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The Almighty Buck

Working Hard? 1140

Posted by michael
from the define-work dept.
Two related stories about working hard in the U.S.: U.S. workers are granted less (and take less) vacation time than workers in other industrialized nations. And if that wasn't enough, changes to the overtime laws will eliminate overtime pay for many workers.
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Working Hard?

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  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:23PM (#6316114) Homepage Journal
    So let me get this straight. The more you know, the less likely you are to get overtime? This is just the incentive that millions of Americans need to go out and get the training they need for the jobs of today.

    Is it just me or does it seem like almost everything Dubya does is intended to lower the quality of life for the average American?

    • by AceM2 (655504)
      While I believe everyone should be granted overtime pay.. Which would the average slashdot poster do? Build furniture 50-60 hours a week, or code.. Seriously.. If you've never had a physical job, you have no idea how much it takes out of you.. If I had to choose which type of person should get OT pay, it'd be the physical laborer that (we assume) doesn't know as much as your average code geek or accountant... I think working in a factory setting vs office setting is already incentive enough to get the tr
      • While I believe everyone should be granted overtime pay.. Which would the average slashdot poster do? Build furniture 50-60 hours a week, or code.. Seriously.. If you've never had a physical job, you have no idea how much it takes out of you..

        I don't know about the "typical" slashdot user - is there such a thing? - but I'd rather shovel shit than do tech support, assuming I could get paid the same either way. The only reason I would rather do technical work than brute labor, which at the very least im

    • by mrpuffypants (444598) * <{mrpuffypants} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:33PM (#6316197)
      In a word, yes.

      If you own a petrochemical plant and need to drop a few hundred barrels of waste into a nearby river be sure to line some pockets and the regulations will relax, letting you kill everybody downstream slowly.

      If you happpen to be a single mother working 2 or 3 jobs at minimum wage then you don't get tax breaks because you make too little, your federally-funded daycare gets cut back, you drink water that was just polluted upstream and can't say anything about it, then you get spied on because you could be a terrorist just because you have a friend named Abdul. /me prepars for oncoming flame war (No! Don't play the homeland security card!)
    • Wrong. (Score:3, Informative)

      by dj28 (212815)
      In fact, American workers are more productive per hour than their German and British counterparts. [physicsweb.org]

      Whoever modded the parent up got trolled hard.
      • So? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by foobario (546215) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:40PM (#6316671) Homepage
        American workers are also more stressed, shorter lived, more irate, more likely to commit suicide, more likely to murder someone else, less fulfilled, and more likely to trade their humanity for The Company than their German and British counterparts.

        I wonder if there's a correlation?
      • Re:Wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Rinikusu (28164) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:41PM (#6316677)
        And we still work more hours, get less vacation time, and have less time in general to spend on OURSELVES. Some great fucking reward, eh?
      • Re:Wrong. (Score:3, Flamebait)

        by drinkypoo (153816)
        And whoever modded you up was right with you on your lack of reading comprehension. I never claimed that Americans were less productive, nor in fact said anything about American productivity at all.

        In fact I am well aware of American productivity, which helped make us what we are today; One of the leading nations in every category. Why have we traditionally been so productive? Because our society has traditionally rewarded productivity and ingenuity. Unfortunately, bullshit like this is only going to make

    • by drooling-dog (189103) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:18PM (#6316542)
      Is it just me or does it seem like almost everything Dubya does is intended to lower the quality of life for the average American?

      It's not just you, but sometimes I think it might as well be. The repubs - with passive acquiescence from the dems, I'm sorry to say - have been trying to feudalize society for years. Sometimes through legislation, sometimes through more subtle changes in rules and procedures, but always to the same end. That's why they like to keep their working-class constituency (!) drunk on other things, like religion (as always), war, flag-burning (!!), xenophobia, and the petty advantages that some other working stiff is getting.

      If everyone who is getting it up the butt by the Republican Party (which is legal in Texas now, by the way) were to open their eyes for just a day, it would hardly last until the next election.

      • by Tackhead (54550) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:53PM (#6316742)
        > The repubs - with passive acquiescence from the dems, I'm sorry to say - have been trying to feudalize society for years. Sometimes through legislation, sometimes through more subtle changes in rules and procedures, but always to the same end. That's why they like to keep their working-class constituency (!) drunk on other things, like religion (as always), war, flag-burning (!!), xenophobia, and the petty advantages that some other working stiff is getting.

        Grok, but I'd hardly call the Dems' tactics passive acquiescence.

        The Dem base is equally drunk on a religion (albeit one of social engineering - witness phrases like "diversity" and "fairness" being waved around in much the same way as 'pubs use "God" or "family"), war (class war), flag-burning (well, only to piss off Republicans ;), xenophobia (Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan do a great job of keeping 15% of the population drunk on race war, who then vote Dem, even though there is no, and never will be, a Dem equivalent to Condi Rice or Colin Powell - Condi for VP in '04 and Prez in '08. Hilary vs. Condi grudge match! :), and the petty advantages that some other working stiff is getting.

        Anyways, back on track, I'm just saying get used to serfdom. It's not that bad. The Lords demand tribute, we pay tribute, and for the most part, if we keep our fucking mouths shut and fill out the forms when they tell us to, they leave us alone.

