In collaboration with the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI) and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Assistant Professor Lola Loustaunau released a new report Overwork Impacts on Low-Wage Workers: Insights from the Food Manufacturing Sector in Oregon and Washington.
“Each week is different. Sometimes they [the employer] ask me to stay one hour after my shift, sometimes two, sometimes more. It really depends on what they need, but they never consider the worker and what we might need. If they need to finish a job, they don’t even ask… ‘Is it okay with you to stay longer? Are you able to stay longer?’ They just say you have to do it. And the problem is that our shifts are usually already long, because 10 hours is a long time to be standing on the line, but it never is just 10 hours. You end up working 12 or 13 hours, and your feet hurt, your back hurts, and you don’t have a choice…You come back home, and you are so exhausted you can barely take care of your family.”
This is the answer Claribel, a migrant worker who has been employed in the fruit packing industry for over 20 years, gave when asked about her work hours. Her response illustrates some key dimensions of overwork—an underexamined component of unstable scheduling practices that significantly impacts low-wage workers and can affect both short-term and longer-term labor force participation across a range of industries and occupations.