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The essays generated by the education system in the US requires people to grade them.

My son was one of the top 2 out of 100 people in the room grading essays for the fifth grade.

He was fired. He was shocked that there was no way to compromise and negotiate.

The offense was taking a day off work.

 If he had been sick, that was also grounds for being fired. In fact he was sick one day and threw up in a bucket, but that was OK because his butt was in the chair.

This is a story about life at the bottom of the work system which is compounded by the law in Ohio of "at will" employment. You can be fired at any time.

Here is a response from a law professor to my email.

You are so right.  Very, very sorry about your son’s situation.  This also underscores the barbaric nature of at-will employment.  We are the only industrialized democracy in the world that has at-will employment.  I can’t understand why every private sector employee doesn’t do everything possible to get a union so they have for just cause protection from arbitrary discharges.  I really hope your son gets a job in his discipline soon.  Best.  –charlie
My son has a very strong Ph. D. in South Asian studies and is an accomplished musician using many instruments, composing and making recordings. There is a small conference with the top people in the world in his sub discipline and this is almost the last chance to get an academic job. The conference is Friday and Saturday this weekend.

He might make it in music and one of his compositions has been submitted for a Grammy award. He might eventually make it to an academic job if he writes a bunch of excellent papers. He always gets into conferences to make a presentation.

What happens with people with no support system, no education, and prey to those who take advantage of them?

They have to shut up and take what ever is offered to them. Woe to him who complains. At the same time that there seem to be more stupid and mean managers than I have ever seen.

The story of my son fits with an article today about a career state department employee who told the truth and now is working at a big box store. He wrote a book which was published during the Obama administration but mostly involved the Bush administration. He did something more than just miss work for a day. He told the truth about the trillion dollar war fought under false pretenses. I have not read the book but the title says a lot.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book,  We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.

He describes life working in a big box store.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (204+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Demi Moaned, NoMoreLies, blueoasis, RMForbes, gooderservice, bleeding blue, CwV, worldlotus, Jon Sitzman, tardis10, BigAlinWashSt, Karl Rover, petesmom, Ducktape, CanisMaximus, smiley7, SteelerGrrl, this just in, CoolOnion, Wee Mama, voracious, peacestpete, gulfgal98, gchaucer2, badscience, Hayate Yagami, annieli, NancyWH, HeyMikey, concernedamerican, jayden, marina, political mutt, Empower Ink, Penny GC, opinionated, lcrp, prettygirlxoxoxo, TiaRachel, joedemocrat, Matt Z, HedwigKos, ladybug53, peachcreek, bobswern, doroma, nirbama, zerelda, Azazello, allie4fairness, Brecht, FloridaSNMOM, Louisiana 1976, side pocket, greengemini, Geenius at Wrok, commonmass, churchylafemme, codairem, kevinpdx, dsb, OleHippieChick, Johnny the Conqueroo, monkeybrainpolitics, dotdash2u, Laurel in CA, countwebb, Betty Pinson, slowbutsure, PhilJD, chimene, banjolele, chimpy, TheDuckManCometh, pixxer, Buckeye Nut Schell, Wonton Tom, Square Knot, where4art, nellgwen, mnguitar, Aunt Pat, IndieGuy, owlbear1, kerflooey, Sprinkles, George3, exiledfromTN, JeffW, peregrine kate, camlbacker, susakinovember, joe shikspack, AnnieR, Hastur, high uintas, BMScott, mookins, thomask, 4Freedom, Greyhound, sawgrass727, oldliberal, No Exit, nice marmot, Yo Bubba, johnrhoffman, Dragon5616, Steven D, petulans, lostinamerica, joegoldstein, The Hindsight Times, Tool, Smoh, Lefty Ladig, Villabolo, Ekaterin, Turbonerd, Stein, dewtx, Words In Action, doingbusinessas, anodnhajo, alice kleeman, suesue, emmasnacker, PeterHug, emeraldmaiden, on the cusp, novapsyche, Just Bob, Aaa T Tudeattack, Joe Bob, Kentucky DeanDemocrat, shopkeeper, Pluto, dharmafarmer, JamieG from Md, eagleray, twigg, JDWolverton, marleycat, greycat, Gottlieb, 3rock, basquebob, Debs2, wonmug, Tonga 23, tofumagoo, sabo33, Josiah Bartlett, AaronInSanDiego, happymisanthropy, psnyder, Involuntary Exile, radical simplicity, Mathazar, Brooke In Seattle, allenjo, bbctooman, rapala, janmtairy, edsbrooklyn, wader, Debby, prgsvmama26, Shockwave, science nerd, Tunk, SouthernLiberalinMD, Sandino, begone, ColoTim, Black Max, yoduuuh do or do not, linkage, Youffraita, Chaddiwicker, pvasileff, vahana, WakeUpNeo, northsylvania, Funkygal, dwahzon, wa ma, waterstreet2013, Marihilda, coppercelt, dkmich, RLF, GeorgeXVIII, FarWestGirl, ItsSimpleSimon, Aureas2, Russ Jarmusch, ER Doc, PinHole, juca, Agathena, Tonedevil, petral, splashy
  •  I don't understand why so many companies treat (39+ / 0-)

    their employees so poorly.

    It just doesn't make business sense; terrorized people don't perform well.  And high turnover means you spend a lot of time training new people who are less productive because they don't know what they're doing yet, not to mention the need to devote a lot of other employee's time to training them.

    Maybe these companies are being run by people who are totally ignorant.  The only other explanation I can see is they're being run by people who are motivated by impulses towards sadism rather than business success.

  •  Survival of the Fittest. That's where we're (20+ / 0-)

    headed if people don't get their heads out of their asses and realize where the ruling class is taking us. That's where this comes from, it all comes from the top.

    "Fragmented and confused, we have no plan to combat any of this, but are looking to be saved by the very architects of our ruination."

    by BigAlinWashSt on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 02:33:42 PM PDT

  •  It's insanity. (41+ / 0-)

    My daughter works for a company which uses at-will like a cudgel. She's been working for them for one year. They've invested thousands of dollars training her. She is one of their top employees. She is well liked. Her supervisors like her.

    But this company has "Five Principles" and violating any one will get you fired. No appeal. Nothing.

    She watched two of her fellow employees complain about a trainer who was obviously inept.  They were given letters of warning. One more warning of ANY kind will get them fired as long as they work there. The first principle is "You cannot show disrespect towards your company officers and supervisors." Apparently, pointing out a nut-job who is actually COSTING them money, is disrespectful because, "She has been a trainer for 18 years" in the company.

    Huh?

    No performance review. No accountability. Now my daughter is getting eyes thrown her way because of this trainer who humiliated her in a class.

    "Wealthy the Spirit which knows its own flight. Stealthy the Hunter who slays his own fright. Blessed is the Traveler who journeys the length of the Light."

    by CanisMaximus on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 02:45:05 PM PDT

  •  Hope your son has a plan B (13+ / 0-)

    because he is not doing post-doctoral work at a university and he might not be lucky enough to land a postion in academia. Has he tried teaching at a high school or working for the State Department? I think he needs to broaden his ideas about future employment or going back to school.

  •  Don, I do worry about our son's future. (10+ / 0-)

    "Lets show the rascals what Citizens United really means."

    by smiley7 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 02:46:51 PM PDT

  •  I've worked and managed people in fire for cause (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976, Victor Ward

    countries.

    If we have a staff whose job requires him to be at work at particular times (ie. a support staff who needs to be answering phone calls form customers) and he decides he needs to take off a day and we do not agree then he either needs to get a certification from a doctor in our insurance network that he is too sick to work (and those doctors seem to take their responsibility seriously - malingerers don't get certified) or we can fire him for cause.  There are a few other exceptions (ie. death of a close relative) but in general, we can fire when people choose not to work.

    When you have work that must get done by a particular deadline (the essay grading) then comp days don't work - people need to be at work when you need them at work and if they have other things they must do that are more important than work then it is totally reasonable to fire them.

