Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Business Vs. Employees

I was reading the paper this morning and saw one celebrity scandal after another. I thought to myself, "Wow...and *I* think that my work is stressful..." And then I caught myself.

We have an attraction for celebrity disasters and soap operas. Psychologists say it's because it creates an artificial comparison for us. "Wow," we say. "My life can't be that bad. At least I'm not going through this."

But this is an artificial comparison. It creates a numbing of our system when, perhaps, we shouldn't be so numb. There are many times that we are so busy telling ourselves that it could be worse, that we lose the ability to make it better.

Perhaps if (as a nation) we refocused, we would be able to accomplish so much more. And perhaps it's in the best interest of Big Business and Government to keep us in this state of numbness. No, I'm not advocating that this is some huge conspiracy plot to keep us pliable. But I am saying that this "Oh well" attitude needs to be carefully evaluated in each and every one of us. It's the same attitude that keeps most of us from effectively unionizing in Florida: the State of No Workers' Rights, a.k.a. The Right To Work State.

Florida continues to grow, and more companies are being courted by our state and local governments constantly. I've been involved in the process myself, so let me tell you what these business leaders are told. They are told that Florida is a great state to do business because they can take so many tax breaks here. The majority of big businesses in Florida don't pay taxes; that's right...they don't pay taxes. But small businesses do. And you do. Ah, but you're just a worker bee.

The business leaders are also told that the government is doing it's best to turn a blind eye to the illegal immigrant problem so that they continue to hire these workers and not pay taxes on them. And since we have such a high number of illegal immigrants here, I think I can show you proof of that.

The business leaders also find out that Florida is a "Right to Work" state, which means that they can fire an employee for virtually any reason under the sun. All they have to do is tell an employee "I'm sorry, this just isn't working out" and the employee is gone. These employers are cautioned to give no explanations, so that they don't walk into any pitfalls. Also, if you give a worker a reason, then the next worker deserves a reason. What if you don't want all your reasons known? Better just to keep your mouth shut. The employees can't do anything about it.

So while employees continue to be squeezed by taxes of all kinds, they are also being squeezed and drained dry by their employers until they're all used up and discarded. Then Big Business easily swoops back into the labor pool and plucks another ripe one. We are our own worst enemies.

We all need labor unions and a better governor if we are to survive.


mal said...

Saur, the unions rose on worker abuse and fell themeselves because Union Management became its own end. That does not change the fact that at one time they served a valuable function. I think management is heading to another show down with labor in the coming years.

As you pick up in my own posts, I am sorely disappointed with American management. Whose fault is it? Wall Street for pushing nearsighted goals, B Schools for lack of ethics education or is is systemic to corporations? I wish I knew the answer

Saur♥Kraut said...

Mallory, Interesting questions. I intend to get the new movie The Corporation which was recommended by another blogger (Acton Bell?)

The truth is that corporations don't have to be honorable or ethical, and capitalism (if allowed complete free reign) would plunge us back into the late 1800s where people and workers were merely comodities and nothing to be truly responsible for or responsive to.

But we are not a true capitalistic country. We are quasi-socialistic. The problem is, that we still have not struck the balance between employer and employee. The laws that have been set in place to check employer behavior can only stop what they can quantify (prove). Therefore, employers are merely finding better ways to discriminate and intimidate, genteely.

Tabasamu said...

Love the new outfit Saur...I get it... "Saurkraut Speaks Frankly"/"Frank's Kraut"... ;-)

I agree with you here. When you're black, it's also a two-edged sword. Is your job MORE secure because you're black? Usually, yes, because they're afraid to be hit with a discrimination suit. But sometimes if you get another boss, you start to worry... because they CAN fire you for no reason in Florida.

(Now don't get me wrong, I don't think that a black person should just coast in a job, saying that if they're fired they'll claim discrimination. I despise that)


United We Lay said...

Part of the problem with labor unions is that you can't trust all of them. Look at the construction unions. It is obvious that they are corrupt. The work can be done much more cheaply and quickly. The same goes with most unionized contractors. They give he teacher's and nurse's unions bad names.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Polanco, very true! That's why we really need a better governor (and president) who will start looking out for the little guy again. If I had heard myself say that 10 years ago, I would never have believed it. But time has shown me that the Republicans are just as corrupt as the Democrats. We need checks and balances, and warring political parties seem to be the only way to get it.

BarbaraFromCalifornia said...

A very good post, Saur.

Agree with you about better labor unions and governors. And a few good laws would not hurt either.

Fred said...

Love the new profile picture.

In the private sector, I think people have seen that unions do not provide any significant advantage. Did any union stop the major airlines from laying off tens of thousands of people? No. Did unions stop the airlines from terminating pension plans? No.

I sympathize with those employees; it's just not right. But, the issue here is a union itself. These employees have paid thousands of dollars to belong to an organization that is helpless. Not a good investment.

Do people want to join unions at new car manufacturing facilities? No. Why? Employers are smart – they come close to their northern brethren with wages and benefits and have good employee/employer relations. When I was in the corporate world, we used to say, “If you get a union – you probably deserve it.”

