Monday, March 31, 2008

here's a little something...

0 Commentaries/Bashings
...that i wrote in response to this thread, that was created for this news article:

i really, really think you're an uncompassionate jerk, right now, NoFreeRides.

this stuns me because, as you've already touted, you've been in our shoes before.

(i'm going to direct this missive mostly towards you, Sir; but i have you other cold-hearted people in my sights too, as i pen this.)

it sounds to me that you are already working on an assumption that all the occupations you've previously worked which you mentioned to us are, in fact, "beneath you".
so, who do you think should be doing them? what is it that you do now? do you plan on staying there for as long as possible? what would your attitude be if, one day, your boss told you that you will be getting "phased out" because your job will eventually become automated or, better yet, Outsourced?


i will be the first to freely-admit that, within the multi-faceted Grocery Industry, there are quite a few jobs around which really don't require a lot more skill than correctly following simple or slightly-difficult directives your supervisor gives you — jobs where, also, one is rarely forced to engage in constant independent-decision making for events that can have far-reaching consequences.

(with the exception of construction and possibly retail {you didn't specify the exact job title you held, there}, those other positions you held didn't need complex-training.)

now, i believe that any reasonable person would say, "while I don't think you should be getting run over by your boss, the fact of the matter is, because you are doing something which any other person can learn to properly do within one, two, or even three weeks' time, and is also relatively non-burdensome on your body (with some notable exceptions), you don't need to be earning 13, 14, 15, 20+ dollars-an-hour, on top of having a comprehensive benefits package towards which you would contribute less than 10% of your yearly pay, regardless of your length of service." jobs that, yeah, would be best suited for a high school- or even an in college-student. it's not likely that an employer would lose too much money for having to constantly train the non-stop stream of new hires, for those sorts of positions.

(regardless of inherent-expendability of position {and who, really, *isn't* expendable?}, they say Turnover does cost companies money, after all — lest we forget what also happens at a given organization while there are vacancies.)

on the flip-side, i also believe that any reasonable employee who might fall into the Unskilled Labourer-category would tell you, "i'm not asking for an exhorbitant number of dollars-per-hour, or near-immediate acquisition of benefits worthy of someone who's been around for 5+ years ... but i don't want to be short-changed, if i can help it, either."


you dummies.


"There are plenty of Shoppers Food Warehouses in the Baltimore-Washington area and they generally stay open 24 hours." (so you're actually willing to spend the extra money for gas to go all the way down to d.c. to get your sundries, if you feel you must, eh?)

"let them strike. what brains does it take to put a can peas on a shelf? if giant and safeway raise their prices, there is always mars and wiess. and the staff's there are much nicer." (what brains does it take to make sure your grammar is {if nothing else} structurally-sound, if you're going to go around marginalizing the position of Food Clerk/Stocker?

but from those words you had uttered, it would appear you, personally, are ignorant on two fronts, creator of post #1.)

"let them strike. giant employees are a nasty bunch.
wegmans here i come."

"Let the greedy people go on strike. There are plenty of jobless people that will be happy to stock food for a very generous $12 bucks an hour and up."

"The only nearby grocery store is a Safeway and it is quite expensive. I do the bulk of my shopping at the Wal Mart, which is 15 miles away. I'm afraid that the Safeway and Giant workers must face reality; in this day and age it's hard justify a living wage with benefits when you're performing unskilled labor."

"Perhaps, the reason Giant is losing market share is not only because of not keeping up with today's marketing strategy & competition...but their some of their employees are abrupt, rude and in some cases downright nasty!!!! Trues some employees I talked to are helpful & smiling. BUT, ask for information or go through their cashier lines. Especially the Giant on Old Court Road. Their employees forget who are their customers. See how Weman's & Trader Joe's emploees handle their customers."


1.) now, please tell me the reasons you believe the employees in these other stores you tout conduct themselves in the manner that they do? would you happen to know how much money they're being paid? do you believe they'd still act like such angels if they were placed under the conditions we're faced with? what about you? could you continuously deliver "superior customer service" if you knew that CEOs were pocketing more than they can reasonably (or justifiably) spend in 12, 24, or even 36-months' time, but would prefer trying to do just that instead of distributing some of this excess-windfall to these emburdened-people underneath them?

(i definitely do not think I will be seeing steve burd, et al., come in to each of their safeways, vons', albertsons', etc., to personally stock these shelves, mop those floors, safely set-up this Food Display, ring-up that blind-customer.. ..patrol those floors to ensure no "foul play" is going on within the aisles.)

on the other hand, you can't blame Steve Burd, et al., for the employees that individual stores' hiring managers choose to bring on-board: those rotten apples are not representative of *every* store which is in danger of having its union workers go on strike. i work for safeway, and i don't come with a sassy, unprofessional, or even "ghetto" attitude when i step through its doors; of course, i do regret that those more than a few other individuals aren't able to conduct themselves in a similar manner, but please take out your aggressions on those folks — not me. (i don't deserve to be lumped into one Blanket Category with them, thereby also getting flack for their discourteous ways.)

