So, I found a new job…

…and was notified today that I’m not a felon so I can go to work for this company.  It’s a contract-perm position, as are almost all positions these days.  Last one of those I had, the company worked me through my contract, said they were ready to hire me, had all the paperwork ready and they’d see me on Monday.  That was on a Friday.  I got a call that evening from my agency that my “assignment had ended.”  Turns out the company had no intention of hiring me and only told me so to keep me in my seat, and at my computer.  They just put another temp in there.  It wasn’t a performance issue or an attendance issue or a personality conflict.  It was that the company didn’t want to hire a permanent person, thus incurring the costs of benefits and a higher wage.  So they strung me a long with promises of permanent employment until my 580 hours were worked through, and then threw me out like so much garbage.

Enter offer number two.  Just got it two weeks ago and background check came through clean today.  Of course it did.  I knew it would.  Last week, I emailed my agency rep to let her know I have a doctor appointment on June 24th.  I specified in my email that I wanted her to know in advance of starting at this company so that they would not start me on the 24th of June.

Guess what folks? Yep.  She called me today to tell me I have to start on the 24th.  When I mentioned my doctor appointment her voice went from light and airy to ugly in a blink.  My doctor appointment was going to cause “huge issues” and I knew from her tone that if I didn’t reschedule it NOW, the offer would be withdrawn and they wouldn’t work me any more.

This is what you do when you’re unemployed.  You take what you can get because you HAVE to take it, and I have serious doubts about the company I’m going to work for.  They are punitive with their employees.  I know this for a fact because a good friend of mine has worked for them for 10 years and has spent 7 of those 10 years stressed beyond any capacity I could understand.  He needs to work, so he stays.  He stays because he is a field rep and doesn’t have to go in and sit in a corporate office chair and spin on command each day.  He stays because he is 60 and is virtually unemployable.  He hates it.

So I call this “incident number one.”  I’m told if I keep the doctor appointment I had trouble getting scheduled in the FIRST damned place, that I won’t have a job, only I’m not told that in so many words.  I’m told it will be a “huge issue” in an ugly tone of voice.

Can’t wait for “incident number two.”  You know it’s coming.  So do I.  Someone won’t like that I’m quiet and keep to myself, or if I attempt to “assimilate” someone else won’t like that.  It’s the life of a temp – you get fired for breathing.  Don’t ever believe you fit in anywhere at a company if you’re a temp.  You are watched, evaluated, and criticized about anything and everything.  If you eat at your desk, because everyone else does and you only have 30 min for lunch, you’re penalized because only “employees” can do that.  More than one post-it pad on or in your desk?  That’s theft, you know!  Wear the wrong color shirt?  That’s inappropriate.

I was lucky today.  I was able to reschedule my doctor appointment.  But tell me – is it appropriate, right or in anyone’s best interest to force me to trade health care for a JOB???   Is it legal (probably it is!) to imply that someone will have an offer of employment withdrawn if that person has notified her agency of a doctor appointment well in advance of employment?

I’m here to tell you, after almost three years of this bullshit:  Don’t trust your agency, don’t trust Corporate America and don’t trust your co-workers.  Do not trust anything your own eyes can’t see or your own ears can’t hear.

And off I go, to lovely evil corporate america, again.  Wonder how this one will work out.  And if anyone has the temerity to tell me I have a bad attitude, I suggest you get yourself unemployed for 3 years and then after that same time frame has passed and you’ve been passed around like a corporate whore from one company to another that makes you promise after promise and then shits all over you, to then post here about my attitude.  Jus’ sayin’.

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So Why Do We, the Unemployed…

…have to show proof that we’ve been searching for work in order to maintain our benefits, but bloody Corporate America doesn’t have to show proof that they are doing the very best they can do to lower the unemployment numbers by interviewing and hiring us?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Please comment.  Comments are good.  Rant.  Rave.  Get pissed off and then deluge your congressman with email until s/he does something.  Fill their inboxes up.  Call.  Start petitions.  Write the president.  Write a LOT.  Make yourself heard. Start a blog.  Link it to Occupy.

Do SOMETHING.

