Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Good luck with your layoffs, all right? I hope your firings go really well.

This is the 999th post so tomorrow it's pix of my critters.

I've been sharing some of the more egregious things I've seen from inside the corporate world to try and present a sort of counterpoint to all the bitching we've seen about the role of government as of late. There seem to be a large block of people who still believe that government is inherently evil, while private enterprise is all noble competition, candy canes and lollipops.

Besides the salary limits and bonus thing I've already talked about, the company I work for has also done the following in the last few years---

  • Eliminated carryover vacation time for employees and instituted a "use it or lose it" policy. (I refuse to honor this btw. If my employees made good faith efforts to use their time I comp it into the next year.)

  • Changed health care providers plans every year and health care providers twice. Each time our rates and deductibles have gone up.

  • During the most recent change they picked a provider that implemented the social engineering with deductibles plan. We're responsible for a much higher percentage of our deductible for diagnostics. The excuse is that they're trying to keep people from getting "frivolous" MRIs and X-rays by making it more expensive. I am seriously considering taking my kids out of sports because of this. We can't afford an injury.

  • Eliminated a 70-year old company tradition by which the company essentially shuts down, employees are recognized at a party and, most importantly, frontline employees were allowed to ask direct questions of the top management of the company. Funny how this went away just as they started squeezing employees.

For those of you that might be wondering why I continue to work for an institution that would take all those actions the answer is that I have friends at competing companies and the horror stories they tell about cuts to benefits, etc. make the complaints I've listed sound benign by comparison. These issues are widespread and systematic.

Some of the things I hear about how government should stay out of the way and let the market just correct itself leave me seriously flabbergasted. I can't help but wonder if these corporate fanboys have spent even a single day in a corporate environment. The idea that corporations are anything less than amoral institutions dedicated almost entirely to providing value to their shareholders is pretty ridiculous.

I wonder if we could ever get back to the days of Henry Ford when the prevailing corporate philosophy was to take care of their employees with the recognition that they themselves were consumers. I consider conservative's arguments about corporate tax cuts and how they would lead to higher wages and job creation and think they might as well be speaking Farsi for all the sense those arguments make. They simply have no relation to reality.


Randal Graves said...

You guys get candy canes? Bastards.

Every Market-Solves-All® wingnut would surely trot out some counterexample and chances are that it'd be a mom and pop in a town where Wal Mart hasn't invaded yet.

Frivolous. Anyone out there know anyone who loves waiting for hours to get a just-for-the-hell-of-it X-ray or a parent who wants to trot a kid who's already more full of life than us lethargic parents to wait for said X-ray? Anyone? Bueller?

Hell with speaking Farsi, these fuckers are speaking alien.

Fran said...

I got three emails from/about my old employer today.

Two were about "departures." One actually just said this in the first paragraph "Joe Schmoe is leaving to spend more time with his family and to pursue other interests."

Um - both lameass excuses in one sentence!!

The other - *snort* - was about an email in which it is revealed that the "reply all" function will be removed to reduce bureaucracy! And to save significant server space.


Don Snabulus said...

Funny you should quote Office Space...

My previous employer canned our whole office just a few weeks after 9/11. The old owner came back and bought the whole company lunch as an apology (though it wasn't his fault) while we all watched a pirated DivX copy of Office Space in the conference room. Talk about closure. It was freakin' awesome.

When talking about this baloney government/business divide, it is important to realize that committed people get things done wherever they are and people who don't care don't whether government or private. Republicans who say otherwise are just parrots.

Arkonbey said...

Snab: Just after a national tragedy? jerk.

I'll try and make this anecdote short. in 2001, I worked for a company that was bought out by a Texas firm. The buy was orchestrated by a really nice, plain-talking Texas Mormon. When the firm started going back on promises he made (firings, cutbacks), he started getting angry with them and tried his best to intervene on our behalf.

In 2002, after using us up, the Texas firm decided to close us down. This guy flew out the Friday before the shut-down (against corporate HR policy and on his own dime) to tell us the bad news and to personally apologize for letting us down.

To watch a 55 year-old Texas business man in a good suit starting to get misty-eyed over letting us down was something else. He was too good a man for the business world. I think he quit the firm over this.

I'm not sure how this relates to your current annoyances, but I just like to tell stories ;)

Anonymous said...

God in her infinite wisdom shows her total contempt for money by the people whom she gives it to.

Brion Emde said...

General Strike is the answer I see.

People will have to suffer a lot more to make it practical.

Anonymous said...

For many years I worked for a retail chain of department stores that honored its employees in so many ways -- once a year they held a dinner and recognized those who had been with the firm for 10, 20, 30, 40, even 50 years. We had excellent benefits and we were very loyal to the company, spending a great deal of our earnings buying the goods we also sold (with a very substantial employee discount, of course).

Then one day the company was sold to a new conglomerate. First thing the long-term employees were let go because their salaries and benefits were "too costly" and a shift was made to part-time, no benefits employees. Those of us who survived the cleansing saw our benefits dwindle to next to nothing, prices were repeatedly raised, and employee morale went out the door.

The company has been sold twice since and is now little more than a shareholder profit-making machine with a very high employee turnover rate and a rapidly declining customer base.

Conservative philosophy won out -- screw the employees, maximize the profits. Hope they all end up Madoffized and broke. I would've worked there for the rest of my life in the old system. Now you couldn't pay me enough to work for such cold-hearted assholes....

Anonymous said...

Government is not the enemy of the working class, people tend to forget that. Government is not out to make cut throat profit and typically the people in government try to take care of the people they work for.

I think that is the problem private industry looks to take care of the bottom line and make lots of money regardless of the employees. Whereas government attempts for the most part to help the people.

The two systems are at odds and the ones that suffer are the working class.

But hopefully, industry will realize they are only as good as the people that are willing to work for them, if they keep screwing up the benefits etc., either the employees will unionize or work elsewhere.


Dr. Zaius said...

Excuse me, I believe you have my stapler.

Swinebread said...

I don't think most folks are believing the lie any more

Universal healthcare is a must.

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