And Now A Word From a Subscriber

Zala posted this in reply to my post: People Are Afraid of Socialism Because…

I thought it deserved it’s own post:

(I love her definition of GOP – “Greed Over People.”  Made me snicker.)

The USA is a fascist country with some socialist government programs. I don’t get why the Teahadists/Teanderthals don’t see that.

“Greed is (still) Good.”
We have all the wrong priorities because, yes I will say it, EVIL men with agendas have been working constantly for decades, sending out their propaganda minions and messages, and the sheeple eat up the shit they’re fed, because we’re taught to obey authority in our school systems. We are not human beings with feelings, desires and personal goals. We are tiny disposable cogs in the machinery of Corporate Progress & Profit. They throw us occasional sops, so that we think we have “benefits” (like health insurance) and then they underpay us and overwork us (check out this woman’s story: http://changetowin.org/news/mother-jones-i-was-warehouse-wage-slave ).
Unless a miracle happens, I will never get out of debt. If I remain employed by Corporate America, I have 8 more working years before retirement age. I had counted on those to be my highest-earning years of employment, until Wall Street & Banks took away a chunk of my 401(k) and caused my employer to circle the wagons and tighten their belts – 1% raise at most for some of us, and most people got 0% FOR THE PAST THREE YEARS, while the price of everything has risen 50-100%. If I could find a roommate or tag-team partner to share expenses with, I could probably make some headway, but on my own I have very little chance. I have some moonlighting opportunities thanks to Ms Crankypance (bless your generous heart ❤ ❤ ❤ ) but my “real job” sits me squarely in the lower middle class. 10 years ago, my salary comfortably covered the cost of living, with some left over for savings!! Now, I’m going backwards and have to make up the difference between income and outgo using my credit cards.
No one CARES that there are many people like me. They say, well just don’t DO that (use credit cards, for instance). Well, if it’s a week to next payday, and the car’s out of gas, I need to do SOMETHING to get to work.
I think we need to move to something more “socialistic/communistic” – soon people in my situation will NOT be able to afford to own their own homes. Perhaps we’ll go back to living in villages where everyone helps out with the work and shares the benefits. Our society would benefit immensely by going back to such archaic means of survival…… I really hate this new breed of American. We have always been “rugged individualists” but the current GOP (“Greed Over People”) has exacerbated and incited that streak in the American psyche, and extrapolated it to mean, ‘Fucking Government Redistribution of Wealth – I should be able to keep ALL of what I earn, why should I help the next guy??’ These CINO’s will hopefully be the perihelion of the pendulum’s swing – hopefully the pendulum will head more towards the middle after this generation has either died off or awakened.
The Rapture can’t come soon enough for me – it would get rid of a lot of the thorns in my intellection and emotional psyche :D

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So You Think Your Company Is Being Generous?

Think again.  If you work for private industry (which means you do NOT work for the government) and you have received word that you’re being downsized “but not right now – we just want you to be aware, so you can take the time to find a new job” and you think this action means the company you work for is being benevolent and generous, think again.

They want as few hits on their unemployment insurance as possible.  They’re not telling you in advance for YOUR benefit.  They’re telling you for THEIR benefit.

Did they say you can take the time you need for interviews?  And when you finally got an interview and it was at month-end, were you graciously given the time off to go to said interview?  Jus’ sayin…

Do you think your company is being fabulous to you by saying that you can stay ’til they close the office?  Think again.  You can absolutely stay til they close the office.  Know why?  Cuz they can’t close it without you.  Well, yes, they can, but it would cost them a buttload more money and the management folks would be REALLY pissed off at having to do it themselves.

I’ve said this more than once and I’ll say it again (although I doubt many will listen):  Private industry exists for one purpose:

Class?  What is that purpose?

TO MAKE MONEY.

They do not exist to support you and your family, to help you in any way or to have your back the way they require that you have theirs.

Please peeps.  Don’t delude yourself into thinking your company deserves your loyalty in any way.  They don’t.   They could give two flying red shits about you.  As long as the guys at the top are pulling down their millions, you, my little worker-bee friend, are nothing to them.  They paid more for their last vacation than you made in a year.

Jus’ sayin’ folks.  Don’t believe a word that is told you by any corporate management person when there are layoffs.  If their lips move, they are lying.  Why are they lying?  Why, they’re lying because HR has told them if they don’t lie, they will lose THEIR jobs.  (which they will lose, anyway, but they’ll have more perks when they lose than you’ll EVER see.)

YOU DO NOT OWE YOUR EMPLOYER ANYTHING OTHER THAN AN HONEST DAY’S WORK FOR AN HONEST DAY’S PAY.  That’s IT.  They pay you do do a job.  Do your job, do it well, but do NOT fall into the “loyalty” trap.

Loyalty will not feed, clothe or shelter your children.  Loyalty will not provide you with job security.  Loyalty to Corporate America, as it is run today, is evil propaganda perpetrated on the unsuspecting by those at the top who want more and more for less and less.

