04 April 2014

Now I get it...

...go to school to get a better job. This may sound obvious to many, but for some reason I thought that I would still be able to get a reasonably good job without anything more than a high school education. Of course I knew I could not be a doctor, accountant, or something like that. Somehow I thought that I could still land a decent paying job doing something interesting without having to return to school.

The last time this occurred to me was almost nine years ago when my marriage ended and I needed a job. I found that I had an inflated view of myself and thought I could easily get a job that payed enough to support myself and my two boys. I was wrong. I got the job I have now in the bakery, but the pay was very, very low. In the last nine years I've managed to wrap myself in a cocoon of comfortable denial about qualifications for jobs and as a result I am surprised (again) at how little there is out there for me. Ok, if I want to work in retail, housecleaning, fast food, or manual labour there is a fair number of jobs. But the pay is crappy compared to what I earn now.

Why am I even considering leaving my job? Well, my body simply can't do the work that it used to. The lifting is getting to be too much, I'm exhausted every day after work, and I'm sore and riddled with arthritis. I've told my boss that I will need help when the busy season comes, full time help, and I was told they were going to have me train someone. That was three months ago and so far I haven't trained anyone and there is no job posted (online or internal) for an assistant for me.

Also, I watched carefully at how the bosses treated another employee and it disgusted me. A breakdown:

  • She was hired as the Research and Development Baker in 2011
  • She butted heads with the Plant Leader (who micromanaged R&D baker)
  • After about a year in that position she was moved to Production Line Supervisor
  • Within a few months of her new position, she got pregnant and was unable to carry out her duties (she was required to move racks of around 300 kg in a freezer and up and down ramps)
  • Management refused to allow her back in R&D for the duration of her pregnancy
  • She was to assist Plant Leader with paperwork, but PL would give her none
  • She spent her days cleaning, sorting through recipes, and generally keeping herself busy and out of the way, but asked every day for paperwork from PL and was refused every day
  • She went on maternity leave for a year, and when she returned they told her she could return to work on the production line or be fired (direct violation of labour standards - the job you return to after mat. leave must be a comparable position to the one you left)
  • Production line is a union position (the others she held was not) so she had to fill out union paperwork. She asked PL if she could put 2011 as the date of hire (it matters for seniority) and was told yes
  • PL rescinded that statement and changed her date of hire to Jan 2014 effectively putting this woman at the bottom of the seniority list
  • The union backed the company up on this decision
  • Having a date of hire of 2014, and starting a union position made it so that she was put back on a probationary period of 12 weeks
  • Being bottom of the seniority list made it so her hours were cut - slow times mean people with less seniority go home early
  • She had a meeting about a week ago where she was told she could either quit or be terminated (reason given was she was clashing with PL too much/had a bad attitude)
  • She chose termination, severance pay is supposed to be two weeks of pay, so the company averaged her earnings over the last three months instead of paying her out two full weeks. Instead of receiving 80 hrs pay she received about 40 hrs pay.
Now I have no idea what happened between the Plant Leader and this woman, but from my point of view it looks like PL was threatened by the woman's abilities in R&D and instead of being a professional and just getting along, PL squeezed her out of the company. Each person I have spoken to at work agrees, PL was acting like a mean girl from high school that didn't like the new alpha girl. 

What really gets my goat about this is that all the company had to do was accept this woman back in the R&D position after maternity leave and then fire her the next day. You can do that in Canada, you can fire someone without cause as long as full severance (based on years of service) is paid out. Why drag it out like this? Why treat her like crap? This woman fought every step of the way, using Labour Standards and the union. On her last day she told me that even though she could keep fighting, what's the point? They did everything they could to make her feel teeny tiny that it's easier to just give up and find another job. Easier said than done, there are very few job postings for bakers right now.

So now I find myself looking through job boards to find something that I can do and that pays approximately what I'm making now. And there is almost nothing. Do I leave a secure union position where I am high up on the seniority list? Do I go back to school? Do I stay and work for people I think of as mean teenage girls? In my fantasies I win the lottery and all my financial problems are solved :) I bought a ticket...


manchester fat acceptance said...

i always think that the hope of winning the lottery outweighs the small cost and tiny disappointment upon losing. i feel like it's worth it to hope, essentially.

i understand your position about education and employment. i am working at a job where only a high school education in required, and i can't find anything else that pays more or even comparable wages.

your work sounds like it is quite horrible to its employees, i understand that you would want to leave.


Anonymous said...

pretty nice blog, following :)