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delta_T
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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OK, I know people regularly apologize in advance for their really long posts, but seriously, this will be long. I’ll try to remember my paragraphing skills.

For the last 14 months I have worked for on an assembly line making bumpers for certain high end vehicles. I really liked it…my co-workers were great, my team leader was fantastic, the culture at the factory really warm and welcoming.

Just to clarify, there are 3 tiers of employees here…

1. Agency temps = low pay, no security or benefits. If full time or contract employees in the plant have a short term lay off, agency temps will be the first bumped. Although they often work on a particular assembly line for weeks/months/over a year, they can be told not to come in tomorrow any time. They have to accumulate 44 hours in a week in order to get paid overtime (time and a half).
2. Contract employees = are paid the same as full time employees, but still no benefits or long term security. Contracts are often for 3 months, and then renewed for another 3 months, and so on. They do get overtime pay for working more than 8 hours in one day, no matter the number of hours they worked in a week.
3. Full time employees = same pay as contract, but with security and benefits. If there are short-term layoffs (common) they get to go to other lines in the plant and bump temps off the job. They get monthly profit sharing, as well as yearly profit sharing, the company matches RRSP deposits (to some limit), dental and chiropractic plans, a safety shoe allowance, lay off insurance. (There’s more, but that’s all I can remember off the top of my head.)

I started on my line just before Christmas last year. It was (and is) one of the most popular products our company makes, and they had just instituted an afternoon shift because our customer wanted more of our product (bumpers, remember?). I was lucky in my timing that I was there from the 1st day the afternoon shift started, and about 2 months later our team leader was allowed to put 6 people on contract (BTW, the line has about 20 people). I was one of them. Usually contract employees are “on the way” to becoming full time employees, although there is no guarantee. We all know about the insecurity in the North American automotive industry.

Anyway, this fall we were told that the Big Car Company that our line makes bumpers for was insisting that we supply them for less $$, and our production schedule was cut to 4 days a week. Fine, we understand. In fact, since our shift comes after day shift, any time they don’t meet the daily target, we stay overtime to get the required number of parts out. So I was still working 40 hours a week…32 regular and 8 over time, which meant I was getting paid more than I would be to work 40 regular hours a week. No problem, right? We are still being told that our line is one of the “most successful lines in Company’s history.” And also, that the afternoon shift (the one I’m on) consistently out performs the day shift.

So, I keep getting 3-month contract renewals, along with the other 5 people who were put on contact at the same time. We keep getting told that the company (which belongs to a bigger company, which belongs to a bigger company) hasn’t been given authorization to hire any full time people yet, but hopefully it will soon…(you can see where this is going.)

Our current contract ended on Dec. 21. Although we kept asking, no one seemed to be able to tell us if it was going to be extended again, but since we had that happen previously we didn’t worry about it too much until our Christmas party last Wednesday. I happened to have come in 4 hours early to help on day shift, so I got to hear this twice from our Team Leader’s boss, first at the day shift party, and then afternoon’s. Basically, she said that “as you know, some of you aren’t coming back in January, but you’re great people, just wait for a telephone call and hopefully we’ll be able to get you back with us”. The problem was, NO ONE had heard that at all, not on days or afternoons. When we tried to get info from our team leader, all he would say was “don’t worry, but worry.” Great.

Finally, after we had finished our last shift on Thursday, our TL finally explained to us what was going on. Apparently, “upper management” has decided that it’s not fair to keep us on contract indefinitely, so when you’ve been there a year, they are supposed to either let us have a chance at getting hired or let us go. Of course, there is still no authorization to hire anyone full time. I would have a lot more understanding towards it if someone had TOLD us, instead of waiting until just before Christmas to let us know. Even so, I still have some chance of coming back in January (it depends on whether our company lands some big contract), but there is also a new policy that agency temps can’t stay more than 6 months. There are only 4 full time employees on our shift! Out of 20! That means that even though we consistently out perform day shift (who only have 2 contract and 1 agency temp), they are ready to let 16 people go, many who have been there for a year. Even if the contract employees get back in with another short term contract (we were told this was a possibility) we still lose half the line. These are great people who do a great job, and it's just not fair.

If we had been told about this ahead of time, I really doubt that anyone would have been too upset. As I said, we know our industry is unstable. But for some reason, management decided it would worry us less if we weren’t told about it till the last minute. Apparently, our team leader had to fight with management just to get permission to actually explain what was going on. In my book, that just sucks. Bad news, I can deal with, (especially with a reason) but sneaking up on you is the worst way to handle it.

