Working on Christmas at Saputo? Tough Beans! Blame the Hiring Manager.

Although I’ve been catching-up on my journaling since being terminated from Saputo (and effectively laid-off from QPS Employment Group, per their lack of follow-up work), I nonetheless made time during the holiday rush to “rub it in” over how the hiring manager’s decision to end my working arrangement will now result in 4 of the 6 hourly packaging workers having to work Christmas! #WorkingChristmas = #WhatTheUnderclassDoes

It must be acknowledged that as an agency worker with an open-ended contract — what I call a “permatemp” — I had proven my capacity to work as many, or more, hours as the regular employees — including holidays, and demonstrably more weekends than practically any recent employee.

It therefore stands that if the hiring manager (Susan Felson) and the most-senior first-shift supervisor (Karl Dischler) had done the sensible thing — by offering me a permanent-job contract following the dissolution of my temporary contract — then I would, as among the most junior employees, be filling-in for one of the more-senior employees in packaging right now.

Even without extending a permanent job-offer, the packaging department could have kept me as a permatemp to schedule me to work on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day, instead of paying its employees time-and-a-half to work Sunday (Dec. 24) and a holiday (Dec. 25). #PennyWise, #PoundFoolish

But because Dischler and Felson badly wanted me out of there, the people in packaging are stuck working on days you might not want to: They don’t have me to substitute for you on Christmas; New Year’s Day; etc.

From the way a few of them shunned me at the lunch table, I can readily image some of them might say, “I would rather work on Christmas, and miss my family and friends on that day; instead of have-off on Christmas, but work with you the rest of the year!”

My response to that unkind comment at work would be, “There’s no need to be rude,” and then leave it at that: While I would register my complaint that such sentiment contributes to a hostile work environment, I would not let it distract my attention for more than a few seconds. #HowAProfessionalWorks

However, I’m no longer on-the-job; and am therefore unbound by any workplace etiquette or double-standards of acceptable behavior. Accordingly, my response to such indignation is to perform this parody-of-Saputo song:

“Slumming at Saputo”

(To the tune of “Jolly Old St. Nicholas,” which is a public-domain melody.)

Office politician’s back in town / Looking for a raise /
Wants a promotion, wants it now / Wanted it for days /
Yet, the company has to trim / Expenses where it can /
Future’s looking ever-dim / Dissent, it must ban /
Slumming at Saputo, how / Decrepitly you run /
Protesting is futile, now / Because your temp is done.

-The preceding lyrics are copyrighted in 2017 by Joseph Ohler, Jr.-
However, limited permission is granted to distribute these lyrics non-commercially.
(This means you may give print-outs to your friends; hang them — the lyrics, not your friends! — on your refrigerator; etc.)

Slumming_at_Saputo_(Lyric_Sheet).pdf

Downloadable audio track:
Slumming_at_Saputo_(Original_Recording_By_Joe_Ohler_Jr).mp3 – Sorry, can only be streamed at the moment! #HostingProblems

[12-25-2017 UPDATE: I had wanted to post a direct-download link for the MP3. However, in typical Joe Ohler fashion, a third party put a wrench into my plans: 000WebHost suspended my account,* which means I could not log-in and upload the MP3 of my song for distribution.

(*Or at least, partially suspended: While account access is indefinitely terminated — much like my career at Saputo — 000WebHost strangely allows hot-linking to the files that had ostensibly triggered the suspension.)

On that note, here’s the only file I had recently shared, e.g. the only one in the past few months that could be reasonably inferred to have caused a complaint and subsequent suspension:

“Aunt Sally Says, ‘Sign My Petition, Please!'”

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Economics of Staffing Agencies, i.e. Economic Vampirism: Analyzing a Case Study from QPS and Saputo

I was earning QPS Employment Group a lot of money — about $7 out of every $20 Saputo paid them for my services as a cheese packer — but someone at Saputo drank sour eggnog and decided I would be a suitable target for their wrath.

After all, Saputo had paid an hourly premium, just for the luxury of having the option to terminate me at any time and without due process. Contrast this with the lot of those fortunate to receive a permanent contract immediately, without -any- temping: The need to document the worker’s mistakes before dismissal; the need to allow a certain number of absences before punishment; and other ameliorations of the otherwise one-mistake-and-you’re-done, unless-we-really-like-you world of at-will employment.

These are protections that direct hires have from Day One — which begs the question as to why Saputo doesn’t force -all- their packaging workers to be permatemps before a job offer, as they had specifically required from me as a condition of my work there.

Anyway, this disruption has unlocked my creative powers: I’ve been writing prolifically offline, but have yet to edit the material into the perfect rendition for sharing online — such as this very blog article about the economics of staffing agencies. (And yes, I’ve much more to say about Saputo — but am busy filing for unemployment benefits; continuing my crusade for higher-education reform; and otherwise planning what’s next.)

Now, I’m not here to badmouth QPS: After all, everyone at QPS wanted Saputo to continue my assignment, so that I could keep earning QPS the equivalent of one-third of my paycheck, i.e. $7 out of every $20 Saputo paid QPS hourly.
Cue QPS and its oft-claimed defense, “Oh, but we don’t take from anyone’s paycheck!”

While that might be legally true, it is practically false: The only difference between taking a share of one’s paycheck — such as through a surcharge or special tax — and reducing their up-front wage is how the under-cutting of take-home pay is structured.

