critic's pick 217

The opening two minutes of Elastic Aspects, the typically engaging new album by the Matthew Shipp Trio, are something of a tease. Titled Alternative Aspects, the prelude hardly features Shipp at all. It instead favors the bowed bass work of Michael Bisio, which sounds like it could be emanating from a cave, along with subtle mallet percussion colors from longtime drummer Whit Dickey.

Then comes the payoff, Aspects (well, there is something to be said for continuity in the titles). At once, Shipp’s commanding piano tone is unleashed. It is bright but autumnal, precise but expansive and full of traditional spirits while following a muse that is very much his own.

In terms of sheer piano color, Shipp has been working steadily at this sound for years. It reached an initial pinnacle on the brilliant One album in 2008. There, you heard a playfulness and tough knuckled bounce that brought the great Thelonious Monk to mind. But on successive recordings, you discovered just how unique and expressive Shipp’s sound was. That pensive yet exact lyricism immediately enveloped you, making Shipp seem less like the avant garde warrior many have proclaimed him to be and more of an honest jazz journeymen seeking to perfect and build upon his sound.

That isn’t to say he doesn’t explore some torrential free-jazz downpours on Elastic Aspects. Flow Chart again opens with bowed bass, but its sound has grown vastly more unsettled than at the album’s onset. Again, Shipp sits the tune out, using it as a set-up for the impish, Monk-style mischief of Mute Voice. Here, piano dances about like a wandering feather for just over three minutes with very modest drum support from Dickey. It’s fanciful in the best sense, before bass and the deeper piano ramble of Explosive Aspects take hold. Once Dickey is added to the agitation, the tune truly lives up to its name.

Given such unrest, you might expect a tune like Raw Materials to bear an even greater primal force. Instead, it is a delicious piano reverie. There are hints of Bud Powell and even early Chick Corea in Shipp’s playing. But it’s the spacious design of the composition that makes it so distinctive. Shipp’s best works operate almost as ballets, mixing musicianship that runs to the overtly playful to the more deceptively fractured. Here, Shipp and Bisio team for a melody that is almost childlike before bending it ever so gently as the tune sails around some rough lyrical curves.

Everything merges on the album-closing Elastic Eye, which opens as a battle cry (complete with Dickey’s militaristic snare rolls) before the tune morphs into a brittle processional that marches with deep left hand piano rolls. From there, the music ebbs and flows like an ocean. Like most of Elastic Aspects, the tune is bright and adventurous one moment, but stormy and delightfully threatening the next.

Working children: heeding child labor laws is only the first step: employers can do much more to help teenagers juggle school and work. (restaurant industry; includes related articles)

Restaurants & Institutions June 27, 1990 | Sherer, Michael In changing its advertising slogan to “Sometimes you’ve gotta break the rules,” Burger King wasn’t suggesting that managers and franchisees literally break the law. But in March, the U.S. Department of Labor filed a lawsuit accusing the Miami-based company of violating federal child labor laws.

Burger King is only one of several thousand foodservice operators under attack in a nationwide push to force companies to abide by laws protecting minors from exploitation in the workplace. The DOL’s much-publicized Operation Child Watch last March uncovered 12,500 violations in all.

More importantly, the federal crackdown focused attention on the larger issue of how teenagers are treated in the workplace. Lawmakers, educators and parents accuse employers of giving scant attention to worker safety and contributing to high dropout rates and poor academic performance.

“Businesses have been more willing to treat education as a charity than admit and take responsibility for the problem of working kids,” says Terrence Falk, a high-school teacher who has been researching child labor law as part of graduate studies at the University of Marquette in Milwaukee.

Beyond highlighting what every operator should know about federal and state child labor laws, this article shows how some are making a positive difference in the lives and futures of their youthful employees.

BIG EMPLOYER, MANY VIOLATIONS “In the 20% of investigations I’ve seen so far, it appears that at least half the violations are in foodservice,” says Brad Mitchell, a spokesman for the DOL’s Chicago district office.

Falk found hundreds of violations where both business and employees were willing participants. In many cases, despite the law, kids closed foodservice operations at 11 p.m. and did not finish cleaning until 12:30 or 1 a.m. In other instances, managers would skirt the issue by making kids work “off the clock” after closing. The effect, he says, is that the more kids work, the less interest they take in school.

