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Tuesday, August 01, 2006
George Orwell Would be a Yankees Fan: Fenway Park Concessionaires Must Now Provide Fingerprints

Boston Globe columnist Steve Bailey had a very interesting piece in the Globe last week ("Friendly Fenway," July 26, 2006):
Beginning today, Aramark Corp., the giant Philadelphia concessionaire that sells that overpriced beer, is requiring its Fenway employees to be fingerprinted. ``Please stop by on Wednesday, July 26, 2006, or Thursday July 27, 2006, between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to pick up your paycheck and your new ID badge & to get fingerprinted," management said in a memo to employees. ``New ID badge & fingerprinting is part of the new time clock system and it is a condition of employment" . . .

All this is part of a profound corporate expansion of Big Brother in the workplace -- the so-called biometric technology revolution that uses everything from fingerprinting to retinal scans to facial recognition to keep tabs on a company's suspects, otherwise known as employees. In particular, Aramark thinks its new Fenway time-clock system will put an end to ``buddy punching" -- the practice of having a co-worker punch in for you.

As many as 800 people work the concessions on any given night at Fenway. Says one long time vendor about being fingerprinted: ``This is incredibly invasive for a pretty menial job. This is not a defense contractor. These people are making hot dogs."
Is Aramark going too far here, or is it justified in its "new policies"?

Also see: Paul Secunda of Workplace Prof Blog discussing this post (8/7/2006).
Also see: Richard Bales of Workplace Prof Blog discussing GPS Tracking of Employees (8/7/2006).


"But at the most expensive ballpark in America -- the home of the $300 seat and the $6.50 beer -- they are looking to crack down on fraud, waste, and abuse. And as usual when corporate America decides to do something about waste, it starts at the bottom, not the top."

Where exactly is the fraud, waste and abuse in this situation? In what they refer to as buddy punching, does this mean that someone punches an absent individual's card? And is this really that big of a problem?

I find it interesting that they are giving those as reasons, rather than security.

As a comparison, beer sales at baseball stadiums in Japan are handled mostly by single twenty-something girls now, lugging not unsizable kegs around on their back and earning some decent pocket change for their motivated efforts.

It's a telling juxtaposition of the Japanese baseball experience and the profligation of young umarried individuals (often living at home and enjoying the entertainment and fashion industries in lieu of saving) in the Japanese job market.

I'd be curious to know the demographics of your average beer or pretzel vendor at our stadiums - how old are they? how much do they earn in their day jobs? it seems that motivation and the attraction of the job is central to this issue.

"Once upon a time, working the Fenway games was a fun part-time gig. But as the Red Sox have upgraded the fan experience -- and the price tag -- Aramark has downgraded the jobs. Almost anyone can walk up to Fenway and get a job on the spot."

Because it doesn't seem to me that with a (part-time) job like being a beer vendor at Fenway, you would get a lot of people who were not motivated to perform the job in the first place.

Absent of actual statistical evidence, I can't imagine that this buddy punching is a nightly issue.

Blogger Satchmo -- 8/02/2006 12:22 AM  

They are justified though I do not like it. No one is making anyone work for them. The marketplace will either weed this practice out, or others will follow. Private company, private rules. If you don't like it, don't work there.

Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/02/2006 7:41 AM  


Anonymous Anonymous -- 8/03/2006 1:23 PM  

Not to further comment on the inanity of it all, let me geek for a second.

I work for a manufacturer of time entry devices and we offer a biometric version of it. Registering your fingerprint does not require ink and paper, all that is done is to place the finger on the reader and it is scanned. The pattern is then encrypted and stored in the database. No one can take that information and use it anywhwere else; therefore it is no more invasive of privacy than the badge that it would replace.

At least that's what I hope they intend to use. I would be very wary if I had to put ink on paper.

To a previous commenter, how would you feel if you knew buddy punching was happening and you were spending more on payroll than you know you should? It's a big problem in large organizations and directly affects the bottom line. If you knew it was going on, you'd try to eliminate it, wouldn't you?

Blogger richmanwisco -- 8/03/2006 9:42 PM  

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