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This is the level we're now at


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#1 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 03:24 PM

Something that happened to a friend of mine - only this actually did happen, and actually to a friend of mine, as opposed to the usual "this happened to a friend of mine" which possibly didn't.

My friend, who is a director of photography, has a selection of lighting equipment for which no fee is levied, other than the transport costs to get it there, and associated costs such as the central London congestion charge and parking as appropriate. Production balked at this microscopic expense and promised a pickup by van. Van arrives late to cross load equipment from my friend's car, and all is in such a hurry that my friend doesn't notice the driver's stoned until they're well under way.

After a brief but white-knuckled ride, my friend arrives at the location and complains vocally to production about this situation. Production doesn't seem to care, but my friend wisely declines a lift home in the same truck and gets a ride with another member of crew. Fourteen hard-working hours later, this member of crew, having been on another long job the previous day, falls asleep at the wheel and misses a traffic light, slams the brakes on at the last minute and is rear-ended by a similarly sleep-deprived member of the camera department.

So my friend, having taken pains to be safe, ends up in a car accident in any case, in a chain of circumstances that could not have happened had an awful lot of people not been stupidly, dangerously irresponsible all at once.

I've made myself quite unpopular in the past by shouting about this sort of thing on shoots, so I thought I'd write this one up as an example. This sort of thing does happen, people do fall asleep at the wheel, collisions do occur, it is not a rule made up to spite avaricious and acquisitive producers, and it's blind luck that nobody was badly hurt.

P
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 05:25 PM

This is the level we are now at...... -P

.....this has been going on since man began working.
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#3 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 06:44 PM

12 On, 12 Off.

WHAT A CONCEPT! :D
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 07:58 PM

Twelve hours, still going strong!

Only problem with me is that dinner except (usually hopefully) of the most spartan, meager kind makes me goofy and sleepy.

Another problem with my current 12+ hour workday is that more problems have arrisen than have gotten solved, work is piling up, and I've hardly gotten anything done :unsure:
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#5 Andrew Koch

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:22 PM

12 On, 12 Off.

WHAT A CONCEPT! :D

What will it take for people to change their mindsets? The average job in America is an 8 hour day, something laborers fought hard for many decades ago, and yet people think it is whining to not want to work more than 12 hours and get a 12 hour turnaround. Is our health, safety, and having some semblance of a life outside of work that unimportant to people? Just because it's the norm, does that make it acceptable. If I had a nickel for every time I hear "it is what it is" I'd own my own production company and have and afford the power to enforce better treatment of workers.
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#6 K Borowski

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 08:44 PM

Is our health, safety, and having some semblance of a life outside of work that unimportant to people? Just because it's the norm, does that make it acceptable. If I had a nickel for every time I hear "it is what it is" I'd own my own production company and have and afford the power to enforce better treatment of workers.


While, working long hours as a rule is unnecessary and bad, there are times that it is necessary. The needs of the client, production, etc., have to be served. I didn't go home this weekend in a (partially in vain) attempt to fix an equipment malfunction on a job.

At the same time, while I am pro-worker, I am pro-employer too, having worked on both sides of the coin.

Having workers walk out at the drop of a dime at exactly 7:59:59 into the day, no matter what catastrophes, snafus, or malfunctions exist, is also bullsh*&.

Honestly, I think greedy employers are just as much to blame for a bad situation as are unions.

If you look at a union, its function is to get good wages for its workers, which is all well and good. But, when you look at the economics of it, employers are often unable to increase wages and benefits without limiting the workpool. So unions are effectively becoming their own managerial entity.

Sometimes unions get too powerful. Look how powerful unions crippled American Automotive productivity. . .

I remember hearing talk on here about the Sopranos making their crew work crazy 18-20 hour days, sometimes more.

While, yeah that is terrible, with union crews you can't have a second shift come on or anything because there is such a limited workforce. So too-powerful unions have forced long days into the equation in part too.

Don't get me wrong, now. I am, to an extent, pro-union, but unions can get too powerful and contribute often to things like long work days. This is prevalent in the United Autoworkers too. It will even get to the point where guys gripe about not getting 2-1/2 time pay past 60 hours because they have become *accustomed* to getting it.

