Day to Day types of workplace solidarity:
These won’t start a revolution but they are hints of the collective sensibility and “mutual aid” so to speak that I find in myself and most of my co-workers at the call center.
An angry caller is yelling at me and the call disconnects (their cell phone drops the signal, their battery dies, etc.). I call them back to complete the call. Management tells us to do that because it creates a good customer experience. I do it because I don’t want one of my co-workers to get a worse ass-chewing when the person calls back even more pissed that they disconnected and had to go back thru the 5 minute automated menu.
When a rep makes a mistake processing something on a policy, we’re supposed to submit “friendly feedback” on them. This basically means that we submit a complaint about the other rep to our supervisor, who then passes it on to the other rep’s supervisor, who then approaches that rep with it in a “sit-down” and later files it away on the rep’s permanent record. Management encourages us to do this so as to help “correct” each other’s mistakes. Yet the supervisor gets to decide what is valid feedback and what isn’t, so not everything we submit gets passed on. Plus it becomes a permanent black mark on the other worker that can be used to justify no pay raise the following year, etc.
Most of us do not submit “friendly feedback.” If we know the other rep who screwed up we just approach them one on one to point it out. Or we don’t say anything at all cuz the screw up wasn’t that bad and we can just fix it ourselves.
The call center where I work tries to take a “holistic” approach to the workers. They want happy workers, because happy workers are more productive workers. So, unlike previous call centers I’ve worked at, we have access to social networking sites like Facebook and we can access our personal email accounts on our computers while at work. The work is boring as shit so that’s about the only thing that makes the constant, repetitive call-taking bearable. Management has, however, blocked certain sites like YouTube or most streaming video and audio sites because they see that as a distraction to our work. (which is ironic, because the guy who sits next to me literally plays Dune Scape for 8 hours straight and still gives some of the best customer service I’ve ever seen)
Most of us spend a lot of time on the internet so we find ways around the internet restrictions. For instance, one of us found out recently that management hasn’t blocked Netflix so those of us with Netflix accounts can stream movies on our computers. This only works for the weekend crew cuz it’s too busy and there’s too much management around on weekdays to get away with that. But finding this out was like winning the lottery for us. Folks started sharing their Netflix passwords with each other so now everyone can watch Netflix.
It’s only a matter of time before management catches on and we’ll have to go back to the drawing board to find other sites that they haven’t restricted yet.