Thursday, August 13, 2009



Don’t Employers Deserve Free Speech?

We read:
"The debate over the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is being reframed now that the notorious “card check” provision—which would have taken away the right to secret ballots on union representation—will be pulled from the bill. Business groups and members of Congress on the fence will now come under tremendous pressure to support the act, although equally objectionable provisions, such as mandatory arbitration, remain.

Yet there has been virtually no debate over the bill’s onerous and unprecedented penalties against employers who may fall afoul of vague National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) rules as workers try to unionize. These penalties will stifle employer free speech. Would an employer be willing to inform employees about the potential downsides of unionization in the face of fines, treble damages, injunctions and costly litigation levied by EFCA?

Today, according to the National Labor Relations Act—as amended in 1947—employers are permitted to express themselves to their employees with “views, argument, or opinion . . . if such expression contains no threat of reprisal or force or promise of benefit.” Of course, this leaves unclear just what constitutes lawful opinion versus unlawful threats or promises. And over the years, the shifting composition of the NLRB—and of the courts—has caused disagreements over what permissible free speech is.

Under EFCA, employers would risk federal injunction litigation even before the labor board has considered whether there was a threat or promise. Based on union-filed unfair labor practice charges, if the board’s general counsel—one person—determines that there is “reasonable cause” to believe an employer threat or promise may have been made, EFCA requires the general counsel to seek an immediate federal court injunction.

Only much later, perhaps years later, after a costly trial, briefing and appeals will the NLRB and courts decide whether the statements were lawful and whether fines are to be imposed....

Faced with these draconian penalties, employers—particularly smaller employers—will be forced to remain silent. EFCA’s penalty provisions deserve careful scrutiny in light of statutory and constitutional free speech protections. Their net effect will be to deny free speech to employers and to deprive employees of the advantages of meaningful debate before they make important choices affecting their livelihood.

Source

46 comments:

Use the Name, Luke said...

"Faced with these draconian penalties, employers—particularly smaller employers—will be forced to remain silent."

Or simply shut down.

If they start doing that, what will the powers-that-be do about it? Pass a law forcing the business owners to keep their doors open? Will they have the stones to call it "The Equalization of Opportunity Act"?

Who is John Galt?

G.S. Patton III said...

Those who have wondered if and how the labor unions would be repaid for their "aggressive" support for presdient Odumbo, you can now stop wondering. With the WH and congress in the hands of the far-Left, it's a done deal! And don't be fooled (again) by that old Leftist/Demoncrat trick of slipping-in laws they want, but the public doesn't like, by simply changing the names.

Before this govt. is done, the communist-inspired unions will have far more control than they've ever had! In fact, if you look around, you'll notice that it's already started. (the UAW for one?)

Bobby said...

"their net effect will be to deny free speech to employers and to deprive employees of the advantages of meaningful debate"

---I've never had any free speech at work. As for "meaningful debate," if your manager says "work starts at 9:00am" you can't reply, "yes, but when does it end" or they'll be hell to pay. Labor unions aren't perfect, but they're better than some of the corporate concentration camps I've worked at.

In non-union shops the boss can demand that you work from 9am to 9pm or midnight and not pay you for the extra hours. They can make you come on Saturdays and Sundays with no additional compensation. What the union does is ensure that employees are treated fairly and not abused by an employer whose not interested in the welfare of his employees.

With that said, I do believe in secret ballots since nobody should be intimidating for not voting for for voting the "wrong way." But overall, employers will always have free speech because it's the employees that are afraid of getting fired.

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

"In non-union shops the boss can demand that you work from 9am to 9pm or midnight and not pay you for the extra hours. They can make you come on Saturdays and Sundays with no additional compensation."

Are you hourly or salary?

If you are an hourly employee then your statement is wrong on the facts. I know of no state where hourly employees can be legally compelled to work without compensation. Have you not heard about all the lawsuits WalMart has lost because they attempted to do just that thing?

In those states, with whose labor laws I am conversant, all of them have overtime provisions (both daily hours and weekly hours) as well as the requirement that all hours worked be paid. The only exceptions I have seen are those shops where the union has agreed to daily OT in order to obtain reduced hours on some other day, or the entire day off (4 day week) or something along those lines. In these cases they were negotiated with the union. Blame your shop steward and union leadership for selling you out if you worked in such a shop.

If you are salalry then you are exempt. That means that in accepting a non-hourly wage job you consented to the terms of the employment and thus freely entered into the agreement to work whatever hours were necessary to fulfill the requirements of the position.

If you do not like the hours of your job then leave. If you do not like salaried work then refuse it and only work for an hourly wage. If your employer is breaking state labor laws then report him.

Unless you are a prisoner you can never legally be require to be an unpaid employee.

Pax,

InFides

Anonymous said...

"What the union does is ensure that employees are treated fairly and not abused by an employer whose not interested in the welfare of his employees. "

With the unions and the government ensuring that the employee is "treated fairly" who is ensuring the employer is treated fairly?
Why is it that liberals think businesses are in business to provide jobs and coddle employees? News flash, they’re not. It’s like this stupid minimum wage argument, you libs are always talking about how no one can support a family on the current minimum wage…. NO KIDDING…. No one expects them to and most people raising a family don’t have to, those jobs are meant for teenagers. I digress
Are you saying that the ridiculous wages the UAW gets for janitors in an auto plant is fair? I have been in auto plants my entire career and I can tell you horror story after horror story.
Or that union employees can and do call in sick frequently and loaf frequently and can never be fired even for theft, is that fair? My wife works for a large dept store chain and is in a union, she sees her fellow employees doing this all the time and it drives her crazy because her and the other 3 or 4 employees that don’t take advantage have to work harder to make up for the slackers.
At one point in history unions served a real purpose but now most unions are legally tax exempt criminal organizations that are allowed to steal money from pay checks, and engage in political activities without regard for the leanings of its membership let alone any single member.

Anonymous said...

Here is what unions get you.
One day my ex wife invited a friend from work and her husband over for dinner. We had just bought an old house, built in 1902, it still had the old knob and tube wiring.
I found out her husband was an unemployed electrician, he had been unemployed for 2 years.
I am an electrical engineer so I could have done the work myself but I figured he needed the money so I asked him if he wanted to make a few bucks.
You know what his response was?
“Sure, call local 123 and tell them you want to hire me. I won’t work without the union behind me.”
I did the work myself.

Anonymous said...

I think unions do serve a purpose, but eventually, the cause that inspired the union is gone, so they have to start making an excuse for their existence. That's when the trouble starts.

There was a contracting company out here, non-unionized, and it's employees tried to start a union. The owner laid everyone off, shut down the company, and started a new company with the same name but tacked the year on the end. I understand there's been no talk of a union since.

Bobby said...

Infides, I was a salary employee.

"If you are salalry then you are exempt. That means that in accepting a non-hourly wage job you consented to the terms of the employment and thus freely entered into the agreement to work whatever hours were necessary to fulfill the requirements of the position."

---So what? Are you saying your employer can do anything he wants to you? Why not force employees to work 24 hours a day and sleep in cots by their work stations? Where does it end?

"you consented to the terms of the employment and thus freely entered into the agreement to work whatever hours were necessary to fulfill the requirements of the position."

---Think about that for a second, do you really think the requirements ever end? If the account executives keep selling more than the agency staff can handle, do you think everyone's going to finish their jobs on time?

Companies are crooks, they pay you $45,000 but expect you to work like you're making $90,000. If they had to pay salary + extra hours you'd see a lot of the exploitation end.


"If you do not like the hours of your job then leave."

---There are not enough jobs, Infides. Tell me, do you think it's fair when companies force employees to take a 10% salary cut and to work longer hours while the people in management give themselves raises?

Let's try to be objective about this. Companies aren't saints, google "The Pinkertons" and you'll read about people like Henry Ford hiring thugs to beat up and sometimes kill union strikers. I'm a capitalist but there are limits to what a company can and cannot do to an employee.

Today people are working longer, 9 to 5 became 9 to 6, yearly salary raises are rare, asking to come on the weekends is becoming common, benefits are being cut, and while you're supposed to give a company a two week notice before you quit, they never give you that same courtesy before they fire you.

Employers are treated beyond fairly, the reason Nissan, Toyota and Honda have auto plants in the south is because of huge tax breaks and corporate welfare in the form of money or services such as developing roads.

I'm not a liberal, but being pro-business does not mean being pro-exploitation and that's what corporate and non-corporate America is doing to the workers. And you know what? Thanks to the so-called "global economy" it's going to get worse. The goddamm Mexicans and Indians are willing to be exploited more and paid less than the average American, so yes, you're gonna see more outsourcing. Think about that before you call me a liberal.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has ever held a job knows it's the unions who have ruined this country and our economy. Only unions can force companies to keep lazy and/or non-productive workers, making life harder and more expensive for everyone else. Why do you think this country no longer has a manufacturing base? It's because of unions and their unrealistic demands which drive companies off shore. Why is it that almost every other country in the world can make products better than we can, and for a whole lot cheaper?

