Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Corporatism 101

Don't you love articles which clearly explain the diseases in our new feudal system of corporations on top, everyone else the serfs? This is one such lovely example:
If you like Rioja's hazelnut tortamisu, thank pastry chef Eric Dale. And if you happen to pop your head into the bakery room and admire the tile job on the floor, you can thank him for that, too. Ever since his boss, chef Jen Jasinski, discovered that Mr. Dale is handy, she's had him doing double duty as the maintenance man. He has spent hours repainting the oven, fixing the plumbing and installing a garbage disposal. And that's just the start. He used to manage the dessert operation at one of Ms. Jasinski's restaurants; now he's up to three. All told, Mr. Dale says, his hours have expanded to more than 60 a week.
Wow, you might go. Then you might wonder if Mr. Dale gets paid more for all these extra multi-tasking duties. The article does not tell us that but it does point out that most of these new "superjob holders" (yeah!) don't get paid extra:
In a recent survey by Spherion Staffing, 53% of workers surveyed said they've taken on new roles, most of them without extra pay (just 7% got a raise or a bonus). Now that sales are picking up, there's even more work to do, but companies are reluctant to hire, say human-resources experts. Some are anxious about what the economic future holds, while others are seeing their profits increase now that their work forces are leaner.
Bwahahah! Corporations want to be more flexible which means that their workers have less flexibility, longer days of work and more multi-tasking! Corporations grow fatter in profits which means that their workforce gets leaner.

What's fascinating about all this is how Marxist the flavor is if you let your tongue feel it. But we are not supposed to do that, and this is where the invisible elephant stomps into the room:

All these problems with having to work so much harder for the same pay as before? They are up to the workers to solve:
Of course, the ultimate responsibility for workload management falls to the employee. Experts say that in many cases, employers have no idea how many tasks they've loaded on one person, so workers have to "manage up."
Which is hilarious in a job market where the firms can pick and choose. You start "managing up" and you will be out on your ass.

This example reminds me of the zillions of articles I have read about how women, all on their own, can balance work and family, while everybody else stands by without lifting a finger. Those individual-centered pieces are extremely common, and they may have a point or two in that we surely can affect our own lives a little. But when workers face vast corporations and a buyers' labor market they can forget all about having a job if they start "managing up."