It's not "work apparel, it's a fuckin Uniform and I don't want to wear it!

My boss has been trying to sell us on the idea of company-logo shirts for months.
1, It makes us more “identifiable” to our customers.
2. It saves us money because the hospital pays for the shirts.
3. We can select shirts from a big catalogue that has many different colors and styles.
4. In fact, thinking of it as a “uniform” isn’t even correct, because there are so many varieties we can choose among. They just all have the company logo on the pocket.

I’m pretty much the only one left in vocal opposition to the idea, and all the “apparel” has been bought. I refused to pick out my own styles, one of my co-workers selected them for me.

In college I set a few modest standards for myself. Among them: I wouldn’t work in food service, and I wouldn’t wear a uniform. (I’ve never been a terribly ambitious guy). And over the next 20-some years, those are about the only standards I’ve been able to keep. :eek: Some of my co-workers think I’m silly to be so vehement, but I maintain that my opposition to uniforms is no more or less sensible than my employer’s insistence that I wear one. In response to the points above, I say:

  1. I already wear an ID on a lanyard around my neck and sit behind a desk. No one to my knowledge has ever had trouble figuring out I work there.
  2. I’ll pay for my own shirts, thank you.
    3 & 4. A rose is a fuckin’ rose, and so is a uniform a uniform.

I have told my boss repeatedly that, much as I appreciate her efforts to make this an appealing proposition, it is not working, it is not going to work, and she is wasting her time. And that is a direct quote.

I’ve worked in other jobs in this field for employers every damn one of you has heard of, and the closest I’ve ever come to a uniform (until now) is: I must wear dark shows (black sneakers are ok), and in some high-profile roles I had to wear a suit (of my own choosing).

My boss has some issues of her own, among them that she really HATES to issue orders. She tries to run the place as if we are all colleagues working for a single goal, and by and large I’m very happy with this. In fact, she’s managed to convey the idea that we’re all supposed to wear these shirts when we participate in “special events” without issuing a direct order to do so – and I’ve been listening very closely for one. I am not willing to be directly insubordinate and refuse a direct order over this, and she doesn’t want to issue one that might set me looking for another job. As a media technician, I participate in just about every single special event the hospital holds, evenings, weekends, and holidays. I put in more hours on the job by far than any other person in the department, with the possible exception of my boss.

Now she’s come up with a fiendishly clever scheme to get me to “volunteer” to wear the shirts. A few weeks ago I DJed for a hospital party. If I do say so myself, it was highly successful, I had great fun, and I’ve been asked to do the same at several more upcoming events. Today she said, “Boyo Jim, if you want to DJ at the parties, you have to wear the shirts.” It’s as close as she’s gotten to a direct order.

Even though I took the initiative and basically created this DJ role for myself, I hadn’t thought of it in terms of being volunteer work that I could decline to do. I’m on the clock, on the property, and doing it at someone’s request. At my job, if someone asks me for assistance, I offer it unless there’s a very good reason (usually a conflict over my availability) not to.

So here I am debating what to do next, short of outright insubordination, which I’m not prepared to do over this. I think my next step is to tell her that I’m going to “unvolunteer” for these parties, and would she like to call these people up to explain why, or should I? Odds are, she’ll just order me to DJ the parties, order me to wear the shirt, and send me on my way, rather than explain to several department heads why our little intra-departmental squabble means they can’t have tunes at the next company picnic (no one else knows how to wire up and work the gear)…

I think I’m doomed to wear the damn shirts, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to make it easy on her.

“Resistance is futile.”

Don’t raise too much of a stink. How would it look to get a black mark on your record because of a shirt?

So, you’re 40+ years old, if I did the math right? Somehow this reads like a teenager’s rant. I’m glad you have the fortitude to stand up for your beliefs, but this is just silly.

Pfffth. I’d be absolutely thrilled if my boss made us wear companny shirts and offered to buy them. I hate shopping and that would save time and energy buying business clothes.

Pick your battles carefully. This one isn’t worth it. Save the ammo for when it really matters.

IM(not so)HO, you’re acting like a big fucking whiner. Pretty much every employer has a dress code which can be considered a “uniform”. Get over yourself.

Three words: Employment-at-Will.

We have a very friendly, cooperative environment at work, but if one of my employees tried to cause a stink over my asking them to wear shirts that I purchased, they would be gone tomorrow. Of course, I don’t think this will be a problem, because we’ve been able to avoid hiring the insane.

Jammer

That’s what I was thinking. The OP is in his late thirties at the youngest and is getting all worked up about having to wear, in the loosest sense of the term, a uniform? Actually, if I read the OP correctly, it’s just the shirt, right?

Dude. I mean, seriously. Dude.

What’s the big deal? Being Australian, I’m used to wearing uniforms, all through school and many jobs I’ve had. The advantages are that you never have to worry about what you’re going to wear to work each day and you save a fortune on clothes. Most work place uniforms I’ve seen look no different from any other business attire one would wear.

