“We are not computers and this is not _____ (insert big corporation name here).”
These are the words I was thinking while watching a video from the companies new CEO about how sales are up from last year yet he is expecting everyone to work like computers with fewer employees. Once the video is over, a plant manager stands up and tells everyone that the company is restructuring. He tells us that no layoffs are coming in the next week; within the year he cannot say.
A week and a half later myself, along with the rest of the temporary employees are let go. The following Monday several regular employees are laid off. The plant manager was correct; it wasn’t the upcoming week, but two weeks.
I felt bad for my fellow temp’s. Myself and another temp were lucky, we had worked our six months. The rest were not so lucky. I don’t know if they were able to collect unemployment or not. I also felt bad about my friends who were regular employees. They are all wondering if they are next and just waiting for the word.
All of these events made me think about what has happened to the American worker. I realize my philosophy is my own, is not based on any studies, and will probably come under much scrutiny. I also think it is time for the background workers to stand up and be heard. For too long we have sat back and allowed corporate America to determine our fates. Why? Employees are no longer valued. My mother told me something many years ago which seems more valid today than then, “you are replaceable.”
Who buys merchandise in America? American workers. If the American workers are not working, then who buys the merchandise? No one. It is a vicious cycle. Companies are downsizing to make a bigger profit. Workers are laid off and have to collect unemployment and/or get a low paying job, such as a temporary position. Workers can no longer afford simple luxuries such as a healthy diet, clothes, health care insurance, and paying bills. Companies continue to downsize and lose money due to this. More workers are laid off due to this. And the circle continues to grow.
I wonder when will the cycle end. When will someone realize what is happening. I honestly wish there was a simple answer to these simple questions.
The thought process that people need to work like computers is falsely used. What I mean is that the concept of how a computer works, I think, comes from the way a person’s mind works. If anyone knows computers they know that the more you want it to do, the bigger the workforce that is needed. Although components are smaller, this does not mean that the way they work is smaller. All it means is a smaller package for a larger workforce.
Think of it like this; there is a family of four which lives in a four bedroom house. In order to downsize their living space the family moves to a two bedroom house. The family does not get rid of one member just because the living space gets smaller. Everyone works together to make the new house comfortable and make it their home.
Another analogy is going from driving a large SUV to a small SUV. It still takes the same kind of parts to make it, just smaller. The manufacturers don’t get rid of the steering column because the chassis is shorter; they make it smaller and many times more responsive.
So why do companies think that making their workforce smaller is going to solve their problems?
A major problem that I see with the way corporate America is attempting to console the American workforce is through temporary employee agencies. These temp agencies are a rip off for the American workforce. The most recent one I worked for only allowed their temps to work six months then be laid off for three months and eligible for re-hire for another six month stint. This cycle repeats itself until the company that the temp is working for decides that the person is good enough to invest in or the temp moves on. Some people at the facility I was working in went through five years of being a temp before being hired, some less than six months. The caveat for the temp agency is that they do not have to give raises, pay holidays, give the temp a set number of hours a week, and they get part of the money that the temp employee works very hard to earn. The benefit for the corporation hiring the temp agency is that they do not have culpability for the temps that they do take on. This means that the corporation is not responsible for the benefits due to the worker and the temp agency is not responsible either. These temporary jobs also typically pay minimum wage or a dollar or two above this.
Temps are also treated differently on the job. Ask any regular employee and they will tell you no, this is not true. Ask any temp and they will give examples of how true it is. There is always the threat that “if you are not meeting our production then you are gone,” “if you miss a day due to illness or family emergency, you are gone,” “if you do not satisfy the leads, supervisors, managers, and the like, you are gone.” The temp is expected to work whatever hours are given, no matter how many or how few. As a temp I have worked from ten to 70 hours in a week. Overtime is a requirement, not an option. Of course the temp will take any hours they can and do the messiest of jobs.
I have also discovered that once a temp, always a temp. No company wants to hire someone who is on and off of jobs and unemployment lines. They are thought as unreliable due to this cycle. The unemployment office itself is a grueling adventure. The employees there treat everyone like they are sub-human. Not all of them, but the majority. If you think of it this way though, if no one was unemployed then we wouldn’t need all of those people working in the unemployment offices. What would they be doing then?
So where is the American worker? They are scrambling for anything they can get. Government assistance is extremely difficult to qualify for. State and local agencies hear the same sob story over and over. I am sure they get fed up with it and start to build walls of disinterest. Couples fight because they cannot pay their bills. People lie, cheat, and steal in the name of trying to get by. Families fall apart. Many people go homeless or relocate in hopes of a better future (which is often not there). And everyone sits back watching their friends and loved ones disintegrate into something unrecognizable.
Who is going to come to the American workers rescue? Do heroes and saviors really exist? All we can do is hope so. A solution comes to mind that would take every person in America working together to make it happen. The first step is for companies to realize that they need a workforce to produce the results they are looking for. The second step is for companies to get rid of temporary agencies and hire those trusted temps as regular employees. The third step; once American workers start earning decent wages again, they need to start redistributing this money back into the economy so that everyone can continue to have a job.
Enough talk about the discontent with outsourcing manufacturing to other countries. If we sit back and give it a good thinking, we will all realize that there is still plenty of work here for everyone. All we have to do is have the opportunity to prove it to these corporations and each other. America is not the only country in the world. Everyone in the world needs to earn a living, however their culture defines it. Does anyone honestly think that we are better than the rest of the world and need to keep everything for ourselves? As a nation, there are things that we can do to send to other countries. In this way we can make it an easier and better place to live. I know, world peace, another iffy subject. I am not talking about world peace, I am talking about stopping the sulking and whining and get back to what we do best, prosper.
Corporation heads need to stop their greediness. There is no reason for a CEO to be paid millions while the majority of their workers are paid the minimum the company wants to allow. If you want quality, you pay for quality, and you reap the benefits of providing quality workmanship. If you want quantity at cheap prices, you receive the minimal benefits and cheap workmanship.
What does writing this excerpt mean for me? Nothing, it’s just the ranting of a disgruntled American worker trying to make their way in life. One who is tired of fighting, tired of struggling, tired of being turned down. I would like to have job security, which seems to be an elusive thing these days. I want to earn my paycheck and be able to have the simple things in life. To be honest, at this point all I want is to not have the threat of being homeless held over my head. I entertain the idea of starting my own business but I cannot. It takes money to put down for a business loan. How can the average person save that kind of money when they are living penny to penny? Being single and having no children also seems to be a hindrance. No children means no tax breaks. Not being married means no extra income. The old adage “it takes money to make money” is true. Unfortunately I am just an American worker who can’t seem to figure out how to make the money that takes the money to make the money. Now that’s a mouth full.
Corporate America, if you are listening, use some of that money that you are hoarding. You will see that by doing so you will make even more money. I told you that old adage was true. Come on America, let’s get to work.