Article 43



Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Bad Boss Contest

Welcome to Working America’s My Bad Boss Contest

And the winner is…

The People’s Choice Grand Prize winner has been decided! Congratulations to “Pete Yonski” for his award-winning story, “Cancer Can’t Stop This Boss.” The “Most Outrageous Story” Grand Prize goes to “Steaming Mad” for his story “Business is Burning and so are the Employees.” Congratulations to our prize winners! You can also read the stories that were considered for both awards here.

Cancer Can’t Stop This Boss
By Pete Yonski, Illinois

My story starts with me being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. I am in my early thirites and have not worked since March of this year. I also have three young children under the age of 8, and a wife who cannot work due to my condition. I think you get the idea.

In the industry I work in, disability benefits are available but only equal about one-half of what I normally would be making. These benefits are formulated from a day to day basis for days you have received no other compensation for. Needless to say, every day claimed is extremely important in the basic task of feeding my family and keeping the lights on.

I have been an employee for about 10 years and as such, I have built up some paid time off. I sent paperwork in to take some of my time off, to help pay the bills, but when the paycheck came, I was short on several days. This was compounded when I did not claim disability benefits on the days I thought I was being paid for. As an end result, I lost out on my vacation days AND DISABILITY BENEFITS. Talk about getting hit where it hurts.

My boss threw away the paperwork I sent in and then lied about ever receiving it knowing that filing a complaint for the time I should have received would take months if not years to resolve. Its hard enough just trying to stay alive, let alone trying to pull knifes out of not only my back, but the backs of my wife and children too.

Business is Burning And So Are The Employees
By Steaming Mad

I worked on a help desk in a plant. I was the least senior of the help desk employees.

Since the company had decided they could not do without a help desk during emergency situations, a contingency plan was developed to move the employees to another building on campus and set up the help desk there. Little did I know exactly what the contingency plan called for.

One day, the fire alarm went off. This time it wasn’t a fire drill but the real thing. A fire had started in the plant and smoke was drifting into the help desk area. At this time, my supervisor explained the contingency plan in full. One person was to leave the area every 5 minutes until the last person was left. We were to leave the office in order of seniority. Making the least senior person left to make sure all computers, lights, etc. were turned off and the help desk office door was locked.

I was the least senior. And with 9 people, I could not leave for 45 minutes even though smoke was filling the room. In my last 5 minutes prior to leaving, coughing and tearing and still answering the help desk phone, a security officer entered the office and yelled at me to leave the area. I explained why I was still there but he told me to leave immediately.

That I know, no action was ever taken change the plan nor explanation ever made to the supervisor that an employee’s life was more important that keeping help desk customers happy.

Non-profit Union Busting And Employees Without Health Insurance
By Reproductive Freedom Fighter

The CEO of the non-profit I work for hides her obscene salary from the public and employs a union-busting law firm to break our union, all while making health insurance so expensive that many staff are on state assistance health insurance and other forms of public assistance, even though they work full-time! We are a health care provider and an organization with a very progressive mission, but our own employees and their families are not able to afford the company health insurance. The irony is literally sickening.



Posted by Elvis on 08/28/07 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Monday, October 16, 2006

Tips For Dealing With A Bad Boss


Protect yourself first by building relationships with co-workers and other managers. These relationships can be an important source of support at workand it’s always helpful when a co-worker witnesses your bosss bad behavior.

Get it in writing when your boss makes promises or threats. If there is an incident between you and your boss, writedown your version with the date and time. Mail a copy to yourself in a sealed, postmarked envelope. This could be an important record of the incident later.

Talk to your boss about your concerns. Sometimes bosses dont know when they are making bad decisions or treating employees unfairly. Plan ahead what you want to tell your boss. Practice keeping cool and speaking calmly.

Identify the problem with your boss. Is it a short fuse? A problem with giving clear directions? Once you know exactly what your boss does that drives you crazy, it becomes easier to keep it from getting under your skin. And you can try alternative strategies to deal with your boss’a flaws. For example, if your boss gives vague directions, you might try repeating them back to him or her to make sure you understand them.

Take back your life by establishing boundaries between work and home. Clearly define your time for work, family and friends. Remember that your boss pays you for eight hours a day, not 24.

Manage your stress off the clock. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly to reduce stress and burn energy.

Ask for outside help. If you think your rights are being violated, read the KNOW YOUR RIGHTS fact sheet. Contact advocacy groups in your community and look for legal clinics and other kinds of help. For example, Working America MEMBERS are eligible for one half-hour of free legal consultation. Finally, if your boss ever becomes physically or verbally abusive, contact the police right away. Don’t be afraid to speak up and get help.

