Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Once Upon a Time

It used to be that employers would, when firing someone, laying people off or closing their business, would give two weeks' notice.  Employees were also asked to give two weeks' notice when leaving their jobs.  There were no laws requiring this, absent union contracts, but most everyone did it.  This changed in the 1980s, when the mergers-and-acquisitions people decided that it was easier when moving jobs somewhere else, to skip the notice.  Workers would arrive at their place of employment to discover that they no longer had jobs, and then be escorted into said place of employment under guard to recover their personal effects.  Such behavior was so gracious and charming that laws were passed requiring employers of large numbers of people to give the community 60 days' notice that the business was closing.

But the tacky behavior spread throughout the land, and now businesses all over the place close down without a word to the employees.  They're notified by email that they no longer have a job, or they find a note tacked to the door when they report for work. Three restaurants have closed in recent months here, and two of them gave no notice to the employees in advance.  Given that restaurant work doesn't pay much, most of the employees probably didn't have much in savings to tide them over while searching for a new job, so these employers have a lot of bad karma to work off.  One restaurateur, Adam Pechal, did give his workers notice and, not only that, two weeks' notice.  While commendable, given the behavior of the other two, this used to be standard practice.

I cannot help but think that the demise of unions, in addition to crashing wages for the majority, also enabled employers large and small to make their contribution to the current meanness of our world.  Notice that your job is disappearing is such a little thing, one would think.

No comments: