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Great Companies Don't Diss Their Workers

Great Companies Don't Diss Their Workers

CareerDiva | Excelle

“This report exposes a world of work in which the core protections that many Americans take for granted are failing significant numbers of workers,” said Nik Theodore, Director of the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois-Chicago and a co-author of the report. “The sheer breadth of the problem suggests the country’s work laws are simply not adequate for the 21st century, and that the laws we do have are not being adequately enforced.”

This isn’t just about low-wage earners folks. During this economic downturn, employers have been squeezing employees at all levels hard and that has led to, among other things, illegal furloughs, and many of you working off the clock. And who takes lunch anymore?

The findings in this study — that included interviews with nearly 4,500 workers in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles — just expose in ugly detail how bad things have gotten. It’s a condemnation of the labor laws and enforcement in this country, and a hopefully a wake-up call for a governmental system that has let so many workers down in the last two decades.

But it’s also a condemnation of what we all have come to expect from so-called great companies.

Every conversation should include a discussion of how employees in offices or factories or hotels should and should not be treated. Employees are not just superfluous “resources”. (My husband always talks about he hates the phrase “human resources” and I’m starting to get his point.)

“These problems are not limited to underground employers or a single group of vulnerable workers – rather, these violations are occurring at large and small businesses alike, in industries that are at the very core of urban U.S. economies. In fact, we found that it’s where you work, not who you are, that is the main determinant of these violations of employment laws,” said Annette Bernhardt, policy co-director at the National Employment Law Project, also a co-author.

Clearly, not all employers screw workers in this way, and the authors of the study point that out. But, added co-author Ruth Milkman, a professor of Sociology at UCLA, “systematic business strategies are in play when you see violations on this magnitude, which involve explicit decisions made by employers.”

Illegal and stupid decisions, no? It’s amazing to me that with all this talk about “great” — Great Companies, Good to Great, What Really Makes A Great Entrepreneur? — we haven’t really figured out what that means yet.

Find even more Leadership and Management resources here!


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