My sister is the last of a dying breed.  She has worked for her company for 35 years.  She will be okay when she retires.   The only reason she hasn’t been downsized yet is because of her seniority and age.  To do so would mean the company takes a gun and publicly shoots itself in the foot.  She could only be downsized through attrition, but golly gee whiz, her position is absolutely necessary.  So no attrition.  When she retires you better believe they will hire someone at a far lower salary and will not offer the pension, profit sharing and other retirement benefits my sister will get.

No one gets that kind of care from a corporate entity any longer.

No one except those at the very top of that ivory tower.

I say bring back the unions.  Bring ’em back NOW.  If Corporate America won’t regulate itself and stop destroying “we the people” then I say it’s time “we the people” fight back.

It’s hard out there.  Jobs are scarce.  What I’m about to recommend might horrify many of you who are unemployed.  I advocate that NO ONE who is unemployed take a job with a company that will not allow a union.   I advocate that we all – and I mean ALL – learn to live small.  We learn to live with one vehicle; we teach our children to use their imaginations instead of letting their brains rot with X-Box and cable TV.  I say we eat in-season produce, we buy all of what we need and very little of what we want.  We SAVE for what we want and when we have CASH, then we go buy the very BEST, and make sure it’s made in America, by a union worker.

Wanna hear truly radical?  Our economy needs to be completely destroyed, AS IT IS NOW, and rebuilt.  Why should we be denied excellent healthcare – that which is necessary for a good quality of life, simply because the greed of Corporate America says we can’t have it if we can’t afford it?

Do I believe I am entitled to someone else’s money?  Do I believe that the rich should be divested entirely of their wealth so the poor can be fed?  No.  I believe that our government has a responsibility to US.  I believe that corporate executive salaries and compensation packages should have a cap.  I believe that outsourced jobs need to be brought back into our country and provided to our starving workers and their families.  I believe that we should all be paid a LIVING wage for an honest day’s work.

I do not believe that your tax money, my tax money or Joe The Plumber’s tax money should have to go to feed the poverty-stricken when there is so much idle wealth in this country.  I believe that those who HAVE have a moral responsibility to help those who have NOT.  Instead, those who HAVE are given even MORE tax breaks so they can send even MORE money off shore.

Next time you are in the company of a corporate executive look closely at his clothing; look particularly at his shoes.  They will not be scuffed, worn at the heels, and will probably be well-shined cap-toes or italian wingtips.  Perhaps on a casual day they will be kiltie tassel loafers.  They will have cost more than $250 a pair.  Note that his shirt will be unwrinkled, his tie will have an expensive sheen but not a shine.  There’s a difference.  Check the cut of his trousers and see where they fall on the top of his shoes.  Note that they do not bunch up on his shoes, nor do they trail the ground.  Note that his belt matches his shoes, and that his pockets do not pull at the seams. Check his jacket sleeves and note that he can shoot his cuffs easily and those shirt cuffs are probably starched and held together with lovely cufflinks.  Note his shirt collar.  Note that it has not been turned and that there is no fraying on the collar. Note that you will not even be able to see the outline of the collar stays.  That’s a very expensive shirt and I’ll guarantee he has a closet full of them.   Note that there are no creases down the sleeve arms.  This is a dead giveaway that he is paying a laundry or a dry cleaner to do his shirts.  His wife (or god forbid, himself) is not starching and ironing them for him.

Note that the cost of the entire get-up you are viewing costs more than you earn in a month.  I know this to be true – and that’s on a conservative estimate.  I was married to a wealthy man.  I know what the clothing costs.

Look at his watch.  You won’t see a watch.  You’ll see a chronometer.  Thousands of dollars difference between a mere watch and a chronometer.

And if you dare, ask him where he got his tan.  I’ll be it was at his private country club while using custom-made golf clubs, or on that recent vacation that cost more than you earn in a year.

Why would you, or anyone, want to work for a company that presents material wealth as more important than people?  No, they don’t present it in their documentation, their mission statement or in any of their company meetings (not the ones YOU attend).  They don’t have to do that.  Their presence reeks of it.

So next time you think your company is being so damned generous and good to you by giving you “time” to find a new job before they divest you of your current job, remember that they do nothing that doesn’t first benefit themselves.

Never forget that.

Let your loyalty be to YOU and YOUR FAMILY.  That’s where it is deserved.

 

Lies Corporate America Will Tell You

1.  We appreciate you.

2.  Thank you for all your loyalty and hard work.

3.  No, your job isn’t in jeopardy.  We’re laying off at OTHER locations.

4.  Our greatest asset is our people.

5.  No one is getting a bonus this year, it’s not just you.

6.  HR is working hard to make certain you get the best separation package we can provide.

7.  We couldn’t do it without you!

8.  We’re very flexible.

9.  We want the best for our employees.

10.  Do your job well and we will take care of you.

11.  We’re truly sorry we have to downsize you.  It hurts us as much as it hurts you.

12.  We will help you find a new job.

13.  Our COBRA package is affordable.

14.  While we are restructuring and that may seem a negative thing, it will benefit you, our valued employees, in the long term.

