I was at work today for Labour Day and on TV was Good Morning America. The theme was celebrating the American worker and their accomplishments. I’ll tell you how it went down.
Kelly put on her glasses, smile wide, and pulled out a piece of paper which she read from. The paper was from an article (which I have issues with, but I will leave alone for now) by ABC news. Kelly proceeded only to read the opening of it, which reads: ‘Americans work more than anyone in the industrialized world. More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese. And Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too.’
And everyone cheered.
And they kept cheering when Kelly put her paper down and smiled at everyone. (not continuing with the rest of the article which suggests that this may in fact be a problem).
And I just couldn’t BELIEVE that anyone was cheering. America. AMERICA you work more than the French, who are entitled by law to have 5 weeks off a year for vacation and can not work more than 35 hours per week. You work more than Norway, who average 33 hours per week and 44,000 dollars a year. Germany, where AGAIN, we see a shorter work week and better pay! And all of these countries have health care and better pay and free/affordable education!
WHY ARE YOU CHEERING?
I have a different interpretation of this information: the American worker is the most taken advantage of worker in the industrialized world. It’s plain and simple. You work long hours and get horrible pay. You take multiple jobs and work and work and work just to get by. Unions are disappearing, jobs are always looking for part timers and all you are doing is giving up your time for less money, less vacation, less safety and stability and less education than anyone else on the list.
Celebrate Labour day. Celebrate the accomplishments of the common worker, but don’t let these people trick you into thinking you should celebrate the theft of your time and energy, or the fruits of your labour.
They are using you. Stop cheering.
One of the things I appreciate about my job is hard line between work and personal life. Most of that is due to it being a union shop with strict contractual rules about paying union members overtime when they work more than 8 hours in day. However, the culture spills over into management and I have a non exempt position as well, so there is no expectation of 12 hour days. There are (exempt) people who take their work home and/or brag about working 60 hours a week, but that is not the norm. I also take 100 percent of my vacation time and HR makes sure that everyone does. If the office can’t handle people using their time, they need to hire more people because time off is part of their wages. We do have limits on how many people can be gone in a day, but everyone has the chance to use what they have earned.
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