Corporate Suicide: Employees Assets or Liabilities?

After an eye-opening experience at the hands of a big box retailer for whom I had been employed for the past two weeks assisting them with a move into larger, more spacious digs at an area strip mall, it occurred to me that there seems to be mass corporate delusion in this country insofar as why we are where we are economically.

We have large, national retail corporations which somehow have gotten the idea that their employees, the faces which serve the public in most instances, are instead of an asset, actually more of a liability…or profit generator…

Or at least one of their expenses which bears scrutiny and continual monitoring…

If you haven’t heard of the TALX forms (as in "talks"), you might want to look it up, along with the FTC complaint which was filed against them and a NY Times article dedicated to their agendas when employees are terminated or laid off.

They have been retained by many Fortune 500 companies whose sole purpose is to drag out and/or deny outright employee claims for unemployment compensation. 

At most companies, you are requested to fill out and "consent" to a screening by their representatives of your personal history, employment history, and each and every dollar you may be receiving for public assistance both prior to employment, or thereafter if your employment is terminated for any reason whatsoever.

A third party contractor, as it were, so that you are forced to deal with them through the unemployment offices, rather than the company directly.

Which scenario can and appears does lead to the "whose on first" game during those unemployment interviews or hearings.

So far, several states have now made moves to curtail their activities but many have not.  But this is a booming industry and business in this bust economy, to be sure.

Below you will find the links.

As one who worked in the labor/employment law field for many, many years and for probably the foremost labor law attorney in the nation (who was responsible for counseling Wal-Mart stores management through his retirement, eventually sitting on the Board of Directors), I certainly can see where this might be appealing to many national chains.

After all, there are quite a few fraudulent unemployment claims; however, for every ten there is the one employee who ends up living on the street while this process works it way through the unemployment review process. 

And one in which it clearly takes a lawyer in order to assist such an employee, which of course then reduces his benefit amounts considerably.  Or leaves him dependent on relatives for his day to day living, or out on the street until the conclusion of the government  "process."

But maybe that is the point. 

Each and every government office that denies claims or benefits from unemployment, or social security, Medicare, or whatever does so with the caveat "you can always hire a lawyer."

If you can find one for those minor claims but claims that mean the difference between life and…you know…

I know that during my tenure in the field of labor/employment law, this was not the case…

In fact, my boss treated me with the utmost respect, and listened to my point of view on many matters as an employee…

He, in fact, counseled that the employees were an employers greatest asset, and that in order to develop a loyal and dedicated workforce you did need to make the effort to treat them with both respect, and compensate them adequately for time worked - whether in the form of direct compensation, or "shares" of the profits of the company - for those lower paying positions also.

Reducing the "golden parachutes" as it were for top level management, and instead using those sums to compensate the "boots on the ground" at the store levels.

And All the way to the lowly janitor (or sanitation superintendent).

Profit sharing has gone the way of the dinosaur, although in order to feel any type of "ownership" of your job and the company, that clearly is the route that develops the best workforce. 

401(k) plans and pensions don’t have a direct impact on performance, or "ownership" status.

Sam Walton understood that, at least during those early years.

Before the banks and politicians got involved.

In fact, most of those early Wal-Mart employees became multi-millionaires as Wal-Mart grew and expanded throughout the country from its roots as a rather small, family run business in Bentonville, Arkansas.

And this entire debate over health insurance also has its spins with employers begging for "relief" from those huge health care costs.

Funny, though, in all my years of employment it really was I, not the employer, that paid those premiums for the most part.  If not for my own, definitely for any dependent or spousal coverage I might need.

I got a better rate due to the "group" plans I was under, but still paid nonetheless.

So there was little out of pocket expense to those employers.

It really is the small businessmen that need that relief, those with few employees, and I just wonder why the small business administration or private sector isn’t offering low cost health insurance to small business owners as part of their coverages and  "mission."

That certainly would be one solution to the amount of uninsured we now have.

Along with bringing back those charity hospitals that were built with donations, (many of which have progressively been "privatized" after being built with donations or taxpayer grant monies and sums) or those community health hospitals built with all those property taxes back in the 60′s and 70′s. 

There were earmarked sums on my property tax bills for those hospital costs, believe me, for over twenty years at the county level.

It seems to me that the corporate mentality is that employees are just another "fixture" or method in which to up corporate profits, with all the company tshirts that are sold (at their cost) or those covered parking fees…or gym memberships…

At least for the low to mid level employees.

I wonder, do they even consider just why it is that employee unions came into being to begin with?

Could it be that those sweatshops of the past which have disappeared for the most part here, are being used by modern day corporate America in China and Mexico instead as a thumb in the nose to the American workers?

Surely, that cannot be the case…

Or could it?

No wonder those ballyhooed reports on the number of unemployment claims are now hitting the papers and getting lower (artificially, of course)…this is, after all, a BOOM industry – outsourcing "managing" unemployment claims defense to third party (corporate) subcontractors.

By the way, all these articles are easily searchable and in the public domain, but I have included the links just to educate yourself while looking for those few, very few, jobs that are around in most states throughout the nation at this time….

The workplace certainly HAS changed….but is this a positive change, I wonder?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/04/us/04talx.html?pagewanted=2
http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/07/talx.shtm

And here is an article on a Chinese manufacturing plant that highlights some of the points made in this article about just how this outsourcing is killing both the U.S. economy, and undermining the American workforce…at the cost of the many, for the benefit of the few…there IS a middle ground, and Constitutional remedies if Washington would only "rewind."

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/apple-sweatshop-problem-16-hour-days-70-cents-172800495.html