The Systematic Exploitation of Student Worker As the demand of workers increases, the problem ofexploitation of labor is also rising in contemporary society. Numerous peoplein the world are being forced to work illegally and become victims of laborexploitation such as not receiving fair wages, thereby the word exploitation isbeen a crucial topic to be looked into depth. Thus, this paper shows thatexploitation is underway even after the beginning of the Modern world system. Thedictionary meaning of labor exploitation means that an owner does not payworkers as much as labor value, but rather, he or she owns a surplus valuewhich is illegal to do. In addition, exploitation of labor is sometimesaccompanied by threats and acts of violence against workers. An example of howa company exploits an employee is that it should not take any otherinternationally agreed labor rights such as working long hours, not getting thelegitimate wage for which they work, secure employment, freedom from sexualharassment and discrimination and being able to speak out about problems theyare facing in particular working environment.
Still, many people do not receivefair compensation, are exploited, treated unfairly or are not protected by law,therefore are facing the issue of labor exploitation. Among them, there is aneed to pay attention to the phenomenon of student labor exploitation whichoccupies a large part of today’s society. As college expenses increase and students go further intodebt, many students decide to work as a student labor whether on campus or offcampus. A college offers students variety of work positions such aslab-assistant, resident advisor, office assistant, and cashier etc. so studentschoose positions that they want to do according to the conditions andrequirements that need to be fulfilled. Also, there are many students who arelooking for off-campus work positions which is not only limited to on-campusjobs. The experience of student workers might be cumbersome to them becausethey have to handle both academic progress and work. Therefore, society has anobligation to ensure that students are paid fairly as they have worked and areprotected under the entitled laws.
However, many students in the world are exploitedimplicitly and explicitly, the consequences of that are diminishing theirquality of life. Over the past few years, Apple has gotten in trouble severaltimes for exploiting students in Chinese factories. These students were justinterns who were looking to gain work experience, yet their only duty withinApple was to manufacture iPhones. NYU student Deijan Zeng went undercover towork at one of these factories for six months, and experienced excessive laborexploitation. He has had extremely long work days and got only minimum pay atthe factory, and he was one of around 70,000 students that were working there. Accordingto news article written by Gethin Chamberlain, the writer stated “Fewer thanone in three supplier factories obeying the rules on working hours. The auditsalso show that 30% broke rules on wages and benefits, while 24% were in breachof strict rules on involuntary labor”. Under this result, the society seemsalready overwhelmed by exploitation which needs to be improved and reformed.
Thisbegs the question: Why did Apple cause this phenomenon for past several years? Not only Apple, but many othercompanies as well have caused exploitation due to social capitalism. Accordingto Karl Max and others, they implied “Exploitation is at the core of economicrelations under capitalism because the owners pay the workers less than thevalue of what the workers produce and the owners keep the surplus, which mayinclude expenses the capitalists incur but also includes profit”. Capitalismindicates an historical era in which the commodity production takes significantpart of society and in fact, human labor-power is commoditized. As a commodity,labor-power also has value and they received a wage as compensation. Sincesurplus-labor is used in the form of commodity production, surplus-labor takesthe form of surplus-value. Capitalism is highly developed commodity productionso the exploitation of surplus-labor likewise represents an extremely complexissue.The experience ofoff-campus student worker represents serious socioeconomic situations shownabove. If so, what is the reality of the working environment of on-campusstudents? The terms of on-campus studentworker indicates a student that is enrolled at the University they are employedat and is being paid from funds that come directly from their department’sbudget.
In particular, at UCSD, there are many departments that employ studentssuch as Housing Dining and Hospitality, Concessions, and Academic Departmentsetc. Therefore, students are able to get a job on campus to get financialsupport for paying tuitions, housings, and foods etc. But unfortunately, theexploitation of labor has discovered as well as on-campus through the interviewof a student who holds a job on campus.
The interviewee named Courtney whoworks as HDH Student employee (market to-go prep) mentioned that she does workan extra hours when she has a night shift in order to prep for the nextmorning. However, she does not get paid for the extra hours she worked butinstead, she is allowed to make food that she wants to eat from the kitchen andget some extra bucks that she can use them as dining dollars on campus. Infact, her job entails more than just prepping meat and making sandwiches; itinvolves emotional labor. She has to suppress expressing any negative feelingsbut has to present positive expressions while she is working. Because emotionallabor is difficult to quantify, someone can be unfairly paid for the amount ofemotional labor. Courtney is stressed about financial and academic obligations,yet her job requires her to act, look, and in essence, feel a certain waydespite her true emotion. According to Arlie Hochschild, he would define thisas emotional labor. It is “the management of feeling to create a publiclyobservable facial and bodily display”.
These are typically applied to customerservice positions or any other jobs that require people to present themselvesappropriately despite how they truly feel about their job.At understanding of thebasics of Marx’s theory of exploitation also ensures the growth of wageinequality in today’s society. Marx uses the term surplus-value to refer to thevalue that the capitalist pockets without compensation. Thus surplus-value isthe outcome of the exploitation of workers. Also, he refers that “noclass-divided society including slave-based or feudal societies can existwithout exploiting the labor of those who live by the sweat of their brow”. Whathe meant by that is the social classes which are in possession of the means ofproduction or in a position to freely dispose of the ruling class cannotsurvive without exploiting the workers’ labor power. Then, what standard shouldbe applied in terms of the division of income between labor, managers, andcapital? According to one of the class readings titled “Executive Compensation,Fat Cats, and Best Athletes”, the author presented that “the deteriorationin countervailing social institutions, such as labor (Western and Rosenfeld2011) but also business associations (Mizruchi 2013), becomes an importantantecedent to the diffusion of elevated comparisons in social networksinfluencing normative notions of worth”. In addition thewriter indicated, “The simple insight offered by thefinding that changes in pay norms diffuse through social networks is thatreasonable local rules relying on social comparisons to set pay may not lead tosocial and economic macro outcomes that were anticipated or are desirable orstable over time”.
The primary reason for the rapid growth in USinequality is because the income of the top 1% has increased since the late1970s. A key implication is that local diffusion through executive networkstructures explains the changes in macro patterns of income distribution foundin the inequality data.To sum up, various forms of exploitation has been occurreddue to the concept of the capitalism which caused the inequality of America. However,it is vital to creating a more fulfilling and beneficial work experience forstudents in order to compensate them for the amount of work they perform. Whilethis compensation does not have to be a wage increase, benefits focused aroundthe physical and mental health of student workers should be considered.