Monday, November 28, 2011

Lazy!

We really are well and truly lazy. A lot of us. Probably most of us. And it is really starting to show.

I have talked before about my opinion on unions, for example. I feel like when they were first created, they really were for the worker, for 'the people'. A lot of places were so interested in making a fast buck, they treated their staff worse than crap. If someone was sick, they could lose their job so they would come in half dead instead. If a child was very sick at home and dad wanted to help mom, he could lose his job. Many jobs were dangerous, like certain factories, and the workers were a dime-a-dozen so bosses didnt care if someone was killed or maimed on the job... It was crap. I can see why worker's unions were started up - the masses showing their bosses that they could not treat them worse than animals, or they would all go on strike. It was like they were striking for matters of life and death. Striking meant proving that there would be no work done (aka no money for the owners) if the staff were not treated better.

We have no clue about that kind of life today. I was talking to a friend of mine who works at a local grocery store and she was saying how she just got paid a full 8 hours for sitting in on the union meeting for 3 hours. I said 'wow, what was the meeting about?' and she said 'Well, we haven't had a contract for almost 18 months so we were shooting ideas back and forth about how to get XXX store to meet our demands'. I thought about this for awhile afterward and came up with only one question: "Why the F*** do you need a contract to work in a GROCERY STORE?". Like, seriously. I have worked in grocery stores for a total of 5 years (3 different stores, in two countries). The stores were only open certain hours, so it's not like you could get worked to death 24 hours a day. There are labour laws in place federally and provincially that did not allow for more than X many hours, so many hours rest in between, blah blah blah, so why do you still need the union? What does it actually do? Sure there are still bosses that don't care - you might have a sick kid and daycares and schools won't let you keep them there any longer (for example, Alberta's new rules for childcare that came in effect Nov 1 2011 that demand the immediate removal of a sick child (the fine print says they have up to 2 hours to arrange for the child to be picked up) - but your boss might get ticked off that you called in on short notice and be a pain in the arse, or even fire you. I am not stupid - I know it happens.

I had a manager at a store in England get royally ticked when two days in a row, my son's babysitter called me to say I had to come and get him because he had a stomach bug. The manager was angry and said something like 'So, what, she can't take care of a little vomit?' and I said 'Look it's not my fault, they have their rules too and there is sh*t spraying out of the back of his diaper every 10-15 mins and no, she does not want to deal with that all day long and she has other kids there to think about'. It was tough - the fun of being a working mother. Father away with the military, mom trying to go back to work - not fun! But I also knew that if I was fired, I could take the case up with the court if I wanted to. It's not like there was no fall back for me. I didn't even think to contact the union because it's Life. It happens everywhere to everyone and I didn't want the union breathing down my boss's neck. I wanted her to deal with ME and that's what we did. I went home and my son ended up being extremely ill for 5 days and I was off the whole week. Sh*t happens lol.

But my point is, it was a grocery store job. It closed at 9pm and didn't open til 8am the next morning. I knew that no matter how crappy the day seemed, I would definately manage to be off shortly after 9pm. I knew that they did not want to pay out too much overtime so that would not often happen anyway (it actually never happened in over 2 years that I was asked to stay late).... and it's a job that may involve stacking shelves, running the til, dealing with grumpy arsey customers, figuring out how to change the til tape, sweeping, taking back food someone left in a cart, etc. Sometimes my job taxed my brain - mainly with horrid customers - but it wasn't 'Hard'. I have never needed aid of the union in any job ever. Though I was forced to pay for it if I wanted to keep working there. That's nice. Of course, you could say that BECAUSE of the union, my job wasnt so bad - but again, it's a GROCERY STORE. How hard was it 50 years ago? 100 years ago? It was pretty much exactly the same except you had to use your own brain to tally up the totals instead of a computer. You had to mark the prices yourself instead of scanning a bar code. So what is it about the Grocery Store job that requires membership in a union? It's mental.

