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Sat Jan 12, 2019, 02:18 PM

When an employer tells you, "Sorry. I can't pay you this month,"

it's time to start looking for a new job. Businesses that can't make payroll will soon be bankrupt. The answer to that statement should always be, "Sorry. Then. I can't work for you. I work for my paycheck. If you don't pay me, I don't work for you. It's that simple."

As someone who has been working as a freelance writer for almost 50 years, I've heard that crap from people I've delivered my work product to a number of times. It goes something like this: "Say, I'm still waiting for a check from one of my clients, so I can't pay you for that article I published." That's what they always say. I always say this:

"Look. You gave me an assignment. You liked my work. You published it. Pay me as we agreed. Now! If you don't, I will not only not produce work for you in the future, but I will also inform my network of others who write for a living and let them know to be careful about working for you."

I always got paid right away after that. There is no excuse for not paying someone for work they have done for you. No excuse at all. Workers contract with employers. They work. The employer pays. Failure to pay results in no further work. It is a very simple equation, but one that workers have to stick to. Every last freaking time.

The federal employees who are not getting checks for a previous pay period should simply not show up until they do. That's guaranteed to get people's attention. If all TSA workers walked off, along with the air traffic controllers, and every other federal employee who is not being paid for actual work, it would be the headline in every news outlet.

Pay up, Feds! Pay up, or we don't work. That's called a "Job Action." If threatened with being fired, you simply say, "Fired? From a job where I don't get paid? Really?" There are no replacement workers. Air traffic controllers require extensive training. TSA agents require training, too. If everyone walks, there's nobody to replace them and it all shuts down. That's the power of labor.

Note: This OP is a repost from a reply in another thread:
https://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1002&pid=11662042

24 replies, 877 views

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Reply When an employer tells you, "Sorry. I can't pay you this month," (Original post)
MineralMan Jan 12 OP
KPN Jan 12 #1
MineralMan Jan 12 #2
Igel Jan 12 #5
MineralMan Jan 12 #7
hunter Jan 12 #3
MineralMan Jan 12 #4
violetpastille Jan 12 #6
MineralMan Jan 12 #8
bluestarone Jan 12 #9
MineralMan Jan 12 #10
bluestarone Jan 12 #12
MineralMan Jan 12 #14
bluestarone Jan 12 #16
meadowlander Jan 12 #11
MineralMan Jan 12 #13
meadowlander Jan 12 #17
MineralMan Jan 12 #18
lilactime Jan 12 #15
MineralMan Jan 12 #19
malaise Jan 12 #20
CK_John Jan 12 #21
sunonmars Jan 12 #22
lame54 Jan 12 #23
lostnfound Jan 13 #24

Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 02:29 PM

1. This makes sense on its surface. But inactuality would require real courage and

definite sacrifice on the part many -- like hundreds minimally and probably thousands.

Below is a repost of a reply in another thread to a post that voiced dismay that the feds who are working aren't staging a workplace walkout saying that "The American people no longer fight together. They are sheep.":

As a retired federal career employee, while I understand and actually would support a federal walkout if it occurred, I think it is unfair to indirectly refer to the people caught up in this mind boggling cluster as "sheep". You are right, they can't fire everyone. But I'm quite certain they would fire some -- probably the people that they could single out as the "leaders" of the walkout in each and every federal agency involved. That would almost certainly amount to hundreds, if not thousands. Most of those people probably have families they support with their federal income as well as some level of debt, in some cases substantial debt, they are servicing with the income they derive from their jobs.

Any federal government-wide walkout most assuredly will require leaders who would be taking that exact risk. Protecting their families and their financial futures in those circumstances should not be called "being sheep" by any of us, especially those who are only indirectly affected by the shutdown.

Otherwise -- I like your passion. I would gladly support a mass workplace walkout by the rest of us to demonstrate our support for the affected federal workforce and hopefully drive a silver spike in the TrumpShutdown.

[link:https://www.democraticunderground.com/100211661941|

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Response to KPN (Reply #1)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 02:34 PM

2. Workers should never be timid about getting paid for their work.

That is the product they sell. No pay; no product. It's a bargain. It applies to all labor/boss situations. I guarantee that a walkout of TSA workers and Air Traffic Controllers would get a bill signed by Trump immediately. The consequences of a shutdown of commercial air travel in this country would be disastrous, and the evidence of that would be immediate.