  • headline (Score:5, Funny)

    by Angron (127881) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:24PM (#6316123) Journal
    Kinda scary loading up slashdot at work and seeing a headline that sounds like it's scolding you for not working....

    -A
  • by Rylfaeth (138910) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:25PM (#6316134)
    I think this is probably not the right crowd to be asking this question ... a ton of us tech types are unemployed, those that have jobs sit at work playing solitaire and the ones that both have a job and actually do it are far too busy to join in this crappy discussion :P
    -Rylfaeth
  • Don't like it? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shepd (155729) <[slashdot.org] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:26PM (#6316136) Homepage Journal
    Don't work.

    You can all bitch and moan all you like about no vacation time, not enough overtime pay, etc, but the more you take, the more you'll end up paying.

    The only way you'll get ahead is to start contracting for yourself. But that's scary and risky!

    Guess what... running a business is too. That's why they get compensated so much if they're successful.
    • Re:Don't like it? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aadain2001 (684036)
      Yup, wouldn't want that CEO to not take is multimillion dollar bonus this year because being CEO is scary and risky. We'll just have to layoff another 100 people to pay for that bonus, but they were just the factory workers/engineers who actually built/designed our products. How have they helped the company anyway? Bunch of ingrates.
  • by cubicledrone (681598) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:29PM (#6316155)
    ...and eventually, no job.

    Avarice, treachery, greed, lying, gluttony, cheating and petty office politics have become their own justification in the average workplace. Unless you "fit in," you will eventually be fired. In order to fit in, you must:

    1) Do exactly as you are told: no more, no less.

    2) Accept every lunch and meeting invitation

    3) Reply enthusiastically to every e-mail, especially if it has a colorful signature.

    4) Agree, even when the people you are agreeing with are wrong.

    5) Never offer an opinion, or attempt to think about your job or the company.

    The educations of an entire generation are being destroyed in the rush to below-average mediocrity.
    Only the very few companies actually accomplish anything truly innovative. The rest simply exist, like tree moss, consuming resources and producing very little. This better get fixed, because this process is called "eating your own seedcorn."

    Someday, hope will be born of something other than a business case.
    • Five years ago I thought the Dilbert comic strip was funny. Five years ago I would have that your post amusingly cynical. But that was five years ago. Today I find Dilbert depressing and your post all too true.

      Five years ago I started working for the classic American tech firm. Started by an engineer, invented its field, remained at %50+ marketshare in the field for over fifteen years, and universally loved by the customer. We were the innovators. Then we got bought out by a competitor when the founder dec
  • by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:31PM (#6316177) Journal
    I work in 'management'. In fact all of the geeks and tech heads work in management. Who do I manage? Myself.

    Why is this important? Because I don't get overtime at all, and haven't for the past 10 years. Last week I worked 4 days out of 5 0800 (8am) - 2300 (11pm). Will I get a dime more on my paycheck? No. Do I have the satisfaction of knowing that I helped get a major project up and running? Yep. Will I have a job at the end of the year? Probably.

    Who is getting layed off in my company? Not 'management' (at least not the techy ones); we know too much, and are willing to work until our fingers bleed...tough luck if you can't keep up or don't have useful skills.

    Just a fact of life. Of course I'm probably going to die before I'm 65 to a massive aneurism...
    • Is it worth it? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aethera (248722) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:53PM (#6316371)
      Is it worth it? That's my question for all the geeks who work the incredible hours. I know, I was once there too. Luckily although my employer did not pay overtime, my supervisor did his best to reward it with food, (near-giveaway) employee auctions of obsolete but perfectly functional equipment, etc. So sure, we all worked 80, 90, even the occasioanl 100+ hour week.

      But not anymore. I grew up and got out of that rat race. Work/jobs basically are an agreement where you trade your time for money. I realized that by passing up on upgrading my machine every 12 months and buying all of the cds and movies I wanted, instead eating in more than going out, and driving an older car I could live quite well working only part time.

      So what do I do with all of this free time?

      I spend it with my family, I go backpacking, skiing, etc. I indulge in hobbies in everything from laser light shows to weaving. I donate time to non-profits like the local farmer's market, church groups, Habitat for Humanity, the Community Farm Aliance, and local theatres.

      Living on less is far more rewarding the getting caught up in life as a consumer where the only dominant more or social value is work more to buy more.

      Opt out!

      • Yes, It's Worth It. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Tackhead (54550) on Friday June 27, 2003 @09:04PM (#6316797)
        > Is it worth it? That's my question for all the geeks who work the incredible hours. I know, I was once there too. Luckily although my employer did not pay overtime, my supervisor did his best to reward it with food, (near-giveaway) employee auctions of obsolete but perfectly functional equipment, etc. So sure, we all worked 80, 90, even the occasioanl 100+ hour week.

        If the business plan is fundamentally flawed, no amount of above-and-beyond effort will save the company. Take what you can, punch out, try again.

        Eventually, you'll land at a company whose business model isn't fundamentally flawed, and where you still get most, if not all, of the perks of the fuckedcompany.com bait.

        > Work/jobs basically are an agreement where you trade your time for money. I realized that by passing up on upgrading my machine every 12 months and buying all of the cds and movies I wanted, instead eating in more than going out, and driving an older car I could live quite well working only part time.

        Extend and escape. You'll still work part-time for the rest of your life.

