Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Day 27

The post is a reflection of my own opinion and certainly does not represent an official statement on the behalf of my employer.

Dear Mr. President,

As eager as I am to listen to the State of the Union tonight, I can't help but be distracted by the looming rumors of layoffs at my work. Some news sources are reporting that up to 15% of employees will be laid off tomorrow. I'm on vacation this week, and likely won't know if this is true, who will be going, or if this is the end of it, until I return to work on Monday. I'm afraid for my job, I'm afraid for my coworkers' jobs, and I'm angry at our erstwhile CEO who earned millions driving our company to near-bankruptcy and has just left for a higher-paying job with another corporation.

This CEO may have felt he was doing his best to save our company. I don't pretend to know what went through his mind this year. I can say this; while dramatically increasing demands for performance, he cut hours, benefits and eliminated performance-based pay raises for employees. There are hard truths to be faced; some of what he did was necessary. Some employees needed to be pushed to work harder and deliver more concrete results. Some had to be let go. But some of his expectations, some of his decisions and investments were obviously, unforgivably, appallingly unwise. When this man visited my store, he humiliated a coworker of mine in front of other employees and customers. That was not necessary or helpful. The cuts in benefits and payroll may have helped in the short run, but drove away qualified employees and alienated customers. We, the underpaid working class with no safety net and often no insurance, we are the face of this company, the part of it that interacts with customers and the part that represents our brand to the world. How is demoralizing and downsizing us going to help anything?

The writing of this letter was just interrupted by a phone call. It was my coworker and roommate, who is, not for the first time since I've known her, being taken to the ER for an asthma attack. She has no insurance. Would regular preventative care and access to the medications that control asthma help her? I'm not a doctor, but common sense tells me that it would. I'm going to cut this letter short to go meet her, but, if you are reading this, sir, please spend a moment to think of my roommate, a 23-year old woman from Hawaii, who is in the emergency room today because she cannot breathe, and whose first concern now is how she will pay for her prescriptions to keep another attack at bay. I'm asking you to think of her, because I know our CEO won't be.

Respectfully yours,


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