Today, I believe most see that unions are another "layer" that sucks up dues, yet really cannot provide employees much help. Plus, the fact that many unions are extremely corrupt doesn’t help their cause.

I do believe that unions were extremely important in the early 1900's through the 1970's. Now? I'm not too sure if they're really all that significant.

jevanking™ said...


Miss reading your blog. I'll be back when I'm all moved away. That's great English on my part--"moved away."

Thanks for visiting the blog while I've been gone and demanding that I come back. Believe me, I wish I could come back, but I am just too busy right now...I'll catch up on your blog when I'm settled up in Cali...

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

My kinda post and boy do I agree with you!

First off, the media driven celebrity stricken madness that attacks us from all angles is a means to keep us entertained and happy as we sit glued to the TV screen. I've been TV free since 2001 and all the better for it!

As for tax breaks! God I hate them, why? False economy, some ones gotta pay and that's usually the the human at the bottom of the chain. And it makes me laugh how the US gets all pissed when other Nations offer tax breaks to companies to bring their business there.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Fred, I agree that unions are a thing of the past. As Polanco pointed out, there was just so much corruption that they phased themselves out. And it's true; they collect money and for what? I have friends who don't bother joining teachers unions because it doesn't benefit them at all.

I just wish there was better legislation which would protect the employee. It's funny, in the 80s I really, truly bought into 'trickle down economics' and to some extent it's true but not consisently so.

I still see that the expensive jobs (such as engineering and call centers) are sourced out of the country, and the majority of jobs left are very low wage jobs that citizens often have to compete with illegal immigrants for.

I continually hear the economy is better, but I see no evidence of it, and neither do many of my colleagues (due to what we do, we usually see the beginnings of a turn around). I know jobs are being created, but they're virtually worthless ones.

Of course the companies only see the bottom dollar. They have no choice but to do what is best for the company unless legislation is in place to stop it. They have to justify themselves to the owners and stockholders, and they want the most profit they can get.

You will find that I rarely quote scripture, but there is a proverb that says "The love of money is the root of all evil." Truer words were never spoken.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, yup! Tax equally, or don't tax at all! There is a growing movement in the U.S. for a flat tax. It will be interesting to see if it gets anywhere, or if it even gets a nod in the next presidential elections.

Jevanking, Travel safely! Can't wait to hear how things are in CA!

TC thanks! I can see where you'd be always looking over your shoulder...

Barbara, thanks! ;o)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Perhaps I should revise this to say that we need something better than what we have. If not unions, what? I would jump on board any campaign that had a solution.

Oh, yeah, I know... another new pic. I just can't make up my mind. The real one (techno girl), the can of sauerkraut (I spell it the wrong way intentionally), or this painting by Lempicka?

back-to-basics said...

I like Lempika

Saur♥Kraut said...

Cool, thanks B2B!

mal said...

outsourcing,,,,,the key term as applied by the B School whizzes I worked for was "Cost to Serve". What was really frightening? They cited Wells Fargo as the ideal! I wanted to run screaming for the exit

Senor Caiman said...

Middle-aged woman with a nice can that’s pretty funny. Did I just write a title for a song?

back-to-basics said...

Sounds like a country song Mr. Gator.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Mr. Gator, *LOL* Sounds country to me... OH!! Just what B2B said!

R2K said...

Cool blog, keep it coming! :O)

Bill R said...

Saur, I'll go with the Lempicka pic--neither blue skin nor tin cans flatter you!

I write mostly on religion, but only occasionally on politics. I'm not quite sure why, as they're both terribly controversial! I can't really figure our my own governor (Ahnold--the Governator), so I'm not going to pretend to understand yours. On unions, well, unions are very nearly dead. Their influence is at the lowest ebb in a century and will likely decline further. In my own industry (banking), employees voted overwhelming against unionization, and I don't think that's untypical for white-collar workers. But I do think corporations often get tarred with too broad a brush (the same is probably true of politicians). We read about corruption in the papers and we tend to think it's universal. But I must say I've worked in a very large corporation for 20+ years and I continue to be amazed at just how ethical it is. But it is old and well-established--I think a lot of the most flagrant corruption is to be found in newer "boom" industries, where "risk taking" and moral ambiguity often go hand-in-hand.

p.s.--I removed the "nimbus" from my picture. (I hope it wasn't because I misbehaved!)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Alex, thank you! I'm delighted you enjoy it!

Bill Thanks! I have to remain somewhat anonymous, so I'll stick with this pic, then. I think you're right about established companies vs. the risk taking ones. Unfortunately, I work for the risk taking type. I didn't notice a nimbus! But it's just as well. The only people that are portrayed with nimbuses are royalty, saints, gods, or nuclear holocaust survivors.

Bill R said...

"The only people that are portrayed with nimbuses are royalty, saints, gods, or nuclear holocaust survivors."

Can I take my pick? ;)

Saur♥Kraut said...

Bill, *g* Go for it! I recommend you don't take option #4.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

BTW, unions are great and they never die only get made out as evil. We have a healthy culture of joining a union over here.

United We Lay said...

What about unions with performance standards? Workers have to live up to certain standards or they do not have job security.