(cont. from yesterday’s post)
Manager Mouse drank on the job and put his hand in the till–and on the shelves–to his heart’s content. Because The Princess didn’t deign to come in–or do any of her own bookkeeping–she never noticed. Months went by before one sharp-eyed employee alerted The Princess to Manager Mouse’s behavior. The Princess was sick to her stomach and fired Manager Mouse straight away. After much discussion with The EA, she began coming in to her store, settling in to a regular 15 hours a week and insisted the employees begin counting the till twice a day. Imagine that!
Nothing The EA and The Princess do is illegal, but does that make it ethical? What’s happening in this “mom-and-pop shop” is a microcosm of what’s happening across the country, and if we continue down this right-to-work-because-trickle-down-economics-is-just-fine path we’re on, we’ll need another fight for a 40-hour work week, pensions, and a living wage.
Some of the employees’ complaints:
1.) Since they no longer have a manager, they have to split the managerial duties. For no extra pay.
2.) There are currently 4 employees working in the store, not including The Princess. They have 4 bachelors’ degrees, 1 master’s, and a PhD among them. They get paid between $11-12/hour. No benefits, commission, or raises. Sounds pretty depressing, doesn’t it? Why don’t they quit and find new jobs, you say? Well, it’s not that easy. The economy is in the toilet, and there aren’t that many “better” jobs out there, even for savvy, qualified folks like them. And I can say that, beyond a doubt, they were hired because of their savviness and intelligence. They’re just not compensated for it.
3.) Their breaks are “however long it takes them to eat our lunch.” That could mean 5 minutes a shift or 20 minutes. If one of them pulls a 9- or 11-hour shift for a special event or holiday, that isn’t very long.
4.) They’re scheduled to work weekends and most major holidays for no additional pay. This includes Christmas Eve, Independence Day, Black Friday, New Year’s Eve, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. Since the employees don’t get benefits, they don’t get paid on the rare days the store is closed, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving.
5.) Though they’re given 40% off the retail price for any item in the store, they still can’t afford to buy most of the products. And try selling things you’ve never used!
6.) The Princess is forever mentioning that she doesn’t have to work weekends and can buy whatever she desires, like beautiful $70 camisoles. She’s also never invited any of her employees to her swanky home, though one worker has been at the store for 2 years. Is she afraid they’ll drag their peasant dirt in?
7.) The Princess never acknowledges how much her employees grease the wheels of her business. Or bothers to throw them a holiday party. Even when they’re working the holidays.
That brings me back to trickle-down economics. If this theory worked, wouldn’t the employees be raking in a little more than $15,000/year each while The Princess and EA lounge around their $1 million home, paying property taxes higher than their salaries?
That isn’t to say that The Princess is a bad person. She’s generous and sympathetic to her friends and customers, but doesn’t feel obligated toward her workers. Maybe she thinks they’re choosing to work in a low-wage retail job–because they love it? Or maybe she thinks they all have wealthy patrons hiding around the corner, like her good old EA.