Blog Archive - June 2013
Today in the Washington D.C., Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said he did not believe in the minimum wage and compared it to welfare. Instead, he wants to increase the earned income tax credit to help the poor. He didn’t explain how a person making less money would be helped by the credit.
Huffington Post, which reported Senator Alexander’s comment, offered a second article examining the ways employers evade paying the minimum wage. One method of doing this is by classifying employers in a way gets around the law, including calling them contractors, which also lets employers dodge tax obligations. Between 2004 and 2011, the number of federal suits related to the minimum wage has nearly doubled.
What is the value of work? We need to answer that question, especially in a time when unemployment makes many low wage, low skill workers open to exploitation. Justice and morality require a minimum wage – except for Senators from Tennessee.
What should a mother or father do who is looking to return to work? I would recommend reading Meg Graham’s article in today’s Grid from The Chicago Sun-Times. This article talks about resources and strategies available for professionals who have taken time off to raise children or care for sick relatives. I recommend it as a great resource.
What I would add to Graham’s article is that parents and others who have to leave their jobs need to be proactive in planning how they will stay professionally viable while they are out of work. They need to plan to volunteer or work part time in a way that will involve the skills and knowledge they will need when they return to work. Like all good career management, knowing how to enter, exit, and re-enter the job market takes planning and foresight.
Detroit is a great American, and it is in trouble. Rather than the state or federal government coming to its aid, they do nothing – or less than nothing. The governor of Michigan has assigned an emergency manager whose main job is to pay creditors by selling off public assets.
Today, we have a small bit of good news for Detroit. According to Daily Kos, musician Jack White has saved the city’s Masonic Temple, which was completed in 1926. White’s mother worked in the building when he way young. The story also notes that White has donated in the past to save a baseball field in the city.
So what do we have here? One person trying to save the city while others who should be protecting public assets want to tear them down and sell them off. Welcome to America in 2013.
Good advice? Once upon a time, American society offered mobility, especially to those who made the sacrifice to get a good education. Writing in Daily Kos, Laura Clawson finds that things are different now in the U.S. If you want to get ahead, there’s one path to success: Be born rich.
College graduates still have better prospects than those with less education. But the research Clawson cites has found that a person without a college degree born to rich parents is 2.5 times more likely to be wealthy than the college grad who is not born to rich parents. As Ed Schultz puts it, its all about membership in the “lucky sperm club.”
Employers want candidates to ask questions at interviews. Here’s a question I recommend clients ask: “What are the top three challenges I’ll face in this position?”
This question works in several ways. First, it shows the employer that you want to confront challenges. Second, once the employer tells you what the challengers are, you can address how you would deal with them. Finally, you will get a sense of what the employer thinks is most important. Employers want good employees. What’s a good employee? Someone who is not afraid of challenges.
I just received a call from a client who has taken an executive position with an international corporation. Her job search took more than a year, which might sound like a long time. However, in this client’s case, it made sense. She was looking for a specific type of position in one industry. Such opportunities do not open often. My client was successful because she was patient and focused in pursuing the kind of work she wanted to do
This story is a model for a good job search. Don’t wait to be laid off to start looking for work. My client was employed throughout her search. Having a job gave her the financial security to be selective about the job she was taking. She could take the time needed to network and wait for the right opportunity. We can all follow this model by being proactive in managing our careers. Know what you want to do as a professional and keep pursuing that goal.
I don’t have much time to blog tonight (the Blackhawks game start in 10 minutes). But I do want to recommend a great post from Laura Clawson of Daily Kos. The governor of Pennsylvania commissioned a survey to develop a strategy to blame teachers’ unions for the state’s problems.
We see similar attacks in state after state. Too many American have bought into the myth that unions are a problem. The forces that want to make money off of public schools have been some of the loudest voices in this campaign. We need to support public schools, teachers, and unions. All working people need to stick together, not stab each other in the back.
Slavery is dead? A story has come out over the last few days about worker exploitation at a leading convenience chain.* The stores are franchised, and owners of 14 franchise locations in New York and Virginia have been arrested for worker exploitations. Undocumented immigrants were forced to work as much as 100 hours per week and given only a fraction of the salary they earned.
However sickening this story is, it also demonstrates how low some people will sink to make money. Unethical employers frequently mistreat low wage workers and undocumented workers. We need strong laws to protect workers – including those who are undocumented – against such exploitation.
This story reminds me that some conservatives argue against the minimum wage. Do they also advocate repealing the 13th Amendment? Do they have any value for the work people do?
* I’m not mentioning the chain’s name because it doesn’t deserve negative publicity in this case. Anyone who reads this blog knows I’m not a fan of big corporations. In this case, however, it is not responsible for the problem. Going forward, I hope the corporation establishes some system to ensure that franchise owners treat employees properly – and pay them.
P.S. According to Laura Clawson in Daily Kos, there may be as many as 40 stores involved in the investigation. Clawson is less forgiving toward the corporation than I am. Her story is worth your time.
Today’s Huffington Post led me to a great resource for workers 50+ from AARP. The website lists best employers for older workers as well as resources to help with resumes and interview preparation. Too often, older worker assume that all employers practice age discrimination. Some do, and they are probably miserable people to work for. Smart employers value experience and are willing to pay for it. Check out the tools from AARP and share them with your friends.