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Comments by YACCS
Sunday, July 23, 2006

Welcome to Jane's World

Class Warfare 2, Jane Works Overtime At "Big Flo's"
by Bob Higgins


Jane works overtime for "Big Flo's" for free.

Yes, free, and here, as I promised, is another irony: she considers it a perk, granted to her because of her long and faithful service and her position as a team leader.

Here's how it works: The Corporation sets strict guidelines for the operation of individual locations. Through the arcane ministrations and dictates of their legion of bishop like CPAs they pass along regular fiats regarding every aspect of management to the bottom tier of the organization.

If the head CPA wizard says that food costs must not rise above 35%, or labor costs will not exceed 18% then those commandments are carved in stone tablets and placed around the neck of the individual store manager. It is holy writ from on high, and woe unto any lowly slug of a manager whose budget shows abnormally high expenditures for fried okra or dinner rolls.

But labor is another thing. States generally don't pass laws about how a restaurant spends money on food or beverage, but they do, for the good of all of us, regulate the number of hours that an employees can be required to work before they must be compensated with a premium rate of pay their efforts.

In Ohio the limit is forty hours in one week and after that the employee must be paid at their hourly rate plus one half.

In Jane's case this would make her wages of $2.36 per hour skyrocket to an astronomical and potentially, economy wrecking $3.54 per hour for every hour she works over forty.

This would be an egregious and possibly catastrophic violation of the holy writ on food costs which might turn the entire restaurant industry on it's ear and cannot be permitted.

Restaurant's must be fully staffed in order to meet the expectations of their customers or the customers will leave and become someone Else's customers. Diners tend to be picky about slow service, cold food and other un niceties affecting their dining out experience.

Restaurants also experience a high volume of employee turn over (one wonders why) and there are vacation schedules and illnesses, family emergencies, broken cars, dogs swallowing car keys, plain old garden variety hangovers or sometimes just a lack of interest in reporting for such a crummy job and well ...even ... lies, anyway, a great variety of reasons why employees call off work.

But someone must be there to serve the fried okra and the dinner rolls to an ever voracious public, hence on many a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, when Jane's compliment of weekly hours has been filled, when clocking any additional time will require paying her over time, her phone rings with a request to fill in for Marie or Rose or Belle or Jerry and she dutifully irons a uniform, cancels whatever plans she had for her day off and reports in, to cover the hole in the battle lines of the fried okra frontier.

"Big Flo's," is of course, filled with gratitude at this selfless exhibition of dedication and loyalty and happily reciprocates by paying her ... nothing.

Nothing ...... Nothing and no/100s. Zippola.

Were she to be paid, her pay would have to be at the rate of time and a half because the extra shift puts her over forty hours for the week.

To pay her over time would threaten the holy writ regarding labor as a percentage of overhead, violate that entire relevant chapter of the gospel according to CPAs and possibly throw the entire food service industry into turmoil, at the least, certainly, manager's heads would roll all the way to the district level.

No, the only sound business solution, and the only fair way to handle this and not threaten the sanctity of the bottom line is for Jane to work for free, to come in, cover the shift, not clock in, not receive compensation from a company of over twenty five thousand employees, to work for tips only, and she does it at least twice a month, because, "I need the extra money."

You know the drill, the car needs a new battery, behind on the gas bill, a Grand child's birthday, saving a few bucks for Christmas, whatever.

In addition, she also knows that to refuse or to complain might cause her to lose her position as "Team Leader" and have her hours cut back to twenty four as well as suffer an hourly reduction which might just be the difference between her small but comfortable apartment in a nice area or some hellhole in subsidized low income housing.

That old "Big Flo's," they're a "family" oriented company and pride themselves on their old fashioned American values of God and Country, of loyalty, dedication and hard work. Why. many of it's executives are Christian men who sit in the front rows of their churches.

Well, a couple of years back a few employees (commies no doubt, hell, probably even liberals) sued "Big Flo's" for violations of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act specifically for the kind of criminal behavior described above.
Given the nature of our pointy headed activist court system poor old "Big Flo's" was forced to settle, for millions. No criminal charges, no admission of guilt, no public scorn or ridicule, our pointy headed courts aren't that pointy headed.

No one is allowed to discuss the settlement though. By corporate fiat, managers are forbidden from discussing it with the help and the help is forbidden from asking management about the settlement.

They have however provided claim forms that employees can send in to corporate if they want to share in the award for claims for unpaid overtime or other abuses.