So it’s just a shirt with a logo, I really don’t see a problem.

Well, some of our workers prefer to wear more than the minimum amount of “flair” …and we encourage that.
Good luck with that whole “no uniform” thing. I’m sure your employer will have a hell of a time finding someone else to set up the overhead projectors and play MP3s of the Chicken Dance at hospital functions.

I’m going to have to go with the OP on this one. Yes, in the end it is just a shirt but it is also symbolic as well. Little by little employers are robbing us of our dignity and self-respect. Turning us in to functions and refusing to see us as people. Petty little middle managers that make people do things that serve no functional purpose other than to prove that they can make their subordinates do arbitrary things. Fuck 'em.

Stick to your guns.
Stand behind your principles.
Where I used to work these was the option of uniforms (heavily subsidised) or not. Everyone else chose the uniforms, I chose not.
I hate my child in uniform at school, so I’m right behind you on this one, regardless of whether others think it’s petty.
It’s your right and you choose the actions and consequences.

First of all, I agree with the majority of posters here. This is an awfully petty issue to raise a stink over.

Second, it would help if we knew what type of company you’re working in, and what type of industry it serves, and what type of work you do. You mentioned a hospital, and you mentioned being a “media technician,” but can you elaborate? Like it or not, there are times when uniforms and/or company apparel is appropriate, especially where company productivity or public perceptions are involved.

As one of a relatively small number of people on the boards who might reasonably be called The Man, I’m going to dissent from the majority opinion here.

Keep fighting, at least a little bit.

I’m making the following assumptions in my view of the situation here, so if I’m incorrect in any of them, please ignore my advice (you should feel free to ignore it anyway, of course, but if my assumptions are wrong I disclaim the advice entirely and if you follow it it’s not my advice).

  1. That you’re extremely good at what you do – in fact, you’re kind of underemployed for your skillset, accepting a better lifestyle in exchange for pay that’s 30% or more below your worth if you were willing to put up with more shit.

  2. That part of the “better lifestyle” you’re taking in exchange is your ability not to tow the line and to be kind of an econoclast – maybe you come in late sometimes, but it’s OK because you stay late 2 hours for every hour you come in late, maybe you are the guy who doesn’t put in for the lottery and birthday collections, maybe you have to be bodily forced into filling out some of the more annoying and useless reports.

  3. That your boss understands the above. Whilst she may have “issues” with giving orders, in your case the issue is at least partly that she fears losing someone she can’t easily replace. You’re kind of a pain in the ass to her, but you also save her career on a semi-regular basis and she knows it.

Assuming that’s the case, and further assuming that your refusal to wear a “uniform” is an important part of the iconoclasm you’ve chosen, I think you should continue to resist – again, at least a little bit. After all, if you can’t choose your own path a little, you should move to someplace where you can make some more cash, no?

That said, I think you should be willing to lose at least a little bit at the end of the day. You said you’ve had gigs where you had to wear a suit “of your own choosing.” As a suit wearer, I’ll tell you (and you know) that it wasn’t really of your own choosing – if you “chose” a blue tuxedo as your suit, things wouldn’t have worked. Your current situation isn’t much different, except that the clothes you wear if you lose are more comfortable.

So here’s my advice. Tell the boss you’ll wear the logo shirt at the DJ gigs – if push comes to shove, tell her you’ll wear it anyplace outside your workplace. It’s reasonable for them to want you to be instantly identifiable when you’re “outside.” At your desk or wandering around your office doing your thing? Eff 'em. If they can get a drone of yoru competence at your price, they should. If they want you, they have to take you. Not a drone.

Again, this advice is withdrawn if you reasonably believe that their answer to “Do you want a drone or do you want me?” will be “I’ll take the drone, thanks.”

Wear the shirt. Then wear something over it, like a vest, sweater. or another shirt. You have met the letter of the edict, and kept your individuality.

Oh, hell. Get a bunch of the shirts. Do terrible things to the shirts. Tie-dye a couple. Take a couple to your friendly neighborhood airbrush artist and have him paint pictures of women in metal bikinis riding dragons and weilding swords on them. Go to a t-shirt shop and have amusing slogans put on them. All of this while leaving the logo clearly legible. Of course, you will then have to pay for the shirts, but if the OP is any indication, you probably won’t have a problem with that.

Wear the shirts, but not the uniform.

I really hate the idea of uniforms at work. I mean, hell, hospital personnel don’t wear them anymore- Betty Boop scrubs, Spongebob scrubs, scrubs with cute froggies on them…

I think that by requiring uniforms, employers are basically saying, “You are not a person. You are a thing, indistinguishable from any of the other objects we regularly use here.”

Thank you very much Binarydrone, Caught@Work, and Manhattan.

