Sunday, May 14, 2006

Save Your Job Or Your Child

Universal Studios decided in the 80's to eliminate the secretaries sick days because they felt they were being used to care for children and that the secretaries weren't really sick and should be using preapproved vacation time. I worked in the Black Tower which had recirculated air. Since people were being forced to work sick, if someone had a cold on the third floor, half of the 12th floor would be sick within a week. They gave back a few days of sick time in the next round of negotiations.
The Family as Firing Offense: "Williams studied almost 100 union arbitrations that, she writes, 'provide a unique window into how work and family responsibilities clash in the lives of bus drivers, telephone workers, construction linemen, nurse's aides, carpenters, welders, janitors and others.' Many are mothers, but this is not just a female problem. Divorced fathers, and families that patch together tag-team care, with parents working different shifts, are similarly vulnerable. Indeed, nearly everyone is a potential victim of child-care plans gone awry: Among working-class couples, only 16 percent have families in which one parent is the breadwinner and the other stays home.

The stories Williams relates are foreign to those of us lucky enough to have flexible jobs and understanding bosses -- for whom it's no big deal to step out in the middle of the day to go to the school play. A bus driver is fired when she arrives three minutes late because of her son's asthma attack; a packer loses her job for leaving work because her daughter is in the emergency room with a head injury. A police officer is suspended for failing to report for unscheduled duty; she had arranged baby-sitting for her three children for her regular 4 p.m. shift, but couldn't -- without notice -- find baby-sitting for the noon-to-4 slot she'd been ordered to work.

You read these accounts and you think: These stories can't possibly be true. If true, they can't possibly be typical. Leave aside human decency and just consider economic rationality: Surely the cost of finding a new worker has to be bigger than the inconvenience of accommodating the existing one."
Not if employers consider workers to be less important than themselves. My boss could take a two week vacation and nobody missed him, if I was gone for longer than lunch, they needed a temp to fill in. I finally figured it out, the more you make the less work you actually have to do and you can do your job on your time, not a regulated schedule. That means you are better than those below you and can feel justified when you take unscheduled time off. Such disparities abound in the working world.

Bush hasn't been on vacation lately. What's up?

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