The only way that I have found to handle long hours is to keep my mind off the time. I will not even let myself think about what I wish to do after work. I try to keep moving at a steady pace, for if I slow down or stop working weariness will set in. Sometimes I am unable to keep my thoughts from turning to anger over my situation. But there is a good side to such anger, it will gave you an adrenaline rush that will keep you awake.
The politicians will pass many so-called labor laws, but they don't mean a damn thing if they are not enforced. It is a very clear fact that most labor laws (that is those that benefit working people) are not enforced like those laws that benefit the employers. While the police will throw some worker in jail for breaking a law that protects the employers, how often have you heard of an employer being arrested and jailed for breaking a law that protects a worker?
For example; if a worker steals from an employer, that worker can be arrested and jailed. But if an employer withholds money due to a worker, and that is stealing, then the worker must take that employer to court. Or if a worker goes out and kills someone that is called murder, but if an employer knowingly creates a situation that causes the deaths of workers, the most that may happen is that they must pay a fine.
Many labor laws sound nice on paper, but more often than not, their only purpose is to deceive working people into thinking they have something, when in reality they have next to nothing at all. It is the old smoke and mirror trick. The following are some of the ways they keep labor laws impotent:
- They will pass a law and not give any agency the authorization to enforce it.
- If they do give it to an agency, they may under fund that agency so that it does not have the ability to enforce the law.
- Sometimes they will follow the letter of the law but not the intent of the law. I was worked an overhaul of a large boiler on a ship that was covered with asbestos insulation. Each morning before we went to work there was a test for asbestos in the air. There was only one 12 hour shift working this job. So they were doing their test after the asbestos had 12 hours to settle. So were we being projected by the intent of the law? Hell no. Once we started to work the asbestos dust was kicked up again.
- A large percentage of employers violate heath, safety, environmental and other labor laws because it is profitable to do so. The reason is that enforcement is so weak that most of them never get caught. And if they do get caught the fines are so small that it is even then more profitable to break the laws. Some companies even go as far as doing cost analysis on breaking laws.
If the government was serious about their labor laws the formula for enforcement would be something like this. The forfeiting of all profits made while the law was being broken, additional fines and the same type of criminal liability that exists in the rest of society for deaths and injuries from the result of breaking laws.
Many states in the U.S. have overtime laws, and this you will have to research to know if they cover you or not. The federal law covering time worked is called the Fair Labor Standards Act. The agency that has jurisdiction of the law is the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor. Basically what this law says is that any worker (that is those that are covered by the law) that works over 40 hours a week must be paid no less than time and a half for overtime hours. The law does not set any industrial standards that limits the amount hours workers can be forced to work.
To depend upon politicians, laws and bureaucracies to safeguard the interest of working people is foolish. Everything we have gained has come from the direct result of working class economic force or threat of force. And every gain that we will keep will also be the result of the same.
Time starts to drag in the third hour. A numbness sets in and apathy to your situation engulfs you. All there is in life is work. The next piece of pipe to fit, the next flange to tighten. Life is work, and work is life, all else is but a dream created in ones imagination to pass the time.
The employers are working us longer hours because it profits them to do so. More hours means less employees, and less workers means having to pay less benefits (if there are any) and less costs in Workers Compensation Insurance and other such things.
I have seen on many jobs where some workers will even compete with each other to see who can work the most hours. I guess it is some type of macho thing, a real man can work forever. I have often wondered if the definition of a real man is having nothing between their ears. Poor foolish slaves. They don't seem to understand that no matter how much money one can make, you cannot buy back your life. And the boss is laughing at you all the way to the bank. A sucker is born everyday they say.
Some of the union bosses have gotten into this scam. In some of the business unions, you not only pay your dues, but also the union gets a percentage of all your wages. Thus, when you work overtime they get more money. And the union boss is laughing at you all the way to the bank. A sucker is born everyday they say.
This may be the most dangerous hour of the day. It is still too early to think about your lunch break, and the tiredness of your mind and body leaves you vulnerable to the dangers around you. It is hard to explain to someone who has never worked 14 hours a day, 7 days a week the true reality of being tired without end. Things that you would not think were possible, become ordinary. I have fallen asleep with a 10 pound sledgehammer in my hands while slamming steamjoints. If the mind and body are tired enough you can fall asleep doing most anything. Without knowing it you become careless. You may drop a tool or a part while momentarily dosing. Or you may see a danger, but your reaction time is too slow to act. Things around you seem to move in slow motion, but your motion is even slower. Sometimes you are so exhausted that you may see a danger, but you just stand there because you just don't give a damn anymore. I remember once taking a fall and rather than being hit with fear I felt a peaceful feeling of relief as I fell.
The body and mind needs not only sleep, but also rest from work. Long hours do not give you either. Off the job if you intentionally place someone in a situation that could cause injury or death, you would find yourself in a prison cell. But everyday employers place workers in that situation, and if someone is hurt or is killed, they call it just an industrial accident. A dead or injured worker can be replaced.
Now you may say to yourself that you don't work in such places as shipyards, so why should you give a damn about some poor yardbird who you have never met? But think about this, that damn old yardbird ain't the only one not getting the rest that they should. Everyday, on every highway in America, there are truck drivers driving rigs weighing thousands of pounds, who are just as exhausted as that old yardbird. So as you are driving your little car to and from wherever, the driver in that big rig next to you could be driving in a state of great fatigue. This is something that I understand, for I have also been a long haul driver. I can tell you about driving hour after hour, day after day, sometimes up to six months at a time without anything more than time off to sleep, eat and shit every ten hours. Thousands of people die every year from truck car accidents and one of the main causes is the fatigue of the driver.
Have you ever seen what happens when a car and big rig get all tangled up? If you truly understand what I am trying to say to you you will understand why the eight hour day is important to you directly.