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‘Labor of Love’ Is ‘The Bachelorette,’ But With More Semen

This is a preview of our pop culture newsletter The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, written by senior entertainment reporter Kevin Fallon. To receive the full newsletter in your inbox each week, sign up for it here.

On the one hand, we knew everyone in quarantine was spending more time than usual watching footage of men ejaculate. (Studies have shown!) We just didn’t think that it would be happening in primetime on Fox. 

When reality TV that was pure, irredeemable trash had its first big boom in the late ’90s and early ’00s—Temptation Island, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?, The Swan—and cultural critics fussed in their tweed jackets and tsked at us that societal intellectual bankruptcy was nigh, it is probably a series that begins with 15 men jizzing into cups that they were warning us about. 

I’m glad that it’s finally here! We already have a pandemic, let’s go down with our last two brain cells aflame. But the thing is, proclaiming Fox’s Labor of Love as the harbinger of cultural doom is giving the series too much credit. 

It’s too blandly pleasant and too skittish about its own trollish, outrageous concept for that. At worst, it’s more boring and predictable than it is offensive or naughty. At best, it’s kind of sweet. If we’re being honest: Could use more cum. 

Labor of Love, which launched Thursday night, follows Kristy, a 41-year-old divorcee who, as host Kristin Davis (of Sex and the City fame) chirps cheerfully in a voiceover, “seems to have it all, except one thing: a partner to start a family.” 

She’s not getting any younger (their phrase, used between 700 and 4,000 times an episode), her eggs are frozen, and the fertility doc is on speed dial. It’s time to choose daddy, and reality TV producers are going to help her out. They rounded up 15 “sexy and sophisticated men”—cue montage of mostly white guys with six-pack abs working out shirtless—“who are ready to skip the dating and go straight to baby making.” 

A woman turning to reality TV to choose a sperm donor? I’m scandalized! I love it! 

Except, here’s the thing: Labor of Love isn’t skipping the dating at all. We have been BAMBOOZLED. What Kristy really wants is love and a man to raise a baby with. Each episode is about finding connections with the potential suitors/fathers. This godforsaken thing is The Bachelorette, just with a higher median age and more talk of sperm count. 

There should be exciting topics to debate here. Is it crass to publicize a journey as personal as this in a medium as notorious as reality TV? (What will the eventual child think?) Or is it a certain kind of fantasy fulfillment for women seeking a sperm donor to be able to meet and vet them first? 

Is there something sweet, like the germ of a high-concept rom-com, to the idea of a woman falling in love with the sperm donor? Or is there something regressive about the whole thing: a woman making the empowered decision to make a baby happen for herself, but then deciding she wants to still be in love first? (Alternately, is there something empowering about making that decision, too?)

Davis kicks things off by announcing that the first order of business is figuring out if they’re “fit to be fathers…in the most literal sense,” stressing, “We’re not messing around!” Cocktail servers with specimen cups on their trays enter, Charlotte York gestures to a porta-potty trailer where the men will be jacking off on national TV, and their fertility stats are measured in real time. More, their results are ranked! 

Congratulations to 39-year-old Alan, the hunky writer from South Africa who, with 317 million active swimmers, takes first place. Even Kristy gets a glint in her eye, her ovaries practically moaning as he swaggers over to accept his trophy. The whole sequence is batty and eye-rolling, yet sort of sarcastic and in on the joke. 

If only the show kept leaning into this. We’d have things to be angry about—why does every single “challenge” and “activity” gauge the contestants’ levels of masculinity, biological or otherwise, as if that’s the only measure of a suitable father—and laugh at: grown men nervously giggling as they talk about their sperm. 

Even the very idea that this is an untraditional, perhaps controversial way of starting a family is only glanced at. What Kristy is going through is a reality for so many women. Let’s talk about it. Let’s dig into it. Let’s go there. Let’s not…do this.

At one point in the premiere, Davis shares that she identifies with Kristy, having spent her thirties working and emerging on the other side with concern over how to make motherhood happen for her, ultimately deciding to adopt. If you thought we were going to delve further into the emotional weight of this, nope! Time to get to the group dates, Bachelor-style. (For what it’s worth, Davis is a compassionate, refreshingly invested host, a welcome change for the genre.)

Since we’re forced to look at the show as just another remix of The Bachelor universe, instead of something provocative and new, the one thing that does set it apart is age. 

