Tuesday, December 1, 2009

This bothers me on many levels

I have 4 more positions to fill before the end of the year. My phone is ringing off the hook (and answering machine getting full) from people calling begging. It bothers me that things are that bad right now, it bothers me that I only have 4 positions to fill, it bothers me that people are bothering me, but most of all-


I told the group today the next call I got on my cell phone saying "My cousin Rufus said you was hiring and gave me this number" I would hire on the spot, TO FUCKIN REPLACE RUFUS WHO I WAS FIRING FOR GIVING OUT MY CELL PHONE NUMBER!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

mixed blessings

Please know that I realize times are hard out there right now. I am the only major employer in the 5 county area hiring right now, and for every position I have to fill I have 35-40 applicants. The last 4 1/2 years have been spent building a major maunfacturing operation from nothing, and growing a related existing operation. When we started the new operation it was me (a VP of Operations), a Dept Manager, and 2 hand-picked operators. We would run one machine, move with the product to the next step in the operation, etc. Since I had designed the central machine to the new process, it was a good opportunity to see firsthand how I had done. 4 of us has now grown to 240.

The first expansion in the summer of 2006 was not too bad, I was able to hire several people just coming out of the military. The timing was good. The second expansion, in Jan/Feb 2007, was something else all together. The economy had not turned sour yet and I had a hard time finding good people. Retention from that round was only 60%. Thid expansion was a little better but not very large.

In the fourth expansion in the summer of 2008 the operation doubled in size in 3 months. The reason for the title of this post is that, the same week we announced that expansion a major industry in an adjacent town completed it's shuttering of operations. The average age of the new hires in that group was 47. Retention from that round- 100% after 18 months. In the fifth expansion, March/April of 2009, I tried hiring a mix of mature workers and younger applicants, hoping the young ones would learn to work from the older ones. Retention rate? 100% of those 35 or older, 20% (1 out of 5) for the young group.

Now we're in the sixth growth phase. In the last 2 weeks I've hired 9, with 6 more to go. Another manufacturing plant is shutting down 12 miles from here. I am blessed to have a rich pool of mature, dependable workers to choose from. But knowing I can't help them all breaks my heart. 140 people suddenly unemployed, average seniority at the facility was 14 years. I'm not done yet, but the average age of those hired thus far is over 50. The ones hired are extremely grateful, being anxious about finding work at their age. I am grateful to have employees who want to work, and show up 99 days out of 100. But knowing for every 1 hired 4 or 5 remain unemployed is tough

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sometimes I hang my head in shame

This company has a policy, which pre-dates me, regarding Sunday pay. Most reasonable companies pay double time for Sunday work, some only pay double time if you worked every other day you were scheduled during that week but even then Sunday is time and a half.

This companies policy is assinine and completely designed to screw the employee:

First of all, Holiday pay does not factor in to overtime calculations. In other words, if we are off say on Labor day and they get Holiday Pay for that Monday, then we come back and work 8 hour days Tue-Sat, Sat is straight time because 5 days x 8 hours day= 40 actually worked, and 8 hours holiday for Monday.

Our payroll period is Sunday thru Saturday. Sunday is only double time if the employee works 7 days inone period. 99 times out of 100, we work Sunday prior to a holiday weekend in order to get production out and still have a long weekend.

We have a legitimate need to work straight through this weekend coming up, Nov 21-22. My beef is that with this assinine policy it goes like this:

The first 40 hours are straight time. Anything over 40, excluding holiday pay, is time and a half. Pay period is Sunday-Saturday. The hourly folks will work Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, then get holiday pay for Thursday Thanksgiving (but not for Friday even though the plant is down) and be off Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. So, they will be working Sunday for straight time, not even time and a half.

Makes me hang my head in shame to call myself an officer of this chickenshit outfit sometimes.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Thin line to tread

In April I hired a young woman for the lab, to run the washing machines. She had interviewed well, having put on the best she had in the way of clothes and letting me know she needed a job without the usual begging. It took about 2 days to figure out she was capable of more than running washers and dryers, and through course of conversation I learned she had 1 year of the Microsoft curiculum at the local trade school. At this time I was also looking for a clerk to handle all the inventory and lotting requirements I've been handling, as well as be a part-time secretary. I decided to give her a try. To make a long story short, she did better than I expected, assimilated the job plus a lot more in a month and a half, and has been a real benefit.