        I've discovered the same thing, except that as long as times are good (and after a few jumps, I've been lucky enough to land in a pretty fucking nice niche in this here economy of ours :), stick around and make hay while the sun shines.

        In 10 years, my skills will be obsolete. 15 if I really push at keeping up with my industry. Then I become unemployable.

        But after about 10 years of work and living "beneath my means" (like you - limited system upgrades, drive the car until it falls apart, etc), I've accumulated about 5-10 years of savings. Good investments (yes, even during the bear market, one can make money) have added about two or three more years to that.

        In short, if a girder fell on my head, nuking the part of my brain that I use for work, I could pull the plug on my job today and last a good 10 years, with no change in lifestyle, on what I've accumulated.

        By the time my skills are well and truly obsolete, that figure will be "the rest of my probable lifespan".

        And since I'm not in the game to rack up the highest score (Bill, for all his evil, has already done that. Larry was the only guy who could have come close, but the dot-com fiasco took Oracle down to the point that the best use of his capital is buying his competitors out of the market ;), it'll be time to sit back, crack open a cold one, and figure out what to do with half a lifetime of freedom.

        > Living on less is far more rewarding the getting caught up in life as a consumer where the only dominant more or social value is work more to buy more.

        As you say - work is where you trade your time for money. Opting out is much easier when you trade that money back for time.

        (We're doing the same thing - the only fundamental difference is that you're doing it a few hours a day, and I'm gambling that I won't get hit by a bus before I cash in a two-decade time card. To the reader - whichever option is "better" is up to you to figure out. IMO there's no right answer to this one; I'm just tossing out an alternative version of the same strategy.)

    • by Erris (531066) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:01PM (#6316440) Homepage Journal
      I work in 'management'. ...I don't get overtime at all, and haven't for the past 10 years. Last week I worked 4 days out of 5 0800 (8am) - 2300 (11pm). ... I have the satisfaction of knowing that I helped get a major project up and running

      That's nice for you, I'm glad you are happy with your life. Some of us, however, want the satisfaction of seeing our children grow up and have other intersts. So while you voluteer to bust your ass, please don't think that's normal and that you should force everone else into your lifestyle. One day, when the non-technical managers decide to screw you in some kind of SCO like blaze of bullshit and stock manipulation, you might have regrets.

      Slave driving is a bad sign. Some fields really are competitive like this. Most are not and an honest day's work brings an honest day's profits. Management that tries to squeze normal occumpations to frenzies like this are simply greedy. If your management is willing to screw you, the stockholders and cutomers are next and it's time to go.

  • And in Europe ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Macka (9388) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:32PM (#6316186)

    The proposal could also cause workers to work longer hours, since the Labor Department doesn't put any limit on the number of hours per week an employee must work, the group said in a study published on its Web site.
    Amazing! This is the direct opposite to the EU, where the employers power to demand you worked more than 40 hours, were stripped several years ago. I remember being asked by a former employer to sign a waver to allow me to work more than 40 hours if necessary. Naturally, guaranteed overtime was part of the deal.

    Macka (UK).
  • by methangel (191461) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:32PM (#6316188)
    We are a very materialistic nation -- the majority of us work to buy the things we want. The countries that take a lot of vacation days are generally the countries where the latest SUV and 5 bedroom house is not a necessity. Here in America, we need our ... STUFF!

    Even with that said, America ranks up there with Japan and China (both very large countries surrounded by technology...)

    Japan 10 days
    China 15 days
    U.S. 0 days

    Besides, we go to work and read Slashdot -- the same thing generally happens during a 'vacation' day. May as well make money while you reload?
  • Gonna Backfire (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sergeant Beavis (558225) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:33PM (#6316191) Homepage
    All this will serve to do is increase the power base of Unions. More and more workers will find that with Union help, they can negotiate to keep that overtime and employers will find themselves caught with having to negotiate Union contracts when before they wouldn't have to. As a Republican, I find this meddling in Labor laws to go against Conservative principles in that the Government should never get in the way of a guy making an honest buck. While these laws would not currently affect me (I'm salaried already) they will affect people like my little brother that busts his hump on a daily basis as a welder (as challening a trade as any IMO) to make the cash to keep take care of his family, let his wife be a stay at home Mom, and make a better life for his kids. That is a Conservative Philosophy and Bush is hurting it with this.
  • by graveyhead (210996) <fletch AT fletchtronics DOT net> on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:33PM (#6316196)
    As long as it's either intellectually or monitarily fulfilling. I just wrote a long story about an all-hours project here [webhop.net], and despite some pain, I have nothing but positive things to say about the whole experience. One thing I didn't note in the article is that later that year my salary made a HUGE jump... the hard work paid off.
  • by thogard (43403) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:38PM (#6316227) Homepage
    The US also has one of the highest rates of burnout in the world. Japan who was 2nd lowest in the chart also has the same problem.

    When will American compaines understand that having their workers take acations is good for the company. People who take time off, do more effecent work. It like the recent studies that show once workers start putting in more hours their productivity can increase to about 10 hours a day but an office worker that is doing 12 hr days less productive than when they were doing 8 hour days since they spend so much work time doing other things.

    It will be interesting to see what happens in New Zealand. Its my understanding that they used to have a European model for holiday time but have recently removed some of thouse requirements so they are more like the US model. Maybe that explains why at least 50% of their labor pool is in Australia.