Age is talked about a lot here. It’s the best part of the show. Kristy explains that she’s turning to something like this because when she’s dating, family-minded men are turned off by the fact that she’s older. That is candid and heartbreaking. The ticking clock here is far more palatable than while watching The Bachelor, in which 23-year-old women gripe with certainty that if they don’t find love now, they’re a lost cause and will never find it. 

To that end, it’s nice to see a cast of reality TV contestants in their late thirties and early forties for once. There’s a whole, dynamic array of hairlines, and even some grays. Unlike on The Bachelor, their jobs are actually real. Of course, there’s still not an ounce of body fat on any of them; this is still reality TV, after all. Which is to say, if the goal of the premiere is to cheekily get the audience to visualize this group of men masturbating into cups…well, it’s time well spent.

The Daily Beast’s Obsessed

Everything we can’t stop loving, hating, and thinking about this week in pop culture.

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News NPR

Germany Is Struggling To Fill Its Farm Labor Shortage After Closing Its Borders : NPR

Fresh asparagus is pictured in a basket at a field in Bottrop, Germany, in mid-April. Farms across Europe are facing a labor shortage as a result of closed borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin Meissner/AP


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Martin Meissner/AP

Fresh asparagus is pictured in a basket at a field in Bottrop, Germany, in mid-April. Farms across Europe are facing a labor shortage as a result of closed borders due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin Meissner/AP

Arne Garlipp has farmed his 150 acres of asparagus in the eastern German state of Saxony-Anhalt for 24 years. For much of that time, he has relied on seasonal workers to help harvest it each spring.

“Our Romanian workers live with us on the farm,” says Garlipp. “In the fields they’re surrounded by fresh air, birds and very few people.”

But when Germany closed its borders to slow the coronavirus outbreak, Garlipp and hundreds of thousands of other German farmers were suddenly in panic mode. Each year, 300,000 seasonal workers — mostly from Romania and Poland — come to Germany to harvest asparagus, lettuce, apples and other crops that Germans rely on.

Germany’s federal government has given special permission and offered air travel for 80,000 seasonal workers from Romania and Poland to enter Germany to harvest crops, but farmers say it won’t be enough.

“There will be an impact in the market, and we will see this later in the year, in the summer,” says Udo Hemmerling, the deputy general secretary of the German Farmers’ Association.

It is a problem playing out in farms across Europe, as counter-virus restrictions disrupt work and supply chains, and risk leaving unpicked produce to rot.

The situation is so dire that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has urged member states to allow workers to come to their countries, treating fruit and vegetable pickers as essential.

In Germany, developers have created a mobile app called Clever Ackern — German for “clever plowing” — to help fill the worker shortage on farms while also addressing unemployment in cities.

“It’s a platform where people, students, young people and people who just lost their jobs register and tell us their availability on the upcoming weeks and months to help farmers on their fields,” app developer Fabian Höhne says.

Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Höhne ran a travel booking app that offered last-minute discounted airline tickets to students. With hardly anyone flying, he and his staff shifted gears and came up with the program connecting farmers and potential workers. The service is free of charge. Within days of launching in March, 40,000 people registered to become farm workers, the developer says.

“I think the great weather, of course, is bringing people outside, and they’re saying, ‘OK, yeah, let’s do something. Let’s help,’ ” says Höhne.

But farmer Garlipp is skeptical about the idea of city folks working in the fields, and he isn’t convinced it is a good idea health-wise, either.

“If I take on [Germans] to help with the harvest — assuming they’re fit enough for the job — the problem I face is that they’ll come from all over the region,” Garlipp says. “I have no idea where these people have been or who they’re mixing with at the end of the day, and the risk of [coronavirus] infection is much higher.”

Garlipp says he’s received more than a hundred offers from Germans willing to help him on the farm, but it turns out he won’t need their help. Thanks to the German government, his regular team of 80 Romanians is among those who will be allowed to bring in the harvest this year.

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News RT

Sexual harassment ‘RAMPANT’ at McDonald’s, international labor group tells OECD in complaint — RT World News

An international group of labor unions has filed a complaint alleging “systemic” and “rampant” sexual harassment at McDonald’s restaurants around the globe, arguing the corporate fast food giant has ignored the problem for years.

The complaint was filed with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on Monday by the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), which said McDonald’s had allowed a “sexual harassment crisis” to persist in restaurants all over the world, including in the US, Brazil, Australia, France, the UK, Chile and Colombia, among other countries.

