my car insurance was entirely my responsibility and if any accident I had happened, I could not only lose my job, but end up without car insurance, having had the hiring manager’s time primarily preoccupied the first day on the job by his manager from the outside coming in to check up on him, and then having had the hiring manager promise to call me the second day and confirm and show up the second day to train me, and then not do that, and showing up myself the second day and having the training responsibilities fobbed off by the hiring manager, who managed 82 stores total (this being only one of his stores), on some hapless and luckless subordinate, and being asked an 80-question questionnaire as a precondition to being employed at the sum of money of $6.67 per hour for a job which was apparently not even going to be full-time, I decided this would not work out.

I went to the restaurant the third day, turned in my new “uniform” in the shape of my shirt given me the previous day and my cap given me the previous day, and said, “I’m outta here, I quit.”

The hiring manager was there and he ran after me to stop me, and I yelled back, “You want reliability from your employees, but you’re supposed to be reliable yourself and you weren’t reliable and didn’t show up to train me. I quit.”

I said that loudly as I got into my car and drove away.

Hence ended my 2 shifts, one 4 hours, and one 3.5 hours, with Pizza Hut.

I am 60 years old, and, frankly, I simply could not take it

My point is, I have had my share of tough jobs. But this 2 days at Pizza Hut and the literally evil and horrendous way in which workers were demeaned into being considered nothing but cogs in the machinery of production of profits for the looters, thievers, pillagers, exploiters, and swine at the top of the establishment, and their well-paid agents in the management in the middle, was simply too much for me at 60 to take.

So I simply quit. I could not take it. And this may be my last experiment in trying to get work, because my money’s running out, and if I cannot find work soon, I will be homeless. I will not be homeless, and have already made “alternative plans” to the possibility of homelessness, which some already know of. After watching the City of St. Petersburg City Council and Mayor pass ordinances effectively criminalizing homelessness here in the City of St. Petersburg, I have decided, essentially, in league with the anti-fascists who fought against Spanish fascism, “It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees.” I agree with that slogan. I will not allow myself to be homeless, and if I must die instead of that, I will die. That is my view of the issue. I think the anti-fascists in Spain in the 1930s who said, “It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees” were right. And that is how I view the issue. And no labor-hating, profit-extracting, micromanaging, pathologically control fanatically incline, sociopathic and psychopathic capitalist owner or boss or ruling class will ever make me think differently. Nor will their swinish, slimy, sleazy bipartisan capitalistic political legislative bodies, city councils, senates, congresses, Demopublican parties and Republicrat parties, scumbag mayors, slimy hypocritical owning corrupt newspapers and media, who first “out” a transgender guy in Largo destroying his life, and then editorialize in support of keeping him (in a scenario out of the movie, Absence of Malice), racist and trigger happy killer cops, dissuade me in my decision that if it’s a choice of homelessness or death, I will take death.

The chain of restaurants of which this Pizza Hut were a part is called, Tri-Con Industries*.

They own Kentucky Fried Chicken, A&W (which used to be A&W Root Beer), Taco Bell, and other such fast food industries.

And they are entirely staffed by the lowest of low-wage workers, many of whom are immigrant workers from other countries who speak just a smattering of English, or none at all, and are hired primarily to do the work in the kitchen of making the pizza pies and the other items.

The corporate promotional videos broadcast how sanitation and hygiene in food preparation is vital and central to the making of their foods.

But while I was there, the fact the staffing was short and the guy who actually was running the restaurant who had had the job of trying to train me fobbed off on him by his boss, the hiring manager, was torn by a thousand different tasks, insured that on any number of occasions, I witnessed numerous violations by diverse very hard-pressed people trying as hard as they could, but failing, to do everything, including meeting the hygiene and sanitation requirements.

This was simply due to the fact that the top echelons of the company operate on the basis of extracting enormous profits out of pushing to the nth degree the vast retinue of hired low-wage staffers at the bottom.

According to the corporate promotional videos, Tri-Con Industries* services millions of customers around the world.

The very objective existence of Tri-Con Industries* and the very nature of its operation and how it works is an argument for militant, international, cross-national-boundaries, working class organization, labor organization, in all countries where this enormous company has any local restaurants, to unite the entire working class of people who really are the basis of the entire enormous chain against the greedy, parasitic, corrupt, hypocritical, vicious capitalist exploiters at the top, and against the managers in between who act as the lackeys and flunkeys and vicious toadies and agents of the capitalist exploiting and owning class of garbage at the top of this organization. Tri-Con Industries* must be labor organized worldwide to gain huge wage increases across the board for all workers employed by it, huge increases in training and education of its work force, the smashing of the “hustle” mentality and modus operandi on the part of the filthy, thieving, profit-extracting, exploiting capitalist bosses of Tri-Con Industries*, and the establishment of human working conditions there that enable workers to concentrate carefully on their jobs and actually care about their jobs.

I noticed the enormous level of gut hatred for the hiring manager — the guy who managed 82 restaurants — among all the staff with whom I worked the second day at this one restaurant. The contempt and hatred and disdain for the manager of the 82 restaurants among the workers with whom I worked on the second day was evident everywhere among everyone. Everyone on some level had some sense that the entire operation was one big huge lie, one hypocrisy, designed to put enormous amounts of money in the pockets of the big owners and the managers, and thieve and pillage from the masses of people at the bottom of the heap who really kept the entire operation running.

So next time you check out a fast food restaurant — Pizza Hut, or KFC, or some similar outfit — remember what I’ve here written. Next time you “order” a delivery at your apartment or home, remember what I wrote here about what these people go through. Next time you think about the sanitary conditions in which food you eat is prepared, remember what I wrote about how hard-pressed the people in restaurants like Pizza Hut and similar restaurants are.

I’m telling you what I observed in only 2 days there, and it was just in the space of one 4-hour shift and in the space of another 3.5 hour shift.

Remember what I’ve told you.

And try not to lose your appetite.

*Tricon changed it’s name to Yum! several years ago but apparently has not replaced their videos in the local restaurant that Al refers to in his letter.
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