I work for myself. I get paid. If I don't, I don't work. So, I work, and I get paid. Every last freaking time. There's no union for what I do. Just me and what I produce. If someone wants it, they have to pay for it.

Losing a job that offers no paycheck is losing nothing at all.

I'll tell you: The first time I did that to a publisher who offered an excuse instead of payment, it scared the crap out of me. I was afraid I'd never get another assignment from anyone. That wasn't what happened though. What happened was a check in the mail immediately. I did get stiffed once. That publication no longer exists. There's no union, but there are networks. I write. Publications can't survive without content. That's my product. You pay or you get nothing.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:03 PM

5. I've worked without pay a few times.

A couple of times when California couldn't get its act together to pass a budget by the legally required deadline. The governor and the legislature couldn't agree--of course, the legislature immediately said it was the governor's job to sign the budget (years later, the same party would come back and say it was the opposition-controlled legislature's job to pass the budget ... The opposition has responsibilities, 'my side' only has rights).

To not work would have harmed a lot of people. 300+ people would have immediately been kicked out onto the streets (since my job and that of my coworkers was to keep a dorm open). If we walked out, then all the dorm workers would have walked out, and upwards of 8000 students would, likewise, have been homeless. Because, well, only money is really important.

Yeah, I could always says, "Sorry, it's not my fault." But I wasn't doing anything else and knew if I did work I'd get back pay. I was working for an IOU.

When an employer can't pay you it *sometimes* means they're close to being bankrupt. That's the flaw in the OP. Sometimes it means there's a cash flow problem, and that very often doesn't lead to bankruptcy.

Another time an employer had a large amount due to a vendor--and if the vendor didn't get paid, it would mean the vendor would likely not do business *and* the vendor's employees wouldn't get paid. Since this was a Chinese company with ties, it turned out, to the Red Army and Chinese Communist Party, the contact person in the US was frantic for the safety of his relatives, who "owned" the company or at least were responsible for the contract with my employer. At the same time, my employer had orders it had shipped that it was waiting on. The timing was bad. I suspended pay for a few weeks until the collectibles were collected. I was bookkeeper. (The company eventually went belly up, partly because the Chinese VP looked out for his relatives and status in the CP more than his own honesty and integrity--such is an honor-based culture; but also because the owner was a nitwit who was so into her ideology that she really didn't see reality.)

And a fourth time was when I worked for a non-profit. It was February, receipts were down for January and we had a bit of a cashflow problem, again. Every February was tight, that one was when the Congress decided to change the tax rules to make it harder to deduct donations to non-profits. If you donated in January you couldn't deduct the money, if you donated in December you could. People would still donate, but most donated every few months. It averaged out okay, but a lot of people had front-loaded donations and the pastors didn't realize that was happening. By the end of February we got paid. (I wasn't bookkeeper, but it was a small office and the bookkeeper's desk was about 4' away from me.)

Strictly speaking, I was still working for pay. It was when payment was received that was the problem.

I also freelance translated. I chucked that for two reasons. (1) I wasn't good at tracking down work when the field contracted. (2) I wasn't good at getting payment out of people.

There's a flipside to the OP, though, one that many DUers would disagree with but which is entailed by the argument in the OP. If you hire somebody to do something, what if you don't pay them?

The OP's argument says that the appropriate thing to do is for them to discontinue working for you if you don't pay them in a timely manner. Because they should be paid on time. It's a contract. If they can't pay, it means they're soon facing bankruptcy.

Now think about people who fall behind on their water bills, electric bills, who rack up medical expenses. They're not paying their employees.

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Response to Igel (Reply #5)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:12 PM

7. Did the dorm residents not have keys to the dorm and their rooms?

I did when I lived in a dorm in my Freshman year.

We once had a robust labor movement in this country. We no longer do. Now, we have a "gig economy." There's no job security, and people have lost that understanding that their labor is the product they have to sell and that they must be paid for that product.

It's time to rebuild that labor movement and put it back to work.

I chose not to work for others on an employment basis, long ago. Before that, I did work for companies and government organizations. I belonged to unions. Finally, though, I decided that there was another path I could take, so I took it, and have never regretting cutting that leash.

It is time for people who supply the work that drives our economy to take back their power. As I said, if every TSA worker walked off the job tomorrow, and every air traffic controller who got a $0 paycheck yesterday did the same, the impact would be so powerful that the shutdown would be over almost immediately. We cannot exist as an economy without air travel and air shipments. That would be immediately obvious.

