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Forget football for a sec. There are a lot of jobs that shouldn't be done without a lot of training and experience.
The role of training and experience was glaringly obvious in the National Football League's lockout of its longtime officials. Glaringly obvious as in, the scabs the NFL brought in to replace the experienced referees were first a national laughingstock and then even more widely reviled for their errors on the field. It turns out not just anyone can officiate a professional football game. But what about other kinds of workers?

We're told that part of the American character is to work hard and take pride in it, and that's reflected in what we see around us. It's not just people whose work results in big paychecks or offers the chance to climb the career ladder quickly or get public recognition, it's a value as alive among low-wage workers as among the highest-paid. But something you hear a lot less about than the value of hard work is the value of skill. This is weird, because presumably if you're working hard, one of the things you're working at is getting good at what you do. If you're taking pride in your hard work, it's not just pride in how tired you are at the end of the day but at how well you did things, how accurate or efficient you were, how you got something right that not everyone would have gotten right.

But when there's a labor dispute, or when Republicans are trying to undermine how voters think about other workers to set the stage for taking away pensions or collective bargaining rights, suddenly, to hear them talk, you'd never know that this was a nation that values hard work, because in those moments we're told it's not that hard, any idiot could do this job. It's not that hard to referee a professional football game, so call up the guys who washed out of the Lingerie Football League. Experience is overrated for teachers, so throw people into the classroom after a few weeks' training, they'll do fine. More than fine! The youth and energy of the barely trained new teacher will be better than the experience of that useless old teacher. Suddenly, the drive to denigrate the workers becomes so strong that the CEO or the governor asks us, expects us, to forget the years of work that these workers have put into learning their jobs, learning how to teach or to run a snowplow or a cash register.

As the AP's Paul J. Weber writes, "Professing expertise can also bring on suspicions of elitism and scratch an itch to knock someone down a peg"—an itch that the Roger Goodells and Scott Walkers and Mitt Romneys of the world and the generations of union-busters and racers-to-the-bottom who laid the groundwork for them will hasten to throw poison ivy onto. Hell, if you're not itching, they'll sneak up behind you with the poison ivy. But as Weber details, it's not just on the football field that experience and the commitment that comes from doing a job for years matter.

(Continued below the fold.)

— In Houston, Adrianna Vasquez makes $8.60 an hour doing what she knows people think is the world's most replaceable job: She's a janitor. When the 37-year-old returned in August to resume cleaning the 100 toilets on 10 floors in a downtown Chase Bank tower after a citywide janitor strike that won a 12 percent raise, Vasquez said the bathrooms cleaned by replacement crews looked like stalls in a seedy bar. "I just wanted to cry when I saw it," she said.

— In New York, Consolidated Edison locked out 8,000 workers in July and brought in replacements from other states to work power lines and operate the grid. It ended just as severe storms hit and threatened power outages. "Not enough people that knew what they were doing," said John Melia, a spokesman for the Local 1-2 of the Utility Workers Union of America.

Most people are willing to concede that it's better if you have some training and experience before working with power lines, but cleaning toilets? There's a job that gets basically no respect. But even aside from the toilet-related unpleasantness, it takes physical stamina and attention to detail. Yet among Republican politicians and at Republican think tanks, to say nothing of at big corporations trying to squeeze every last dollar of profit out of their workers to maximize that CEO bonus, the fact that janitors working for the government make a living wage and get benefits is an outrage.

Another piece of the 1 percent's disrespect for the work of the 99 percent is disrespect for the very real training it involves. At the same time Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was trying to impose harsh new evaluation systems on his city's teachers, for instance, the teachers had to fight for training so that they would be able to get better at what they do. But training is something workers often fight for, and it's something that in many industries sets union workers apart—not their work ethic or their drive, but the fact that their unions have been able to bargain for training in the workplace or have put money into union-run training programs. The AFL-CIO's Alison Omens details just a few of the union training and safety programs you might find:

  • Remember Captain Sully and "Miracle on the Hudson?" He was a huge safety advocate through his union, serving as the Air Line Pilots (ALPA) representative during a National Transportation Safety Board investigation and as a local air safety chairman.
  • How about the rebuilding of the World Trade Center? The people who are thousands of feet in the air are union members, as well as veterans. The AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department’s (BCTD's) training program Helmets to Hardhats works across the country to train veterans for high-skill construction projects, including at the World Trade Center. [...]
  • The president of a Chicago-based construction company who works with union workers says this about his experience: "Here’s what [the union’s] training center means to me: We’re getting the highest caliber craftsmen in the business. It’s going toward productivity and attitude."
But when those same workers who are, through their unions, bargaining for and investing in the best available training are in the way of corporate profit or a Republican governor looking to make his mark, they're portrayed as greedy, lazy, corrupt, doing a job that anyone could do with a day's notice and expecting to be able to feed their families and even go on vacation every couple years.

Forty years of the war on workers has led us to this deeply dysfunctional, contradictory place where workers and their labor are concerned. Hard work is great. If you're not rich and you don't work hard, brutally hard if your boss requires it, you're a bad person who deserves poverty. If you're not rich and you expect your hard work to be valued with pay or benefits those at the top don't want to give, expect to see your work and experience and skill mocked as nothing. And if you're at the top? Your wealth is justified by your hard work, supposed or real. About other people's hard work, the only question is how cheap you can get it.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:55 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (120+ / 0-)
  •  I'm a living example of it. (45+ / 0-)

    As a molecular virologist with NIH Biosafety Level 3 training, in any sort of decent economy I'd be worth high five or six figures (and still am, at large companies).

    U of Michigan hired me as a technician for $40K, for a one year term.  But that wasn't the real insult.  The real insult is that after a year, I was offered an extension - at $20K.

    Less then grad students make, by one third.

    That's how little they value expertise, experience, and hard work.

  •  You betcha ... let's replace experience with ... (24+ / 0-)

    ... rookies. Nothing like an ironworker who's dangling from a safety line that was inadvertently wrapped around his neck or a dock worker who is crushed between a pier and a cruise ship or an assembly line tech who forgets to turn off the power before reaching into a metal press to clear it or a truck driver careening down a mountain because he burned up the brakes from riding them too much.