 

Translations:

1.  You’re not getting a raise.

2.  You better keep up with the loyalty and hard work or you will find yourself unemployed sooner rather than later.

3.  Your job is in jeopardy.

4.  Our greatest asset is our corporate spin doctor.

5.  You are not getting a bonus.  Our top executive compensation packages will show a zero on the bonus line, but we’re giving them more stock options that will vest quickly and provide them millions.

6.  HR is working hard to make sure your separation package is the lowest-cost one they can provide and they are not concerned with your needs.

7.  We can do it without you.  We did it before you were hired and we’ll continue doing it when you’re terminated.

8.  As long as you don’t require any personal time beyond that which we provide as vacation and/or sick leave, we’ll keep you.  For now.

9.  We want the best for ourselves.  If our employees benefit from it, great.  If not, we don’t really give a flying red one.

10.  Do your job well and you will be allowed to keep your job until we find a way decrease the overhead that is YOU.

11. We’re very happy to downsize you.  It means more money in our pockets.  The only reason the executive who told you about the downsize seemed nervous and upset is because she/he wasn’t quite sure they’d get out of the conference room in one piece.

12.  We’ll send you to an agency that will charge you to help you find a job.  No, we’re not paying the fee.

13.  This is an incomplete statement.  It should read thus:  “Our COBRA package is affordable if you don’t pay any of your other bills and don’t mind starving. ”

14.  We are restructuring and that means you will eventually get caught in the game known as “musical employees.”  Be very afraid.

 

Just in case you were wondering…

I’ll Say It One More Time (for now)

If you are an employee working for a large corporate entity please understand the following:

1.  You are of zero value to the company beyond what THEY deem valuable.  The definition of “value” changes daily.

2.  You are not a person.  You are a number.

3.  Your boss is NOT your friend, regardless how much you might suck up, or how much he or she may provide you special treatment.  At some point your boss’ job will be threatened and if he/she needs to step on you to save their job, you can be assured you will be gone before you can take your next breath.

4.  Telling staff they are being downsized “ahead of time” is not a display of integrity.  It is simply the result of a group of executive minions getting together and deciding the best way to keep you guys working and give you the illusion of hope that maybe things will change and they won’t downsize you after all.

5.  You have no job security.

6.  Your loyalty and hard work will never be repaid.  It will be abused.  It will appear to be appreciated until it is deemed that your salary is cutting into the big guys “competitive compensation.”

7.  Corporate executives do what is good for them, not what is good for you.

8.  THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT YOU, YOUR FAMILY, YOUR NEEDS, OR WHAT HAPPENS TO YOU ONCE YOU ARE CUT LOOSE.  THEY WILL FORGET ABOUT YOU.  Their lives will continue in the same vein as always, complete with luxury vacations, great medical care, plenty of food on the table, spending sprees, and conspicuous consumption while you plead with your landlord to give you another week to scrape together the back rent before you are evicted.

Don’t ever forget any of this.

Keep your resume updated and on Careerbuilder, Dice, Monster, Linked In, and any other place you can think of.  Keep it in front of every headhunter, placement agency, and hiring manager you can.  Network.  If you do this you might have a chance at finding a new job.  Right now, with our economy spinning out of control, the odds aren’t good, but there’s always a chance.  Keep that thought of a chance in front of you and get your resume together and OUT THERE NOW!

Executive Leadership – A Narcissist’s Dream

In my post  “Hey Bill Foote…” one of my readers commented that I know exactly how Mr. Chairman sleeps at night, because 99% of executive leadership is NPD.

She’s right.  I’ve had more than enough experience with these guys to know they care about nothing and no one but themselves.  They rise to the top level not because they are cream, but because they are oil, and they sit there, on top of the ever-flowing water of staff, and smother all the life out of them.

Oh yeah, Miss Tracy, you are dead on.

I know how Bill Foote sleeps at night.  He could give a flying rip about how his actions affect the worker-bees just as long as he gets what he wants.  He needs to please the shareholders, at least those with majority shares, and let me tell you what I know about shareholders.  Those who have the money to own enough stock to count for something, vote. Those who don’t, pay no attention to the materials they get regarding voting on issues.

I know this because I’ve been a minority shareholder in a company and my vote counted for zilch.  I would read that material every time I got it and if I didn’t like what they were planning to do, I’d vote no.  I’d try to rally the ranks to get them to vote, but my efforts were greeted with the same apathy as political elections (okay, except when we were voting Bush out of office!).  The answer would always be:  “What can I do?  I’m just one person.  My vote doesn’t count. ”   Yes, your vote counts as long as ALL the shareholders get up off their asses and VOTE.

The problem is, that when you have someone like Warren Buffet owning 15% of the stock in a company, and you have a million other people holding tiny blocks of stock, and believing their vote won’t count, whose vote will get the most weight?

