I mentioned this once in a previous post. I feel it necessary to mention it here because of a conversation I had the other day. I don’t remember how the conversation started and I won’t repeat it verbatim because I can’t remember it exactly as it developed. The gist of the conversation was this.
After a few statements between the two of us about minimum wage not being enough for people to live off of, (here in BC minimum wage is $11.35/hour), she commented that as a business owner if minimum wage is raised then she would have to increase prices which would then put what she sells out of reach for the lower income earners. It is a vicious cycle. Raise minimum wage so those making minimum wage can afford to buy what they need, businesses then have to raise cost of products to cover the increase they have to give to their employees, which then puts the minimum wage earners back into the same situation they were in where they can’t afford the things they need.
I mentioned to her my feelings about how every working person should be paid the same salary no matter what they do. I know where people go the minute I bring this up and she was no different. She didn’t agree because what about the people who spend the money to get an education/degree? I’ll say it again and clarify a bit more. I think EVERYONE should be paid the same. This is regardless of education, race, age, sex, all the things they list now for hiring so companies are not considered prejudice.
Let me explain this especially in regards to education. First, when a person is hired, they are hired to do a particular job. Whether that person is self-taught, learned through on-the-job experience, or has a college education, the job is the same. If a person doesn’t have a college degree and is paid less than the person with a college degree but they do the job equally then this is prejudicial treatment. The job is being done. If the job is being done then the person doing the job should be paid the same as ANY OTHER person who does the job regardless of education, race, sex, and so forth. Let me say that again. THE JOB IS BEING DONE.
If I am being paid less because I’m self-taught, then I am not respected for the services I provide. It is as simple as that. The choice to get a college degree is the individual’s choice. As a self-taught person, I just happened to choose a different method to learn what I need to know in order to perform the same function. It doesn’t mean it cost me less and it doesn’t mean I know less. All it means is I learned how to do it through a different method. It doesn’t mean I am less able to do the job. The other part of this is, if my not having education credits for the skills I have and my resume reflects experience, why should I not be considered equal to that of a person who has education credits? My experience proves my ability to perform the job.
On a broader scale I would like to propose this idea even further to span through all jobs within a company. NO ONE SHOULD BE PAID MORE THAN ANYONE ELSE. Being paid more implies a person performs a job of greater value than another person within the company. This is just not true. In fact, if anyone really looked at what is being done by all the various functions within a company one would realize that those who are paid the least are generally those who do the actual labor that creates the product or service that is necessary for the company to exist. Without that product or service there would be nothing.
Granted a CEO may have the top position that makes major decisions for the company but who is the one that eventually carries out those decisions? Usually those closer to the bottom of the pay scale. Why then is the CEO making hundreds of thousands of dollars or even millions while those at the bottom of the pay scale may earn only twenty or thirty thousand a year barely enough to feed themselves let alone a family? Without those at the bottom of the pay scale, there would be no service provided or no product to sell. How is this not prejudicial treatment?
Without cashiers, a company who sells products and services to customers, wouldn’t be able to sell their products and services. Therefore, there would be no business.
Without janitors/cleaners, any company who does business with the public or requires customers or potential clients to be in their office or store, would not be able to retain their business due to the filth of their environment.
These are just two I mention because in my many years of experience these are two positions which are paid the least and yet I feel their position is far more important to the company than a CEO. Some people would say a CEO is required. I could challenge that idea by saying a CEO is only as important as the people below him/her make the CEO. Granted the larger the company the harder it is to manage but again, I will say this. Without those who do the leg work or labor to produce the product or services there would be NO company/business. The only reason a CEO can be paid their exorbitant pay is because of those who work so hard and diligently on creating the product and services that the company sells. Take those products and services away and there is nothing and no need for a CEO. Take away the CEO? Oh yes, I’ve worked for a company which ran for about at year without a CEO and it survived. A store without cashiers wouldn’t survive a day. So, where is the logic in pay scales?
I sometimes wonder what would happen if all those at the bottom of the pay scale just stopped working. All on the same day, and those needing jobs refused to be hired. This would mean no company could replace anyone until people were shown respect for the work they are hired to do by being paid a decent wage. Pay me the same hourly wage as anyone else in the company (yes, in the company, not in a particular job).
I could touch on other subjects like pay for part-time work versus full-time, benefits and so on. It is as simple as this. It doesn’t matter whether I work part-time or full-time, the hourly wage should be the same for everyone in the company. A person who stocks the shelves shouldn’t be paid more or less than a person who manages a department. A person who manages a department shouldn’t be paid more than a person who fulfills a cashier’s position or a customer service position. A person who cleans the toilets or mops the floors shouldn’t be paid any less than a person who writes the programs that run the registers or tracks inventory. And the CEO, or President or Vice President of the company shouldn’t be paid more than a data entry person or an office administrator. No company, if managed properly, will have someone performing a job that isn’t necessary to the existence of the company. If the position is necessary then why should the wage for that job be any different than the wage for all the other necessary positions within that company?
The same goes for benefits. If the CEO is given benefits then every single employee (part-time or full-time) of that company should also be given those benefits at the same level.
I know the arguments, but what if so-and-so doesn’t perform as well as I do? Why shouldn’t I get paid more for performing better? Well, why should a company keep around an employee if they aren’t performing their job function? But the opposite is also true. If you choose to do more in your job than the company states for that position then that is your choice. The company didn’t hire you to do that, so why do it? This may seem as though there is no incentive to do better or move upwards in the company. If you feel that way then you are doing it for the wrong reasons.
