It's not too often that you'll hear me speak well about anything relating to France. They continue to be on my "list" for a variety of reasons. But the recent development at a French 3M factory where the workers there have held their manager hostage in a labor dispute is something I'm finding myself applauding. Apparently this is a fast rising trend among French laborers unsatisfied with work conditions, or pay.
Of course, there are going to be throngs of those reading this who will surely disagree with me. And others, who have read my many rants, would know that I don't stand on the side of labor unions—that is to say, most of the time. And this French tactic is, with all due respect, a bit of a Gestapo tactic, if not a "union-style" one taken to the extreme. The tactic is, however, perhaps not without its due. Americans might do well to pay close attention.
I, and I'm certain I'm not alone here, am frankly getting sick and tired of the average American worker getting the raw end of the deal at every single turn. I'm fed up with fat cat CEOs and execs getting all the loot, all the perks, all the incentives and rewards, while wages just don't go up. I'm tired of it being okay to say that performance should be rewarded—but only when it applies to the CEO. I'm tired of the argument that "in order to attract and retain good talent we need to pay big bucks—again, only when it applies to the CEO. I'm tired of being told that I should just shut up, suck it up, and be happy to have a job at all. Perhaps if American workers grew more of a backbone as French workers have recently decided to do, we could go to the boss and say, "No, my friend, you should consider yourself the lucky one."
At the end of the day everyone should be entitled—yes, entitled—to be rewarded if they perform well. They should be paid a fair and decent wage, and they should have their basic needs taken care of, provided they work hard and produce profitable results for the company they work for—just like we do for the CEO and his family. After all, anyone with half a mind knows that a good, solid economy revolves around productivity. People have to be productive and produce the goods and services people will ultimately buy. So then, who really is at the heart of that productivity? Of course it's the back-breaking, ball-busting American on the production line, or on the sales team, or on the retail sales floor. It's the gal serving you your sandwich at lunch time. So why aren't they getting their due? Why aren't they getting their respect or their reward? No one complains when a CEO gets millions of dollars in bonuses and salary, but try to push through a law—such as we have here in Milwaukee—that you must pay a worker sick pay and everyone is right away up in arms.
Hey Mr. CEO, have you ever heard the old saying that you should never bite the hand that feeds you? Don't forget why you are in your chair in the first place? Don't forget who makes the crap you get so well paid to be at the helm of.
I'm not really suggesting we start locking our own managers in their offices until we get our fair share of the loot. But I think it's high time we get really mad. And I mean fit-to-be-tied. It is the American mantra, "united we stand, divided we fall." If we stand up and say, together, that we're not going to stand for it anymore, the top echelon will have no choice but to listen. We need to leverage ourselves, not to become millionaires, but simply to get our fair share of the prize. Simply to be included in the successes achieved by the companies we break our backs for. And then, and only then, if the CEOs and managers choose to play deaf, I'll gladly hold the door while you throw away the key.
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