    •  So if the worker is sick for a day, they can be (21+ / 0-)

      fired for not showing up at work while sick-- but if they'd come into work instead of staying home, they could infect others, they could throw up all over everything.  And do you think that such a choice (between staying home when you're sick, or going to work when you could infect others or might be violently ill) is a good one?

      I'm not sure what "choose not to work" means.  If someone is dog sick and they couldn't function well anyway, or they are dizzy and couldn't drive or stand very well, then how can it be a "choice to not work" for them to stay at home?

      Maybe what you're saying is, the sick employee should come in and then it should be up to management to send them home?  But would management then be able to fire that worker if the manager sent the sick worker home, even though he'd come in when he was sick so as not to miss work?

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

      by concernedamerican on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:02:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps you did not read... they have the option (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dewtx, Victor Ward

        of getting a certification from a doctor that they are too sick to work.

        •  So they have to go to a doctor... when? During (7+ / 0-)

          the time they are supposed to be at work?  And if they go to the doctor when they're supposed to be at work, they can be fired, right?  

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

          by concernedamerican on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:59:36 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  of course, they are not at work (9+ / 0-)

            no excuses

            makes it easy to be a boss

            come up with rules and no exceptions

            last year they worked people hard and they finished a segment early

            the boss got a bonus

            the employees got time off without pay

            •  When you are in a Fire For Cause jurisdiction (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Victor Ward

              it has to be that way.

              of course, they are not at work (3+ / 0-)
              no excuses

              makes it easy to be a boss

              come up with rules and no exceptions

              You can only fire people when they break the written rules and if they can prove that you are selectively enforcing the rules you may not be able to fire them even then.
            •  Yep management has gotten lazy very lazy (2+ / 0-)

              This is why, a hard working manager hires and trains enough people to accomplish the needed tasks taking into consideration human beings actually are human and get sick and has replacements ready, the lazy manger hires and trains least amount of employees as possible , so as soon as an employee becomes ill it creates a crisis for which a lazy manager then blames the employee instead of realizing his/her laziness created the crisis, of course they have vested interest in not realizing their laziness, because to realize it would mean they could no longer be lazy.                                - I would also submit business has become so cheap as to not maintain proper staffing that accounts for the awful human behavior of getting sick, thus creating its own crisis for which the only possible answer is to fire the employee that exhibits human behavior.

              •  How many extra staff do you think companies (0+ / 0-)

                can afford to hire?

                An extra 10% so you've always got an 11th person there if one of 10 decides to take off?

                How many companies do you think have high enough margins to afford that?

                Are you willing to pay more for every product you buy and service you consume so people can take off time when they feel like it and companies still have capacity to cover for them?

                •  You know what? We used to have that very (0+ / 0-)

                  situation in this country during periods of tremendous economic growth.  That was the situation pretty much up until the 1970s.  Tax rates on top earners were much higher then too.  Didn't stop people from getting rich and staying rich.  Didn't stop people from buying and selling.

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

                  by concernedamerican on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 08:07:08 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  No... you have to bring the doctor's certification (0+ / 0-)

            with you when you return to work.  (Or courier it over if you are out 3 or more days.)

            So if you are sick you go to work or you go to the doctor.

            •  So if you have the 24-hour flu (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              concernedamerican, catwho, TiaRachel

              For which the doctor can do exactly nothing, you have to incur the expense of a pointless medical visit (often $100 or more) if you don't want to be fired.

              And what if your doctor's office has no openings that day?

              Going the next day, when you feel better, takes you away from work and still has you sitting through a pointless medical visit when you're not even sick any more, just to prove to some untrusting, officious dirtbag that you were sick the day before, which, of course, can't actually be proved. But you have to go through the motions and expense anyway, because that's the only way to keep your job.

              I'm glad I've never worked for anyone like you.

              :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
              Can you help me make Green Planet Heroes happen?

              by radical simplicity on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 08:44:15 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not how it works (0+ / 0-)

                You have to go the day you are out.

                The insurance plan covers the cost.

                In both countries where I have worked that have these rules you can go to a clinic at most hospitals and get your certification.
                '

                just to prove to some untrusting, officious dirtbag that you were sick the day before, which, of course, can't actually be proved. But you have to go through the motions and expense anyway, because that's the only way to keep your job.

                I'm glad I've never worked for anyone like you.

                Laugh... then better hope you never work in a Fire for Cause jurisdiction.

                In countries where you can only fire for cause every firing must be rigorously documented.  You can't just fire someone because he keeps having the flu on Friday and you can't give that one guy special rules requiring him alone to document his absences because then he claims you were targeting him for firing and your reason is just a pretext.  So every employee has to jump through the hoops that a US company might give to only a few problem employees or might just not do at all because they can fire someone instead of doing these things.

                These kinds of requirements are absolutely standard - you get them in the sample employee manuals that you download from the Internet or get from your friends who work at other companies when you need to write one for your company.

                •  Really? The insurance company covers (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  radical simplicity, TiaRachel

                  all the costs including the $100-$150 copay?  As well as transportation if you are too sick to drive yourself to the doctor?  And ensures that the doctor has an opening that day to see you?  And covers the costs of all the blood tests including expensive viral PCR (DNA) testing to determine if it is actually an infection or not?

                  You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

                  by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:49:55 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  In the countries I have worked in that (0+ / 0-)
                    Really? The insurance company covers (0+ / 0-)
                    all the costs including the $100-$150 copay?  As well as transportation if you are too sick to drive yourself to the doctor?  And ensures that the doctor has an opening that day to see you?  And covers the costs of all the blood tests including expensive viral PCR (DNA) testing to determine if it is actually an infection or not?
                    require fire for cause the co-pays are minimal - at most a few dollars, most people did not have cars, and you can get a same day appointment at a hospital clinic barring a public health emergency.

                    As for "expensive viral PCR (DNA) testing to determine if it is actually an infection or not", I don't think they even do that in the US except perhaps in pretty exceptional cases.

                    •  Well here in the USA copays are at least $50 (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      radical simplicity, TiaRachel

                      minimum and are often more like $100 to $150 and that is just to get to see the nurse practitioner.  If it requires the actual doctor to see you then it can be more expensive and is often a couple weeks before you can get in.  Not to mention any tests that are required including the basic look in the ears/nose/throat are extra.

                      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

                      by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 12:29:29 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well, may become an issue if we ever do have (0+ / 0-)

                        fire for cause.

                        When you have to document all firings you need ways to find out for sure if people are really sick when they don't come to work.

                      •  Depends on insurance (0+ / 0-)

                        Insurance companies have wised up over the years and reduced the copays for urgent care while jacking them up for ER.

                        75% of things people were going to ER for could be taken care of at UC, at a fraction of the cost.

                        I went to urgent care on Monday for a broken pinkie toe (slammed it into a doorframe on Saturday) and my insurance co pay was $30.  Not cheap, of course,  but not the $150 copay I'd have to pay for ER, either.

                        Didn't even go because of work - I went after work.  I have a desk job.  I went because it was too painful for ibuprofin to keep under control.

                        The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

                        by catwho on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 06:16:39 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  Oh, and don't forget the deductible. If it is (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      TiaRachel

                      January you could easily end up paying $500 or more for that doctor's certification as you most likely will have not met the $2000 to $5000 deductible yet.

                      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

                      by Throw The Bums Out on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 12:33:49 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  But on the day you are out, the manager can fire (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  radical simplicity, catwho

                  you for not coming to work.  You can show up the next day to show your certification, but you've already been fired.

                  So what is to prevent the manager from firing you if you miss work to go to the doctor?

                  If the manager fires you, and you return the next day to show your certification, does the manager automatically re-hire you?

                  Somehow, I doubt it.

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

                  by concernedamerican on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 05:12:06 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  My brother works for a company (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TiaRachel, concernedamerican

                  In a for-cause country.

                  It's funny - in the 20+ years he's worked there, he's never been fired for taking a day off. He has even taken days off that were neither sick days, nor vacation days! Imagine!

                  The company calls them "personal days." For some inexplicable reason, they seem to think it's reasonable to do things like take care of a sick kid, or take your spouse to the doctor when she slips on the ice and hurts her back, or just get outside and get some exercise after a particularly rough couple of weeks making deadline at work.

