Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Contract update 

Well, filler, actually. There's been no real developments in the union contract negotiations. But the company did call a meeting of us production employees today. It was basically a PR meeting to explain to us why Bloatmeal needs us to make the concessions for which they are asking. It was very well done and cordial. Basically, the industry has fallen on tough times. Through the miracle of desktop automation, anyone can do pre-press with minimal training... and they do. So now we compete with other pre-press shops, design agencies, printers and our cutomers themselves. This puts our remaining customers in a position to make all sorts of demands... and they do. They know that we can't say no to them, because we've got the competition breathing down our necks. So we accept tight schedules, inefficient but customer directed workflows, late entries of jobs. And then we pray that the company down the street doesn't come along with a cut-rate offer. Anyway, Bloatmeal has done all they can to cut overhead costs and now it's down to cut back employee compensation or go out of business. I'm guessing that the company hopes that if they spell it out for us, we'll see that accepting their proposal is the only practical solution.

The problem is, the "practical" solution really depends on an individual's ideals and values. As my bosses described the business climate in which we're operating, the thought that stuck in my mind is that the problem is our customers. In their ideal world, we would give them their jobs instantaneously at absolutely no cost to them. (Just as in our ideal world, they would just send us big fat checks and we would sit around and surf the 'net.) They obviously wouldn't expect such an unrealistic level of service, but they certainly would welcome any step in that direction that we could take. As Bloatmeal endeavors to deliver cheap, fast, 24/7 service, I become less and less inclined to do anything for our customers. Fortunately for Bloatmeal and myself, I'm not in any way involved in customer service.

Methinks the bottom line is, that that I've got to move on. I can accept that my craft no longer has the value it did ten years ago and am willing to take a corresponding pay cut. But I don't want to work for people who can't accept limitations, don't respect our expertise, give no loyalty and yet still demand high quality. Especially when the only result of our labors is to sell more stuff to consumers. (Of course, I often do what I don't want for a paycheck. I'm such a whore...)