Monday, March 28, 2005


For some reason, I was thinking the other day of the CEO who made his entire company smoke-free, and then fired several employees who continued to smoke on their own free time, away from work. I was reminded of how bothered I was by the pure fascism of this action. I'm hoping the fired employees will successfully persecute a wrongful termination suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but then I was reminded of such stories friends have told me of workplace nightmares.

That nightmare is the belief, in some companies, that they have the right to own you 24/7 -- evenings, weekends, whenever, they think they have the right to call you up and say, "Come to the office now." Never mind the killing all the fun factor. There are 40 hours in a work week, but 168 hours in a calendar week. By having you on-call 24/7 but only paying you based on the 40, they're effectively paying you less than 25% of what you really get per hour. They say they're paying you $25 an hour? They're really paying you only $5.95 or so an hour that way.

So, a modest proposal, a law Congress would actually pass if they had any balls or compassion. Full overtime laws are restored, and if an employee has to be on-call or if their behavior away from the office can affect their professional careers, then they are considered to be working 168 hours a week. 24 hours a day. At full overtime...

Which means... eight hours a day regular time, four hours a day at time and a half and twelve at triple time -- eight plus six plus thirty-six, for a grand total of fifty hours a day, three hundred and fifty hours a week. Even if they wanted to pay you the lousy $5.95 an hour, you'd still gross $ 2,082.50 a week, and at your former rate of $25 an hour, you'd be pulling in $ 8,750 a week, or just shy of half a million a year.

That's more of a CEO salary, but isn't it only fair if you're putting as much of your life into their crappy company as they are?

Oh yeah -- if we apply real union rules to it, after your twenty-first day without a day off, you go into permanent triple time as a penalty -- seventy-two hours a day, times seven -- or a nifty $12,600 per week until you go on vacation or call in sick.

Now there's a job I'd possibly consider giving up my real life for. For a couple of months, anyway...

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