    Really ... the kinks will work themselves out, eventually.

  •  Tipped, rec'd, shared on Facebook (22+ / 0-)

    One of the things about the new Republican party that grates on me the most is the idea that they work hard, have "earned" their way, and don't want "their money" and taken and handed to someone they see as inferior to them.

    I vote we run Rick Scott out of Florida on a high-speed rail.

    by ObamOcala on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:11:03 AM PDT

  •  Janitors? We don't need experienced janitors. (24+ / 0-)

    Accordingly to one Republican presidential candidate, we can simply hire a bunch of poor kids to do the job.

    I would suggest Newt Gingrich give custodial work a try, but I doubt he could handle the work. And that last sentence is not snark.

    A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

    by slatsg on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:15:36 AM PDT

    •  A competent janitor is the first line... (24+ / 0-)

      ...of defense against expensive "unscheduled maintenance."

      I worked for a phone call center for a few years, and the officer in charge of facility management convinced the CEO to cut cost by ditching the local janitorial service they had for many years for Service Master. A few months into the new contract, just about everyone notice the place was a bit seedier. The facility manager doubled down and went with an even lower cost one person "independent contractor." Long story short, we ended up with a mold problem that ended up costing more than was "saved" from ditching the experienced outfit.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:30:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  esp. with reports of the new resistant microbes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Philpm, Dirtandiron, Anjana

        that "lurk" on dry, hard to clean surfaces.

        "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 09:40:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  government privatization (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        has the same effect.
         Your city contracts out the trash company to save money. In 2 years, you're paying twice the price for half the service, your  area's unemployment is up and your tax base is down because all those good City trash jobs are gone and the contractor lives out of state.  

        You are renting what you used to own, and you are at the mercy of contractors because you sold the ability to collect trash, supply electricity and run schools.  So you better do what the new boss says, cause you've got to have the trash collected and the power on.

        We've been Randed, fellow renters.

        This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom.” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

        by nolagrl on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:23:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nicely written (21+ / 0-)

    A good description of how skill is denigrated in many professions by the one percenters.

    To quote Mark Twain; "Good judgement is the result of years of experience. Experience is the result of years of bad judgement."

    "I come close to despair because so many of the pieces of the country are broken, and when you see that, you have two choices: You can give up, or you can do something about it." Elizabeth Warren

    by Ed in Montana on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:16:48 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this essay, Laura! (37+ / 0-)

    Thank you for pointing the spotlight on an aspect of American life that very few ever discuss. You have absolutely nailed it!

    Another thing that really irritates me is the emphasis of the "know-nothings" on "skills and training."  The streets teem with laid-off engineers in their 50s who have plenty of skills and with college graduates who have newly acquired training.  There aren't enough JOBS, and why is that?  Because greedy fat-cat plutocrats are sitting on their piles of dough instead of creating jobs.

    Since 1971 I've hidden the fact that for the first nine years of my career I worked as a secretary.  I don't suppose there are such things as secretaries nowadays, but when there were, they were constantly disrespected.  It was, as you said in your essay, assumed that anyone could do our jobs, and that a secretary with 20 years of experience really had only one year of experience, repeated 20 times.

    I had to laugh in 1979 when the company I worked for, seized by a fit of "bottom line-ness," fired all the executive secretaries.  Chaos ensued!  Those precious execs, used to having all their housekeeping details and even some of their thinking done by their secretaries, found they could not function, and that 19-year-old office temps couldn't hack it. After a month they begged all the secretaries to return.

    One of them asked me if she should accept the invitation to rejoin the company.  "No," I told her.  "Stay where you are.  At your present company you'll get somewhere.  If you come back you'll never be anything but a secretary, making a secretary's pay."

    As a divorcee with children, more money was important to her, so she stayed with the new company.  Ha!  Several years later she had a secretary of her own.  Her talent was recognized there.

    Long ago I read in a book by Jeremy Rifkin that once a company conducted an experiment:  all the managers were taken away and the workers were told to run the company themselves.

    Productivity and morale shot up to the point where the Powers ended the experiment.  It was too demoralizing for the managers, who were  hastily reinstated.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:18:22 AM PDT

  •  We find this to be true almost everywhere (24+ / 0-)

    You often find that management is blithely unaware of the deep skill possessed by lifetime tradeworkers. In my field, publishing, I'm often shocked when board-level staff make comments that make it sound as if editors and advertising directors are so many monkeys bending wrenches, replaceable at the drop of a pin.

    Most of those I consider peers have spent their entire lives developing an extremely rare and complex skill-set that cannot be learned by anyone who has not pursued it since childhood.

    If you have an MBA or such, and decide at the age of 40 that you'd like to edit books for a living, sorry - ain't gonna happen. You needed 30 years to acquire the knowledge needed for that job.

    This is true across many disciplines, and it is very telling that republicans devalue all of it. It is the fundamental problem of why the middle class has seen all productivity gains in the past 30 years snapped up by the top 1 percent.

    Every day's another chance to stick it to the man. - dls

    by The Raven on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:21:27 AM PDT

    •  MBAs have no real life business (11+ / 0-)

      experience.  Many administrators in other fields (hospitals, schools, etc.) have little experience in health care or education.

      In the 60's we began to hear that anyone could manage.  Didn't need to know the industry or the field.  Management skills were independent of what they were managing.  We're still infected with this stupidity.

      •  Hmmmm.... (9+ / 0-)

        I worked for a bookstore chain, no longer with us.
        Say what you will about chains, this one started differently.
        At the beginning, it was run by, and staffed with, book people, and although we all knew it was a business and it needed to make money, we loved what we were doing, and the business thrived.  As it grew, it definitely required others whose specialty was business.  Sadly, rather than acting as a partner to, and working with, the actual book people who knew the product, the business people (MBA's) took charge and ran the company into the ground.  
        OK, that was a nutshell explanation of a 20 year slide into oblivion, but basically, stupidity (zero foresight into progress), greed, and ignorance of the actual product (and of their customers) got thrown into the mix and killed the business.
        It was a perfect storm of domino effect terrible decisions by business people whose expertise was such that they should have seen, and avoided, those choices.
        An aside - I was opening a new store in CA and had managers, newly hired from other retail 'sales' outlets, in a meeting.  We were talking about the book sales firmly stated she could sell books, no prob, it's sales, she had just come from a ladies lingerie place and selling books was exactly like selling undies, just sales.  
        Perfect MBA mindset, if you sell one thing you can sell anything, one size fits all, the product is incidental.
        And that mindset is disastrous.

