In February, The Nation asked our online readers to be our eyes and ears–and report how the recession is making itself felt, in big ways and small. Here’s a sampling of the reports we received, reporting on what’s happening in the workplaces, the corporate offices, local governments, kitchens and classrooms across America. We welcome your reports in this ongoing series. Please use the e-form at the bottom of this page to report on conditions in your community.
SHARED PAIN AND PROGRESS IN OREGON
Although unemployment has risen to 9.9 percent in my home state of Oregon, I feel very fortunate to still have a job. I work for FedEx and, like many companies large and small, it is feeling the negative trickle-down effect of the recession. I’m glad that my employer has taken a proactive approach by cutting administrative costs across the board to maintain its workforce. We have been forced to conserve energy and materials, and have learned to cut waste.
I have actually gone from being a part-time worker to full-time. They decided that instead of continuing to use an outside company to service their drop boxes, they would instead offer the job to a current part-time employee. But I am one of the lucky ones.
Lower-level management is taking a 5 percent pay cut. Upper management, 10 percent. President and CEO Fred Smith has taken a 20 percent pay cut. Lower-level employees will have a pay freeze. In addition, the company’s 401(k) matching contributions have been suspended–a first in thirty-plus years–all to avoid layoffs. Management is saving the company money and at the same time working to consolidate and streamline operations.
I recently heard a speech by CEO Fred Smith at the National Press Club luncheon, which was originally delivered on February 23. He talked about the urgency of introducing electric vehicles, carbon emission caps, etc. Although I didn’t agree with everything he promoted (“clean coal,” nuclear), it was good to hear him embrace the need for cleaner energy developments such as wind and solar.
I know many folks who have lost their jobs and are scrambling to survive. It is time for us to reflect on the mistakes that have been made, visualize where we want to go and move in the direction of sustainable recovery. The silver lining is that we have the opportunity to evolve into a better world, which is urgently needed.
CONSERVATIVE CALIFORNIANS COMING AROUND?
Apple Valley, Hesperia and Victorville are three communities incorporated into one. This is a highly conservative enclave in California with many Bush supporters still wandering the streets. However, there have been many changes that have hit home hard and appear to have opened some eyes.