“McDonald’s workers have sounded the alarm about sexual harassment and gender-based violence for years, but a company with a culture rotten from the top has failed to take meaningful action to address the problem,” Sue Longley, IUF’s general secretary, said in a statement.

Running down a litany of examples of harassment – including offers of promotion in exchange for sexual favors in Brazil, hidden cameras installed in a women’s changing room in France and indecent exposure and attempted rape in the US – the IUF says McDonald’s has repeatedly violated OECD rules governing multinational enterprises. The complaint also targets two European investment banks which together own holdings in the company worth $1.7 billion – Norges Bank and APG Asset Management – alleging that they have also bucked OECD guidelines, which require large shareholders to oversee responsible business conduct.




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The group filed its grievance with regulators in the Netherlands instead of the US, where McDonald’s is headquartered, arguing that because harassment “permeates the top ranks of corporate management,” their complaint would be handled by “unclean hands” in the States.

“Because McDonald’s has neglected to act to create a safe workplace, the Dutch government should make use of this complaint to empower workers to effectively address the rampant harassment they face under the Golden Arches,” Longley said.

The complaint asks for no monetary compensation, seeking only to compel the company to negotiate and create a plan to crack down on harassment in its restaurants worldwide, according to Lance Compa, an international labor law specialist who addressed a press conference alongside the IUF on Monday.

“Mediation is the goal. It’s not a case of winning or losing, it’s about coming together and finding a joint solution to this problem,” Compa said, adding that while the complaint can’t force the company to change its ways, similar grievances have brought globe-spanning corporations to the table before.

The IUF is not the first to accuse McDonald’s of tolerating harassment. Last year, the Time’s Up legal defense fund – created to finance lawsuits brought against high-profile harassers – filed two dozen complaints against the company last year, while on the same day Brazilian prosecutors launched a probe into racism and sexual assault at the restaurant. Time’s Up also helped employees bring a separate class action suit against McDonald’s earlier this month seeking $500 million, alleging “systemic sexual harassment.”




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News Popular Resistance

Prison Labor Replaces Striking Garbage Workers In New Orleans

Prison Labor Replaces Striking Garbage Workers In New Orleans

Prison Labor Replaces Striking Garbage Workers In New Orleans2020-05-10PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/05/sanitation-e1589129307781.png200px200px

On Wednesday, dozens of garbage workers, employed by the temp service People Ready, went on strike, demanding proper safety equipment.

The workers, who make only $10.25 an hour are also demanding hazard pay and paid sick leave.

“$10.25 to pick up trash – come on now. It’s contaminated now with coronavirus,” strike leader Gregory Woods told Payday Report this week.

After striking, the workers were fired en-masse earlier this week

However, many workers had hoped that the city would find a resolution to hire the back. Now, the city has found new workers to replace the striking workers, prison labor from nearby Livingston Parish.

“Metro Services Group has long been an advocate of helping persons who had been incarcerated return to society in a meaningful and productive way,” said the city’s sanitation services in a statement. “Metro makes no apologies for this policy as a core element of our commitment to being good corporate citizens.

Under state rules, prison inmates, employed by Metro Services, will be paid only 13% of what garbage workers, who only make $10.25-an-hour, are being paid.

“I really don’t like it,” says Woods. “They are really trying to use those dudes to do our job, and they paying them way less than they were paying us.”

“They are trying to show the world that people will still do our job without giving us the proper protective equipment,” says Woods. “All of it is a hustle for them, a scam for them. They saving money that’s all they are doing – that’s all it is”.

The workers have been on strike for four days, but so far, the city of New Orleans has refused to meet with them to discuss their safety concerns.

Despite the use of inmates, garbage workers say that they will continue to strike in New Orleans. They have built widespread community spreads from unions and community groups, but still, the city has refused to meet with them to discuss their safety concerns.

“They aren’t trying to hear us,” says Woods. “They don’t care about us; they would let anything happen. If we were to get sick, they don’t care if we spread the disease. They just don’t care”.

(Check out Payday’s Interactive Strike Tracking Map listing over 190 strikes since March 1st)

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News Popular Resistance

Amazon Labor Activism Goes International

Amazon Labor Activism Goes International

Amazon Labor Activism Goes International2020-05-10PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/05/amazon-e1589128363844.jpg200px200px

Above photo: An Amazon warehouse worker shoots a selfie with an activist dressed as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos during a protest gathering outside the Axel Springer building on April 24, 2018 in Berlin, Germany. Sean Gallup/Getty Images.

