I've had a lot on my mind, recently, and every time I sit down to type something I end up getting frustrated and quitting. I'm going to try a different strategy, and we'll see if it works. I'm just going to hit one topic at a time, and start with what I can really stop thinking about in the first place - my weird fucking work situation.
I've been out of work for almost two weeks. I'm going back to work on Monday. On exactly the same contract that let me go on July 28th. So, what the hell happened here?
It's actually pretty straightforward, if somewhat unlikely. Simply put, the company that was put on the contract bungled things so badly that the team that was running the contract previously was asked to bring upwards of fifty people back on to it. The company I was a part of lost the contract mainly for cost reasons, and because the hiring company is convinced that things will work better if they move towards an industry standard. The industry standard for customer service troubleshooting is
It's also awful
Someone's got egg on their face, right now.
So that's my situation. I, and 49 others, are back on the job for an undefined amount of time and someone who sits in a nice office somewhere has a decision to make before the people they're bringing back for a temporary tech support job jump ship, because we've got no job security. Personally, I think it's hilarious, but I'm probably biased. It also kind of vindicates my previous smug sense of superiority which, I'm not going to lie, was the only thing salving my intense insecurity at suddenly being out of work in one of the worst economies in living memory.
But let's talk about money.
In Bellevue, WA, which is a city on the outskirts of Seattle, I started by making 15 dollars an hour and recieved a 2 dollar an hour bonus for hours worked at the end of the quarter. 17 dollars an hour isn't bad. It paid for : the ground floor of a house shared with one other person, a car, groceries, and the ability to take a plane to visit relatives when I had a seasonal vacation. If you'd like, you can book mark this three month time period as being the best off financially I've ever been.
I then lose my bonus. I'm down to 15 per hour. I'm told that raises are frozen indefinitely. This pays for a 700 a month, one bedroom apartment, utilities, food, and going out to a nice place on the weekends. I'm still able to save a little money and make car payments. I live frugally. This is pretty much the bare minimum standard of living. Washington's minimum wage is 8.55 in 2009. It's a flush 8.67 right now. That is not a living wage. In fact, the minimum wage is not a living wage. If you're living with someone else, you're squeaking by again, but that's usually enough. I'll save that tangent for another time.
I move back to St Louis, and receive a pay cut of a dollar due to 'standard of living'. I now make 14 dollars an hour. The pay cut doesn't much effect my life. I live in a 550 a month, two bedroom apartment on the second floor with my friend and roommate. I'm able to go out once or twice a week, or save money. I'm able to buy groceries and some luxuries. It's actually a comfortable life, if not one with abundant thrills. I could probably take a nice vacation if I wanted, but it probably wouldn't be very wise. If something bad happens to me, it could still ruin me financially. I eventually get a dollar raise. I'm living flush.
Before taxes, assuming no bonuses (ha!) or unpaid time off, I make about 29,000 a year at 14 an hour. If I was able to work for a year at 15, it's more like 31,000 pre-tax. That's not too bad, right?
The new workers live in either Kansas City or OKC. They make about 8.50 an hour. That's not a living wage. You can not live by yourself on that. Many of them are part time. You immediately become dependent on some one else to survive. If you make 8.50 a year, before taxes, you make roughly 17,600. That's far below poverty level, in that you cannot live on it. Median level of income in MO is 45,149. For the US, it's 50,221.* 14.3% of people are below poverty level in the US.
So, what's happened is that the hiring company has taken hundreds of jobs that were above poverty level and made them poverty level jobs.
Sure I'm happy I'm going back to work at my old rate. But the idea that someone thought this was a responsible decision in the first place is incredibly
frustrating. Moreover, what did they think they'd get for that kind of money? It's embarrassing, is what. What you really get, if you ask any menial wage flunky, is someone who doesn't give a shit. When you hire someone without work, they're incredibly grateful for the income, but when you treat them badly and don't pay them enough to live, that euphoria turns to frustration, then to resentment. At some point, they say 'Fuck it.' because the worst you can do is fire them and that means nothing
If you didn't know for sure, then you already had a hunch it was like this. Things like this are part of why our economy sucks.
Tell your friends.
* U.S. Census Bureau