Foodservice is more at fault than other industries in part because it is one of the largest employers of youth. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that almost 25% of working teens (16-to 19-year-olds)-nearly 1.5 million-are working in foodservice. Another 900,000-plus 14-and 15-year-olds are in the work force, and no one knows how many of those work in foodservice.

The sheer number of teen employees in foodservice, especially fast food, makes it a highly visible target. Revelations about work-related injuries and deaths of youth were perhaps the most shocking part of the DOL’s Operation Child Watch. Testimony before a congressional subcommittee on employment and housing last March revealed that thousands of teenagers are injured or killed in the workplace each year. One of the casualties was a 17-year-old driver for Domino’s Pizza; his story was told and retold in countless media accounts, and each time the industry’s reputation as an employer of youth dropped a notch.

LETTER OF THE LAW Operators say most violations are unintentional, caused by ignorance or confusion over the laws.

“We were cited for a few minor violations,” says Austaco’s Dirk Dozier, a Taco Bell franchisee in Austin, Texas. “It caught us by surprise. Normally, we don’t have any problems with working, but maybe we’ve been a little lazy in adhering to the law.” Under federal law, children at ages 14 and 15 cannot work more than three hours on school days, more than 18 hours a week in school weeks, or between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. They cannot work more than 8 hours on non-school days, or 40 hours a week during non-school weeks. From June 1 to Labor Day, however, they may work as late as 9 p.m.

There are no federal restrictions on hours for 16-and 17-year olds, but minors age 14 to 18 cannot operate certain types of equipment, including bakery machinery and power-driven meat and food slicers.

Younger workers ages 14 and 15 are not allowed to work in or around boiler rooms, do maintenance on equipment or machinery, work on ladders or scaffolding, cook (except at lunch counters, soda fountains or cafeteria serving counters), work in freezers or meat coolers, or load and unload trucks.

A majority of violations the DOL is uncovering in foodservice involve younger employees working later or more hours than the law allows. Most of the remaining citations involve workers under 18 using meat slicers or other hazardous equipment.

“The intent of the law is the safety and well-being of teens,” says Pat McKinney, vice president of operations at Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne, Ind. “If operators aren’t following the guidelines, for the most part it’s just an oversight. They’re not intentionally running a sweatshop.” Where some of the confusion lies, according to McKinney, is in the fact that all states have their own child labor regulations, many of them different from the federal laws.

State laws are often more stringent about the hours for older youth and in some cases, they’re less stringent about the hours for younger employees. What some operators might not realize is that the strictest regulations apply, whether state or federal.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that the laws are changing. As of this writing, federal legislation is being drafted for introduction to Congress this summer, and many states are reviewing their own child labor laws. site child labor laws

PROPOSED CHANGES IN LAW The proposed federal legislation calls for stiffer penalties for violators, expanded “hazardous occupation orders,” increased inter-agency cooperation, a more stringent work-permit system and more funding for DOL inspectors. The bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Donald Pease (D-Ohio), are primarily concerned with eradicating sweatshop conditions and ensuring the safety of youth in the workplace.

At the state level, legislators are responding to pressures from various community members and groups; at issue is how long and how late teenage students should work.

Educators, in particular, accuse the business community of talking out of both sides of its collective mouth. On the one side, they say, business is pushing for education reform to ensure a literate, better educated, more productive work force. On the other, business contributes to the problem of kids not doing well in school.

“Employers have to be cognitive that the future of our society is dependent on education,” says Tim Dyer, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “We believe that kids belong in school. Kids who work too many hours or too late at night fall asleep in class and have poor attendance records.” States are starting to agree. In Wisconsin, a task force of educators, parents, legislators and Wisconsin Restaurant Association members is examining the issue of working children. Wisconsin state law already requires that 16-and 17-year-old workers mist have eight hours off between a work shift and the start of’ school.

Indiana recently passed HB 1083, which allows 17-year-olds to work only until 11:30 p.m. on school nights, provided yhey have valid school work permits. Permits can be withdrawn if grades drop, though students have tile right of appeal.

The Indiana Restaurant Association successfully negotiated a compromise in the proposed legislation, which would have prevented 17-year-olds from working past 10 p.m. (now Indiana law for 16-year-olds).

Bills being proposed ill New York and North Carolina also would limit the number of hours students could work each week and impose a night-time curfew on working students.