Frankly, it isn't fair at that point to the bosses because their union workers are getting more than they are with ridiculous stipulations like 2-1/2x pay. You can work 100 plus hours as a salaried employee a week and not make a dime more than you make for only working 40.

It'd be nice if a compromise (between unions and studios) could take place and they could meet somewhere in teh middle for the actual benefits of the workers.
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#7 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 09:22 PM

While, working long hours as a rule is unnecessary and bad, there are times that it is necessary. The needs of the client, production, etc., have to be served. I didn't go home this weekend in a (partially in vain) attempt to fix an equipment malfunction on a job.

At the same time, while I am pro-worker, I am pro-employer too, having worked on both sides of the coin.

Having workers walk out at the drop of a dime at exactly 7:59:59 into the day, no matter what catastrophes, snafus, or malfunctions exist, is also bullsh*&.

Honestly, I think greedy employers are just as much to blame for a bad situation as are unions.

If you look at a union, its function is to get good wages for its workers, which is all well and good. But, when you look at the economics of it, employers are often unable to increase wages and benefits without limiting the workpool. So unions are effectively becoming their own managerial entity.

Sometimes unions get too powerful. Look how powerful unions crippled American Automotive productivity. . .

I remember hearing talk on here about the Sopranos making their crew work crazy 18-20 hour days, sometimes more.

While, yeah that is terrible, with union crews you can't have a second shift come on or anything because there is such a limited workforce. So too-powerful unions have forced long days into the equation in part too.

Don't get me wrong, now. I am, to an extent, pro-union, but unions can get too powerful and contribute often to things like long work days. This is prevalent in the United Autoworkers too. It will even get to the point where guys gripe about not getting 2-1/2 time pay past 60 hours because they have become *accustomed* to getting it.

Frankly, it isn't fair at that point to the bosses because their union workers are getting more than they are with ridiculous stipulations like 2-1/2x pay. You can work 100 plus hours as a salaried employee a week and not make a dime more than you make for only working 40.

It'd be nice if a compromise (between unions and studios) could take place and they could meet somewhere in teh middle for the actual benefits of the workers.


You make some interesting points, but my empathy meter for "management" is running very low when those on top take home millions in salary plus massive bonuses. To hear the standard Republican-type whining that "workers are earning too much" while management lives in luxury doesn't earn any points. Unions aren't causing financial problems... workers with rights and livable wages buy things that corporations make. If workers, union or otherwise, continually lose work and/or earn less for more work, then economies suffer. It's basic logic. Expecting workers to not have protections from management suggests that civilization just chuck the whole damn thing and go back to the days of Pharoahs and slaves.

Aside from that, I recall a UPM a few years back running the numbers to determine if a longer schedule with no OT would actually cost more than a shorter schedule with more OT. The result was that a longer schedule with no OT would save money, contrary to popular belief. His independent study, like Brent's Rule, got buried for still suspicious reasons. Republicans in the US have been working hard to break unions since Reagan and the fruits of their labors are coming to a head. The answer is to either form up and make unions stronger.... or say Fu** it and get above the line where most of the money is. There IS enough money to go around, but they don't think so because for them, enough is never enough. Studios will continue to troll the planet looking for the cheapest most "eager" film crew labor in addition to Corporate Welfare in the form of tax incentives. Globalization has created a situation where things will only change when crews worldwide band together and form one large union. But I know that'll never happen.... so people will continue to get hurt and/or die in the name of making movies so the big boys can go home to millions in profits.
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#8 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 09:48 PM

I can do 12 hours and feel normal. I start to get loopy at 16. I start to consider using speed to get me through the rest of the night/day/whatever you call it at that point, by 17. I contemplate a few lines of blow at hour 20. I contemplate suicide at 22. In all seriousness, I don't think it needs to be a pissing contest. Didn't we figure this out in college while pulling all-nighters? The human body is not really designed to be awake and functioning for much longer than 16 hours. All sorts of fun things start to happen to you after that point...potentially seizures, heart attacks, dehydration, etc. Not to mention, it totally f*cks your metabolism/circadian rhythms/moods. Just ask the raver kids.