Organize a union at your workplace in order to have a legal say on the issues that matter most to you, including wages, benefits and work environment. Union members, on average, make 28 percent more than workers without a union and are much more likely to have employer-provided health care and pensions. Many unions also have a dignity and respect clause in their contracts. Click this link for more information on how to form a union at your workplace.

Plan your exit strategy if the situation is unbearable and all else fails. Network with colleagues, update your RESUME and watch for new job opportunities.



Dealing With An Abusive Boss

By Gerri Willis
October 15, 2004

It’s no secret that there are abusive bosses out there—you know the type. Bullies with big job titles that make the people working for them miserable.

According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, an abusive boss is more likely to be a woman than a man. That’s right—forget their nurturing image! Woman to woman bullying represents 50 percent of all workplace bullying; man to woman is 30 percent, man to man 12 percent and woman to man bullying is extremely rare—only 8 percent.

What should you know if you’re the victim of an abusive boss? Here are today’s five tips.

1. Identify the behavior.

There are all kinds of abusive bosses. The Institute classifies them a few different ways.

There are the constant critics who use put-downs, insults and name-calling. They may use aggressive eye contact to intimidate.

There are also two-headed snakes who pretend to be nice, while all the while trying to sabotage you.

Then there are the gatekeepers—people who are obsessed with control—who allocate time, money and staffing to assure their target’s failure. Control freaks ultimately want to control your ability to network in the company or to let your star shine.

Another type is the screaming Mimis who are emotionally out of control and explosive.

2. Don’t take it lying down.

If your boss has a difficult management style, you don’t have to let their bad behavior go. You can respond—just remember to stay professional.

So, if your boss insults you or puts you down, Susan Futterman, author of “When You Work for a Bully” and the founder of, suggests responding with something like, “In what way does calling me a moron or an idiot solve the problem? I think that there’s a better way to deal with this.”

If you find out that your boss is bad-mouthing you to higher-ups in the company, confront them directly and professionally. Get the evidence in writing from your source if you can. Then, ask him or her what is causing them to do this.

You could say, “I’ve been hearing from other people in the company that you’re not happy with my work, you and I know that this isn’t the case and I want to talk about how we can fix this.”

If your boss has been defaming you, that’s illegal. You may want to consult an attorney.

If your boss is a control freak who’s breathing down your neck, you should address it. Say, “I can’t function effectively if you’re going to be micromanaging me and looking over my shoulder all the time. If I’m doing something fundamentally wrong, let’s talk about it. But this isn’t working.”

If someone screams at you, don’t be a doormat. If you’ve made a mistake, acknowledge it. But let your boss know that they’re creating a difficult work environment. Even if you haven’t made a mistake, you may want to calmly ask what they’re upset about and if you can address it.

3. Take notes.

Documenting your boss’s bad behavior is key for two reasons, according to Futterman.

First, you might not even realize the extent of the problem. Futterman explains, “Taken in isolation, these events may seem trivial, but taken as a whole, it often becomes more clear what’s actually going on. Some victims may be in denial or discount these events as isolated incidents. Your written records can documenthow severe the situation is.”

And, of course, if you decide to take legal action down the line, you may need the information. It’s best to documentthese incidents as soon as possible so they’re fresh in your mind.

Documentation is also important if you plan to report the behavior to your boss’s boss or to your company’s human resources department. And don’t dismiss the idea of taking the bull by the horns and working toward a solution.

Try arranging a face-to-face meeting with your boss. Tell them you want to discuss the problems you’ve encountered because you want to resolve them. Chances are often slim that this will work, however. If they reject the opportunity to discuss things with you, add that to your documentation.

4. Know when it’s too much.

Bosses may exhibit bad behavior sometimes. Hey, no one is perfect, not even bosses. But if your boss is abusing you, that’s a problem.

The problem takes on greater urgency if the abuse starts to make you feel bad. If you chronically suffer high blood pressure that started only when you began working for your boss; or you feel nauseous the night before the start of the work week; or if all your paid vacation days have been used up for mental health breaks.

When the bullying has had a prolonged affect on your health or your life outside of work, it’s time to get out. It’s also time to leave if your confidence or your usual exemplary performance has been undermined.

Ironically, targets of abusive bosses tend to be high achievers, perfectionists and workaholics. Often bully bosses try to mask their own insecurities by striking out.

5. Control your destiny.

Even after you leave your nightmare boss, you’ll still have to explain why you left to potential new employers.

Futterman advises against dramatizing your old work situation. One way to gracefully sidestep the issue: say you and your manager had a longstanding disagreement over the most effective way of getting things done and you thought the most professional way to resolve it was to move on.

“You certainly don’t want to start recalling and recounting the abuse you suffered. You’ll inevitably get upset and that’s not the way you want to handle a job interview,” she says.

Try to control the interview situation to the extent you can. Don’t give your abusive boss as a reference but rather someone else with whom you worked previously. Another good choice might be a colleague or a peer you’re on good terms with or someone who can speak about you professionally.

