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Better Conditions Today: Workers Pay for Lunch Breaks in Oregon

I'm a writer based in Corvallis and a proponent of community policing

A Modern Laborer

A Modern Laborer

Introduction

In order to orient the absurdity of what will be identified and discussed from here onward, we must analyze the very foundation of what is being communicated; workers pay for their lunch breaks in Oregon. This concept should be reduced to an elementary level in order to understand it from the foundation up. A qualified worker who happens to be a resident of Oregon under the capitalist system in the United States retains particular rights concerning the ability to have a break from the continuation of their labor that has lasted over a sustained period of time at their place of employment. In Oregon, a state that contains over 300,000 labor union members, or around 15% of the state’s 2 million employees - workers are legally limited to only two 10-minute paid breaks over the course of an eight-hour shift. While Oregon-based employees are allotted 2 short paid breaks, they are denied payment for the required daily 30-minute lunch break. How is it then that an insulting pair of 10-minute breaks are paid for but the natural act of sustaining personal energy and efficiency through a half-hour lunch break is unpaid?

Critical Analysis

When it was insisted that this concept should be initially presented in an elementary manner, it was in reference to something like this - a worker in Oregon or anywhere else is physically required to eat multiple daily meals for nourishment and efficient function as a human being; a common worker in Oregon works a 40-hour week in which 5 lunch breaks of 30-minutes are deducted each week from the worker’s pay. Let’s join these concepts now - 5 lunch breaks of a half-hour are deducted from the common worker’s pay in Oregon each week as a matter of the fact that a lunch break is taking place instead of labor. 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 didn’t require the loss of wages after they are already engaged in the prolonged act of labor.

Under Oregon labor law which operates under the power of the capitalist structure, the worker is coerced into the necessity of a lunch break due to expending their labor power for the boss. The worker becomes hungry and lacks the necessary level of energy to work efficiently as their labor power is exhausted throughout the day, the week, the month, and so on. The worker who takes a coerced half-hour unpaid lunch break each day of the work week has had around 6% of their weekly wages stolen by the boss for the amount of time that these breaks have been enforced. In essence, the boss is charging the worker a fee for developing a natural feeling of hunger in response to the expenditure of labor power under their management! All while the worker’s labor power benefits the greedy boss who steals the surplus value created by the worker. What kind of labor entrapment reduces the already-barren wages of the common worker over the natural and necessary results of the expenditure of labor power? The capitalist has no regard for the consciousness of the worker; it must therefore be displayed through the concentrated force of the will of the workers by the seizure of the means of production from the capitalist and put into the hands and minds of the workers who know the labor intimately.

Conclusion

As was mentioned before, an estimated 15% of the labor force of Oregon is connected with a labor union. The old maxim stands tall - there is power in a union. There can be no justified scenario in which employees in Oregon are forced to take unpaid lunch breaks in the midst of working for an organization that demands a majority of their day. Collective labor power forces the near-sighted capitalist into a corner and exerts the full force of the sustained conditions of the worker! The Oregonian must reject unpaid lunch breaks as a matter of reminding the capitalist of the definition of labor power.

Very Respectfully,
Fellow Worker
Jun 20, 2022

References

https://talkpoverty.org/state-year-report/oregon-2020-report/

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Labor force and unemployment by area: State of Oregon Employment Department Statistics Report, April 2022

https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/oregon-laws-meal-rest-breaks

https://www.oregon.gov/boli/workers/Pages/your-rights-at-work.aspx

© 2022 Albert Hoffman

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