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February 05, 2009

I'm wigging out. Which is nothing new - I've been wigging out since our four-person department was cut to two people.

I understand the economy is bad, ok? I understand we all have to tighten our belts to get through.

But I don't understand the rationale behind decimating your staff without eliminating any of the work you require to get done. And I certainly don't understand the thinking behind decimating your staff and then increasing the number of active projects and making all of them "priority one."

No, I take that back. I do not understand cutting staff.

I know corporations love cutting labor. I know they love thinking about how the remaining rats are going to race faster, for fear of losing their share of the cheese. It's typical, brain-damaged Republican thinking and was gifted to us by Reagan (among his other sins).

Remember how they used to pretend it was just temporary - that the staffing levels would come back up once the economy improved? Hah! When you wonder how corporations can afford to pay their CEOs $15,000,000 or $50,000,000 a year, remember that they're paying fewer of us less money to do more work, and they have been for almost 30 years. (If the Republican Party hadn't grabbed on to the Religious Right, they'd have gone down in flames years ago.)

Having a job used to be a kind of contract, you know? Company B gave Hourly Johnny X amount of dollars in return for Y amount of work, done in Z number of hours. If more than Z number of hours were required, Hourly Johnny got X more dollars.

Everyone's on salary now, not because they're "management" of any sort, but because people on salary don't have to be paid overtime. Companies can (and do) demand as much as they can get away with. They routinely expect you to work as many hours in a week "as the job requires" except that what the job "requires" can double or triple in the course of a year.*

Companies "downsize" (which is and always has been a demeaning way to talk about people but an interesting way of dehumanzing your workforce) and pile the overflowing work onto the heads of the few remaining staff, tossing in occasional asides about how the remaining staff might not be "essential," until people start to implode.

Today, I am imploding.


* Yes, like my current employer. Having cut our already overworked department's staffing by 50%, one member of senior management announced a couple of weeks ago that those of us remaining would just have to "show up on time and stay until the work is done."

And I'm thinking--you don't own me. I am not, in fact, a wage slave.

Also? Announcing that if I have too many special projects on my plate, I'm responsible for getting my real job done on my own time is not the way to win my loyalty or my best work.

Posted by AnneZook at 05:59 PM


In the industrial field, it's called "speeding up": as the day goes on the conveyor belt that moves the work pieces is slowly ratcheted up so the workers have to go faster and faster....

Posted by: Ahistoricality at February 6, 2009 07:09 PM

I know most of your job interviews have actually been pretty positive, but just a word of caution for the next time (did I say "next time"? Who, me?)....

Posted by: Ahistoricality at February 7, 2009 06:48 PM

I've already worked for my share of assholes (and more) in my life.

But I can clearly see that life as a freelancer (or entrepreneur) leaves you with few choices.

Posted by: Anne at February 9, 2009 02:35 PM

One of the nasty things about "salary" is that so many people who are salaried aren't overtime exempt, but they aren't aware of it.

So the employer is getting away with even more than they would if it were the case that salary means never entitled to OT.

Posted by: Terry Karney at February 16, 2009 12:40 PM

Life as a freelancer gives you a lot more choices than you'd think. You just don't know it, for a few years.

Posted by: Michael Roberts at February 17, 2009 04:07 PM