NPDs rise to the top by doing exactly what Bill Foote is doing to USG.  They get there by trampling on others, by disregarding the needs of others, by smooth prevarication and obfuscation of the REAL issues.  It’s all about them and their money.  Never is it about what the majority needs.

Do I think, even for a minute, that Mr. Chairman of USG will squeeze one little penny from his own pocket to help those he’s trampling in this latest move?  I’m not that naive.  He’ll be out golfing, or yachting, or basking in the glow of praise from all his other NPD corporate minions while REAL people get shoved out the door into poverty, and perhaps even death, if they can’t get the healthcare they  need.

He’ll be drinking by the fireplace over the holidays while those he’s ruined cross holidays off their to-do list and push survival to the top of that list.

He won’t spare a single thought for those he’s harmed.  He’s done his D&D quite well.  And for those of you who don’t know what D&D is, that stands for “Devaluation and Discard.”  That’s what he’s done to his AMERICAN workers while standing beneath a corporate logo that has the words UNITED STATES in it.

Hey Bill Foote! Here’s MY Story In Case You’re Interested (Which You Probably Aren’t)

For all who don’t know (and that’s quite a few) I was hired at USG in SC in January of 2010.  One week into my employment, I was told the financial hub where I had just started working was being shut down.  I was offered 8 weeks severance (in a state that had 12.5% unemployment at the time) or a transfer to Baltimore.

What would you do?  Job in one hand, no job in the other.  Family up near your transfer, no job where you currently live.  I took the transfer.  USG even footed $2,000 of my moving costs.  My move cost a LOT more than that.

But wait, there’s MORE!  I was transferred on a SC salary to a location where the cost of living is approximately 30% higher and pretty much told how lucky I was.

How much did I make during the one year I worked for USG in Baltimore?  Are you ready for this?  $32,000.  Okay, it’s doable for a single person who is frugal and that’s the kind of person I am.  That amount also approximates the salaries for the other Transaction Associates in that office, all but one of whom had families to feed.  That amount also included USG’s magnanimous “moving expenses.”  Ahh yes.

Now, let me preface by saying I am not a finance person by training.  I’m an IT person.  I was hired with full knowledge that I was deemed “overqualified” for the job, but because I had done AP/AR work in the past, they hired me.  I was supposed to be grateful.  Shoot, I WAS grateful.

I was told, on January 19, 2010, that they would put my IT skills to “good use.”  Well, I’m not sure what constitutes “good use” but I don’t think spending an entire day attempting to clean viruses from the director’s computer qualifies.  Viruses, I might add, that appeared on his computer from internet sources he shouldn’t have been surfing in the first place…according to the USG Electronics Use Policy directive, which we all signed.

So I went to work, doing mostly data entry for AR/AP.  It was boring, tedious and having a supervisor who belittled people in front of their co-workers for mistakes didn’t help much.  Yup, I made mistakes.  Everyone did.

In January, 2011, I had a review.  It was horrible.  I was placed on probation, but I didn’t KNOW I was placed on probation.  Nothing was put in writing except an email telling me there would be a follow-up review in February.

In February, 2011, I had my “follow-up” review.  I was told I was being terminated for “poor performance” and “violation of the USG Electronics Use Policy.”  I was gobsmacked.

I requested data proving my “poor performance” since I did the same work as 9 other people in that office and until this review, I’d never been told that I made “more mistakes than everyone else.”  I knew I made errors, but I also heard, directly from the Field Accounting Manager with whom I worked very closely, that I made a lot fewer mistakes than other Transaction Associates in the office who also worked closely with her.

My request was greeted with a denial.  I was told that the data existed but that I wasn’t going to be provided with it.  Uh huh.  I found out later that it didn’t really exist.  Not in any form that could be pulled from a database and NOT be tinkered with.

So I requested an exit interview with the local HR representative.  Do ya think he deigned to come into the office?  Oh hell no.  He was too busy.  He got on the phone, and my supervisor put him on speakerphone.  He told me why I was terminated.  He cited the “abuse of the Electronics Use Policy.”

I’d done my homework by that point and I knew that even in an at-will state, if a policy is in place, but not enforced it can’t be used as a reason for termination.  That didn’t matter, because in an at-will state, you can be terminated if your boss doesn’t like your hairstyle.  I told him it was a bogus reason because there was zero enforcement of that policy in our office.  NONE.

Guess what?  The week following my lovely exit interview, a meeting was called where employees were told that the policy would be enforced.  Gee, I wonder if the director continued to get viruses and worms on his computer…

So, I was terminated for poor performance.  Seems I didn’t meet or exceed standards.  Wait.  What standards?  We were never told what the standard WAS, let alone given a directive to meet ANYTHING.  Hey, Bill!  Guess what?  Directly after I was terminated a “process” was put in place so that the Transaction Associates would know EXACTLY how many mistakes they made and what standard it was they were required to achieve.