Jane showed me her claim form, she's had it for a year, I don't think she's going to file, she depends on her job, to stay alive, in America.

The phone still rings on Saturday or Sunday and Jane, ever loyal, ever diligent still covers the battle lines in the okra wars.

For Tips only.

Many of you are thinking Jane is a fucking idiot. Low wage moron, should have gone to school.

Well, techie, this is YOU, except you sit in an office and maybe if you're good, they 'll let you decorate your cube.

How many of you put in unpaid overtime? How many of you gave up vacation time for a project? How many hours do you work?

Jane serves food, you work on code, but the only difference is you make more money. You are treated exactly the same as Jane is, even if you have Star Wars figurines and
astroturf on the floor of your cube.

And the bullshit some of you were tossing made Jen and I laugh. It was the evil east coast, it's soul killing to not turn your cube into a second home.

I am going to explain the one fact of life I learned at NetSlaves, you get nothing for free. If your boss has a chef and a dog walker for you, or lets you bring the beastie into the office, it's not because he's a nice guy.

It's because you're not going home.

Back in the day, you didn't get anything as real as tips, you got options, some of which is now worth less than toilet paper.

At least Jane has a clue she's being screwed.

Any company which hire's a high school dropout and doesn't insist they get more education is not your friend. You might want to consider them an exploitative enemy.
Why? Because you can believe all the bullshit you want about degrees, but the reality is without them, no matter how brilliant you are, you do not get in the door.

A good company, which cared about you and your career, would get you into school so they could promote you. A company which could give a shit would use you until you hit 30 or so, and then you're gonna get canned. Maybe at 35, but if you're lucky, it would be 30. Then you're on your own with your education.

What I don't think people got from the cube post was this: Jen and I are not against individual expression. But we're all for keeping your job, maybe being promoted. And the goofier you are, the less likely that is to happen. Anything which tells your boss you would rather be at home is bad. And you need to wonder WHY he would let you
make it feel like home. The most common reason is that you won't be seeing yours.

Then of course, people were talking around the real reason for the failure of the dotcoms: spending

People can talk about east coast-west coast and all that bullshit, but the reality is that companies run on OPM fail.

Microsoft and Apple were grown from their creators pockets. They didn't invest in fancy office buildings or fast cars or the Concorde. They started small, reinvested and expanded to meet the market. They didn't swagger into an office building and acted like they had their shit together when they had no clue.

Let's take The founders were jetsetting, taking the Concorde, and their site didn't work on Macs. Ooops.

You had one company founded by a conman who threw a party in Vegas with the Who, and was later found to have a record as long as your arm.

When you talk about some West Coast magic, I wonder if that includes Wired's mid-90's Thanksgiving firings? The week before Thanksgiving, people would be fired. If a real company did that,they would be vilified in the press.

But that's the wrong issue anyway. This is about an industry more worried about appearances than reality. Sure, a lot of people made money from the IPO's and the rest. The only problem is that they made that money from people who had little clue what they were doing.

I remember a 1996 documentary on the stock boom. You had people cheering companies on, one guy put all his down payment money for his new house in Iomega stock. I nearly shit myself when I saw that. The guy thought he'd hit the jackpot. Instead he was risking his future. I won't even go into the nightmare of Day Trading and its bastard son, the Forex infomercial.

When people talk about the vast sums made in the Valley, they need to realize it came from somewhere and while the VC's got out, a lot of people, hard working, decent people lost money. One guy who sunk his money into a dotcom had to continue working because his retirement money went poof. Too bad he had cancer.

Yes, Wall Street is to blame. There is a special circle of hell for Henry Blodget and Frank Quattrone. But to sit here, after the wreckage of millions of lives and the loss of trillions, and to just blame Wall Street is intellectual dishonesty of the worst kind. The snake oil salesmen didn't only live in New York. The people who sold failed solution after failed solution should be beaten with sticks, not living in mansions .

But back to Jane. Jen and I decided a while back we like companies with rules. Some of those rules may suck, but you know, they also have the habit of paying you a couple of times a month.
Jane lives in a ruleless world, but at least she goes home at night. Companies which allow you to play Barbie playhouse, doesn't care about your further education or works you all hours are the kind of company which tends not to pay.

You never have much warning, unless you look. The cutbacks start small, but then, one day, the division is gone, the company sold, whatever, but it's gone and so is your job.

Companies don't let you express yourself unless there's something in it for them. People who forgot that wound up as baristas and back in their parent's basement.

posted by Steve @ 12:34:00 AM

12:34:00 AM

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