On Friday December 29th I sat in my home office completing some of my work, expecting my wife to arrive home at around 1:00 PM. She told me her office was closing at noon for the New Year's holiday weekend.
To my surprise she arrived home at 12:15 PM. Tears filled her eyes as I watched her hang up her coat. I asked her what's wrong and between sobs I heard, "my jobs been terminated." I was stunned. One of the points about her place of employment was that it was not cyclical, accounting is fairly stable. She said that the Office Administrator told her the computer system that was installed last year was more efficient than expected and her job would no longer exist.
After 18 years she received two weeks severance pay. Nice going corporate America could you have picked a better time? The last working day of the year and January isn't known to be a exactly the high flying hiring time of the year. The decision makers knew they were going to do this but decided to wait until the last minute. The moral thing to do would have been to give my wife advance notice and then we would have banked the Christmas money we spent on each other. We would have bought our son gifts and waived the spouse to spouse gifting.
An interesting fact is that she was busy at her job, working through lunches to get complete the work. She never had a bad review and not once in 18 years did she receive a bad mark on her file. She was given very appropriate raises. More than previous generations Corporate America considers its workers as chattel. I am sure they looked at the 18 years of raises, the 4 weeks of vacation and considered....we can find another work horse, one that doesn't have the 4 weeks of vacation. Perhaps it is also that two senior Partner Shareholders retired on January 1, 2007. The Firm had to buy the retiring Shareholders out and they went sniffing for money.
My wife requested a referral letter. The Office Administrator said, "It isn't our usual policy but we will make an exception for you." How nice? So here's the deal, for the first ten years my wife worked as Executive Secretary to the Partner in Charge, plus several other Partners. Her next assignment was to work as the Marketing Coordinator, which she did for 3 or 4 years. The Firm then decides that the son's girlfriend of the Partner in Charge fresh out of school wants to be in marketing. So....they have my wife train the young girl for the Marketing job. My wife moves on to another job as a Supervisor doing something with reports (I'm not exactly sure what she did.)
The Referral arrived by e-mail and it said, "WIFES NAME, worked at FIRM NAME from March 1989 to the end of 2006 doing general clerical work. Hm now there's a referral letter to be proud of. It makes it sound like my wife was a beginning typist and never did a thing other than working in a typing pool. It is a letter that skirts the edge of defamatory and isn't exactly full of truth.
So at 52 years of age, my wife must now go out and try to start again. I was talking to a frind that works at a dental office and she said this same story is told to her on a daily basis. In the past week I have talked to many, many people that either knew somone or it happen to them. You reaach around the age of 50, you have a lot of time in at the company, vacation time has accrued, etc., and all of the sudden you have a big red bulls eye on your chest. You are out the door.
The government keeps pushing the working age to a higher number but Corporate America is pushing the older employees out the door. Are we going to have all people age 55 and older working at McDonald's or Walmart? I am PO'd about this. Lugging the Firms Marketing Showcase Displays to different events was not an easy task, took a lot of creative thought, planning, etc. As Executive Secretary she was the right hand of the Partner in Charge and other Partners. To be tossed aside in such a manner and receive such a terminally ill referral letter is unconscionable. I understand that at times companies need to make financial decisions (although this company is doing quite well) but there is a better way to have a long term employee exit. More notice and severance pay would be a beginning.
A law of kinetics says that work in can never equal work out. The problem is that economists keep trying to defy that law. They want to somehow make things happen at 100 percent efficiency. As human capital (workers to you and I) keep being removed, the economist argues that efficiency is brought to the workplace. There is truth in that from an economists point of view. At what point will so many human capital (people) be removed from the equation that nobody will have working capital? No wait!?!? About 15 years ago I began to consider that in the future, in America, the wealth will be in the hands of a few, the middle class will be gone and the lower class will exist as the service sector to provide services to that small percentage that hold capital. Is that what the economists consider a healthy society? What made life her in America good, what worked in America was a healthy middle class. That middle class is all but dead.
I am looking for other's that have had similar experiences.