                  And after all that time not being fired for taking days off, he is now fully vested in a fantastic pension. Poor thing. It's so sad he had to work for a company based in a "for cause" country. Being saddled with that pension because he wasn't fired for helping his father after a stroke is so unfair.

                  Poor kid.

                  I should go fill him with the wisdom of at-will employment. He hasn't retired, yet, so there's still time to put him on the path to a righteous cause-less firing.

                  Sadly, he'll still be stuck with that onerous pension.

                  And if he doesn't see the light and switch to an at-will employer, he could be not fired for a couple more years, and become fully vested in lifetime health care, too.

                  Oh, the humanity!!

                  :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
                  Can you help me make Green Planet Heroes happen?

                  by radical simplicity on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 08:45:47 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  People have this so beaten into their skulls that (0+ / 0-)

              some of my students (who have experience in the workforce) show up with a doctor's excuse when they miss class.

        •  Some option... (8+ / 0-)

          In the US, getting a "doctor's certification" costs about $150. That is what my primary care doc charges for an office visit. You make it sound simple but it's a big burden for people working in low wage jobs.

          Separately, almost every sick day I have ever taken was due to an unpleasant but innocuous illness like the flu or a severe cold. There is nothing about those illnesses that warrants a trip to a doctor because there is really not much they can do for you. So, making people get a certification is basically making them go to the doctor to get a permission slip to have a cold. What a stupid waste of everyone's time and money.

          Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

          by Joe Bob on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:27:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The illusion of free choice (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        concernedamerican, TiaRachel

        ignoring circumstances, ignoring context

        Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

        by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:33:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's inhumane (21+ / 0-)

      If you have malingerers that should be apparent, but that's no reason to treat everyone else as if they are work-shirkers.

      Employers need to quit treating human beings as if they are robots that they can program to the second; besides, even robots break down and need maintenance now and then.

      •  When you have "Fire for cause" you can't (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Victor Ward, marina

        just fire someone because you think they are a malingerer.  You need to have documented proof.

        That means you can't just tell people "I think you are a malingerer.  You're fired."  You need documented proof.  So you need to set a policy - absences for illness must be documented with a doctor's note.  Otherwise you end up with a few obvious abusers who always get sick the day before or after a holiday and no recourse to do anything about them.

        •  I would leave people alone (0+ / 0-)

          until they have shown an accumulation of unexplained sick days, then request a doctor's note. That way you're not distrusting everyone else because of one person, treating everyone else as if they're guilty.

          But it's clear you have policies you must follow.

          •  Yes. Government policies. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            marina

            In fire for cause jurisdictions you usually end up at the Labor Tribunal when you fire someone.    Then if your policies do not meet the legal requirements you end up having to pay severance, long service pay, and compensation.  This can add up to a couple of years' salary.

            So you put in place policies requiring that all i's be dotted and t's crossed and then you insist on everyone following them.

    •  pfft. (25+ / 0-)

      If one person missing a day of work throws your company into a tailspin and your response is termination then you're treating people as nothing more than seat-filling things which you get to manipulate and control. Hire an extra person to cover for just such situations and ease the workload just a little bit.

      •  Depends on the task and the company (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Victor Ward

        We had a limited number of people with the necessary knowledge and language skills to handle support for our customers.  We had a roster - who would provide support when for what product in what language.  And we did not have extra staff or enough support requests to justify adding more staff, especially for weekend support - you don't make 2 people come in to work on Saturday just because one of them may feel like taking a day off work without notice.

        •  In the real world (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jayden, catwho, TiaRachel

          Where people are treated like people, the manager calls the others who can fill in, and asks one of them to come in. That's what I used to do. It's not that hard. It's inconvenient, but that's why managers are paid the big bucks.

          :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
          Can you help me make Green Planet Heroes happen?

          by radical simplicity on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 08:47:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Don't you think that's a bit unfair to other staff (0+ / 0-)

            who may have made weekend plans?

            •  No (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              catwho, TiaRachel

              Most people understand that other people get sick, and are happy to pitch in to help a fellow employee & earn a few extra bucks in the process.

              You seem to have a view of humanity that is entirely devoid of empathy.

              :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
              Can you help me make Green Planet Heroes happen?

              by radical simplicity on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 05:51:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Ever know anyone who always seems to get sick (0+ / 0-)

                the day before or after a three day weekend or on Fridays when the weather is nice or during hunting season?

                Most people behave well, but some people abuse.  Most staff are happy to pitch in when they believe that someone is really sick, but not when they think that someone just wants to take off a day of work.

                •  It's actually possible to craft a corporate policy (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  TiaRachel

                  That defines malingering in such a way as to encompass the problem you keep harping on. You don't have to have a completely nuance-free policy in order to ensure the ability to control for that kind of behavior.

                  The problem you're describing is a problem of lazy management.

                  :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
                  Can you help me make Green Planet Heroes happen?

                  by radical simplicity on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 07:20:59 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Shrug... perhaps you can suggest such a policy (0+ / 0-)

                    Please keep it simple - we want our staff to read and understand our employee policy manual and we need a bilingual manual which has exactly the same meaning in court in both languages.

                    •  You could try talking to companies that have (0+ / 0-)

                      ... done so within the country where you're located. I'm sure if my brother's employer could figure it out, you can, too (ok, maybe you can't but your employer probably can). Heck, my brother's employer is multi-national in a whole bunch of languages, and still somehow manages to have humane policies.  

                      Unless, of course, you/your employer prefers the easy route of being paternalistic, capricious, and mean. There's always that.

                      Corporate policy is not exactly rocket science. Creating a policy that is inhumane is a choice, not a necessity.

                      :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
                      Can you help me make Green Planet Heroes happen?

                      by radical simplicity on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 03:09:54 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  We used employee manuals that are floating around (0+ / 0-)

                        to write ours.

                        Big companies like Oracle, IBM, HP, Apple, etc. can't really keep these documents secret.  People keep them when they leave, pass them to friends who need HR manuals, etc.

                        I've never seen one with the level of nuance that you suggest.

                        Ask your brother if he has a copy of his company's employee manual for a fire for cause jurisdiction and see how they handle sick leave, especially for staff who are scheduled on a roster and therefore do not have flex time.

                        •  Or you could try google (0+ / 0-)

                          work life balance policies would be a good starter search term:

                          Time-off policies

                          Sprint employees can receive time off for a number of important life situations, such as personal concerns, medical conditions and parental bonding as well as for vacations. Sprint has a formal Paid Time Off policy that permits employees to spend time away from their work duties for vacation, doctors' appointments and other personal needs.

                          The Sprint Nextel Paid Time Off (PTO) Policy permits employees to spend time away from the office for vacation, doctors' appointments and other personal needs.
                          ...

                          :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::
                          Can you help me make Green Planet Heroes happen?

                          by radical simplicity on Sat Apr 26, 2014 at 08:37:16 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  My employer has such a policy... (0+ / 0-)

                      One of the ways a worker might get in trouble is 'pattern call-ins'. An easy example would be someone who's sick days always seem to come on Friday.

                      They don't get fired simply because this pattern is noticed. But they are assigned 'points'. Accumulate so-many points and you're terminated. There are other attendance/tardy infractions for which one is assigned points automatically.

                      I think it's a good system. "Fault" is not determined or assigned.

                      After all the logic-chopping is done, it boils down to this: Those who get up when the alarm clock rings and go to work faithfully will never ring up enough points to be terminated. It would take one huge mistake followed by one big mistake followed by one piece of pretty bad luck to get them even in danger of reaching the threshold.

                      I'm told that those who 'point out' are almost always given one more chance if they ask for it. I know of examples.

                      Those poor souls who just can't get up enough gumption to get to work reliably do, indeed, point out. But it doesn't happen quickly. They hold on for a surprising amount of time. The reason, I suppose, is that the company gives enough margin of error to avoid terminating people who have a bit of bad luck.

                      I hear some people who whine about it. But these are usually the same people who keep up a stupidly high 'point balance'. Those who don't take days off just because they (we) feel like it have nothing to fear.