        I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

        by Lilyvt on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:05:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's it! (0+ / 0-)

          I remember a book called "I can sell you Anything."  It was meant as a cautionary book, but I think that the idea of the generic salesperson may have it's origins in the standardization of advertising vocabulary.

          Which was a result of WWII OSI Madison Street men.

          This boy is Ignorance and this girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all beware this boy for on his brow I see that written which is Doom.” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

          by nolagrl on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:16:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Leverage pt for change (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      B schools and their curriculum designers should incorporate respect for fellow workers as a primary value and create opportunities for B school students to learn from workers at all levels, not just CEOs, Board members, and the Chamber of Commerce.

      B school students also need to learn how important unions are to good work and a healthy economy. Laura's article could be a start.

      Germany is an important real world example of positive labor/management/government relationships for the good of all participants. Labor is represented on Boards and contributes to company strength and longevity.

      Communication across the sectors will not be easy - I've participated in roundtables with teachers, administrators, and professors, and they just do not speak the same language, even tho' they all ostensibly work in education. I don't expect it would be easier in manufacturing or any other industry, but it is a necessary pathway to success.

      "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 10:39:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Respect, depth of expertize, favorable laws (0+ / 0-)

        As Lilyvt says: "one size fits all" is disastrous.

        Policy makers, following the Powell doctrine and the COC's lead, have systematically undermined support for unions at least since the 70s. I hope the next four years can reverse that trend - legislatively, and with judiciary appointments.

        No better time than now. I hope that Union leadership will have the foresight and the flexibility to take advantage of this opportunity for leadership.

        "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 10:49:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  mistakes (13+ / 0-)

    Some of the mistakes that led to today's disrespect of workers were birthed by liberals.  For example, in the late '60s, liberals demanded community control for schools-- anyone could be empowered to run a school--no training or expertise necessary.  Al Shanker was the enemy-- the nerve of him trying to get teachers--most of them women (!)-- pay commensurate with their education.  The underlying reason for this rush to community control was that it placated local politicians and didn't cost anything.

    Folks, we need to understand, being in charge of a school, or a hospital, or a football game, takes training and on the job experience.  Failed products are not always labor's fault--the bosses wanted the job done the wrong way (curriculum)-- or supplied inferior raw materials (undernourished children).  

    Rarely is the best way also the cheapest way.  Teachers fail in poor neighborhoods more often than in wealthier ones-- but society gave up on LBJ's pledge to make us all great.  

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:26:21 AM PDT

  •  The Right Makes No Sense (20+ / 0-)

    The people that play for the New York Philharmonic -- are they elitists or skilled? Do they think anyone can step up on that stage and play the clarinet? The same thing goes with being an electrician, a construction worker, a pilot, janitor. Yes, being a janitor might be easier to learn than being a violinist but it is not an easy job. Hell, I wouldn't want to do it day in and day out. Why is the dedication and thoroughness of being a janitor or teacher or bus driver any less important to people than something they think IS important like being a CEO?

    This head movie makes my eyes rain.

    by The Lone Apple on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:31:37 AM PDT

  •  Remember Circuit City? (20+ / 0-)

    Remember when Circuit City fired all their experienced floor sales people because they were too expensive? That worked out really well, didn't it?

    There's another retailer out there where my wife works, I'll just call it "Freight & Ferrel". They just got done escorting hundreds of years of sales experience out the door cuz they wanted to cut everybody's pay 30%. Their experience has been replaced by procedure cards so that every store does things the "same way". This was two months ago. I've heard tell they've been firing many of those who stayed for having a bad attitude (the beatings will continue until morale improves).

    I expect "Freight" will follow Circuit City into oblivion.

    To reduce crime, make fewer things against the law.

    by Bruce The Moose on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:34:20 AM PDT

    •  Call me naive but... (12+ / 0-)

      ...when I walk into a store like "Freight and Ferrel" I fully expect that I will NOT get "the best price." I expect to have a broader, more eclectic selection of merchandise and a floor associate who has a clue about it, or knows enough to point out the associate who does have a clue.  

      All of that assumes to my naive mind that those associates get compensated more than those at the Big Box "Marts."

      I guess that makes me a naive elitist, or something....

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:43:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I remember the Circuit City fisaco.... (9+ / 0-)

      for those who don't, Circuit City let know their sales staff across the board - because a consultant recommended it - to save money, but it ended up costing them millions because the replacements didn't have the experience in selling the store warranties (which is easy money for the store since most damage to the products after the product warranty expires is 'wear-and-tear' which ISN'T covered.)

      This is customers basically choosing to overpay hundreds of millions and poof, all gone. Management clearly valued the person who came up with this scheme, but not the sales people who were the ones to pull it off.

      This is a great dairy, but I noticed how the same right wingers who view employees as interchangeable suddenly noticed that their are employees who AREN'T easily replaced.

      I suspect sometimes that their skill works against them in that they're so good it LOOKS easy. Watch a great teacher and teaching looks easy; not because it is, but because it looks like it.

      This isn't really the case with sports because people see plenty of players who aren't as good as the top players (though it seen a bit in that some fans think that a player can easily change positions at the drop of a hate; I had to explain to one young Mets fan that moving David Wright to 2B and having Daniel Murphy catch wouldn't be a good idea.)

      I also think TV distorts people's view of just want skills and experience is needed to perform a job.

      •  Kos needs an edit button (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, GreenMother, Philpm, fhcec

        MEANT to write:
        "noticed that THERE are employees who AREN'T easily replaced."

        "change positions at the drop of a HAT"

        "TV distorts people's view of just WHAT skills and experience is needed to perform a job."

      •  That consultant probably charged more than (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, qofdisks, Philpm, fhcec, Egalitare

        all the "extra" in salaries they were paying.