The power of labor is there. We're just out of the habit of wielding it.

If employers don't care about their workers, why should workers care about their employers? If your boss suggests that you sell your stuff at a garage sale to make up your missing paycheck, suggest that the boss sell the company to recover something when you force him to shut down.

It's a contract between workers and employers. If it is violated, there is no contract.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 02:42 PM

3. The only thing Trump would understand is someone breaking his kneecaps with a tire iron...

... metaphorically speaking, of course.

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Response to hunter (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 02:47 PM

4. I would never threaten a POTUS.

But then again, I would never work for one, either. I also don't do work for the government. Ever. When I had a small software company, one of the applications I was selling interested a government agency. They sent me a huge set of forms I had to fill out to become a "government contractor." It would have taken me, the only person at my tiny company, weeks to fill out those forms.

So, instead, I included a line in my product license that read:

"This product may not be installed or used by any organization of the government of the United States, any state, or any contractor for any such government organization."

Screw that!

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:06 PM

6. That worked out for you, may it continue to do so.


I support each worker to do what they think best.


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Response to violetpastille (Reply #6)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:14 PM

8. It has worked out for me for almost 50 years.

I don't expect that to change.

One worker among many cannot strike. I'm one worker alone. I can.

All workers among many have far more power than one worker. They can use it or not. That's the power of labor unions. Many such labor unions have given up their power and now work for the employer, themselves.

We need a reboot. Truly we do.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:21 PM

9. wish it was that simple. I'm thinking lot of these federal workers have YEARS of service.

Age is another factor. Benefits come to mind too. Not just the pay problem here. Really scary for most of them. There WHOLE family depend on the medical issues.People (most of them) can't walk away and say no pay no work.

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Response to bluestarone (Reply #9)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:44 PM

10. How will they pay those bills without pay.

Yes, there is always fear regarding job actions. That's the tool the employers have to hold over labor.

I'm betting most of those workers who are working without being paid are already pretty fearful, don't you think?

I doubt any such job action will take place. If it did, however, in the case of the TSA workers and the Air Traffic Controllers, the effect would be obvious in just a single day of work stoppage. People have no idea how large the impact would be on the entire economy from just that single day.

A week? Massive impact. So massive that inaction would be unthinkable. Both of those two groups of trained workers are made up of people who cannot be replaced immediately. Not even quickly. A total shutdown of air traffic would be the result, and it would be immediate.

Just think of the power of that. Just think of it. That is the power of labor.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:51 PM

12. While i agree about the power if EVERYONE would do this

I do not believe this would EVER happen. Never get EVERYONE to do it. Also if you walk off then you basically give up your right to sue for damages? Again i do believe that people do have the power BUT NEVER will people 100% do what needs to be done.

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Response to bluestarone (Reply #12)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:59 PM

14. Actually, in the case of the TSA and ATC workers,

a 100% walkout would not be required. Both areas are already understaffed. It wouldn't take 100% to completely cripple the system. Not even nearly.

Look what happens when a major storm shuts down a few airports on the East Coast. Thousands of flights canceled. Imagine what would happen if a job action effectively shut down every major airport. The TSA screening lines are already long and slow. ATC workers are working maximum shifts, due to understaffing. I just read the other day that a sizable percentage of ATC workers are elegible for full retirement right now, but are staying because there's nobody to replace them.

No, a 100% walkout would not be needed.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #14)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 04:04 PM

16. Yep and seems like always the ones that walk out

Loose their jobs, and the ones that stay are the good ole guys. Still say easier said than done. BUT i DO see you point.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:50 PM

11. Federal workers can't legally strike.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Service_Labor-Management_Relations_Statute

"although the NLRA allows private sector employees to engage in "concerted action," like workplace strikes, the Statute does not grant this right to federal employees. In fact, the Statute specifically excludes from the definition of "employee" those persons who engage in a workplace strike. It specifies that it is an unfair labor practice for labor unions to call or participate in a strike or a work stoppage that interferes with the operation of a federal agency."

That's why their labour union is suing the government on their behalf.

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/12/31/politics/federal-workers-sue-government/index.html

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Response to meadowlander (Reply #11)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:55 PM

13. Yes, I know that.

That's the law. They could be fired. That is the extent of the action that could be taken against them, though.