    I've currently have 34.5 unused vacation days. Over the next year, I'll collect 20 more. I think its time for a round the world trip.
  • I'm justly compensated.

    Now, 1.5 times salary is a very nice, very generous, compensation for overtime. But I'd hardly say that anything less is an injustice.

    I'd say that as long as you get paid at least in direct proportion to how many hours you work, it's just.
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:39PM (#6316236)
    The US Department of Labor is only accepting public comment on the changes to the FLSA until this Monday.

    Email [mailto] them while you can. Or fax them at this number (202) 693-1432.

    If you work in the IT industry at all, this promises to remove any right you have to overtime pay.

  • by NetDanzr (619387) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:45PM (#6316284)
    I'm one of those poor guys who have chosen a profession in the financial world. For the first year after college, I worked an average of 75 hours per week, and being on an anual wage, I gign't get paid for the extra hours. Over time, the work load decreased as I became more efficient and got promoted. At my fifth year with the company, I'm at 40 hours per week, and no vacation. At least no vacation on paper, but I know that in 95% of cases, I get as many days off as I want to (within reason) if I ask my boss. Add to it paid sick days, and you get a whole different picture.

    What these statistics measure is the amount of vacation people are entitled to by theirwork contracts, not the amount of vacation they actually take. Having worked both in Europe and the US, I am aware that even so Europeans get much more vacation, but the approach to it is much more regulated than in the US. Here, it's enough to ask the boss who gives his approval, in most companies I worked for or had friends working for. In Europe, you need to fill an application, and due to the amount of vacation for everyone, the management must carefully balance when to award a vacation to a particular worker. I personally prefer the US approach...

    Another thing to take into account is what this hard work gets the country. Because of so much work and overtime, American workers are the most productive in the world. Cut this productivity by 20%, and you automatically increase the variable cost for a product by 20%. Legislate vacation time, and everything will become more expensive, the foreign trade deficit worsens, the dollar devaluates and everything will become even more expensive. True, we work hard, but our hard work reflects in the low product prices and high standard of living.

    • by Tetravus (79831) on Friday June 27, 2003 @09:09PM (#6316832) Homepage
      QUOTE: "Because of so much work and overtime, American workers are the most productive in the world. Cut this productivity by 20%, and you automatically increase the variable cost for a product by 20%. Legislate vacation time, and everything will become more expensive, the foreign trade deficit worsens, the dollar devaluates and everything will become even more expensive. True, we work hard, but our hard work reflects in the low product prices and high standard of living." END QUOTE
      Hmmm, I found this [psu.edu] which states that "overtime leads to an average drop in worker productivity of about 15 percent for work weeks exceeding 40 hours." from the Penn State College of Engineering.

      Increased time at work != increased output.
      -> Increased time at work != cheaper output.
      -> Decreased time at work != more expensive output.

      ~Tetravus
  • by weston (16146) <westonsd @ c a n n c entral.org> on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:48PM (#6316326) Homepage
    The proposed changes, which were first introduced in March, will be implemented by the Labor Department after a "public comment" period, which expires on Monday.

    Their implementation is already a foregone conclusion? Isn't the purpose of the public comment period to evaluate?

    But...

    The good news is that the regulations would raise that cut-off amount to $425 a week -- about $22,100 per year -- actually adding about 1.3 million lower-wage workers to the ranks of people eligible for overtime, according to the Labor Department.

    All right. So more super-low wage workers -- we're talking people making under $10/hr here -- will be guaranteed overtime. That's a very, very good thing.

    For one thing, many workers earning a salary of more than $65,000 a year will now be excluded from overtime -- at least 1.3 million workers, according to the EPI study.

    And it's really hard for me to feel too sorry for those making $65,000+. Yeah, I know, it's not easy to support a family of 6 on...

    But...

    n another example, "executives" ineligible for overtime, according to the old rules, were people who hired and fired workers, set wages and assigned work. The new rules broaden the definition of "executives" to include any workers who occasionally supervise other workers, even if they spend most of their time doing manual labor.

    This kind of change is insane. Meanwhile, real execs are collecting bonuses and kickbacks in record amounts.

    "Once employers are not required to pay for overtime work, they will schedule more of it," the study said.

    Exactly. I'd like to request a few things from my government and future employers while we're at it:

    • A ceiling for my utility bills. Once I pay a certain amount of money for electricity in a month, I don't want to pay a cent more. Same thing for phone and water.
    • Cell phone bill, too.
    • How about a ceiling on my taxes?
    • Hey, unlimited free food from the cafeteria?


    Oh. What's that? You mean you can't afford to give out and unlimited amount of finite resources at a fixed cost?

    Yeah. Me too.
  • by bryanp (160522) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:49PM (#6316330)
    ... is the official term. The standard joke at my place of employment is "Yeah, it means you're exempt from having a life."

  • Work Smart... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lodragandraoidh (639696) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:51PM (#6316361) Journal
    People keep posting about 'working hard', when, in fact, they should be 'working smart'. By that I mean:

    1. Work long hours initially to set up automation.
    2. Let automation do the work. --- this is the working smart part
    3. Browse Slashdot and react when the blinkin' lights go off.
    4. Profit.

