Peculiar year for American workers

The appropriately named Johnny Paycheck

It’s been a fascinating year for American workers. Job opportunities are coming back after being devastated by the pandemic. Yet it is clear that organizational leaders who expect the workplace to get back to “normal” are surprised.

Employees are quitting in masses. “Nearly 3.6 million Americans resigned in May [2021] alone. But it’s not an issue that’s specific to a certain industry, role, or even salary — it’s a workplace issue.

“A new Gallup analysis finds that 48% of America’s working population is actively job searching or watching for opportunities. Businesses are facing a staggeringly high quit rate… and a record-high number of unfilled positions. And Gallup discovered that workers in all job categories, from customer-facing service roles to highly professional positions, are actively or passively job hunting at roughly the same rate.”

Take this job and shove it 

From The Atlantic: “Why the sudden burst of quitting? One general theory is that we’re living through a fundamental shift in the relationship between employees and bosses that could have profound implications for the future of work. Up and down the income ladder, workers have new reasons to tell their boss to shove it.

“Lower-wage workers who benefited from enhanced unemployment benefits throughout the pandemic may have returned to the job and realized they’re not being paid enough.” The poor pay has been true for decades, BTW.

“Now they’re putting their foot down, forcing restaurants and clothing stores to fork over a higher wage to keep people on staff.” This means that some workers are getting close to, or exceeding, the $15 per hour wage so many have demanded for several years.

“Meanwhile, white-collar workers say they feel overworked or generally burned out after a grueling pandemic year, and they’re marching to the corner office with new demands… Gallup finds that it takes more than a 20% pay raise to lure most employees away from a manager who engages them, and next to nothing to poach most disengaged workers.”

Daily stress

There is a global workplace survey commissioned by Gallup. In the United States and Canada, workers there “reported the highest rate of daily stress in the world during 2020.” Working women, younger workers were more stressed than their counterparts. “Only about one in three U.S. employees and one in five Canadian employees are engaged at work. Burnout prevention requires both high engagement and high employee wellbeing.”

It’s not just MORE money workers desire. Americans Are Willing to Take Pay Cuts to Never Go Into the Office Again. “A new survey shows 65% of workers who said their jobs could be done entirely remotely were willing to take a 5% reduction to stay at home.” But NOT a 20% reduction.

It could be worse

From Newsweek: In June, “The Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit that claimed the Minneapolis-based Cargill and the American arm of Switzerland-based Nestle ‘aided and abetted’ slavery by knowingly buying cocoa beans from farms that used child labor.

“Six African men brought the lawsuit, claiming that they were trafficked from Mali as children and forced to work long hours, then locked up at night, at cocoa farms in Ivory Coast, the world’s leading producer of cocoa. The group sought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of themselves, as well as who they say are thousands of other former child slaves.

“But justices ruled 8-1 that an appeals court improperly let the lawsuit against the food companies go forward in the U.S. as the respondents’ injuries ‘occurred entirely overseas’, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a majority opinion for the court.

A 2020 report funded by the U.S. Department of Labor found that the cocoa industry in West Africa was exploiting 1.6 million child laborers and that the use of child labor has risen despite industry promises to reduce it.

True? Fiction?

The American Dream. The Forgotten Employee.

The race for the jobs

But the South!

race-and-ethnicity-main-imageIn the many jobs that I’ve had, I never thought my race was a factor. Some of them were affected by previous relationships. Being a page at Binghamton Public Library, doing bookkeeping at the Schenectady Arts Council, managing at FantaCo, for instance.

In each case, there were people I knew, one black, two white, who undoubtedly helped me secure employment. Something that I really like about my jobs is that usually they gave me a work uniform in this way I do not have to worry about buying cloth. 

In all the jobs I have been, the companies have used free background check to make sure that candidate is suitable for the position. 

Background checks save you from hiring any dangerous or unsavory individuals. Reduce your company’s liability – Your company can lower insurance costs and avoid unnecessary lawsuits by only hiring people who clear a pre-employment screening. Avoid bad hires – Hiring the wrong person is costly and frustrating.  This also ensures any kind of legal liability and harm to the organization in future. Some of the major issues that could be avoided by performing proper Pre Employment Background Checks are: Any Sexual Harassment and Workplace Violations. Any Criminal Intention and harm to the organization. You can also find more about the using tools like these reverse phone lookup services you can get for free at the link. 

