I’m a Corvallis-based writer and advocate for community policing.
To guide the absurdity of what will be identified and discussed from now on, we must analyze the very foundation of what is communicated; workers pay for their lunch hours in Oregon. This concept must be reduced to an elementary level to understand it from the base. A qualified worker who happens to be a resident of Oregon under the capitalist system in the United States retains particular rights related to the possibility of having a rest from the continuation of his work that has lasted for a sustained period of time at his place of employment. In Oregon, a state that contains more than 300,000 union members, or about 15% of the state’s 2 million employees, workers are legally limited to just two 10-minute paid breaks over the course of an eight-hour shift. While Oregon employees are allotted 2 short paid breaks, they are denied pay for the required daily 30-minute lunch break. So how is it possible to pay for an insulting pair of 10-minute breaks, but not pay for the natural act of maintaining personal energy and efficiency during a half-hour lunch break?
When it was stressed that this concept should initially be presented in an elementary fashion, it meant something like this: a worker in Oregon or elsewhere is physically required to eat several meals a day in order to nourish himself and function efficiently as a human being; A typical worker in Oregon works a 40-hour week in which 5 30-minute lunch breaks are deducted each week from the worker’s wages. Let’s join these concepts now: 5 half-hour lunch breaks are deducted from the wages of the average worker in Oregon each week for the fact that a lunch break is being taken instead of work. So the logical question that should follow is this; What can the worker do to avoid unpaid lunch breaks? If this system of wage reduction were fair, it would offer the worker an alternative that would not imply the loss of wages after he is already immersed in the prolonged act of work.
Under Oregon labor law, operating under the power of the capitalist structure, the worker is forced into the need for a lunch break because he spends his labor power for the boss. The worker becomes hungry and lacks the energy level needed to work efficiently as his labor power is depleted throughout the day, week, month, etc. The worker who takes an unpaid half-hour lunch break every day of the work week has been robbed by the employer of around 6% of his weekly salary during the time these breaks have been applied. In essence, the boss is charging the worker a fee for developing a natural feeling of hunger in response to spending labor under his direction! All while the worker’s labor power benefits the greedy employer who steals the surplus value created by the worker. What kind of job entrapment reduces the already sterile wages of the common worker over the natural and necessary results of the expenditure of labor power? The capitalist does not take into account the conscience of the worker; therefore, it must unfold through the concentrated force of the will of the workers by appropriating the means of production from the capitalist and placing them in the hands and minds of workers who know the work intimately.
As mentioned above, approximately 15% of the Oregon workforce is connected to a union. The old maxim stands firm: there is power in a union. There can be no justified scenario where Oregon employees are forced to take unpaid lunch breaks while working for an organization that demands the majority of their day. The collective labor power corners the myopic capitalist and exerts the full force of the sustained conditions of the worker! The Oregonian must reject unpaid lunch breaks to remind the capitalist of the definition of labor power.
June 20, 2022
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Labor force and unemployment by area: Oregon State Employment Department Statistics Report, April 2022
© 2022 Alberto Hoffman