Announcing... The Union of Time Thieves Local #00

Announcement of the first "local" of the union for work-time stealers.

Submitted by Steven. on December 26, 2010

Why Time Theft? Isn't That Illegal?

Time theft is common enough on most jobs. When we come to work late, leave early, extend our breaks and lunch hours, conduct "personal business" on the clock, we expand the time dedicated to enriching our own humanity. At the same time we make off with bits of creative human energy, stealing it back from the all- devouring machine of The Economy.

To The Economy, most of us are no more than employees of companies and consumers of goods. The premise of this arrangement is that during our time on the job we will help create wealth in excess of what we are paid. This additional wealth is the profit that The Economy demands, in fact requires, and it is stolen from us by design. The circle is completed when we buy back the goods that we contributed producing in the first place. Of course we then pay more than the goods "cost'' to produce, because the companies that pay people to make, ship and sell them, to keep track of the money, pensions, taxes, and so on, all have a "right" to make a profit. Somewhere between the bottom and the upper-middle echelons of business life almost all of us are toiling away in this web of absurdity, while our right to a good life is buried beneath more powerful "rights."

During the last century there's been an incredible increase in the productivity of human labor, to the point where we are almost in sight of self-reproducing robots. Since 1948, labor productivity has more than doubled, yet today we are working an average of five weeks longer per year than we were in 1972. WHY IS THIS?!?

It is widely recognized that the system needs an "army of unemployed," both as a pool of cheap and eager labor to draw on in case of a business upturn—or a strike—and as a terrifying example to hold up to the still employed. In spite of this, the Economy is actually an incredible work creator. The Economy is a self-perpetuating way of "life" that depends on growth and profit. Human goals like good relations between people, deep and satisfying emotional and sex lives, or anything not reducible to economic numbers, are at best incidental to our work lives. Having thoroughly streamlined industrial production, reducing humans to animated machine parts in the process, economic logic is invading every part of the globe and our lives. From the search for cheap biogenetic materials in the deepest tropical jungles to the emergence of new products and services such as "career counseling" or new variations on fast food, less and less human activity goes on outside the realm of the marketplace. Paid-for "professional services" medicalize family and personal problems that often have their roots in the overwork, financial stress, and hopelessness produced by The Economy.

Time thieves recognize this dynamic and combat it every way we can. The most direct resistance available to us is to take back as much time as possible from the logic of the marketplace, beginning immediately on our own jobs.

We need to alter the pace of work to suit our own needs. Sometimes we can secretly eliminate unnecessary activities; other times we may pull a slow-down. Psycho-wars between groups of workers and their managers are essential to gradually (or abruptly) changing productivity expectations.

When we control our worktime, we can structure our activities to increase free time, hiding our efficiency to retain its benefits for ourselves. Why should our ingenuity strengthen The Economy? When such efforts become organized across the boundaries of workplaces, occupations, industries, and finally national borders, we will be approaching a new way of life in which people freely choose and creatively pursue the work that together they decide they want done—the only work worth doing.

Why A Union?

Unions have become ineffective and generally corrupt institutions designed to facilitate the sale of our time to an economy over which we have no control. They have failed to challenge the absurd and inhuman division of labor that has grown up under 200 years of capitalism. Unionism must address the bald fact that most work done today is so wasteful and harmful that it has to be eliminated, not simply reformed through improved or less brutal conditions or even workers' control. Time thieves already know that their "real lives" happen outside of what they do for money, i.e. work. The pursuit of free time and less work is a continuing statement about the basic uselessness of most jobs, and our need for greater meaning and fulfillment. Unionism based on specific jobs or industries has divided workers and often led to self-defeat. But a union of time thieves naturally unites kindred spirits across the artificial boundaries imposed by The Economy.

A UNION OF TIME THIEVES restores the original meaning of the word "union." Once again it becomes a practical association among individuals seeking a common goal—in this case the expansion of autonomous time under our own control while on the job. To systematically increase free, creative time takes cooperation and collaboration, hence the need for a union of time thieves.

Why Local #00?

Each zero has its own meaning:
* The first 0 represents the usefulness of most of the work we do for this society.
* The second 0 indicates what percentage of our time we are willing to leave under the control of people and institutions other than ourselves.

Won't you join us?

Combat the ravenous and insatiable appetite of The Economy which attempts to subject all aspects of human life to the dictatorship of its logic!



Union of Time Thieves Local #00
c/o 1310 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103