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Bathroom breaks banned on factories?

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Wheylous posted on Wed, Jan 2 2013 10:47 PM

I am critiquing the Raikoth anti-libertarian FAQ and I stumbled on this section:

I note in the same vein stories from the days before labor regulations when employers would ban workers from using the restroom on jobs with nine hour shifts, often ending in the workers wetting themselves. This seems like the sort of thing that provides so much humiliation to the workers, and so little benefit to the bosses, that a free market would eliminate it in a split second. But we know that it was a common policy in the 1910s and 1920s, and that factories with such policies never wanted for employees. The same is true of factories that literally locked their workers inside to prevent them from secretly using the restroom or going out for a smoking break, leading to disasters like theTriangle Shirtwaist Fire when hundreds of workers died when the building they were locked inside burnt down. And yet even after this fire, the practice of locking workers inside buildings only stopped when the government finally passed regulation against it.

We've covered the TSF thing before, so I am not looking for arguments against that specifically (though I would appreciate any you might have). I am more interested in the bathroom break thing. Why would employers do this? Did it really take away that much from employment time? What are some citations on this. How widespread was the issue? Was this a long-term problem or was it restricted to a few situations?

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cab21 replied on Wed, Jan 2 2013 11:15 PM

employers want to get the most profit from workers. that means treating workers like shit if they do certain jobs. the less power the workers have the better according to investers and consumers. thats why we have people cheering when people workers get fired and when workers lose benefits and when workers lose pensions. a boss would love it if a worker paid the boss to work.

just like going for labor willing to work for the cheapest price, and loving a surplus in people looking for employment to drive down wages, companys want to have people that spend the most time working.

 

i found this history on the bathroom breack

http://coreyrobin.com/2012/03/08/lavatory-and-liberty-the-secret-history-of-the-bathroom-break/

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The only relevant piece of evidence I'm finding is the unemployment rate charts here:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/e3/US_Unemployment_1890-2011.gif/383px-US_Unemployment_1890-2011.gif

Another thing I can think of is that we didn't have a truly free market due to the government interventions in favor of business.

Cab21 - I had seen that article before and it doesn't really add anything to the discussion over the 1910s and 1920s.

There is one section that may be of interest - the one that says that judges treated employees as property of employers. If this was a cause of the problems, then this is a failure of government rather than a failure of property rights. However, establishing that link would be tenuous and difficult.

 

Fact checking that FAQ is annoying because there are hardly any references to the facts that are claimed. As such, I can't make sure that it's not just misinterpreting the history. Making this my only criticism, however, appears to be quite weak...

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Blargg replied on Wed, Jan 2 2013 11:26 PM

Maybe people accept this in the workplace because it was forced on them in school. Reading one of the hits, it's amazing how controlled and watched students are.

At the end of each triad, they turn in unused bathroom passes for ten extra-credit points per pass.

Some students will insist. Do not argue. Keep a clipboard handy and have the student record name, date, and time. Tell them you keep track because if someone goes too frequently or their period comes more than once a month, their parents must be notified so they can see a doctor.

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Though I don't want to focus too much on TSF, could it be argued that locking the people into the factory isn't very libertarian? After all, it's akin to imprisonment.

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cab21 replied on Thu, Jan 3 2013 12:16 AM

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:L_dGbrRd7sUJ:compliance.safetysmart.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/test-your-osha-i-q-charging-workers-for-bathroom-breaks.pdf+factories+banning+bathroom+breaks&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEEShwwWWUT-VvaU05zyhrFDUfcODe-n_Rm_fhT5JlevD7XdWxatOZagH52pnnMUYVN13dFEphigvqDtfXS5OuisMzGouHvUVwWVZjYqQgH774dYLDY4lEwMeaC25dZnTzF2q0L-r4&sig=AHIEtbQEituWSyVbBqer1VEGcIdPVJY-Rw

this link gives some reasons.

if the job requirement needs someone who can be there for a full shift in the assempy line, stoping to take a break could mean shutting down the line or needing additional workers who can fill in, costing money and production time.

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Wheylous:
Though I don't want to focus too much on TSF, could it be argued that locking the people into the factory isn't very libertarian? After all, it's akin to imprisonment.

I think it definitely constitutes imprisonment, unless the workers agreed to it beforehand.

The keyboard is mightier than the gun.

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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 3 2013 7:42 AM

I note in the same vein stories from the days before labor regulations when employers would ban workers from using the restroom on jobs with nine hour shifts, often ending in the workers wetting themselves.