Significantly, the plight of working children is no longer a hotly debated issue in California. Jo-Linda Thompson, director of government affairs and general counsel for the California Restaurant Association, explains why: The state already has stringent maximum hour and night-work restrictions, as well as a closely monitored system of school work permits.

SPIRIT OF THE LAW Educators in Missouri are taking a different tack, trying to convince employers to buy into the spirit of the law. “We’re not seeking legislation,” says Bob Howe, director of the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals. “We’re seeking to sensitize business and parents to the issue.” A year and a half ago, MASSP started contacting businesses that employ teens to see if they’d be interested in starting a dialogue among business, parents and teachers. One company that responded was McDonald’s Corp.

“We invited members of MASSP to meet with us in Oak Brook in january 1989,” says Barry Mehrman, national employment manager at McDonald’s. As a result of that initial meeting, McDonald’s started pilot programs in Missouri to bring licensees and schools together.

Programs started in various communities with rap sessions where students and educators could talk with licensees about the problems of juggling work and school.

The program works, according to Roger Berkbuegler, principal at Rolla High School, Rolla, Mo. “Dave Weinbaum, the owner of five McDonald’s in the area, meets with me fairly frequently. He’s committed to a policy not to let any high-school students close units on school nights.

“In addition, each McDonald’s gets a calendar of school events and copies of school newsletters to help plan what nights kids need off.” McDonald’s is using the pilot programs to help develop a national strategy for working teens, Mehrman says. The company has produced a 15-minute video, “Work and the American Student,” designed to show managers and licensees how to establish dialogue with schools on a local level.

To encourage licensees to adhere to the policy of not letting high-school students close their stores, McDonald’s has put emphasis on programs like Nighthawks, which offers special monetary and team incentives (Jackets, pins, watches) to attract older workers for late shifts.

TEAMING UP WITH SCHOOLS Notwithstanding the DOL charges it faces, Burger King, too, is trying to become part of the solution to the problem of working teens.

The company has for many years supported education in a variety of ways, including sponsorship of the “In Honor of Excellence” symposium, the “Distinguished Service to Education” award, educational assistance and scholarships, adopt-a-school” programs, and teacher and principal recognition programs.

Beyond merely treating education as a charity-as the high-school teacher suggested at the beginning of this article-Burger King recently stepped up its commitment to education by joining forces with the U.S. Department of justice and Cities in Schools Inc. to create Burger King Academy.

These alternative high schools are designed to give students who are at risk of dropping out a second chance at completing their education. Each “corporate academy” brings together public and private resources to offer its students a specialized academic curriculum, employment and job skills training, career placement, personal and family counseling, even health care. Local businesses, including Burger King units, offer students on-the-job training and internships. website child labor laws

The Greenery, a head-injury rehabilitation center in Boston, also makes education a priority for its student workers. The center has used a program called “Earn and Learn” to encourage teens to be successful at school and on the ob.

“We employ a lot of part-time kids in our foodservice operation,” says Terry Anderson, director of nutrition services. Many were referred by the Boston Private Industry Council, which screens kids to be sure they have work permits, good attendance records and adequate grades.

The “Earn and Learn” program gives student employees a paid hour before the start of each shift to do homework. Then the program rewards them with pay increases for improvements in grade point averages. They’re encouraged to plan ahead for tests and school events, and let the manager know about their scheduling needs; and they are allowed to swap shifts with another employee if a conflict develops.

“A certain number of weekly hours are devoted to foodservice training,” Anderson says. “We rotate kids through positions and they even spend time learning about management positions to see if they’re interested in foodservice careers.

“Often, this is their first job, and teaching them what’s important on the job is very rewarding. They form good work habits here that they’ll take with them wherever they go.” As a result of the close supervision and training, 1-he Greenery has been very successful in promoting kids. “Our weekend manager was a kid from the local PIC [private industry council] who is now in a college foodservice program,” Anderson says. “We also have a chef from the program who couldn’t speak English when he came to us.” SENDING EDUCATION FIRST” MESSAGE To help create more awareness among operators in Indiana, Pizza Hut’s McKinney initiated a program through the Indiana Restaurant Association called “Education First.” Elements of the program, which is still being developed, give operators the chance to let the community know they’re committed to the education of their student employees.

Education First” employers will have postcards they can send to schools to let teachers and principals know when they employ students, and placemats and window decals to let parents and the public know they subscribe to the program’s credo.

So far, more than 150 foodservice operators, including a number of chains, have signed up to be part of the program.