    They pay me the big bucks to set up systems so that one person can do the work of 10. If they want me to 'look busy', I just pop open a perl script and point them to it, and ask, "do you know what that is? Do you know what that does?". That is usually when they leave...

    Granted, I do spend periods during the year when I am working my butt off - but, once I get into an operational mode things quiet down.
  • by James 007 Bond (625063) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:54PM (#6316386)
    Just as an example, as an ex-US employee and now a French one (Dubya made me flee ;^), I'd like to outline the difference in the vacation package for the approximate same work in the same company.

    In the US, after 6 years in the company I was entitled to 18 days off. Each day you are sick is decounted on your vacation days. I only got a handfull of 'US Holidays' free vacation days (New year, Memorial day, Independance day, Thanksgiving and Christmas). That's it. And that's considered fairly generous.

    In France it doesn't matter how long you've been in the company, we all get the same package:25 days of vacations plus another 12 days of RTT (you cannot cumulate those RTT with regular vacations days, and you can't take more than 5 consecutive RTTs). In addition there is a mountain of free 'French Holiday': New Year, Easter Monday, Labor Day, WWII veterans' day, Ascension, Whit Monday, Bastille day, Assumption, All Saints' Day, WWI Veteran day, Christmas. 11!

    Total?
    Us: A grand total of 23 days off.
    France: 48 days off.

    Guess where I choose to live?
  • by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:56PM (#6316407)
    ...I'll keep my rant short and sweet. And you need to spend time in a good book store to learn the details of the things I'll say, but that part is easy too. Just learn to read and buy some coffee and read the books in the store.

    Yes, anyone can do it. For about $500 in the U.S. you can get an "S Corporation". Then you are self employed and your own boss. Whatever your "deliverable" is, consulting, whatever, learn about SELLING. Learn to cold call, warm call, market, etc. Read three books on each at least, because chances are two are shit and one will be good. USE that book store. Don't just peruse Guns and Ammo and PC Mag. Now read up on accounting. Then basic tax law. Then get yourself an accountant and an attornet to handle the little bits. Initially, you need only $2000 or $3000 the first year (of course this is to keep the S Corp running, I'm not talking about savings to pay for rent).

    Now sell your deliverable. DOn't spend money on adverts. CALL. USE THE PHONE. Sell. Then deliver. Sell more. After a year you might end up where I am after doing this, and where many small business people are... making a nice upper-middle class income that is comfy, and you are self employed and your own boss. Work harder... for yourself. Enjoy the great amazing tax breaks US Gov gives you for trying to start a biz. Work harder for less vacation time? Not if you are self employed.

    It almost is that easy. After 5 years of GUI Java development, the last of the dot com bubble popped me out of the wall st area. Now I'm self employed and loving it. HARD WORK. You could make 0 but there is NO salary cap. Anyway, use that bookstore. Amazing what's in there. When I sit there reading a good selling book and a tax book, and I look around at all the slobs dripping coffee ofer their shitty little magazines before they have to go to sleep and be ready at their cubicle at 9:00am the next morning, I laugh. End of rant. Go sell. Good luck.

  • by OwnerOfWhinyCat (654476) * on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:57PM (#6316418)
    The greedy bastards just don't get it... I have been ineligible for overtime for my entire career and I'm ok with that. When I get off work after a full day typing and my wrists ache and I can't seem to focus on anything outside the beamwidth of 19" at 2.5 feet, I just have to sit down for some Belgian Waffles at the local restaurant and watch someone really hussle for < 1/3rd of my wage and I just can't bring myself to snivel.

    So it's not with any personal sense of unfair treatment, that I state the following:

    A minimum wage, while coincidently fair to an employee, serves it's greatest purpose in motivating employers to make good business decisions.

    As an average employee works more than 40 hours a week his/her work quality steadily declines and his/her chance of having some kind of accident goes up hyperbolicly.

    The accidents cost everyone. That cost is spread around in insurance premiums and workman's comp., but we all pay for it. The cost of mediocre work in a global economy is that it makes slave labor from struggling countries more appealing to use because the quality differential has decreased.

    Very few business owners are so farsighted as to spend extra cash to help with these problems. The primary benefit of the overtime pay that it forces them to.

    When you have four employees working 50 hour weeks, it is cheaper for the business to hire the extra employee the need than it is to pay 40 hours a week in overtime. This system makes the bean-counters make better decisions for their own workplace and for the country as well.

    If I find a place for public comment I will propose a counter amendment.

    In order to ignore the welfare of the worker to the same extent as the currently proposed bill, continue to withhold overtime pay from people who have earned it, but force the employer to pay it directly to a non-profit hospital, food bank, or homeless shelter, so that the business is still motivated to keep employee hours sane, and the charitable systems that will bear the brunt of the cost for this extreme lack of foresight will be better funded.

    But that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.
    • by bluGill (862) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:38PM (#6316657)

      When you have four employees working 50 hour weeks, it is cheaper for the business to hire the extra employee the need than it is to pay 40 hours a week in overtime.

      Not it does not. Your forgot to factor in benifits, skill levels, company size, and work availability.

      Sure it costs them more per hour to pay me, but there are fixed costs. Health insureance costs so much, as does each check, and the accounting, 401k match, etc. If you make $10/hr, you only need $200 per person overhead to make it work out. That is a reasonable (a little high) number.

