SOAR is a member of the Ain’t I Woman Campaign and orga nizes students and young workers in the fight against mandatory overti me. The students first learned about the problem of mandatory overtime through the Pactiv workers’ story and recognized the relevance to their own lives and futures as young workers. In 2011, Pactiv fired 60% of the production workers (almost all Chinese and Latina women) in their New Jersey plant in retaliation for speaking out against intolera ble conditions. The remaining 40% were forced to take up their fired coworkers’ responsibilities on top of their own. The pace of work sped up, and the women were forced to work overtime—until many beca me seriously injured and disabled. Despite these setbacks, the workers continued to organize. Pactiv reta liated again by closing shop. Many students around the country spread the Pactiv/Reynolds Boycott to raise awareness of the problem.
Group interview with Lai Yee Chan, Ruixiang Pan, Qunxiang Ling, Ruiling Huang, Huiliing Chen:
I don’t clean and organize my own home anymore, I only clean the home of the elderly woman whom I work for. Her home is nice and neat, but my home is a mess. If you don’t clean and organize the patient’s homes, if the patient falls, you will be the one responsible. When you work 24 hours at a time for many days, you are not well rested. Then you become hot tem pered and if you’re married you get into arguments with your spouse. Some people are getting divorced because of this. When you become aggressive and hot tempered, of course, it will affect family relationships. You don’t care about your children anymore. Your emotional connection with the children is gone.
Home attendants care for sick and elderly Medicaid patients throughout the state, and are often forced to work 24-hour shifts up to 7days a week. If they refuse, many employers retaliate with a reduced schedule or by assigning difficult cases. Their average pay is $10-11 per hour. To add insult to injury, the agencies only pay them 13 out of 24 hours. At the end of the day their pay is far below the minimum wage.