We may be unemployed but we WANT to work.  Get rid of bloody seat warmers and get someone in who will actually WORK.  Millions of us out here really, truly WANT to work. We’ll do a better job for you than those you have, because we’re hungry.  We know what it’s like to be hungry.  We’ll treasure our jobs and we won’t be the slackers.  Ever thought about THAT, Mr. CEO?????

Bah.  Mr. CEO thinks about nothing other than how he can “streamline” even more to make his shareholders happy.  It’s about money and those with the money have the power.

Isn’t it time we took that power away?  There are more of us than there are of them.  There’s power in numbers.  Would you walk down a dark alley alone, knowing full well there was a gang of 400 waiting to kick you bloody?  Would you walk down that same alley with 150,000,000 people behind you?  I would.

 

Wow! I Heard From Congressman Shuster…(are you ready for this?)

A few posts ago, I wrote a letter to my congressman.  Actually, I wrote three letters.  A month later, I hear from him.  Below is his reply – quite canned – and under it is the reply I just fired off to him.  I’m mad.  I’m going to do something about this.  I don’t know what, but I’m going to do something.  Somehow I will get myself in front of the House of Representatives, since he’s blaming them.  In essence, he says:  “I’m really sorry, but I can’t do a damned thing for you.”  And I’ll bet he then went and had lunch with and friend in the House and didn’t even discuss this issue.  Nope.
On 2/28/2012 12:13 PM, Shuster@housemail.house.govwrote:

Ms. My Name here
My Address
My City State and  Zip
Dear Ms. My Name:
Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for the American Jobs Act of 2011. I appreciate hearing from you and having the benefits of your views.
As you may know, H.R. 12, the American Jobs Act of 2011 would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow employers a tax credit for payroll increases in the last quarter of 2011 and 2012, extend the 100 percent bonus depreciation allowance through 2012, and increase the work opportunity tax credit for hiring unemployed veterans. It would also make specified funds available for the Department of Transportation for highway and rail projects, among others. Should H.R. 12 come before the full House of Representatives for a vote, I will be certain to keep your views in mind.
In these challenging economic times, we need to ensure that we do everything we can to create jobs at home and put Americans back to work. This is why the House of Representatives has passed over twenty job-creating bills to stimulate the economy and help Americans get back to work. Unfortunately, the Senate has not taken action on any of these bills. These pieces of bipartisan legislation passed by the Republican majority include bills reducing our dependence on foreign oil, removing bureaucratic barriers to energy permitting, and made it easier for entrepreneurs to have access to vital job-creating capital.
Again, thank you for contacting me. For your convenience, you can receive further information on issues important to the Ninth District at http://www.house.gov/shuster/. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome.
Sincerely,
BILL SHUSTER
Member of Congress
WFS:dw
My reply:
Dear Congressman Shuster:How much do you really know about corporate America?  That payroll tax credit doesn’t do a thing to provide more jobs.  It just means that Mr. CEO gets a bigger tax write-off.   I’m not an unemployed veteran, so while I think the work opportunity tax credit for unemployed veterans is a great start, it’s not going to get me hired.  Won’t even get me an interview.

As far as the 100% bonus depreciation allowance goes?  Have you  worked in the private sector in an entry level position since 2000?  None of these measures will help create jobs.  They will cause many CEOs to grin at each other over their morning coffee while they check their financial statements, though.

The private sector must be mandated to hire the unemployed FIRST – before even considering those who are already employed.  Those who are employed don’t need jobs.  Those who are unemployed; particularly those who are long-term unemployed, are looking at  – well – exactly nothing.

I’m 50 years old.  I’ve been unemployed for 52 weeks.  I can’t get a job – not even flipping burgers, and believe me, I’ve tried.

Congressman Shuster, what do you propose for those like me, whose benefits are due to run out soon?  Do we all just drive off a bridge, en masse?  That’s not sarcasm.  Where are we supposed to live?  HOW are we supposed to live?  Corporations are blithely just throwing resumes like mine into file 13.  I’m “too old.”  I use my health benefits for something other than wellness checkups – at least I do when I have health benefits.

Mr. Congressman, next time you spend $50 at lunch with cronies, think about how many groceries that money could buy someone like me.  Think about the fact that I don’t qualify for food stamps, and so I have to make ends meet on approximately $1,000 a month, after taxes.  After my rent, car payment, cell phone bill, and the small sundries of life (internet connection so I can job hunt), I don’t have $100 to spend on food if I want to have any gas in my car in case someone might want to interview me.  Granted, those opportunities are few and far between, but one must be prepared.

