Whatever happened to benefits? Part 7

North Carolina is what’s known as an ‘at will’ state. That means any employer can fire you at will for just about any reason. They can fire you because they don’t like the way you look but they’ll be sure to make it look like a performance issue. So who is looking out for the worker?

I’m sure some of you have been screaming UNIONS this while time. In theory unions would be a great idea but as noted philosopher Homer Simpson once said in theory communism works. The reality is that most unions have become bloated and corrupt shells of their former selves whose only main interest is fattening the wallets of the of their upper echelons and promoting nepotism. To put it succinctly the unions do not really have the workers’ best interests at heart. Besides no one should have to pay to get a job.

I think we are actually reverting as a society when it comes to employment and that within a few years we’ll be sliding back to the days when sweatshops and unsafe working conditions become the norm.

And does anybody even retire anymore? I honestly don’t see that in my future. I’ll probably be working until I die and the older I get the harder it is to find a job that pay’s a decent wage for me to be able to take care of my family.

Whatever happened to benefits? Part 6

Now I’m at my current job. Technically I’m working through a temp agency so to talk about benefits at this time would be pointless.

I like the company I’m contracted to but some of the guidelines are a little peculiar. For example they want us to be here before our start time to get set up so we can be on the phones exactly at our start time and not one minute later.

We can’t get up and go to the bathroom or get a soda whenever we want unless on a break. Personally I need that kind of structure to keep me focused but it just makes me think of how little recourse workers have these days especially in the state of North Carolina. See, I told you I was going to get to that.

To be concluded.

Whatever happened to benefits? Part 5

I was unemployed for 9 months in 2009. Employers with positions I was qualified for didn’t want to hire me because I was too experienced and they didn’t want to pay me a rate that was comparable with someone of my level of experience. So I had to start from the bottom rung of the ladder all over again.

In my previous jobs I had to do extensive phone work so I have honed my customer service skills pretty well. Reluctantly out of desperation I took a job at a call center. I have never worked at a more miserable place.

We were provided no office supplies. Our desks couldn’t even be called desks since they were so small. They had one drawer that kept falling out or would get stolen.

The pay was lousy for the amount of work they expected us to do. There was no raise schedule or room for advancement. PTO was given out randomly. My benefits were taken away when I was moved from full-time to part-time status even though I was working 40 hours a week.

We took our benefits in other ways such as a multitude of unscheduled breaks and extended lunches.

I was thrilled when they announced that our jobs were being sent overseas but that’s neither here nor there. The point was that I was surprised how badly the employees were treated there.

Whatever happened to benefits? Part 4

The first thing about my new job was that it was no cost to cover myself however to cover my family it would have been more than half of my paycheck. I would have been basically working for the benefits. I ended up covering only myself and my stepdaughter. My wife, who happens to have a seizure disorder among other recurring illnesses, went uncovered for the 5 years that I worked there. In those years there were many trips to the ER and many hospital stays for my wife. Since I made ‘too much money’ she was ineligible to be treated at the free clinic or receive any kind of government assistance.

It was at this job that I was first introduced to PTO time which stands for personal time off. This combined paid sick time and paid vacation time all into one. This time had to be accrued over the year as well. The most I could get in my five years was 10 days. Between my wife’s condition and some issues of my own these days were used more for sick time than they were for vacation.

In 2009, after 5 years with them I was laid off.

Whatever happened to benefits? Part 3

Now that I was married I had a wife and two (step)children to cover.

I went to work for a local hospital and was able to cover my family without too much of a chunk being taken out of my paycheck.

My next job was working for a primary care doctor’s office. I hated the job but the benefits were pretty good. Again I was able to cover the whole family. I don’t remember what their vacation day policy was but I do remember getting 3 bereavement days when my father died.

Speaking of bereavement days who was the genius that determined that someone would only need 3 days of bereavement for the death of an immediate family member?

The next job is when I first took notice that the workers’ benefits were really eroding.

Whatever happened to benefits? Part 2

I then went to work for another major insurance company. Medical benefits were great, not free but great. It was then I was introduced to a concept known as ‘accrued time’. That means that you earn your paid vacation time throughout the year. I thought “Ok, that’s understandable.” Not only does it keep people like me from blowing through all their vacation time in January but it also rewarded employees for loyalty and attendance.

It was then that I met my future wife and moved to North Carolina. More on NC later. There I worked for yet another major insurance company. I didn’t stay there long enough to enjoy the benefits. Then I went to work for a very minor insurance company and stayed there even less.

I moved back north for a year and worked for a decent sized hospital. Also decent medical insurance. They were plenty stingy of the time off though, especially sick time. No real complaints to speak of.

Then I got married to my then fiancé and now wife and moved back to North Carolina.

To be continued. 

Whatever happened to benefits?

Whatever happened to workers’ benefits?

We used to have these things called benefits. You know, things like health and dental benefits, vacation days, sick days, etc. Somewhere along the line these incentives to work for companies slowly started to disappear.

It didn’t just happen over night either so you can’t put the full blame on the economy or President Obama or whatever. Let me tell you my tale.

Back in the late 80s/early 90s I worked for a major insurance company. We had the best benefits back then. Medical coverage at no cost, great dental coverage, paid sick days at the start of the year and separate paid vacation days at the start of the year. It was truly the age of prosperity in my working days. Of course I was a young idiot and squandered these gifts and abused these privileges.

I hated working for that company so when I left I thought I would find a better job with better benefits.

Oh how I was mistaken.