2.) so let's say that no unionized worker ever steps foot in a Major Chain Supermarket ever again. what's going to happen next? would these temp employees who replaced us going to become permanent? if so, won't They just turn around and begin demanding the very things we had been asking for, anyway, once they undergo the same poor working conditions an d experience the same managerial-mistreatment we've undergone?

(what about the fact that the temporary-workers would get receive a higher-starting wage than what was forced on we who had signed-on to be "permanent" in the first place? {i started off at $7.25, and after 15-months i still don't have any benefits; experienced and unexperienced temps alike would start off at $12.

[how would the experienced individuals feel about being paid the same as their new- and/or slovenly-counterparts?]}

i imagine that many of us won't take too kindly to such a slap in our faces; and at least a few of us won't be able to restrain ourselves from physically-manifesting our displeasure with those "scabs".. ..even though it wasn't their fault but, rather, upper-Managements', that "the system" was set up to compensate in that way...)

god damn you people don't seem to be exercising a lot of fore|sight, when you say what you say.


so you go to your little stand-by stores; are you of the opinion that other people (who are also dissatisfied with Unions) should do the same? are you prepared to deal with the crowding that inevitably has to come with such a course of action?

what of actual union employees who feel disenfranchised by their representation? what should they do if they liked their original occupation but just don't want to be saddled by a union anymore? should they, also, all try to apply to every Mars' and Weiss' within baltimore city/baltimore county (or wherever those businesses are)?

just because Safeway and Giant's strike, doesn't mean that these "trader joes'" and "wegmans'," "wal-marts", "kleins'", and "shoppers'" will magically sprout up in their place; but you'd actually be willing to spend the extra money for gas to go to those places (if they happen to be out of your way) just to show your dislike for unions, eh?

(you weren't aware that Wal-Mart currently has its hands full in unsafe-chinese merchandise?

that It doesn't usually pay its on-the-sales_floor staff adequately or fairly? {customer service has, traditionally, been poor across the board, in that brand ... probably due-in-part to the policies Wal-Mart has for compensating its staff: but anyone previously sweet would turn sour under such conditions, too, i think.

no hiring manager could be able to predict such a conversion, unless he was conducting his interview with a pessimist's mind|set from the beginning.}

but i guess you'd be willing to sacrifice quality for quantity, eh?

{no|one's told you that a part of the original american dream about being able to have both of those, as often as possible?)

3.) ya dig? based on the asinine things i've read here, i'm able to determine you really don't have any idea what it's like to be a Stocker.


i can see that.

_i_ am a Stocker (otherwise known as "food clerk").

trust me when i say, "in my store, or in any other real grocery-store, you cannot go slow. you really can't even be average, in speed. your supervisor(s) will hound you about your slothly-pace, before you eventuallylose your job if you don't shape-up."

dumb ass.

it's not as simple as just putting "cans peas on a shelf"; all i can say is, do what I do for 3 weeks. and i will see if you'll want to continue to categorize us stockers as "unskilled labourers".

(i have the handicap of being 5'7", too — yet the expectation is there, that i get all that shit put up, even onto those tall shelves that are just out-of-reach, myself; from what I've seen, you won't get much respect from your peers if you have to keep asking other people to assist you with what is supposed to be an independent-type task.

but, in the first place, the overseer of the food clerks would ensure such foolishness is kept to a "near-zero".)

as for what he typically need to accomplish in a typical night (speaking for my store, anyway), we have to:

• minimize the amount of freight that we personally damage while stocking (i.e., it's not a job for the clumbsy/butter-fingered)

• find time to keep many items rotated (so that, at the very least, you won't bite into something stale; at its worst, so you don't go to the hospital)

• make sure we don't make a mess of other items already situated, as we put the new stuff up.

amongst other things.

i would be remiss if i didn't tell you that an average grocery-store stocker also has to know the precise location (or, if nothing else, the general area) of at least.. ..600-different items. (it is likely i have a mental-database of around 1,000 item locales, right now, myself.

and if i go stock at other stores, That would only add to what I have to memorize!)