I always found it amusing to see "devoted" union members applauding "for" their union leaders while those leaders were carted off to prison for stealing the money of the dumb workers.

Anonymous said...

I'm salaried too, and it says right on my paystub that each paycheque is paying me for 81.25 hours that period (which adds up to the correct amount of hours per year). So my feeling is, they get 81.25 hours of my time at that rate, anything more, they pay me more.

Luckily, I'm with a company that has a bonus time system, and so if we bill more than 100%, we get more money. Although they did cancel it when the economy went in the shitter, but then there's also not enough work to keep us billing over 100%, so it's a moot point.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a liberal, but being pro-business does not mean being pro-exploitation and that's what corporate and non-corporate America is doing to the workers.

Of course you are.

You believe that a contract or agreement that you willingly enter into is not binding to you, but is binding to the company.

That's classic liberalism.

If you don't like the job don't take it or leave. The idea that there may not be other jobs to your liking is a red herring and intelligent people know that.

Anonymous said...

I thought America was the land of opportunity. Or was the American dream just that - ?

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

This is in several posts due to space limitations.

I am sorry for the length but Bobby deserves a complete answer.

Hello Bobby!

"---So what?"

So exactly what I said. A salaried employee does not have a predefined rigidly fixed set of work hours and is not compensated on a per hour basis.


" Are you saying your employer can do anything he wants to you?"

No. And to infer that from what I said is a bit of a leap.


" Why not force employees to work 24 hours a day and sleep in cots by their work stations?"

Because who would stand for it? I can remember many times working 16 hour shifts writing code to get a project done on time. No OT and it never occurred to any of us to ask because we were salaried. We even slept in the office in order to work more hours. Did the boss force us? Hard to say for sure but no one was in chains and anyone could leave if he wanted to.

Did the boss require this sort of work from us regularly? No, of course not. We helped him because it was in our interest to see our company succeed and thus continue in our employment.

Also, although I can not speak for every boss everywhere, all the owners and bosses for whom I have worked had work hours as long or longer than my own. They more than pulled their weight.

Wanting your company to succeed can be called 'enlightened self-interest.' I want my company to succeed because they give me the employment that lets me support myself and my family.

You seem to view the work relationship in entirely adversarial terms. How sad. Might I suggest that you find an employer whose philosophy of work and employee relations is akin to your won. There are many businesses who, I am sure, would fit your expectations very nicely.


"---Think about that for a second, do you really think the requirements ever end?"

Yes, at least in my experience they always did and I can think of no one for whom they did not.


" If the account executives keep selling more than the agency staff can handle, do you think everyone's going to finish their jobs on time?"

No. But the boss will be the loser for not hiring more staff. Business hours make it impossible for people to work too late, every one else in the business world would be unavailable. He will lose financial opportunities because people will be unable to handle them.

Furthermore, people's productivity drops as they fatigue so even if people wanted to work for 24 hours per day they would very quickly cease to be productive and may even become a workplace hazard.

You extrapolate your arguments to worst case scenarios that can not possibly happen. No boss would require 24 hour per day service from an employee because even if the employee's spirit were willing his flesh is too weak.

Hyperbole ill serves your argument.


"Companies are crooks, they pay you $45,000 but expect you to work like you're making $90,000."

Maybe some do and I am sure many do not. You seem to be suggesting that everyone are crooks. Does that include yourself? Are you the same sort of immoral slave-driving crook you allege everyone else to be? Are you telling me that if you owned a business and had employees that this is how you would behave?

I have managed a lot of staff in my time and I always took care of them. Sometimes I asked for long hours and I repaid them with perks and comp time off, even though I was not legally required to do so.

If you boss is a crook or a slave driver then leave. What happened to your free will? Did your sense of personal integrity evaporate? Are you so at the mercy of the crooks that you are incapable of walking out the door? Is your sense of self respect so small that you would rather be a slave than take your chances on your freedom and your own abilities and go elsewhere?

InFides said...

" If they had to pay salary + extra hours you'd see a lot of the exploitation end."

First, what makes you think that they do not pay for those extra hours in some way? I had one boss who had an employee on the road for six straight weeks including weekends. This was the job, we all understood that and no one complained. The boss, being a decent human being like most of us, took care of this man. When he was in SoCal, his last week away working, the boss, at company expense, flew his wife and two children there, paid for their hotel and bought them tickets to Disneyland. Although he received no money, the boss would not have been allowed to simply give this man money, he took care of him.

Second, you would also see a lot of businesses close and lot of people out of work. I have worked for a number of start-ups on fixed salary. We did what we needed because if we did not we would fail and be unemployed.


"---There are not enough jobs, InFides."

If you would rather accept slavery than stand on your metal then do so. There are always jobs for people who look hard enough and are prepared to be an ally of the company for which they work and not an enemy.


" Tell me, do you think it's fair when companies force employees to take a 10% salary cut and to work longer hours while the people in management give themselves raises?"

Yes. The people who own the business own the profits of the business. I know something such as property rights might be only a quaint, old-fashioned notion to you but most of us accept that people have a right to what they own.

Also, not every boss does that. I was at one company during the 1991 recession and the boss had a company meeting. He said that everyone can forego bonuses, including himself, or he would have to fire several people. He put the matter to us to decide. We opted to keep our jobs and forego the extra money.

I reiterate, not everyone is a crook and if you work for such a company then start looking for something else. You have to be willing to have faith in your ability to make your life better through your own efforts.


"Let's try to be objective about this."

Fine. Start being so whenever you wish.


" Companies aren't saints,"

True, but irrelevant.


"people like Henry Ford hiring thugs to beat up and sometimes kill union strikers."

You do realize that mob-like activity, murder, assault and battery, intimidation and et al, are illegal? It is not sensible to argue that if employers break the law and engage in coercion and murder that you powerless, certainly not in this day and age.

Furthermore, to assert that some criminal activity, which happened 70 years ago no less, is a valid blanket indictment of the business community as a whole is insane.


" I'm a capitalist but there are limits to what a company can and cannot do to an employee."

Frankly, I do not believe you are a capitalist. Otherwise you would recognize the business owners' right to their own property. Also, you would accept the principles of the capitalist relationship that exists in our society between employers and employees. You are obviously a socialist in capitalist's clothing.


"Today people are working longer, 9 to 5 became 9 to 6, yearly salary raises are rare, asking to come on the weekends is becoming common, benefits are being cut,"

Apparently the current financial meltdown has escaped your notice. These companies are resorting to these harsh measures in order to stay solvent. If you would rather not work until 6 then quit. Perhaps you would prefer these companies to continue dolling out money they no longer have until they go broke? Have you ever heard the expression about half a loaf being better than none?

You seem to be suggesting that employees share no interest in the welfare and survival of the business for whom they work. Nothing could be further from the truth.

InFides said...

" and while you're supposed to give a company a two week notice before you quit, they never give you that same courtesy before they fire you."

First, two weeks notice is not a legal requirement but merely a courtesy. You can walk off the job at a moment's notice.

Second, so what?


"Employers are treated beyond fairly,"

That assumes a fact you have not entered into evidence. Please establish this before you assert it as fact.


" the reason Nissan, Toyota and Honda have auto plants in the south is because of huge tax breaks and corporate welfare in the form of money or services such as developing roads."

So you are saying that these companies should attempt to expand into areas with inadequate roads or inferior tax regimes? That these companies should elect to expand into areas which ill serve their shareholders' financial interests?

Detroit is very cheap right now. The average home price in Detroit is $7500.00, yes, seven thousand dollars.

I am sure both Detroit and Michigan would provide whatever tax relief, subsidies and infrastructure improvements any automobile manufacturer might conceivably want. And yet they stay away. Did it ever occur to you that maybe the reason is because the UAW has such and adversarial and abusive relationship with the automobile manufacturers that no tax or cost incentives can overcome the inherent problems and costs associated with dealing with the UAW?


"I'm not a liberal,"

It never ceases to amaze me how liberals always say this just before they offer the liberal arguments.

Strangely, I have never heard a conservative, just before he argues the conservative position, assert that he is not a conservative.


" but being pro-business does not mean being pro-exploitation and that's what corporate and non-corporate America is doing to the workers."

Assumes a fact not in evidence.


" And you know what? Thanks to the so-called "global economy" it's going to get worse."

I suggest you read Smith and Ricardo. Trade is always a net good. The reason America is having problems is not because of trade. I suggest you study the theory of factor endowments.