I spend approximately $50 a month on food.  Think about that next time you order an arugula salad…

When was the last time YOU ate Ramen?

What do I want you to do?  Easy.  I want you and all your fellow congressmen/women, to live as an unemployed individual in this country lives – for six weeks.  I want you to attempt to pay all your bills on the money paid to you, and then I want you to go back to your well-paid jobs, your comfortable offices, and I want you to write a bill (and push it through) that states corporate America MUST SHOW PROOF THAT THEY ARE NOT ONLY CONSIDERING, BUT INTERVIEWING AND HIRING THE UNEMPLOYED BEFORE THEY EVEN LOOK AT THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY EMPLOYED.

Our nation is in a crisis situation.  Can you not see that?  Maybe it hasn’t affected you, personally.  Trade places with me, and then tell me what you think should be done.

Our corporations have control of our government.  Take that control away from them, regulate them, and tell them to suck it up – the same way they tell their employees to suck it up when they lay them off and then say they won’t hire the unemployed.

Mr. Congressman:  DO SOMETHING!  PLEASE!

Sincerely,

(my name here)

“Carnage.” Apt Use of the Word by Joe Carbone

Here’s the link:  Trapped in Unemployment.  Mr. Carbone, you chose the perfect word to describe what’s happening out there.  Corporate America has and is causing carnage in what used to be the greatest country in the world.

While legislation has been enacted to prevent companies from placing language in job postings to reflect their unwillingness to hire the unemployed, this legislation is about political correctness, not about getting people to work.   It’s  a “feel good” measure created to make Congress think they’re doing something to lower the double-digit unemployment rate.  Yes, people, our TRUE unemployment rate is in double digits.  Think about it.  Go find the formula used to calculate it.  It’s a skewed formula which does not include those termed as “leaving the workforce.”

This legislation is an insult to the American public.  While I’ve always maintained that our government thinks we’re stupid, up to this point  they’ve made an attempt to at least cloak the yawning crevasse between what the people truly need and what they want for themselves in some form of verbiage that will fool at least some of us.  This time they simply got in our faces and called us idiots.

Remember this: Congress is comprised of upper-middle class individuals who each earn an average of $174,000 a year – money “we the people” are paying them to pass legislation during the biggest unemployment crises in more than 60 years.  These are individuals who have no reference point for the crisis of the working man and they simply chuckle at Corporate America and say:  “Dude,  we’re catchin’ some flak about these job postings.  Y’all can’t go around saying unemployed people can’t apply for your jobs.  You don’t have to hire them, but we gotta keep ’em quiet, so quit being so blatant about it, okay?”  Then they glad-hand all around, pour a few more drinks, and check the return on their investments.

Why do corporations outsource our jobs and lay off workers?  It’s a simple answer but they’d say otherwise.  The answer is this:  If they are publicly traded, they have to keep their shareholders happy. Shareholders want to make money, and lots of it, on their shares.  They want to see a lean, mean, bantam-weight workforce and they aren’t willing to give up any of the return those  job cuts provide them.

Who owns a lot of shares in Corporate America?  Why…gosh…our elected officials own lots of shares in Corporate America.  So why would they enact legislature that would take money out of their pockets?  They want to keep corporations happy.  They don’t give a flying red one about us.  Good lord, they might have to sell a fancy car, or a yacht or, god forbid, get RESPONSIBLE WITH OUR MONEY.

How many average citizens can afford to own enough shares in publicly traded corporations that will provide a significant return on their investment?  I know of very few.

I have used 52 of my 99 weeks of unemployment benefits.  That leaves me 47 weeks, during which time I will be told that I have to “look harder” for work and accept any position offered me.  Nice, guys.  Just beautiful.  Let’s deconstruct that mandate.  Here’s what it really says:

“You’ve got to be a slacker or you’d have found work by now.  Since you won’t do it yourself, we’re going to force you into it.  For 52 weeks you only had to apply for 2 jobs a week.  Now you have to apply for 6-10 jobs a week and send us those records every month and if the local convenience store offers you a job that pays less than what you’re getting from us, why, you have to take it.”  

