Friday, April 3, 2009

I Know It's Bad Out There

Yes. It's bad out there. Times are tough.

But it ain't that bad everywhere. I've been saying for a while now that some companies are using the rough economy as an excuse to purge workers. People thought I was nuts.

I'm not. I finally have at least a small measure of vindication:

"If a deepening recession weighs down and threatens businesses, some of those businesses are undoubtedly also making convenient use of the times to do things they might have wanted to do, but were unable to do in better conditions.

"In some cases, under the guise of "recession" pressure, they may be waging a secret war against their own workers, using even the most innocuous transgressions of workplace rules as the trigger for firings -- and so, of course, putting the fear of God into those who remain. In this way, company payrolls are not only being reduced by mass layoffs, but workers are being squeezed for ever greater productivity in return for lower wages, worse hours and fewer benefits. The weapon of choice is the specter of unemployment, a kind of death by a thousand (or a million) cuts.

"Companies stand to gain a lot these days from such small-scale but decisive actions. After all, they reap a double benefit. Not only do they pare down the size of their payroll, often without needing ... to consent to unemployment compensation, but they also contribute to a climate of intensifying fear. Workers who remain on the job are now not only on edge about layoffs or scaled-back hours, but also know that a late return from a bathroom or lunch break might mean being shown the door, becoming another member of the legions of unemployed -- now at 12.5 million and rising fast."

They point out Walmart as a prime example of a company that's doing well, but cutting jobs regardless:

"In fact, the world's largest retailer is one of the few American corporations doing well in dark times. While retail sales slid almost everywhere, the company's same-store sales went up 5.1 percent in February (when compared with February 2008 sales). Yet, in that same month, it announced a move to "realign its corporate structure and reduce costs." It cut 700 to 800 jobs at its Wal-Mart and Sam's Club home offices, in effect acting no differently than any of the companies being battered by the deepening recession."
Fucking bastards.

I guess it was bound to happen. When unemployment hovers around 4%, that really IS the closest thing you can get to full employment. Companies don't have this kind of leverage when the labor pool is limited, and competition for employees is tough. But to lay people off when your sales are up and you're doing well? That's immoral. Sorry, but it's true.


  1. It reminds me of GM's downsizing in 1986, when they posted near-record revenue of $102.8 billion. They began their massive layoffs in Flint, posted another $101.8 billion the next year, and completely devastated a productive and historic city.

  2. I personally know of more than one company that has need of more employees because they have the work and clients, yet have an artificially imposed "hiring freeze" on.

    Again, this idiocy/immorality appears to be the province of the large corporations, not the small-to-medium size ones.