Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Second Wave Of The Repression..

Yes I am coining a new term here; repression. We have no idea if we are going through (or went through) a recession or a depression, hence the term. It also fits because until we actually get a straight story from someone we can trust, we are holding back, afraid to let loose of our pocketbook filled with investment funds dying to get back into the market.

However that has really nothing to do with what I want to rant about today. I am concerned with the "second wave". The US was based on production jobs. We were the country of manual labor with a workforce that got things done. Then came Nafta, Safta and Afta all is said and done, we are in a heap of trouble.

What scares me is the unemployment figures. The statistics can be skewed to appear as we are coming out of our repression. There are still a buttload of people filing for unemployment every month, just a few less than last month? Is that a good sign? I have no idea, but I have noticed and experienced a trend in the workplace that is alarming.

The system used to be, in any career that involved long term manual labor, as you got older and got more years in at a job, you graduated to a job that was less labor intensive. You had gained the knowledge that made you the "teacher". You made sure things were done correctly, helped out with the hard labor when needed, but generally you ran the equipment, drove the truck or ran the forklift. You WERE the training program for the new hires, the young kids that could break their back earning their way to top of the hill.

With the latest breakdown of this system, layoffs cut deep into the workforce. For factories to stay open, or for municipalities to stay solvent, they had to cut deep into the employee pool. People with up to 10 - 15 years seniority were given notice, leaving a lot of old folk to carry the load. This has a 2 part repercussion that will lead to the second wave. Part 1 is that these old folk like me are pushing 50 and are having to do the work a 20 year old could be doing. I am not saying it cannot be done, but the employee roster is now cut in half, so there is a lot of slack that needs to be picked up. And with 10 or so years to go to make it to retirement, this causes a problem for the employer as well as the employee. The second wave begins with much of the remaining work force off work due to job injury making insurance costs higher and an even smaller work force.

This is not my biggest concern though. The second wave will also be the end of the workplace as we know it. Established in the 1930's in factories right here in the USA, the teacher / student relationship is dying. There was no better instructor on the floor than someone who has been doing the job, and doing it well. This was the best thing that ever happened for an employer. Most supervisors and department heads cannot do the job as well as a seasoned employee ,and to have the best teacher available, free of charge, is what kept the train on the tracks.

Except now there are no students. The tradition that my grandfather learned at the gas company, and the tradition that my dad learned at International Harvester, is dying with me. There is no one to pass on our knowledge to. This is the end result of the second wave...