On average, I apply for 22 jobs a week.  I have been doing this for 52 weeks.  The last “interview” I got was last week.  I showed up at the location – it was a staffing company – and the office was locked and dark.  So I called the number posted on the door and was told that I needed to drive another 30 miles to another location because they decided to use the office, at whose front door I was standing at that moment, only two days a week.  So I asked why I wasn’t notified.  The receptionist got nasty with me and said she called me the day prior and left a message.  I told her she didn’t, that their number was not in my incoming or missed calls list, nor was there a voice mail left for me.  She blamed it on my phone.  Odd – I got plenty of calls on the day she said she called me.   She never called.  She lied.  Why not give me HER job, thus ensuring that someone responsible, professional and who actually CARES will see that contacts are made?

I have another “interview” set for this thursday. I have to drive 75 miles to get to it.  Will I be treated the same way?

I’ve stopped telling staffing agencies (because they are the only organizations who call me for interviews now) that I’m unemployed.  My resume reflects that I am currently  a freelance data analyst.  I do not tell anyone I am accepting unemployment benefits.   If they ask, I lie.  While I would accept work as a freelance data analyst, thus am technically “employed”  no one is beating my door down to use my service.  If I need to provide references for any “work” I’ve done as a freelancer, my network of small business owner friends give me a great reference.  This is what Corporate America has done.  They’ve taught us that it’s necessary to be just as dishonest as they are if we want to work.  While I’m not certain I can compromise my values in this manner much longer, I often wonder what choice I have.

Even with all that, I can’t find work.  Why would a company employ a 50 year old “freelance data analyst” when they can get a fresh young thing straight from college who doesn’t know enough to be insulted by the salary offered, who has not yet developed “bad habits” and who won’t use their healthcare benefits for anything but wellness checks, and do that very rarely?   A company won’t hire me when they can get what I’ve described above.

When I spoke with the staffing agency rep yesterday she asked me if I had a degree.  A degree for an entry-level clerical position.  A DEGREE.   She had my resume in front of her, could see my level of experience, could see my education and instead of saying “wow – we can certainly place YOU” she says:  “Do you have a degree?”   I wanted to reply:  “Yes, I have a degree in dodging discriminatory hiring practices” but I simply said:  “It’s right there at the bottom of my resume.”  Apparently she hadn’t read that far.

Carnage.  What do those of us who are without a secondary household income do when our (meager) unemployment benefits run out?  Do we storm the gates and create some carnage of our own?  I say yes.  I say all of us who are part of the carnage go crashing through the bedroom door and pull our government out of bed with Corporate America.

You do realize that WE are the only people who can facilitate this kind of change.  Our elected officials are engaging in such marvelous financial sex with corporations that they’re not going to stop unless someone (we, the people) force them to stop.

Do you understand what is going to happen to all of us if we can’t force coitus interruptus?  Our government is not protecting us.  It’s destroying us – all in the name of money.

 

Open Letter to Congressman Shuster

I live in Pennsylvania, having just moved here from Maryland.  I am fed up with age and unemployment discrimination.  I have been unemployed for a year on February 19, 2012.  I wrote this letter to my congressman.  If you agree with my letter, please “like” and share.

__________________________________

Dear Congressman Shuster:

I moved to PA from MD two weeks ago. I am one of the many unemployed in America. I have been unemployed since Feb 19, 2011 and am barely making ends meet on the benefits I receive.

My letter to you speaks to age and unemployment discrimination being practiced by employers. While you and I know it is illegal to discriminate for such reasons, corporations are getting around that law by requiring applicants to provide their social security number BEFORE they can even begin an application. Washington County Public School system in Maryland requires it – I just electronically applied for a job there.

Apparently, The Fair Employment Opportunity Act of 2011, also referred to as HR 2501, would prevent employers from such discrimination. The bill would also apply to employment agencies, who would not be allowed to ask about the current employment status of job applicants.

This is a non-action. When an employer REQUIRES background check information PRIOR to an applicant even filling out an application, it is very easy for them to get around this legislation. It’s exceptionally easy for them to simply cull all those over a certain age and hire younger and cheaper.