As much as I enjoy what I do, I really hope I don't die for it someday. I mean, call me weak or selfish, but yeah. I'm just saying. I occasionally work 20-hour days because what the hell am I supposed to do, put on my pajamas at hour 12 and stop working? Ha ha OK GUYS YOU KEEP SHOOTING, IT IS PAST MY BEDTIME, I'LL BE ON THE CAMERA TRUCK LOLZ!! But goddamn...if someone ever told me I didn't have to, and in fact couldn't, then I have to admit I'd be pretty relieved. Yeah, you get that adrenaline rush, but I think I hit my limit when I double-dipped on a job, had 10 cups of coffee in the span of about 18-20 hours or so, threw it all up when I got home at which point my nose started bleeding, and then promptly passed out for 11 hours as soon as both nostrils had clotted. Was it worth it? I don't even remember, but I doubt it. I've had hangovers that felt better.

Man, conversations like this shouldn't even be about unions, it should be about common sense and not being an idiot. Sometimes when I'm on set after a really long day, it's almost scary how peoples' moods change and get really ugly...and it truly makes me wonder about the level of work we're doing. I was on one job where we were already behind but the director himself said, at hour 13, "I'm pushing this stuff back until tomorrow because whatever we shoot now is gonna look like poop...we're all too tired." And he was probably right. At the very least, if we don't consider the quality of our mental and physical health, we should consider, god forbid, the quality of the work.
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#9 Gregory Middleton

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 10:00 PM

Sorry your friend had such a hard time.
Freelancers need to be careful thats for sure.
Some tips to avoid that in the future.

1) Get it all in the deal up front. If transport by his own truck is most convenient, stick to that demand....or don't bring the gear. He/She is already giving it for free, the rule should be that it doesn't cost him or her anything, including extra time and hassle of transferring gear.
2) You can never save some productions enough money. Some have no shame at all in asking for everything, all the time. There is no bottom to that pursuit for some. Do not assume everyone is reasonable. If they balk at a tiny charge like that , how well will they take care of serious considerations like safety etc.

Be responsible for your own decisions. Remember it takes two to enter into an agreement. The other party may be in the wrong, but if your spidey sense is tingling take some responsibility for exposing yourself to risk.

Glad no one was seriously hurt.

cheers
g




Something that happened to a friend of mine - only this actually did happen, and actually to a friend of mine, as opposed to the usual "this happened to a friend of mine" which possibly didn't.

My friend, who is a director of photography, has a selection of lighting equipment for which no fee is levied, other than the transport costs to get it there, and associated costs such as the central London congestion charge and parking as appropriate. Production balked at this microscopic expense and promised a pickup by van. Van arrives late to cross load equipment from my friend's car, and all is in such a hurry that my friend doesn't notice the driver's stoned until they're well under way.

After a brief but white-knuckled ride, my friend arrives at the location and complains vocally to production about this situation. Production doesn't seem to care, but my friend wisely declines a lift home in the same truck and gets a ride with another member of crew. Fourteen hard-working hours later, this member of crew, having been on another long job the previous day, falls asleep at the wheel and misses a traffic light, slams the brakes on at the last minute and is rear-ended by a similarly sleep-deprived member of the camera department.

So my friend, having taken pains to be safe, ends up in a car accident in any case, in a chain of circumstances that could not have happened had an awful lot of people not been stupidly, dangerously irresponsible all at once.

I've made myself quite unpopular in the past by shouting about this sort of thing on shoots, so I thought I'd write this one up as an example. This sort of thing does happen, people do fall asleep at the wheel, collisions do occur, it is not a rule made up to spite avaricious and acquisitive producers, and it's blind luck that nobody was badly hurt.

P


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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 10:38 PM

The problem is that at a certain level, if you turn down stuff like this, particularly if you are doing a lot of music videos, particularly if you are in the UK, you will simply not work.

It is appalling, and makes me very cautious about the work I take - probably less than 25% of what I now do is on a set, as part of a crew, and that's directly because of poop like this. I am in the lucky position of having other options that allow me to sleep indoors and eat food. Many others are not.

P
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 11:27 PM

You make some interesting points, but my empathy meter for "management" is running very low when those on top take home millions in salary plus massive bonuses. To hear the standard Republican-type whining that "workers are earning too much" while management lives in luxury doesn't earn any points. Unions aren't causing financial problems... workers with rights and livable wages buy things that corporations make.


