Perhaps the greatest perk of working for The Company was receiving double time pay for working Sundays. That pay policy was implemented long before I started and was put in place at a time when employees rarely worked on the holiest day of the week for both Christians and football fans alike. Only a handful of employees, mostly maintenance and cleaning crews, worked on Sunday and were allowed to work an abbreviated schedule to compensate.
The rapid growth The Company experienced after my hire date required a few lines of production to operate seven days per week. Over time, all lines were working the seven day schedule. A new manager was brought in and was mandated with eliminating the double time policy. A committee, which I was a member of, went through a renewal process to update policies, create a schedule that allowed for a healthy work/home environment, and eliminate double time. The debate over double time and whether it stayed or went away was quite contentious at times. We compromised and set a date after which no new hires would receive double time while those of us hired before the date kept the bonus.
The only group that was truly satisfied with this outcome was the nearly three hundred employees that were grandfathered into the new double time policy. New hires hated the new policy because their Sunday time was not valued as much. Management didn’t like the new policy because the real goal was to get rid of it. Over the next several years the number of employees receiving double time dwindled through attrition. Rumors often sprang up that our double time was going to be taken away.
During the summer of Year 19 at The Company the rumor mill suddenly began to go crazy. This was no longer just idle chit-chat. There was a seriousness to it that we had never witnessed before. We knew when word hit of a meeting with our HR guy and a few other higher ups that things were about to hit the fan. We started a list of how many of us who were grandfathered were left. The best estimates were around fifty out of the nearly five hundred or more employees were still getting Sunday double time. Few of those who didn’t get it felt any sympathy for us. More than a few were happy it was to be taken away.
Close to twenty coworkers were in the meeting I attended. The HR guy threw it right out there – Sunday double time was going away. This bad thing, as usual, was blamed on The Big Corporation With Big Pockets. (All good things are given to us by local management.) The anger in the room was palpable even though we had hours to be prepared for this and to vent our anger before the meeting. Questions were asked. Poor answers were given. The explanation we were spoon-fed was that The Big Corporation was unaware that we were being paid the Sunday double time. Apparently an auditor just recently noticed this anomaly. I asked if we were to believe that The Big Corporation, which audits literally everything we do there, really just learned of this. “Yes, they did,” we were told. Most of those in the room groaned. The HR guy, it seemed, was doing us a favor by hiding this double time anomaly from The Big Corporation, ensuring that we still received the pay. It struck me that if I had been his boss and learned of this indiscretion that he would have been fired on the spot.
The HR guy and the plant manager, who was conspicuously absent, knew the change would piss us all off and expected that some of us would walk. The manager, according to the HR guy, was very concerned about losing a large number of experienced crew members. Most of us felt that this was probably a desired outcome.
The meeting ended with little argument. Some just sat in place staring at a single spot rather than speak up. No one blamed them. It would have been moot.
The loss of our double time meant a nearly ten percent cut in our pay. We were certain that several people would walk over this. In the short term, only one did.
For me, the first domino was pushed over. Several little dominoes fell. Then a few more. And a few more after that. The effect they were having wasn’t noticeable to me until it was almost too late.