If the company is run properly under these situations, meaning the pay is leveled out so everyone earns enough money to have a decent living where they can raise a family, have a roof over everyone’s head and food in their stomachs then the incentive changes. It changes to that of people wanting to do what they love to do and work harder to make the business more profitable. With better profits the company grows, with more growth better pay and so forth. Everyone works equally hard and becomes devoted to the company and its business. They are no longer expending their energy on complaining or job hunting for a better paying job and if the company includes mentoring programs then people are more willing to share their knowledge and help each other learn and become better at what they do.
Could you imagine where a company could go if it was built upon this idea? Can you imagine what the work environment would be like for employees working for such a company? I can. Even if for some reason, say a product wasn’t working out the way they had hoped and the company started having financial issues. In this environment adjusting everyone’s pay a bit to help the company refocus and find a solution would (I think) be more acceptable than a workforce reduction. If more companies were managed in this way, then it would create an environment where everyone wanted to work together to find a solution.
This is where I stand. This is where I stand my ground. No situation is perfect. I will admit that. Even this idea has its flaws. But something has to change. There wouldn’t be a need for minimum wage in circumstances like this, except to keep bad business owners from ripping off employees. For 33 years I have watched corporations which are poorly managed hurt and devalue the employees who do the leg work, who do the labor while their CEOs, Presidents and Vice Presidents make half a million or a million dollars or more. Their pay doesn’t get adjusted, they don’t lose out on their bonuses while employees who desperately need what little pay they get to feed their families get laid off and possibly put out on the street. I have experienced it. I have lived it. I have watched people’s lives be ruined by it. I’ve watched people go through every bit of their savings and their retirement to survive what corporations do to them without a second thought while their leaders walk away with thousands if not millions of dollars.
It is time to put a stop to this madness.
On top of that, the digital world today makes it so much easier for companies to not look at people as people. They don’t see me as a single mother who will lose her only income to feed and care for her child. There is no guilt behind the choice to do a workforce reduction of a hundred, a thousand or ten thousand people. To them it is just a number, an adjustment to the bottom line. It is a position where they can pay someone from another country which will translate into lower wages and it doesn’t matter if that person isn’t trained or able to perform the job very well. Especially if it is behind the scenes where the customer will never see or know anything about it. Just show the board of directors that over the year they were able to cut so many dollars out of the budget to raise the level of profit. It doesn’t matter that the morale in the company grows worse each year because they are only concerned about the bottom line for the end of the year, or next year.
Running a company like this will eventually end in ruin. It doesn’t matter how many mergers the company goes through. If the management of the company doesn’t undergo a severe alteration, eventually, it will sink. The name may change but what is underneath the covers is still the same. If customers don’t do their research they may end up being fooled by the cover. Then there are the customers who hang on, hoping what they get for their dollar will change or improve with the new merger. And there will always be the customers who choose the lower bid for the work they want done and expect more than what they pay for. Customers like this will bleed a company dry if the company isn’t managed well and firm on the cost of their services/products.
The abuse that goes on within large corporations is horrendous. Employees are worked to death and paid the same salary whether they work a forty hour week or a sixty hour week, all in the name of giving the customer what they ask for and when they ask for it. Even if what is being asked is unreasonable. I’ve seen timelines shrunk from a year to three months all so they won’t lose the customer. Especially if the customer is their major breadwinner.
I would say I’m glad to be out of this large corporation mentality but I would be fooling myself if I believed I was. I’m not. I am, however, down further on the pay scale within a large corporation, so I have witnessed this mentality from the lowest rung to ( was about to say mid-level but that wouldn’t be true) within the bottom third. The upper two thirds is management or specialists which the company will pay extra for but are rare. I’ve watched restructuring occur so many times, I lost track. Restructuring is just a preamble to workforce reductions. They move management around so when a new manager is positioned over a group of people there is no sense of loyalty to the employee and reductions can be done without guilt. When the manager has no long term relationship with those who work under him/her then they aren’t burdened with the knowledge that I’m a single parent, sole income earner and no savings to live off of because I wasn’t being paid enough to build up a buffer for such a situation. Or that I just went through a hard battle with cancer and need the work because the cost of treatment took everything I had. Or…. Or…. Or… The longer a manager manages people the more the manager learns the employee’s personal situation. Remove this and you destroy the will of a manager to fight for their employees.
Yes, there are times when a company needs to downsize. Something goes terribly wrong and profits dive. Products and services need to be taken out of production or no longer offered because customers don’t want them anymore. But when a company does restructuring over and over again, performs workforce reductions over and over again. Year after year, or every couple of years, there is something terribly wrong within the running of the company. As an employee who performed the same job function for twenty or more years and went through buy outs and mergers so often we couldn’t remember the name of the company we worked for, it was painful to watch. Frustrating to know nothing we said was penetrating the muck at the top. What is that saying? Insanity, is when you do the same thing over and over again expecting different results.
I lived in the corporate insanity. I think I’m out of it now and I hope I won’t have to go back into it in order to earn the money I need to take care of me and my daughter. Earning minimum wage sucks. I don’t know how anyone can survive off of $11.35 an hour. Working full time at that amount, I would barely be able to afford rent and food, but the job I have isn’t full-time. It is part-time which means I can’t afford rent and food. Until you are in such a situation you have no idea the toll it takes on anyone. Even if I worked full-time at minimum wage I wouldn’t be making the amount I made when I first entered the workforce at eighteen. That is almost 40 years ago!!!!!
Think about that for a moment. I’ve worked for nearly 40 years, been laid off and now making less than I made when I started working at the age of 18.
There is something terribly wrong with this picture.