Monday, July 18, 2011

Bitching About "Right to Work" Abuse and the Erosion of Human Rights

I am trying to be more positive.  I'm failing.

I was fired without warning in early December by a small, woman-owned business at which I'd worked for 2 and a half years.  I filed for unemployment and was denied because the business owner said I had willfully acted in a way harmful to the business.  I appealed that finding and spent way too much time during December and January thinking about the upcoming hearing.  I won.  But I truly liked working where I did, liked the people I worked with, and learned a great deal from the boss about running a small business.  I thought she has also learned a great deal from me about computers, graphics, security, and social networking.  I was paid close minimum wage for front desk work as she called it, though I did computer, website, and marketing work for her.   She used another person who was also worked front desk as a bookkeeper and payroll clerk.  Welcome to a Right to Work State.  Low wages.  No worker rights.  It is amazing I won my case at all in this state.  It was obvious to the judge that the owner was just trying to keep her unemployment rates low and that she put the words on the form that would deny me benefits as I looked for another job even though they were not true.

Bosses in Right to Work States come to expect employees to be subservient.  At least that is my experience.  People run their businesses on part time labor avoiding benefits.  Employees who expect to be treated with respect as equals are weeded out early on.  I hope the people of Wisconsin preserve the rights of workers in that state, through recall elections,  and all across the nation where there are still pockets of union labor.  Because I wanted to write, and build my own brand, I have worked at part-time jobs in gyms, antique stores, and small local service businesses over the last several years.   Business owners and managers have insulted me when talking to my husband,  have reprimanded me because I apparently did not jump high enough when asked,  and had my character questioned in legal documents by a boss trying to insure that her unemployment insurance payments stayed at the lowest possible by never having anyone collect unemployment insurance. 

Not so long ago. 
I'm so sickened by the abuse of employees that small employers get away with in "right to work" states, and the complete disregard of ethics and law by large corporations.  I left a professional position because of a sexually inappropriate statement that was supposed to be a condolence made by a new boss when my brother passed away.   It involved things the boss wanted to do with a woman from a certain ethnic group before he died.  It takes so much time energy and money to fight difficult to document infringement on worker rights in states where an employer can fire you for any reason at any time. In those instances your only recourse in a "right to work" state is to leave the job.   I'm not certain into what area of erosion of individual human rights I should put my energy.  There are so many in this culture of abuse.    

I have been a peace activist for years and I watched the Bush admin dismantle citizen rights: this year I'm watching the Koch brothers assault the principles of collective action.  And I am buoyed up by the Arab world standing up to monarchy and dictators, only to learn a female journalist was sexually assaulted after Mubarak stepped down and a right wing nut job woman radio host in this country says she should have known better than to be there.  Pence, a congressman from Indiana where I lived for 30 years led an assault on women' control over their own bodies.  Children are being gunned down in my city. 

It is very difficult to be positive with the erosion of basic human rights on so many fronts.  

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