" The goddamm Mexicans and Indians are willing to be exploited more and paid less than the average American,"

The perhaps we would wise to concentrate on those areas of manufacturing where we can dominate and let them handle the cheap stuff. Study the theory of factor endowments.

(BTW, watch your language. God will not hold blameless those who take His name in vain.)


" so yes, you're gonna see more outsourcing. Think about that before you call me a liberal."

In my original post I never called you a liberal so it is odd that you seem to think I did. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Lastly, having thought very carefully about your arguments, I can say with certainty - You are a liberal.

Pax,

InFides

Anonymous said...

"Methinks thou doth protest too much."

Methinks you art thou an asshole.

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

"Methinks you art thou an asshole."

I always appreciate well reasoned, deeply considered arguments.

I particularly admire such argument when it is framed in brilliantly constructed English such as 'you art thou an.'

I bow to your superior reasoning skills and deft rebuttal of my arguments.

Your a true master of your art.

Pax,

InFides

Joey said...

Being salaried does not mean that you must work unlimited hours without remuneration. There are exempt and non-exempt catagories that vary from state to state.
How many people to you supervise? How many hours you agree to work for a 'set' salary is then used to determine what you make per hour. For a non-exempt salaried person that means that after 40 hours you received overtime at that hourly rate. If you agree to work 50 hours for a salary of $100.00 then your hourly wage is $2.oo. That means that after 40 hours of work you should receive $3.00. As I said this varies from state to state. If you have 3 or more people that look to you for supervision you are considered exempt and the above equation does not apply to you.

Anonymous said...

InFides said... If you do not like the hours of your job then leave.
To say "if you don't like the work then leave", is like saying if you don't like the air quit breathing.

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

"To say "if you don't like the work then leave", is like saying if you don't like the air quit breathing."

Spectacularly bad analogy.

You not need any specific job to continue living. Have you never left a job you disliked and gotten another one? If yes, then your own experience argues against you.

The proper analogy is, "If you do not like working at all then stop working entirely and starve to death."

There is only one atmosphere. There are millions of jobs.

Try again.

Pax,

InFides

Bobby said...

Infides, thanks for your long reply. I will answer the comments I think are the most compelling (for the sake of space).

"I want my company to succeed because they give me the employment that lets me support myself and my family."

---Think about it this way. When a car saleman makes a sale, he gets a comission, thus his efforts are directly rewarded. But when a team of office workers win an account, rewards may or may not be given. In my experience, they are not given. Most employers treat you like they're doing you a favor by letting you work there.

"Frankly, I do not believe you are a capitalist. Otherwise you would recognize the business owners' right to their own property."

---They may own the property but they do not own the people. At one company I left at 12am after being there since 9am and was disciplined for showing up at 11am the next day. When companies make you work late, they are invading your personal space, they are depriving you of your personal time. And unlike your experience, they never compensate you, the most they do is buy you dinner, which can be as cheap as subways. Sorry buddy, a $5.25 footlong does not compensate for 5 extra hours after 6pm.

"Perhaps you would prefer these companies to continue dolling out money they no longer have until they go broke?"

---I'm not arguing against that, the problem is they make the little people take cuts while the big people (managers) get raises even when their performance is mediocre or nonexistent.

"You seem to be suggesting that employees share no interest in the welfare and survival of the business for whom they work."

---Let's say you hire a prostitute. Say you treat her well, say you're gentle with her, you respect her, you appreciate her services. What's the result? She will love to have you as a client. But then say you treat her badly, you call her a bitch, you slap her around, you demean her. In that case, she will probably hate you and only screw you if she's really that desperate for money. We all need money, but there are limits to how much abuse we can take.

"It never ceases to amaze me how liberals always say this just before they offer the liberal arguments."

---Fine, I guess I'm a pro-gun, pro-death penalty, pro-Bush, anti-affirmative action, politically incorrect liberal. Which is funny since when I go to liberal blogs, I'm accused of being a right-winger.

Finally, what's wrong with bring pro-business and pro-employee? Why does being pro-employee gets you an automatic "liberal" label?

In the 1970s in Manhattan, nobody used to respect the people at the sanitation department (those who collect garbage), their union wanted them to make as much money as firemen and police officers, the people where outraged because according to them, "garbagemen aren't heroes." Well, to teach the city a lesson, they went on strike that lasted more than a month I think. The city was covered in filth, the rat population exploded, eventually the governor and the mayor gave in and gave the workers what they wanted.

The point of that story is that corporations don't appreciate their employees just like New Yorkers didn't appreciate the people that pick their garbage.

This lack of appreciation and increasing exploitation is destroying our country. I don't seek new laws or lawsuits, just a cultural change that will empower a culture of fairness in the workplace.

Denouncing evil workplace practices does not make me a liberal. But if you want to call me that, fine, I refuse to bend over for big business! In fact, some of those companies deserved to go bankrup for the evil things they've done, specially AIG!

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

Sorry a long series of posts again.

Hello Bobby!

"When a car salesman makes a sale, he gets a commission, thus his efforts are directly rewarded. But when a team of office workers win an account, rewards may or may not be given."

The car salesman's only compensation is the commission. He may have no base salary at all or it will be so small as to be not sufficient for him to support himself. The office workers get paid a proper wage regardless of the production of the salesman. The salesman gets nothing if he sells nothing.

The office workers 'share' in the sale of cars is their salary. If they would prefer to take their chances and live on straight commission as the salesmen do then they have that choice.


" In my experience, they are not given. Most employers treat you like they're doing you a favor by letting you work there."

You seem to have had very bad luck in selecting employers. You always get the rotten ones. I admit their are some real pieces of work out there. I know because I have sat opposite some of them in tribunals and other legal proceedings. Perhaps you would do well to risk your capital, accept the potential of failure and losing everything you have and start your own business and be your own boss. Then you can be exactly the sort of humanitarian employer that you have been unable to find elsewhere.


"---They may own the property but they do not own the people."

I never said they did. These people willingly accepted the terms of their employment. So long as the work conditions violate no laws, by what right do they then complain that the boss is treating them unfairly by asking them act according to the terms of their employment that they themselves freely accepted? If the do not like the job they are free to refuse to take it. If the already work there and are dissatisfied they can pick up their bed and walk.


" At one company I left at 12am after being there since 9am and was disciplined for showing up at 11am the next day."

You have just proved my point. You left that company and went elsewhere. In other words, you took my advice and looked out for your own interests when you felt they were in conflict with the employer's.


" When companies make you work late, they are invading your personal space, they are depriving you of your personal time."

But when you agree, as a condition of the employment, to work late when requested it is hypocritical to then complain when you are asked to work according to the terms to which you freely agreed. Does keeping your word mean nothing to you?


" And unlike your experience, they never compensate you,"

I must say that I have had bad, disrespectful and abusive employers. The key phrase is 'have had.'

I finally, in order to get as much control over my time as possible, started my own business. I have never worked longer hours or struggled more. It is very easy to let someone else take the risks and merely collect a wage. Many people prefer it. I do not. But I never bit the hand that fed me. I may have quit one ‘hand’ for another but I was always faithful to the terms of my employment. That was not just for my employer’s sake but because I believe if a man accepts a deal he follows through with it. I simply do not know how to function any other way.


" the most they do is buy you dinner, which can be as cheap as subways."

Your experience certainly but not a universal rule. I really do hope that you find someone decent for whom to work. Keep looking. Unlike Diogenes you will eventually find an honest employer. They exist, I promise you.

InFides said...

" Sorry buddy, a $5.25 foot long does not compensate for 5 extra hours after 6pm."

Did you agree to work late as a condition of employment? If you said this would be OK then you have no reason to gripe for being asked to do so. If you make an agreement then stick to it. If the agreement is not acceptable then say so. Perhaps the boss will agree. Perhaps he will fire you. Perhaps you could just find something else. You are not powerless in your own life unless you choose to make yourself so.


"---I'm not arguing against that, the problem is they make the little people take cuts while the big people (managers) get raises even when their performance is mediocre or nonexistent. "

Maybe true, maybe not. But it is not germane. The issue is whether you feel it is appropriate to abide by the freely accepted terms of your employment.

You want the employers to take all the risks, with their property no less, and are now demanding a say in how the business is run and how its employees are compensated. Start your own business, take your own risks and all the rewards, if there are any, will be yours.


I have, over the years, seen a lot of people get away with a lot of things. I have seen the worst of humanity get away with the worst of behavior but I never argued that that somehow excused me from keeping my freely given word. I may not like what the boss is doing but I accepted the terms.


"---Let's say you hire a prostitute. Say you treat her well, say you're gentle with her, you respect her, you appreciate her services. What's the result? She will love to have you as a client."

I will have to rely on your experience of prostitutes because I am ignorant in this area. But assuming you are knowledgeable in this area of commerce what you are saying is that she will appreciate a good client. I am sure every business does that.