Here’s why I was terminated:  I didn’t suck up.  I didn’t pretend to be friends with everyone there and I didn’t brown nose with my supervisor the way one employee did.  That particular employee will be one who gets a “stay” package. You can count on it.  I wasn’t afraid of my supervisor.  I went over her head twice before I realized that her boss was totally ineffective and would do nothing about her behavior.

I heard about HER mistakes but it seems those didn’t matter.  She was put in a position of authority over women with whom she’d spent several years working in the same capacity.  She had no management experience, and while she was (and is) a very intelligent woman with a wicked sense of humor, she has very poor people skills when it comes to management.  She could be compassionate, and she could understand trying times in her staff’s personal lives because she’d had quite a few of her own.  The problem was that no one – NO ONE could trust her as a professional.

She appeared surprised that I wasn’t aware I was on probation.  I told her that in my experience it was generally a corporate HR policy to counsel an employee early on when it was seen they weren’t performing to par.  (that’s a golf term, Bill.)  I explained that if I wasn’t performing to some (invisible) standard that I should have been told about it well prior to being FIRED for it. Her reply?  Snort.

“Oh come on.  You knew you were making mistakes.”

Well, yes, I did know.  So did the entire office because she would berate me for them in front of everyone else.  Everyone else made mistakes and I could here THEM being publicly berated for them.  People would come to me, because they knew I’d keep my mouth shut, and pour their grievances on my shoulders.  What could I do?  I directed them to her supervisor.  Ahh yes, her ineffectual supervisor who didn’t want to hear any of it so just turtled up in his corner office and ignored everything.

I knew a lot more about what went on in that office, politically, than she or her supervisor will ever know that I knew.  I know because I was told by co-workers as they came out of her office.  I know because I’m not stupid and when I heard the same complaint from 8 other people at different times, it wasn’t difficult to write the story of that office.

Why do I tell you this Mr. Chairman?  I tell you this because my prior post could be deemed sour grapes from someone who was fired for “poor performance.”  It’s not.  I’m so glad I’m out of that viper’s nest.

I tell you this because I know what the people you are “downsizing” have in store for them, because I am LIVING it, Bill Foote.  I am LIVING it.

I am 50 years old.  In 8 months I’ve found one job and that was a two-month contract position.  That’s it.  I have been living on $339 a week for 8 months.  I feed myself on $77 a month.  I am deemed to make “too much money” to qualify for any social services benefits.  I have no health insurance.  I am type-II diabetic and I can’t afford to eat the way I’m supposed to eat.  I can’t afford to buy the medication I need to control the diabetes.   My mother and sister both died of breast cancer and I can’t afford the mammogram I’m supposed to have every six months.  I cracked a tooth and luckily, it didn’t cause me pain because I couldn’t afford to go to the dentist to get it fixed.  The other half of the tooth rotted and fell out.  Thankfully it was a molar, in the back of my mouth.

I am moving almost 100 miles from Baltimore into a questionable area of a smaller town because I can no longer pay my rent here.  I’m lucky in that I’ve had an understanding landlady.  I do not have car insurance, in a state that requires it, because I can’t afford it.  I have no health insurance.  COBRA, you say?  Okay, I’ll take it if you’ll pay for it.  It would have cost me more than $600 a month.

Mr. Chairman, what I’ve just written sounds pretty awful, doesn’t it?  Would you want to be in those circumstances?  Can you even imagine them for yourself?  Can you imagine being a single mom with two school-aged children, one who has special health needs, and being told that you are being dumped on the garbage heap of unemployment?  Can you imagine being that mom and finding out that the man who did the dumping made more than $7 million in 2009 and that was considered “competitive compensation?”

Do you honestly think these people are going to be able to find work?  Really?  What ivory tower are you living in?  Wait, I know.  It’s way up there in the rarefied air of corporate executive multi-millionaires.   Do you even CARE whether these people survive?

I don’t think you do care.  I know what they’re in for and I care.  I care very deeply.

Bill Foote, I have some more questions for you.  Let’s see if you can answer them:

When I was working for you, I processed many payables that were for golf outings, social functions, expense reports with thousands in “entertainment” costs.  I processed the payments for the service awards.  I have a very good idea how much money was spent frivolously.  But wait, you say.  Deals are closed on golf courses.  No they’re not.  They’re closed in offices and boardrooms.  Have you personally sat down and balanced the “entertainment” and “gift” outlay against their net revenue return?  Oh, I forgot.  They’re all tax write-offs.

Bill, I processed more in frivolous expenses during the year I worked at USG than I made in salary.  MUCH more.  And I am just one of many Transaction Associates across the country who processed the same payables. Yet you now deem it necessary to deprive those same individuals of their livelihood, of their means of familial support, so you can keep on yukking it up on the golf course?  So you can provide sales incentives?  So you can schmooze potential customers???

Isn’t the time for that long past?  Isn’t it more important to work with what you’ve got, make your OWN sacrifices and see to it that your people (who are oh-so-wonderful and necessary when the economy isn’t in the toilet) won’t lose their homes, won’t starve, or even DIE because they can’t pay their mortgages, and if they do, they can’t buy food, and if they pay their mortgage and buy food then can’t afford necessary healthcare?

