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Jobs You Can’t Afford to Take

You know about how Jesus Christ suffered for mankind. You know about Job. But you might not have heard about Tom Thompson, owner of Star Cleaning Systems in Columbus, Ohio.

Thompson is another one of those employers whining to the newspapers about how nobody wants any of the great jobs his company offers.

He is looking to add two or three part-time workers to his 20-member staff.

“Very few people show up for interviews, and if they do, they don’t show up for the job,” Mr. Thompson said. “I’m spending 80 to 90 percent of my time recruiting. I triple-book appointments for interviews, and I’m lucky if I get one person to show up.”

He is offering $9.25 an hour to start, with bonuses and increases for workers who stick around. Running a new company, he said, he cannot afford to pay significantly more.

As Yul Brynner said to Deborah Kerr, “Is a puzzlement.” Well, I’m smart– let’s see if I can’t figure this out.

1) Thompson is looking for multiple part-timers, rather than full-time. Sounds like someone doesn’t want to pay benefits like Obamacare, Workman’s Comp and unemployment.

In Ohio, the threshold for having to provide the things Thompson wants to skip is 28 hours a week. So let’s assume he’s offering– at best– 27 hours every week, and see how good his job is.

27 hours a week times 52 weeks is 1,404 hours per year. At $9.25 an hour, that’s $12,987 AGI.

Be still my beating heart. But it gets worse. Much, much worse, in fact.

2) The job is being a janitor– cleaning offices after hours. So it’s very likely that his workers don’t even get 20 hours. A lot of these places have people working Monday through Friday, three to four hours a night.

Let’s say it’s 17.5 hours a week. That takes us down to 910 hours a year– $8,417.50 a year.

3) Needless to say, these hours mean forget about seeing a spouse who works– or your kids. But, more importantly, the schedule Thompson requires means that employees can’t take any other job.

Retail will want you to work nights– so will entertainment or food service.

More to the point, cleaning services want their people at the first site– in uniform– at 6-7 PM sharp. That requirement means even a day job is problematic. You have to leave work, and drive (through rush hour traffic) to wherever he has you scheduled. You don’t get to eat– and if your other boss needs you to work late (or you get caught in traffic), you’re late.

If so, Thompson is going to throw a hissy fit. On the first page of his five-page job application, responsibility #1 of 14 says:

Excellent attendance is required. To be depended on to arrive at work on-time at the prescribed time each day, knowing full well that tardiness and absences from work will place hardship on fellow team members, the company and disrupt client cleaning schedules.

4) Did I say five-page job application? Why yes, I did. Among other things, it warns you that if you don’t “provide legible, complete and accurate answers to all application and interview questions”, you won’t be hired.

(Question: Why does he require an educational history– including “Major / Subjects studied”– in order to hire a fucking janitor?)

5) The application requires giving consent to do a full background check and a pre-employment drug screen. Since the job sends people into the offices of companies that might have cash– and certainly have valuables– this is necessary for bonding and insurance. But it also tells the applicant the following things:

* Even if we decide to hire you, you won’t start for at least 10 days (that’s how long background screens and drug tests normally take to process).

* You will have to drive to the lab where you’re going to be screened. You might (depending on the background service) have to drive to their office for photographs, fingerprints– and sometimes lie detector tests or DNA screens.

* The five page personal history, employment history and educational history are a complete waste of time. We’re going to get the information from somebody else– and if there are any discrepancies between what you wrote and what it says, we’ll assume you are lying, not that the service screwed up.

6) There’s going to be a lot of driving– all of it unpaid. Responsibility #12 requires you to “be able to use very reliable transportation to report to specified work locations when scheduled or with little notice.”

Translation: He doesn’t have vans to take people to jobs (meaning you just have to figure out a way to get to company HQ). You have to go wherever he schedules you on your own. The company is in Columbus, but you might be working anywhere in Franklin County– or maybe in Delaware, Fairfield, Licking, Madison, Pickaway or Union County.

You have to cover your car payment, insurance, fuel and repairs out of that $8,417.50 (before taxes) per year. Even the New York Times article admits this is ridiculous; it quotes a VP at Manpower (a temp service that treats people only a tad better than a sweatshop) as saying “You can’t have a car on $10 an hour.”

Thompson is offering $9.25.

7) If the travel isn’t bad enough, Thompson adds two other onerous requirements for people struggling to survive:

* “Must have an active personal phone number at all times.” Meaning, he wants to be able to call you at any time and tell you “Don’t go there– go here.” So that’s $20 a month for cell service.

* “Direct deposit of paycheck is required.” Many unskilled labor services– face it, Mr. Thompson, that’s what this is– pay in cash or check– often on a daily basis. Also, 30% of low-income workers don’t have bank accounts– they can’t afford the fees.

I’m guessing Thompson is just clueless. His employment application is a PDF; he wants applicants– who almost certainly have access to the internet only on their phone (if at all) to download and print it, then either fax, email, or mail it back.

8) But wait, there’s more. Rule #8 says “wear appropriate uniform and personal protective equipment”. He doesn’t say who pays for the clothing– when the employer doesn’t say, it usually means the employee.

Rule #10 says workers have to “Attend and participate in meetings or training as requested by the Team Lead, Supervisor, or President.” You might think this time would be paid. You would be wrong. In 2014, the “Dread Pirate” Robert Court ruled that employers don’t have to pay you for time they require.

Oh, and the job requires using “equipment such as wearing a 12 lbs. backpack vacuum, upright vacuum, floor machines, carpet extractors, or autoscrubber, etc.” and lifting 50 pounds.

Thompson wonders why nobody shows up. I certainly don’t.

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