Tuesday, April 15, 2008
In the background, you could hear people in the Seattle office laughing and kvetching throughout her announcement. Of course no one in the San Diego office could respond because it was a "listen only" call. All they could do is silently listen, some with tears streaming down their faces, while Corporate yucked it up.
On Tuesday, Hyde sent her representative (wearing 6-inch heels, bangle bracelets, and Capri pants) to be the corporate "face." She described herself at one point as "Hyde's Bitch." & This spokesperson reassured the shell-shocked soon-to-be-unemployed, by leading a corporate rah-rah, telling them that at least they were NUMBER ONE and GOING OUT ON TOP!!! Undoubtedly, this will be comforting for the recently unemployed to remember as they decide between feeding their families and buying gas. "WaMu is still paying you to do your job and we expect professionalism right up until the day you are terminated," she tersely instructed.
A young employee confronted her, suggesting that the hilarity emanating from the Seattle office throughout the conference call was unseemly, given that people on the San Diego end were receiving such disturbing news. Bangles said, "That was how they coped. People cope differently, you know. Hey, we had to tell you this with no warning. It hurts us too," she said, squeezing out a few crocodile tears. "Oh, and we changed the severance pay policy in January -- we capped it; and by the way, your health insurance ends your last day of work."
This one hit close to home. My 23-year-old daughter is one of those who will lose her job. She's young, and she'll land on her feet; but she's lost a lot of sleep over co-workers in her office. There are employees who have been there 14 years, a few even nearly 30 years. Now what are they going to do and where will they go?
For some, age will be an issue in finding a job. For others, they will require retraining in another field. (And just what field will that be?) Some of the younger ones will have to leave the state and return home to live with parents.
The irony in our family is that out of three daughters recently graduated from college, this is the one who took the practical path, in college and since. Raised by nomadic freelance filmmakers, she understood the value of a steady, predictable income, so she earned a degree in business from the University of San Diego, and within months of graduating, obtained a notary public certification, and a real estate broker's license. I'll admit it; my husband and I held her up to our other two daughters, a chef and a costume designer, as the one who got a "real job with benefits."
Anyway, Corporate Bangles finished up with the good news. "On a positive note, we got $7 billion dollars from a privately held investment group. People believe in WaMu so you guys should be proud." The dull stares of the newly disenfranchised WaMu workers belied their enthusiasm for her message.
So once again, top execs made some really bad decisions, condoned questionable business practices, availed themselves of a greed-driven market, and when their theories failed, fired the expendables.
After personnel cuts were announced, WaMu's stock shot up.
Could all that chortling and giggling the San Diego employees heard during the conference call have been the executives gleefully anticipating bonuses for & "their" sacrifice? &
-Citizen Voices blogger Candace Suerstedt is a filmmaker and a mother of three who lives in Coronado.