Then there was a slew of jobs where the employer just wanted a competent person for the position. my two stints as a janitor qualify. And BTW, I was pretty good at it, especially in Binghamton City Hall in 1975.

I graduated from library school in May 1992 and applied for several positions. The State Library offered me an interview in July of that year, but I was unsuccessful. Then I heard about this job at the New York Small Business Development Center. My friend Jennifer was interning there. They had just gotten a grant to provide library reference services, not just for the NYSBDC but for the whole country.

Michele, who had started the library as a half-time position became the director. Jennifer was the second librarian hired for what was dubbed the Research Network. I was interviewed and became the third librarian on October 19. Lynne was hired on October 22 and was the fourth. Since the program ostensibly began on October 1, we had a lot of work to do from the get-go, including getting the materials from the Georgia SBDC, which had the gig before New York.

How would they deal with it?

It was only five or seven years later that a person who would be in the know and impeccably reputable told me a story I found rather unsettling. I shan’t reveal who they are except to say they were most definitely in the know.

I had interviewed well enough. But apparently, there were one or more persons on the committee who were concerned about my race. Specifically, the job required that the librarian in that position create liaisons with the state directors and other staff in the other states’ lead centers. Many of them were in the South, of course. The search committee was afraid that these folks wouldn’t cotton to working with a black person. So I was rejected for that reason.

Then, someone up the State University of New York food chain told them, “You can’t do that!” SUNY is the host institution of the NY SBDC. I ended up getting the job after all.

The news, a half dozen years after the fact, was initially jaw-dropping. Then, thinking back on who was on the search committee, not so much. If a certain party hadn’t intervened, I would not have gotten the job. I would not have known why, either.

Of course, it got me to wonder about all the other people who didn’t get the job because of bias. Despite the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, I have no doubt that racism has crept into the employment mix.

Exiting my jobs over the years

I have no idea about these things

exitingSince I am about to leave my job of 26 years plus, I thought I’d mention exiting my jobs in the past.

The majority of the slip and fall cases according to the statistics happened at work, most of the time this accidents could have been prevented by the employer, that is the reason why this cases end up in court.

IBM, Endicott, NY, 03-09/1971: I was working the evening shift, 5:12 p.m.-2 a.m., though it was usually until 4 a.m. I worked on putting this laminated gel on computer boards, then heating these boards in ovens, then attaching plastic plates to the board.

I was very good. Too good, in fact, because the first process was so easy that the job quota went from 60 items/hour to 80/hour. The day shift had been slacking off. In retaliation, the day shift did a ton of the first process, leaving the more precise second task for me.

When I left, my manager was disappointed, but I needed to go to college.

Some box factory, 2 weeks in the summer of 1973, described here. After they gave me grief about my productivity, they begged me to stay.

Albany Savings Bank, teller, 02/1978 – two days after my training was over, and I was on the window by myself, spending an hour trying to find a five cent overage, I quit with two days notice. They weren’t happy but they were only paying me $6000 a year, less than what I had in my drawer every day.

Schenectady Arts Council, 03/1978-01/1979 – I took this job, which, BTW, paid $8200. It was a lot more fun and interesting.

Ostensibly, I was the bookkeeper, but I solicited ads for a fundraiser to fix Proctors Theatre, I was a dance partner for the choreographer when she taught disco to school, and most regularly, I ran the biweekly Artisans’ Arcade in the Proctors’ walkway.

When the federal funding was suddenly cut, a bunch of us went out drinking. I’m fairly sure I called my girlfriend to come pick me up.

Empire Blue Cross, 02/1979-03/1980 – described here.

FantaCo, 05/1980-11/1988 – the comic book store/publisher/mail order place. It was a great job for a long time. But as I wrote here, I was just burned out.

I thought I would never have a job with a tenure more than the 8.5 years I worked at FantaCo. Yet I was at the NY SBDC greater than thrice as long, proving I have no idea about these things.

