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  • Little, Brown US

On the Clock: What Low-Wage Work Did to Me and How It Drives America Insane

Emily Guendelsberger

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Educational: Social sciences

The bitingly funny, eye-opening story of a college-educated young professional who finds work in the automated and time-starved world of hourly labour.

After the local newspaper where she worked as a reporter closed, Emily Guendelsberger took a pre-Christmas job at an Amazon fulfilment centre outside Louisville, Kentucky. There, the vending machines were stocked with painkillers and the staff turnover was dizzying. In the new year, she travelled to North Carolina to work at a call centre, a place where even bathroom breaks were timed to the second and finally, Guendelsberger was hired at a San Francisco McDonald's, narrowly escaping revenge-seeking customers who pelted her with condiments.

Across three jobs and in three different parts of the country, Guendelsberger directly took part in the revolution changing the U.S. workplace. ON THE CLOCK takes us behind the scenes of the fastest-growing segment of the American workforce to understand the future of work in America - and its present. Until robots pack boxes, resolve billing issues and make fast food, human beings supervised by AI will continue to get the job done. Guendelsberger shows us how workers went from being the most expensive element of production to the cheapest - and how low wage jobs have been remade to serve the ideals of efficiency, at the cost of humanity.

ON THE CLOCK explores the lengths that half of Americans will go to in order to make a living, offering not only a better understanding of the modern workplace but also surprising solutions to make work more humane for millions of Americans.

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