Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Lay Offs Suck - But Maybe There is a Solution...

Yes, the title of this post says it all. Now, you may be wondering what a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom for the uninitiated) knows about layoffs. I mean, come on - I didn't even have to interview for my job, right?

Right, not for my current job. For all the jobs before from Assistant Manager of a clothing store to admin assistant for MCI then MTV, to accounting temp, Online Producer at several companies and finally 3 different positions at the US Postal Service I had to both apply and interview. Then, unfortunately, for many of them I had to learn how to survive a layoff. And sometimes those layoffs were quite painful and personal. Name calling (them towards me, not me towards them) and below the belt anger on the employers' part were common place at some of the positions.

So not fun.

But you survive it and move on. That's the way of the world, right? I mean, unless you are a member of a union working in an union state the world is Right to Work so that means you have a right to work or not work. It's SO much better.

Again wrong, kind of. Yes, Right to Work means that you can walk into any place of business and be given the same chance as any association (what the union calls itself here in Virginia) member. And that is a benefit - it means that new teachers or teachers who are not union members get a chance to teach in a school without being forced to join a union.

But there is a flip side to Right to Work and to be honest, it benefits the employer far more than the employee. After 90 days you can be fired for no reason. Employers do not need to state a reason at all other than "Because" on a report to their higher ups. To me, it's  a bit disgusting.

Don't get me wrong - I am not a huge fan of unions. I am liberal, but after sitting on the Management side of the negotiating table I have to say that I am not sure the unions are truly looking out for the benefit of their members. Sure, there are some good eggs in unions. But the number of bad eggs sometimes outweighs the number of good.

So, why am I concerned about this now? What happened? You can't get fired from being a SAHM, right? And I am looking into entrepreneurial opportunities - another job you can't get fired from, so what's my deal with right to work?

Well, to start off it's a lie. Right to Work's headquarters is about 5 miles from where I lived from 10 until 17 when I graduated from college. During a summer break I tried to give working for them a shot. It was a telemarketing position - one where I would have to read a script to "encourage" the cold calls on the other end that they wanted to donate to Right to Work. In just s short evening learning about RtW and some of the policies they supported way back then I pretty much gathered my gear and walked out.

There is an easy solution. It is similar to an employment situation in Europe, and probably other portions of the world, but first we have to agree that our employment system is broken - like many other things in our country these days. The one thing I noticed about a friend of mine's employment in Europe while he lived there was that it seemed civilized. Before starting a job, he would receive a contract. That contract would stipulate all his benefits, his position, what that position would be responsible for, whether or not there were chances the requirements would change and finally how long the position would be in place - usually 1-2 years. Both parties signed the document and stuck to it. He couldn't just up and quit and they couldn't lay him off without cause. They had to work together to make sure the contract worked and the work got done.

Wow - how civilized.

So, why am I writing a rant about employment when I am currently not working or looking for work? Because there may be a time when I am looking for employment again and there will definitely be a time when my son is looking for work. Then there's my husband - while I doubt highly that he is in any danger of a layoff, that doesn't mean it can't happen. And in a day and age when there are more of a few layoffs every day it is a bit nerve-wracking not knowing if your husband will have a job by the end of the day.

Look, I am not trying to be an alarmist. We are indeed in a state of change for everyone - employees, employers, suppliers, etc, etc. Maybe we take this time to take a look at how we, as a nation, build companies, who we are responsible to and what our hiring/employment practices actually are. At Will (the other way to describe Right to Work) employment is better than a long, drawn out process that can take years if you wish to fire someone for cause in a union shop, but it was written up to protect the employer and not the employee. That is what needs to change.

Like I said earlier, maybe what we need is a one-on-one employment, not negotiated by unions, contract that guarantees 1 to 2 years of employment at a certain pay rate, with a potential for raises written in as well as all benefits, and everything from job requirements to vacation time written up and signed. Also signed would be the situations where a job might be reduced/taken away, or a person removed from the job. Everyone would know the situation before hand and there would not be this fear of losing your job every day as you walk in to work at the beginning of the day, eating at your desk, wondering if tomorrow will be your last day, etc. And maybe, just maybe we would be more productive and creative at work as well.

Just a thought. What do you think?


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devraj mishra said...
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devraj mishra said...
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