Sep 01

Thoughts on Labor Day

workersAccording to the United States Department of Labor, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” This is an excellent concept because this country would not be where it is today without the input of all American workers, skilled and unskilled. Unfortunately, there is a large segment of workers in this country who have little to celebrate on this day. For tomorrow they may be unemployed, and there is nothing they can do about it.

I am, of course, talking about the growing number of American workers who are not represented by a labor union, fraternal order, or professional organization. This group is comprised of both skilled and unskilled workers. I am talking about people who get up and go to work each day, people who have families, and mortgages, and human needs that depend on the ability to go to work and earn a living. People who live in fear that the job they hold today will be someone else’s job tomorrow. The home they have today will be someone else’s home tomorrow. Each day people are arbitrarily let go from their jobs with no good reason. And the employer is not required to mandated to provide, or even have, a good reason. I have a few examples that I have personal knowledge about.
There is the case of young nurse, mother of three, who one day receives a phone call from her employer that she has been terminated. They provide a vague reason why, but there is not right of appeal, no right of an investigation. The person found out that only three hours after her termination, another had been hired to take her place. Granted, there is always another waiting to take a job but it defies credibility to think that three hours later a job is filled. For that to happen, it takes planning an foresight. This worker was not terminated for any reason other than to create a vacancy that someone else was slated to fill. And there is nothing she can do about it.  She has no right to appeal, nor right for an investigation, no right for arbitration..

Another person I know, had a technical job, and performed it with great aptitude. The company he worked for had a concept called “charge back” This gave them the right to deduct from his pay if there was any type of complaint from a customer. Sometimes a charge back exceeded the amount earned.  He had no right to request an investigation, he had no right of appeal. If the customer unplugged their equipment or a dog chewed through the wire and called to complain, the technician was charged a sum of money, regardless of whether he had any control over the failure or not. The same person found other employment, and like a dedicated employee he gave a two-week notice of his intent to leave. When he was due his final paycheck, the company generated “charge backs” for every single dime they owed him. He had no right to appeal, and he had no right to request an investigation. A sad footnote on this incident, the final paycheck was due on Christmas Eve, and the final paycheck was to pay off the Christmas giftss waiting in lay-away for his children.

Stories such as this happen every day within the ranks of the unrepresented workers of America. I feel legislation should be enacted that provides certain rights to any worker to appeal, and have third-party arbitration, of any termination without cause. I understand there are valid reasons why a person may be terminated. I understand that economic conditions may require lay offs and cutbacks. But no employer should be able to just terminate without a just cause. No employer should be able to terminate a person just to make room in the organization for someone else. The pendulum has swung from the days of the too strong labor unions to where we are today. If you are happily at work, and feeling confident that you will remain, but are not represented, don’t. You just could end up with a lot of free time on your hands tomorrow. Please think of those unrepresented workers tomorrow when you are celebrating labor day.

 

Those are my thoughts, what are yours?

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2 comments

    • judy aka judi aka judith on September 1, 2013 at 3:10 pm
    • Reply

    Great blog and I agree with your sentiments . It is good to be reminded that while those of us lucky enough to be employed are picnicking or just lounging about today that some don’t know where their next meal or pay check is coming from due to unfair practices such as those described here.

    • Mark Sherman on September 1, 2013 at 7:56 pm
    • Reply

    I agree. The assult on organized labor has been ongoing for decades, and the country has suffered greatly because of it.

Feel free to comment, why should I have the last word.

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