        "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

        by Gorette on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:51:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  two examples... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, Egalitare

        I am among the most naive shoppers when it comes to electronics and computers. Right after the CC upheaval, I had to point out to the new associate where the Mac-compatible equipment was in their store.

        JC Penny's new CEO, hired from a completely different industry, is trying to make the chain into one more appropriate for his own culture, while trying to train  customers and the new staff to do it his way. So far, it's been a noticeable failure. He wants more time - lots more expensive time than he gave to the sales associates who knew their stock, their niche, and their customers. FAIL!

        "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 11:00:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "He makes it look easy." (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, Egalitare
        I suspect sometimes that their skill works against them in that they're so good it LOOKS easy. Watch a great teacher and teaching looks easy; not because it is, but because it looks like it.
        Whenever I see someone make something complex and difficult look easy, it is usually the culmination of diligence, practice and and extraordinary amount of hard work. If you look at Serena Williams at the US Open, she wasn't just dropped there from the sky, she's been swinging a tennis racket since she was a toddler.

        I am a Graphic and Web designer, and clients say I make it look easy. But I've been working this craft since 1980, so yes, it IS expertise. And I think it's reasonable to be compensated accordingly.

        What th' heck do I know, I work for a living...

        by SamuraiArtGuy on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 11:04:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Electricians...too. (16+ / 0-)

    They have created a new class of electrician below the journeyman. He needs very little education and makes much less. They those folks to do easier jobs. This cuts the number of union journeymen needed for a job. And of course it's the journeymen who must train them. The republican party seems to have an underlying philosophy that "cheap labor" is the smart way to cut costs. (wink, wink-cause their is so much waste being paid to workers who don't produce). Just had this discussion with a person who was having trouble getting certain productivity out of his numbers. He was convinced that "no one wants to work hard and fast anymore". (which is so not true). He believes his labor costs should be small so he can make it to the million dollar club.

    We have to change the way we think that labor is a waste of money. Labor represents our standard of living in America. It's the fuel that feeds our economy. It's as if the folks at the top want to choke the economy to feed themselves. Eventually it's a stale mate.

  •  After over twenty years of experience (27+ / 0-)

    in my profession in local government, a new supervisor told me that he was downgrading my annual performance report because my only experience was with that one agency. In one performance evaluation, I went from being consistently the highest rated employee in my division to the lowest rated one.  

    He did not want experience or skill.  He wanted employees he could manipulate and control.  He was trying to weed out the experienced employees (all of whom were career service protected) and was successful in getting two of them to quit. I vowed that I was not going to quit even though I often felt physically ill with dread every Monday morning.  It took five very miserable years before he finally left. But I had to outlast him.

    To denigrate employees, regardless of their job, is penny wise and pound foolish. When employees are treated with respect, they return it with high quality work and loyalty.  That goes for every one from the lowest person in the organization to the professionals.

    We had a part time college student who ran errands and took care of small jobs in our office.  I always made a point to personally tell him thank you each time he did something for me.  He told me later when he left that I was his favorite person in the office because I always showed my appreciation towards whatever he did.  

    Little things add up.  But what means more than anything is for a worker to know that he or she is valued.

    "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

    by gulfgal98 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 06:43:45 AM PDT

    •  You've just described what happens in (8+ / 0-)

      many public schools. As a younger teacher I observed many administrators teaching the most experienced teachers the way you described.  A principal comes to a school with more experienced teachers and they often will do all they can to make their lives miserable so that the teacher finally leaves.  This is one reason why it is of the utmost importance that tenure not be eliminated yet that is one of the goals of corporate style education reform.  Schools, and other organizations, need institutional memory.  A strong workplace will have employees with all levels of experience who value each other for what they bring.  

      Now as a teacher with 37 years under my belt, I often wonder when it will be my turn to receive the mistreatment I've witnessed.  So far, I've been treated as a valued staff member.  I've also been fortunate enough to work with administrators who are about the same age as I am.  

      “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

      by musiclady on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:12:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And ya know.... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, fhcec

      That college kid could wind up owning a business or being a CEO of one and, hopefully, he will remember what made a difference to him as a worker.

      I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

      by Lilyvt on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:13:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I hope you are keeping a journal of your time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      working for that moron. It might come in handy.

      •  I kept records of every interaction (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron, GreenMother

        This happened many years ago and I kept records in the form of memos to the file of every interaction.  I also reported him to employee relations when he tried to impose impossible deadlines on me.  I complained that I was being profesionally harassed.  And I was told that he was a poor manager, but it did not rise to the level of harassment.

        As for my performance report that first year, I contested it to employee relations and to the dept head.  In the end, my score was raised, but not to the levels at which I had been evaluated over the previous decade by three different supervisors.

        I decided to out last him and I did.  It took five very long and miserable years though.  My next two supervisors were great and my evaluations rose back to previous levels, thus reflecting my true level of production and skills.  

        But the main point is that this man did not want people working for him that might know more than he did.  That is why he tried to get rid of me and several others who had been there for some time.  

        "Growing up is for those who don't have the guts not to. Grow wise, grow loving, grow compassionate, but why grow up?" - Fiddlegirl

        by gulfgal98 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 11:00:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am glad you outlasted him and I get it, I really (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          do. I have worked for insecure invertebrates before. And you don't have to know more than them, you only have to have some confidence and some scruples. "Extra" knowledge is just another nail in your professional coffin with that kind. They live in constant fear of being outed as an incompetent fraud. They are the physical incarnation of a Hungry Ghost. Their brains and mouths are too small to swallow all they see in the world, that they think they want.

          I would feel sorry for the poor bastards if they weren't such epicenters of spreading human misery.

          Best wishes to you, in your personal and professional life.

    •  Dilbert (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dirtandiron, gulfgal98

      My favorite Dilbert ends a conversation with a manager with this quote. "I like how you punctuate ignorance with certainty." So true.

  •  This is profound stuff. (10+ / 0-)

    Thank you Laura. Yes, let's make this viral.

  •  And even in poliitcs this is true (7+ / 0-)

    While there are some issues with having entrenched politicians, at the same time, the relationships, the desire to leave a legacy, the institutional knowledge, and the long term view can outweigh the desire to "get new blood" that is looking out for their next job or to enrich themselves and their cronies on a quicker basis that disregards the long term repercussions of their actions.