Whose responsibility is it to make sure these people receive the necessities of life after YOU deprive them of their means of support?  Is it truly the American taxpayer’s responsibility?  Oh, wait.  USG has unemployment insurance.  That’ll take care of them.  They’ll be fine.

Uh huh.  On $339 a week, in Baltimore, Maryland,  they’ll be just dandy, especially if they have no other means of income and hungry children to feed.

Bill, I am living the reality these people are about to face.  I do not own an iPhone.  I do not own an iPad.  I do not own car insurance. I do not own health insurance.  The only protein I get is because my brother is a kind and loving brother and fills my freezer with meat for me each time he purchases meat in bulk.

Mr. Foote, speaking of my brother, let’s talk about sacrifice for the sake of your employees.  I want you to think about this next story every time you check your bank account, every time you receive a paycheck, and each time you check your stock portfolio.  I want you to think about it the next time you decide to cut even more employees loose.

My brother is one of four partners in a local company.  When times got tough he did not lay off a single employee.  Do you know what my brother did?  He stopped drawing a salary so his crew would be able to take care of their families. My brother hasn’t drawn a salary in 2 years.  He lived on his retirement until that was gone.  Then he lived on his investments until those were gone.  His home almost went into foreclosure, but he managed to rob peter to pay paul.  And he did all this while paying a greedy ex-wife child support for his three children, one who is 27, handicapped and will need major healthcare and supervision for the rest of his life.

How is he living now?  He married his best friend who is a wonderful woman.  She helps support them now.  His vehicle is a company truck, his cell phone is a company blackberry.  The company does pick up his internet expenses, but that’s it.  Everything else is his responsibility.

I think you would say my brother is stupid for not laying off his crew.  I say my brother has HONOR which is something you seem to have in very short supply.  My brother doesn’t subscribe to greed, entitlement or the pop-psychology mantra of “ya gotta look out for Number 1.”  In his case “Number 1” is simply a euphemism for those employees who have been with him for more than ten years and to whom he feels a personal responsibility.  Maybe that’s because he knows their names, families and histories.

You know very few of your employee’s names.  I’ll bet you don’t know one important thing about anyone you’re downsizing from the Baltimore hub.  I’ll bet you only know the name of one person there; maybe two.  I’m guessing you can remember the name of only one, and only then if you think hard about it.

It’s easy for you to sign off on other people’s lives because, after all, they’re not related to you.  Why, you’ve never even met them.  What are they to you, but salaries that take from the revenue stream into your bank account?

Bill, you could go the rest of your life without drawing a salary and still maintain your current standard of living.  So why not be honorable and do just that so that these people can have the basic necessities of life?

I’m wondering how you sleep at night.

 

 

 

USG Corp, YOU Should be “Occupied!” Shame On You!

USG Corp.  In case anyone doesn’t know what USG stands for it stands for United States Gypsum.  Guess what UNITED STATES Gypsum is doing?

This company, with UNITED STATES in its name, is shutting down all its financial hubs and OUTSOURCING all the accounts payable jobs as well as IT jobs.

I found this out today from a friend who will be affected by this.  In her office, which will be open (for some employees) through April (gotta get that year end closing done!) the following people will be so adversely affected by this that it may destroy them, financially:

A  54 year old woman with a husband on disability who has worked there for the past 8-9 years.

A 53 year old woman who has worked there for most of her adult life.

A 44 year old woman who is a single mom of two, who currently can’t make ends meet on the salary they pay her,  lives in subsidized housing and has been known to get food for herself and her kids from the local food pantry and who has a child with ongoing healthcare needs.

Today I was told that the employees were called into a meeting where they were told the office would be closing, as would all the financial hubs and then it was explained to them that their jobs would eventually be “outsourced.”  We’ll get to that in a bit.  Here’s the icing on the cake:   There will be a “stay” package given to certain employees so that they can keep their jobs through the closing of the hub.  When the director was asked how it will be determined who will get a “stay” package the reply that was given was this:

“I’m  not going to think about that until I have to.”

Excuse me?  WTF??  This is corporate America.  They have ALREADY chosen who will get the “stay” package and if it were legal to do so, I’d list the names here.  I know who will get it.  I know, because I worked in that office and I know the politics of it. I know the favoritism that goes on and I know how terribly ineffective the current director is.  He’s a nice enough guy, but a truly bad manager.

The employees were told that they would all get “severance” packages but when the local HR representative was questioned as to what those packages would be, he did what ALL good little corporate HR minions do:  He hedged and said “we’re not sure yet.”  Of COURSE they’re sure.  They’ve known for months they were going to do this, and if it wasn’t known at mid-level it has certainly been in the works at the top levels.

Now, let’s talk about the piece that chaps my other butt cheek.  “Outsourcing.”