If anyone actually read though this, thanks!

Posts: 25 | From: Guelph, Ontario, Canada | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
Bach_girl
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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I am sorry to hear that this happened to you right before Christmas. Sometimes it seems that if people would hold off with the bad news it would be a little easier to enjoy the holiday. I hope you have a good one anyway- and that you are able to get back to work next month.

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"My Very Educated Mother Just Said Uh-oh! No...Pluto..."~ Steven Colbert

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Spam & Cookies-mmm
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Apparently, “upper management” has decided that it’s not fair to keep us on contract indefinitely, so when you’ve been there a year, they are supposed to either let us have a chance at getting hired or let us go
Not fair? Boy I can just picture that conversation.
"You know, It's really not fair that these people are kept on temporary status without becoming full time employees."
"Yes, I know, Smithers, but what can we do?"
"Hey, I know, we'll lay them off just before Christmas!"
"Excellent!"

Have you talked to your agency about this? I'm pretty sure they were strung along as well, and would be interested in knowing more about the situation.

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Did you see the Announcement?
There's a new snopes message board!

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tenorcs
I Saw Three Shipments


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quote:
Originally posted by Bach_girl:
Sometimes it seems that if people would hold off with the bad news it would be a little easier to enjoy the holiday.

I think the reason this happens so often, unfortunately, is that a lot of companies use the calendar year as their fiscal year. Any employees who aren't going to be continuing into the next year wind up finding at the end of December, hence, right before Christmas.
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Jocko's Jolly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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My Dad was hired once in a September by a company, got their new automated production line up and running. He was then called into a meeting on December 24 and told him and the rest of the Engineering team that there would be no more job for them after the 1st of the year. Not only was he pissed, but so was the headhunter who lured him away for this job -- they had both been assured repeatedly that this was not just a temporary while-we-get-the-line-operational job but a permanent lifetime deal. The company paid him severance, of course, but it was still difficult (this was only his second position after 21 years in the Navy). It took him 6 months and being willing to move partway across the country to get a new job.

As tenorcs said, the timing of such announcements is usually based on financial, not personnel, issues, but upper management often seems to have not thought out their timing to well. Or else they time it so that they won't lose employees right before a big deadline is met. The bottom line is almost always what's best for the company and its bottom line, not what's best for the individual employee.

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Like every good third-in-a-series it contains a whole load of ewoks, ‘Clubber’ Lang, whey-faced Sophia Coppola, Sean Connery as the Pirate Captain’s estranged dad, a crappy CGI alien, and Richard Pryor on a donkey. -- Gideon Defoe

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Paulie Jay
O Little Down-Payment of Bethlehem


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I actually can understand the "it's not fair to string workers along on contracts" ideal, but if the workers themselves don't have a problem with it I think there should be a bit more flexiblity.

Hope it works out in the new year, Delta-T [Smile]

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All the way with Paulie Jay

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delta_T
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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Sorry to take so long to reply. Sometimes when I log in I can't see the current posts (I use Firefox)and yesterday I couldn't find this rant.

Just to clarify, I am working for CompanyName, not a temp agency. But on a series of 3 month contracts, and I did know ahead of time that my current contract would be over Dec. 21. I'm just upset that we weren't given a clue that this would happen ahead of time.

I don't doubt really that the policy change is meant to encourage companies like ours to hire more full time staff. They do rely way too much on temps and contract personnel. Also, the fact that a new financial year is beginning is a factor. The effect, in the short term, is rather painful.

Stories like this in the automotive industry are common, as Jocko illustrated, I guess I just was suffering from "it couldn't happen to me" syndrome.

Thank you all for your good wishes! I've been lurking for years, and I never thought I'd post a rant, but I felt better after writing it all out!

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dawnda
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I work for MD unemployment (not in claims taking), & when they took claims in person, from Thanksgiving until after New Years it was standing room only. Really makes me sick how many people lose their jobs in the holiday season.

Good luck finding another job soon, & if you are interested, PM or email me & I can give you a list of websites other than monster that may be useful.

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Behind every good man there is a good woman and behind that another
man looking at her rear end.

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Mad Jay
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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Many companies lay off their contract staff after the contract staff has worked a year or so. I have been told that the reason is because some companies got sued by their contractors, The contractors said that since they had worked long-term they should qualify for benifits.

