Friday, September 23, 2011

Last Night's Post

...Brought to you by frustration. Haven't seen a raise since we got 1% (or a bit less) in '07 -- yeah, it was a bit less, the recession slammed down -- and all but a very select few of my co-workers are in the exact same situation. (Most of the exceptions were artistes who had ironclad contracts and refused to consider such a thing as surrendering a scheduled raise. Funny coincidence, several of that crowd are no longer with us).

So, without a dime to spare for staff as prices climb, my employer's launched into a highly expensive makeover of the building. Now, we're in the business of selling sizzle, not steak, and the place has got to look the part; just as you don't go to a job interview in raggedy, out-at-the-knee jeans and T-shirt that's been through the wash too many times,* the edifice in the subbasements of which I toil must not, cannot, appear tatty or strapped for cash. I get that. If the money doesn't come in, it's sure as sunrise not gonna go out.

But it's still jarring to see. Add in a working situation where some folks seem to regard hostility just short of actionable as a real thrilling challenge and, well -- I genuinely regret never having earned a degree. I've seen how my siblings bounce from job to job to job, working at things with little or no connection to the disciplines in which they earned their M.A.s and it's quite obvious that the "stupid pieces of paper" I scoffed at really do open doors.

I wish I had that option. My job, turning gold into dross, is making me stupider and less patient every day I do it. Dammit, the laws about "hostile workplace" appear to have simply ensured a basal quantity of not-quite abuse and sniggering raillery just short of actionable -- exactly like the laws about cowflop and insect parts in ground meat have ensured you will indeed get just short of the Federally-mandated limit of each in every bite. Hey, Congress, another great success. Jerks.
* At least, that used to be done thing. These days, I suppose one simply has a quick delousing and perhaps one's tats freshened up for such occasions.


Ruth said...

degree does not always help. It has to be the right degree or that piece of paper doesn't do you any good. I speak from experience here!

Divemedic said...

I feel your pain. My rate of pay has not changed in 5 years, and my hours have been cut. I will make 22% less this year than I did in 2008.

Last year, I began taking classes to earn a BS degree, and this year I applied for admission to an MS program.

rickn8or said...

Divemedic-- I feel YOUR pain. My pay hasn't changed in the same amount of time, but my hours have increased.

"Hire another tech?? Naww. Tighten the screws on the one we got!"

North said...

I feel your pain, too. And this is your blog - vent on it if it helps. I think everyone who reads will be supportive.

Ed Rasimus said...

So, your last raise was Bush's fault?

Anonymous said...

I have over 200 open requisitions for technical positions that should be easier to fill than they are, Unemployment being what it is.

Art said...

Racin' to the bottom!

Got paycheck?
my job ... a lot of folks are tryin' to works those words into their vocabulary (without much success).

Bubblehead Les. said...

Trade you my B.S. for a Direct Deposit Statement right now. Of course, you could take the advice of "Doctor " Blutarsky and "Start Drinking Heavily." He's Pre-Med, you know. (Or was that Pre-Law)?

Ed Skinner said...

I have no four year degree either. Just a two year that HR departments sneer at. Coming in through the usual route and HR, I never get the chance to show what I have done. So, when job hunting, I have to use social/professional connections to get my resume into the hiring person's hands. He/she can override HR if they want to. Even then, it can be tricky. So, I list the colleges I attended but no other details. They will assume what they assume. And yes, that is a little devious. But I'm very good after having needed to better my degree'd peers for forty years and, once I get to talk to the hiring manager, I can usually convince him. Again, I say little about my education and re-focus any question on professional accomplishments.
Your raises are lousy. No question. But how is your life? Is the work personally rewarding to you? Do you like where you live? Do you like/enjoy some of the people?
Life isn't the paycheck. It's what you do and the people you associate with.

Ed Skinner said...

I should add that my salary fell back about 25% a few years ago across a job change and a year of unemployment. I doubt it will recover.
But I like the work and am very pleased to contribute to what our customers are building with our product, much of which is in-flight and some of which does tht without benefit of a pilot.

Cincinnatus said...

Its pretty tough for those with MA's these days, Roberta. The middle management fluff has taken an almost literal massacre in business.

Hang in there, people like you who get things done always have value.

John A said...

The paper is still good for getting past "Human Resources" departments.

Good you understand why the company is spending where it is. Many people I know would not grasp that. Helps cope, doesn't it?

Hope it works as desired, and maybe a raise will finally happen.

Roberta X remotely said...

Sadly, Ed, the work is neither rewarding nor fulfilling (in fairness, I was never promised it would be; most people's jobs suck worse) and most of the people are not to be trusted. Ghu help the person (usually me) who can't keep up with Empty Buzzword Of The Week, or at least pretend it means something.

I don't mind Indy, though it is a larger town than I ever wanted to live in.