BTW, if I understand the economics of prostitution correctly then the hirer is a customer and not an employee. Your argument speaks to how business girls reacts to their clientele not their employees.


" But then say you treat her badly, you call her a bitch, you slap her around, you demean her."

I would assume her pimp (manager) would probably beat me to a pulp.

If you ever have a boss do these things you describe call a good lawyer. The lawsuit should net you big, big money.

All kidding aside, you have described civilly and criminally liable behavior that no employee contract would ever contain and could not be enforced even if it did.

If your boss strikes you, you are liberty to strike him back to defend yourself. You are not a slave you can defend yourself. I give you full permission not be a punching bag.


" In that case, she will probably hate you and only screw you if she's really that desperate for money."

I would expect she will do something else. No doubt when I am not looking and when I am at my most vulnerable. Criminal behavior is not enforceable in ANY employment situation.


" We all need money, but there are limits to how much abuse we can take."

True, but I must ask, have you ever had boss strike you or slap you or call you a bitch? You seem unable to support your position without using examples that simply do not and absolutely can not apply.

InFides said...

"Finally, what's wrong with bring pro-business and pro-employee? Why does being pro-employee gets you an automatic "liberal" label?"

I used the word ‘liberal’ because of the nature of your arguments. Your arguments are what they are do not blame me.

And just to disabuse any one who might be reading this I will clarify my position. I am a conservative and I am arguing the conservative position. Please feel free to call me a conservative as much as you please.

There is nothing wrong with being both pro-employee and pro-business. But you are specifically arguing that employees are being abused if they abide by the terms of their employment into which they freely entered. I am only counter-arguing that they should abide by their commitments.



“In the 1970s in Manhattan, nobody used to respect the people at the sanitation department (those who collect garbage), their union wanted them to make as much money as firemen and police officers, the people where outraged because according to them, "garbage men aren't heroes." Well, to teach the city a lesson, they went on strike that lasted more than a month I think. The city was covered in filth, the rat population exploded, eventually the governor and the mayor gave in and gave the workers what they wanted.

The point of that story is that corporations don't appreciate their employees just like New Yorkers didn't appreciate the people that pick their garbage.”

There is also the point that garbage men think they take the same risks as firemen and policemen. I wonder how many garbage men died on September 11th? How many garbage men are shot each year? Just how many garbage men are killed in the line of duty each year? I am sure some are but is the risk comparable to those of firemen and police men? If your assertion is that a man who throws filth into a truck is somehow taking the same risks as a fireman and is entitled to the same risk compensation then I can not agree with you. The reason the city compensated them less is because they take nothing like the risks that firemen and police men take.

In so far as striking and garbage piling up two things:

First. Did they have contract and simply refuse to abide by the terms they themselves negotiated and went on strike? If yes, then they are bums and I would have fired them all and replace them with other workers as a matter of public health.

Second, were they negotiating a new contract? If yes, then they followed my advice and sought news terms of employment, their right. Going on strike in this case is justifiable because they are arguing new terms of employment and that is fair.

“This lack of appreciation and increasing exploitation is destroying our country. I don't seek new laws or lawsuits, just a cultural change that will empower a culture of fairness in the workplace.”

I can only pray that you manage to find a good employer. They are out there. I know many personally and I have always been one myself. If you like I will remember you in the Mass on Sunday. May I do so?

“Denouncing evil workplace practices does not make me a liberal. But if you want to call me that, fine, I refuse to bend over for big business!”

I refuse to bend to the terms of my own freely accepted employment agreement! How brave of you.

“ In fact, some of those companies deserved to go bankrupt for the evil things they've done, specially AIG!”

And if your fellow liberals (including Bush, who is no conservative) had allowed capitalism to work they would have gone bankrupt. Conservatives are quite happy to let inefficient, unprofitable, criminally inclined, sloppy, abusive, disrespectful businesses fail. If you want to say bad businesses should fail read Smith and Ricardo. Then go vote for those who will support the marketplace and you will have your wish.

Pax,

InFides

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

"So my feeling is, they get 81.25 hours of my time at that rate, anything more, they pay me more."

I am sure your bosses will remember this enlightened and perfectly fair position when it comes to promotions.

After all, who would take into consideration whether someone who puts forth only the minmum effort and only if compensated to the penny is any less dedicated to the interests of the company than someone who is willing to help when the extra help is needed?

I know as an employer I always treated those two people just the same.

BTW, to those of you who think that the extra effort is uncompensated do you also get upset when people with less seniority are promoted ahead of you? Do you accuse them of being brown noses and suck-ups?

If you are constantly confronted, job after job, with nothing but crummy, disrespectful, unappreciative employers and never any other kind, then maybe, just maybe, the employers are not the problem in the employer-employee relationsip. Just an idle speculation for you to consider.

Pax,

InFides

Phil In Cow Town said...

""So my feeling is, they get 81.25 hours of my time at that rate, anything more, they pay me more."

I am sure your bosses will remember this enlightened and perfectly fair position when it comes to promotions."

The bosses are the ones who instituted the policy of bonus time. Plus, I'm at a small company with marginal room for promotion anyway, so it's not an issue.

If I was at a bigger company, with more opportunities, it would be different. I'm not saying that I don't work late IF i have to. But with planning the projects properly and effective time management, I don't have to that much. But I'm certainly NOT allowed to leave early this week just because I worked till midnight last week. If I work longer hours, I expect to be compensated for those hours, that's just good business.

Here's how I see employment. I have a set of skills, on their own, their not that useful. But I need money to survive. My employer is willing to give me that money to survive, but in exchange, I use the skills I have for him. Employment is a contract acknowledging a mutual interest. My employer is not obligated to make me rich, or provide benefits; I see benefits as exactly that, Benefits, not Entitlements, they're extra.

Anonymous said...

"If I work longer hours, I expect to be compensated for those hours, that's just good business."

If that is the agreement you signed or the condition of hire to which you agreed, you should expect compensation in some form.

However, what is being discussed is whether a person who agrees to work for a company knowing the hours they will be required to put in at an agreed rate of compensation should then demand or want more compensation when the actual work is required.

If I hire you and say "you are going to make $1000 per week for up to 50 hours a week" and you agree to those terms, then don't whine and complain when you work 45 hours a week and get a pay check for $1000.

You agreed to it. Live up to your word.

Note: the "you" being used in this post is not directed specifically to you, but rather the "royal" or ambiguous, hypothetical "you."

Phil in Cow Town said...

"Note: the "you" being used in this post is not directed specifically to you, but rather the "royal" or ambiguous, hypothetical "you.""

Yeah, i got that. In fact it really annoys the shit out of me when I use it myself and people think I actually mean them and not them hypothetically. God that's annoying.

Bobby said...

Hey Infides, your arguments are very interesting. You're a strong debater, that's obvious.

"I will have to rely on your experience of prostitutes because I am ignorant in this area. But assuming you are knowledgeable in this area of commerce what you are saying is that she will appreciate a good client. I am sure every business does that."

---Exactly. I would rather deal with a happy hooker than an unhappy hooker. The same is with employees, if the company took steps to ensure their happiness, their workplace would be better. For example, some companies allow people to bring their dogs to work, others have gyms, allow casual attire, day care, massages, and all kinds of benefits to ensure a happy workforce. Other companies treat employees like crap and then wonder why everyone quits or gets fired eventually.


"BTW, if I understand the economics of prostitution correctly then the hirer is a customer and not an employee. Your argument speaks to how business girls reacts to their clientele not their employees"

---My argument comes from the fact that in the workplace sometimes you feel like a prostitute. They treat you badly and you keep coming to work for the money. And while my experience isn't universal, I read somewhere that most Americans are unhappy with their jobs.


"If your assertion is that a man who throws filth into a truck is somehow taking the same risks as a fireman and is entitled to the same risk compensation then I can not agree with you. The reason the city compensated them less is because they take nothing like the risks that firemen and police men take."

---The man who throws filth into a truck is saving the city from diseases, he's keeping the rat population under control, he's giving roaches less food to eat and he keeps our cities clean. Sanitation is just as vital as the work of firemen and policemen, it may not be as dangerous, but we can't live without it. Also, it's a disgusting job that has no glamour and that most people don't want to do. When was the last time you saw a TV show about garbage-men?


"Second, were they negotiating a new contract?"

---Yes, the union wanted to increase their miserable pay, the city objected, so they went on strike.


"I can only pray that you manage to find a good employer. They are out there. I know many personally and I have always been one myself. If you like I will remember you in the Mass on Sunday. May I do so?"

---Please do, I need all the help I can get.

"There is nothing wrong with being both pro-employee and pro-business. But you are specifically arguing that employees are being abused if they abide by the terms of their employment into which they freely entered. I am only counter-arguing that they should abide by their commitments."

