Friday, February 06, 2009

A company's raison d'etre

I was at my Yahoo main page and saw a short synopsis for an article that didn't exactly make my jaw drop, but did kind of annoy me: (I have underlined the offending words in red.)

So if a company doesn't lay anyone off, they are "staying loyal" to employees? It kind of redefines what a business is all about. A business is about providing a service or product, but this article almost seems to say that it's about providing a job.

When companies makes lay offs, they are not being disloyal to employees, they are being loyal to the company and doing what is best in the face of reduced demand.

I applaud the companies for their strategies, like cross-training employees for different positions, but if Ford or other companies are laying off employees, they are taking care of the company, which in turn is best for those who continue to stay in its employ.

Gah, this annoys me. My husband and I are watching Season 2 of The Wire. Love that show...anyway, the episode we watched last night had a pretty telling scene: the boss of the local dock laborers' union and another union representative are at a presentation of Rotterdam port, where according to the presentation everything is so highly automated and efficient, that it is the top port in the world, Singapore coming in a far second. The presenter is aiming to introduce such improvements to Baltimore's port. Rotterdam reduced injuries by 60%, and is able to move all that freight with a mere 4000 dock workers. And the list of improvements goes on and on. And you can see the union representatives’ faces getting angrier and angrier. At the end of the presentation one asks: what about the jobs? The presenter tried to impress upon him the lower injury rate and how less containers get lost due to human error, etc. But it is all lost on the union boss, because all he is interested in are the jobs.

Later in the show the same union boss is yelling at a lobbyist he had paid, and criticized the fact that the lobbyist's son was at Princeton, and when he would graduate he could become anything he wanted to, whereas the union boss’ children were going to be dockworkers, and there were less and less dock jobs to be had. The lobbyist got pretty annoyed and said that his great-grandfather was a knife sharpener, and made sure that his grandfather graduated from high school so he didn’t have to sharpen knives, and that his father went to college, and the lobbyist also went to college. And the union boss just looked at him and said he was talking in the present and there was no opportunity for his sons other than dock work. The message was totally lost: if you had encouraged your children to seek out other occupations and training, they would have had other opportunities. But no, for the union boss, he was being let down by the company.

Some people will always see themselves as powerless in their own destiny. It reminds me of what Sarah linked to yesterday:
This fact is incredible, and very revealing. 75% of Republicans believe you can get ahead by working hard, compared to 14% for Democrats. 86% of Democrats don’t believe that hard work allows you get ahead!


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