Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm not happy about it and I'm going to tell you why.

Monday is Labor Day, a holiday created in celebration of the everyday worker, to honor their efforts. Not everyone gets the holiday off. Those who are unfortunate to work in the retail environment understand that retail thinks it's more important to have a sale than to allow their workers to enjoy a day of rest. But that's not my point.

As you know, my company has made some cuts in the past months, as many companies have had to do recently. It's nothing new, and it's understandable although unfortunate. What's really starting to irritate me about these cuts are that they aren't really affecting everyone in my company. In fact, they aren't affecting any of the "exempt employees"...meaning those who are in positions deemed important enough to be salaried instead of hourly workers. Sure, some of those people have earned it with education and what-not. Others simply fell into some dumb luck. But in times such as these, I think that everyone should be accountable and take one for the team.

Today a quick meeting was held in which one of our VPs announced to all of us hourly, or nonexempt, employees that we would not be receiving holiday pay for Labor Day. I checked the employee handbook, and the typicaly legal jargon allowing them to do this sort of thing was included, of course. Bear in mind that this group of people are already cut back to a 32 hour work week, most against their wishes. (I'm happy to oblige...but that's not my point.) A certain percentage of the guys work M-T, off Friday, and the other percentage are off on Mondays and work T-F. So the guys who are normally off on Fridays (which by the way is TOMORROW) were told TODAY that should they expect to have a 32 hour paycheck this week they need to be at work tomorrow. Way to give advance notice, folks.

It's a budget cut. I get it. However, none of the salaried people are expected to take this hit. They will all get their Monday off and nothing will change about their paycheck. These are all people who I guarantee you make more money than these shop guys. If you call yourself a Christian organization, and you want to treat people fairly, shouldn't you expect the whole company to bite the bullet and take one for the team? Is it fair that these guys who work in dirty, hot conditions and most often work a lot harder than many of the office folks should have to lose pay?

It's not about me. I will still be off on Monday like normal and I just won't get paid for it. No big deal. We are by no means struggling and I promise you, we're a lot better off than most of those guys financially. I can give you examples. One of the guys who this affects has 5 kids, 3 of which are below school age. His wife doesn't work outside the home because there is no way they could afford day care. He's supporting a family of 7 on 32 hours a week and probably not making more than $12 an hour. He's currently two months behind on his mortgage and had to let his car go back because he couldn't afford the payments. Another guy I spoke with today just lost both his and his wife's car to the repo man this week. He's having to bum a ride to work from a friend. A third person, who recently had to let the bank take his truck, decided to file at unemployment for lost wages since his work week had been cut, and management had the audacity to ask him why he did that. Excuse me, but I find that extremely disrespectful. Sure, the company is probably mad because I'm guessing that partially or all comes out of their pocket, but these people have bills to pay and by shortening his work week they are basically taking a full week's pay out of his pocket each month. This particular guy has three small children, one of which is just an infant. I am sure that there are countless others in the shop who are dealing with similar situations.

These guys aren't stupid either. They watch what's going on. I'm sure our upper management feels that these workers should all just be thankful that they get to keep a job for 32 hours a week instead of being laid off, and maybe that's right...however that's not how these guys see it. They see the shop people taking the brunt while in recent months two new salaried positions were created: an 8th sales person and a shipping manager guy with absolutely no experience, who wasn't even really needed and still isn't. They see the front office people whining because the Starbucks machine we rented is now gone and the company is no longer stocking the refrigerator with soft drinks. They see the company paying to have some cheaper coffee service provide coffee, rather than making the office people bring their own or drive to the QT that is just a block away. They see them renting a vending machine for the kitchen since the fridge is no longer stocked. They see a bunch of spoiled brats, if you want me to be honest.

They see that the salaried people will still be honored with free pay on Labor Day, while they are told to enjoy the day off with your family...with no pay of course. I guarantee you most of those guys would rather work on Monday and be paid for it than sit around and cook out with their families. They need the money worse than the memories.

It breaks my heart.


Jamie said...

This is sad. Is there not a labor union at your work? Since I work for a corporation that has the management employees and the labor employees, I've seen this same sort of tension, but our unions usually fight back a little more. Unfortunately, when demand for supply drops, the laborers are the least needed employees and the first cut, while the accountants, sales people, advertisers, etc. have more job security.

{S} said...

something has got to give. it's just not right.

Molly said...

Those stories break my heart too, Brandi! Wow, they've already lost so much (and I'm sure that's not a secret to the management team as news/gossip travels fast.) The least they could do is to make cuts within management too. You tell a very compelling story. I hope there's some sort of happy ending sooner rather than later!