So now I go back to my friend. I remember when she first started this job about 5 years ago. She was mad because shortly after starting, the union and the store came to an agreement on a contract. The one that ran out after only 3 years, but I digress. The contract stated that workers should only have to do ONE night shift per week. Night meaning no later than 9pm, store closing time.My friend was upset because her daughter was young at the time and went to bed at 7pm, and my friend liked working nights because then she had the whole day with her kid, and her parents were only needed for a few hours of supervision until kiddo's bedtime (they shared a home). It was great - until the negotiated, union-demanded contract was signed and suddenly my friend was only allowed to work 1 night (evening) in 7. She also had a raised union-fee of 10 cents per hour on top of the previous rate, as well as a monthly fee increase. Oh nice! She had also liked working evenings because after 6pm, the previous-previous contract had sealed in an extra dollar per hour after 6pm. So that was my friend losing money per week, plus paying increased union fees. For what?

But she seems to forget all of that. She has turned into a Union lover! She talks about them like they are super fantastic and really helpful. Last summer she said 'I had to contact my union rep because I was scheduled for 3 night shifts and we are only supposed to do 1'. OMG. NOOOOO not 3 evening shifts! That's terrible! I came to find out that the store had to cut down on the number of supervisors (which my friend is now) because of the cost, and just not being necessary, so that meant the remaining ones would need to work more evenings a week to make up for it. But that was against the contract! OH NOOOOOOOO! What a harsh life it must be - working in a grocery store that's open 9-9 and having to work the later shift sometimes. It must be truly horrible. I feel soooo sorry for my friend.

Gimme a break. When she signed on with this new job, she did not want to work days! She wanted evenings so she could hang out with her kid. When her kid started school, she wanted to be able to go on field trips and stated that she missed being able to work more evenings. Now suddenly she is going to call the union because she got 3 night shifts? What happened? Who brainwashed her??

And then she made another funny comment. She said 'something happened' at work (she cannot say what, apparently) but the union has been working very hard for her to get this rectified. I said 'oh my gosh, when did this thing happen?' and she said 'a year and a half ago'.

Oh. So whatever happened was 18 months ago, and the union still has NOT in fact rectified it. Why is my friend paying them again? Please remind me. I know it's not something horribly terrible because she was not in the hospital, had no injuries that I could see this past 18 months, didn't come back crying and bawling about some terrible fight with a boss - so what the heck could it possibly BE? It drives me crazy listening to this stuff and I have resolved myself that the next time she sings the praises of her union, I am going to lay it all out for her. All this union has done is take money from her and her daughter for the past 5 years with very little to show for it. Tricking them into thinking that all the good things (such as, getting paid or getting benefits) have happened only and solely because of The Union. Well that's crap because lots of stores still manage to run without a union and last time I checked, they got paid and they got benefits! How is that possible?

My god - I just realized, I only made a few bucks less per hour than my friend and I don't belong to a union. Something must be wrong here. I thought you needed a union to secure your pay! I better tell my boss she has been doing it wrong all these years!

Seriously - I don't 'get' what has been happening. I have worked in places with a union and seen/heard staff refusing to do something because it's 'not in the contract'. I'm talking simple things like a cashier picking a piece of garbage up off the floor as she walks to her break. I have seen that exact thing happen MANY times in fact. Once it was a staffer saying that she refused to pick a grape up off the floor in produce because she was not a janitor. Oh I'm sorry - is it a janitorial thing to do, or is it a humane thing to do so some old granny doesnt come along and slip on it and break her hip??? BEND OVER and PICK UP THE %$#Q^%$ GRAPE you lazy lazy cow. I've been known to be on my break at workplaces and wipe down the soaking wet sinks in the bathroom, pick up paper towel sheets strewn across the floor and put them in the garbage, etc. Why? Because I take pride in my job no matter what it is, and I dont like walking into a bathroom that looks like baboons were running amuck - I think it reflects badly on the business, and it will in turn reflect badly on me if customers think we are pigs and don't care.