European and U.S. Workers Combine Forces.

Amazon worker organizing is going international. A new coalition of Amazon employee activists from Spain, France, German, Poland and America has announced itself with a list of demands for improved pay and safety—and they say that this is just the beginning.

The new group, called Amazon Workers International (AWI), is a significant new formal attempt to combine the well-established labor activism of Amazon workers in Europe with the grassroots organizing that has targeted Amazon in America in recent months. The group’s letter, sent to CEO Jeff Bezos and Stefano Perego, the VP of Europe Customer Fulfillment, asks the company to lock in temporary gains that workers have made during the pandemic, and for broader improvements in Amazon’s historically poor relationship with its warehouse workers. Among the demands in the letter: making permanent the wage increases and extra break time instituted in response to the coronavirus crisis; granting two weeks of paid sick leave, and extending the unlimited unpaid sick leave program that the company just ended in the U.S.; working in good faith with unions; reinstating the workers who have been fired for their activism; and ending “all forms of casual and temporary employment,” which the group calls an abuse of corporate power.

“At a time when officials and employers are attempting to return to a false sense of normalcy, Amazon—which profited during this period—could set a standard of prioritizing the health of its workers and the public. Instead, you continue leading the race to the bottom,” the letter says. “We demand that you stop treating essential workers as disposable and that you start cooperating with those advocating otherwise. Stop firing and start listening.”

Asked for a comment on the letter’s demands, the company did not respond directly to the points raised by AWI. Instead, a spokesman cited recent pay increases, along with increased cleaning, social distancing, masks and other safety measures the company has introduced, and said, “We encourage anyone interested in the facts to compare our overall pay and benefits, as well as our speed in managing this crisis, to other retailers and major employers across the country.”

One of the Americans working with AWI is Christian Zamarron, an Amazon warehouse worker in Chicago who helped to lead walkouts over unsafe working conditions last month. Zamarron has seen the power of European Amazon worker organizing firsthand—he traveled to gatherings of the company’s worker activists in Germany last October, and in Madrid in March. “Unity is growing. Coordinated international campaigns will start more and more,” he says.

Such organizing has deeper roots in Europe, where labor laws are more friendly, unions are often more powerful, and political expectations of corporations are higher. (In France last month, unions managed to get a court order that forced Amazon to suspend its operations in the entire country over charges of inadequate workplace safety.) Zamarron says his European counterparts have learned as they go—for example, workers in Germany have learned that they need to act in solidarity with Polish workers, or else the company will simply shift German warehouse operations over to Poland when there are any disruptions.

The European workers involved in AWI, who responded to questions as a group, have been sharing ideas across national borders since 2015. While they are realistic about the task ahead of them, they say that international collaboration is a necessity when trying to change an international behemoth like Amazon. “What we learned in our many years of struggle is, that if you want to organize at Amazon, you will have to think long term, build a broad base of workers who stand behind the cause and are willing to take action. You have to be prepared to take more defeats than earning victories,” they say. “And it should be clear, that this struggle can’t be won only in one country or even in one facility. The Amazon management quickly learns how to counteract organizing activities, so you have to be able to spontaneously react to this.”

They say that they eventually hope to expand AWI and bring in Amazon workers in Asia and in Latin America, as well. And while they fully expect the company to try to ignore their efforts for as long as possible, they know that in Europe they have already won the PR battle. “A good reputation is very important to them,” they say. “In Germany and other European countries the reputation is very bad. The company is sometimes even the synonym for bad working conditions.”

Even as the coronavirus has shut down businesses across the world, Amazon—perfectly positioned for a world of stay-at-home orders—has boomed so much that Jeff Bezos has gotten more than $20 billion richer this year. But the crisis and its profits have also brought a spasm of protests and walkouts, and a deluge of bad press over the company’s retaliatory firings and smear campaign against workers who spoke out.

Labor unrest is not a niche issue for the trillion-dollar company. The “safety strikes” at Christian Zamarron’s workplace were not isolated to a handful of people—they included a majority of the employees on the shift. After seeing hundreds of his coworkers sign petitions and take actions already, Zamarron is optimistic that an international movement can actually work. “Everything has to start somewhere,” he says. “It’s learning from each other, and how we tackle each of our situations. We have very similar problems.”

Hamilton Nolan is a labor reporter for In These Times. He has spent the past decade writing about labor and politics for Gawker, Splinter, The Guardian, and elsewhere. You can reach him at Hamilton@InTheseTimes.com.

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