I don't know whether that is true or not, but that's what my previous employer used to tell us. They would hire contractors for 6 months, and renew their contract twice. After 18 months, the contractors couldn't work at the company for 6 months. They would stagger hiring of the contractors, so they don't have to kick out everyone at the same time. Not many people came back after being laid off once, but 1 did and that too, after being guaranteed full-time employment.

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Nico Sasha
In between my father's fields;And the citadels of the rule; Lies a no-man's land which I must cross; To find my stolen jewel.

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I'm 20th Century Fox
Happy Holly Days


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Well, I'm pretty sure that part of their philosophy (of not telling you earlier) was that they were afraid that if they did, production would probably fall off (unhappy worker = less productivity).

Not that it sucks any less. I hope things look up for you.

ETA - I meant "you" in the generic sense, not you personally.

ETA 2 - I did mean "you" in the personal sense in the second paragraph.

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When my chin is on the ground I pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again.

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Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


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So Jay, are you saying that your previous employer has a pool of trained workers that they can hire as "contract" workers, then lay off after 18 months, then hire back?

Which means you don't have to worry about treating people like full-time employees, and you don't have to keep training newbies?

Damn, they're good!

Horse "Thank God I'm Union" Chestnut

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NeeCD
Happy Holly Days


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[OT]
quote:
Originally posted by delta_T:
Sorry to take so long to reply. Sometimes when I log in I can't see the current posts (I use Firefox)and yesterday I couldn't find this rant.

You might want to see this post and see if it fixes your problem. Or you can hold down the shift key while you click refresh if you don't want to change the config settings.

[/OT]

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I wondered why the Frisbee was getting bigger, then it hit me.
What does "Bookachow", "YOMANK!" and other lingo mean?

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snapdragonfly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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Regardless of the reason behind the layoffs, it's pretty much universal that employers don't give employees much warning: sometimes absolutely none, sometimes a slight hint but as little as possible.

Even in a completely different type of job from factory work. In my husband's field (labor) you tell the guy on friday just as he's going home with his paycheck. "Hasta la vista, don't let the door hit ya on the way out." This is to avoid disgruntled employees giving less than a full day's hard work. Or retaliating in some way. There's a lot a mad employee can do to screw up a construction site.

I can see the point and the reason, but everyone who works for someone else would be better off if they remember what Jocko said "The bottom line is almost always what's best for the company and its bottom line, not what's best for the individual employee" and when it comes to making their own decisions, to put their first loyalty to their own career and not to the company they work for (and the two are sometimes indeed different.) . Because their employer will almost certainly not return the favor. It's just always that way. I can see the reason why, as I said, but people need to remember that and not feel guilty about leaving someplace if they get a better offer.

snap *made that mistake once, won't do it again* dragonfly

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"Wolves, dragons and vampires, man. Draw the nut-bars like big ol' nut-bar magnets." ~evilrabbit

(snurched because one of my nutbar family members is all about wolves and another one is all about dragons...)(with apologies to surfcitydogdad)

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delta_T
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I like this place enough that I'd go back for another contract, even though it would just put off the problem. The people I worked with are great.

I'm supposed to hear from them during the 1st or 2nd week of January (the line itself is down until the 16th). I'll let you guys know what happens. (Thanks, dawnda, I'll PM you if/when.)

It's probably true that they wanted us to stay happy/productive...we've been running at least 2 hours of overtime every day for months.

I'd say it's nice to know I'm not alone in this situation, but when you think about it, it isn't very nice at all!

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Mad Jay
Let There Be PCs on Earth


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quote:
Originally posted by Horse Chestnut:
So Jay, are you saying that your previous employer has a pool of trained workers that they can hire as "contract" workers, then lay off after 18 months, then hire back?

Which means you don't have to worry about treating people like full-time employees, and you don't have to keep training newbies?

Damn, they're good!

Well, almost no one came back after 18 months, but yeah, you are basically correct. They had a revolving door for contractors. One would go out and another would come in.

Before I had joined there, they had around 40 employees. They laid off 30 and hired contractors. Eventually they grew to 60, with 15 employees and 45 contractors. But, then they started whittling them down. It's easy to whittle the team down if it's mainly contractors. You just wait for their contract to expire, and don't hire new contractors. You can practically empty the entire office in a year.

I bet that's a strategy most companies use when they are not sure of their long-term labor needs. They don't to "lay off" people. They don't need to report the lay offs to the public. No employees coming back with a gun. No employees suing for wrongful termination.

