Sunday, February 22, 2009

Jobs Lately

Let me tell you about the time I've been having lately with employment. Hopefully it will make for a fun (if slightly depressing) read.

First, a bit of good news. My wife Violet is THIS close to landing a job with Home Depot. She's worked for them before, and loved it, so everyone keep your fingers crossed for her this week!

Now on to me. This February I've had a grand total of 6 working days. One of them was through a temp agency, filling big cardboard boxes for a company. That was two days, for 11 paid hours.

The other four days came from a group that hires people to be human signs for real estate companies. They pick their employees up from a central location, drive them out to the various sites, fit you with a box-like costume that is the sign, then leave you by the side of the road to wave at cars (and hopefully attract a customer or two). You work for five hours, not counting the hour of travel to and from the location, and the company buys you a cheap fast-food lunch (budget - $5) after two hours.

It's a pretty easy job, but mighty boring. My first day was brutally cold, and I nearly lost my fingers and toes. The next day I dressed much warmer, and brought my old Sony Walkman (yes, I still have one of those!) with me and listened to an audiobook. That helped pass the time.

This sign job is only two days a week(Saturday and Sunday), and the pay works out to $45 a day. Not a lot, but better than nothing. Trouble is, they can only pay their employees when the real estate company pays them. If the company is late with that payment, you get a whole load of bounced cheques. And it doesn't help matters that they post-date all cheques by two weeks. This weekend when I showed up, there were a lot of people complaining about problems with their cheques. I'm pretty sure mine went through; I'll find out soon enough, I guess. Also, the company had also overbooked employees, so I was sent home with no work (but with a cheque for my second weekend, dated March 7).

It seems as if they are taking advantage of the economic climate and exploiting those desperate for work, but apparently they've been working this way for at least eight years. It's just the way they do business. And they don't mean for the cheques to bounce, they just don't have any money at all to pay people if the real estate companies are late. Not a great way to run a business, but there we are. They may have work for me again, but I doubt I'll go back. That is, unless I have a problem with my cheques.

But while they aren't taking advantage of the current economy, the place I interviewed with this week proudly admitted that they are. They wanted me (and employees like me) to put in an 8-hour Monday to Friday work week doing data entry and research, for $8. That's right, less less than minimum wage. Basically, if hired they'd get me to sign a contract that would allow them to pay me that, in order to make it legal. There's lots of people with your skills sending us their resumes, they told me, because the job market is so bad, and we're gonna totally take advantage of that. Because after all, there's only so much money to go around, and we've gotta keep the big bosses happy.

Un. Be. Lievable.

All is not doom and gloom, however. One of my agencies has me up for a 6-week, $12.50-an-hr job, and I'll find out about that this week. And Violet will find out about Home Depot this week too. Wish us both luck. And financial stability. It's been a long time since I've had that.

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Luck wished!!! (And fingers crossed.)