August 18, 2006



Bad bosses
by Jim Hightower

During his 13-year tenure, the recently retired CEO of Exxon Mobile paid himself $144,000 a day — and he worked in an executive suite that was labeled, "The God Pod."

Our culture lavishes both wealth and worship on "the boss." Yet, if you talk to the workers on the ground level that actually do the heavy lifting, you'll find that the chief is not exactly put on a pedestal. Indeed, it's probably no coincidence that "boss," spelled backwards, is double-s.o.b.

To give worker bees a chance to speak out about real life in the corporate hive, the grassroots organization called Working America, which is organizing workers not represented by a union, held a national "My Bad Boss" contest. And the entries poured in, telling some very un-godlike stories of boss behavior. For example, one group of employees learned what their boss really thinks of them — rather than going upstairs to his own private privy, he would use the employee restroom and urinate in their sink!

Many bosses concern themselves with how employees dress, which is perfectly understandable. But, one day, the VP of a large Minnesota company went bonkers over buttons. The vice president noticed that a staffer had three buttons on the sleeves of his blazer, whereas the VP's blazer sported only two sleeve buttons. The staffer was compelled to cut two buttons off of his sleeves, so he did not appear to outrank the boss.

Then there's the stingy California company that made employees pay for everything they used — from chairs to trash cans. The firm also provided no time off for personal needs, so when one employee's father died, he had to use his five annual vacation days to tend to the funeral. However, the company did send flowers. But, in his next paycheck, he was docked $200 for the flowers.

For more on bad bosses — and what you can do about them — call Working America: 202-637-5137.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com


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