4.) ya know, i almost forgot something very important: you see, basically, without Stockers, you wouldn't have a store to go to.

all you'd have is empty shelves, with cashiers standing at their posts staring blankly into the ceiling, while Upper Management (who aren't typically a part of Unions) openly walks around looking dumber than usual.

there would be no meat, no produce.. cough medicine, no cigarettes. no juice, no "cans peas." no-none of that.

i guess, basically, this Strike is, mostly, about us trying to get a bigger piece of The Pie, then. it's not actually about the un-skilled or minimally-skilled employees (excluding Cashiers, of course).

do you really underestimate the power that we have? are you silly gooses actually prepared to make drives to each individual manufacturing plant, farm, and/or every warehouse there is, if none of the stuff you want is no longer available in a market because we refuse to even put our hands on them anymore?

because i know i wouldn't want to resort to such means — i don't have a personal vehicle right now, and won't be able to afford a _viable_ one (without going into major debt) for quite a while. so, going out of my way like that would be quite inconvenient.

until "the way we do things" radically changes and grocery stores, as a whole, therefore rendered obsolete, maybe there should be a focus on keeping around, and keeping satisfied, the people who are willing to sweat, bleed, and even break backs to make sure you ingrates have all the things you need to stay fed, healthy, and clothed (if you have the money available to afford it).

5.) in case you weren't aware, people who get hired as cashiers generally don't also double as stockers _while_ acting in capacity as Cashier.

those are two very seperate tasks.

god bless the people who have the ability take on both, however.

(i emphasize that those are different because i get the feeling that your perceptions of Cashiers {regarding the fact they stand in one place for 80% of their shift} colours your perception of stockers.

well, you need to get that from out of your heads.)


right now, in spite of the deliniation, we very-much-so need people who can handle Monies; don't talk about "oh i can just use the automated machines to ring-up my orders if i feel that regular humans are too inadequate to do the job" or "i'll just go to another store that uses them if the one i usually go to has picketeers blocking my way in through there."

our technology is not perfect right now, so there will be anomalies with those nice machines some of you wanna run to. and who are you going to call on to fix the errors? another machine? a "manager" who is usually busy with other things she needs to take care of?

this ain't the year 2308; it's 2008.
like it or not, human cashiers will be around, for a good while longer; for that matter, people who would be more comfortable dealing with other people instead of machines will also be around; whether you choose to accept it or no, it _is_ someone's right to be so, by choice or by disposition. but what would you say to him, regarding his proclivity? is he less worthy of your respect based on just That?

6.) if i've missed anything else, please let me know.



..i am addressing you, once again.

please consider the immediate ramifications of a job-market saturated with "multi-skilled" folk, here in this "land-of-opportunity".

while you do that, i want to remind you that this "land-of-opportunity" is actually a "land-of-disparity". whether you want to admit that or not.

you strike me as being ignorant, because you talk about this situation as if all conditions are ideal — utopian-like, really. you speak of how things "ought" to be, as opposed to how they actually are.

(explain away what to do about the 60+ per cent of baltimore youth who were not able to graduate high school.

who's at fault for That?)

case-in-point: college-grads who are quite-qualified, but cannot land the employment (even at entry-level) they seek, right away.
case-in-point: college-grads who, actually, get told they are "over-qualified" for a particular job. (imagine: being too educated for schlepping around a mop, or even trying your hand at word-processing!)

from what i've seen so far, you haven't actually addressed actual Stockers, either; you've merely spoke of Grocery Jobs, in general.

well, forget about most of the other ones; focus on the jobs that do require at least _some_ finesse to be able to execute properly. that includes Stocking; that includes those people who go around putting up the price tags (otherwise known as "File Maintenance", i believe), so you can know what you're about to spend on a given item. it includes a few other integral departments (that i can't immediately think of in my current emotional state), as well.

"high school kids" and other such transients are not suitable for such work because, for one, most of those brats are too immature for it; secondly, i don't believe employers want to have to constantly train people so they can be adequately-proficient in those sorts of duties: it took me about 2-months to begin to have a working knowledge of the aisle- *and* shelf-layout of my store; even during that time, things were usually changing around a bit, throwing me off!

mind you, during those "two months" of learning my way around, my store was losing money because i didn't have the speed or the technique to put up all the items the order writer had come in for us to stock in a timely-manner.. was also lost because she couldn't order as much as she wanted, due to that same lack of knowledge and speed.


this ain't no Ma-and-Pa Operation we got going here.

shit has got to be accomplished!)

but now i know what I'm doing, and i don't need either of my supervisors hovering over me to tell me how to do my job, 96% of the time; so, i truly do believe that only a prodigy would be able to get to my current-level, in even 4 weeks, without any previous experience.


but if he is such a prodigy, then what is _he_ doing being a food clerk? well, if working with "cans peas" is what makes him happy (something else you should consider before opening your trap about these "beneath me" positions: Job Satisfaction/Personal Fulfillment), though, then shouldn't he receive commensurate reward for his ability? an immediate increase to, say, $12/hour, with the occasional bump in wage as Thanks for sticking with his company? (i feel that an initial cap of, say, $21/hour, with full benefits is fair.)


i wouldn't try feeding a family with such money—even at The Cap—though. (from what i've seen, full-time stockers are almost always scheduled for 48-hours a week; if a stocker wants to drop down to 40-hours for a given week, that is her option, as long as she can find someone else who can take her place without messing everything up.)

i don't have any kids.

i haven't even signed-up for trying to rent a 2- or 3-bedroom house, by myself.