Obviously, since her desk is in the ante-room coming into my office, we interact a lot. I like to get to know all the people who work for me (often considered a weakness by my superiors) but have learned a lot about this one in particular. She is 24 and a single mother (never married). The father of the baby is drug dealer and she has served 4 months herself for being a 'mule'. She talks extensively about wanting to seperate herself from her past as a drug addict. Her baby spent part of the time she was in jail with a foster family, part of it with her family. She does not qualify for State assistance with health care and child rearing because she refuses to officially name the baby's father as such. Georgia has a law requiring this in order for mothers to get assistance, the State then goes out and recovers expenses from the deadbeat dads. The problem? If she names him in order to get the assistance, he automaticaly gets visitation and partial custody, and she doesn't want the baby exposed to the drugs, etc, he is involved with. So she chooses to tough it out and go it alone.

She has been doing good with her efforts to start a new life, but 3 weeks ago she started dating one of the contractors working for me. Since that time, her performance has dropped off, she looks like she is not getting enough sleep, and there have been a couple of days I have suspected she has been on something other than caffeine. Her attendance has deteriorated, and by the book I should have fired her this past Thursday based on attendance during her 90 day probationary period. Instead I had a long heart to heart about lifestyle choices, and how close she was to losing the job.

So, there are 2 days left in her probationary period. She becomes eligible for our health insurance on Wednesday. If she signs on, then goes into rehab, it's a problem. We are a small self-insured company. The premiums we all pay are based on total expenditures. There are 112 employees on our insurance at the moment. If she becomes #113, then we spend $100,000 on rehab, everyone elses premium goes up by $892/year or $74/month. Do I have an obligation to all the rest of the employees to avoid this risk? Or does this girl deserve a chance to turn her life around? Despite anecdotal evidence she is still making bad choices?

Aiy aiy aiy. I have 48 hours to decide.

Ain't life as a rich white guy boss a piece of cake?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

So, do I take it back, or not....

Turns out the "something the wife had going on" on Memorial Day that kept the boss away from work was a battery of medical tests. After expressing that I hoped everything was o.k., etc, etc, he said, in a Snidely Whiplash voice,

"hehehe, I bet you all cussed my name all day that day, didn't you? Well. you never know"


Friday, June 1, 2007


So, we're starting up a new piece of equipment. My boss, President of the company, is with us. He has a nasty habit of chewing tobacco and spitting in the nearest receptacle. Usually it's the nearest garbage can, but this being a brand new machine we don't have cans out there yet. So what's a man to do? Mostly he spit in a pile of rags which would soon have to be picked up by my new hire operator, a 19 year old name Tony. Soon after the Boss walks off Tony picks up his Dr. Pepper sitting on the operators station and, in that 19 year old boy way, throws about 1/2 of it down in one gulp.

Then throws up (literally) all over the electrical console and operators station.

You guessed it- his drink was full of tobacco juice.

I know everyone bitches about their boss, but I'm telling you- mine has serious issues. Everyone who works here is just a piece of property to him.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

It's official

My boss is a jerk. About 9:00 he called me on my cell phone

"Where are you"

"I'm leaving the shop heading back toward FR"

"I'm in your office. Come meet me here."

So, I go back and find him just outside my office. We go in and sit down, and chit-chat about production and the new equipment we're buying. Directly he says

"Tell your regular salaried guys they'll be getting a check Thursday. It's a supplemental check for them working Monday. You and Jack don't get one."

"O.K. I'm sure they will appreciate the gesture"

"Goddammit G (the owner) is making me do it."


"So, what you doing this weekend?"

"I don't know. Rootie left town for a few days with #4, the others are off with friends whose families are going to the beach or something for the weekend"

"So, you're a bachelor this weekend"

"Yeah, I guess so"

"Lucky bastard. I wish I was, I'd go play golf. Anyway, enjoy the weekend"

"You too. I'll see you Monday morning"

Then, as he walks out my door he says, very sheepishly, "I won't be here Monday. The wife's got somethin going on"

Mother Fucker