    •  You seem somehow not to have noticed.... (6+ / 0-)

      ....that just as much work gets done in those dreadful fire-for-cause countries as in the US. Probably more.

      The American system is unique; successful companies are not uniquely American. Suggests you're getting no advantage from this uniquely American practice of treating employees like shit, hmmm?

      "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

      by sagesource on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:38:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, it depends. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Victor Ward

        A lot of companies break the rules - for example, a big local enterprise is often able to persuade local politicians to call up a labor tribunal judge and make the point that the company is a good corporate citizen and that the judge should take this into account when weighing testimony.

        Then there are toxic and corrosive cases.  People who have worked at a company for 10 years and want to leave who deliberately do bad work in order to try to get the company to fire them and pay severance, while trying to avoid crossing the line to allow the company to fire them for cause.  I've fired several such people and won some of the resulting labor tribunal cases and lost others.

        These laws also make restructuring companies much more difficult.  I rode one company all the way into bankruptcy.  We knew what needed to be done to fix the company - including firing one senior manager who had been with the company since founding and was grossly overpaid given his level of competence (the founding CEO had been his personal friend.)  But the severance pay we would have owed him would have pushed us into bankruptcy.  So in the end, instead of half the company losing their jobs everyone lost their jobs.

        In addition, because severance pay is, in effect, deferred compensation, these laws also hurt workers when they are at their most vulnerable.  If you work for a good company then at the end of your career you get a nice retirement package.  But if your company goes bankrupt you are out of your job and you are unlikely to get your severance pay.  Doubly screwed.

        Finally, these laws penalize good workers at the expense of bad workers.  Good workers move from one company to another, moving up the various organizations.  Every time they quit a company to go to a new one they lose their severance pay.  Bad workers burrow in place, trying to stay in one company for as long as possible, hoping that they are not bad enough to justify a firing for cause, and eventually picking up a good severance or retirement package.

        No, having seen both, I'll take fire for cause.

    •  "comp days"? (22+ / 0-)

      Yeah, those would be nice. Do you think these test-scorers ever get them? Do you think they get paid time off? Paid sick days? Of course not.

      Human life is complicated. If your company cannot afford to have an employee take a day off in order to deal with the occasional demands of being a human being then your business model is unacceptable and inhumane, and it needs to be changed. Period. The world does not, should not, must not revolve around the immediate, urgent, coerced completion of tasks whose completion is not in fact urgent for any other reason than that we have configured our institutions so as to create that urgency.

      Nevermind those without paid time off -- too many people in this country never get to take the time off to which they are supposedly entitled, because their jobs are soooooo critical that if they spend a day at home, their employers will implode. It is preposterous, it is unsustainable, it is evil.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:24:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, then we had better shut down hospital (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Victor Ward

        emergency rooms.

        If your company cannot afford to have an employee take a day off in order to deal with the occasional demands of being a human being then your business model is unacceptable and inhumane, and it needs to be changed. Period.
        My brother is an ER doctor, and you bet your sweet bippy that he is expected to show up for work when he is scheduled unless he can arrange another doctor to cover for him or he can prove he is really sick.
        •  There should be enough doctors to cover this (4+ / 0-)

          A sick doctor is a nightmare, I agree.  He, if anyone, should not be at work.  But the only reason we don't have enough doctors available in this, and plenty of other situations,is that medical schools take too few students to artificially create a supply and demand dynamic that deliberately creates physician shortages to raise the prices they can charge.

          We need about ten times more doctors than we have.  and we need the prices they charge to come DOWN.

          "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

          by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:16:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  An Emergency Room needs a certain number of (0+ / 0-)

            doctors.  They base this on history and anything special that is going on.

            In addition, they may need to schedule doctors with specific language skills.

            They don't ask 5 doctors to come in when they only need 4 and they don't ask two Spanish and two Chinese speakers to come in when they only usually need one of each.  Instead, they expect the doctors who are scheduled to come in to come in.

            Anyway, how many extras should they schedule?  Say they think they need 4 but schedule 5 and then 2 doctors decide not to show?

            •  But they have them on call (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              TiaRachel

              Have you not heard of "on call" doctors?  Someone is tentatively given a day off, with the expectation that if something bad happens, they can pick up the phone and come in for a few hours.

              My best friend is a veterinarian.  There are three or four vets at her office.  At least two are scheduled each day, usually three, with the fourth having a day off.  Everyone who has a day off is expected to be "on call" for at least one of the days off each week - that is, available if someone else is out sick.  As a result, she sometimes ends up working six days a week.  In exchange, she can take an extra day off the next week or add it as a vacation day.

              When a lot of people are on vacation or there's a bug going around, they drop down to two vets and things get busy.  They might borrow a vet from another clinic in the chain temporarily if that happens.

              And yes, she's been asked to sub in for people at other locations, too.  Cost/benefit of a large chain business.

              The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

              by catwho on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 06:24:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  As strawmen go, that one's Burning Man size, (7+ / 0-)

          given what I actually wrote:

          tasks whose completion is not in fact urgent for any other reason than that we have configured our institutions so as to create that urgency.
          It's worth noting that people whose absence from work will actually cause a serious problem generally work in at least one, and sometimes both of the following circumstances:

          A. There are systems in place to provide for a substitute
          B. They are well compensated

          Though, per KDD's comment before this one, it's an ethical disgrace that our society ensures a limitless supply of fast-food workers, but an artificially scare supply of healthcare workers.

          Either way, the only reason there is anything "urgent" about getting all of these tests graded within a short period of time, using an army of underpaid drones, is because we've chosen to set up a system of ubiquitous and extremely profitable high-stakes tests, despite there being no particular evidence that the tests have any real value, and there being ample evidence that the high stress induced by the high stakes is bad for almost everyone involved, other than the investors in the test-making companies.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:26:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  But, Would It Not Be Even More Difficult . . . (0+ / 0-)

      To train a replacement?

      An employee's one day missed is worth more than the 2-3 days needed to train his/her replacement?

      I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

      by howarddream on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:47:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I am so sorry to read (19+ / 0-)

    about this atrocity.  Workers might as well be back in a company town situation.  

    Your son is extraordinarily gifted and you must be very proud of him.  Your support takes some of the sting out of this abuse.

    " My faith in the Constitution is whole; it is complete; it is total." Barbara Jordan, 1974

    by gchaucer2 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 02:49:08 PM PDT

  •  That's terrible. (5+ / 0-)

    But still we're missing the context - details - of how that day off came to be.

    Best Scientist Ever Predicts Bacon Will Be Element 119 On The Periodic Table

    by dov12348 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 02:56:14 PM PDT

    •  went to an academic conference - needed day off (2+ / 0-)

      this was in the diary

      •  Don -- I didn't make that connection. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Don midwest, howarddream

        I thought you were just adding more details of who he is, what he's up to, and how he happens to find himself grading papers for a living.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:27:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Huh. (8+ / 0-)

        So he wanted to take a day off from one job ... so he could try to obtain a different job?  I can understand how the first employer might be miffed.

        •  You don't seem to have noticed that this is (5+ / 0-)

          short-term "seasonal" employment.

          And either way -- if you are a highly-skilled person doing work well below your training, a decent employer would be happy to see you succeed by going on to something more aligned with your capabilities.

          The job the person has is dead-end piece-work. The people employing the person know that damned well. They may have every legal right to treat him like a mule, but they are still wrong to do so. They are beyond wrong: They are evil.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:21:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  That changes things quite a bit. (4+ / 0-)

        When you are working a job where there's some kind of deadline -- as I'm sure there is for getting these graded -- or where your absence hurts your employer in other ways (such as if they can't serve as many people in your absence), then yes, taking a day off for "personal reasons" that's not part of any vacation that you might be entitled to under the terms of your job could well be an offense justifying termination.  

        And that's especially true if you take a day off from one job to try to get another better job.  

