Saturday, March 1, 2014

The New Plantation- The Sunday Collage

Something really odd happened at work yesterday. It borders on insane and I'll tell you this- it makes no sense to me. The company that I work for, deep in the heart of America's first right to work state, gave us a 20% raise. From 10 dollars an hour to 12.

They did not have to do this.

I am still in a state of shock. I didn't have to beg anyone, get some glowing review or show up daily and kiss anyone's ass. This is a company that will work you 14, 16, 19 hours a day without paying overtime and does so frequently.

Perhaps they have acquired some level of corporate shame. I'm not sure. I didn't give our team a 5% chance against the corporate oligarchy.

One of the reasons government "work" has become so popular is that it shelters you from the reality of life in private, corporate America. In Idaho, the corporate oligarchy is at it's strongest. Not only are we in a right to work state, but employers in Idaho can fire you without cause, explanations, or due process. There is no recourse either. Your former employer will fight tooth and nail at the unemployment hearing also.

Oh how I miss government "work." I can't go back because the great Satan, the public retirement system here, will stop your checks. PERSI has a strangle hold on guys like me. You have to leave the state to find government "work" elsewhere. That option, for family reasons, just isn't open to me right now.

(I put government "work" in quotation marks for my father who still maintains that government and work are mutually exclusive terms)

And the good jobs in Boise, those are the ones that pay 20 bucks an hr. and up, those jobs are reserved for the insiders. I don't care how well your qualifications stack up, or that your resume' was written by Tony Robbins, or that your cover letter was crafted by Ernest Hemingway. Everyone has some friend or shoestring relative that needs a leg up and if you know the right people here- that's how you get hired. Ohhh... they advertise the job and pretend that the hiring process is competitive- but it isn't. Posting a well paying job in Boise is simply a legal formality. The hiring or the completion of the short list- that has already been done well in advance of the job posting.

That's how the new plantation operates. It is always "who you know" that gets you hired for the good jobs. On the lower rungs or the jobs that nobody really wants, you become a part of the employer grist mill. Work your ass off for chump change and no benefits, allow management to violate half of the employee manual without ever complaining, and keep your mouth shut or suffer the consequences. It's like a sheep factory here.

Now I guarantee you that some smug person out there will think they are immune to this or "There's no way this could happen to me, I am too (insert smug adjective here: smart, valuable, ambitious) to have that happen to me."

Until reality gives you a swift kick in the ass. If you haven't received this whopping dose of reality yet- chances are very good that you are simply lucky or too young. Both of those things will change.

Now I don't need to work and that is something I am truly grateful for. That is freedom. That's what 25 years worth of government work gets you- at least for now. Don't think for a second that I am unaware of the millions of taxpayers who are pissed off at the government sector. When I signed on back in 1982- it wasn't that way. In fact, I worked most of my first year for free. Did you?

So walking away from some nine or ten dollar an hr. job is an option for me and I like to keep my options open. I am in awe of what I have encountered since I "retired." We have a corporate mentality in Idaho where the employer is always right, due process is some ridiculous concept, and management will can you on a whim.

What corporation would not want to come here and operate under those conditions? Even if you have an escalating pay structure to lure employees, you can simply wait until they all reach the top rung and replace them with cheaper workers. What robber baron could not exploit that situation? Idaho is a dream come true for the corporate oligarchy. I am surprised Boise is not the size of Seattle yet.

I had planned on quitting my job in the next month or so. Pushing 500 pound gun safes up narrow stairways for 10 bucks an hr. isn't exactly a dream come true nor is it a job that 50ish type people should probably be doing. Ibuprofen and I have formed a strong partnership. People aren't exactly beating down the door trying to get hired here.

But I'll tell you something. That two bucks an hr. raise just might have bought some goodwill and loyalty from me- if for no other reason- because they didn't have to do it. That's the kind of goodwill that makes me think- maybe I should explore other options with this outfit. Maybe they have developed a conscience, maybe some corporate shame. On the new plantation, things like that don't happen every day.


Anonymous said...

You're 'spot on' regarding your comments about insider hiring. The same shit happens in my workplace too (I work for a branch of the municipal government in the city in which I reside). Oh, sure, they post the job and go through the mandatory hoops of conducting interviews, but they know damned well in advance who they want for the job, and usually it's someone's brother/son/sister/daughter/cousin/etc (strange, isn't it, that taxpayer's money is being used so that key people within the organization can hire only their relatives while leaving the shit jobs for strangers. How very curious that is. The word "nepotism" comes to mind, but I'm probably being too cynical, as usual). And if by some fluke the person they want doesn't take the job, never mind that 50 others with Einstein IQs have applied and been interviewed, it is cancelled for lack of a "qualified candidate". Yeah, right, qualified cocksucker is more like it.

Well, it's like the old expression: it's not what you know, it's who you know. Or maybe it's: it's not who you know, it's who you blow. But since there are so many dick suckers these days, perhaps it should be summarized thus: it's not who you blow, it's how you blow (hell, who wants a teeny weeny nibbler when you can get a deep throat specialist these days who'll swallow everything and ask for seconds?).

Sorry for being a pig and crapping all over your blog site, Brian. I enjoy your musings, though.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on your $2/hr pay raise, by the way.

Anonymous said...

It is not like that here. We have instilled a great culture and we are a public company awesome bonus based on annual profit shared by all. Employee referall program for recruiting pays $1200 over 3 years. We are a manufacturer of lower tech stuff. No union in a right to work state. BTW We kick ass on our competitors and most our employees are giving 80% to 125% depending on need. Sadly, there are way too many companies like yours but perhaps as you hope they have found a new way?

Jim at Asylum Watch said...

The price of labor is much likke any other commodity. It is determined by supply and demand. I suspect that the type of work you described that there is usually a high turn over rate. Is it possible the the crew you are working with is doing a much better than average job and the satisfied customers are reccomending your company to others and your company has taken noticed and decided they don't want to lose any of you? It's a nice thought.

Brian said...

Actually we have an excellent crew. All hard workers- so there might be some merit in those thoughts. Thanks for swinging by Jim.

Brian said...

I hope that your type of company gains traction. Here in- right to work Idaho- it's the same old greedy management- cheap labor practices that have prevailed since the dawn of time and certainly since the industrial age. Without any benefits of course.