"Minimum wages" do not inspire loyalty or respect.
If a company does not express respect for a person they have employed...
by paying as little as lawfully possible... and then, by demanding serious labor...
and making other demands such as timeliness, hygiene, wardrobe, social
skills, organizational skills, attentiveness to tasks, cheerfulness with co-workers,
dependability... well... they are playing a risky game with their company.
Do these companies really want FOOLS working for them...?
I'm reminded of a job I had once... working for a designer... in the finishing and packaging
department. I was supporting a child by myself... and could not afford to be
picky about where I worked. Most jobs paid about the same... minimum wage...
but this job paid fifty cents more per hour than that. I worked well with my hands
and once I learned the tasks... efficiency in the department increased to the point
that one person was transferred to another area.
It might have been a pleasant job... but... the woman who ran the department was a close
friend of the owner/designer... and she liked to talk... and she liked to give advice... and
she was an expert on everything... including people's lives. Several times she crossed the
line with her "personal advice" and her "personal criticisms" and I had tried several times
to get the issue straightened out with the owner. But... being an expert... she was hard to
The crew was promised a yearly 25 cent raise... and yet... we were informed that the raise
wouldn't be forthcoming. There were also contract sewing crews who came and went once
a week to drop off and pick up new fabric for their jobs. Most of these sewing ladies were
immigrants... and even though their work was expected to be top-notch quality... they
complained about how they barely made $3.00 an hour.
I asked the owner once for a raise... because my son wanted to join activities and it was
strapping my budget. Her response was... "can't you apply for food stamps...?"
The owner, herself, drove a Jaguar... and was somewhat of a society lady.
I had many bad days when I just could not endure the conditions of my job. I had had to
endure insults... love advice... sex advice... clothing advice... all while putting in a busy
day of actual WORK...! I'd go home and just cry. I was straining my stress levels... to a
point where I feared I'd have a nervous breakdown. But... I felt so trapped by my
circumstances. I had few choices.
Well, as it happened... the woman in my department was preparing for a big wedding in
her family. She prepared for months for the big proud day. Then... she took off work to
attend the festivities... a fancy dancy affair it would all be. I'm not a phoo-phoo person
and... it was making me sick hearing about it.
I maintained the department while she was gone... with a little help from the owner.
I remember saying... something... to her... the day before the woman was to return...
something about how "I may just not show up." And... the next day came... and...
I didn't. I didn't show up. I didn't call. I wouldn't even talk to them. I was done. I was so
"done" that I couldn't stand to even look at the woman... or hear her wedding
stories. The thought of it... made me physically sick.
The way I figured it... later... when all the chaos of my decision to quit had passed...
the way I figured it... I didn't owe that company squat. They had almost driven me
to a nervous breakdown. I had been laughed at... insulted... betrayed... treated like
a fool... over-worked and under-paid... and I couldn't even bring myself to talk to them.
There is a push to make states "right to work" states... and it all sounds so logical.
Unions can survive this glitch. Union members can benefit from legal advice and other
issues that arise in the work arena... and instead of existing on an adverserial
relationship with a company... could actually be the diplomatic bridge between
owners and employees. Do owners want their workers to have stable lives... with
families... and homes...? or... to act like FOOLS...!!
Right to work...?? how about "right to LEAVE"...?
If a person is not paid a living wage... then why bother giving a company your
notice when leaving...?
why bother doing anything but the MINIMUM to get by...? why volunteer to do
more than is asked of you...?
If you are GIVEN minimum... you should GIVE minimum.
It doesn't always take a union... to make waves in the workplace.