The rest of you… what the FUCK is your problem?

Did I say I was going to do something STUPID, like, quit, or threaten to quit, or inform my boss that I would be seeking other employment? Or even refuse a direct order?

I said, TWICE, I had no plans to be insubordinate and refuse a direct order, if she issues one.

What I simply said is I don’t like it, I’m not going to quietly and voluntarily comply, and I’m going to make my boss do her fucking JOB and issue and order if it’s so damn important to her. This uniform thing is coming from over her head too, and I don’t think she’s particularly happy about it herself.

Are you all so afraid for your jobs that you’re unwilling to call bullshit when bullshit comes down the line? That is Goddamn pitiful. Having to wear a uniform shirt will not make me quit. What WOULD make me quit is a work environment where expressing an opinion on company policy can get people fired. I’ve never worked in an environment that bad – and I’ve always accepted and left jobs on my own terms.

This uniform thing is the most visible of a whole array of bullshit put forth by the in-house TQM police. I don’t know how many of you have experienced Total Quality Management concepts, but I’ve been through it twice before in other places. It makes a certain amount of sense when you’re trying to keep down costs and reduce manufacturing errors in widget production. It can get ridiculous beyond belief when you try to apply the techniques in a not-for-profit service industry.

Some of the other nonsense includes a company-wide script for communicating with our customers. We are directed, in writing, to conclude each and every verbal transaction with members of the public with the phrase: “Is there anything more I can do for you? I have the time.” Word for word – because some studies show that hospital patients perceive hospital care givers as being very busy, and are reticent about asking for things because of it.

Well, our nurses ARE busy, and if the patients are perceiving it, it’s because it’s true. You might think the problem needs to be addressed by, say, hiring more nurses, but no, that’s not in the cards. One of our nurses said about this policy, “I was already busy, and now the hospital has turned me into a busy liar.” I don’t deal with patient care. I work in an conference and education center within a hospital. I have the exact same script, but before it ever appeared, it was my habit to ask if there was any more way to help someone. Doesn’t that IMPLY I have the time?

Here’s another example of the idiocy. Every employee is given a little wallet-side card, and we are directed to keep it in the little plastic sleeve that holds our ID card (on the lanyards around our necks). On the card our hospital’s misstion statement is printed. There is also blank space where we are supposed to write in our department’s annual goals, and what is labeled as our “personal goals”. Well FUCK that, MY personal goals are none of the hospitals business. It’s been explained to me that it means “my professional goals”. but what it REALLY means is the goals that the hospital has for me.

This stuff is not serious. It’s bullshit that management can use to comfort themselves that they’re improving their work product without investing any serious resources in improving the professional skills of the staff. We get “quality training”, which usually amounts to lessons in politeness and civility. Damn few people in the place know how to use Excel at all, or Word in any more complex a manner than if they were using Notepad, but the hospital IS department doesn’t have a single person dedicated to either software training, or looking at simple office systems and using the tools at hand to improve them.

I am extremely good at my job, and so what if I’m not a fucking rocket scientist. People walk in with all kinds of imaging gear, software, computers, data projectors, and I have to figure out on the fly how to plug things together that I’ve never seen before and make them work. Among other things, I make the physicians’ peer reviews run smoothly, and people are constantly coming up with new diagnostic technology. I can often get new hardware to work when the manufacturer’s rep can’t even figure things out.

I plan and carry out the technical aspects of special events like fundraising dinners, lectures by visiting scholars or even politicians. It’s not rocket science either, but it’s extremely important to the hospital, and before I came they used a $150/hour “consultant” to do this kind of work. The director (two steps up the line from my boss) insisted that this guy come in “just in case” to the first two special events I ever worked on, about 3 years ago. He hasn’t been back since, and in that alone I’ve saved the hospital tens of thousands of dollars.

I also run the hospital’s conference center. I arrange the logistics and catering for about 3500 meetings a year, and do most of the technical setups (yes, sometimes even overhead projectors) myself. I administer two hospital-wide computer system, and train the hospital staff how to use them. I supervise three administrative assistants and two facilities guys. I can handle about 98% of the computer problems that crop up from our department staff, when before me it would take 2-3 hours before a workstation tech would come along to try and fix things. Actually I do better than that, because I know our software from an operating basis, and the IS techs don’t.

I’m competent, reliable and I can commnicate with techno-weenies, physicians and janitors. It took me a very long time to realize that is a pretty damn rare combination, even though it really shouldn’t be. My boss receives written thanks for my services on a more than monthly basis. I do WAY more than the job I was hired to do, and I feel very fortunate that other people in my workplace recognize that. tell me so, and tell my boss so.

And I don’t FUCKING want to wear a uniform, and I’m not afraid to say so. I’m not a soda jerk at a Dairy Queen anymore, which is the last job I had that required me to wear one.

Boyo Jim, you are my hero.

Word!