New York is the city that never sleeps. But this renowned insomnia would not be possible without the more than 200,000 men and women who work the nightshift – the fry cooks and coffee jockeys, train conductors and cab hacks, cops, docs, and fishmongers selling cod by the crate. Inverting the natural rhythm of life, they keep the city running as it slows but never stops.

In our book, NIGHTSHIFT NYC, we tell the stories of New York City nightshift workers. This ethnography of the night investigates familiar sites, such as diners, delis and taxis, as well as some unexpected corners of the night, such as a walking tour of homelessness in Manhattan and a fishing boat out of Brooklyn. We show how the nightshift is more than simply out of phase, it is another social space altogether, highly structured, inherently subversive, and shot through with inequalities of power. NIGHTSHIFT NYC presents the narratives of those who sleep too little and work too much, revealing the soul of a city hidden in the graveyard shift of 24-hour commerce when the sun goes down and the lights come up.

But there is more to the story than found its way into the pages of the book. Here you'll find more stories of the night in New York City and around the country. And we hope you will add your own stories and comments in the months to come. Stay tuned and check back often...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Profits and Losses

As the global economy falters, more nightshift jobs get cut -- and added -- around the world. Here's just a sample of what's come across the wire in the last three months:

In the US, Nissan announced plans to close the nightshift and cut 6,000 jobs at its two plants in Tennessee. Officials cited rising fuel prices and a sluggish economy as reasons for the drastic measures. They promised no layoffs and offered buyout packages of up to $125,000. Employees have until this Friday to decide what to do.

In Sweden, Ford Motor's Volvo Cars Unit announced plans to cut a nightshift at one of their plants. Volvo PR people cited the falling value of the dollar as a factor, and suggested that the 700 people working the nightshift would be moved to day shifts.

Several employers in the UK have announced similar cuts. In Norwich, Anglian Home Improvements cut nearly 100 jobs, 31 of them on the nightshift. Officials cited slow sales and low profits. In Spalding, George Adams and Sons cut 44 nightshift jobs, blaming the sluggish economy. In Coventry, Ikea opened its first city-center store in the UK earlier this year. Last month, citing the nightshift was neither "cost-effective nor efficient," they told employees they'd be transferred to the dayshift. In Solihull, Land Rover announced plans to suspend the nightshift beginning in October. They promised no layoffs and cited reduced demand. In Blackburn, Invotec Circuits, which makes circuit boards, cited rising material and energy costs as the reason behind cutting 45 nightshift jobs.

In Ireland this week, the call center Conduit announced it was cutting nightshift jobs and outsourcing the work to Manila, Philippines.

It's not all cuts, though. In Manila, call centers and other growing 24/7 commerce has led to an increase in nighshift jobs for police and traffic enforcers. In Sunderland, England, Nissan added a nightshift to meet demand for the Qashqai, providing 800 jobs. In Tasmania, Australia, last month, Cadbury sent nightshift workers home early and had everyone report to a meeting where they were notified of impending cuts. Meanwhile, nurses in Tasmania's 24-hour staffed facilities received increased funding.

And finally, in one US town, Opelousas, Louisiana, the police department announced a number of cutbacks. The nightshift, however, will receive additional funding.

How is the economy affecting your nightshift job? If your job was cut, or added, tell us about it.

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