November 27, 2005

My friend, the Welder

My brother and I caught up with an old friend the other day. We used to be in a Christian rock band with him, we even recorded a full-length album.

Before we left our friend's house, we got around to talking about how his job was going. Last time we saw him, he was a welder for GE, but something unfortunate happened there recently.

He got fired.

He was laid off, branded a "terrorist threat" after getting in a strictly verbal argument with his supervisor. All my friend was telling the man was that he had become a slave driver of sorts, and that the workers wanted to work with him, not for him. My friend was explaining to his supervisor that the workers were uncomfortable with the way he addressed the employees; he never greeted or said "good morning".

My friend was labelled a terrorst threat because his supervisor, whom my friend had known for many years, knew that he sometimes came into contact with Bandidos, an outlaw biker organization (my friend, the welder, is in the Soldiers for Jesus Biker Club, and they sometimes administer to Bandidos). My friend also made the mistake of pointing out that, hypothetically, firing someone who you think is a terrorist is only putting yourself at more risk. (The irony in that hypothetical situation is quite obvious).

"Terrorist threat" was a harsh allegation, and its hard to find a job when you've got that hanging over you, because GE is part of a conglomerate of hundreds of other companies, he's been virtually blacklisted. He's been lucky enough to find another job, but its in Texas City, he lives a thirty mile drive away in Baytown. (the only way he's been able to find a new job is because he had hundreds of friends who worked at GE who were heartbroken about what happened, they've been putting in a good word for him in the industry)

He told us that if he'd been in the union (as he is now), he could have gotten his supervisor fired instead of himself, but who really knows? At GE he had a health insurance plan for himself and his wife, now at his new job he only has insurance for himself, he has to pay for his wife's medicine out of his pocket. Right now he has his resumé at a company thats closer to his home, he'll have insurance coverage for his wife if he gets this job.

I just wanted to share this story with anyone who happens to stop by the blog, because I think its a textbook example of how screwy the big American corporation is run. I recently posted an article about GM's new job-cutting plan, plus we all know how screwed up Walmart is, now that you've heard this story, what say you about corporate America?

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