Other Voices: Time for local businesses to reflect
We often hear a plea from local businesses to “shop locally.” In spite of limited selection and – sometimes – high prices, most of us try to spend our dollars here in Nevada County.
But, I think it is time for local businesses to take an honest look at themselves.
I have been looking for local employment for nearly two years and I find local businesses unprofessional, tightfisted and downright flaky when it comes to their employment practices. They offer the lowest possible wages, often plainly insulting. Their “benefits” are non-existent. They seldom do you the courtesy of acknowledging a resume or application and often do not bother to inform you if they do not select you for the position – even after interviewing you. And, though none will admit it, many are biased against older workers.
Let me cite a couple of examples. One job I accepted and worked at for a week was advertised as a full-time job, and I was offered $14 per hour. During the interview, the owner’s face registered disbelief when I asked about holidays and vacations; there were no such benefits – the employee simply took holidays off at his own expense.
When I arrived at work the first day, they were surprised I expected to be working full time. I was told I would work 20 hours a week and be paid $10 per hour until they decided I was trained. After some serious protest, they relented and agreed to pay me the rate I had been promised and allowed me to work 40 hours a week.
After being “trained” in a most disjointed class taught by one of the owners, during which she complained often about Nevada County people who just “don’t seem to want to work and do a good job,” further training consisted of conflicting instructions from the two owners.
On my third day, I was asked to help move some office furniture around and clean up the office. That evening I stayed until 7:30 p.m. to fix a problem with their computer network. The following day I was told I was too slow at work, my pay would be $10 per hour and I could only work 20 hours a week!
More recently, I accepted a job with a company who recruited me at the local job fair. My experience fit the job requirements, the salary was reasonable and I liked the people. After my second interview, I was essentially made an offer and we agreed I would come to work for them. This was on a Monday, and they asked me to give them “until Wednesday” to come up with a job description and get a computer for me.
Having heard nothing, I called on Friday and was assured they were simply very busy and did not have the job description done yet – but I definitely had a job. I was the only person they wanted and they would work on the description on the weekend.
The following Wednesday, having heard nothing again, I phoned. I was told business was very slow and they just didn’t have the money to hire anyone now. I was still the person they wanted, but they just weren’t sure when they would be able to fund the job. It was suggested I find another job and when they were ready they would attempt to hire me away from the other job.
These are but two examples of the bizarre experiences I’ve had looking for work here. If my experience is typical, is it any wonder the credibility of local business is suspect? Are the pine trees worth this kind of employee relations? And, if I have to commute to Sacramento to find a decent job, is it any wonder that I might choose to shop where I work? Surely there must be some professional employers in the county who value good employees, are willing to pay a livable wage and are stable enough to sustain employment.
Surely there are employers in the county who would treasure well experienced retirees who are willing to work for a modest wage. Surely there are employers in the county who would treat people professionally and with courtesy.
Jim Paul lives in Grass Valley.
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