“Job clients,” such as Saputo, pays the same (or higher) hourly rate to the staffing agency. The worker is the one who ends-up with a small piece of the piece, because his or her wage is reduced by the difference between what Saputo pays a new hire and what QPS pays me — a temp, not a hire — after QPS skims its portion of whatever Saputo pays it.

(As will be shown mathematically, this loss of wages — from being denied a direct hire and needing to permatemp — is about 5 dollars per hour, or $10,400 annually. Unfortunately for Saputo, few of their recent direct hires have shown greater performance or punctuality than the “disposable temps,” whom they nickel-and-dime in various ways and hold to double-standards on nearly every dimension.)
The fact is that when an employer pays a staffing agency for any “contingency worker,” that is money that would have instead been paid to that worker if s/he had instead been a direct hire. Staffing agencies make their livelihood through this economic vampirism.

Yes, the “job client” — in this case, Saputo — decides whether to pay the full wage to a worker (by allowing that employee to be a direct hire) or to pay some of that wage to the staffing agency (thereby removing a portion of the worker’s take-home pay).

However, the fact that Saputo pays such a large portion (more than one-third) of the hourly wage to the agency account representative — instead of 100-percent directly to the worker — means the agency worker -is effectively robbed- of that portion of the wage.

Mathematically, this is the difference between the direct hire’s higher-than-agency-worker starting pay and the agency worker’s lower-than-direct-hire starting pay. In my case, Saputo paid $20 hourly to my agency overlords at QPS; QPS kept $7 of that hourly pay; and this left me with only $13 hourly, which is $5.49 lower than the $18.49 hourly starting wage for Saputo’s Reedsburg packaging employees.

“Yeah, but we don’t take it from your paycheck! (We just take it through a service-level agreement -before- formulating your paycheck.)”

QPS can deny this discrepancy all it wants, but that wage difference -did- come-out of what would have been my paycheck as a direct hire. Intercepting that money -before- it becomes a payroll item is mere slight-of-hand, the same kind of accounting trick that got Enron, Mitsubishi, and other large firm into huge scandals that diminished their reputations for decades thereafter.

Add this-up over the course of a year, and that means QPS is “earning” (skimming) $13,867 annually -just- for providing the option for anytime, due-process-free termination. It’s basically the same thing as a wage garnish, except applied before any money changes hands: The garnisher simply agrees with the garnishee’s employer (Saputo, without whom QPS would not have a job assignment to offer) that the garnishee will be underpaid, such that the skimmed-off portion of the wage will be paid directly to QPS instead of to me.

Indeed, QPS Employment Group was paid -only- for providing a walk-away option to Saputo: QPS itself never did any “work coordination” because scheduling was -always- between me and the supervisor. (And I never saw any benefit from permatemping, as QPS wages and benefits pale in comparison to a direct job offer from any of the so-called “job clients” where job assignments can take place indefinitely, without any on-boarding timeline.)

Furthermore, I had negotiated my transition from part-time “fresh line” worker into full-time “packaging” worker! QPS was riding my coattails, and more-or-less conceded as much when my “work coordinator” authorized me, in writing, to negotiate whatever type of job placement I could with Saputo Cheese (at the Reedsburg plant or elsewhere).

Also underscoring QPS’ trivial justification for its perpetual wage-skimming (or whatever QPS calls it in the legalese of its Saputo-side labor contract) was that by the time my contractual hours had approached exhaustion, QPS proved powerless to make Saputo correct its hostile work environment or to make Susan Felson follow-up with the uniform she “had ordered” a month before my termination.

Meanwhile, Saputo would have paid -the same- amount in total if they had hired me directly; whereas, I would have grossed $41,600 instead of only $27,733. It really seems that Saputo “had it out” for me from the start, due to allowing me to work there -only- if I were to be exempt from union protections by artifice of having the staffing agency as the middleman employer-of-record.

Terminated from Cheese Packing Job and Laid-off from Further Agency Assignments

November 19, 2014 – December 2, 2017: My third-of-a-decade-long courting of Saputo has come to an end. It’s because within the managerial echo chamber, it was decided (by a handful of people within Saputo) to end their contract with QPS Employment Group for my job assignment.

It even ended like a messy divorce, with Saputo ordering QPS to tell me, “You are not to contact Saputo in any way.” And based upon the email read to me by a supervisor (who I won’t name here, lest he be punished for the favor), Saputo had decided as early as November 29, but (cowardly, inconveniently, and unprofessionally) did not tell me — despite many opportunities to do so face-to-face — or even the staffing agency, which was not alerted until about half an hour after my shift had ended that Saturday.

The funny thing is that due to not checking my email or voice-mail messages over the weekend, I did not find-out about this termination until showing-up the morning of Sunday, November 3. (I was actually on the film-sealing machine for about 20 minutes; and none of my coworkers thought anything was amiss.)

The supervisor that day discreetly notified me of the termination; he put someone else (a permanent employee) on the machine; and allowed me to gather my belongings and depart with dignity. He was tasked with the dirty duties of serving as Archangel Michael with the Flaming Sword; whereas, the serpentine Satans (Susan Felson and possibly Karl Dischler) responsible for ordering the termination were safely away from any possible confrontation.

However, Saputo is no Garden of Eden. Furthermore, the individuals responsible for my dastardly dismissal cannot escape public scrutiny on this blog. To this end, I will describe their modus operandi of permatemp exploitation and thereby frustrate their future endeavors in that miserable business.

Despite being treated like a criminal for no actual wrongdoing, I’m going-out here to present my side of the story. Furthermore, history — and a local court of torte law — will vindicate me.