No offense, but please, that is such a generalization.

I have Unions and blue-collar work to thank for my privileged upbringing, but take a basic economics class and you'll learn that most business owners work long hours and make very very little, often less than minimum wage.

Why do you think film crews work long hours and get paid overtime, because business owners want to pay overtime??? They'd gladly pay a second crew to come on and work a second shift, or whatever. .. if union rules would let them.

It's a given that business is going to try to seek the cheapest solution to its problems (otherwise it wouldn't be business).

So, enough with the stereotypes.

P.S. The world isn't black and white, wrong vs. right. It's many shades of grey. The people that cross party lines when they vote are the ones that empower real change. Don't pretend that any political party, Democratic, Republican, Whig, Green, or Libertarian is the champion of all things just.
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#12 K Borowski

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Posted 21 July 2009 - 11:32 PM

Man, conversations like this shouldn't even be about unions, it should be about common sense and not being an idiot. Sometimes when I'm on set after a really long day, it's almost scary how peoples' moods change and get really ugly...and it truly makes me wonder about the level of work we're doing. I was on one job where we were already behind but the director himself said, at hour 13, "I'm pushing this stuff back until tomorrow because whatever we shoot now is gonna look like poop...we're all too tired." And he was probably right. At the very least, if we don't consider the quality of our mental and physical health, we should consider, god forbid, the quality of the work.


Annie, I am not arguing for 12+ hour workdays and against unions, just saying that, in some cases, economically speaking of course, the latter has facilitated the former.

That is not always the case; in some situations workers were being made to work very long days ( I consider these to be 12 hours plus, not ten) with no OT pay.

Also, historically, film crews because of the nature of filmmaking, have very very often had to deal with long day.


But unions, by restricting the work pool, as simple consequence set the rules of the game and also limit the pool of qualified employees.

Has anyone here every heard of a dramatic film with a second shift (not a second unit :P )?
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#13 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 03:09 AM

While, yeah that is terrible, with union crews you can't have a second shift come on or anything because there is such a limited workforce.

This just isn't true. There are plenty of union members not working every day, and this is especially true for this past year.

I've fallen asleep while driving home quite a few times after really long days that followed other really long days that followed other really long days.... People do die because of these hours that we do. Unfortunately, it is a fact of this business. Hopefully someday soon that will change....
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#14 David Rakoczy

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 06:49 AM

At least we aren't Crab Fishing! The episode I watched last night had the crew of one boat pulling a 50 hour day :o

"Alaskan crab fishing is very dangerous, and the fatality rate among the fishermen is about 90 times the fatality rate of the average worker".-wikpedia
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#15 Freya Black

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:18 AM

Man, conversations like this shouldn't even be about unions, it should be about common sense and not being an idiot. Sometimes when I'm on set after a really long day, it's almost scary how peoples' moods change and get really ugly...and it truly makes me wonder about the level of work we're doing. I was on one job where we were already behind but the director himself said, at hour 13, "I'm pushing this stuff back until tomorrow because whatever we shoot now is gonna look like poop...we're all too tired." And he was probably right. At the very least, if we don't consider the quality of our mental and physical health, we should consider, god forbid, the quality of the work.


Exactly, what has this got to do with unions at all!
If it isn't already, this should just be plain illegal. We have all manner of daft health and safety laws but it would just be plain sensible to have a maximum working day. It should be nothing to do with unions.

It should be pointed out that this kind of thing is depriving people of jobs too, and I don't believe for a minute there aren't the people to fill those positions. Are there not people in the unions on this very forum struggling to get enough work?

This should just be plain illegal and the whole union things is just a straw man to avoid facing up to reality.

love

Freya
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#16 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 10:10 AM

Exactly, what has this got to do with unions at all!
If it isn't already, this should just be plain illegal. We have all manner of daft health and safety laws but it would just be plain sensible to have a maximum working day. It should be nothing to do with unions.

It should be pointed out that this kind of thing is depriving people of jobs too, and I don't believe for a minute there aren't the people to fill those positions. Are there not people in the unions on this very forum struggling to get enough work?

