Monday, September 05, 2011

Labor Day at the Shrine of the Mists

Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," Labor Day 2011 Edition! Please pay attention, because Labor Day will soon be a thing of the past ... and so you should make the best of the ones remaining. What are they going to call Labor Day when there is no more organized labor? I'll tell you: Monday.

A disturbing trend has followed me since I left full-time employment at Gale Research Company in 1987. I have found that, whatever I job I do, I quickly find myself working much harder for less money.

When I first left Gale Research back in 1987, they paid me very well as an independent contractor. They were so doggoned glad to have a trained worker willing to forgo health benefits and vacation pay that, for a few years, I made good bread. But as the whole "independent contractor" thing got rolling, companies like Gale learned that there were so many people eager to do the work for less money -- people who had never had benefits in the first place -- that the wages began to fall. First by a little bit, then precipitously.

It wouldn't have helped me if I had stayed at Gale Research. In the mid-1990s they laid off a number of the people who started working there at the same time I did. And we won't even go into the fact that the company is selling far more product with far less quality than it did in the day.

When I entered public school teaching, I thought that I'd finally found a profession that would be somewhat immune to this trend. But this year I am taking a substantial pay cut, what with our governor's garnishing our wages for health care and pensions and our local district's cost-saving measures. At the same time, my class sizes have increased. Last year my largest class was 24. This year my smallest class is 25. I'm despairing over the task of meeting the individual learning needs of 162 students -- all while being observed in my so-called "tenure year."

This morning I spent a long time sitting in sage smoke, arranging rocks I brought from Polish Mountain onto the Shrine of the Mists. The bored gods who visit my shrine have seen it all: vain rulers who exploited their poor subjects, tribes of people who knew that teamwork and profit sharing were the best means of survival, little bands of hardy individuals who crept from place to place. And then there are the deities of the Celts -- a people who valued the middle class. Isn't it strange? I can feel some gods whispering, "Nothing has changed," and others saying, "Everything has changed."

Wish me good luck in a new year of work, as I do more for less pay. I'm not a novelty. I'm the face of  modern America. Just one more pale face.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Food for thought, indeed. Good luck with the upcoming school year, Anne!

Bukko Canukko said...

That whole Grovfucker Norquisling thing about starving the government to make it small enough to drown in the bathtub? Turns out they didn't mean to do it to the gummint. They meant to do it to the American working people. Y'all sure are drowning, and taking the economy down with you.

But that's OK for corporations like your former employer, since they make plenty of money at first. Until there are too few customers to buy their increasingly crappy products. But that's OK too, because the maggots at the top of the corpo. have piled away bonuses for a few years, and they can live off that for a long time, even when their company goes under.

One of the many refreshing things for me about getting the hell out of the U.S. was to see how in Australia and Canada, that "cut the worker's throat" zeitgeist is not preeminent. Although there are always signs that the Corporate Lizard Overlords there are trying to push it.

Kourtney said...

I worked for a great company up until a couple of years ago... I was there for a total of 6 years, but the last two are where I had just had enough to get out. See... they promoted me to District Level Management in charge of over 100 stores in two districts (only the photo end of a chain pharmacy)... then 5 months later, discontinues the position and demoted me to Assistant Manager. Fine, great... At least I don't have to put in 300+ miles a day. I lasted there for about year before my health (and sanity) couldn't take the physical work anymore. At which point they would have demoted me to a team lead... a position with all the responsibilities of an Asst Manager with half the pay... Umm... I don't think so. So I totally see where you are coming from here... Not the same circumstances, but the same result none the less. Its getting a little old...