Wednesday, November 01, 2006

What's so bad about expecting workers to come on time?

The latest bullshit criticism about Wal-Mart has arisen because (gasp!) Wal-Mart will now enforce its policy that workers need to come on time:
Wal-Mart's Attendance Policy Criticized

NEW YORK Nov 1, 2006 (AP)— At Wal-Mart these days, snowy weather is no longer an excuse for lateness. It had better be a natural disaster like a hurricane or blizzard. And being 10 minutes or more tardy for work three times will earn you a demerit. Too many of those could get you fired.

It's all part of a revised attendance policy implemented earlier this fall that makes Wal-Mart Stores Inc. hourly workers more accountable for excessive unexcused absences and formalizes such penalties.

The new rules already are drawing fire from critics who claim they are the latest attempt by the nation's largest private employer to weed out unhealthy and costly long-term workers as it seeks to cut labor costs.

John Simley, spokesman for Wal-Mart, calls the charges by labor-backed groups "invalid" and said the changes are an enhancement of the company's prior policy.
I'm still trying to figure out why Wal-Mart is so wrong in its shocking expectation that workers are to come in on time. Nowadays I take the train into the city, which is generally ok, but when I commuted by car to Connecticut or White Plains, I would leave early if bad weather warranted it. That's common sense, or so I thought.

The article is just more typical hyperbole from the liberal media. Wal-Mart workers are actually in no danger of getting fired until their tardiness and absences reach "excessive" -- just like any other company that wants to make a profit, so in fact Wal-Mart has been giving its workers a break. And it isn't only Wal-Mart that wants to avoid employing people who are frequently late and/or sick. Why is it so wrong for a company to want healthy, productive workers, rather than sickly workers who force a company to charge more for its products and/or services? That's called competitiveness, a word that has yet to appear in liberals' vocabularies.

When 25,000 people apply for 325 jobs at a new Wal-Mart outside Chicago, something must be desirable about those jobs. It's not that the people are desperate for jobs: U.S. unemployment is at a perfect low, with no tech bubble looming over us, and a housing bubble that still hasn't popped five years after the doomsayers first started talking about it. The ratio of applicants to available positions also shows that if you aren't willing to come in on time and do the job, there's always someone else to replace you. If you don't like the conditions, then find another job that suits you. Just don't cry to the rest of us like a certain grad in NYC did, "I just want to be happy and find something I can enjoy doing!"

I'll say again that this is the United States of America, not France. You do not have the right to a job, let alone the right to waltz into your job whenever you feel like it. Let's make a quick comparison, shall we? The United States has 4.6% unemployment, strong economic growth, and it is the economic backbone of the world. France has 8.8% unemployment, and its anemic economic growth is the envy only of the likes of Zimbabwe. You have stories of Americans who work hard, smart and resourcefully; you have stories of lazy French who quit their jobs to collect unemployment.

In the United States, most jobs are "at will," so you actually have to do the job in order to keep it. In France, well, labor laws make it nearly impossible to fire anyone. Who is surprised which one is prosperous and which one is stagnant?

Even so, there are workers in the U.S. who abuse laws and company regulations, creating mini-Frances around them. I've worked with two. One was the most incompetent computer technician you ever met, and she frequently called in sick, was late, or forgot her building access card. However, whenever a manager threatened to fire her, she'd threaten to sue for sexual harassment, because she once caught a supervisor (who was fired) surfing for pictures he shouldn't have been. The company decided it was cheaper to keep her than risk an expensive court battle. I think it took a year to get rid of her on the basis of excessive absenteeism, except it was more that she was tired of the job and stopped showing up.

The other was my last boss at Morgan Stanley, a real bitch and the worst hypocrite I've ever known. Once or twice a year, she'd go on extended sick leave for some new malady, usually a back problem. A couple of years ago, she was out for six weeks, came back the week before Thanksgiving for a couple of days, then took Thanksgiving week off and the following two weeks. Last year she was gone for a few months, returned to work for one week, then took another vacation. She used the company's virtually infinite medical leave, allowing her to save her vacation time while costing the company far more than she produced. In her absence, it was up to my officemate, who was the de facto operations manager anyway. Her biggest hypocrisy was her racism against whites and Asians, while hinting she'd sue over racial discrimination if she were ever fired. She finally got axed during a round of cost-cutting, which should have happened years earlier.


Blogger TKC said...

I find that tardiness rules are only enforced in my office if someone is having other problems on top of it.

The co-worker who is occasionaly late because of traffic or because a kid pitches a fit about going to schools is not going to have a word said to him.

Now the guy who was habitually showing up hours late, hungover to the point of not being able to do a damned thing would get written up for being late.

Needless to say, the policy has to be there first. You don't just make these things up for troublesome employees. But don't let that get in the way of yet another mindless Wal-Mart bashing.

Thursday, November 02, 2006 4:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Union employee, protected by a contract, and I've never been late a single day in 29 years.

So Walmart's "tough policy" is a joke to me.
Good union members like me, are 10,000 times tougher
than Walmart. Tough, honest, conscientious, prosperous, patriotic and charitable.
Can you personally live up to that?

Re-unionize America!
End illegal alien peonage!
Trust your own!

Thursday, November 02, 2006 7:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Brad Warbiany said...

This is a legal thing. They want to protect themselves and give themselves an out to fire someone if they don't meet the policy. As long as they have this stated, enforced policy, they can protect themselves from lawsuit if they fire someone for breaking it.

This is one more reason I love my job... My requirement is to get to work, "sometime around 8:30-9ish". And since my boss is going to have me start working from home in a month or two, it's soon going to be as simple as tossing on some clothes (shorts and a t-shirt, probably), heading downstairs to the basement/office, and getting to work. But then again, I can often be found responding to emails on the weekends or evenings, so I guess I make up for it...

Thursday, November 02, 2006 11:16:00 PM  

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