---Actually, I'm not. Every job I had the agreement was that the hours would be 9 to 6, with the expectation to work late when necessary, which eventually became everyday. I'm skeptic, I think employers will try to get away with as much as possible.

I think you're a very logical person, InFides, but I don't think the working world is a logical place. It's not like you do A and B happens. The office is chaos, a place with the secret language of office politics, networking, and influence over substance. This recession has only given employers an excuse to mistreat employees more. At some advertising agencies, 50% of the staff was fired while the same workload was kept. With the crappy economy, they can afford to do this because they will always find people willing to be worked to death. So in the end, the employer wins.

Robert said...

You believe that a contract or agreement that you willingly enter into is not binding to you, but is binding to the company.

That's classic liberalism.


Actually, that is not classic liberalism (meaning desirous of maintaining and increasing individual liberty, as the term was understood in the 18th and 19th centuries). I think we could say such an attitude is highly Leftist, though, seeing how Leftists frequently act as if the rules apply to everybody except themselves.

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

Hello Bobby!

I thank you for the compliments. I return them to you with equal sincerity. I am enjoying our exchange of ideas very much. I admit that in a debate (some of my friends say at all times and not only in a debate) I can be rough and abrasive. I appreciate your being willing to engage me and not merely throw abuse or insults at me as some have done.

“The same is with employees, if the company took steps to ensure their happiness, their workplace would be better. For example, some companies allow people to bring their dogs to work, others have gyms, allow casual attire, day care, massages, and all kinds of benefits to ensure a happy workforce.”

I agree with you 100%. A happy well adjusted work force is always preferable. Not only because it is the humane way to act and also not simply because of the golden rule but because it is economically sensible. I had some bosses who had not a single humanitarian instinct but they knew this and practiced it.


“ Other companies treat employees like crap and then wonder why everyone quits or gets fired eventually. “

Bingo!

The key point is worth repeating: “... and then wonder why everyone quits ... “


”My argument comes from the fact that in the workplace sometimes you feel like a prostitute.”

Only if you choose to. I am a professional. I expect to be treated as such. If you are good at what you do and demand respect and fair treatment I am sure you will get it.


“ They treat you badly and you keep coming to work for the money.”

But who makes the decision to continue to tolerate the abuse?


“ And while my experience isn't universal, I read somewhere that most Americans are unhappy with their jobs. “

How much of that is just being unhappy with working generally? If most people hate their jobs then perhaps they can not be happy anywhere. There are bad employers but if almost all of them are disliked then perhaps they are not the issue.


”The man who throws filth into a truck is saving the city from diseases, he's keeping the rat population under control, he's giving roaches less food to eat and he keeps our cities clean. Sanitation is just as vital as the work of firemen and policemen, it may not be as dangerous, but we can't live without it. Also, it's a disgusting job that has no glamour and that most people don't want to do. When was the last time you saw a TV show about garbage-men?”

All true but the risks garbage men take are not comparable to those of policemen and firemen. The firemen and policemen get paid more because the extra salary is, in part, a risk compensation. They deserve extra pay because of the risks inherent in their work.

It is also worth mentioning that policemen and firemen have considerably higher job requirements in education, ability and innate intelligence. Without wishing to insult garbage men the simple fact is that an illiterate person of substantially below average intelligence can empty a garbage can into a truck. Some of the smarter primates could probably be trained to do this job. I know this is harsh but it is the truth. I respect garbage men and the work they do but I am not prepared to accord them equality in the job they do compared to firemen and policemen.

Furthermore, I do not dispute the social and economic value of garbage men but their jobs risks and requirements are not comparable top those of policemen and firemen. That is my point and it is an ineluctable fact.

InFides said...

I once had a discussion with a doctor and I told him that if civilization had to choose between only having plumbers or doctors but not both that the sensible thing is to select the plumbers because they have saved more lives than doctors by far.

He was quite insulted by this remark. I explained to him that the two greatest extenders of the human life span (nearly doubling it) are clean water and proper waste disposal. Doctors, despite all their brilliant medical technology and research, have added something like 15 years at best.

But no one would argue that the job requirements and abilities required of a surgeon are comparable to those of a plumber. I can do my own plumbing and do it as well as any plumber. I am not willing to take out my own appendix and I would not be fool enough to try.


“Yes, the union wanted to increase their miserable pay, the city objected, so they went on strike.“

I accept the strike, but not the remark about the ‘miserable pay’ because I do not know if it was miserable or not. How did it (pay AND benefits) compare to the private sector? That would be worth knowing. Government is lousy at valuing resources compared to the marketplace. What would these people, given their skill set and abilities, get in the free market? If they could do better elsewhere then I suspect they would have gone elsewhere. The fact that they did not tells me that they are more likely aware that they are onto a good thing and would rather stay put than take their chances in the marketplace.

In so far as their going on strike, so be it. Until they agree to the terms of a contract they are free to withhold their labor, just as anyone is free to not take a job with an employer he dislikes. However, once they, or anyone, accept the terms of the deal it is disloyal and hypocritical to then refuse to abide by the terms of the agreement. Plain and simple.



”Please do, I need all the help I can get. “

I will remember you in the Mass. The older I get the more I recognize and appreciate the value of prayer. I often wonder if God is thinking to Himself, “If only they would just ask.” Never underestimate the power of prayer.



“Actually, I'm not. Every job I had the agreement was that the hours would be 9 to 6, with the expectation to work late when necessary, which eventually became everyday.”

I must ask, did you address this with your boss? I have had similar things and I always spoke up. I remember a couple of loo-loos. Once I was working this minimum wage job at a record store. I was told by my manager that I would have to work Christmas day. There are only two days in the year I absolutely require to have off, Christmas day (God and Family) and new year’s day (Bowl games and celebration of the new year.) I was informed that I either work or I would lose my job. I told my boss that if I was forced to choose between him and Him he would lose, big time. I never heard anything more about it and I did not lose my job.

The second time, at a different and much better paying job, was when my boss came in to tell us who would be on call for the next 3 day weekend. I had worked the previous two so I assumed it would not be me. He said it was me. I fumed and said, “Why me?” To which he replied that the other men were all married and had lives. I was furious. I told him he better have someone standing by as I felt a sore throat coming on and I was sure I would be sick. I did not work and did not lose my job.

Do I advise everyone to stand up to the boss? No, absolutely not. Situations vary and maybe quitting is not in your interest. Sometimes men do things out of passion that under reflection they would not do. Consider the situation and act accordingly. (But never forget that companies act according to their interest and you should do the same.) I can only say that by standing up for myself I protected my interests, demonstrated I was not a doormat and I gained face with both management and my fellow employees.

InFides said...

“I'm skeptic, I think employers will try to get away with as much as possible. “

All too true but that is not limited to employers. I have seen the exact same behavior from employees. Perhaps it is better to say people generally will try to get away with whatever they can. I can accept that whole heartedly.



”... but I don't think the working world is a logical place. It's not like you do A and B happens.”

If you are working for decent company and sensible people this is mostly (repeat mostly) what happens. People are at best only semi-predictable but some more so than others. Find another situation if where you now work is too illogical.


“ The office is chaos, ...”

I can only advise you to get out of there. I dislike chaos. I do not like muss or fuss or yelling or wild and unpredictable behavior. I have, much to my regret, sometimes worked in such environments. I work in those environments no longer. I am prepared to accept some chaos but I do not have to accept all chaos and nothing else.


“ a place with the secret language of office politics, networking, and influence over substance. This recession has only given employers an excuse to mistreat employees more.”

But not all employers. I am also not entirely sure that what you call abuse is, in fact, abuse. I will need something more to go on than such a vague assertion.


“ At some advertising agencies, 50% of the staff was fired while the same workload was kept.”

That seems unlikely to me. To begin, if the business has the same level of work then the original staffing level was way too high.

But given this downturn in the economy I am not all convinced that this advertising firm has anything like their original volume of work. That would imply that they have been somehow immune to the vagaries of this economy and I do not accept that.


“ With the crappy economy, they can afford to do this because they will always find people willing to be worked to death.”

There will always be those who will willingly be slaves. There will always be those who are content to take whatever abuse people might hurl their way. Neither you nor I can save those pitiful souls from their weaknesses. But do not confuse their willingness to be slaves with the requirement that they must be slaves.


“ So in the end, the employer wins.”

As you yourself pointed out earlier the employer also ultimately loses:

InFides said...

“ Other companies treat employees like crap and then wonder why everyone quits or gets fired eventually. “

As the ancient Greeks used to say, “The gods keep careful count.” These employers may think they are winning but in fact they are sowing the seeds of their own destruction. At best their gain is only short term and transitory. The question facing you is will you be a willing participant in their destruction or will you value yourself highly enough to search for something better.

