It’s another Feckless Friday so I’ve decided to riff on a theme. Today’s theme: Us and Them – Workplace Style.
“Us” is those who work. Those who do what they are supposed to do as productive members in this society. The we who produce goods and services. Why, without us, there would be a lot less widgets in the world. Imagine a world without so much plastic fake vomit and whoopee cushions and what not? Shudder.
“Them” is those who profit from the labor of others. You might think of them as the 1%. The political elite. The bankers and CEOs. The people who work the least and benefit the most from a system designed to convert the Earth’s resources into profits for a few. Or, on a more personal level, you may choose to put this face on someone must more close and personal like the boss.
I recently had my “Aha! Moment” (sponsored by Mutual of Omaha, a fucking insurance company of all things). I tweeted my great moment of clarity and awareness and the world took no notice. Nary a retweet. Nay, not even a star. As your humble proprietor here in the Abyss, I reserve the right to shove my unloved tweet in your face:
Okay. Enough about that. What else is going on in the world of economics, work, labor, job and bosses? Remember, I did promise to riff. I guess I’d better get on my black velcro-strapped riffin’ shoes. I’m about to boogie down.
Warning: It’s quite possible I don’t really know what “riff” means.
Recently we heard the story about the CEO of an American tire manufacturer rippin’ the French people a new one because he thought they should work longer hours. (The French Predilection.)
Pardonnez moi! I would posit that a sign of advancement within a society is the percentage of time the average individual must devote to “work.”
I theorize that a developing, vibrant and advancing society should be moving towards less time spent on labor. Not more. Non!
Yet there seems to be a growing movement in the United States that 40 hours a week just doesn’t suffice. It used to be a single income could support a middle class lifestyle and provide benefits to boot. Now both adults in a typical family may have to work full time just to maintain, and the benefits are not necessarily included. In this view, the amount of labor in a household has doubled since the 50’s and 60’s.
True story: The minimum wage was 25 cents an hour in 1938 (and only applied to one-fifth of the workforce). Today’s minimum wage of $7.25 actually has less buying power than it did back then. And 25 cents an hour was viewed as an outrage by employers. Oppressive child labor was also a problem.
These days the American worker enjoys precious few rights. The simple truth is that most employees can be fired at whim for absolutely no reason at all. It’s called “at will employment.” Recent news is rife with stories about employees losing their jobs for Facebook activities. Basic rights we take for granted do not apply to employees. You have those rights, but daring to use them may mean “no job for you.”
How about being fired for something you said on your Facebook? For supporting the wrong presidential candidate, like an Obama sticker on your car? Or being a smoker? Or, if you work a beer company, being seen by the owner’s stepson drinking a competitor’s product in a bar and on your own time? Drink a beer and next day you’re fired. Or gain 7.5% of your body weight and face termination.
Employers don’t have power and control issues do they? Where’s the limit on intrusion into our private lives? Only the imagination of a boss.
Lastly, I’d like to conclude with the story about companies using “tracking sensors” to monitor the movements of employees.
“Gentlemen, I called this emergency meeting to discuss the future of Acme Corp.”
“Bob, pull up the data. Restroom Utilization Graphs, 2013 Q1 to date. Check this out. Steve is to be commended. He’s indexed at 3.2 toilet utilization. But check out Mary. A whopping 11.9. Holy shit, I want her department head in my office. Stat!”
Yes, a badge that tracks the movements of employees. To some small-minded employers, the Holy Grail is the idea that 8 hours of pay can somehow be squeeze-dried to the point of 8 solid hours of “productivity.”
You know what I say? Good management, decision making, and policies that boost real employee productivity are what really matters. Of course, because the idiots are running the asylum, those are the very same things we can never have. So someone has to pay. That’s what employees are really for.
This concludes my riff. For now. Please appear to enjoy your work day. Remember: You gotta love what you do. Or you’re fired.