Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The WSJ Editorial Board Needs A Vacation Day

Today's WSJ editorial "Paid Not To Work" predicts widespread employee vacation day fraud if paid leave is passed in New Jersey. That's their opinion, and they are certainly entitled to offer it on their OpEd pages. But if you read the article further, they jump from saying that paid leave is too expensive for employers to offer, to saying that leave of any kind (including your usual run-of-the-mill vacation days)will be a burden on conscientious employees because companies will become more vigilant about policing time off.

The most telling aspect of this editorial is the use of the term "...has documented many cases where..." You and I both know that if the WSJ has the numbers, the WSJ uses them. So when they say that "Verizon...has documented many cases where employees claimed illness but were discovered to have traveled to Disney World" or "manufacturers have reported many instances where workers claimed leave in order to take vacation days..." Why the nebulous quantity, WSJ? What precisely does Verizon mean by "many"? Like, 100 out of a hundred thousand? That's not very compelling at all, is it?

And why the beef with people getting time off? The US already works more hours weekly and yearly than hundreds of other countries. And let's talk about the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. It is UNPAID leave. Yes, a wonderful and welcome option for those who can just stay off work for 6 weeks and not collect a paycheck. But how many people--not including those who work for the WSJ, of course--can realistically do that? It's a wonderful benefit that only the already-lucky can use. And you think it's only malingerers and lazy workers who use it? How do you think I was driven to Boston, settled in and taken care of for a couple of weeks pre- and during transplant, with no worries about Bambina's daily needs being met? By someone punching a clock from 9-5? Not likely. It was specifically the FMLA that made that possible, albeit without salary.

But what about those who can't meet the mortgage without a weekly paycheck? What about those who get only unpaid vacation days and who can't therefore stockpile them for such an emergency? (Yes, those people do exist--and for a time I was one of them). Surely there is a better way to monitor paid leave, such as doctor's letters, insurance forms, whatever, to prove the need rather than just saying, "Oh people will abuse it; let's not do it."

The crowning glory on this poorly-written editorial, marked by rank snobbery, by people who obviously have never worked in a factory or plant or, in my case, a hospital is the last line: "Far worse than a job without generous benefits is no job at all." Only someone who has always had generous benefits and has no concept of the millions of people who live without them could write that and not feel like a complete pr*ck.

I think we ought to ask the editorial board about their own benefits and leave at the WSJ. Perhaps there are areas we could trim in advance of the publication's sale. You know, for reasons of profitability.


Anonymous said...

Amen. And, I think you should submit your comments to the WSJ to make them put their $$ where their mouths are. Those types of articles really irk me as they are messing with people's livelihoods..

Geoff said...

I was going to say said commentor must never have worked in a paper, but that's obviously a lie.

Paid vacation time? What's that? All I know is I won't be seeing even a day of it for... oh... another five or six months.

Paid vacations aren't a burden. They're a lifesaver.