Slice her up, poor cow

24 07 2018

“You’re not the boss of me!”

That’s pretty much my reaction to policies like WeWork’s decision to ban meat.

Now, two things: One, WeWork is not, in fact, the boss of me, but as someone who works (for others) for a living, I have had and do have bosses—who get to, at work, boss me around.

Two, they’re not actually banning meat: employees can still bring their own meat-infested lunches to work. The ban is actually a decision not to reimburse meaty lunch expenses, nor to provide flesh at company-sponsored events.

For environmental reasons, they say: “The company estimates that the policy will save 445.1m pounds of CO2 emissions and 15,507,103 animals by 2023.”

Uh huh. As Felix Salmon notes, however:

WeWork, of course, has a substantial environmental impact of its own, almost none of which is food-related. It manages 10 million square feet of office space in 76 cities around the world, including Warsaw and Chengdu; across its 406 locations, some have much higher carbon footprints than others. As a tenant in those buildings, WeWork has very little control over how much energy they waste, but if it wanted to, it could confine itself to LEED-certified buildings. That way, landlords would have a strong economic incentive to make their buildings energy-efficient and therefore attractive to WeWork and other environmentally conscious tenants.

That might cut into the bottom line, however, whereas cutting out cows, well, if that happens to save the company money, what a happy coincidence!

Yes, I am skeptical of their reasoning, but even if I’d grant the founders’ sincerity (and I don’t: as Salmon notes, co-founder Miguel McKelvey “is building a multimillion-dollar mountaintop house in Utah”), I’d still see this as of a piece of company’s butting into their workers’ (non) business.

Again, it’s probably unfair to WeWork to lump them in with companies which coerce their employees into wellness programs, ask for social media passwords, or otherwise police their behavior off the job—again, WeWork is simply saying “we’ll pay for this, we won’t pay for that”—and it doesn’t engage in the kinds of intrusive surveillance of on-the-clock conduct that you find at too many companies, but, goddamn, it seems like just one more way for the boss to boss you around.

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I keep finding hate mail in the pockets of my coat

7 09 2015

Long ago I promised a follow-up to my various religious exemptions/one law/pluralism posts about how to preserve that pluralism.

This is not that post.

Instead, it’s a quickie follow-up to yesterday’s post about doing one’s job.

As I have mentioned ad nauseam, I am a hardliner when it comes to one’s work duties, namely, that if you’re unwilling, for whatever reason, to perform a job, then you should quit.

Yes, you can try to negotiate these duties, try to convince your bosses that their policies are wrong, but, in the end, if you can’t do the job, then you shouldn’t do the job.

The flip side of this, which I have only occasionally mentioned, is that what you do off the job should have no bearing on the job.

There might be some reasonable exceptions to this, but I’m pretty comfortable stating that those exceptions should be few and far between. You might be a racist piece of shit on your own time, but if you can keep it together while you’re on the clock, then that’s all that should matter.

Now, some might argue that someone who’s a racist piece of shit off the job is highly unlikely to keep it together on the job, but unless and until that person loses it, she should keep her job. Judge someone’s work performance by her work performance, and that’s it.

Furthermore, this oughtta be a law—and not just as a protection for the worker (who most needs it), but as a defense for the employer: I can’t fire someone you don’t like just because you don’t like ’em.

This, to me, is an obvious corollary to telling the Kim Davises of the world to suck it up: if there are limits to how far you may take your personal life into a job, then there are also limits as to how far a job may enter into your personal life.

This is not a position I would have taken when I was younger. Back then, I had notions of throwing my whole self into a job, of defining myself almost completely by the work I do. Now, however, while I do gain a sense of self from my work, I’m also aware of the necessity of boundaries—both as a practical matter and for my own mental health.

I really do love teaching, but I do it because I get paid. It’s a job which I need in order to pay the rent, and I don’t care for my employer to take into account anything about my ability to do the job except for my performance on the job.

And not that I have much going on, but I most definitely to do not want them poking around in my private life.

~~~

There’s a thing about living in a city in which you can see into your neighbor’s apartment or hear your neighbor’s conversations/sex/fights: You pretend that you don’t. Your (and your neighbor’s) privacy might be a kind of fiction, but it’s the kind of fiction that works in real life.

I think we should take the same approach to social media and on- and off-the-job behavior as well: If the person sitting next to you is fine at work, but after work engages in behavior you find repugnant or ludicrous, pretend that you don’t know. Just let it be.

A little bit of breathing room is good for all of us.





I’m free to do what I want any old time

3 04 2014

I don’t care about Mozilla.

I don’t care that they hired Brendan Eich as CEO, and I don’t care that he resigned.

For the record, my browser is Firefox. If a better open-source alternative comes along, I”ll flick that switch—the browser has freeze issues and, of course, brand loyalty is for suckers—but there was nothing about the Brendan Eich scandale that made me want to switch. Mainly because I thought there was no scandale.

Oh, a CEO is an asshole? Surprise! I bet the CEOs of all of the companies which products I purchase are assholes. Nature of the beast.

But let’s get serious: Is this about who can best lead a company which has to compete for workers from a workforce which is generally pro-gay rights? About just desserts for a man who sought to strip rights from his neighbors and fellow citizens? About illiberal leftists suppressing speech? About gay mafiosi threatening to scour the corporate world clean of any queer-rights deviationists?

Yes? No?

There are no free speech or any other rights in the workplace. You can be fired for voting for the wrong guy, criticizing someone the boss likes, for gaining weight, because the shareholders want to enrich themselves by laying off you or tens or hundreds or thousands of workers, and just for you being you.

And I’m supposed to rend my garments because some asshole found out he didn’t have any more protections than the people who work for him?

There may be a scandal in all of this, but it ain’t what happened to Brandon Eich.