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View Diary: Trashing experience and skill is just one more weapon in the war on workers (184 comments)

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  •  Flat Earth Syndrome, the Culture Gap, and Dilbert (12+ / 0-)

    The kind of things in this diary are on display every day in Dilbert. How many companies are run these days by people who actually know what the company does at ground level?

    My brother in law is trying to turn around a company that got bushwhacked by a takeover of most of the services they used to provide. They're trying to survive around what's left, which involves call centers doing some pretty involved stuff with potential for serious financial penalties if they screw up. He asked to sit in to listen to calls; the manager was shocked - it was the first time in years anyone in upper management had taken any interest in what they actually do.

    You see it parodied every day in Dilbert - clueless execs making impossible demands, spouting the latest management speak bafflegab.

    Add in consultants and MBAs focused on squeezing revenue out of every possible place, with the conviction that the world is full of interchangeable workers dying to work for less (sometimes literally), outsourcing whole divisions, tossing away years of in-house expertise - so they can break unions and cannibalize employee pension plans. The rewards of increased revenues for a few quarters are all too often followed by decline and collapse once the core of a company has been strip-mined.

    After passing through a string of corporate owners increasingly disconnected from its core business, Lionel Trains almost disappeared. When Lionel Trains was a division of General Mills, they moved production of toy trains out of the U.S. into Mexico. Quality became such an issue, they had to move it back after a few years.  It took purchase by a long time Lionel collector - Richard Kughn - to get it back on track. Not that the corporate sturm und drang was over...

    Today, nearly all model/toy trains are made in Asia. Only lately are efforts underway to return manufacturing to the U.S. One reason is the degree to which U.S. workers have seen wages and benefits drop to make them competitive; another is the lack of flexibility in supply chains stretching across the Pacific to respond quickly. Plus, there's a nascent trend towards using "Made in America" as a selling point.

    An argument can be made that one of the things driving the war on workers is the long running trend of mergers and acquisitions and just plain hugeness which has reshaped the American economy into a landscape dominated by corporate behemoths.  You end up with management operating so far from the low level employees, they might as well be on another planet. This is only exacerbated by the ever increasing financialization of that same economy. It's no longer about making stuff, providing services, thinking about the long term - it's all about doing stuff with money. People just get in the way.

    Frankly, the idea of a company with a skilled work force partnered with management that regards them as part of their vital assets seems like something from another era.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:14:36 AM PDT

    •  happens in Germany (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xaxnar

      multiple examples in the press...

      "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

      by fhcec on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 11:24:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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