So...they're already not being paid for their work...

Maybe they'll be paid later. Maybe. Who can say. Donald Trump could veto the bill that authorizes that payment. Congress could override the veto. Would he? Would they? Maybe.

Lots of maybes out there to think about, aren't there.

So, if ever TSA worker and air traffic controller refused to work without pay, would they all be fired? I think not. How long would it take to replace them. Could the economy stand that? I doubt it.

Lots of maybes.

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #13)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 04:17 PM

17. Reagan fired all the air traffic controllers - that's why the current law against striking was put

in place.

Both of my parents were federal employees before they retired and I work in government as well but not at the federal level. Some things to keep in mind:

1. A lot of people in government do very specialized work that requires, in some cases, years or even decades of training. They choose to do those jobs because they love them and they often take pay cuts to do it. If you've spent 25 years working as an air traffic controller, you're not going to quit your job and get an equivalent one with a private air traffic controlling firm. More or less the *only* place you can do the job you love is in government. Same if you're an environmental compliance officer or park ranger or customs inspector or congressional staffer or intelligence analyst. Yes, you can find a private industry job with some overlap of skills but not with the same sense of public service warm fuzzies that you get from working in government.

2. There has never been a US government shutdown in history where employees did not get back pay when the budget was finally approved. The TSA agents quitting or "sick-outting" are likely young and recent employees who don't understand this. People with substantial experience are not going to risk a career they spent years building because they miss one or two paychecks (but know they will get paid eventually for). 99% of federal employees are going to suck it up and ride this out because they know how it works.

3. Working in government builds a very strong sense of being part of a team and not wanting to be the one to let that team down. Like nurses, teachers, cops and firemen, it takes *a lot* to get them to walk away from their duties because they understand what the consequences will be if they do. With all due respect to your freelance writing job, people aren't going to die or be put at significant risk of harm if you refuse to hand over your work on deadline.

So yes, I guess maybe Trump and/or the Republican "leadership" might fold a few seconds faster than they otherwise will if the air traffic controllers walk out. But they are never going to do it for the reasons discussed above. And Mitch McConnell is going to fold anyway - sooner rather than later.

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Response to meadowlander (Reply #17)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 04:25 PM

18. As I said, I doubt any such job action will happen.

I'm just suggesting that, if it did, it would have a dramatic impact that would be remembered for a very long time.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 03:59 PM

15. I am retired federal employee who has been through several furloughs and

it is just not that simple. For one thing, federal employees still have their health insurance while they are on furlough, will have it for a while and can't just leave their families high and dry without the health insurance they have and need.

If they live in an area that is full of federal employees, like the area I live in, they are really up shit creek because the Trump shutdown screws over so many people in a rippling affect.

Saying oh, they should just quit and get another job is right up there with telling them to have a garage sale IMO. Do you think they haven't thought of that? But many of them are stuck due to circumstances beyond their control and will be screwed no matter what they do and may be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire.

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Response to lilactime (Reply #15)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 04:26 PM

19. All of that is why the power of labor has shrunk.

I don't think any such job action will occur. I'm just putting it out there.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 04:37 PM

20. What is essential is that the Federal government is Open

No one could make me work if I weren't being paid.
I had one bad experience in life. I was a grad student when I typed a doctoral thesis for a fellow student/TA from the sciences. This was pre-computers so you know it was hard work. The fucker 'paid' me two days before he migrated - he gave me a check which bounced. I was pissed but I laughed it off. I kept the check waiting for the right moment in time. Thirty five years later someone told me he had a massive stroke and was recovering at home. Someone else gave me his address. I sent him a get well card with the check with three words - thinking of you.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 04:38 PM

21. The last time the air traffic controllers walked it was replacedl

by the military.

Every controller was fried and never was allowed to work for any government job.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 04:48 PM

22. Federal shutdowns are the thing that should be legally banned, should not be allowed.

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2019, 05:05 PM

23. NOT paying one for their hard work is the Trump way

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Response to MineralMan (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 05:31 AM

24. Waiting in lines about 4 hours long, i thought, "30% of these people were trump voters"

For some reason, it made me feel a little better

But pregnant women and old sick people were waiting there too

Maybe people on their way to see visit a dying family member

On the other hand, we didnít get stuck in ice boxes or separated from little children

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