I saw a staffer refuse to help a woman who had tripped and fallen to her knee, asking for help. The staffer said "I can't. I'm on break". WTF? It's a PAID break you ninny, now get the woman up off the floor and call for assistance, and then go on your remaining 10 mins. It won't kill you to miss 5 mins once in awhile.

Don't get me wrong. My grocery store jobs could be rather monotonous and I longed for my breaks, counting the seconds until I got one, and groaned if it was late. But I survived. No one died. And I managed to get a short break eventually. These are provincially mandated breaks so if you repeatedly don't get one, you can call the alberta labour board to speak to someone. So - why use the union? What are they gonna do? Hold an axe over the head of the supervisor until you get your break? What if someone called in sick and there are not enough people on hand to give you your break? Are the customers of the store - your bread and butter - supposed to suffer by going in long line ups or having you shut your til in their face? Is that the way to strong-arm the store into signing contracts and bending over backwards for the union? It's pathetic.

We have grown very lazy in our quest for fair treatment at the workplace, we really have.

I remember another place I worked at - the girls at the customer service desk were always mad because they did not get their breaks until the regulated 4.5 hours had passed, while the cashiers got their breaks after 3 hours. And often times, their breaks were even later if it was busy. I remember the union rep saying that if they did not get their breaks in 4.5 hours, they could close down customer service and leave. That's right - just walk right out of there, all three of them, and leave.

Customer service was also the smoke shop so they would close the rolling blinds and lock it up, pocket the keys, close down the tils, and leave even if they had 15 people waiting in line! It was insane! I was only 22 so I was a bit shy to say how I felt about that, I mainly kept silent. But I remember when I was 24 and pregnant, walking to the customer bathroom becasue it was closer, and a woman waiting in line grabbed my arm to ask me what was going on and why they were not being helped. It upset me (hormones lol) and I said I was really sorry but I did not work in that dept and I kept going. I really didn't work in there and couldnt sell them smokes even if I wanted to because I didnt have the key - but my point is, because 4 hours and 35 mins had passed, the staff closed up and walked out with all those people wondering what happened, and didn't care. And this was backed by the union. It was their idea! It drove me crazy. The store suffered because of that manouver. Those girls could have sent themselves one at a time if they were so concerned and the other two could remain to man the tils but nope - they put their skirts in the air and walked out as a team. Puh-fricken-leaz. you'd think they were steel workers getting their hands burned and crushed by an uncaring foreman, for all they acted.

And so here we are today with some of the laziest workers I have ever seen. I went to a KFC last week to grab some popcorn chicken as a surprise for the kids and one person was on a break, one was talking on the floor to customers, two were farting around by the ovens in the back, and the front desk clerk was mopping the floor and completely ignored me! She pretended like she didnt even see me. I couldnt belive it. I was stunned... she was half heartedly mopping (aka pushing the mop back and forth over the same spot very slowly) and kept her eyes averted from me. I 'ahem'd' a few times but nope. I am not a loud boisterous person, so I didnt yell HEY YOU like I could have (I also didnt want her to spit in my food if I yelled at her)... so I started looking around. The person on a break saw me when I came in, watched for a few mins, then realized no one was going to rescue me, so she came off her break and apologized. She took my order and as I walked out, I heard her reaming out the staff lol. But COME ON. Those kids are making at least 12 bucks an hour and they cannot even serve one customer standing there. Gimme a break.

Just like the kids at A&W who rolled their eyes and acted hard done by when I asked for extra napkins (they had only given me one for a two person order to begin with). Just like a lot of the Full Service gas stations do not do half of what they used to do when I was a kid. Just like they won't pack your bags for you in half the stores around here anymore. Just like they stand there like idiots if you ask if someone could go get you another carton of eggs cos you meant to buy two. Yet they make 3 and 4 times the money that people doing that job 20+ years ago got. And people back then had to work even harder for that smaller amount of money. Is that what unions and fairness campaigns have brought us? Oh lordy. Look out if something serious goes down someday cos these kids wont have a flippin clue what to do. they will line up at the side of the road looking lost, waiting for someone to help them.