  •  Apparently, the only skill that's valued is fraud. (12+ / 0-)

    For the Mitt Romneys of the world, the only skill is chiseling money from the masses, by any means necessary.  Loading companies up with debt, making deals by collusion and inside information, breaking contracts when it can make you a quick buck.

    Having the specialized knowledge to teach medical students can net you minimum wage.  The knowledge to run highly specialized equipment that costs hundreds of millions of dollars is deemed worthless.  Knowing how to hide money in a Cayman Islands shell company so the IRS won't find it, or dismantle a pension fund and loot the profits: priceless.

  •  Not everyone has what it takes to be a good janit- (12+ / 0-)

    or, that's right I said janitor. Even with experience. And it's not training, or education.

    Training and education can help on any job, but if you don't have what it takes all the degrees in the world aren't going to help. Some people just don't have it in them to be a good janitor, they should probably head for less responsible jobs like assembly work. I'm not denigrating the types of folks who work as janitors, far from it, many professionals would do better at assembly and many janitors would do better at being journalists, (especially science writers).

    It's a shame that people get it in their heads that they should be an xyz, and then when they start doing the job they actually suck at it. Yet here we are stuck with a bad xyz-er messing things up for life.

    Paying a living wage for any full time job would help. That way people wouldn't get stuck as much in jobs when they are bad at them, I don't care if it's medical doctors or college professors or janitors.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:09:03 AM PDT

  •  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:

      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 ]

  •  Powerfully written, great diary, Laura. Thank (6+ / 0-)

    you.  And so important to expose the contradiction at the heart of GOP and conservative anti-union, anti-benefits, anti-living wage policies.  Ultimately, it's anti-skill.  

    Which is a bizarre way to run what we all want to keep as the greatest country on earth.

    That's one more thing to add to my long list of small problems. --my son, age 10

    by concernedamerican on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:17:58 AM PDT

  •  Management, especially project management, is... (7+ / 0-)

    ...IMHO, one of the greatest areas of incompetence in American business and culture in general. Not only are billions of dollars being lost every year through ignorance and incompetence in large corporate projects and programs, but thousands of lives are also being lost due to even greater incompetence in fields like hospital administration and IT, and pharma and medical device development, and emergency response planning and execution. (Any time that a project that would save 50 lives a year, e.g., a medication reconciliation system in a hospital, finishes a week late, some unnoticed human being has died as a result. And, chances are, such a project will take not ONE week longer than it should, but MANY, MANY weeks longer than it should, through ignorance and incompetence in such techniques as critical path scheduling and resource bottleneck identification.)

    Interestingly, as bad as project management is almost everywhere, it is noticeably better on government projects (DOE, DOT, and yes, even DOD) than in the private sector, where it is truly a disgrace to the human race -- any beaver that was as bad at managing its dam project as humans are would soon be eliminated from the gene pool.

    A common excuse for badly-performed projects is poor team performance -- but the incompetence and ignorance of project management techniques starts at the top and flows downward, refusing to provide adequate training, tools and standardized processes.

    And yes, I do know what I'm talking about, having spent the past quarter century consulting with and training project teams in all these industries, public and private.


    A PALINDROME: Slip-up set in Utah. Trail, no? M. Romney -- odd! Elder an AMC man, a Red-led doyen. Mormon liar that unites pupils?

    by Obama Amabo on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:20:00 AM PDT

    •  OTOH (0+ / 0-)

      I worked on many state government projects that were lead by bureaucrats who had achieved their positions primarily as a result of their willingness to 'play the game.'  At first I drove myself crazy advocating for appropriate ways to achieve  project goals in the face of their incompetence.  

       Eventually, I realized that I should just wait until time became critical and the high-level folks would disappear.  In some cases, the project would disappear with them, at great taxpayer cost.  In other cases, those of us who could actually do the work could then take over and get it done.  You'll never guess who got the credit and the 'performance' awards in the latter case.

  •  Shortsightedness (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Dirtandiron, qofdisks, Philpm

    The corporation that owns the building in which my company has its office has been laying off people constantly over the last couple of years. Within a week of the latest layoff, they started a recruitment drive. I was boggled by this until one of my coworkers relayed a conversation he'd had with one of the corporation's employees.

    You guessed it, they laid off experienced, high payed employees and were hiring less experienced people who they could pay less.

    I can't wait to see how their plan works out.

  •  Labor is a profit loss. (8+ / 0-)

    Skills,talent and expertise are not only unappreciated but often suspect. Both my husband and I are/were techies. We were both underpaid non union and considered clerks.

    I worked for 15 years as print graphic artist, in the 80's when marketing MBA's were being cranked out en mass by Ivy League schools. I worked in retail advertising first for the Gap and then for Macy's. When I started working in my field I was in art school.

    I worked for a small album cover design firm. My boss hired me despite my unpublished portfolio, he said 'Good work is good work'. I learned invaluable skills, literally hands on. They told us at art school to try and work for people who you could learn from, as it was a profession where skill was acquired from working with those who had mastered their craft.      

    The last corporate graphic job I held my boss repeatedly told me, your nothing but a 'wrist' and soon a machine will replace you and all of you 'artists'. There used to be strong guilds for artisans, tradesmen and craftspeople.  

    I left Macy's because of a strike. They made all of the graphics people jr. executives, in fear that we would join the retail workers strike. It also enabled them  to not pay overtime for the long stressful hours we worked as we were now salaried and management.  We had to cross a picket line every morning to get inside the marketing dept. I just couldn't cross that line.
    I became a free lancer. however my MBA sexist boss from Harvard was right Mac's did replace us.  Corporate culture does not value any workers.

    The very nature and structure of a vulture corporate 'ownership society' does not place value on workers. It always baffles me that market driven profit has no use for people that can actually do good work, because they have to pay these people a decent wage. Robot's, outsourced work from China or India, techies brought in from other countries, anything they can think of to keep labor cost down and their profits maximized.

