Career Calling

November 24, 2010

Giving Jobs

Filed under: Commentary — claycerny @ 1:02 am
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Our current political debate is often dismissive of workers.  Unions are seen as a burden on the economy, a job killer.  Unemployment benefits, a program that workers pay into, has been equated with welfare.  Recently, the debate over taxing the top 2% of American income earners has sparked a new term “job givers.”  We can’t take the rich because they create jobs.  The claim is debatable.  The language and thought used to promote this idea are even worse. 

This term “job givers” bothers me because it warps the relationship between employers and employees.  A job is not a gift.  It is an exchange.  In return for work and skill, employers pay a wage to their workers.  No company hires people as a gift.  If we have seen anything over the past few years, it is that companies will shed labor costs (and the people who do the work) as quickly as they can. 

I am not criticizing employers.  Sometimes it is necessary to downsize or even shut down an operation.  What we should not do is look at the employer as a kindly uncle or aunt who rewards employees with a job.  If anything, many employers over the past few years could be called “salary takers” as they have cut wages and hours, imposed furlough days, and altered models for bonuses and commissions. 

We need to be honest about why companies hire:  There is work to be done and existing employees can’t get it all done.  Over the past two years, as unemployment has gone up, so has worker productivity, which means people with jobs are working harder and working longer hours – often for less pay or fewer benefits.  How can that be called a gift?

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