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Jul 11, 2012 by JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
As an engineer I was a salaried employee most of my life. When I first started in the early 70s it was a 40 -45 hour work week. When we had to work longer we got comp time, a day off to make up for the occasional long hours. At my last job in the early 2000′s 60 hours a week was the norm.
I also should note that I worked for a Japanese company that had just located in the US in the mid 80′s. Initially the Japanese managers were upset that the engineers only worked about 40 hours a week but after a few months had to admit that the Americans accomplished more in 40 hours than the engineer in Japan accomplished in 60.
Like Ron I’m also a salaried engineer. When I started in the mid 80s 40-45 hour work weeks were the norm. Anything more was the exception and was only asked for at crunch time. At my present employer we are working 50 hour weeks, with 60 hour weeks to begin this fall. 6 day work weeks will become the norm.
In 2008, before the crash, we had 8 people in my department supporting 14 product lines. 4 years later we have 6 people supporting 22 product lines, and corporate has just rejected our request to add 2 engineers. They would like us to reduce our headcount by 1 and pick up support on 3 additional product lines. From what I’ve seen they won’t have any issue reducing the headcount, but it may reduce much more than they expect!
In addition, since I’m considered senior personnel, I am expected to attend daily conference calls with India and the UK at the start of their work days and I am accessible 24/7 from my company cell phone. My work week is much longer than the 60 hours in office. More like 80-90 hours. Oh, and my pay increase after a record setting sales year? A whopping 0.2%, or a little over $4 a paycheck, the first raise salaried people have seen since 2008.
For those that hate unions, look out. I’m hearing more union talk than I ever have in my career.
When the ACA gets fully implemented in 2014 you guys can do what we did – go self-employed. You may not be able to do that now.
You get paid for every hour and at a higher rate than you are probably getting now. We had catastrophic health insurance and enough in the bank to cover the deductible but we had no pre-existing conditions. It was also a partial deduction on income taxes as were some travel expenses.
We built up our IRAs that had lagged during child-rearing years and even though those lost 40% at the start of this depression, a lot of it has come back.
Or you could join a union and get normal hours, pay for overtime and good benefits.
Lots of engineers on this board; me too. I started my career in 2005, and therefore haven’t known a 40-hour workweek since my summer jobs in retail in college. We get excellent benefits, but work-life balance is not really one of them. At least one can’t count on it. The idea of a 40-hour work weeks sounds devine. I spend a lot of time doing factory audits in Europe, where, as noted above, they really do limit the number of work hours for employees. I must say, though, as someone with lots of customers in Asia and lots of suppliers in Europe, it is extremely frustrating to be dependent upon folks who legally can’t put in a few extra hours during emergency situations. (I should probably put “emergency” in quotes — it’s not like we’re talking disasters, just quality events that erode customer trust, cause downtime of our tools, etc).
me too, a systems engineer (if that qualifies)
and me too from the old salaried slave camp: 50 to 60 (sometimes) 70 hours.
wow, got hooked on joe’s all lowercase
I guess I’m the first non-engineer to respond! Although I do work with wireless engineers from time to time.
I work in network operations for one of the largest telecom companies in the world. We join a union about 4 years ago so we have set policies on hours worked, holidays and the like. Unfortunately through the last couple of years the company has done everything in it’s power to portray us as being over paid (I don’t see their asses in my switch at 2AM to fix a problem!) even though we have one of the most important jobs in the company: maintaining the network. They’ve played fast and free with our union contract, in fact outsourcing work we used to do and making it look like we don’t have any work. To make matters worse we are now under MSOC and it’s a nasty system (not suited for network ops) that will pit manager against employee.
The handwriting is on the wall as I see our contract being dismantled and our union passively standing by! What used to be a fun and interesting job has been reduced to managing our numbers for MSOC. I”ve been in network and worked as a network analyst for 17 years and have never been written up for poor work performance. But that is changing as you can see how the company is doing it’s best to get rid of original wireless people.
We used to get a yearly bonus but that’s gone even though our company made record profits. It just seems to me that corporate America seems they can just push people and abuse them on and off the clock. I remember reading an article mentioning how this will kill productivity in this country.
Perhaps I can get a visa to one of the countries you mentioned before, because I don’t think I’ll have this job for more than two years…and I’m scared to death on the prospect of lower wages when I move to another job! It’s depressing!
I was an operations manager at my old company before starting my own. Running the day to day my bosses we essentially making me work the guys 6 days a week. I had been pushing for a 5 day work week and easier time per day instead of always pushing the crews them 100%. When I started, they were all rockstars and I never had to ask for the extra mile when it was needed. 2 years later all the guys were burnt out and calling in sick became a real problem. So, I started my own place.
Having guys working 40 or less per week my crews are back to being easy to manage. My former employer is steadily being run into the ground and I have my pick of the litter whenever I need a new hire. The entire situation at my old place seems to be a microcosm for whats going in on this country. Unions have disappeared and the workforce is being underpaid and mistreated. It really seems that actual company performance has nothing to do with money trickling down to the workers. How many big companies are posting record profits yet scaling back on worker compensation? Seems like an awful lot.
What gets me is there are still so many middle and lower class people buying the conservative claptrap of union bashing and trickle down theory. They’ve been getting screwed quite directly by those policies yet still seem to think its the fault of liberals and whatnot, when clearly they are being taken advantage of. Its has been one helluva snow job.
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