    Kind of defeats the purpose of any 'economy' when the humans who do the work are considered the problem. The people who work are the economy, they are the whole point. It's ass backwards and even that nasty cappie Henry Ford had enough sense to know that workers are important. It's a two way street. People who buy things are workers and they need to be paid a decent living wage and be valued.

    A marketing MBA, who's main concern is selling to 'Joe Sixpack' seems unable to figure out that workers are the ones who are going to buy the products their hawking.  Whether your a janitor, a seamstress, teacher, statistician or a print production artist, whatever you do, your work and your skills should be as important to a society as the entrepreneurs and the investors who at this point view all workers as profit losses.                              

  •  Smh (6+ / 0-)

    On a related note, I told a conservative friend of mine that of course I want a president who's smarter than I am: he said he doesn't. Because... what? I. just. don't. get. it. Oh, and also? If you want higher pay and more benefits, improve yourself and get a "better" job. Simple as that. Excuse me, I have to go now and tear my hair out.

  •  46% who don't pay taxes, a huge Republican success (7+ / 0-)

    The Republicans should celebrate that 46% of folks do not pay taxes - that means that their efforts to drive down wages have been wildly successful.

  •  The Silver Bullet (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    of technology is as much to blame. How the denigration of skill became so accepted has much to do with just how readily the tool has come to represent the task.

    There is no doubt that the influx of technology has indeed altered the way we approach a tasks. It hasn't replaced skill, but it does alter the parameters. Technology leverages skill. A skilled worker will indeed be much more productive when the appropriate technological tool is introduced (once they have begun to master the tool).

    Unfortunately on one side the management has been trained away from a basic understanding of just what the underlying task involves and sees the tool as the job and so values knowledge  of the tool over knowledge of the task, or they see the tool replacing the knowledge. At the same time the skilled worker sees the tool as threat to their hard won skill and are resistant to change. This has set up the conflict we see playing out out in our society (and throughout history).

  •  Once upon a time... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Dirtandiron, Philpm

    I worked at a place called the Vermont Yankee
    Nuclear Power plant.

    I was part of the Group that had to make sure that
    the Old Y2K issue didn't turn into a Real Problem.

    Definitely NOT the place for Inexperienced Workers,
    BUT that didn't stop the Corporate Idiots from Trying.

    Things got to the point where Employees were sending
    Confidential documents to the folks at the NRC.

    It was all Minor, Trivial stuff like phony Operator Training
    reports and Make-Believe Maintenance Logs

    I Can't even Begin to Imagine what could have
    Happened if the Corporate Idiots got away with It.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:24:15 AM PDT

  •  And for the opposing view.... (5+ / 0-)

    There are some jobs that just about any jackass can do, like politician.  

    If you can promise anything to anyone and smile while taking their money, you've got it made!

    Doesn't matter if you believe global warming is a hoax, you'll get to be ranking member on the Energy Subcommittee.

    Doesn't matter if you can't get the numbers to add up, you'll be in charge of the budget.

    Doesn't matter if you believe ever kooky conspiracy out there, you'll be put on the Intelligence committee.

    You don't need a whit of experience, doesn't take a bit of OJT, you can shoot your mouth off all you want, and there are people who will applaud you.

    As for that feeling of accomplishment?  I'm sure Dubya is still beaming at what he accomplished; it's going to take the rest of the decade to clean up his mess.

    •  Shrub had powerful backers. Any jackass with (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      powerful people backing them up can be a politician. I doubt Shrub is as aware of his mess as we are. He had syncophants kissing his ass every day, interpreting the entire world for him, so he never need worry about the consequences of his actions on others.

    •  IMHO current legislator crop disproves your rant (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Tea Party additions to the Congress, the lot of them, are exceptionally inept, having brought the country close to the brink multiple times. Any fool who'd sign the "No New Taxes" pledge is suspect from the get go.

      They have succeeded in getting elected, but are too stupid and rigid to govern. They missed the sections in the textbooks about the need to compromise in order to govern.

      Judging by the way the polls have changed this election, even many voters, hopefully a majority, have learned the error of their ways and will vote for people who have enough brains to do the challenging job of governing.

      "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 11:38:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, but what does success mean in politics? (0+ / 0-)

        You have admitted my point -- any jackass can succeed in getting elected.  In the case of James Inhofe and Louis Gohmert, multiple times.  By that measure, they are "successful" politicians.  

        As long as success in politics is measured by vote totals at the ballot box, and not on what one accomplishes, it will remain a profession where walking disasters can claim to be a success.

        Dubya is the perfect example, successful at stealing two elections, and every one of his policies was a complete disaster.  Come to think of it, did he do anything right?

  •  Cheap cheap cheap (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xaxnar, Dirtandiron, qofdisks, Philpm, fhcec

    I constantly see examples of people wanting things cheap cheap, even free. I am more and more put off by free offers. someone has to pay for it and usually is some of us in the labor pool.

    PS-Cheap cheap cheap was the expression someone we know used over the phone to sell his muffins, 27 years ago.
    At that time, it was suggested that we sell cheap muffins alongside high end chocolates. No thanks, So we are selling highend choclates, excellent pastries etc... and we are not rich. Ah well, the kids are all grown up and doing well. One was going for a doctorate and was told doctoral students are cheap labor for research :/

  •  I work in a non-union (6+ / 0-)

    distribution center. The status quo has always been to rely on a shrinking full-time crew with experience and pad out the rest with temporary workers as needed. The trouble with temps has always been that they have no experience, and if they aren't up to speed within two days they're let go and replaced with a new one. It's an endless and frustrating revolving door.

    Many times, we experienced full-timers have explained to management that we at least need to give new people time to catch on. But still, management insists that "a monkey could do this job." (I've heard them use this exact phrase--even, unbelievably, saying it to new folks who are African-American.)

    It's become clear that management refuses to acknowledge that there IS a skill set even to menial work and manual labor. It might look like mindless low-skill work, but believe me: if just one of us is absent one day, all hell breaks loose, not much gets done, and what does get done often isn't done right.

    A co-worker suggested that the problem might be that, due to our experience and expertise, we make it LOOK so easy, and that the best solution would be to get the bosses out on the floor and watch them try to keep up. Of course, they have never accepted our invitation--nor will they, ever.