        •  he can grade more than the average in 4 days (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Josiah Bartlett

          or if he goes all out, he can do more than anyone else working only 4 days

          so the issue is not productivity

          and they are getting behind already and giving overtime

        •  It only justifies termination if you accept the (15+ / 0-)

          social norm that employees and employers are natural and permanent enemies, and that employers have no ethical obligation to treat their employees as people whose human concerns have significance and meaning.

          In other words, you have to assume that the employer and the employee belong to different tribes and different societies -- or, for those of us with a broader worldview, different species -- and owe each other nothing more than the least they can possibly deliver.

          Although in your case, I'm betting that in most circumstances, you would make the argument, quite firmly, that the employee somehow had some sort of ethical obligation to the employer. As usual, you have rushed to apologize on behalf of the powerful, in their efforts to dominate and exploit the powerless, and the best you can come up with -- also as usual -- is that if the powerful were actually to behave with what used to be called "common decency", they might have to get by with less of something.

          As I noted to someone else: In a decent society, someone paying you a pittance to do miserable work would enthusiastically support your efforts to improve your situation -- after all, a disinclination to self-improvement is precisely what the same bastards you love to defend are always telling us is the principle failing (and a moral failing at that) of those they sadistically exploit.

          As I also pointed out, they're not firing this guy because it will be so very, very costly for them to do without him for a day -- if that were the case, it would be even more expensive for them to do without him for the remainder of the work season.

          No, they're firing him to assert their absolute control over his life, to assert the absolute primacy of their most immediate interests over any and all of his interests, to cow and intimidate and make an example of him to his coworkers, and most generally, because they can. As Orwell explained: The object of power is power.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:41:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It's about power. Period. (7+ / 0-)

            "If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." - Will Rogers

            by Kentucky DeanDemocrat on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:17:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Very well said. n/t (3+ / 0-)

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:37:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That's not my premise at all. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib
            It only justifies termination if you accept the social norm that employees and employers are natural and permanent enemies, and that employers have no ethical obligation to treat their employees as people whose human concerns have significance and meaning.
            I do not think employer and employee are enemies.  On the other hand, I do not think an employer has an obligation to change the terms of employment -- to the detriment of the business, in the view of the employer -- because the employee thinks such a change is better for the employee.  For example, assume a married employee, with children, agrees to work for $25 an hour.  Assume that employee's spouse had a flexible job that allowed for him/her to do most of the child care, but then loses his/her job.  The employee is in a difficult situation, of course; he needs additional money and perhaps additional time to deal with the children so that the spouse can either go out and look for another job, or take a job with less flexibility for child care if necessary.  Is the employee entitled to say, "if you were an ethical employer, you'd raise my pay by 1/3  and let me work only 2/3 of the time?  

            My premise is that an employer and an employee are two adults who enter into an agreement.  The terms of what they can agree to are limited by employment laws.  Above and beyond employment laws, each party agrees to do certain things.  I expect the employer (1) to abide by the law; (2) to honor his commitments to the employee.  And I expect the employee to do the same.  

            •  Your premise is that the employer and the employee (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Tonedevil, howarddream

              are not human beings.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 11:37:41 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Actually, I have more belief in them as human (0+ / 0-)

                beings than I think you do.  

                I think they are adult human beings and as such, should be held accountable for contracts and agreements that they enter into.  On BOTH sides of the transaction.  

                I hold both adult human beings to the same standard.  Obey the law, be honest about the terms you are agreeing to, and then live by the terms you agreed to.  That's what I expect of adult human beings.  

                Sometimes adult human beings will fail to live up to the contracts they agreed to.  When that happens, I expect them to live with the consequences of their actions -- again, on BOTH sides of the transaction.  

                •  You don't even know what a human being (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  joegoldstein, solublefish

                  is. You've reduced "humanity" to the abstraction of a "contract", superseding all other human considerations.

                  The employer is evil.
                  If you would similarly abuse another human being, simply because a "contract" existed between the two of you, then you are evil.

                  Decent human beings, adult or otherwise, don't treat each other that way, among other reasons because decent human beings don't suffer from the sort of narcissism that fires somebody out of what is essentially spite.

                  Your inane babbling about "adults" doesn't change any of this, your obsession with the "rights" and "obligations" of contracts, as opposed to the subtle nuances of real human lives and their complexities that cannot be captured and accounted for a priori in any written document: These provide clear lenses through which to observe the damaged sociopathy of your worldview. You fall back on the "they're both consenting adults" nostrum beloved of the libertarian mindset -- a mindset that is perfectly happy with indentured servitude, or even non-hereditary slavery, holding the "contract" sacrosanct, unmindful even of the practical problem that no two parties ever come to the bargaining table as equals, nevermind more subtle questions regarding the conditions under which morality dictates whether a party to a contract ought to submit to the terms therein, and comparably, whether a party to a contract ought to demand that the other party submit to the terms therein.

                  Everything about your worldview is reactionary and childish, insisting that something utterly abstract -- an agreement between two people -- is something concrete. It isn't, and never can be. If you will continue to cite adulthood as a matter of consequence, I recommend that you undertake the sort of thoughtful introspection of your own epistemology that might one day actually get you there.

                  To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                  by UntimelyRippd on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 03:13:52 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  We weren't talking about raises here. (3+ / 0-)

              I don't know where you got that. Your argument is a bait-and-switch.

              •  What we are talking about is an employee (0+ / 0-)

                who expected that an employer would not have a problem if he did not show up to work on a day that he agreed he would work, when the reason was a personal preference (he would rather be somewhere else) and not an illness or anything like that.  

                That's an expectation that the employer has some obligation to agree to change the terms of the job just because the employee wants it that way.  

        •  Like hell it does. (5+ / 0-)

          You can't take one day off a year? not one?

          we're back with Scrooge:

          "A poor excuse for picking a man's pocket every 25th of December!"

          Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

          by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:36:53 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's not what's going on. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, emelyn

            Apparently, this is a short term job, only lasts for a short period of time.  So, it's not "one day off a year" because the job doesn't last that long.  

            If you sign on to a short term job, saying you will work Monday - Friday for the next, say, eight weeks, and you decide to take a Friday off for your own personal reasons, then you have broken the contract with your employer.

            It may well be that you didn't really want that short term job and would have preferred another long term type job.  And that's completely understandable.  But that does not give you the right to violate the contract you did agree to when you signed on to the short term job.    

        •  Not Shocking Coming from the Company Man. (2+ / 1-)
          Recommended by:
          cville townie, Lost and Found
          Hidden by:
          emelyn

          Do you ever get tired of promoting corporate America?

          I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

          by howarddream on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 11:54:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I Won't Argue with that HR, Emelyn. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cville townie

            I deserve it. What I said about ct wasn't very nice, but sometimes the truth hurts.

            Anyone who has any experience with that poster knows that he/she will always back the company position and never side with the plaintiff.

            Hell, that poster was even giving George Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt back during the Trayvon Martin case.

            I miss Speaker Pelosi :^(

            by howarddream on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 01:12:04 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  You are apparently confused. (3+ / 0-)

          The economy exists to serve the interests and the welfare of the human beings, not the other way around.

          If an "employer" cannot treat his "employees" as human beings, with dignity and respect, then he has no business becoming an "employer" in the first place - and no right to do so. And please don't talk about "deadlines" and other such crap - these are all constructions, not laws of nature.  If your business needs to make a deadline and losing an employee to illness might make that impossible, then that is YOUR fault - you should have made sure another employee was available, or that the deadline was flexible, etc. Nothing gives you the right to offload YOUR problems on the employees. Employers do this because they have the power to do it, and that is all.

          •  You are apparently confused. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            nextstep, VClib

            First this is not about an employee getting sick.  This is about an employee who made a commitment to work every Friday for a certain period of time and then unilaterally decided, for personal reasons (he want to got to something that could help him leave his job for another job), not to work on a particular Friday.

            And I agree that an employer should treat employees with dignity and respect.  That means (1) following all employment laws, and (2) living up to the commitments the employer has made to the employee.

            No one "owes" anyone else a job.  A job is an agreement between person 1 to make certain commitments (including pay, benefits, working conditions) in exchange for commitments made by person 2 (doing so much of a particular kind of work).  It's a commercial arrangement -- like when you go to buy a house or a car.  The employee is selling something -- his time and efforts -- in exchange for something from the employer.

