Source – occupy.com
– “…We see it in every industry over the last decade or so, cutting workers and benefits, sick leave or vacation time. Piling more work and demands on those that remain, impossible quotas for sales under threats of termination. Americans training teams from India to do their jobs as they teeter on the precipice of unemployment. Why? Because the only loyalty or borders that are honored in our country, or most countries it seems, is the devaluing almighty dollar. Because it’s not “personal,” it’s business”:
(The Death of Dignity In Working Class America – By Lainey Hashorva)
Listen, “it’s not personal, it’s business.”
More true now than ever. I see it in my work as an entrepreneur wearing many different hats. I have been self employed for over 25 years serving the retail industry as a designer/manufacturer of handcrafted and vintage home goods, and have witnessed first-hand the demise of “handmade” on every level. The disappearing boutiques and independent shops. Smaller chains swallowed whole or shifting completely to online, cheaper and faster. Independents that can’t compete with the internet or with China, yet everything in their stores are made in China. Small shops and galleries losing their luster, their aging customer base, their foot traffic. Looky-loos wandering without buying because consumer nation can no longer afford to consume. Savvy consumers shop wholesale online with the touch of a finger, the scan of a barcode.
I see it in my union meetings, as I’ve been an on-camera and voice-over performer since the early 1990s. It’s a rarity to have longevity, let alone a vested pension in show business. In meetings and online forums, aging performers meet to problem solve the rapidly changing landscape of pay-to-play contracts in a free fall to remain relevant in the big picture. To still have a seat at the negotiating table, to not be categorized as a hobbyist.
Hey, “It’s not personal, it’s business.” You are a commodity. You assist in the production of a product that is not solely your own. You are a virtual tool, useful for the job but ultimately disposable. So here are your options: Take less, surf the changes or step aside. All the while newbies without the old instilled ethics of why a union makes a workplace stronger or safer no longer have the same attachment to longevity in a long-term career, the vanishing antiquated model of a pension or anything beyond the next paycheck. Moral codes and loyalty diminish in resonance when you’re hungry, competitive or afraid.
Those that secretly (or gladly) will work non-union or “off the card” aren’t crossing a literal picket line per se with new mediums and technology. No eye contact, safe behind the anonymous veil of the internet. Non-union workers are growing stronger because they’re working more. Becoming a pro behind the curtain is so much more accessible now, as the rest of us cling to the notion of solidarity, of what it means to be sticking with longer term standards and safety nets that have been fought for and still mean something. All the while, we are aging and working harder than ever for less and less, hoping we will survive old age.
What is our perceived value in the big picture now? How does the working man and woman fit into the techno robotic digital age, with the lack of humanity in business and the diminished need for actual human beings? Why should the “job creators” hire union workers or teamsters for their products and projects when it’s ultimately all about the bottom line. Quicker, faster, cheaper: that’s business. Why would KFC want to pay a chicken fryer $15 an hour if it isn’t made to? Even the chickens are now processed in China.
This is not the Bailey Building and Loan after all: it’s Pottersville from here on out. No time for a flaming rum punch, nostalgia or the way things “should” be, like the old days when workers like our fathers and grandfathers had paid time off, sick days, cars, a house, family vacations and retirement funds.
We see it in every industry over the last decade or so, cutting workers and benefits, sick leave or vacation time. Piling more work and demands on those that remain, impossible quotas for sales under threats of termination. Americans training teams from India to do their jobs as they teeter on the precipice of unemployment. Why? Because the only loyalty or borders that are honored in our country, or most countries it seems, is the devaluing almighty dollar. Because it’s not “personal,” it’s business.
Ask Wells Fargo. They weren’t kidding when they said, “Together we’ll go far.” They went so far as to make up customers out of thin air, and threaten termination if sales quotas and new accounts were not created. Then they pay the government millions to settle criminal conduct, write it off on their taxes and insurance, and go back to business as usual letting 5,300 struggling workers take the fall.
In courthouses across the country, cases are scheduled two years out because of imposed austerity measures, sequester squeezing, and cutting of resources and services. Not at the top, only at the bottom and the middle. I recently called our local city services. We dial 311 here in Los Angeles for various departments. After the automated prompts, I finally landed in the right place, waited on hold for 15 minutes and then asked customer service about getting a crew to trim the heavy overhanging trees on my street, with long branches almost touching the ground and dry from the draught.
They’ve cut street cleaning and tree trimming, patrol cars and many street lights. The customer service rep asked for my address, and said, “Yes, you called before. You’re on the list.” I said, “Really? When did I call?” She replied, “Six years ago.”
So what do we do to survive? Grow tomatoes? Neighborhood co-ops? Learn to sew, fix things rather than replace them, share, recycle, plant food to share, spend your dollars where your beliefs are supported – where the least harm is done. Show up with your voice and your sign in solidarity of the causes that matter. Boycott products and banks that harm or diminish people. Fight back. Now more than ever the bright side seems to indicate that more of us are awake than before. Because our work, our livelihood and our communities are not business. Because this time it is all personal.
Lainey Hashorva makes and sells specialty handcrafted home accents and vintage home goods on Chairish.com.