DMI Blog

Elana Levin

Is the end of the social contract niegh?

the_end_is_near.jpgSay you apply for a job claiming you were bilingual. Let's say that was an exaggeration and your mastery of Urdu was non-existent. You could get fired for not living up to your employers expectations and needs right?

Now lets say you're IBM. Let's say your company is doing very well and let's say your pensions have been long considered the gold standard. You'd been guaranteed a certain quality of life after you retire from your 60 hour work week and decades of necktie wearing. (and let's say your CEO still gets a platinum parachute). Let's say your employer-- IBM decides unilaterally to dismantle the pension plan you were promised when you got hired. From now on you'll only be in a 401K plan, thrown to the mercy of the stock market and have to take more money out of your earnings to offset the instability of your retirement income, thereby essentially lowering the pay you'd been hired at.

Can you fire your employer for that?

Saying that people should just get another job if their employer changes the rules midstream ignores the fact that this is happening throughout the industry and that employees as a group have a structural power imballance with their employers. The middle class was built on things like employer provided pensions and health insurance.

When a prosperous company can unilaterally renege on its social contract with its employees- well what's a white collar guy, without a union to do? IBM deserves any work stoppages, increased at-work Ebay browsing and blog posting, desk snoozing and personal xerox making it gets.

Why is it that only workers are expected to play by the rules, not employers?

Elana Levin: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 11:11 AM, Jan 10, 2006 in Civil Justice | Economy | Employment | Fiscal Responsibility | Labor | pensions
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