Thursday, January 29, 2009
Suicide and the Employer
She had given the corporation more than twenty of her most productive years. Her husband also followed suit. Theirs was a friendship at work that quickly blossomed into courtship and then marriage for more than two decades.
The wicked cancer had stricken them both, not once but twice. As the insurers haggled over payment for treatment, the corporation ended her professional tenure. Feeling alone, in debt, ravaged by cancer and depressed, she searched for the supervisor who had fired her before taking her own life in the female bathroom on the second floor. An act of defiance that was as shocking as the person involved. This is a true story of a woman who worked for one of my former employers a few years ago.
Earlier this week Antonio Lupog a medical worker in a quiet Los Angeles suburb, allegedly killed his family and subsequently took his own life after alerting authorities. Before this tragedy, another family in California suffered the same fate. Before them, a wealthy pilot allegedly tried to end his life in a botched plane crash after his investment firm went belly up.
These suicides are more than coincidental and involve so much more than money and the inability to meet one's commitments. They speak not only of the employee's psyche, but that of the employer and their corporate power. With the decline of real wealth for America's working class, the job, career, and corporate entity is essentially their last and only ride.
The employer's increasingly reach is exercised both in and out of the workplace like never before. The New York City Police Department is now requiring new recruits to log on to their Face book and My Space Web Pages before they are hired. Sure, no one wants to hire a budding racist or someone who engages in kiddie porn to uphold law and order. However, this new corporate intrusion is having a disastrous effect on the lives of workers across the United States.
Many corporations and employers are quietly eroding the most central facet of an employee, i.e. their individual identity. It starts out slowly with fingerprinting, credit checks, background checks, the annoying urine sample, medical report and psychological evaluation. Those who were born outside the United States are sometimes subjected to the intrusion of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL Background Check). How is that for freedom and individual liberty?
It progresses with company uniforms, pens,pencils and other paraphernalia including the company logo. An increasing number of employees have quietly and without notice, replaced their own identity with that of the employer. It is no coincidence that when their employment is no longer, they have not only lost their livelihood but their sense of self and existence. As the intestines of this economic recession continues to impose its will on the general citizenry, suicide headlines will only continue.