If I may offer an observation on what I have heard. I sensed (and I may be entirely wrong) that in much of your argument you appear as a mere bystander in your own life. As though what was happening to you was entirely beyond your control. That you are completely at the mercy of other people.

Only when and until a person accepts responsibility for and takes control of his life will he cease to be at the complete mercy of others. There will always be some things beyond your control but most of your life is up to you if you choose to make it so. Are you going to steer the ship of your life or merely be blown where the winds take you?

I am not saying this will be easy. Quite the reverse, your life will be hard, in spots. Your life will be fraught with worry and anxiety, in spots. You will be hungry and may have to sell things to pay the bills, in spots. That is why so many people are content to be wage slaves their whole lives. Uncertainty is the lifelong companion only of free men not slaves.

But though your life will be rough in some spots, in all spots you will be your own man. You will have looked the world in the face, taken it on and won your own victory. You will beat hard times at its own game and show your worth, not to others, but to yourself, the only person on earth whose judgment of your success and worth who counts.

Right now my business is a disaster. My work has gone and I am quickly running out of money. If things do not improve I may have to sell some things in order to pay the bills; this will not be the first time.

I would not trade my life for anyone’s. I may fail but I, repeat I, did it. I blame no one for my failures. But I also answer to no man for my successes. I sit under my own vine and fig tree. I pray to no man but only to God alone from whom all blessings flow.

I will remember you in the Mass.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

InFides

Bobby said...

Hey Infides,

"I agree with you 100%. A happy well adjusted work force is always preferable. Not only because it is the humane way to act and also not simply because of the golden rule but because it is economically sensible."

---Exactly, and all my complaints have to do wtih that.

"But who makes the decision to continue to tolerate the abuse?'

---In a perfect world, everyone would have an 8 month emergency fund to survive periods of unemployment, but in my world, I'm lucky to have parents that bail me out. However, my experience is you tolerate the abuse until they fire you or until you find a better job.

"How much of that is just being unhappy with working generally? If most people hate their jobs then perhaps they can not be happy anywhere. There are bad employers but if almost all of them are disliked then perhaps they are not the issue."

---I agree some people are never happy no matter what.


"All true but the risks garbage men take are not comparable to those of policemen and firemen. The firemen and policemen get paid more because the extra salary is, in part, a risk compensation. They deserve extra pay because of the risks inherent in their work."

---What about construction workers, miners, fishermen, loggers? They all have risky jobs, that doesn't automatically mean high wages.


"I once had a discussion with a doctor and I told him that if civilization had to choose between only having plumbers or doctors but not both that the sensible thing is to select the plumbers because they have saved more lives than doctors by far."

---That is absolutely brilliant, I completely agree and my family is full of doctors.


"I accept the strike, but not the remark about the ‘miserable pay’ because I do not know if it was miserable or not. How did it (pay AND benefits) compare to the private sector?"

---You should read "Rats" by Robert Sullivan, one of the chapters covers the strike in great detail. All I know is that those people where severely underpaid for 17 years. Historically, those who collect trash have always been reviled and look down to, yet they are crucial to a city. People can buy a gun and fight a criminal, people can put out a fire, but when left to their own decides, they will not pick up garbage.


"What would these people, given their skill set and abilities, get in the free market? "

---I suppose it would be more.


"I will remember you in the Mass. The older I get the more I recognize and appreciate the value of prayer. I often wonder if God is thinking to Himself, “If only they would just ask.” Never underestimate the power of prayer."

---Frankly, I love the televangelist who said: "God answers every prayer, and sometimes he says "no."
In the book "Desperation" by Stephen King there a character who ends every prayer with "if it is your will." Still, it can't hurt. I've prayed for others myself and sometimes you see great things happen to them.

"I must ask, did you address this with your boss?"

---Your story shows a lot of guts. I rarely address anything with my bosses out of fear of pissing them off. I realize now I've been wrong, in this country you have to be in your face. You have to ask for a raise before they remember you, ask if you can go home before they forget you're even there.


"“Why me?” To which he replied that the other men were all married and had lives. I was furious. I told him he better have someone standing by as I felt a sore throat coming on and I was sure I would be sick. I did not work and did not lose my job."

---Brilliant move! You're right, it takes guts to get what you want. Now I understand why a creep I hated at work did so well, he had guts. He talked to his boss as if his boss were his equal. Personally, I prefer a military structure of crystal clear orders, but that's not how corporate America works.

Bobby said...

"All too true but that is not limited to employers. I have seen the exact same behavior from employees."

---That's fair, I know employees who goof at work, steal office supplies, etc.


"That seems unlikely to me. To begin, if the business has the same level of work then the original staffing level was way too high."

---In the 1950s, advertising agencies would charge a 15% comission on the media buy. Today it's different, clients often pay a determined amount for every employee. So when the client wants to reduce his amount by 15%, people have to get fired even if the workload isn't reduced. It's almost like Holiday Inn ordering a thousand beds from Rooms to Go but demanding that 50% of the workforce be fired.


"But given this downturn in the economy I am not all convinced that this advertising firm has anything like their original volume of work. That would imply that they have been somehow immune to the vagaries of this economy and I do not accept that."

---Sure they do, because they shift the volume to smaller newspapers, TV shows that are less popular and the internet. If you can't afford to spend $100,000 for an ad in one newspaper, you can afford to spend $100,000 for 1000 ads in smaller newspapers.

"The question facing you is will you be a willing participant in their destruction or will you value yourself highly enough to search for something better."

---I admire your optimism, I am searching for something better, don't know if it's out there. I used to think that with 5 years of experience it would get easier to find a job, but I'm find that's not necessarily true.


"As though what was happening to you was entirely beyond your control. That you are completely at the mercy of other people."

---Aren't we all to an extent? If you speak to a woman at a bar, can you control whether she likes you or not? I've lost faith in my ability to achieve anything, as much as I would like to be in charge of my own life, I know it's others that make decisions for me.


"Right now my business is a disaster. My work has gone and I am quickly running out of money. If things do not improve I may have to sell some things in order to pay the bills; this will not be the first time."

---I am sorry to hear that.

"I would not trade my life for anyone’s. I may fail but I, repeat I, did it. I blame no one for my failures. But I also answer to no man for my successes. I sit under my own vine and fig tree. I pray to no man but only to God alone from whom all blessings flow."

---I admire your courage. Good luck with everything.

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

Hello Bobby!

“However, my experience is you tolerate the abuse until they fire you or until you find a better job. “

Exactly my point. Do not just accept things but be the moving force in your life.


”---What about construction workers, miners, fishermen, loggers? They all have risky jobs, that doesn't automatically mean high wages. “

No, it means they get what the marketplace is prepared to pay and if they do not like the compensation arrangement they can refuse the job.

My paternal grandfather was a meat cutter, hardly a glamorous job. This was in the days before chain-mail garments and other safety measures.. Men commonly lost fingers, thumbs and whole limbs. Dangerous work indeed.

My maternal grandfather worked in steel mills. In the old days it was open hearth. Dangerously hot, polluted air, flare-ups at the hearth that could incinerate a man in a heart-beat. Every finger in both his hands had been broken at least once.

Both these jobs were substantially more dangerous than trash man. My grandfathers accepted the wages and the risks. In part because these jobs paid better than garbage man. Also, in part because in the old days risk was accepted as a part of life generally.

My father went to university because he was not prepared to accept those risks. He was also prepared to take his God given talents and do something safer and also more remunerative that throwing filth into a truck. He made his life happen and was not a passive participant in his own existence.


”That is absolutely brilliant, I completely agree and my family is full of doctors. “

Thank you. BTW, do you know a good doctor? Mine will not speak to me any more. :-)


” severely underpaid for 17 years.”

Underpaid compared to whom?

BTW, if they were so underpaid, compared to the marketplace where they could have gone and gotten other jobs, then why did they stick it out for 17 years. 17 years! The only reason is that they knew that what they were being paid is better than what they could get in the free market. I am now more convinced than ever that they were probably compensated fairly or, perhaps, better than fairly.

No person takes 17 years of financial abuse. The fact that they did proves how little they would have been paid anywhere else.


“People can buy a gun and fight a criminal,”

Most people are, at best, inept in matters of combat and are profoundly ignorant of matters of the law. Police spend years at the academy studying their profession and learning the myriad things that constitute a competent police officer.

“ people can put out a fire,”

Most people are, at best, inept in matters of firefighting and are ignorant of matters regarding building construction, flammable materials, which kinds of fires can be extinguished with what kinds of extinguishers and most people know nothing of CPR and other life saving techniques. Firemen also spend years at the academy studying their profession and learning the myriad things that constitute a competent fire fighter.

How long does it take to learn to turn a trash can upside down into a truck? Just how well educated and intelligent does a person have to be to be a garbage man? How many years of college does it take to learn to shovel filth?

InFides said...

