Some real “job killers”: Executive salaries, bullying managers, health care costs, and demanding stockholders

The Chamber of Commerce and other powerful trade organizations are fond of using the term “job killer” to denigrate virtually any proposed legislation or regulation that protects workers, consumers, or the environment. They claim that costs of prevention and compliance drain monies that otherwise would be used to create jobs.

Sort of true, but not really

Technically, perhaps they can make a case: If one assumes there’s a fixed pot of money marked “for wages, salaries, and benefits,” and the costs of complying with pesky labor, consumer, and environmental protections must come out of that pot, then I suppose the regulations can be called job killers.

But one does not have to be a corporate accountant to know that organizational budgeting doesn’t work that way. The costs of social responsibility can come out of other buckets of money as well.

Instead, take a look

In any event, in the interest of fair play, let’s consider an alternate list of job killers:

Executive salaries — Exorbitant executive salaries and accompanying perks surely kill jobs, especially when the high pay isn’t merited due to poor performance. A mediocre CEO earning $300,000 is just as good as a mediocre CEO earning $1 million, except that with the $300,000 CEO, there’s another $700,000 left over to hire more workers.

Bullying managers — Workplace bullying increases employee attrition, absenteeism, and health care costs, while driving down employee morale and productivity — all of which have negative bottom line impacts. In the U.S., the significant majority of workplace bullying is perpetrated by managers and supervisors.

Health care costs — Attempts to create affordable, quality health care for all are continually thwarted by corporations, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies that lobby Congress and state legislatures and form political action committees to reward their friends in elected office.

Demanding stockholders — Stockholders who pressure corporations to post sky-high profits rather than reasonable ones are, in essence, drawing from monies that could be used to hire workers and pay them a living wage.

It’s not quite so easy

Okay, I admit, it’s more complicated than that. The business, labor, and regulatory climate in the U.S. is multifaceted, to say the least. Fixing unemployment and a huge earnings gap, among other things, requires more than serving up competing bullet points.

But if we’re even going to consider the claim that safeguarding workers, consumers, and our planet kills jobs, then at least let’s look at other major factors that curb job creation and preservation.

6 responses

  1. Good list — but I think you forgot two more job killers.

    — The 60+ hour work week. As people were/are laid off, the remaining take up the slack at great cost themselves in terms of longer and longer workweeks. My husband’s official hours are now 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. And he works a few hours each night while he is home. The worse part of this is that many/most salaried employees have bought into the brainwashing that you work until the job is done and don’t seem to realize that the deck has been stacked. Where does all this extra profit go? — to the aforementioned executives, not to the fewer and fewer remaining workers.

    — Pitiful or non-existant sick and vacation leave. Same issue as the workweek. Again right now many employees are either afraid to take any leave for fear of being the next to be laid off or are brainwashed (see above)

    The solution is simple. Pass laws turining all workeres back to hourly. Mandate a 35 hour work week — no overtime allowed until unemployment reaches 4% — then anyone working more than 35 hours is paid time and a half. 6 weeks paid leave (sick, vacation, personal) and you have to take it or your employer will be fined.

    I would be willing to bet that unemployment would go down, productivity would go up, as would community engagement. And as an added bonus, I would wager we would all be healthier.

  2. Sensible approach Trish. And humane! I resigned from a position where I was routinely required to work alternate weeks of 60-80 hours on alternate weeks (unionized…biweekly averaging allowed this) because I was concerned for my health and work life balance. Since then, the Mental Health Commission of Canada has been working on a safety standard for healthy workplaces.

    http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/english/pages/default.aspx

    Curiously, our provincial Deputy Minister of Health sits on the Board of Governors for the Commission….and at his previous job was the individual who signed the collective agreement that sanctioned the schedule. So there is hope….people can change their minds and behave sensibly. There is ample evidence that ensuring healthy workplaces benefits all stakeholders.

  3. A recent MSNBC newscast revealed a fascinating fact. CEO bonuses of the top western industrialized nations;

    Japan 2.5%
    EU 4%
    Canada 3%

    United States 12%+

    Hmmm…..the hypocrisy of corporate America knows NO LIMIT.

    Also the fact that workplace bullying is most often perpetrated by managers and supervisors is not surprising. Again, I believe as long as employers know they can hide behind the “cancer” of At Will employment this trend will continue.

  4. Huff… this only scratches the surface of the problem. Regarding the main point though, how can people think that regulation is a “job killer”? In my opinion is a job creator. We need good regulators to ensure that toys don’t have lead, that airplanes are in good health, that electronic devices are within safe electro-magnetic emissions, etc, etc. The only thing that regulations kill are investor voluminous profits.

  5. Hear, hear! I hope Elizabeth Warren and her supporters read these postings. Issues like the frictional cost of employee turnover “add up” for Warren, who knows her way around a balance sheet and annual report as well as anyone. Surely Warren’s proven commitments to teaching, the law, and consumer advocacy will help spotlight such concerns. I fully expect her to foster a dialogue in which “all of us are smarter than any of us,” generating a series of real-world, actionable solutions with measurable results and built-in accountability.

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