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Subject:Re: Like long hours? From:Kevin McLauchlan <kmclauchlan -at- chrysalis-its -dot- com> To:"TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com> Date:Wed, 7 Aug 2002 17:16:54 -0400
On Wednesday 07 August 2002 16:47, Bruce Byfield wrote:
> By contrast, although not be completely powerless, an
> employee has far less power of choice. An employer may
> decide against making the exchange (that is, not to fill
> a position), but an employee needs to make the exchange
> to survive. An employer may decide with whom to make the
> exchange, but an employee can only agree to the offer of
> an exchange. True, in good economic times, an employee
> may have a choice of more than one offer, but that's
> usually not the norm. Nor, in the long run, does the
> employee have the choice of turning down every offer.
That's selective emphasis.
When you say "an employee needs to make the exchange
to survive" you really mean "an employee feels pressure to
make a particular exchange in order to maintain the
lifestyle to which s/he has become accustomed".
Very few people are really choosing between working for a
boss they don't like, or literally starving in the streets.
If you make the choice that you will accept employment ONLY
in a certain geographical area, and ONLY in a certain
segment of industry, and ONLY as a certain kind of
technical writer, and ONLY (I could go on...), then *with
all those choices assumed as 'given'* you certainly "need"
to make a particular exchange in order to "survive" in the
style to which you are accustomed.
If that's how you want to define the discussion, then be
plain about it.
C'mon over here -- Ottawa, Ontario, Canada -- and work.
Four years ago (and for years before and after that time)
you could indeed have had a choice of offers as a technical
writer. It happens that pickens are slim right now, and you
would instead find yourself competing with a boatload of
hungry writers. But, if you wanted to pick up a hammer and
a framing square, you could be employed tomorrow at any one
of a dozen local companies who are all looking for people
to help them construct houses and condo towers and
apartment buildings (there's just not an extreme demand for
commercial real-estate at the moment...). Not only that,
but you could have plenty of PAID overtime.
The fact that you don't... is a choice. Your choice.
Turning it around, employers are not static. They -- as
companies -- shrink and grow as their markets and their
capabilities dictate. In fact, some of the currently most
successful companies are not doing what they were when they
The boards of directors and the shareholders do not enjoy a
constant and uninterruptible flow of dividends and rising
stock values. Many of them have had to re-think their own
choices, many times.
It's NOT all one-sided. It just looks different, depending
on which side you are on.
> Neither employers nor employees have absolute power. But,
> within the constraints of their circumstances, an
> employer has relatively more power. If that isn't so, why
> are there so many rules governing how employers treat
> employees, and so few governing how employees treat
There are more people with votes who are employees
than there are people with votes who are employers.
It's a simple and as mechanical as that. The politicians
answer to the groups that wield more votes.
A direct parallel is landlord-tenant legislation. Wherever
you live, it's usually called the Tenant Protection Act or
something similar. That's because tenants *always*
outnumber landlords. That means, tenants' votes always
outnumber landlords' votes.
In my lifetime, I've known far more evil tenants than evil
landlords... even proportionally adjusted.
> I simply observe this fact. I'm not suggesting that
> employers are naturally evil because of it, nor that
> anything an employee does is right because of it. But I
> do suggest that seeing the relation in its full
> complexity is more useful than distorting it with
Or, you could try viewing it in its full simplicity. That,
too, can be edifying.
Good thing you didn't actually make that suggestion, then,
isn't it? :-)
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