I would like to see some level of protest over what has been happening to many middle-class employees over the past decade or so. I’m speaking about the age group approximately 48-60. There never appears to be concern shown as to the firing and hiring practices except when a person in this demographic speaks out. Where are the supposed experts on this matter, the politicians, AARP, think tanks like the Hoover Group, or newspapers and other publications?

We have a group of talented, well-educated, experienced individuals who have been replaced at most major corporations without much, if any notice, or post-employment assistance. They are a loyal group, for the most part, who come to work one day and are told they’ve been replaced with no health insurance (except for COBRA which they now may not be able to afford) or much severance. Typically, they are replaced by much younger employees who, while well educated, have no experience in the field they were just hired into. 

One argument goes that the new employees cost less, which could be true until an error or two costs the firm substantially more than any pay advantage. In addition, the employer could argue that the older employee will only be around a few years before retirement so why not employ people for the future? The problem is most young, new employees will depart for better paying jobs after gaining a couple years of experience, while the older employee probably plans on working for several years, loyally, and not seeking an outside position.

To add insult to injury, the main firms following this hiring trend over the past decade or so are generally our largest corporations, who promote themselves as a boon to the community with some outreach program or another. How does the corporation justify this minor benefit against ruining loyal employees’ lives and the lives of their families? What of the income taxes lost, both state and federal, as well as sales tax revenue as the now-unemployed lack the funds for spending? How does that help the local community?

These individuals will find a hostile hiring policy at many firms. They are usually not looking for experience but rather a cheaper hire to improve their bottom line. After a time, the unemployed person abandons his quest for a decent opportunity and is no longer counted by the politicians who seek to make any employment figures work to their advantage. 

The poor recognize this process as it’s similar to what they face most of their lives. Why should we care about former members of the middle class who have fallen on hard times? Because in many cases the previously employed donated to charities that help all people, worked at food banks and in some cases even mentored someone to help them with their job quest. Now this unemployed middle-class person will be looking at the lower-paying jobs available to make ends meet and squeezing out other applicants. This is not a matter of one class versus another but rather how the corporations and their profit ratios negatively affect all people.

When is some action going to start which calls real attention to this injustice? Not just the story or two in the local paper about some poor person who now delivers pizza after 30 years employed fully by a corporation, but a full-blown study that names the companies involved and how this is really affecting our society. This practice has gone on much too long and there are thousands of people in this area alone who have been affected to some degree. Time to name names and kick some ass! Who’s bold enough and in the position to lead the attack? 

Jim Agin is an Oak Park resident.  

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