            I agree that in some situations such as in a dismal job market, the employer is in a stronger bargaining position.  That's what the employment laws are for.  On the other hand, people can do things to make themselves more valuable to employers and put themselves in a stronger bargaining position, such as obtaining difficult to acquire, but high in demand, skills.  Here in New Orleans after the Army Corps of Engineers Disaster (what some call Katrina), when a lot of people returned to the Business district, there was a real lack of secretary and clerical type workers.  People who did return were able to command much higher salaries than they did before the ACOE disaster.  That's how the market works.  

            And, of course, people who do not want to depend on someone else to provide them a job can start their own business.  I've seen all kinds of people run their own business, even if it's a business of one person providing personal services to others.  

            I don't know where people get the idea that an employer has some sort of fiduciary obligation to act in the best interests of the employees at all times even if that hurts the business overall.  People who think that way are always going to be disappointed, because that is not how our economic system operates.  Employers have an obligation to follow the law, and to be honest with employees, and to fairly honor the commitments they make to employees.  But they have no obligation to go beyond that in doing what an employee thinks is "best" for the employee even if that is to the detriment of the business.  An employer might CHOOSE to do that for a particularly valuable employee, especially when losing that particular employee would, in the employer's view, hurt the business overall.  It's a contractual relationship, not some kind of obligation for an employer to "take care" of employees.  Anyone who thinks their employer has some kind of obligation beyond following the law and treating the employee honestly and fairly in living up to the commitments the employer made -- that person is just fooling himself.  

            It's ridiculous for any employee to think, well, my deal for my job was to work these times for this much money, but I'm entitled to unilaterally change that in my favor if I think it's in my best interests.  

            •  A good illustration of my point (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Don midwest

              As you rightly say:

              that is not how our economic system operates
              This was the (I thought obvious) subtext of my response: this is not how our economic system operates, but perhaps it should be.

              The diary uses the specific maltreatment accorded a specific person as a point of departure for a deeper consideration of the prevalence of this sort of mistreatment in our modern economy.  What I am suggesting is that we consider whether these injustices may originate in the system of value that is part and parcel of our economic system today: the mistreatment of employees is an inherent result of a system rigged to consider property before people.   Or more precisely, the system is rigged to favor in the interests of the owners of productive property over citizens in general.

              Example: your references to "contract" as the only relevant criterion for assessing the obligations of employers/employees.  This is a convenient legalism which ignores the fact that the legal apparatus of the contract as arbiter of conduct between employee and employer is not a permanent fixture of reality, but arose historically, largely in the 18th and nineteenth century.  Historically, "contract" became the pervasive legal metaphor for the relationship of employer to employee at the same time that industrialization was taking place. This is not coincidental: for in the era of Lockean political liberalism and the French (and American) revolution, which claimed equality of all citizens before the law, the persistence of the 'master-servant' (or 'master-slave') relationship required justification. Indeed, the rapid growth of waged labor rankled the champions of Lockean liberty - among them Jefferson and Paine, who saw it as a threat to real liberty.

              The "contract" analogy, governing our legal (and social)  conceptualization of wage labor was the effective result of this demand: it makes possible the continuation of an essentially feudal and despotic relationship ('master-servant') into an era dominated by the political ideal of liberty: it preserves the pretense of liberty while denying it in practice.  It does this by (literally) requiring us to separate the realms of "economic" and "political" life, and then insists on the subordination of the political to the economic.  As an employee, you check your rights as a citizen at the door of the factory/office where you work.

              "No one "owes" anyone else a job." That's what YOU say - but this was not always the case. Virtually all of our modern sense of state and social obligation to the poor derives from a pre-industrial context, where the sense of obligation of a community to the economic security of its members was pervasive and acted as a moral and social constraint upon the kind of behavior you wish to insist as your right.  Much of this was lost in the transition to modernity; some was restored, but mainly in punitive form (the 'workhouses' of England a prime example; Clinton's "welfare reform" another).

              "No one "owes" anyone else a job."  Jefferson himself disagrees with you:

              The earth is given as a common stock for man to labour and live on. If, for the encouragement of industry we allow it to be appropriated, we must take care that other employment be furnished to those excluded from the appropriation.
               -- Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison
              28 Oct. 1785
  •  I lost mine in WA state after 11 years of employ- (20+ / 0-)

    ment and then, on a Friday, right after lunch..."I am not working out"...after 11 years...after my supervisor just returned from maternity leave...because I guess I WAS working out while she was gone, but NOT so much after her coming back...
    So sorry for your son, at least he has you to help him and it seems you are a support for him. Wishing you and your son the best in the job search...
    Peace and Blessings!

    “When you victim-blame, be aware that in all likelihood, at least one woman you know and love silently decides she cannot trust you.” ` Steph Guthrie

    by Penny GC on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:08:54 PM PDT

  •  I'm a bit puzzled about this situation. (5+ / 0-)

    Am I right in assuming that this is the reason for his missing a day:  

    There is a small conference with the top people in the world in his sub discipline and this is almost the last chance to get an academic job. The conference is Friday and Saturday this weekend.
    If that's the case, then perhaps he shouldn't have accepted the grading job.

    When I was still teaching at the university, I had the opportunity twice to grade SAT essays. Since my travel expenses to New Jersey were paid and of course, meals & lodging, and I was being paid for my time (I can't remember how much), I was glad to do it just for the experience of it all.

    We had to be at our tables at the appointed times, we'd been paid to be there, and we were expected to finish our job. I don't know what it's like for those working from home now -- that was just beginning to be talked about by the time I retired from teaching.

    But it seems to me that the diarist's son was hedging his bets - sign on for the grading, get paid for doing that, and still get to the conference even though it meant taking a day off from grading.

    And I could be totally wrong, so I hope the diarist will explain.

    Being the single intellectual in a village of 1,100 souls ain't much fun, especially when 1,099 of those don't think you're all that smart.--Lucy Marsden

    by Miniaussiefan on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:12:02 PM PDT

    •  The conference hasn't happened yet. (10+ / 0-)

      So do you suppose he was fired for asking for a day off in advance? Like someone said above, a business plan which doesn't allow for occasional scheduled (much less unscheduled) absences is pretty vile.

      In any case, it doesn't sound like the cushy

      my travel expenses to New Jersey were paid and of course, meals & lodging, and I was being paid for my time (I can't remember how much), I was glad to do it just for the experience of it all.

      I know that you who hear my singing make those freedom bells go ringing. And so we keep on while we live, until we have no more to give... Don't you know it's darkest before the dawn. This thought keeps me moving on. Pete Seeger bit.ly/1bwCmhK

      by TiaRachel on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:27:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No days off. Period. No schedule of them. (13+ / 0-)

        a hundred people in a room grading papers

        a sweat shop

        ask if take one day off?

        answer, if you don't show up tomorrow, you are fired

        was doing good work, in fact last year the top producer

        the man owns you

        •  Wasn't that the terms of the job (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Victor Ward, Cardinal96

          when he signed on?

          When you apply for, and are hired for, a job, then the employer explains when you are, or are not, expected to be on the job.  That's part of the deal.  You can't take a job that requires, for example, that you show up on Saturdays and then say, "well, I have something else I'd rather do this Saturday so I won't show up" and expect to keep that job.  

          •  When two ethical human beings interact as (8+ / 0-)

            ethical human beings, they treat each other with dignity and decency. They make allowances for one another's needs. They observe the circumstances and recognize what is right, rather than what is required. They balance relative urgencies, they balance the long-term with the short-term, they balance magnitudes.

            It fascinates me that someone as utterly devoid of any conception of the ethical relationships that exist amongst all sentient creatures feels compelled, over and over again, to toss in your all-too-predictable ethically void assessment of situations that are entirely about ethics.

            To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

            by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:49:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Part of this philosophy is that being ethically (4+ / 0-)

              void is mature, sensible and worldly-wise.

              Too bad being ethically void leads rather quickly to conditions which threaten global society.

              Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

              by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:44:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Actually, not really. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              VClib

              When two ethical human beings interact with each other, they live up to what they contracted to do.  

              If I have a short term, seasonal job, and I say to you, I will pay you $x and you will work Monday - Friday for the next 8 weeks, and you accept that, then as ethical human beings, we both have an obligation to the other to live up to what we promised the other.  

              For example, if the employer had told this employee that in those 8 weeks, he could take 1 personal day off, and the employer didn't honor that, then I would absolutely be behind the employee.  An employee in that situation should sue and hold the employer accountable.  

              An ethical employer does not have some kind of obligation, after he has offered the job and the employee has accepted it, to change the terms of the job because the employee wants him to.  You could make the case in almost ANY job that there are things an employee wants that the employer did not offer when the employer made the job offer.  That does not give the employee the right to expect that the employer will change the terms of the job because the employee wants him to.   The employer does not have an "ethical" obligation to change the terms of the job because the employee wants him to.  

              An ethical employer has an obligation to comply with labor laws, to make clear up front the requirements and conditions of the job offer, and to live up to and honor all of those terms and conditions.  That's the responsibility of an ethical employer.  But I hold the ethical employee to the same standard.  Employees make a commitment to do certain things when they take a job.  And they, too, have an ethical obligation to honor their commitment.  

              •  An ethical human being has an obligation to (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                joegoldstein

                behave decently to other human beings, the existence of employment contracts notwithstanding.

                No contract ever absolves a person of their ethical obligation to treat every other person as an ethical equal, whose needs may at any time deserve to trump the terms spelled out in the contract. Contracts are ethically null. They entail legal constraints, not ethical ones. Ethical obligations are neither established by, nor limited by, the law. Ethics transcend the law. They exist whether or not there are any laws. A contract isn't a set of titanium handcuffs, inviolable, trapping both parties into treating each other like mortal enemies. To the extent that it is anything other than a legal document, it is nothing more than a framework, giving a general structure on, in, and around which an ethical relationship can maneuver.

                Ethical employees engage in ethical relationships with their employers. Ethical relationships assume that human circumstances are in flux at all times, that events arise which defeat our attempts to plan in advance, that we are all people and we should treat each other first and foremost as fellow humans, rather than contractual parties. No person is ever ethically obliged to suffer arbitrarily severe harm in order to satisfy any and all terms of a contract, Just Because. That's not what contracts are. That's not what people are. That's not what ethics are. An employer who will hold an employee to the letter of a contract, regardless of the cost to the employee, is an evil person, and has no ethical claim on anybody. "What? You aren't coming to work because your husband had a heart attack? BUT WE HAVE A CONTRACT! YOU PROMISED! IF YOU WERE ETHICAL, YOU WOULD COME TO WORK! I'M FIRING YOU! NOT BECAUSE IT IS GOOD FOR MY BUSINESS TO FIRE YOU, BUT BECAUSE MY OUTRAGED ETHICAL SENSIBILITIES DEMAND IT! YOU ARE A BAD PERSON, AND I MUST PUNISH YOUR BADNESS! YOUR BADNESS MUST BE SEEN TO BE PUNISHED! BLAH BLAH BLAH!"

                What fucking bunk.

                To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

                by UntimelyRippd on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 03:38:01 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  I mean, if he didn't like it, why didn't he take (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TiaRachel

            the 5 other more humane jobs available within 1/2 hr's commuting distance? It's not like he was being asked to choose between sweatshop conditions and possibly permanent unemployment in a dying economy. I mean, after all, if he consents to do piecework for low pay and long hours with no days off, he deserves what he gets.

            Amazing how often it turns out that a person deserves what he gets. We must be living in a meritocracy.

            It's just a side effect that everybody deserving what they get and getting what they deserve turns out to replicate and justify the exact power relations we have.

            Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

            by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:43:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  contract employee. Paid by hour. (18+ / 0-)

      they changed the starting and stopping time of the time period to do the grading at whim

      when he took the job he didn't know that missing one day would be a termination

      this is his second year doing the job

      sit in a room with a hundred people and grade 400 essays per day

      and can't listen to music or do anything else

      sweat shop job

      in a building right in town

      and the conference is not a conference with jobs, just a conference with the top people in the field

      there are many people retiring so that might be a chance and the top people have connections

      •  That doesn't sound like a great set of leads (5+ / 0-)

        How many of these people does he already know/

        As for the job conditions, if he knew them in advance, no I wouldn't choose that job but he knew what he was signing up for.  And no, for what it's worth, if it's my kid's essay being graded I don't want the grader to be distracted by music while it's happening.

        •  Must be nice, having always had the choice... (5+ / 0-)
          As for the job conditions, if he knew them in advance, no I wouldn't choose that job but he knew what he was signing up for.
          A lot of folks are having a hard time finding jobs these days Adam. They often can't pick and choose...
        •  You are making me sick to my guts. (6+ / 0-)

          Really.

          What a marvelous, fabulous land of fantasy you must live in.

          Jesus.

          To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

          by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 05:22:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Grading your child's essay - Hah! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Adam B, TiaRachel
          ...if it's my kid's essay being graded I don't want the grader to be distracted by music while it's happening.
          Ok, just FYI.  I graded essays on Indiana/Kentucky standardized one summer while I was between gigs.  It was mind-numbing but something I was apparently EXTREMELY good at.  Better than anyone on my team in fact.  This was a team filled with grade/high school teachers (and a couple of us "others").

          The manager of the team was a musician who did this "on the side" and was a very good grader.  He told us that if we "figured it out" then we'd be capable of grading as many tests as he could in a day (150+, 4 essays each, so 600 questions).  Most teachers and people on the team averaged 40-50 tests per day.

          Near the end of my stint in my final two weeks,something clicked for me.  

          I suddenly started grading 130, then 140 and finally 170 tests in a day.  My supervisor told me to back it down a smidgeon so I didn't become a huge outlier.  Another person on the team a few days later seemed to get the same epiphany and she started grading 130 or so tests a day.  Nobody else graded more than 60.  

          We both also led the accuracy ratings.

          The key to our success and subsequent bonus pay?  DON'T READ THE ESSAYS.

          So, in fact, my near 100% accuracy when "reading" your child's essay was accomplished in ~30-60 seconds.  

          In under 5 seconds I know if your child's grade is going to be 0 or 1, 1 or 2, 2 or 3, 3 or 4, etc. (depending upon the scale of the test).  So now I spend the next few seconds just glancing to see if they got enough of the key points I've been told to look for.

          It doesn't matter if they write it in their own feces and use swear words every other sentence.  It doesn't matter if they wander off mid-way through and tell me the story of a troll whose finger got stuck up their nose searching for boogers for the next 8 paragraphs.  As long as they mention, in one sentence even, the key point I'm supposed to grade on, they get the point.

          Reading the essay is the key to not hitting your quota or your accuracy rating.  If you read it, you start to empathize with the child, then you start to say...maybe I'll just nudge them up a point because they really tried (and it almost always is up vs. down).  But this is standardized testing.  I'm not supposed to consider your child's feelings, their future, or anything more than that they're the next checkbox I have to fill.  As a grader, I am punished for thinking any other way.

          I was asked back repeatedly after that and even called to see if I might consider managing a team.  I respectfully declined.  I'd like to say my principles stopped me, but my regular work picked back up which pays 5-10 times as much.

          Standardized testing is standardized.  And your little snowflake isn't anything more than a checkbox.  Any grader who treats them differently will be punished for it.

      •  As a fellow scorer, I completely sympathize with (4+ / 0-)

        your son.  I hope better times befall him.

        The project I'm currently scoring is "short-term", meaning that missing more than one day, with notice, can affect future hiring considerations.  Missing any day without notice is unacceptable, as is missing any day during training (this is a longstanding rule).

        At the same time, if he is networking with people who occupy the highest stratum of his field, the tradeoff, it would seem to me, would be acceptable.  Perhaps not fair, in the grand scheme of things, but acceptable.  Much more will come from those connections than whatever he is doing for the testing facility.