This should just be plain illegal and the whole union things is just a straw man to avoid facing up to reality.

love

Freya


We have a political party that favors deregulation and fewer laws "restricting" the rights of businesses. Unions are not a "straw man" in the discussion... unions EXIST because of the abuses that businesses will happily apply if it means producing and/or selling their products for the maximum profit. So if a business (Small business or large Corporation) can get labor for free and work them for 24 hours a day nonstop, they'll do it. Anything less than that cuts into their bottom line so they see workers as an inconvenience, not a useful necessary part of the economy. Unions are merely there to help ensure that workers have some standard of safety and pay protection.

Part of the problem is that our planet does not have uniform labor laws, so if one state/nation has more strict regulations, a business is allowed to just move production to someplace that isn't as strict or has no laws/regulations. It's when others are so eager to work in the film business that they allow themselves to get taken advantage of in terms of pay and working hours, that EVERYONE suffers. Workers start earning less overall and people get hurt because of the constant push for more work and more hours.
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#17 Paul Bruening

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 10:35 AM

I heard a story on NPR about professional actors in H-wood. It seems they are getting pushed down the pay ladder to a point that they can't really make a living. This has never been an industry known for its kindness. But, with the economic shrink going on, more and more stories of survival woe are surfacing. I get the general impression that there is an intentional and systematic dissolution of the middle class in the US and Europe. It's showing up all over. I don't mean to sound paranoid. I'm just saying...
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#18 Freya Black

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 10:44 AM

We have a political party that favors deregulation and fewer laws "restricting" the rights of businesses. Unions are not a "straw man" in the discussion... unions EXIST because of the abuses that businesses will happily apply if it means producing and/or selling their products for the maximum profit. So if a business (Small business or large Corporation) can get labor for free and work them for 24 hours a day nonstop, they'll do it. Anything less than that cuts into their bottom line so they see workers as an inconvenience, not a useful necessary part of the economy. Unions are merely there to help ensure that workers have some standard of safety and pay protection.

Part of the problem is that our planet does not have uniform labor laws, so if one state/nation has more strict regulations, a business is allowed to just move production to someplace that isn't as strict or has no laws/regulations. It's when others are so eager to work in the film business that they allow themselves to get taken advantage of in terms of pay and working hours, that EVERYONE suffers. Workers start earning less overall and people get hurt because of the constant push for more work and more hours.


I think unions are a straw man in this discussion as apart from anything else we havn't really had much of powerful unions in the media since the 80's!

It seems straightforward to me that there should be european wide laws that restrict the number of hours a worker can work. Yes those laws won't apply globally but then nor will child labour laws etc, it doesn't mean we should do away with our child labour laws because some countries elsewhere are employing 5 year olds or something.

In fact we do already have the working time directive, however it doesn't really go far enough it its restrictions:

http://www.direct.go...Off/DG_10029426

This is such a basic and fudemental thing that it should be a matter of law and not someting for buisnesses and unions to bicker over. As Phil described, it's a matter of basic safety.

love

Freya

Edited by Freya Black, 22 July 2009 - 10:45 AM.

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#19 K Borowski

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 12:18 AM

OK, since everyone else in this thread wants to politicize this, let me, again, point out the stark facts of economic reality:

While workers in unions now get overtime for all the extra hours they work, film days have gotten, not shorter, but LONGER since Unions came into the picture.

"The Man" doesn't just want bailouts and to make his underlings toil and suffer; sorry.
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#20 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 23 July 2009 - 02:50 AM

OK, since everyone else in this thread wants to politicize this, let me, again, point out the stark facts of economic reality:

While workers in unions now get overtime for all the extra hours they work, film days have gotten, not shorter, but LONGER since Unions came into the picture.

"The Man" doesn't just want bailouts and to make his underlings toil and suffer; sorry.

You politicized this first, and then people responded. Playing coy doesn't hide that fact.

You're wrong yet again about the days getting longer since the inception of overtime for film workers. Do a very quick and simple google search and you'll see how wrong you are. To this day people in all different types of businesses are having to come together and sue or organize in order to be treated like human beings. This is no different than it was 100 years ago.

"The Man", as you put it, DOES want his cake and he wants to eat it too. He wants to pay every employee he has $0 a year, have them work 168 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. And they sure as hell better be the best in the business! If you think that's not true, then you live on a different planet than the rest of us.
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