I took the liberty of researching the salary statistics of NYC policemen, firemen and garbage men.

Garbage man:
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dsny/html/jobs/jobs.shtml

Starting salary $31,200 per year, after 5.5 years $67,141 per year.

Policeman:
http://www.nypdrecruit.com/

Starting salary $40,361 per year, after 5.5 years $76,488 per year.

Fireman:
http://nyc.gov/html/fdny/html/community/ff_salary_benefits_080106.shtml

Starting salary $36,400 per year, after 5 years $68,475 per year.

I have omitted benefits because they were not available on some of the sites. It can reasonably assumed that they would similar. Notice how the garbage man is almost even with the fireman after 5 years. The garbage men are, if anything, over compensated for their work.

I have also listed some other wage statistics from NY state. The numbers for NYC would probably be little higher but not that much higher. These statistics will give you a feel for wages (per year) in menial jobs that have comparable skill requirements. These jobs also probably do not have anything the like the benefit and retirement packages of NYC garbage men. Though some of these jobs require considerably more skills and education that garbage man I have included them anyway.

First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Housekeeping and Janitorial Workers $44,310
First-Line Supervisors/Managers of Landscaping, Lawn Service, and Groundskeeping Workers $47,500
Janitors and Cleaners, Except Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners $27,580
Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners $27,800
Building Cleaning Workers, All Other $35,140
Pest Control Workers $33,350
Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers $28,040
Pesticide Handlers, Sprayers, and Applicators, Vegetation $38,520
Tree Trimmers and Pruners $39,970

(http://www.salarysurvey.org/)

Now you see why the NYC garbage men were prepared to work for 17 years (17 years!) for those ‘miserable’ wages paid by the stingy people of NYC. Far from being the Israelites under Pharaoh the garbage men are grossly overpaid and should be thankful every day that they can work a no brainer, menial job and be paid almost as well as firemen.



“ but when left to their own decides, they will not pick up garbage.”

So your argument is that people’s sloth and slovenly behavior means garbage men deserve equal hazard pay to firemen and policemen?


"What would these people, given their skill set and abilities, get in the free market?

---I suppose it would be more. “

I am convinced it would not. Have you ever kept a job of lower pay when the exact same job with higher pay and equal conditions could be had? These people stayed put (for 17 years!) because that was the best they could manage, given their limited value in the marketplace and they knew it.

Some people may work jobs year in and year out with lower pay for the reward of doing the job itself. I am fairly certain that garbage man is not one of them.

InFides said...

”In the book "Desperation" by Stephen King there a character who ends every prayer with "if it is your will."

I think Jesus beat him to that one. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”


“I've prayed for others myself and sometimes you see great things happen to them. “

Prayer helps both the prayed for and the praying.



” I rarely address anything with my bosses out of fear of pissing them off.”

Approach them with calm and the proper respect and the worst they will say is ‘no.’ Study the psychology of your boss so you can manage him properly. Managing is something that goes in both directions. My boss manages me but I manage him to. He just gets to me more direct and obvious about it.


“ I realize now I've been wrong, in this country you have to be in your face. You have to ask for a raise before they remember you, ask if you can go home before they forget you're even there. “

I am nervous about ‘in your face.’ How about politely in a private meeting in his office?


”Brilliant move! You're right, it takes guts to get what you want. Now I understand why a creep I hated at work did so well, he had guts. He talked to his boss as if his boss were his equal.”

I can understand your feelings. Did this fellow also more than pull his weight? Was he willing to take on extra work and help out after hours when requested? Any boss can respect a man who stands on his own two feet but if that man has also proven his worth to the organization, if he has helped his boss to look good and succeed then the boss is much more likely to help him and respect him.

“Personally, I prefer a military structure of crystal clear orders, but that's not how corporate America works.”

Me too. And some companies have something close. One thing I always did (and still do with clients) is if my boss asked me to do something I always repeated back the order in other words. Chances were about 50-50 that he said that is not what he wanted. I would ask him to tell me again. I would repeat the order back again and again as needed until I was sure we both understood each other clearly. Sometimes he looked at me with a face that said, “Are you thick or something?” But I knew I could not fulfill the mission if I was unsure what it was. This worked very well for me.

Napoleon Hill wrote about what he called ‘The Law of Universal Compensation.’ Work hard for a little and later you can work little for a lot. In other words, put in your time in ranks, show your worth in battle, protect your comrades in arms and eventually you will rise to command.

Pax,

InFides

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

Hello Bobby!

“---In the 1950s, advertising agencies would charge a 15% comission on the media buy. Today it's different, clients often pay a determined amount for every employee. So when the client wants to reduce his amount by 15%, people have to get fired even if the workload isn't reduced.”

I can accept a reduction and more work. The original number you mentioned was %50 and that was the number that puzzled me. More work in order to keep their jobs in this horrifying times not strike me as abuse but as recognition of the realities of the economic situation. If the client has negotiated a lower rate because he can due to market conditions and in order to stay afloat the business reduces staff then the remaining workers should be thankful that the company negotiated enough business to keep at least some of them employed. What would be the alternative? Lose the business? Demand the client pay what he will not and risk him going elsewhere?


”Sure they do, because they shift the volume to smaller newspapers, TV shows that are less popular and the internet. If you can't afford to spend $100,000 for an ad in one newspaper, you can afford to spend $100,000 for 1000 ads in smaller newspapers.”

I am not convinced of this argument. But if it is so then that means their current business model is a loser and it will simply have to fail. Capitalism is harsh mistress.


”I admire your optimism, I am searching for something better, don't know if it's out there. I used to think that with 5 years of experience it would get easier to find a job, but I'm find that's not necessarily true. “

Chalk this up to life experience. Consider this, if you can weather the storm we are in right now you can weather anything. If you can win on this battlefield you will be invincible for the rest of your life.


”Aren't we all to an extent?”

I agree. But it sounded as though you were completely out of control and that is not so if you wish it to be not so.


“ If you speak to a woman at a bar, can you control whether she likes you or not?”

No. I have been shot down more times than Snoopy against the Red Baron. But you notice that Snoopy keeps going back up for another fight. The victory is in not admitting defeat. One of my favorite expressions is, “You can kill me but you can not defeat me.” Nietzsche said, “That which does not kill me makes me stronger.”


“ I've lost faith in my ability to achieve anything, as much as I would like to be in charge of my own life, I know it's others that make decisions for me. “

And to some extent that is true. But how many decisions do you let other people make that you could have made yourself? And of those decisions made for you by others would you have decided the same thing? If not, get hold of your life and run it as you see fit.



“---I am sorry to hear that. “

I thank you for the kind words. I will get through it. I pray regularly and attend Mass as often as I can. I stay in touch with God. I am sure He will not fail me.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Fear God but take you own part.” Study TR and his life. Observe how much he overcame by shear force of will in his youth. His is a life we could all emulate proudly.

Washington, Adams, Paine, Lincoln, TR. These are men who overcame much and had nothing like the supports and protections we enjoy. These were real men. I have never suffered like them and I am thankful for that but I have not blind to the lessons their lives taught and continue to teach.


”Good luck with everything.”

Thank you..

Do not lose your faith in your own abilities. You have strengths and abilities as yet unused. You are a lot tougher and more capable than you can possibly imagine. I am not merely saying this, it is true.

Put not your trust in Princes. Keep not your treasure on Earth.

Be not afraid for God is with you. God is always with you.

I bid you all peace.

InFides

Bobby said...

Hello Infides,

"So your argument is that people’s sloth and slovenly behavior means garbage men deserve equal hazard pay to firemen and policemen?"

---Yes, if you look at the middle ages you'll see that without sanitation personnel people will throw their trash out of the window and it will stay there. It is a hazardous job, you're dealing with all kinds of fecal matter, contaminants, bacteria, rats, roaches, etc. Heroism comes in many forms, I once met a man who worked in animal control, that's the guy who picks up road kill or captures alligators that threaten families. Think of exterminators, they crawl on their knees in tight spaces full of who knows what. There are also sewer divers who are like scuba divers but with a full body suit and a job that involves diving in sewers to clean and repair them. As you may suspect, I'm a fan of the TV show "Dirty Jobs."


"I am convinced it would not. Have you ever kept a job of lower pay when the exact same job with higher pay and equal conditions could be had? These people stayed put (for 17 years!) because that was the best they could manage, given their limited value in the marketplace and they knew it."

---Well, that's why they went on strike, it was the only way they could show New Yorkers just how crucial their job is. I will admit that a lot of government workers do like the job security of their jobs, so maybe that's why they stayed.


"I am nervous about ‘in your face.’ How about politely in a private meeting in his office?"

---Yes, that can work to.


"I can understand your feelings. Did this fellow also more than pull his weight? Was he willing to take on extra work and help out after hours when requested?"