I'm not where I wanted to be and I have no one to blame for it but myself. The money was really good -- even now, it's not dreadful -- and so I stayed long after I should have moved on. Now we're in a race to the bottom; staffing levels and pay will never be what what it once was.

Carteach said...

Trade you employer moronosity.

Our school admin swore up and down they were 'taking a pay freeze' since they asked instructors to (which we already had based on salary calculations admin is too stupid to understand). SOMEHOW Mr. Principal's income went up $5000 this year.... but it was NOT a raise.... wink wink.

Meanwhile, back in the bowels of the plant, every staff and maint. person at every campus got a.... wait for it..... ONE PENNY raise.

Principal is having new hand made cabinetry installed in his office, while the warehouse staff gets a pack of gum.... a small pack.

Take a wild guess what attitudes are like here.....

Anonymous said...


Sometimes building pretty-em-ups are the prelude to sale-of-company (Oooo - shiny!). Keep resume handy.

MAs pretty much useless these days, as are BSs and MBAs if in the wrong field. These days, networking, going around the HR departments, and getting in the back door are about the only way to get in the door.

You've obviously got the following skills:
- some writing skills (this blog)
- some computer skills (this blog)
- some organizing skills (organizing the Blogmeet)
- the technical stuff you do (whatever it is)

The only trick is to get your skills across without actually, you know, letting them know about, or reading, your blog. :-)


BGMiller said...

Y'know, with only a couple of minor changes this post could have been about me. Haven't gotten more than a 1% bump in a few years. Can't hire a body to help out and still have to deal with broader goals ever time I blink. And Standards keep getting updated. They'll drop a few kilobucks on shiny new display pans that won't fit in the line but Offler forbid they replace the steamer.

I freely ( and a little shamefully) admit that I've reached the point where I'm only doing just enough to keep from getting fired.

At least I have moments where my job is actually kinda rewarding. Every so often on of the stupid sheep....errrrr....customers will ask a question or make a comment and I end up realizing that I actually do know something and actually have a little skill.


Anonymous said...

Don't feel bad. I have a couple of pieces of paper... and my workplace sounds a LOT like yours.

And don't even get me started about my wife. She's a lawyer with a BIG piece of paper, and her (former) workplace... Gandhi would go postal.

Stretch said...

The store I've work at for over 9 years is closing Sunday. We have until the 30th to clean everything out of the building.
On the bright side. I will add to October's UNEXPECTED rise in unemployment.
Once had a job paying 50K a year. Last year saw 12,000.
Thank God for my Smarter Half or I'd be living in the back of my truck.
As long as we can pay for power and internet connectivity we'll all do fine ... and well.

Quizikle said...

Administration "needed" a new building...somehow or another this was necessary and justified because the lab buildings are deteriorating and the old administration building just happened to be in the way of new lab locations (open area on the site is not a problem. The deer and turkeys love it)

No raises, lab roofs leak (wastebaskets in hallways to collect water, plastic sheeting over desks, computers, and lab equipment), but we all got together to join in the celebration of the Grand Opening and New Beginning.

It's a real nice building.

But I do have a paycheck in work I (usually) enjoy...
* * * * * *
Paper by itself isn't much; you need the right paper in the right place at the right time when your tongue's in the right position during the proper phase of the moon to get a job.

Seriously though? I think a masters is necessary in any salary-level technical work these days - although a bachelors may get you in the door.

It's getting on that a bachelors is getting necessary for technician-level work...and "paper" seems to count more than ability. (A good tech is MUCH more valuable than what they get paid...certainly more than many "decision-makers")

It seems the bachelors degree is getting to be the equivalent of a high school diploma - which was considered well-educated early within living people's lifetimes - and seems to mean nothing much nowadays.

The Old Man said...

Sounds like my life - with the (sarcasm on)added bonus (/sarcasm off) of enlisting in this country's first unpopular war, back when being a vet was more shameful than cool. So between the lack o' academic "paper training" and the hairy eyeball regarding my two tours in 'Nam, finding a gig was tough and then became tougher. Did it the Heinlein way (Shiva bless that soul)and am now poised to retire in the next year. You're tough enough and smart enough to do the same thing. Hang in there, Our-Ecks, we're all in the chamber-pot with you....

og said...

That piece of paper is a lot less important in your field than a resume of accomplisments and a willingness to work. Unfortunately it also means being squished below a fairly low glass ceiling.

I am probabaly the most capable guy in my field, and my field is a pretty narrow one- but I am completely autodidactic. I'm compensated well, but I haven't had a raise since 98. And I've taken some dramatic pay cuts- though I have gotten them back.

Keep the resume updated. Stay the hell away from entertainment, public sector, and anyting "green". Manufacturing- what there is of it, anymore, is still the best fighting chance.

Larry said...

Tango Juliet said...

Hang in there Bobbi!! You're one of the most capable persons I know.