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Nico Sasha
In between my father's fields;And the citadels of the rule; Lies a no-man's land which I must cross; To find my stolen jewel.

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snapdragonfly
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Mad Jay:
quote:
Originally posted by Horse Chestnut:
So Jay, are you saying that your previous employer has a pool of trained workers that they can hire as "contract" workers, then lay off after 18 months, then hire back?

Which means you don't have to worry about treating people like full-time employees, and you don't have to keep training newbies?

Damn, they're good!

Well, almost no one came back after 18 months, but yeah, you are basically correct. They had a revolving door for contractors. One would go out and another would come in.

Before I had joined there, they had around 40 employees. They laid off 30 and hired contractors. Eventually they grew to 60, with 15 employees and 45 contractors. But, then they started whittling them down. It's easy to whittle the team down if it's mainly contractors. You just wait for their contract to expire, and don't hire new contractors. You can practically empty the entire office in a year.

I bet that's a strategy most companies use when they are not sure of their long-term labor needs. They don't to "lay off" people. They don't need to report the lay offs to the public. No employees coming back with a gun. No employees suing for wrongful termination.

It's also a real good way for a company to look better on paper (as far as employee statistics) than it is. My brother worked as a contract person at Big Famous Computer Company and he was paid and treated like crap. The permanent workers were renowned for having great pay and benefits and that's what the company was known for, (and what everyone wanted to be but good luck with that) but I guess the way contract labor is handled doesn't make it into annual reports and stuff like that.

Again, I can see the reason, but it's less than honest and I don't admire companies who do it.

--------------------
"Wolves, dragons and vampires, man. Draw the nut-bars like big ol' nut-bar magnets." ~evilrabbit

(snurched because one of my nutbar family members is all about wolves and another one is all about dragons...)(with apologies to surfcitydogdad)

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Keeper of the Mad Bunnies
Jingle Bell Hock


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This appears to be a new area of law. Anyone who works as an Independent Contractor (or knows someone who does) may want to research the subject to see what rights they actually have. it appears that you can be considered an employee if you are treated like one, regardless of what it says on paper.

Independent Contractor vs Employee

What is An Employee?: Independent Contractor vs. Employee Status

Employee or self-employed? (Canada Revenue)

10. Employees vs. Independent Contractors (Business Development Bank of Canada)

James Powell

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delta_T
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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In my case, I definitely was an employee of CompanyName, but on a series of 3 month contracts. We were paid the same "full time" employees, but had no benefits or security. At our company, "full time" doesn't mean any difference in the hours you work, it means that if the area you work for has no work, you will be transferred to another area...basically guaranteed employment for life.

Interestingly, I worked as a courier for a couple years in the 80's, and I was considered self-employed. However, according to the list of questions on the Canada Revenue website, I would likely be considered an employee if I were doing the same thing now.

Thanks for looking up the Canadian sites!

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Arriah
The First USA Noel


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I got laid off once right before Christmas. The really annoyance is that ExH and I both worked at the same place and there was a gift exchange at the christmas party that day. Because of that gift exchange we spent a little bit more money than we should have on christmas.

After the gift exchange we were all told we were laid off. My ExH and I didn't have any extra money so we ended up returning the gifts that we got just to buy gas.

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Conforming meant that everyone liked you except yourself
Rebecca

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delta_T
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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You're a better person than I am....I pre-ordered my son a Wii for Christmas, and when I found out that I was getting laid off (which was the same day as the Christmas party, but a few hours later), I still went in and paid the balance, instead of getting my deposit back (which would have been no problem). I think I was in a little bit of denial there....I really shouldn't have gone through with it. I know we can't afford it now. Short term, I had the money, but long term, it's gonna really hurt.
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MaxKaladin
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Mad Jay:
I have been told that the reason is because some companies got sued by their contractors, The contractors said that since they had worked long-term they should qualify for benifits.

Microsoft got sued for this and the results of that suit changed the way a lot of companies deal with contractors. This wikipedia article discusses it some:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permatemp

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delta_T
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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I think that there has been similar controversy here, and that's what led to my current situation. In the past, my company would have just kept us on contract longer, but they are instituting a new 6 month limit on contract and agency temps. Although the policy is meant to have a positive effect, it doesn't work that way IRL (at least, not in the short term). Mainly because our company hasn't been given any authority by our parent company to make any new full time hires at all.
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