This is a general letter from an employee to a business owner/employer to honor labor in this month of September.
Dear Business Owner/Employer:
It is a good thing that you have taken the risk of starting or running a business, since that is where jobs come from for people like me. Because you provide the capital, it is assumed that you are taking all the risk in this endeavor. We even call our economic system “capitalism” after this aspect of it and workers (labor) are often referred to as “human resources”.
You aren’t the only one taking a risk, however. I have taken a risk in accepting a job in your company. I am investing the most important assets I have: my time and skills. I am risking these assets in your company. For example:
When I asked for a higher salary, you told me to get a job somewhere else that pays higher. But I love what I do, I said, and stayed working for you.
When I urged my fellow employees to set up a union, you fired me. All I wanted was an opportunity to share in the decisions that you make regarding my working conditions.
When I first joined the union, you stopped speaking to me. You figured I was a traitor of some sort, but I just wanted a fair shake by joining together with my fellow employees.
When you passed me over for a job promotion because I am a woman, I felt the sting of being just another tool in your business operation, not a human being.
When I worked as a food server in your restaurant, I cheerfully took orders and served the customers, even though they didn’t seem to appreciate it.
When I challenged you about unethical practices, you gave me thirty day notice. I was out looking for a different job, even though I gave dedicated service to your fledgling operation.
When you reorganized the company and put me in a position that I didn’t apply for nor am I fully qualified for, I still carried on. You even gave me a heavier work load and I worked harder.
When I performed my services well, you gave me new responsibilities and a fancy job title, but no increase in compensation or staff to aid me in that new position.
When you read my resume, you were excited to meet with me for an interview, but you gave me a lesser position because you saw the color of my skin.
I worked for your beginning operation without many benefits, because I was willing to take that risk and succeed along with you.
You provided health insurance, a retirement plan, and paid days off for vacation, holidays, and family emergencies. Although these benefits were significant, I still faced the risk of losing them if I was let go or left your employment.
I worked in good faith for many years building up my own 401(k) plan only to have it ripped out from under me because of your unethical business practices.
You had me travel for days and weeks at a time at the expense of being with my family.
When I turned 55, you downsized your business and let me go.
Because you thought of me only as a tool for success, you had me work in unhealthy circumstances. Now I am unable to enjoy my retirement.
I went back to school to increase my skills so I could do my job even better. I paid for this out of my own money even though you benefited from my new knowledge.
You see, I too took a risk with my time and skills, my very life, by going to work for you. I ask for the recognition of my contribution not only in your company but towards the healthy status of our economic system. I am not just another resource to be used and then tossed out when you don’t need me any more.
Your faithful employee
Correction: In my July column I referred to slaves counted as ¾ person, but they were actually counted as 3/5 person.