Starting Sunday I’ll be earning 23 percent less for doing the same amount of work at the office. Twenty-three percent less for doing more work, really, given the economy and the fact that “do more with less” isn’t just a catch phrases on this column.
Unfortunately, my mortgage, household expenses, bills, daycare fees, school tuitions, and health insurance costs aren’t going down by 23 percent. Gas isn’t going to start costing 23 percent less on Sunday, and my commute isn’t going to be 23 percent shorter. And since my husband works for the same company, his paycheck is being slashed by 23 percent, too.
And I am angry.
I can accept the fact that my industry is a morphing, possibly dying, beast, and that changes need to be made in order to survive. Let’s face it: In the great media race, most of the competition is zipping around the track in Smart Cars and newspapers are lumbering along in Mack trucks.
But the part I’m having a hard time accepting is the fact that 40 percent of the union to which I belong voted for a smaller paycut plus a package of (yes, fairly painful) concessions, and 40 percent plus 12 people voted to “stick it to the man” by taking a 23 percent paycut without the concessions. Which means that the 40-percent-plus-12 group chose for the rest of us.
(Twenty percent of the union didn’t bother to cast a ballot at all, which infuriates me the most. Really… if your fate and the future of the company isn’t worth hauling yourself into the building to vote upon, maybe you should be the first to go.)
Now, I know that, in spite of the reeling feeling I’ve got going right now, I’m actually one of the lucky ones. The US auto industry’s predicament makes print journalism look downright rosy, and companies of all sizes are shedding jobs, not just cutting pay.
I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to feel more grateful for what I still have, but right now, I need to figure out how to cut back some more, even though I’ve been slowly cutting back for ages. In terms of my already complicated work-life juggle, I feel like my company just tossed me a white-hot anvil.