Listen to I Quit – Blotto

For ABC Wednesday

March rambling #1: Platypus Controlling Me

The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath And A Narcissist


What Is Your Name? Where Are We? Who Is President? Oh God

Trump(Doesn’t)Care cartoon

Poor People Need BETTER Health Insurance than the Rest of Us, Not Worse

The lessons we fail to learn: Warren G. Harding

American ‘Christianity’ Has Failed and I don’t want to preach a faith that can be so easily adapted to self-hatred and self-harm

How the baby boomers destroyed everything

The 1862 Binghamton (NY) Race Riot – something I did not know about my hometown

After Slavery, Searching For Loved Ones In Wanted Ads

Coins of the Rebellion: The Civil War currency of Albany merchants

Jobs, Income, and the Future

A brief history of men getting credit for women’s accomplishments

The Weight of The Last Straw

7 Lies About Welfare That Many People Believe Are Fact

Albany, NY Plane Crashes Into Houses On Landing Attempt, March 1972

Contractor sues for $2 million in unpaid bills on Drumpf’s D.C. hotel

Kellyanne Conway’s interview tricks, explained, and her boss’s 10 steps for turning lies into half-truths

A college course on calling out scientific crap

The adult children of him will ditch Secret Service protection once he leaves office

Sen. Gillibrand Has Perfect Response To Regime Misspelling Her Name

‘Where I come from’ we claim universal generalities as our peculiar virtues

Some ‘snowflakes’ can take the heat

The biggest threat facing middle-age men isn’t smoking or obesity, it’s loneliness

About Robert Osborne

Amy Biancolli: woman walks into a sandwich shop

The Toxic Attraction Between An Empath And A Narcissist

You May Want to Marry My Husband

This 75-Year Harvard Study Found the 1 Secret to Leading a Fulfilling Life

David Kalish: I am my dog’s seeing-eye person

Coke: Global ad campaign celebrates inclusion and diversity

Alphabetizing Books

Ruben Bolling won the 2017 Herblock Prize

Now I Know: The Boy Who Captured the Wind and How to Claim Antarctica and The Park at the Bottom of the Lake

MEET APRIL THE GIRAFFE, formerly from Catskill Game Farm!

Sammy Davis Jr. Oscar blunder

Cush Jumbo

Lawyer’s Pants Catch Fire During Closing Argument

Garter snakes can be super deadly

Music

Divenire – Composer Ludovico Einaudi

There’s a Platypus Controlling Me (from Phineus and Ferb)

What are the songs that best capture our moment?

K-Chuck Radio: A dose of Northern Soul

Don’t Let Me Down – The Beatles

10 Beatles Covers You Really Need to Hear

Songs about the moon

My first seven jobs

No, I never worked in a coal mine.

coalmineThe meme My First Seven Jobs has been showing up on social media a lot in the last couple of months. I had avoided it until I read an article about what your first seven jobs say about you, and then the exercise intrigued me. And hey, I need a Labor Day weekend post.

I am a little bit fuzzy on what constitutes a job. When your father drags you on some task, for which you are not being paid, I’m not counting that. And having looked at other people’s lists, I’m actually adding a couple that I would not otherwise have considered.

1. Newspaper delivery of the Press newspaper, Binghamton, NY. Six evenings plus Sunday morning for about two years, a job I inherited from my godparents’ grandson Walter. Used the money to join the Capitol Record Club and buy Beatles’ albums.

2. Babysitter. I did this less than a half dozen times, never for more than two kids, two boys who lived near my grandmother. I was pretty good at it, I seem to recall.

3. Singer, with my father and sister Leslie, off and on for four years. We didn’t make a lot of money, as we did a lot of gigs for free.

4. Page at the Binghamton Public Library, for seven months when I was sixteen, a job I inherited from my parents’ godson, Walter. Same Walter. Helped people with the microfilm machine and retrieved back issue magazines. When it wasn’t busy, read Billboard and Psychology Today.

5. Assembly line worker at IBM Endicott. I graduated from high school in January, then worked there from March until early September. I remember the boss wanted me to stay, but I was heading to college.

6. The box factory, which I did for two weeks, longer than either of my two predecessors.

7. Janitor at some department store in New Paltz. Being a janitor was also my eighth job, in Binghamton City Hall.

No, my first seven jobs did not include working in a coal mine. Nor did Lee Dorsey‘s. Or any of the members of Devo.

Americans Don’t Miss Manufacturing — They Miss Unions

Appeals Court Affirms that a Union’s Use of Inflatable Rat Is Protected Free Speech