Diane Ravitch reports bad news about education in Detroit. 26 schools will be closed, and teachers’ pay will be cut by 10%. What angers me about this report is that Governor Rick Snyder and his allies preach the school “reform” line. They put the blame for poor education outcomes on teachers. Then they take measures that make good teachers want to leave the profession. The decision to make the cut was made by the city’s Dicta. . . Emergency Manager, who is a puppet of the Governor. Best wishes to the parents and children in Detroit. What is happening in your city is a crime against democracy – and common sense.
One of the biggest challenges facing working people is wage cuts. For many sales people, most of their annual income is based on commissions. I met with a client today whom I’ve known for more than 10 years. He has always exceeded sales quota. In his current role he is both a manager and a sales representative. To save money, his employer is changing compensation. The current rate for commissions is 4.5% of sales. As of July that rate will be cut to 3.2%. When he took the job six years ago, the commission was 6.5%. This is not the first time his commissions have been cut.
When my client confronted his boss about the situation, the boss told him that the company was increasing his account base and that he could make as much or even more if he worked harder. These words were a deep insult to my client. In his time with the company, he has always exceeded sales goals and often has been ranked #1 in his region. Now he’s being asked to do more just to keep pace. Instead, he’s doing the smart thing: Looking for a new employer who will treat him fairly.
One of my clients has been a successful sales representative with the same company for 30 years. He's only three years from retirement. Two years ago he was assigned to a new manager who is trying to make him quit his job. Last week, the company made across the board salary cuts of 10%.
What is 30 years of loyal, productive service worth? Not much.
I'm on vacation in Michigan and was going to take a few days off from blogging. However, I saw an article in the Detroit Free Press that forced me to the keyboard. Of Americans laid off between Jan. 2009 and Dec. 2011, 56% have found jobs. The articles says "only," which is misleading, given current hiring trends. It takes longer to find a job.
Here's the real problem - pay. One third of people who found a new job are making 20% less than before. The only way around this problem is to keep looking for a job that will pay a better wage. Most companies aren't giving raises or only offering minimal raises. The article tells the story of an IT professional who was making $80,000 who now makes $9.15 providing tech support. The media loves this kind of story. It's frightening. Don't listen to it. If the young man cited in the article had the experience and skills to be hired for a job that pays $80,000, there's no reason he is locked in a near minimum wage job. He has to keep looking for work and remember to sell the qualities that brought him the better wage. It's not easy. But it's the way things are going to be for a while. No one is safe -- be ready to move. Keep looking for something better.
Writing in Daily Kos, Laura Clawson reports on the growth of lock outs as a tool companies use to punish workers and unions. Many of these companies are profitable, which lets them wait out unions or move operations to lower wage locations. Clawson documents several examples of companies squeezing middle class workers via lock outs. The result of these actions are lower wages, which will force Americans to choose between worse and worse employment options. Yes, we need to focus on creating more jobs in the U.S. However, those jobs need to pay a decent, living wage.