I am 50 years old. I have almost 30 years of work experience and I would be an asset to many companies. I can’t even get a job gargling peanut butter on the street corner. On Friday, February 3, I was contacted by a recruiter who was very excited by my resume. It seems I was a 100% match to the requirements. On Monday I received an email stating that my application would not be considered since “the position was already filled.” So why did he contact me? This individual also had information regarding my age and unemployment status.

How are we, the long-term unemployed, supposed to find work if no one will hire us? Our government quotes an unemployment rate of approximately 8.5% nationwide. That’s a crock and anyone who can do simple math and word problems can figure it out. The formula is based upon the number of jobs created, those who are still drawing unemployment and those who have “left the work force.”

The assumption is that those who have “left the work force” have done so voluntarily. I’m here to tell you that “those who have left the work force” have done so not by choice, but simply because their benefits ran out. This does not mean they are not still looking for work. It simply means they had no more benefits, had to pack it in, move in with family or friends and become a financial burden to those people.

When is someone in our government going to wake up and see the truth? Have you or any of your colleagues ever experienced TRUE poverty? Do you think you would be able to support yourself on the benefits paid by unemployment (after of course, you’ve gone through all your savings and retirement, as well as your children’s college funds, as my brother and I have done!)?

Do you know what it means to experience starvation? Wait. That’s not a politically correct term any longer, is it? I recently read where the term “Food Insecure” is being bandied about as being much more acceptable. It’s not as ugly, is it? If it weren’t for the kindness of family and friends, I (one of your new constituents) would have STARVED long ago. I’d also be homeless.

Can you tell me why it is that I, at age 50, am unable to get a job working even at a convenience store? I’m willing to take such a job. I’m willing to work. I WANT to work. No one will hire me. I know the reason. I’m “old.” I would actually USE my health care benefits for things other than wellness checkups.

It’s a fact that healthcare in America is there solely to make a profit. Insurance companies are not there to take care of us; they are there to make a profit. I was recently turned away from a Patient First in Maryland when I had the ‘flu because I couldn’t pay. I have no health insurance. I’m diabetic and I don’t qualify for Medicaid. I “make too much money” on unemployment. I don’t qualify for food stamps. My unemployment benefit year (colloquially known as BYE – how apt) is ending on Feb 19 of this year. Will I get an extension?

I’m not sitting around on my butt doing nothing and leeching taxpayer dollars. I’m not using my unemployment money to buy drugs. Between yesterday and today, I applied for 21 jobs. I do this daily. I have done this daily since February 20, 2011.

Congressman Shuster, can you tell me how I am supposed to support myself once my benefits run out and I am no longer counted as a part of the “work force?” Am I supposed to move in with my aged and ill parents, one of whom just spent 8 weeks in hospital? Am I supposed to move into my brother’s basement and live with the crickets and mice? Or should I move into my sister’s storage closet? Perhaps I should make a straw pallet in my neighbor’s barn? I’m not being facetious. Those are my choices.

Have you ever been faced with these choices?

Why is Corporate America being allowed to cull those who are over a certain age and who are unemployed? The act I referenced above does NOTHING to restrain this activity. NOTHING.

I volunteer at a non-profit in Maryland and four months ago, one of my co-volunteers was an individual who works in a large corporate HR department. She swore she would deny this next statement with her last breath because she would be fired for making it but she said:

“The reason you are not getting hired is because you are 50 and have been unemployed too long. You know those electronic statements that you see online where you have to agree to a background check prior to submitting your application? That’s our way of culling anyone over age 40 and those who have been long-term unemployed.”

My best educated guess is that if you were to poll Corporate America you would get a deafening denial of the above statement. Of course you would. It’s illegal. Yet they ARE doing it.

What can you suggest for my situation? Seriously. Can you give me some viable, USEFUL suggestions? Suggestions that don’t include “keep up the hard work” and “it’s all a numbers game – you just have to keep applying?”

What are my options? Right now I’m attempting to keep my hopes up. I refuse to let the system crush my spirit. Even if I become homeless and “food insecure” I will still own my spirit. I will loathe my government, though. I have paid into this system for 30 years. This is what I receive in return when I am in gross need of help. “You make too much money to qualify for medicaid or food stamps.” On unemployment. Go figure.

Mr. Congressman, can you tell me what YOU will do about this? Can you tell me what bill YOU will write; what legislation YOU will push through to help those of us who have NOT “left the work force” but are invisible to the governmental unemployment bean counters?