---Yes and no, he would come to work late almost everyday, but he would stay an extra hour or two everyday, not always working, sometimes playing in the computer. There where a few complaints about him wasting time talking to coworkers, but in the end, I got fired, a really hardworking fellow with 10 years in the company got fired, 50% of the department was laid off, but my enemy? He's still there. What my enemy new was how to get along with people, in his first two weeks of employment he managed to date some woman in a position of power, get invited to a party by the creative director, and endear himself to many people with his charm.

Bobby said...

"then the remaining workers should be thankful that the company negotiated enough business to keep at least some of them employed. What would be the alternative? Lose the business? Demand the client pay what he will not and risk him going elsewhere?"

---The alternative would be to stop surprising employees when you already know you're going to fire them. I was one of the first people to get fired, others had to take 10% paycuts and then get fired a few weeks later. Companies do this to keep the staff working without thinking about finding another job. It's like telling a soldier to enter a room without mentioning the booby traps and snipers. I also think sometimes you have to say no to the client. Some gutsy agencies even fire clients.

"I am not convinced of this argument. But if it is so then that means their current business model is a loser and it will simply have to fail. Capitalism is harsh mistress."

---Not necessarily. The distribution of advertising dollars is a science I don't practice (I'm a copywriter) but I respect. If your target audience is blue collar men 30 to 45 there's a wide variety of ways to reach them, you don't always have to buy that expensive ad on Sports Illustrated.

"And to some extent that is true. But how many decisions do you let other people make that you could have made yourself? And of those decisions made for you by others would you have decided the same thing?"

---Not really, if I feel strongly about something I will defend it to the very end. What I like is the ability to win arguments or sell ideas. While others say "I like this" and everyone goes with it. I only succeed when everyone else already likes my work. That's my curse, I can't sell things people don't want.

Thanks for your advice.

Best Regards,

Anonymous said...

Several observations:

First - "It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions makes it impossible to earn a living." - Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970

Second - "Freedom of speech" just means the GOVERNMENT in all its various forms cannot restrict our speech. It says nothing about whether private organizations can or cannot restrict our speech.

Third - and this is really about another tidbit published this last week - the conservative right-wingnuts are the ones screaming and drowning out Democrats who are trying to answer their questions at townhall meetings around the country. Leftists aren't the only ones who sometimes get unreasonable!

InFides said...

Hello Good Gentles All!

Hello Bobby!

“Yes, if you look at the middle ages you'll see that without sanitation personnel people will throw their trash out of the window and it will stay there.”

I believe we no longer live in the middle ages.


“ It is a hazardous job, you're dealing with all kinds of fecal matter, contaminants, bacteria, rats, roaches, etc.”

So do doctors, janitors, fast food personnel and et al. Most jobs have hazards. These hazards are known and are compensated by the marketplace accordingly.

BTW, you seem to have skipped over the financial analysis of the pay structure for NYC garbage men. It clearly shows they are very well compensated for their work. Facts are stubborn things.


“ Heroism comes in many forms,”

Heroism?!? It is not heroism to perform according the basic expectations of one’s job. Heroism is to act above and beyond. Soldiers who are killed in ordinary combat operations are deserving of all due respect but they do not receive our highest awards for heroism because it is acknowledged that any soldier in combat can die. The soldier who gets an award for heroism is one who throws himself on a live grenade when he could he could have saved himself by jumping into a trench instead. He acted beyond what could reasonably be expected of any combat soldier.

That garbage men collect garbage should surprise no one. And while appreciate the service I am not going to describe as heroic people who merely doing the job which they freely agreed to do in full knowledge of the circumstance.

It is not heroic for garbage men to collect garbage any more than it is heroic for anyone else to performs the basic functions and requirements of his job.
BTW, how many garbage die each year in the line of duty each year versus policemen and firemen? This is a question I do not think you have answered.


“I'm a fan of the TV show "Dirty Jobs."

Fair enough but all the people working these jobs accepted them freely. It is hardly heroic to know in advance what the job requirements are, accept them freely and do nothing more than what the job entails.


”Well, that's why they went on strike, it was the only way they could show New Yorkers just how crucial their job is. I will admit that a lot of government workers do like the job security of their jobs, so maybe that's why they stayed. “

Did you not read the pay analysis I offered? These people had it good and they knew it. NYC politicians, if they were not using the city jobs program as a patronage system to buy votes with the people’s tax money, could sub-contract this system to private enterprise get comparable work and save the hard working people of NYC a great deal of money and aggravation.

No one, I repeat no one, will work a job with an ‘abusive’ pay rate for 17 years (17 years!) if he has anything better to do. These people could have gotten other jobs well with the scope of a 17 year job search. And yet they persisted in that job for 17 years? The only reasonable, nay possible, explanation is that what they were earning was the best they could do. Period.



”Yes and no, he would come to work late almost everyday, but he would stay an extra hour or two everyday, not always working, sometimes playing in the computer. There where a few complaints about him wasting time talking to coworkers,”

Lousy management by his direct superiors. If the bosses are prepared to let this sort of behavior persist then you should for something elsewhere. There is no excuse for management allowing this slacker to continue. BTW, did you ever think to document this person’s behavior and then forward it, anonymously, to someone very high up in management? You work for the company and have an obligation to defend its interest by reporting slackers.

InFides said...

“ but in the end, I got fired, a really hardworking fellow with 10 years in the company got fired, 50% of the department was laid off, but my enemy? He's still there.”
I am assuming all of what you say is accurate. If yes, then the company will ultimately suffer for its failure to keep its best people. Their loss.

BTW, seniority counts as nothing for me,. If someone junior is outperforming someone senior and I must shed staff the out-performer is going to be kept. Only a fool of a manager keeps an inferior employee while terminating a superior one.

Could this employee have been bringing some special skill to the party? I have seen people who happen to have a special skill that merits a lot of consideration because it is useful. For example, maybe this person is close of friend of the company’s biggest and most profitable client. This will impact management’s decision.
Also, did you work extra hours. Did you try to take on high profile projects that were profitable to the company? Did you try to make sure that the management knew how valuable you were? None of this can be done by not going the extra mile. You have to show management that losing you would be a loss. If you are just one of the herd , merely your working your hours and nothing more, then they have no reason to look at you as anything special.

“ What my enemy ...”
Interesting. Why was he your enemy? What was he doing to you specifically that made him an enemy?
“knew was how to get along with people,”
Hardly a hanging offence. Do you not prefer to be around people whom you like and agreeable than around people who are not? Is this not especially true when they all appear to be of equal value to the company in terms of their productivity?

“ in his first two weeks of employment he managed to date some woman in a position of power, get invited to a party by the creative director, and endear himself to many people with his charm.”
There are many ways to get ahead. He chose schmoozing as his best plan. It seems to have worked so one can hardly argue with success.
I once had a boss tell me in a staffing that he would prefer to let a particular person go and keep someone else whom he liked more. I agreed that the likeable person was nicer but the less likeable person produced a lot more. We kept the less likeable person.

If you are prepared not play that fellow’s game then you have to formulate some strategy that makes you more valuable than him to the company. You manage your career.

“Companies do this to keep the staff working without thinking about finding another job.”
Who is responsible for your career, you or others? You have to keep your eyes and ears open. You should always have a sense of how your company is performing. Make friends with people in various departments and get to know what they know about the company is running.

Your career is your responsibility and you have to manage it yourself.

InFides said...

“I also think sometimes you have to say no to the client. Some gutsy agencies even fire clients. “

I have done that too. But when the wolves are at the door sometimes hard decisions have to be made. There are people for whom I detest working but as long as the check clears I am not going to refuse their business at the present time. I have the choice to spurn them but I will suffer the consequences of my decision. Right now the inconvenience of the client is less of a problem than poverty.


”Not necessarily. The distribution of advertising dollars is a science I don't practice (I'm a copywriter) but I respect. If your target audience is blue collar men 30 to 45 there's a wide variety of ways to reach them, you don't always have to buy that expensive ad on Sports Illustrated. “

Which supports my argument. If the business model does not support changing market conditions and can not be adapted to do so then it is flawed and is a loser.


” What I like is the ability to win arguments or sell ideas. While others say "I like this" and everyone goes with it. I only succeed when everyone else already likes my work. That's my curse, I can't sell things people don't want. “

Who can. This speaks to something I realized after my previous posts.
It is possible you are confusing the power to make choices with the assurance of success:
“If you speak to a woman at a bar, can you control whether she likes you or not?”

You have the power of action to speak to the woman. She has the power of action to reject your advance.

Taking as much control of your life as possible does not mean you will assuredly always get what you decide. It means you can make a decision and then live with the consequences, good or bad, satisfactory or unsatisfactory, profitable or not.

Uncertainty is the life long companion of free men.

Pax,

InFides