Okay, as a rule, in America, when someone hears “outsource” they think of India, Mexico, or the Philippines.  So when the question was asked where the jobs would be outsourced, the answer was, again, in good minion-like fashion:  “We haven’t determined that yet.  We’re exploring several different sources.”  Or something like that.  I put it in quotes, but I got it second-hand.  I wasn’t actually in the meeting.

It’s possible that with the accounting portion of it, the term “outsource” means they will funnel the work to an American company that provides contract labor, either in a call center-type environment, or it will be sourced to telecommuting temporary/contract employees.  It could also mean that all accounting personnel will be laid off, the work will all go to Chicago and temps will be hired to do it, at a very low rate of pay and with no benefits.

OR, it could mean they will send it all out of our country, this company with UNITED STATES in its name, will add to our already failing economy by stealing jobs from Americans and giving them to people in other countries because they’ll work for so much less money.  That will ensure that Bill Foote and his minions continue receiving their “competitive compensation” packages. (see below)

UNITED STATES GYPSUM, I ask you this:

How many at your executive level even considered taking a pay cut or giving up returns on options so that a single mom with two kids, a woman whose husband is on disability and a woman who has given most of her adult life to YOU can keep their jobs, their sanity, their homes, their kids in braces, food on their tables, their health insurance, their car insurance?  How many of you even gave a single thought to what this would do to those who truly NEED every paltry penny you’ve paid them?

I know how paltry those pennies are, because I used to work for you.  I know that you barely pay a living wage in the city within which I live.

This is from an article written in 2007, as USG was recovering from their “asbestos” issue which sent them into Chapter 11.  Here’s the link so you can read the entire thing, but this gem truly astounded me, since the company was emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy (how many were laid off while this was happening?).  Gee, if I went into bankruptcy, I doubt I’d emerge with a “competitive compensation” package.

“USG’s executive officers received non-qualified option grants that vest at a rate of 20% per year and restricted stock units that vest at 25% per year.  During bankruptcy, management had the certainty of cash.  Options they owned could have been underwater.  On the other hand, with a cash plan, they missed out on appreciation, Jarrett explains.  Another option grant was made in March, 2007 as part of the new long term incentive plan, which also included grants of restricted-stock units and performance shares.  Fox adds, ‘We were trying to establish competitive compensation, but to have the shareholders look at it and say, ‘”this is fair.  They’ve delivered value for the shareholders.”‘ 

“Another issue arose when the committee decided to give special cash awards to Foote and his two top lieutenants, CFO Rick Fleming and general counsel Stan Ferguson, for their leadership during the Chapter 11 proceedings.  Foote was given $1 million, and Fleming and Ferguson each earned $500,000.  “They all did both jobs — restructuring and running the business,” explains Jarrett.  The board felt they deserved to be rewarded.  But “we knew this was going to be in our disclosure documents. We asked ourselves, ‘Can it stand up to the shareholders reading it?'” The plan was detailed in the March 2007 proxy and did not generate any controversy among shareholders.”  

Excuse me?  They’ve delivered value for the shareholders?  Oh, okay.  That’s all that matters.  They get rewarded for delivering value to the shareholders.  WHAT FREAKING VALUE DID THEY DELIVER TO THEIR EMPLOYEES????

Now, take a look at this.  This is Bill Foote’s (Chairman of the Board for USG)  total compensation for the year 2009!!!   This came from here.  Take a gander at it.  Oh, poor guy.  He didn’t get a bonus.  Gosh.  I bet that was used as a pity tool for lack of bonuses that year.  “Bill Foote didn’t even get a bonus.”

Compensation for 2009

Salary $1,150,000.00
Bonus $0.00
Restricted stock awards $2,163,161.00
All other compensation $64,504.00
Option awards $ $1,088,858.00
Non-equity incentive plan compensation $782,000.00
Change in pension value and nonqualified deferred compensation earnings $1,886,957.00
Total Compensation $7,135,480.00

His total compensation two years ago as our economy was hitting the skids, was more than 200 times that of the average employee at one of the financial hubs.  You know – the employees who process all those payables and receivables that balance in such a way as to provide him this ENORMOUS AND UNNECESSARY compensation.

I did a quick calculation based on a pay rate that I believe to be an average for the office where my friend works, and that includes the two management people and the “HR” person (who isn’t the local HR representative.)  I chose $40,000.  Yes, people, I know that many in that office make much less than this amount but I know at least one who makes a hell of a lot more.

0.04% of Bill Foote’s total compensation package in 2009 could have paid the salaries for that office for all employees for a full year.

Bill Foote, why are you allowing this to happen?

Why aren’t you standing for the UNITED STATES that is in your company name and sacrificing so that YOUR people can keep their jobs??

Why are you, the chairman of the board for UNITED STATES Gypsum, allowing jobs to be outsourced?

Why are you allowing a single mom with two children who you already pay so little that she has to get food from a free food pantry to be “downsized?”

Why are you allowing a 54 year old woman with a disabled husband to be “downsized?”

Why are YOU and YOUR EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE not sacrificing to HELP these people instead of kicking them out of the way as though they are some sort of garbage in the way of your (most likely) Italian-shod feet?