    There are two types of Republicans: millionaires and suckers.

    by Phil T Duck on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 08:57:50 AM PDT

  •  Librarians (6+ / 0-)

    Are sometimes told that our jobs can be done by anyone who "loves reading."  Excuse me, but I have a masters degree in library science and both a masters and a Ph.D. in my subject area.  I have to select new materials, catalog them, and teach people how to do research in a very complex information environment.  I read four languages and know my way around a computer.  And yet in many places we are being replaced by people with little or no specialized training.

    "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Nespolo on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 09:20:50 AM PDT

  •  This is one of the (5+ / 0-)

    go-to moves in the Republican slander war on firefighters.  It's a given now, among Teabaggers, that firefighters are overpaid. Not only does each of them believe that if they had a hose they could put their own house out, they're pushing to put prisoners on fire crews so they can reduce paid labor.

  •  It's funny isn't it [not really funny ha ha] (5+ / 0-)

    My own father has difficulties finding work. Why? Because of two reasons: He is older and Experienced. Those two qualities make him ineligible for most jobs.

    No one wants to pay him for his experience and expertise. They want some young kid who is desperate, who will work for a fraction of the cost, who claims they can achieve the same results for that much lower pay.

    But then these same "Jawb CreaTORs" would denigrate my old man and tell him to "Get a Job!" When they won't fucking hire him, because they are too cheap and lack vision or ethics.

    I ran into similar sentiments when I got out of the military. I Went to a job--any job with the same mindset and work ethic I had in the service. Bosses didn't like that. It took me a while to understand that in this new sucky world, that if you see a half-assed job, even if it's needs fixing, you don't go and correct the problem. That makes for bad office politics. In this new sucky world, that doesn't show initiative and it doesn't signal to people that you are committed to doing the best job you can. All it makes you is a threat to some petty bossman who is lazy, and who cannot manage the team, someone who basically is there just to take up space and *look important. And that isn't the bossman's fault for being that way, it's yours for incidentally shining a light on it.

    This country has serious problems. Not just with labor or pay or treatment of workers, but a deep philosophical issue as well with personal work ethics. I have watched similar dramas unfold with vets who entered the troops to teachers programs--

    People don't want the best it seems. They just want you to be quite and work for peanuts, and pretend everything is just peachy.

    •  Same with me (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      schnecke21, BusyinCA, GreenMother

      I was overqualified for every job I applied for and never got responses. I finally managed to find work, any work, when I started applying for jobs that didn't require resumes.

      I got hired by a marketing research company in their call center. We would call for both political surveys and commercial research.

      It was part-time work. You either worked the evening shift calling residences, which included Saturday morning and Sunday night, or daytime, which would be calling businesses. The manager didn't like to let people work a double shift, but sometimes she was desperate enough to let us, as long as we never got up past 40 hours.

      It is actually pretty skilled work, being able to read a script fluently and type answers to open-ended questions accurately, but they treated us all like warm bodies, starting us a little over minimum wage and giving .25 raises. Sometimes. We were using horrible old used computers that broke down all the time, and a DOS program that didn't use a mouse, because the manager thought we couldn't be trained to use a computer mouse.

      When a project ran out, people who were working would run out of work and be sent home if there was no new project ready. So you could come in to work for a 4 hour shift after being told there would be work for sure and then be sent home less than an hour later.

      One summer there was no work all summer. Because of one of my other part-time jobs, I was not eligible for unemployment. But they kept other workers from applying for unemployment by telling them, all summer, that there was a new project coming up in a few days.

      Every Christmas there was a "party" we would be required to attend during work hours at no pay and play stupid "games". The owner would come down and beam at all us, shmoozing with the salaried help and imagining how generous she was to us.

      They definitely treated us like warm bodies, and they wanted us to know that's what they thought of us.

      The thing is, it had to be costing them money, because turnover was so huge and hiring new people and training them must have been a huge drain on the system. For an extra dollar an hour and a little respect they could have cut way down on turnover and had employees who worked much more efficiently. But it was more important to them that we know they didn't value us and thought they could replace us with any idiot off the street.

      So if you get a call to do a poll, and you can't understand what the person on the other end of the phone is saying, and you have to to keep asking them to repeat themselves, that's why.

      •  Wow. Sounds like the whole program is run by (0+ / 0-)

        people on serious, bad, drugs.

        Mandatory Fun Functions for employees on the clock for no pay?


        You know what I like best about bullshit like that?

        It makes people mean. Someone who has to survive in that bullshit for extended periods of time, get mean. And they tell themselves that bending over and taking up the sphincter is some kind of "paying your dues" like you are getting hazed for some great job down the road.

        That is how Baggers are born right there.

        They want to make the experience valuable, but they take that thought in the total wrong direction. Instead of looking at that, and saying, "Holy Crap, I don't want to be that shitty boss, making those shitty rules and treating people like shit while I pay them nothing," nope--It's "Wow, this really separates the wheat from the chaff". And it does.

        Good people end up with substance abuse problems, depression, chronic stress, IBS or something like that. They eventually drop out, maybe give up to work in some equally crappy job that is slightly less profitable.  Those people might even convince themselves they are failures.

        Meanwhile the ones that learn how to play that game, get just as mean and petty as the bosses, they get promoted for the backstabbings and the betrayals. They learn real good, how to be the office dick.

        Gosh I love this planet, I really do.

  •  I eschew board certified doctors (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, ebohlman

    because they think they know everything and charge more.  

  •  Executives have to tell themselves that they are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, Dirtandiron

    what they are paid. All people need to believe that they are "basically good persons." No one really wants to believe that he is a greedy asshole.

    I guess they really do need a lot of compensation -  not for the jobs they do, but to salve the emotional trauma of being hypocritcal, selfish ogres.

  •  I've cleaned toilets (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and taught school.  Toilets are easier...

