Sunday, March 6, 2011

Employer's Market

When jobs are scarce, it becomes an employer's market. They can demand more and pay less, because jobs are sparse, so they take full advantage.
This photo depicts a kind of sliding off the road of employment normalcy. You witness employers pulling all kinds of stunts in this economic environment.  Loading up the work to extreme unrealistic levels, then irate when you can't meet the unrealistic expectations.
Pay freezes. No raises for a few years, to allegedly weather the storm of tight financial situations, yet the upper level of management seems to be unaffected, and or the company sends out Corporate memos, essentially bragging about acquisitions, new big purchases, and my favorite, the quarterly financial disclosure, talking about increased revenues & profits. Really.
I want a piece of that pie!

Employees are bludgeoned with such unrealistic expectations, I honestly expect to see these things turning into physical manifestations- stress takes it's toll. So some corporation may wind up with a bean counter in a Scrooge like joy that they are able to do more with less, but it is on the backs of the employees. I think we will be seeing more ulcers, mental breakdowns, anxiety disorders, perhaps even heart attacks, as employees struggle to meet the unrealistic demands. No wonder the current political trend is to bust unions. Nothing would make the corporate overlords happier than to have a "from the top down, one way, take-it-or -leave-it format."

Non union jobs already have that from the top down program in place. See enclosed example of how that flow chart works. Or as the saying goes, if you are not the lead dog, the view never changes.  I will go as far as saying the situation has reached critical mass. I have co workers, working full time, having to file for bankruptcy, struggling to pay utility bills and rent, and in a workplace conversation, a co worker used the term "working poor", when we were discussing having difficulty paying co pays for medical/dental health care costs. You are lucky to have a job, but barely able to keep afloat- all while the company is making high profits.

Some employers are engaging in illegal & unfair practices.
Tactics like adopting attendance policies where employees can be double-dinged for one absence. For instance, taking a unplanned day off before a holiday results in loss of holiday pay (fair enough),
but also an attendance ding, and burning up sick pay as if it were approved time off. Employers have super strict attendance policies, where once you had 7 absences you are fired. Does not matter if you are the top producer, or have advanced skills, or even a valid reason. This hostile environment means people come in to work sick & make others sick, just so they can
meet the corporate demand. Yes, vomiting people with fevers can now win perfect attendance awards!
You really have to know your rights & be proactive about FMLA paperwork & documenting everything to cover your ass.

They can also have Human Resource people who fail to inform you of your rights to take Federally protected sick leave for you or your immediate family. One co worker who opted for radiation treatments for breast cancer, was never told to fill out the paperwork, she so was fired, which means not only is she out of a job, but also lost her health care insurance. How very profitable for the corporation. How very inhumane.

Other companies have adopted the vanishing vacation. End of year, pre approved vacation (in a use it or lose the vacation time for the year policy), simply announce the company is just too busy to let people take that time off, but do not allow them to reschedule (end of the calendar year) or compensate (pay them) for the vacation time they had earned.
Things like that have to be illegal, but who are you going to report that to? The Bureau of Labor will process a complaint claim, but you have to put your name on it. In the end you can win the battle but lose the war. They can fire you for any reason because it is all "at will employment", meaning they can fire you without a reason.  Because the mantra in 2011 is "You are lucky to have a job".  Of course that is true, but there is also the reality that employers are taking advantage. Working skeleton crews, demanding overtime, overloading employees to do the work of 2 or more people, and crossing the line of legal practices.

This leads us to the follow up photo to the top photo:
Although the work situation is in dire circumstances,
there is the looming possibility, that even though your workplace is a pressure cooker of unrealistic expectations, unfair practices, and perhaps illegal activity, things could be worse. You could join the ranks of those stuck in unemployment. Overqualified, overcrowded ranks of the unemployed willing to take any work, but still not able to get hired, struggling to make ends meet. Knowing there is a limited time for the unemployment benefit, but unlimited time to be unemployed.
 Worse the government plays Russian roulette- letting benefits end in order to play politics. Even most recently with the possibility of allowing a government shut down, in order to debate budget cuts. People who absolutely rely on those checks, be it Social Security, Unemployment, Disability, etc, rely on that money for their essential
needs. Having the government shut down to hash out budgets does serious harm to those most vulnerable.  It is a landslide of problems that falls on the shoulders of those already struggling.
Did they think landlords will wait for rent payments while Senators making $174,000 per year- plus a Cadillac health care & benefits package take their time to debate the budget?
Just to recap- unemployment has reached critical mass, there is no such thing as a "jobless recovery", and those employed may be under duress never before experienced.

Tell me about it.....


Mauigirl said...

So true - I even see it in the job descriptions when I read them in my job alert e-mails. I start looking at a job that sounds interesting, something I might actually want to do, and then I see the long list of responsibilities, often unrelated to one another, jobs that probably once were held by more than one person. And I think, "I don't want to do all that." And I don't mean it in a lazy way, I mean it in that it is impossible to concentrate on any one thing or do it well if you're doing too many diverse things that aren't well-connected and are expected to do all of them within tight deadlines.

And this will only get worse, since companies, as you point out, know they have the employees over the barrel and they dare not complain or they'll lose their jobs.

Life As I Know It Now said...

A very timely post. My son and daughter both work full time and have to put up with these policies just as you have outlined. It's crazy and WRONG on so many levels.

love the John Lennon song btw.

Fran said...

Easier to see in the first photo, Why are those people standing on the tiny bit of land just short of the major landslide?
That is where those of us who are employed & underpaid stand, I suppose.

It makes the whole union fight issue going on all the more important. At least with a union, the workers have some kind of collective voice, if anything just to have the discussion of worker's rights.

Otherwise it is a slippery slope, where corporations rule & the workers have no choice but to put up with it.

Reminds me of the employment version of Michael Moore's SICKO movie. Many who thought they had medical coverage, found themselves in as bad or worse situations with for-profit insurance companies taking their money for health care coverage, but when the coverage was needed, they were left empty handed.

Working poor means you are constantly treading water, with no chance of getting on solid ground. Always in debt. Any additional cost (car repair, medical, big ticket items going kaput), makes for a financial crisis. Cost of living continues to rise, while wages stay stagnant.

nonnie9999 said...

this is a right-to-work state, which translates to: the employers can do whatever the fuck they want, and if the employees don't like it, they can quit. the salaries suck, but people are afraid to leave, because they're afraid they won't find another job, and they don't want to change their health insurance company. there are big employers down here that constantly fire hundreds of people for one excuse or another and then hire people at lower salaries. they purge every few years.

D.K. Raed said...

one thing the wealthy will never understand ... when how you live, where you live, what you live for, etc, are all determined by your salary, you have no room for error ... the slightest mistep, missed week of pay, missed deadline for medical benefits, etc, wreck havoc with your entire life.

they have so many other irons in the fire ... investments, dividends, assets, etc, that they will never understand that being docked for even one day's pay for many people means macaroni and hot dogs for a week.

trite but true ... if they could walk a mile in an average worker's shoes, they would realize why workers aren't wearing bruno maglis.


Fran said...

Nonnie~ Yep we have some companies here who do the same. A 6 month new hire probation, just when benefits would kick in, they are dumped.
Lower salaries & less workers doing more work = bigger profits.

DK~ So true. Another friend pointed put as corporations, they are able to write off so many things that low end worker bees probably pay a higher percentage of taxes overall, than the oober multibillion dollar corporation.

Oh yea-- one more tactic they pulled-- they did not raise health insurance rates, just a slight adjustment that we now pay 20% of the overall cost of the medical bill.

Michael Moore has sumpthin' to say about all this.... in tomorrow's post.