      Then there is skill level. My boss could hire someone else to do my job, but can he find someone equal to me? There is nobody who can start tommorow who can do my job like me. (There are those who by the end of the week will know our way of doing things, which combined with their abilities will be better) Many people want to get paid but don't want to work. What is the cost of someone who shows up, but doesn't put for the effort to do any work? You still have to pay them until you get enough cause to fire them. I'm just a laborer (I'm looking for a different job or I'd have advanced further), what about the foreman who knows how to do every part of the job and has expirence. My boss has said that he loses money on the foremans when they work overtime, but he still encourages it because the rest of us can then work, and we make enough less, and do enough work, that overall he makes more money despite losing money on some people.

      Depending on how big your company is, you go under different rules. If you have less than so many employees you pay taxes different, need different insurance amounts, and can be a different type of company. (Not all of these are in the same cut offs, but that is they type of thing.) If the rules you are under require less than 10 employees, and you have 9, it may not be worth changing to a different rule set just to get the next guy.

      And then there is work availability. If there is a rush job it doesn't matter if they lose money nearly so much as satisfing the customer so they will pay us again. If the work comes in spurts we are better off working overtime some weeks, and no overtime when there is less work. Compare your 4 guys alternating 40 and 50 hour weeks with 5 guys working 40 hour weeks, because some weeks you need all that work, and other weeks you are giving them all extrea hours of profitless do nothing work just so they don't quit for a job that gives them enough to live on.

      Let me elaberate: Last winter my boss found himself without work for a month, he gave the guys an option: work 40 hour weeks, or take a month off. Everyone decided that there are bills to pay so we had to work. Work was found, but a lot of it was make work that obviously generated no income for the company. However if that hadn't been there, some guys would have to find a different job to pay their bills, and when work started again there would be no expirenced people left.

      Last of all, don't forget that some guys like the overtime. We have bills to pay, and things to do. By paying overtime there is less profit for the company, but they are still making money, and those guys who need the money are getting more. These are the people that can be counted on to help out when there is a rush that requires everyone who can work overtime. So by planning on overtime for jobs that aren't rushed the boss can keep those who want it happy for the times when it is important to get something done.

      Running a buisness is complex. Money isn't always the only factor, you end up being "penny wise and pound foolish" when you don't pay attention to the other details. And so you might on paper be better off with more people, but other factors make it a bad idea.

  • by JRHelgeson (576325) on Friday June 27, 2003 @07:59PM (#6316432) Homepage Journal
    First off, isn't it ironic that this gets posted right when the rest of the world is calling the USA fat & lazy?

    In all seriousness, I work harder than a gynecologist. I put in so many overtime hours that my employer is forced to give me comp time.

    Yes, I'm on salary and yes I am already ineligible for overtime because of my pay scale. However, the laws that are currently in place enable me able to say, "Hey - enough is enough and this is too much." Fortunately I am in the enviable position where the company would likely fold if I were to leave.

    If they were to relax the laws of overtime - there would be nothing stopping some unscrupulous employers from taking full advantage of their employees.

  • HEY YOU! (Score:5, Funny)

    by zulux (112259) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:22PM (#6316566) Homepage Journal
    WORK HARDER! Millions on welfare are depending on YOU!

    (swiped from a bumper sticker)
  • Curious... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mortanius (225192) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:23PM (#6316567) Homepage
    Just want to throw this out there, see if anyone else has had similar experiences...

    I work for a company in a Boston suburb, hit three years there this June. At the beginning of this year I was finally given an explanation of my paid time off (10 days vacation, 0 days sick). In early January, my grandmother had a stroke, and asked for a few days off to go back to Maine to visit family. The CEO said I could and I wouldn't have to worry about losing vacation days. I came back the following Monday to find a message from the CEO asking to talk to me. The long and the short of it was, in the 4 days I was away, I had forfeited all my vacation days. Fine, I can deal I suppose. In April, my grandmother passed away. Again, I asked for time off to go to Maine to visit family again. It was granted, including by the person I was working under on a project at the time. I went to Maine again for 4 days, returned the following Monday. This time the CEO was furious that I didn't have the current project I'd been working on done, and suffered a 20% pay cut that week, 'to compensate for lost time.'

    Fun fun. If I recall (I don't have the paper at the moment) I will gain an additional 5 vacation days per year when I hit 5 years at the company, if I last that long...
  • by fupeg (653970) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:23PM (#6316570)
    So the US doesn't guarantee any vacation time and its workers take less vacation time per year compared to other countries ... but what about legal holidays? There are quite a few legal holidays in the US, and a lot of people (not all) get most of those days off. Do other countries have more or less legal holidays? I mean if Japaneese workers take 7 more vacation days, but they get 10 less legal holidays ... well you do the math. I'm not saying this is the case, just that these statistics are necesarry for proper analysis.
  • A tale of two jobs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <<gterich> <at> <aol.com>> on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:27PM (#6316586) Journal
    Ok, so I'm ineligible for overtime based both on my pay scale and my degree. I make what most snivelers would call "damn good money" but somehow after two years out of school, and under the crushing load of student loans, it doesn't seem like a whole hell of a lot of money to me. After Uncle Sam and the Commonwealth are finished raping me for more than 55% of my income (including all taxes, like sales, property, gasoline, income, wage, etc), I actually end up making just as much money working for $7.25/hr at the bikeshop where I have my moonlight job. The bike shop is a hell of a lot more fun, so I'm wondering why I don't just do that.

