Ramblings of Silver Blue

06 Apr

The value of 51 cents

Think you know the value of 51 cents? It has cost some people their jobs.

When I was growing up, I was taught that loyalty to one’s job meant something. I was told not to change jobs too often, because it projected instability.

Unfortunately, for workers in the Circuit City company, that is not the case.


Circuit City, based in Richmond, targeted employees who made at least 51 cents more per hour than the established wage range for their positions, said Jackie Foreman, a company spokeswoman. The retailer provided severance packages and told the employees that they could reapply for their jobs at lower wages after 10 weeks.

A sales associate at the Virginia Beach store, who asked that his name be withheld because he feared losing his job, said the retailer never gave those workers the chance to keep their jobs at lower wages.

“They didn’t offer them a pay cut,” he said. “That shows that the company has no loyalty and no respect for its associates.”

Before the cuts, he said, he enjoyed working at Circuit City because of his colleagues, who had great enthusiasm for and expertise in their jobs. Two of the laid-off employees had worked for the store for more than 20 years, and another had tenure of close to 10 years, he said.

“Tenure is no longer worth much,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive of the national outplacement and employment research firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. Companies no longer value employees’ experience unless it translates to sales or productivity gains, he said.

He and other observers said Circuit City’s action is likely to damage workers’ loyalty and morale.

“Nothing is worse than hiring people back at a diminished wage,” Craver said.

So, if you have someone who has been a stellar employee for 10, 15, or even 20 years, and has earned the pay raises, you’re just going to fire them because of the bottom line and you think you can get your employees cheaper?

Excuse me?

Ok, Circuit City. You’ve made your last sell ever to me. I understand attempting to stay competitive, but this proves that you don’t care about your employees; you are only concerned with your bottom line. As a consumer, it also shows that you are not concerned about me, only the amount of money you are receiving from me.

You can’t “buy” knowledge. You aren’t going to “purchase” experience at lower wages. Circuit City even has the NERVE to put a “Careers” section on their website.

Know what? You can’t have a career at a company where they’ll fire you to increase their bottom line only to offer you your old job back, at lower wages, 10 weeks later. The 10 weeks? Oh, that’s so they can prove separation from position.

You don’t have a “career” at Circuit City. You have a job. You’re not a “team member”, you’re an employee.

There’s no pride in doing a job well done at Circuit City. There can’t be, if the worker knows that doing an exceptional job may not only result in a pay raise, but in termination because you did your job too well, and are making too much money.

Capitalism gone awry. It’s no wonder customer support and technical support is being outsourced to foreign markets where labor is cheaper, while the American employee gets the shaft.

As Tink told me, when I forwarded this to her, “why not just do away with ‘some’ of the bonuses they gave the chairman? That would save millions.” Unfortuantely, it comes from a philosophy that the man who has the “big picture” is that much more important than the face you see in the store.

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