        (An aside: it's true, we can't have any electronics in the scoring room, including headphones.  I had always thought this was unnecessarily strict.  Then I had my first score-from-home project this year.  I tried listening to background music.  I absolutely could not listen to songs with lyrics.  Even listening to classical, purely instrumental music negatively affected my production.  I now see why the company forbids the practice.)

  •  that's a shame (3+ / 0-)

    I hope it leads to a better opportunity.
    I used to help my college professor wife grade her papers.I never got paid for it.
    I don't understand why he was grading fifth grade papers. Usually the teacher does that. I never heard of someone getting paid to grade fifth grade work

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 03:31:07 PM PDT

    •  not the teacher, state mandated (7+ / 0-)
      Ohio Achievement Assessment Results
      Ohio Achievement Assessment results reflect those students who were actually tested. These results do not include all students who did not take the test. ODE does not endorse the use of this information. It is not verified by districts and schools.

      Districts and schools are under a rigorous timeline to analyze and verify achievement, proficiency and Ohio Graduation Test data. Districts have 30 days to review results and request score appeals and verifications. Test contractors have 30 days to respond to appeals. Verified and complete data are reported in the report cards.

      To view highlights of Public School test results, select the Highlights PDF that corresponds to the date and grade you are seeking. To access the searchable Web site for Public Districts or Community Schools, select the appropriate title below.

      Ohio Achievement Assessment Results

      check the web page and get test results for 3rd grade, etc.

      the education system has been reduced to numbers

      teachers are union members, thus under attack by oligarchs and those who are out to make a buck in private schools

      check out teacherken's diaries here on DK

    •  welcome to the brave new world of education (3+ / 0-)

      by the numbers.

      As Miniaussiefan describes above, there are contexts in which exam-graders are treated reasonably well.

      And there are contexts in which they are treated like serfs.

      This is the latter context.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:35:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It doesn't seem to have occurred to anyone (21+ / 0-)

    that they can't possibly need him so desperately that he can't possibly take a day off -- because if they did, they couldn't afford to fire him.

    This isn't about a "business need", this is about treating other human beings like they are dogs. This is about enjoying the control. This is about instilling fear in all of the other human beings who you aren't going to be firing today, just to keep them in line and make sure they don't do inconvenient things like ask for a day off.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 04:32:42 PM PDT

  •  I discovered Peter Van Buren's website (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joegoldstein

    …while researching something related to the Ukraine some weeks ago.

    http://wemeantwell.com/...

    It's a real eye opener.

    Hope your sone soars with the eagles.

    Readers should consider sending their children abroad for school. The EU is ideal. That way they become international citizens.

  •  I draw the opposite conclusions here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Justanothernyer, Cardinal96

    1) Your son has had the luxury to learn multiple instruments, obviously has time/recording equipment and some organizational abilities

    2) That and he is a top performer in chosen academic field but can't find a job

    He sounds very fortunate, and here is the hard life lesson he needs to learn -

    none of that matters if he can't make someone money.  And I'm guessing he hasn't really been agreeable to playing the politics and doing the work necessary to be in a low level grant-funded research position in academia.

    He hasn't wanted to put down his music and commit to a real company that could use his Asian expertise --

    A lot of millennials I have met have this idea that they need to start near the top, and if they don't , the system is a failure.    Don't buy into his B.S., tell him to grow up and use his obvious intellect to stop farting around.

    For reference - he needs to read this-
    http://www.cracked.com/...

    •  That cracked article is BS. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joegoldstein

      I read it sometime last year. I felt that way about it then, and I still feel the same way about it. The reason it bothers so many people is not that the people it bothers are lazy good-for-nothings, but that it's immoral.
      It's immoral to use someone as a means to an end.
      Hence, it's immoral to allow yourself to be used as a means to an end.
      Q.E.D.

      •  It makes a really good point (0+ / 0-)

        Instead of asking "why don't girls/boys like me? why can't I get a better job?"  we should instead ask "What can I do to make myself a person that girls/boys will like? What can I do to make myself more attractive to employers?"

        Long before I read that Cracked article I had come to the conclusion that my BA in English had been.... if not a waste of time, then the lazy choice.  I defaulted to English because everything else was too hard.

        To make myself more attractive to employers, I had to somehow acquire the skills they actually wanted.  That meant taking on more debt and getting a master's degree in a high demand field (MIS.)  It was hard, some of the hardest classes I've ever taken.  Within two months of graduating I was hired as an IT analyst making twice as much money as I'd ever made in my life.

        People aren't lazy-good-for-nothings, but they sometimes need a shift in perspective to motivate them.   Just being good at something isn't enough of other people don't want or need the thing you're good at.

        The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

        by catwho on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 06:35:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Let me amend your statement: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TiaRachel

      None of that matters if he can't make someone money while costing them relatively little money. This might include competing with prison labor stateside or literal sweatshops overseas.

      That's the problem.

      Sure once I was young and impulsive, I wore every conceivable pin. Even went to socialist meetings, learned all the old union hymns. Ah, but I've grown older and wiser. And that's why I'm turning you in. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

      by SouthernLiberalinMD on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:46:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yeah. Right. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SneakySnu, joegoldstein, TiaRachel

      The problem here -- and by "here", I mean, in your comment -- is that a highly talented and skilled individual, having lived in grad-student penury for 6 years while working hours that most people cannot fathom, comes out at the other end and is told, thank you for spending 6 years working your butt off in penury -- now we would like you to work 3 more years in penury, after which you will be entitled to: Nothing.

      Apart from which, you have no basis for your assertions. You don't know whether the person in question has already done a post-doc of some kind; you don't know whether the academic job he's immediately looking for is a post-doc, or a tenure-track position.

      What this diary is primarily about, since you seem to have missed it, is that he's working a short-term grading job to earn money while pursuing an academic job for next fall -- and the people for whom he's working that short-term grading job don't give a single shit about him, or what happens to him after the grading is done. Because they are bastard people.

      What it is not about is how the cruel world has denied him an academic job, or for that matter, a career in music. Neither of those things has, in fact, happened yet.

      Anyway, props for heaping scorn on the humanities. You are the New World Man. How cheery to imagine folks like you will be setting the order of things for my kids and grandkids.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 10:50:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I would like to share this story my clients... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waterstreet2013, catwho

    but they would probably be offended as they would love to have the types of problems your child does, I hope he wins the grammy.

    Who ya gonna shoot wit dat homie, you'd rather blast an original instead of a phony, true macaroni, you don't even know me, and why does your gun say n****z only?

    by mim5677 on Thu Apr 24, 2014 at 07:38:05 PM PDT

  •  Our society has Copperheads (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joegoldstein

    who would be Slavers.

    Lots of them.

    Class Warfare is not a limited action. What begins with eliminating unions, ends with outright ownership.

    It's the Confederate idea of slavery reform. Instead of race, let Whites be slaves as well. More just, you see.

    "Stealing kids' lunch money makes them strong and independent." -- Ryan Paul von Koch

    by waterstreet2013 on Fri Apr 25, 2014 at 04:20:46 AM PDT

  •  Interesting debate. (0+ / 0-)

    And though I'm definitely a labor friendly/management suspicious type, I'll mention that I don't find coffeetalk's positions to be all that outrageous. Contracts certainly must be enforceable. In both directions.

    It seems axiomatic to me, though, that these contracts must realistically address, or be constrained by, legitimate human needs. For example, a contract that specifies attendance 5 days per week for 12 weeks should not be strictly enforceable. There should be enough wiggle room to allow for the fact that people, or their loved ones, do get sick after all. So the contract should only be able to enforce, say, 95% of those 60 days. (Maybe that's not the perfect ratio. But the perfect ratio can be calculated)

    To put it more broadly, the ones who are remunerating people for their labor should not have the economic power to force these people to agree to onerous conditions such as not daring to catch the flu for fear of losing their livelihood. And, yes, this must apply even to 'temporary' or 'short-term' contract employment.

    A tight labor market can certainly accomplish this. In the absence of a tight labor market, some other enforcement mechanism is necessary. The law comes to mind. I'm having a hard time thinking of a reasonable alternative.

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