NEED FOR GREATER AWARENESS Perhaps the recent DOL crackdown has accomplished something positive by increasing awareness not only about child labor laws, but also about some of the problems working teens face. And greater awareness, not crackdowns, say operators, is what the industry needs to improve its image as an employer of youthful workers.

“Most operators are good people, and care about the people who work for them,” says McKinney. “But they often don’t know the full letter of the law.” Understanding the spirit of the law is just as important: Operators are starting to recognize the need to be more aware that their teenage employees are juggling school, work and social lives.

“We need to get more involved with how employees are doing academically,” says john Merritt, senior vice president of public affairs for Hardee’s. “The sole criteria for them coming to work for us shouldn’t be a warm body showing up at a certain hour. We should be more involved in their lives.” Toni Lydecker and Jeff Weinstein contributed to this article.

A FIVE-STEP PLAN Know the law. Copies of the federal child labor laws are available from your local DOL office or from the National Restaurant Association. State laws are available from state labor offices and restaurant associations.

* Educate your employees. Tell your student workers what they are and are not allowed to do. A well-meaning 15-year-old who uses the slicer to help out a co-worker is breaking the law. Put up crew posters to remind employees of the laws.

* Keep proper documentation. Be sure that you have 1-9 forms and school work permits on file for all teenage workers. Hourly time records must be kept for a minimum of three years.

* Become more involved in young workers’ lives. Get on the school mailing list for newsletters and special events calendars. Find out when student workers need more time off for studying or social events. Keep tabs on how well they are doing in school.

* Start a dialogue with the community. Invite parents, teachers, principals and students to periodic rap sessions to find out what you can do to improve both work and school experiences of young workers.

ISSUE SPARKS STRONG OPINIONS “If there is ignorance or disregard of the law, then perhaps the laws ought to be reviewed. It may be appropriate in today’s culture to extend the 18-hour and 7 p.m. rules, and to allow kids to operate meat slicers.” -Bill Fisher, executive director, NRA “I don’t think [the laws] are too strict. They are appropriate. We need to get more involved in how employees are doing academically.” john Merritt, senior vice president, public affairs, Hardee’s “If teachers are going to be judged on how well students do, then kids have to be in class and participate. We believe kids can work and go to school, but there needs to be a balance.” -Roger Berkbuegler, principal, Rolla H.S., Rolla, Mo.

“If restaurants were as creative in terms of personnel as they have been in food, we’d make real progress on the issue of working kids.” Joseph Kinney, Safe Workplace Institute, Chicago WHY CHILDREN WORK Working children are a distinctly American phenomenon, with deep cultural roots in the Protestant work ethic of early America. According to Temple University psychologist Laurence Steinberg in When Teenagers Work (by Ellen Greenberger and Laurence Steinberger, 1988, Basic, New York), nearly two-thirds of American 16-and 17-year-olds work when school is in session, while in Canada only 37% do, in Sweden only 20% and in Japan, less than 2%.

But arguments that teens have to work to help support their families, save for college or avoid getting involved in gangs don’t wash with many educators.

In a survey of teachers conducted by the Green Bay (Wis.) Education Association, 96% thought the main reason teens work is for spending money. Two-thirds of students themselves admitted that spending money was the main reason they worked, with another 27% saying saving for school was their primary motivation. Studies have shown-and most educators agree-that some work can be beneficial for teens. The point at which work begins to adversely affect performance in school is somewhere between 20 and 30 hours a week, according to experts.

FEDERAL CHILD LABOR LAWS HOURS 14-and 15-year-olds may not work.

* more than 3 hours on school days * more than 18 hours during school week * more than 8 hours on nonschool days * more than 40 hours during non-school weeks * before 7 am. or after 7 p.m. during the school year PRORIBITED WORK 14-and 15-year-olds may not-.

* perform maintenance or repair work on equipment * cook (except at soda fountains, lunch counters, snack bars or cafeteria serving counters) or bake * operate or maintain power-driven food slicers and grinders, food choppers and bakery-type mixers * work in freezers and meat coolers le load or unload trucks and rail cars 16. and 17-year olds may not:

* operate bakery machinery (certain equipment is exempt; contact your local DOL office for more information) * operate circular saws, band saws and guillotine shears (the DOL will soon issue a regulation to prohibit workers under 18 to use power-driven meat slicers) Sherer, Michael

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