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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Corporate Wage Slave?

Not if I can help it.

The title is a reference to the game Shadowrun, wherein if one's character was employed by a major corporation, there was no getting out, no moving up, nothing at all to look forward to.

Most Shadowrunners are trying to escape this fate.

I know I've said more than once in this blog that the reason I applied for a job at AT&T in the first place was because I loved how I was treated as a customer, and I wanted to be a part of that. And it was like that.

And locally, at AT&T Bothell, it often still is. They were terrific after Laston's death. Supportive, kind, helpful. Some of my coworkers made care packages while I was out on extended bereavement leave. The local managers, former (more on that later) and present, have been great.

But I have to say, when we the union (CWA Local 37083) called this weekend walkout, there was serious trepidation on my part. I have no money, am barely living paycheck to paycheck as it is, and have been paying for the usual suspects plus camp fees and end-of-school-year stuff.

Of course, if we don't as a workforce get at least some of what we're asking for, we will keep doing that until the end of time.

Explaining such things to small children does help one to focus - Lizzy (9) wanted to know why it was not okay to work if others were striking. Well, look, I made a deal with these people to be BFFs, and what do BFFs do? They support each other. If I wandered off to be friends more with the company than the union, they wouldn't be my BFFs anymore, would they.

No, they would not.

But still, not looking forward to striking. I remember Abby's dad striking with SPEEA at Boeing. It was not an easy time. I'm (just barely) old enough to remember (very vaguely) the sign by the side of the freeway. I don't want to do it, but I feel like I have to. And this post? I've refined my thinking a bit since writing that.

Here's the thing. Does Randall Stephenson deserve to make a butt-ton of money? Probably, yes. But not at the expense of the people who do the front line work. We are the ones who deal with the angry customers. Many of them are angry not because of a breakdown at the local tower. Most of the angry ones I speak with?

They're furious because they feel they were lied to by an offshored worker who was hired because it's cheaper to hire them overseas... but they haven't been well-trained or there's a language barrier or something.

They're enraged because the person at the authorized retailer sold them stuff they didn't need and now they're stuck with that contract... and the reason they were oversold is that's the only way that authorized retailer can actually earn any commission.

They're unhappy because their hotspot went away and they weren't told it would happen by someone who's not trained, or because they're being charged a zillion dollars for phone bills while traveling in Mexico because the rep who signed them up didn't realize that you have to opt in after signing up for the unlimited data plan.

And yet, the High Mucky Mucks believe that a 2% raise per year is enough for us, the people who soothe, fix, and comfort customers who are desperately trying to figure out how to afford a phone bill for a deployed soldier or how to retrieve voicemail from a deceased loved one.

They believe, apparently, that my kids are not worth a cost of living raise that actually covers the cost of, well, living. Or that our health care costs should go up. Or that Mommy might not have a job - not because she did something wrong - but because it's just cheaper to hire people in other countries.

If those workers' lives are screwed up, or if customers are unhappy?

Who cares, as long as the (major) shareholders get theirs? I'm a shareholder too, albeit a small one.

I mean really, you'd think a man who makes something like $12,000 an hour would maybe think I - a widowed mom trying to make ends meet - need more than $17.