White-Collar Sweatshop

http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2001/03/01/sweatshop/print.html

Thoughts? Opinions?

Ah, that article brought back memories. I burned my twenties working for a company that sounds much like what is described by the author. I finally dropped the job, went back to school, and decided that if I’m going to work myself to death, then I’m going to do something that makes me happy.

What disturbs me the most about the the conditions described is that many of these workers really do not have a choice. With families to feed, mortgages and student loans to pay, the employee is forced to either suffer the whims of the corporation, or face the possibility of the unemployment line. The thing is, this is nothing new. There has always been those that climb to the top of the ladder upon the backs of others.

The solutions offered by the author are great on paper, but will our corporate world be willing to cut into their profits for a happier employee? Schools will always be turning out a new workforce every year–a workforce that is willing to start out at the bottom of the pay scale, and with lesser benefits (who needs life insurance when you’re an unmarried 23 year old?). What needs to change is our work ethic, which we may not be so willing to adjust. People take pride in their work; people want to work–it is as natural for us to work as it is to play, eat, and sleep. As long as there are people willing to work, there will be people who wish to take advantage of the situation.

What can I say? It would be wonderful to see these CEO’s grow a heart rather than a bank account, but it’s unlikely.

I think it’s very accurate.

I started years ago in Kmart as a sales clerk, did a lot of hard work above and beyond my slot and got promoted to area supervisor, with a whole 25 cent per hour raise. I did a whole lot more work and found that I was expected to work so many hours for free, after clocking out. This was approved supervisor actions and if you wanted to become a manager trainee, it was virtually a must.

I came in when passing by on days off to check on things, came in early, stayed late, and at years end, got a 25 cent per hour raise. Ordering stock, inventories, display setups, display changes, reworking the stock in my bin in the stock room, prettying up the displays, running a register and filling in for sick area employees was a lot of work. All for $6.50 an hour. I attended every meeting, chased shop lifters, caught two store employees stealing, hauled goods by the ton up and down the stock room loft, onto carts and either displayed it or stored it away. I even ran out and hauled in shopping carts, which is a job I really dislike.

After 4 years, I was making $6.75 an hour, spending 56 hours a week at the store, had good benefits and some stock, but realized that not only was I not going very far for all my efforts, but they were expecting me to do more because I was then a senior employee supervisor.

I quit.

I went and got a job with less stress that started me at $7.00 an hour and did not require me handling gobs of paperwork, hauling boxes of freight around a narrow, dimly lit, dirty loft or running like hell across a parking lot after a fleeing shoplifter who was in much better shape than I.

I wasted my time at Kmart. Manager trainees, I was told, did not start at much more than I was making and not only got transferred from city to city, but had to do much more than I did and virtually live at the store.

The white collar worker is screwed. Most places now only hire people part time to avoid having to pay benefits and overtime. A lot of places put them on salary, which is basically you agreeing to accomplish X amount of work for Y amount of dollars, even if you have to work 60 hours a week to do it in. That means, if your salary figures out to a 40 hour week at $11 an hour, you might wind up having to work so long that you are actually making only $5.00 per hour. Raises average from 10 to 25 cents once or twice a year.

Big deal!

According to the television, most Americans are hauling in megabucks, and the amount of millionaires her is the highest in history, along with more billionaires than ever before.

Well, I’m just real darn happy with that. Where’s my million?