bureaucracybusters

ENDING THE “I WIN/YOU LOSE” POWER OF GREEDY EMPLOYERS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on December 1, 2022 at 12:10 am

All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it. 

“If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself.  But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.” 

—Niccolo Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli knew what he was talking about.

As of January 1, 2018, it became illegal for California employers to ask job applicants about their former salaries and benefits.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a state privacy bill into law during the last week of December, 2017.

This is good news for applicants who believe they shouldn’t be judged on how much—or little—money they earned in the past.

For decades, employers have used “salary histories” to discriminate against applicants who earned large—or small—salaries in their previous jobs.

For example: If an applicant had been paid a miserly wage even though he had performed major tasks for an employer, the new potential one would use that low salary as a weapon against him: “Well, it says here you earned $—– in your most recent job. Why should we pay you more than that?”

And if an applicant had earned a high salary, an employer would often use that against him: “We can’t afford to match that, let alone give you more than that.” In many cases, employers simply refused to give a reason for refusing to hire the applicant.

In either case, it was clearly an “I win/You lose” situation.

And, naturally, when employers whine about how expensive it was to pay a living wage to those who made their profits a reality, they never mention the exorbitant salary paid to their own CEO.

Even CEOs who are fired—even for reasons of outright criminality—usually receive severance packages in the tens of thousands of dollars—a gift that no ordinary employee can expect to receive.

According to Glassdoor: “The estimated total pay for a Chief Executive Officer is $403,919 per year in the United States area, with an average salary of $186,399 per year. Additional pay could include cash bonus, commission, tips, and profit sharing.”   

CEO’s of major corporations often wail that they can’t afford to hire more employees—or whine that, to “cut costs,” they must fire tens of thousands of existing ones. But they almost never offer to trim their own bloated salaries.

One job-seeking applicant tried to finesse the salary history demand by filling out the job application form except for the salary history part.  He then attached a cover-letter, which read:

“I am interested in speaking with you or one of your representatives about the above-named position. I have filled out the required application—-with the exception of the box inquiring into my Current/last Income.

“I have been paid on a per-hour basis, a per-assignment basis, and on a bi-weekly basis. Each of these salaries was for a different job, and each job required a specific set of skills and efforts on my part.

“I am prepared to discuss in detail how my skills and experiences can prove of use to your company. But I do not discuss past salaries earned with anyone but the Internal Revenue Service.” 

But the relationship between employers and job-seekers has always been a lopsided one, with the “rights” of employers far exceeding those of applicants.

Since January 1, 2018, California job-seekers no longer have to worry about that part of the application.

Supporters of the law believe it will help reduce the notorious wage-gap between male and female employees.

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“Women negotiating a salary shouldn’t have to wrestle an entire history of wage disparity,” said the bill’s principal author, California Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman.

California’s law also requires potential employers to disclose a salary range for the job in question, should an applicant ask about it.

This arms job seekers with valuable information because they will now know how much a company is willing to offer for that position.

In the past, employers held that information close to the vest as one more way of gaining control over their potential employee.

Although California has long been a trailblazer in employee/employer relations, it was not the first state to pass such a law. Oregon, Delaware and Massachusetts had already passed laws forbidding employers from asking about salary history.

Many employers and their paid shills believe that President Calvin Coolidge was right when he said: “The man who builds a factory builds a temple; the man who works there worships there.”

Cheryl Behymer, an attorney for the law firm Fisher & Phillips, which represents employers, said: “Here’s another point where the government is dictating to an employer how to conduct its business and employers resent that.”

She speaks for all tyrants forced to relinquish any part of their tyranny.

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