Also, if you only worked for your bullying boss for a short time, you may want to consider leaving that job off your resume altogether.


Posted by Elvis on 10/16/06 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Lawless Workplaces

By Stewart Acuff and Sheldon Friedman
July 7, 2006

The last thing America’s workers need is another economic kick in the groin, but the Bush labor board may soon deliver what could be its lowest blow yet.

In a series of pending cases known as Kentucky River, the Bush board could strip what remains of federal LABOR LAW PROTECTIONS from hundreds of thousands - perhaps millions - of workers whose jobs include even minor, incidental or occasional supervisory duties. The pending cases involve charge nurses in a hospital and a nursing home and lead workers in a manufacturing plant, but these workers could be just the tip of the iceberg.

The Bush National Labor Relations Board is easily the most anti-worker labor board in history, but even against this sorry backdrop, the scope of what they now are contemplating is breathtaking.

The consequences of bad labor board rulings in these cases have the potential to strip coverage in every nook and cranny of the workforce and create innumerable new opportunities for mischief by employers bent on denying workers’ their fundamental human right to form a union. Long established collective bargaining relationships will also unravel, as employers emboldened by the NLRB’s rulings assert that they no longer have a duty under federal labor law to recognize or bargain with their employees’ unions. It will be back to the law of the jungle in industries like health care, where disruptions from labor disputes became so severe in the early 1970s that Congress passed special legislation to bring employees of private non-profit hospitals under federal labor law coverage.

The stakes are high for the public, too. In health care, for example, scholarly research has documented that heart attack survival rates are higher for patients in hospitals where nurses have a union than in hospitals where nurses do not.

Already in 2000, months before George W. Bush was declared president, Human Rights Watch issued a powerful report that found U.S. labor laws were grossly out of compliance with international human rights norms. That organizations bill of particulars was lengthy, but the first item on their list was the failure of U.S. labor law to cover millions of workers, including among others, managers and supervisors in the private sector.

Two years later, the Government Accountability Office estimated that 32 million workers lacked coverage under U.S. labor laws and thus were denied even the minimal protections afforded by these laws. Included in this number were nearly 11 million private sector managers and supervisors, even before the NLRB’s rulings in Kentucky River.

The ink was barely dry on the GAO report before the huge numbers they reported became out of date, in the wake of a full-scale assault on workers’ rights by the Bush administration, its labor board and right-wing Republican governors in several states. In the private sector, the Bush board stripped coverage from graduate student employees, certain disabled workers and employees of temporary help agencies. These retrograde rulings harmed large numbers of workers, but are a drop in the bucket compared with the possible impact of Kentucky River.

Congress opened the door in 1947 by excluding supervisors from coverage as part of the notoriously anti-worker Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act. Even that reactionary Congress, however, made it clear that it did not intend to deny coverage to professional workers, lead workers or others whose jobs did not include responsibility to hire, fire and discipline other employees.

Ever since, a shameful series of decisions by unelected judges and NLRB members has steadily expanded the supervisory exclusion. In its notorious 1980 Yeshiva decision, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that because professors at private universities participate in campus governance, they were supervisors and therefore not covered by federal labor law. Henceforth private universities could and did snuff out faculty organizing campaigns with impunity. Within a few years of Yeshiva, private university faculty collective bargaining virtually vanished.

The decisions pending in Kentucky River could be Yeshiva on steroids for workers who have ever given incidental direction to a colleague or coworker in the performance of their job. The United States is already paying a high price for its failure to protect workers’ freedom to form unions; the Bush labor board’s rulings may be about to make a bad situation dramatically worse.

It is therefore imperative to push back against the Bush board’s assault on workers’ rights. We must, moreover, go beyond good defense; we must win serious protections for workers’ rights. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is the most significant federal legislative proposal in nearly 30 years to protect the freedom of America’s workers to form unions and bargain collectively. Since its introduction in the 109th Congress by Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in the Senate (S. 842), and by George Miller, D-Calif., and Peter King, R-N.Y., in the House (H.R. 1696), EFCA has garnered 215 House cosponsors, just three shy of a majority, and 43 in the Senate.

EFCA’s three main provisions are democratic majority sign-up, first-contract arbitration and stiffer penalties for illegal employer conduct. When EFCA becomes law, workers will be able to form and join unions without fear and coercion. EFCA will honor workers’ choices, discourage employer interference, and create more democratic workplaces.

The AFL-CIO has declared a national week of action starting July 10 to protest against the Bush labor board at NLRB headquarters in Washington and at regional NLRB offices and other sites around the country. Members of Congress have been asked to urge the NLRB to permit oral arguments by workers who will be adversely affected by the pending decisions. This is the least the board can do before ruling in a matter of such importance, but so far its Bush-appointed Chairman Battista shows every indication that he will deny even this modest request to allow these workers to be heard.