I know why you are doing this.  You live in a luxury mansion, with all the coolest, latest gizmos and gadgets, you have a wife who expects to wear designer clothing and have luxury vacations, your children are probably in private schools, your food is the best your money can buy, you must pay your interior designer, you must pay your gardener, housekeeper, and let’s not forget that you must pay for your luxury automobiles…oh wait.  I’ll bet the company pays for those.  And for the insurance on them.

Bill Foote, I worked for you.  For YOU, because YOU represent USG.  I was terminated in February, 2011.  I cannot find work.  I’ve had to reinvent myself.  I’m having to move from my lovely quaint neighborhood into a low-rent district 100 miles away so I can afford to have a roof over my head.  Yet, I’m one of the fortunate ones.  I don’t have any other mouths to feed.  I am not a single mom with two children.  I have a skill set outside of what I did for your company.  I don’t have a child with special health-care needs.  I don’t have a disabled husband.  I just have two cats.  I’m fortunate.

Hey Bill, do you own an iPhone?  An iPad?  How much did you pay for your last Gitman Brothers shirt?  Or was it Brooks Brothers?  Or maybe something even more expensive.  How much did you pay for your last golf sweater?  Know how much I paid for my last sweater?  $2.50 and I bought it at Goodwill.  How about your Allan Edmonds shoes?  Maybe you don’t wear Allan Edmonds.  Maybe they’re just too “pedestrian” for you at more than $300 a pair.

Hey Bill, since your company terminated me without severance, guess how much money I have left every month to eat, while living on unemployment?  $77.  I bet you spend that on lunch.

Hey Bill, how the hell do you expect these people you are “downsizing” to take care of themselves and their families at even a basic level?  Oh wait, I forgot.  They’re not people.  They’re numbers.  Do you know their names?  Nope.  You don’t want to know their names because that would make it personal.  Want to know who you’re ruining?  Post here with your email and I’ll email you the names of the people in that office who will suffer most from your greed.

Hey Bill, before you lay all these people off, before you spend another penny of the money your employees earned for you, take a month and live on $1,356.  Feed your family on it, pay all your bills on it.  Have tons of fun on it and then report back to me and tell me how well you did, because that is precisely the amount the Transaction Associates in the hub in my city will get for unemployment benefits.

Hey Bill, maybe someone needs to Occupy USG.  Whatcha think?  You and your executive minions are a disgrace to this country.  USG does not deserve to have the words UNITED STATES in its name.

Don’t tell me about all your philanthropy.  I know all about corporate executive philanthropy.  It’s bogus.  Now, were you to do it anonymously, and from your own pocket in figures that would make a difference in the lives of those people you are “downsizing” I might have some respect for you.  You won’t do it.

Hey Bill!  Be a REAL leader, step out and make a difference instead of allowing your sense of entitlement to tell you that you deserve more than $7 million a year in compensation.

Bill, be a warrior!  Have courage, man.  Step up to the plate, make a significant sacrifice yourself and then tell your executives that they must also do it, to set an example.  Think of the domino effect that could have!  Think of it – your name in NEON:  Bill Foote, Compassionate and Humanitarian Executive Saves Employees At His Own Expense!  

All it takes is one REAL leader, Bill.  Just one.  Are you that leader?

Bill, in this country, it’s unheard of for the Chairman of the Board of a major American corporation to personally extend a helping hand to his employees, to those employees from which so bloody much loyalty and hard work is demanded, to those employees who are told how oh-so-important they are…until they’re not, and to those employees whose loyalty and hard work is repaid with a big fat ZERO.  Bill, what’s $7 million minus zero?  That’s what you’ll earn this year.  What’s 11 people with families minus jobs?  Can you do that math?

It seems your $7 million plus is way more important than the survival of the average American families who may be ruined by your latest decision.  Oh, it wasn’t YOUR decision?  Oh yes it was, because it could not have happened without your knowledge and without you signing off on it.   Go ahead, blame it on the board members.  It was THEM.  They voted to do this.  Oh, it was the shareholders.  Ahh, that makes all the difference.  NOT.  Be accountable, Mr. Chairman.

You could have prevented it, but instead you chose to ruin those less fortunate than yourself.  Well, Mr. Chairman, all I have left to say is this:  As ye sow, so shall ye reap.  Biblical justice is sometimes a fine thing to watch.  No, that’s not a threat, so don’t go running for your battalion of corporate attorneys.  It’s simply the way of life.  You get what you give.  You may not get it tomorrow or next year, but you will get it.  It doesn’t come in an in-kind form, either.  The universe has a sense of justice and humor and it does provide balance.  If you get with it and do the right thing; if you do the moral thing, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did right.  That’s worth way more than $7 million a year, don’t you think?

You think you’re doing this for the good of the company?  Nah.  You did this for yourself.  There was another way.  You and your board chose the low road and that is the path most traveled and most destructive.  That path is fairly congested these days.