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Working For A living or Living For Work

June 20, 2010

Workin 9 to 5
What a way to make a livin
Barely gettin by
Its all takin
And no givin
They just use your mind
And they never give you credit
Its enough to drive you
Crazy if you let it

These are the words to the chorus of Dolly Parton’s song 9 to 5.  If you live in Silicon Valley or work in High Tech the words are the same except for the first line.  The new opening lyric is “workin 14/7”.  The thoughts of the rest of the chorus stays the same.

It is interesting how we have allowed ourselves to come full circle from the days of no labor laws or labor unions.  Labor unions were formed in the late 1800’s to help prohibit child labor, establish an eight hour work day, and exclude intrusion of foreign contract workers.  There was a story in the San Jose Mercury News just this week about the U. S. Labor Department cracking down on employers who illegally use child workers.  There was also a story regarding the hiring of foreign workers with H-B1 visas.  But both of those are subjects for other posts, this one is about the hours we work.

There was an interesting paper written by Johanna Shih in May of 2002 titled Project Time In Silicon Valley.  The paper documented how in Silicon Valley those that work 12 hour days six days a week are the ones who get the praise, get the promotions.  Workers that leave at five are looked at as “sneaking out”. Salaried employees are treated today like company property, expected do what it takes to get a job done, no matter what. Yes, they may be paid well, but at what cost to their private life.

We have created all sorts of gadgets around us to “make our lives easier”: cell phones, computers, e-readers, auto- everything, and access to just about everyone in the world through the internet ( thank you Mr. Gore).  The downside is that all this “progress” demands more from those responsible for providing the next best thing.  Add to this the layoffs of large numbers of employees which puts added stress to those left to do the work and no one has time any more for much more than just work.

As the song says “Its enough to drive you crazy if you let it”.  So does this mean we need a union for salaried employees?  Do we need legislation to set the hours a salaried employee can work?  I am not an advocate of unions, and I think the government has their hands in too much of our lives.  So what is the answer?

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 26, 2010 3:15 pm

    Too late, it already drove me crazy. I guess I let it … no more weekends, starting July 3.

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