What’s a Career Anyway?

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

October 28, 2010


Categories: Family

I was a part of a conversation recently where it was mentioned how many people were seeking education outside of a particular organization. This was stated as a suggestion that the overall feeling was there was no career stability in that organization.

My husband’s union benefits are getting the screw. His pay won’t likely increase beyond what he’s already making, save cost of living adjustments, if he’s lucky. The agency has such a bad rap these days, folks in town are more likely to blame the workers than the management. Watch them fix or drive a bus. See how far that’d go.

Logo of General Motors Corporation. Source: 20...

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GM workers took pay cuts that halved their wages several years ago. Before GM was “bailed out.” They went from waiting list, sweet union job, with lifetime security to making $13/hour. THIRTEEN DOLLARS PER HOUR! And you wonder why Michigan is in the crapper.

But, but, but there is no money.

Please, pardon my anger.

Fuck that.

There is money. It’s at the top. The halves are splitting. The divide is getting wider. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Newspapers aren’t helping. They grudge along losing their own jobs and from what I read in the Oregonian, they are all but HAPPY union workers are here are getting the screw.

This is a history of minimum wage increases un...
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Ten years ago CEOs were making, on average, $450 per hour. Ten years ago, if you had made minimum wage increase at the same rate as CEO pay increased, minimum wage would have been close to $55 per hour. Not 5.15. Not 8.40. Not whatever the new federal minimum wage or Oregon minimum wage is. But $55 per hour. FIFTY FIVE! In case you’re not doing the math, that’s $440 per day at an 8 hour shift. I’ve seen it reported (cannot source it right now) that unions represented 35% of the workforce in the 1950s, America’s Golden Era. Today, union’s represent less than 17% of the workforce.

Although there are many contributing factors to the loss of unions, part of this is free trade agreements. Agreements that make outsourcing labor overseas more cost effective for corporations. They can increase their bottom line while… wait, who gets the screw here? Oh, ya, every working person. Why do you ask? Because it drives demand for lower costs higher. That is, if Company A goes to cheap labor country 1, they will eventually be outbid by cheap labor country 2. It’s smokestacking on a global scale.

What is smokestacking? Smomestacking is the practice of municipalities giving coroporations tax breaks as incentives to keep their business in the town. What happens is the next town over, or across the state, or across teh country, and now across the globe, eventually offers better tax breaks. This makes the company feel it has more incentive to move than to stay.

What happens to the town? It looses jobs no longer having its ONE appeal to the company.

After I graduated high school, my sneakily industrial town of Greenville, Michigan, where I spent my growin’ up years, crumbled. It had theater seat manufacturers, tool and die shops, lots of car part manufacturers, and it boasted the largest refrigerator factory in the United States. Most if not all of these are now gone.

A solar company has come into the area, but it keeps laying off its workers. Why? Likely because it cannot compete with outsourced solar panel manufactures!

Map of minimum wage rates in the United States...

Image via Wikipedia

So, back to there not being any careers. Yea. There are really no careers. What is a career anyway? A place where you can cultivate your position. You grow with the job and the job grows with you. You have a second family. A community. A job that allows you the disposable income to do the things you love with responsible budgeting? A job that allows you to pursue the American Dream of owning a car, a house, and sending your kids to a good school?

I’d have to agree. I really don’t think there are many careers out there anymore.

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