Friday, October 10, 2014

Diatribe of a Disgruntled Worker 

While computers, automation, robotics and other methods in the workforce may have increased worker productivity, gads of publications have shown that wages haven't kept pace for the past 30 years. In a service job, such as at a restaurant or bar, an individual's workload is primarily governed by the flow of customers into the place of business and the management's scheduling of its employees. During the "down times", the non-management workers are usually expected to pick up a rag and clean (or otherwise keep themselves busy in other ways) because to be "idle" is "stealing" time/wages from the employer (although the boss is usually not so concerned about wage theft during those times when their employees work through their breaks and/or after their shifts officially end).

The business strategy has been to do more with less — cutting full-time jobs to part-time jobs, and/or hiring temp workers to fill in during the busy times. Or they will lay off a full-time employee and divide their duties among the other workers (making them do more for the same pay), and never rehiring someone else to fill the open position. Either that or, they might hire a foreign guestworker with a H-1B work visa and pay them less; or just offshore the job entirely to places like Mexico, India or China for even lower wages (all while stuffing the payroll savings into their deep pockets).

But because working as a bartender or food server has not seen very much in the way of technological advances in the work place over a long time (other than computerized cash registers), most of any increases in worker productivity was made in assigning ever larger stations to the employees (to cut payroll) — and making them work faster and harder to accommodate a larger share of customers, even to the determent of giving the customers poorer service — not only pissing off the disgruntled customer, but also reducing the server's tip — which is taxed (if they get a tip).

And speaking of tips: A single mother who struggling to raise two small children, might have to work two part-time jobs (or a split shift) as a waitress at a diner in Kentucky earning $2.13 an hour (the minimum wage in that state for tipped employees). And out off her meager earnings, she might have to pay for childcare while she's at work. While on the job, she can serve breakfast and coffee to Mitt Romney and his five sons and be expected to report all her tips to the IRS — and be taxed according to her adjusted gross income (although Mitt might only leave a 5% tip). But the big difference is, Mitt Romney (the "job creator") can leave each of his five sons $5 million each TAX FREE as an inheritance when he finally dies — but the children of the waitress might only inherit their mother's debts.

While computers, automation, robotics and other methods in the workforce may have increased worker productivity in other industries (such as in manufacturing), many of those jobs were offshored — and the newer ones don't pay as comparably as they once used to (e.g. the auto industry) — and many of the manufacturing jobs are no longer unionized. With inflation, and because of a lack of labor representation, those wages often fall behind the rate of inflation. But even with a union, most of the time the wage only stays stagnant. Any increase in worker productivity (no matter how it's been achieved), have not been realized by the worker — those benefits have primarily been going to the business owners and shareholders. (Think of a hamster in it's cage spinning on a wheel, but never getting anywhere).

Meanwhile, those at the top of the income ladder have seen ever larger increases in their incomes...year after year after year. These days a CEO of a large multinational corporation can retire comfortably on only one year's of earnings. Whereas a typical worker who might have been with the same company for 30 years (with inflation) might still be earning the same wage today as when they first started — all while the cost of living has increased — and that's why so many women and spouses have entered the workforce over the last few decades (creating dual and multiple income households).

Now many workers are reaching their breaking point ------ low wages; split shifts or only part-time work have been forcing them to juggle schedules to accommodate work and family; few or no benefits (such as sick days or vacation time); no pension contributions or other employer-vested retirement plans (having to rely only on Social Security, which with lower wages during a lifetime, will not be enough to constitute a living wage after the age of 65, 66, or 67 (or 70 if the GOP raises the retirement age). Workers, who are being forced to work harder and longer for less, are living in fear of even losing those miserable jobs because jobs are so scarce these days (even if the boss is physically, mentally, sexually or emotionally abusing use them — by wielding their economic power over them like a whip.)

While this may only affect 50% of the workforce (who take home $27,500 a year or less), that's still 75 million very miserable citizens in America. These people are just a few notches above being "paid slaves". While there are those in other countries who might think that these low wages and working conditions would be a vast improvement from what they have been experiencing, that's no reason for our "job creators" to say that their employees should be "grateful" for what they provide — not in an "exceptional" country like America — because, in reality, the other other alternative is to have no work at all, which is far worse.

These people (like the single mom at that Kentucky diner) aren't expecting a "hand out" — they only want to be treated with dignity and paid a living HUMAN wage for the labor they provide. When that's NOT too much to ask, then maybe the bosses can again be praised and admired and emulated as heroes — like they once were many years ago, when we used to call them our "captains of industry". Now we just think of them as grubby greedy evil @holes. (And no, they don't "envy" @holes like Mitt Romney.)

Most likely, after this generation of Baby Boomers have long retired and passed away, the days of a regular 40-hour work week with healthcare, vacations, sick days, over-time pay, living wages and respect for ordinary workers will be nothing more but a distant memory — a footnote in the history of America, that was once "the land of opportunity" — before the country became just another "emerging market" for the Money Masters who only worship the Golden Calf.

And that's no bull!

1 comment:

  1. Why you haven’t gotten a pay raise - - -

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/catherine-rampell-the-case-of-the-missing-pay-raise/2014/10/06/39efc23c-4d7c-11e4-aa5e-7153e466a02d_story.html

    Where is the wage growth? - - -

    http://equitablegrowth.org/news/wage-growth/

    Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: Chasing After the "Purple Squirrel" - - -

    http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/why-good-people-cant-get-jobs-chasing-after-the-purple-squirrel/

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