(but as a mostly honest, law-abiding citizen, i feel i do deserve not to live in a ram|shamble that's on "the wrong side of the tracks". such decent-living accommodations generally are more expensive, however.)

i know i am in no financial position to bring forth any offspring (and raise them in a manner that would be pleasing for God), or live in anything other than a little apartment, or be in a regular house with with room|mates; so i should be rewarded for my wisdom & restraint, in not imposing any undue burdens on me or fellow Tax-Payers, as such.


but really.. many 3, 4, 5-kid parents (especially single ones) can lay claim to being able to sustain their household, themselves, with a typical job's wage, anyway?

(even salaried folk have been having problems accomplishing same.)

i don't feel sorry for people who willingly bring forth off-spring they cannot financially-provide for, of course. (all the same, if they're willing to work, and not be a lay-about sucking up my tax money, their tenacity should still be rewarded.

{being an Unprepared Parent is punishment enough.

trust me.})

but what about people who were doing okay, ensuring they've had more than enough money to provide for adequate-housing and family but, because of circumstances beyond their control, they now find themselves no longer able to do so?

"corporate downsizing"?

Unexpected Acts of God? (a freak tornado landing in an area that had never experienced such an occurance before?)


Large "Foreign Objects" randomly falling from out of the sky?

what would you tell those poor saps?

so because of their good or excellent credit, they can take out a loan to make up for some of what was lost; they've gotta pay that money back, though, because Banks, nor Families, typically do not run a charity. which is well within their right.

but this new indebtedness merely serves as an additional burden put on the newly down-trodden folks.

(Money is not like it was, "back in the day".

coins are no longer made of mostly silver, gold, and copper; 5¢ can't buy you 30-pieces of Rock Candy, now.

american inflation is on the rise: our dollar is, indeed, quite a joke, right now.

consequently... we're not as desiring of being loose with our money, now. too much is now at stake, to permit leniency.


all-in-all, i believe that we're not asking for miracles; we're asking to be given incentive to stay where we are. it sucks having to constantly look for new employment. and the majority of us are not lucky enough to "know people" who can open up back-doors into new jobs; the majority of us, also, don't have the ability to mask how shitty we might actually be, on the job, by exuding a Winsome Personality. (you know those people who you see around that make you say "my god: how did this person make it past the first interview?? who did he give the oral sex to?!")

and i don't know so much about how effective "affirmative action" is, because i certainly haven't been granted Carte Blanche to standard, non-college degree-requiring jobs i've had my eye on. i haven't even been offered chances to be trained in them, for the most part.

i was actually drafted into this safeway because, i guess, the store manager and assistant store manager were desperate to fill in their vacancy (although i'm certainly not a bad candidate for Employment, by any means). but it turns out that i do enjoy the pace of Grocery Stocking (as well as the fruits of our grocery manager, which was making sure our surroundings aren't like That of a typical super|market's).

so, for these reasons, i am obligated to refuse to let you or anyone downtalk me or the job.

again: do what I do, at the level i do it, in 3 weeks, on your own.

or, better yet, since you seem to think our jobs are so easy and we're so expendable that "a caveman can do it," don't ever shop at any store again. just go directly to the warehouses, and the manufacturing plants, as i suggested earlier, to claim your goods. bypass the middle-man.

jesus christ.

stability should be a major component of Business. and you need to appreciate that what would you salaried/"skilled" people think if you never could keep the same co-workers for more than 9-months? if i want to stay some place i like, i should have the right to do so. especially with this looming recession, i definitely do not want to be compelled to go back on the job hunt.

the biggest problem, once again, is your lack of empathy: do not ever come crying to us if you find yourselves in our shoes one day.


unions seem to be inevitable because Corporate Fat Cats' trying to pork themselves out _and_ overextend their underlings is inevitable.

*that* is why they're here.

i won't say that all unions do things "the right way"; those that do, you should support.

the original purpose of a union body is to act as a collective voice for a given set of employees — when Employers/CEOs want to act cruddily, selfishly, or unfairly, union heads will have the people they're in charge of remind those antagonists who has some powers of their own.

blue-collar and white-collar alike, we all could use such representation.

unions are also supposed to be an efficient, quick means for conveying the concerns and desires of employees.

do you really mean to tell me you cannot be in support of such an idea? i've written too much by now so i don't feel like proof-reading or spell-checking this.

i started at around 2, this morning, and ended composing the bulk of it around 6:20.


as always: i hadn't originally expected to write so much; but i did wind up doing just that, didn't i?

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