We are lazy. I'm lazy for not trying to point this out more often to the culprits, but I am trying to instill a work ethic in my children at least. I am hoping my three will be somewhat productive members of society as they grow older. This reminds me actually - my son, for two years in a row, was the only kid who showed up for every single football practise and game with his team. Yes some people miss for valid reasons, but the coaches know who they are. The rest just cant be bothered, or their parents cant be bothered (or both). I remember at two banquets in a row, the coaches praising my son for his efforts and stating that they can easily tell who is being taught a good Work Ethic at home. I was proud of him and of myself in that moment. That is what I am trying to accomplish.

My son does a flyer route 4 days a week and it is 2-3 times bigger than any of his friends have, and sometimes he whines that he is too tired and wants to 'catch up' the next day but I tell him he is just kicking himself in the butt, giving himself double the work if he is tired the next day too so he needs to just get his butt out the door and get it over with.I told him that when he is old enough to hold another job, there will be shifts posted and he better show up unless he is very sick, because you cant just 'do it the next day' in jobs like that. If you are scheduled Monday 4-8, you will be working 4-8, end of story. He kinda got my point after that and just does it without too much whining now lol. But when he gets paid and sees 120 bucks in his bank, he is thrilled. That is his incentive. Nothing else. And I want him to actually work for that money. I don't want him to be the kid that shows up and does a half-assed job and expects to get the same pay as everyone else. Sadly, they do get that pay, but there are bosses out there who will schedule the good kids more often than the rotten ones and he will again benefit with his money earning incentive. And learn how to just do the damned job and stop belly aching lol. I want him to be proud of himself and know that while everyone was there and made the same money per hour as he did, he actually EARNED it and that will benefit him in the future. And I hope the younger two will respond to that as well. Fingers crossed!

How many can we say that about these days, honestly? Going back to my friend - she wants the union negotiated raises, but wants to do less and less work with each contract. How does THAT happen? She was ticked off one day that she had to come up and run the til when someone didnt show up and the store was busy. Well too bad! You are a floor manager and it's YOUR duty to make sure things are running as smoothly as possible, so get on the til, get those customers out before they get fed up and never come back, and then go do your paperwork. I swear that I am going to say that to her one of these days when the issue crops up again. I am sick and tired of listening to people whine. They have no idea what it must have been like to work anywhere a hundred+ years ago. We have come so far since then and have more job security, often benefits, higher pay, etc and then want to do less work. ''That's not in my contract'. Ugh. Kill me. I'm so tired of hearing that.

This topic rests on me a lot because there is so much talk of unions trying to move into my career field and I don't want it. Neither do any of my coworkers. My boss said she would close her doors if we were forced. I don't want it to come to that. Sure Id like to get paid more but I am thinking of our families too - they pay my wages with their childcare fees, and if a union comes in, they will have to pay more and guess what? They wont be able to afford it. More and more women will end up having to stay home instead of going back into the workforce. It would not be cost effective to pay half your wages to daycare. Who would want to work 20 days a month and only come out with $500 clear after taxes, deductions, and childcare cost? Not many. I know I would stay home for sure. So what would we have gained after all these years of trying to support women going back to work? Only those in very high paying jobs would be able to afford 'approved' childcare in centers or registered dayhomes, or out of school care programs, so we would be back to a class warfare yet again. It's disgusting that so many people don't see it like that. If a union comes in, then my boss would also be forced to set up a benefit program when NONE of us want one. Why not? Because our spouses already have programs through their work that are all very good and we do not need more benefits! We would be paying for half of that new benefit program, our spouse paying for their benefit program, we would have to start paying union dues, we'd have parents dropping out like flies because they couldnt afford the higher fees for our union negotiated wages - and the next thing you know, our center would be closed and we'd all be out of a job entirely..

Oh boy that sounds like fun! Where do I sign up? 

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These are my views and opinions. If you don't agree or think I am sadly misguided, that is your view. Feel free to share your thoughts but I also reserve my right to moderate content (IE foul language, excessive flaming, etc).

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