The need is urgent and the stakes are high. These are important fights to protect workers’ rights.

Stewart Acuff is the director of the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Department; Sheldon Friedman is research coordinator, AFL-CIO Voice@Work Campaign.



Posted by Elvis on 07/09/06 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Labor Laws No Longer Protect Workers Rights

American workers freedom to form unions, which has enabled millions of employees to make family-supportive wages and benefits, is under attack by employers - and the nation’s labor laws are not protecting against employer intimidation and harassment, according to both Reagan- and Clinton-appointed members of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). [Why not organize the 300,000+ displaced telecom techies since 2001 now working as slaves for telecom staffing companies doing their former jobs for a fraction of the compensation.]

The laws remedies for labor law violations are weak and ineffective. Many underlying assumptions and doctrines of the law are out of synch with changing realities, especially the changing nature of the employment relationship, the workplace and communications,” said Wilma Liebman in her keynote address to the Robert Fuchs Labor Law Conference at Bostons Suffolk University Law School Oct. 27. [So get your big-talking charismatic loud-mouthed spokespeople and inform the global masses of the suppression of labor rights in America - and take a leadership role to educate the rest of the world why people in other countries can’t afford to buy the products they make.]

Liebman is the only Democratic member of the five-member NLRB, which currently has two vacant seats. The NLRB is a federal agency created by Congress in 1935 to administer the National Labor Relations Act, the primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sector.

Marshall Babson, a management attorney and former NLRB member appointed to the board by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, spoke in favor of majority sign-up agreements in which an employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union after a majority of workers signs cards supporting the union. Currently, most workers seeking to join unions are forced to go through the cumbersome NLRB election process, which employers often drag out as a way to intimidate and discourage workers from joining unions. The majority sign-up process enables workers to join unions without fear of employer threats.

But according to Babson, the NLRB has announced it intends to review majority sign-up.

ӓWe should be long past questions about the right of employers and unions to enter into voluntary recognition agreements, Babson told the conference. Many employers see it as in their interest to sign a voluntary recognition agreement, and they are not rare or unusual,” said Babson.



Posted by Elvis on 11/30/05 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Monday, November 21, 2005

Chinese Furniture Workers Beaten And Hospitalized

In October, management at the Italian owned DeCoro factory in the Shenzhen Free Trade Zone in Southern China - the largest sofa manufacturing plant in the world - arbitrarily slashed wages by 20 percent. Workers who approached management to seek an explanation were fired. On October 30, they staged a protest in front of the factory. When they attempted to enter the factory the next day, ten workers were attacked by managers, who beat them so badly they required hospitalization.

In October, management at the Italian owned DeCoro factory in the Shenzhen Free Trade Zone in Southern China - the largest sofa manufacturing plant in the world--arbitrarily slashed wages by 20 percent. On October 28, ten workers went to factory management seeking an explanation and to try to reverse the wage cuts. Management responded by confiscating their factory ID cards so they could no longer enter the factory. On October 30, these workers staged a sit-down demonstration in front of the factory. The following day when these 10 workers attempted to enter the plant, they were attacked by five Italian supervisors who punched and kicked the workers. The workers required hospitalization.

One of the workers, Liang Tian, reported: “I was the first one beaten, he pulled me up and punched me hard in my stomach. I was knocked out for a few seconds. He stamped on my face while I was lying on the ground. It was really humiliating.”

Li Fangwei, another of the beaten workers confirmed that “they regularly beat Chinese workers. They are like wolves. They are racists and treat us like slaves.”

On Tuesday, November 1, in protest, all 3,000 DeCoro workers struck and took to the streets marching from the Free Trade Zone to a nearby highway chanting, “Stop violence, restore justice and protect our human rights!” The march was quickly dispersed at 11:00 a.m. by riot police armed with shields and clubs.

Earlier, the workers explained, “We reported the case to the police when they first beat us. But the police did nothing. We don’t trust the authorities anymore. We will protect ourselves.”

In September, 80 workers had been fired from the DeCoro factory for refusing to accept similar wage cuts.

No unions are allowed in the Shenzhen Industrial Zone, leaving a management committee solely responsible for all labor affairs.

The workers at the DeCoro factory report working six and seven days a week with no regularly scheduled day off. It is only when they are able to complete Sunday’s production quota by Saturday night that they receive a day off. Though highly skilled workers earn $57 to $85 a week--relatively high by China’s standards - they illegally have no health insurance, no pension or work-related insurance. Workers are allocated just three disposable respiratory masks per month, despite dust filled air in the foam cutting section and the heavy smell of glue where cloth is wrapped over the shaped foam.


Posted by Elvis on 11/21/05 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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