Lolol! I find this very hard to believe. What kind of patronizing crap is this? I'm a worker nowadays and on the off chance the bosses ever got the idea to lock the "restrooms" we sure as hell wouldn't "wet ourselves" as a result. We'd probably go and piss all over the doors to the foreman's office or some such. Lol, workers "wetting themselves", because when you can't find a restroom the only option remaining is to "wet yourself"?

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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 3 2013 7:50 AM

if the job requirement needs someone who can be there for a full shift in the assempy line, stoping to take a break could mean shutting down the line or needing additional workers who can fill in, costing money and production time.


In practice even in such a situation the workers can take breaks if they don't do it all at once. As one goes for a cigarette a few of the others pick up the slack for him.

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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 3 2013 8:02 AM

I note in the same vein stories from the days before labor regulations when employers would ban workers from using the restroom on jobs with nine hour shifts, often ending in the workers wetting themselves. This seems like the sort of thing that provides so much humiliation to the workers, and so little benefit to the bosses, that a free market would eliminate it in a split second. But we know that it was a common policy in the 1910s and 1920s, and that factories with such policies never wanted for employees.


I don't know about America in 1910s or whatever, but as I said I find this hard to believe. What I may find plausible (albeit unlikely) is that restrooms would be locked for most of the work time, and only unlocked every two hours or so, for ten minutes, or something like that. Else if you're going to keep the restrooms locked why even build them in the first place? Just have a factory without restrooms. (Since apparently you do not at all mind piss pilling up in the corners of the assembly hall.) 

And the only scenario of workers "wetting themselves" I can conjure up in my mind would have to involve somebody extremely drunk, or else some sort of a newly arrived and timid labourer, who was afraid that if they left their post to take a leak they wouldn't make their quota.

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This is what happened, then.

Workers would wet themselves ... I doubt it. They'd just urinate in a corner somewhere and so much the worse for the boss.

Although I do not approve of the particular behavior in that film, since its a different context and the guy and the kid are breaking NAP.

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Having been in probably 200 factories in the USA and outside the USA, all in the Western Hemisphere, I can say that I have never seen a factory where they locked the bathroom.  Moreover the cleanliness of the work environments in Central and South America is on par with that of the USA.  And to their benefit they don't have all of these foolish bureaucarcy through regulations that increases the cost of their product with no benefit to the customers.  The reason is simple: CUSTOMERS DEMAND PRODUCTS WITHOUT POOP.

The ONLY place where I ever saw a crazy restriction like this was in the USA where the management attempted to reduce the amount of toilet paper and paper towels used.  It was as disaster and cost them a lot more time in dealing with employees with wet hands and clogged toilets than they saved in money.

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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 3 2013 11:08 AM

Having been in probably 200 factories in the USA and outside the USA, all in the Western Hemisphere, I can say that I have never seen a factory where they locked the bathroom.  Moreover the cleanliness of the work environments in Central and South America is on par with that of the USA.


Meanwhile the Socialist relic I work in has these rostfrei crapholes in the ground in place of toilets and garden water hoses instead of paper. It's really grand. The shittier the conditions the less I have to worry about anybody being crazy enough to come work here and underbid me.

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Marko, that's what I'd think. But the blog cab21 links says this:

In their 1998 book ”Void Where Prohibited: Rest Breaks and the Right to Urinate on Company Time,” Marc Linder and Ingrid Nygaard of the University of Iowa – he’s a law professor, she’s a urogynecologist – trace the long and ignoble history of the struggle for the right to pee on the job. In 1995, for instance, female employees at a Nabisco plant in Oxnard, Calif., maker of A-1 steak sauce and the world’s supplier of Grey Poupon mustard, complained in a lawsuit that line supervisors had consistently prevented them from going to the bathroom. Instructed to urinate into their clothes or face three days’ suspension for unauthorized expeditions to the toilet, the workers opted for adult diapers. But incontinence pads were expensive, so many employees downgraded to Kotex and toilet paper, which pose severe health risks when soaked in urine. Indeed, several workers eventually contracted bladder and urinary tract infections. Hearing of their plight, conservative commentator R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. advised the workers to wear special diapers used by horses in New York’s Central Park carriage trade.

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Bogart replied on Thu, Jan 3 2013 12:18 PM

All the lawsuits in the world would not have had as much impact as the local media outlet going up to the plant with cameras and asking management why the employees making popular flavorings have to wear their own urine.  Now with the internet this message could go out with extreme speed and it would hurt sales.

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