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:36:04 AM PDT

  •  I've SO been there... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Philpm, Dirtandiron, schnecke21, BusyinCA

    About a month after 9/11 I was part of a 30% downsizing at the publishing company I served as a Senior Art Director. At the time I was 42 and 21 years into my career as a Creative Professional and Designer. In the following years I was told by several staffing professionals that I was effectively unemployable in my field. "Too old. Too Qualified. To expensive." I have since hung my shingle as a freelancer and have scraped by a modest living. But now at 53, I don't foresee EVER again earning what I was in 2001. My wife and I are looking into selling our home mortgage, and leaving the NYC region for less costly environs.

    I would protest that I had a great book, lots of experience and a broad skill set and a proven track record. I was told that none of that mattered, "they don't want you." It was explained to me that as a grown person with a wife, mortgage, children, I was far more expensive than what publishers and agencies wanted to pay for their creatives. They much preferred to hire kids as junior designers directly out of school and pay them nearly nothing with no benefits. As young people with no dependents and few commitments (excepting massive student loans), they were perceived as more willing to work much longer hours with no overtime compensation, as opposed to older workers, who have apparently unreasonable desires to go home at saner hours to be with their spouses and families.

    Note that Commercial Art and Graphic Design is a notoriously non-unionized field, despite efforts of organizations such as the Graphic Artists Guild. In the intervening decade since 2001, work conditions have further deteriorated, with the slack economy giving employers unprecedented unearned leverage versus workers. People with jobs now cling to awful workplace situations with white knuckles out of fear of a devastating, potentially career-ending, lengthy unemployment. Furthermore, now the leading entry level design position in the NYC tri-state region is unpaid intern.

    What we're seeing now is this same sort of attack on workers now spread across the entire national workplace.

    What th' heck do I know, I work for a living...

    by SamuraiArtGuy on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 10:45:17 AM PDT

  •  I have to laugh and shake my head when I meet (0+ / 0-)

    morons (who have never set foot on an actual construction site) tell me operating construction equipment does not require any skill.

    Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

    by Dirtandiron on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 11:57:13 AM PDT

  •  Training is good— (0+ / 0-)

    but there are plenty of well trained, non-union people doing all sorts of jobs. Training is not a union monopoly—except when it is, and literally so.
    Unions in many areas gain cartel-like control over training programs and use them to decide who can and cannot get a job. E.g., the Chicago projectionists union, which for years would only train and (effectively) license the sons of fellow Polish projectionists. Or the carpenters and plumbers unions that used (and still use) their training and certification programs to exclude women and minorities. Or the teachers unions who have set up systems to insure that, say, Albert Einstein could never teach high school physics. And of course there are the barely semi-competent guys you have to use because the union says they're actually competent, even if you know better. So no, I haven't been impressed with the unions as guardians of skill, let alone as putatively the sole such guardians.

    •  I am really curious about this place where (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      teachers are in charge of the requirements to be a licensed educator.  That is as it should be, IMO, coming to the profession from a science and engineering background.  But I know of no are in the US where teachers have anywhere near that much control over the standards of their profession.

      "As scientific knowledge advances, it does not mean that religious knowledge retreats." - horse69 on the bnet recon C&C board

      by lonespark on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 04:04:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I thought everyone understood (0+ / 0-)

        that teaching requirements are hammered out after instruction from the legislature to state education departments. Those instructions are first arrived at via various collusions with the teachers unions. At least, this is how it is done in the small state of New York, and how I understood it to be done in my previous residences of Chicago and Orange County, CA.

    •  THis part is not accurate (0+ / 0-)
      Or the carpenters and plumbers unions that used (and still use) their training and certification programs to exclude women and minorities.
      All the building trades unions have women and minority members as trainees and graduates of the training programs. They are required to seek out and hire women and minorities by law.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:35:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This part is trollish nonsense and RW talking (0+ / 0-)


      are the barely semi-competent guys you have to use because the union says they're actually competent,
      That is simply not true. Every union contract where people are hired from a union, (as opposed to something like a factory where people are hired first then join the union) there is a clause in the contract referred to as "right of first refusal". Which means the employer can pretty much fire someone if they want to.

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:46:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Meant to say (0+ / 0-)

        *fire anyone not fire someone

        Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

        by Dirtandiron on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:51:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Wrong and wrong (0+ / 0-)

        A) You wouldn't know a troll if it was  hiding under your bed.
        B) I wasn't talking about hiring for a permanet position, but situations in which the union controls who gets sent out for jobs. E.g. you need a projectionist for a university showing of a 35 mm film (because the rental agency will not rent you a projector unless you hire a union guy). You have no choice—you take the guy the union sends or you don't run the film. There are other versions of this in the transportation and construction sectors, where you are forced to bring in a union contractor and have virtually no say in who they put on the job.

        •  I wasn't talking about hiring for a permanent (0+ / 0-)

           position either. Did you even read what I wrote? I know that in all the building trades unions people can be fired. It's written into the contracts. The lawyers call it "right of first refusal." People get fired on construction sites everyday, both union and non.

          Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

          by Dirtandiron on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 07:09:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  firing (0+ / 0-)
          construction sectors, where you are forced to bring in a union contractor and have virtually no say in who they put on the job.
          The foreman or superintendent running the job for said union contractor can fire anyone they are not satified with.

          Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

          by Dirtandiron on Mon Oct 01, 2012 at 01:36:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Who said that there weren't? (0+ / 0-)
      but there are plenty of well trained, non-union people doing all sorts of jobs
      Yes, there are. Who (in this discussion) said there weren't?

      Where are all the jobs, Boehner?

      by Dirtandiron on Sun Sep 30, 2012 at 05:56:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Makes me think of Hitchhikers Guide (0+ / 0-)

    Where there was a group of people on a planet they visited that were from another planet, where all the elite scientists, rich people, and others that look down on the blue collar workers got together and shipped off the hairdressers, the useless politicians, and many of the blue collar workers, thinking they were parasites on society and they could do without them. They told the ones they shipped off that they would follow in another ship.

    The group were unable to make a decision without the elites, so they just sat around and did their respective jobs that they had done before, cutting hair, cleaning things, and generally doing what they had always done.

    Turned out, the elites that shipped them off all died from an epidemic started on a dirty phone that hadn't been cleaned, because they had shipped off all the cleaning people. They thought they didn't need them!

    Women create the entire labor force.

    by splashy on Wed Oct 03, 2012 at 10:30:02 AM PDT

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