    Oh yeah, those student loans... all $60k worth of them.

    "Make an investment in your future" they tell you. "You'll be worth so much more money" they tell you. I drive a 15 year old car with 200k miles on it, live in a dumpy three bedroom house in the ghetto with two other technical "professionals," and have a very hard time making ends meet on what's left of my biweekly pittance.

    What I've learned from the last 10 or so years of my life is that a) a college degree isn't worth it - as it will only be used to prove that you're capable of training your replacements from India and b) get a job because you enjoy it, not because it pays well. It's amazing how much I sit in my cubicle teaching the three guys from Bangalore how to do my job, looking forward to making my seven bucks at the bike shop.

    • The Contrarian View (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:54AM (#6317915) Journal
      Oh yeah, those student loans... all $60k worth of them.

      Geez! I got my BSEE at Cal State University, Long Beach. It was about $500 a semester at the time (mid 1980's). Graduated in 1988. It was the largest EE program west of the Mississippi at the time, and fairly well thought of in the industry as far as I could tell. One interviewer told me that the perception was that CSULB grads had nothing to prove, and just showed up and did the work.

      My employer paid for my MSEE from USC, but, honestly, I think I'd be where I am now anyway without it.

      I now make $140K a year, just bought a 2003 Mustang GT for cash, and am planning retirement for about age 48... maybe 45 with a bit of luck. That is when I will build the 30" autoguiding, computerized, motorized reflecting telescope in my backyard as my ultimate geek life project (assuming I don't also start work on the directed energy weapons). The mirror alone will set me back $10K or more.

      I realzed early on, thanks to some advice from an engineer I knew in high school, that, yeah, the degree isn't worth all *that* much, even from a prestigious school. He told me to learn a lot of hands on stuff, so I joined a ham radio club and built Heathkits all through college (I still use my Heathkit voltmeter at work). Once I was hired post graduation, I learned everything I could, read every application note and data sheet I could get my hands on, and continue my education into the real world stuff.

      All that stuff that's so emphasized in college is so unimporant in the real job. I haven't used Kirchoff's law since college. I haven't seen an integral in years.

      And, kids, go into hardware engineering. The Indians can't touch me- they're all software weenies. Oh, and take extra courses in electromagnetics. I've lost count of the pure digital guys who don't understand why I am so meticulous about trace impedance and termination stubs when I want to get 10 gigabit data into an FPGA. RF and digital are converging. I regularly deal with digital data streams at 3 GHz or higher, and I don't mean multiplied inside a chip. I mean 3 Gbps data on 20 layer PCBs distributed all over the board, and traces of a couple inches become efficient transmitting and receiving antennas.

  • by reallocate (142797) on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:32PM (#6316622)
    If the only thing that keeps you showing up at work every day is your paycheck, then I suppose you have a reason to want to be paid overtime for enduring another hour of hell. You do that knowing that you're just another warm body.

    However, many occupations exist where performance counts more than just putting in hours. Millions of these jobs exist in the U.S. -- in the traditional professions, in new professions, in the government and military, etc. It has been my experience that people in these jobs routinely work 50-70 weeks per week.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2003 @08:41PM (#6316673)
    Is it just me or is the US tech market grossly inflated with dead weight? I understand that the economy is slow and you have to work hard and create success. I'm also utterly shocked at the amount of talent out there; there isn't any. We hired a CCNAed network engineer, bastard couldn't configure a tap on a cat. switch without spending 6 hours on Cisco's site (probably closer to 7 since he took lunch during that time) looking at the documentation. Yeah, he talks a good game but he doesn't do shit. I'm a lowly software engineer without a CCNA and I could have read Cisco's site and got the switch working faster than he did. Yeah we work long hours because the work has to get done and people like that are the talent pool. Worse, this guy is "good" compared to the guy he replaced. There is too much dead weight. "High fives, we got the switch working, want a game of foosball before we cut out?!"

    Java coders are the same way. I'm all about making it easier to write good software, garbage collection and clean syntax rules. Nothing against java or the people who use it but I'm just amazed at how many of these guys call themselves software engineers and have no idea what is actually happening in the system on with the hardware. I was working with a team working on a tomcat based JSP web application, the question came up, why does this app need 512MB of RAM and a 800Mhz Pentium-III to run slowly with only 2 clients attached? We need it to work with at least 20 clients attached. Does that strike anyone as a little heavy? (It just reads a few tables from a SQL database and formats them in to html, not even fancy shit yet... it's practically serving up static HTML) silence, has anyone done any performance work? How about memory consumption, how can we improve it? silence. Do we need to rewrite this using a different technology? Panic! "Maybe if we bump it up to a dual or quad processor machine with 2GB of RAM...

    I'm not a superstar. I did well at a good university, there is a lot more that I don't know than I do, I've only got about 15 years of professional experience, but there are a shit load of people who know next to nothing, and they are trying to draw down $70k, $80k, $100K a year and the job simply doesn't get done with that kind of talent flooding the workplace.

    I can count the number of top notch professionals I've worked with. I care about my craft, I'm always learning and like to keep current and know about things, there just more people who like to play video games and surf the web and somehow equate that to being a professional tech worker. 10 years ago there was a lot more talent amongst the people in this biz, I looked up to people I worked with knowing I could learn from them. Now I'm just floored by the kids we bring in, they want the money, they want the sexy work, they just can't do it and they think that they can.

