Monday, July 30, 2007

Bastard of the Day

Every so often, the capitalist pigs on the Chicago Tribune editorial staff get under my skin (alas, the only daily that annoys me more is the Chicago Sun-Times). Check out today's editorial claiming that American workers don't really want time off. Look at the facts used to support this ridiculous premise:
Even when vacation days are offered, Americans don't use them all. The average working adult American will fail to use three vacation days this year, according to the annual "vacation deprivation" survey by That's down one day from last year's survey.
I have news for the editors: people aren't leaving vacation days on the table because they want to. With all the downsizing of the past couple of decades, people have more work to do than ever, and often there is no one to cover for them while they are gone. And of course, if the work doesn't get done, the employee is risking a bad review or even termination. There is tremendous pressure from management discouraging workers from using the vacation time they have earned. The next paragraph is just as weak:
Fewer Americans take long vacation trips, for example, and more take their vacation time as long weekends rather than full weeks. Their reasons: higher gas prices, unceasing customer needs and the difficulties faced by two-income couples in coordinating their vacation schedules.
How does this argue against offering more vacation time? Americans don't take longer trips because management rarely lets workers take more than a week off at a time. We were able to take a three-week vacation because I'm a freelancer and my wife is a police officer. Corporate America frowns on long vacations because there's usually no one else to do the work. They encourage long weekends because then people can work harder when they get back until they are caught up. "Unceasing customer needs" is not a reason for a worker to skip vacation; it's a reason management gives workers to discourage vacations. And couples would be able to coordinate their vacation schedules much more easily if the bosses gave them more time off or more flexibility in taking it. Employees don't suddenly love their jobs so much that they cannot bear to be away from them for more than a long weekend. This myth of "the happy workaholic" is ludicrous. It's all driven by anxiety -- fear of losing one's job or fear of losing one's pay (i.e., commissions, equity, bonuses, etc.). But wait, there's more...
Lest people in small business think they're slaving away while the boss is sunning in St. Barths, be assured they're not. A little more than half of the small-business owners in a Discover Financial Services survey took no more than one week of vacation last year, compared with 36 percent of the general population.
I have news for the editors: nobody in small business thinks that way. Why would they? Many small business owners put in well over 40 hours per week, and their employees know that. They often can't afford to hire people to do all that work in their absence. They also have too much personally at stake to risk having it fall apart while they are away for an extended period. Heck, lots of small businesses are one-person operations, like mine. If I go on vacation, nobody pays me or does my job. If we had a less secure financial position, I'd never take vacations.

When the bastards at the Tribune express their opinion, I expect better support than this ill-conceived editorial fluffed out with misinterpreted data. Do the editors really have no clue about how the rank and file feel, or is this just propaganda to try to convince them that they want to work hard and skip vacations?

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