    So why do we work long hours? Well now the teams are twice as big if not bigger than they were in the 80's and early 90's, the expenses are higher, the costs are higher, we have to produce more. The talent is dilluted. The expectation is there but there isn't the talent to deliver on it. Result? Fewer people can actually do the work, you'll be damned if they will stand by and let you cut out after a rough 6 hours or web browsing. We're working dumber. People do shit manually. People write code that get's rewritten because they can't read their own damn perl. People do things the only ways they know how and then they get redone completely because the web based calendar system takes the biggest computer in the client's office to serve up 2 calendars at a time... I hope 4 of the 50 employees don't want to see the vacation schedule too close to the same time.

    Maybe I'm getting too old for it but the people in this biz aren't as good as they were as a whole, there are just more of them and they make a lot more money. You do the math, why don't we get overtime pay?

  • by marebri (647708) <bgmarete@NosPAM.gmail.com> on Friday June 27, 2003 @09:32PM (#6316937)
    First Quote: "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." Second Quote: "I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. " {{End of Quotes}} I believe it is no hyperbole if I were to declare now the vastest majority of American children now wake up, "homeless", their "fatheres conqured".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 27, 2003 @09:41PM (#6316980)
    Ya know, I swore I wasn't gonna get involved in this, but reading all these posts, I just didn't have a choice.

    I am 50 years old. I have an engineering degree. About 20 years ago, an engineering student, whose assignment was to interview a working engineer, interviewed me about my career. Well, having just come off a series of 80 hour weeks, trying to meet unrealistic schedules assigned by unknowing bosses, I blasted him. The poor kid probably switched majors. The one question I remember clearly (probably assigned verbatim by the teacher who dreamed up the assignment in the first place) was "exactly what has your engineering degree meant to you in your career?".

    My answer was: "My engineering degree is nothing but a license to work free overtime. Sure, I make some money but, if you divide the number of hours I work by the pay I get, I probably make less than factory workers!"

    Engineers, at least in my work experience, have always been exempt from overtime pay. And that has led to nothing but abuse by the companies I have worked for. I burned out, left engineering as a career, and then returned to engineering.

    I returned because there is nothing else I would rather do. I don't have he words, but let me leave with a quote from someone who does:

    Engineering: it is a great profession. There is the satisfaction of watching a figment of the imagination emerge through the aid of science to a plan on paper. Then it moves to realization in stone or metal or energy. Then it brings jobs and homes to men. Then it elevates the standards of living and adds to the comforts of life. That is the engineer's high privilege. The great liability of the engineer compared to men of other professions is that his works are out in the open where all can see them. His acts, step by step, are in hard substance. He cannot bury his mistakes in the grave like the doctors. He cannot argue them into thin air or blame the judge like the lawyers. He cannot, like the architects, cover his failures with trees and vines. He cannot, like the politicians, screen his shortcomings by blaming his opponents and hope that the people will forget. The engineer simply cannot deny that he did it. If his works do not work, he is damned. [It] haunts his nights and dogs his days. ...He wakes in the night in a cold sweat and puts something on paper that looks silly in the morning. All day he shivers at the thought of the bugs which will inevitably appear to jolt his smooth consumation. ...unlike the doctor his is not a life among the weak. Unlike the soldier, destruction is not his purpose. Unlike the lawyer, quarrels are not his daily bread. To the engineer falls the job of clothing the bare bones of science with life, comfort and hope. ...as years go by people forget which engineer did it, even if they ever knew. Or some politician puts his name on it. Or they credit it to some promoter who used other people's money with which to finance it. But the engineer himself looks back at the unending stream of goodness that flows from his successes with satisfactions that few professions may know. And the verdict of his fellow professionals is all the accolade he wants.

    Herbert Hoover
    The Profession of Engineering (from his memoirs)

  • by theolein (316044) on Friday June 27, 2003 @09:45PM (#6317006) Journal
    Although I worried like hell about finding another job, the hours that I was working up until now were killing. 12 to 14 hour days regularly 7AM to 7PM with a boss that got upset if I applied for overtime. This was so bloody exhausting that I might very well have had a breakdown if I hadn't been canned.

    This is in Switzerland, and you'ld be surprised at how many workers here in Europe will do this in order to hold on to their jobs.
  • Despite this... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by squarooticus (5092) on Friday June 27, 2003 @09:52PM (#6317037) Homepage
    I'd still rather live in the US, where 6% unemployment is considered "bad," than a country like, say, France, in which double-digit unemployment is the norm and perpetual dependence is more of a way of life due to the myriad entitlements, paid for by those foolish enough to work, that are a strong disincentive to keeping a job that is more difficult than watching TV.

    I work at one of the few dot-com's to survive the downturn, and am overworked for sure; but I choose to do this because I want the rewards that come with hard work. I'm only 27: I've seen how fast people can progress if they are willing to work long and hard, and am happy to put off some pleasure today to reap the rewards of tomorrow, as long as I have some fun along the way.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Saturday June 28, 2003 @12:06AM (#6317698)
    Employee: Boss, I've been working here for thirty years. When can I retire?

    Boss: That depends. When do you expect to die?

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.

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