Employee Appreciation Day 2022

A decorative image with sketch renderings of two men talking, wearing suits and ties, a sketch rendering of a man in a suit with multiple arms to show multitasking, two women with laptops in their hands, and a man with a briefcase running. Text reads "Employee Appreciation Day 2022."

I rarely post more than once a day, but since today is Employee Appreciation Day 2022, I felt like I should break with tradition to come up with this in recognition of it. To me, Employee Appreciation Day should be same thing as Pride Month and Black History Month: it should be every damn day instead of one day or one month out of the calendar year respectively.

According to this site, Workman Publishing set up this holiday in 1995 to serve as a reminder that employee-employer relationships are the cornerstone of any legitimate business. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case as the website states. Artisans in the colonies got together to keep the wage levels, and tailors in 18th century New York pushed back against lowered wages.

This was the driving force behind many trades creating their own unions, who still fight tooth and nail for fair employment practices in industries known for exploitation, abuse, lower pay rates, and dangerous conditions.

As sad as it is to get into, there are companies out there who do whatever it takes to keep unions out of their workplaces. I feel like if their practices are on the up and up, then they should have no problem with unions.

But that’s just me. I’m not the one who went to school for 90 years for business, so what do I know?

The website talks about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, one of the largest industrial disasters where 146 workers were killed when the factory owners locked the doors. It was apparently to prevent theft and walking off the job, but if they had that little trust in their employees, it’s probably safe to say the company’s behaved in untrustworthy ways.  According to Wikipedia, the fire marshal ruled it accidental. The factory fire also led to the company’s unethical business practices coming out, and also led to further growth of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.

Just over a century later, the same story played out in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Similar working conditions, similar death toll. Looks like we’ve still yet to learn from what happened in 1911, and by we, I mean the collective we.

Around the time of the factory fire in 1911, the radium fad was going strong. A few years later, the U.S. Radium Corporation (previously operating under a different name) set up shop in New Jersey with their paint, Undark, and had girls working in the factory to paint watch dials. A competitor company, Radium Dial Company (later known as Luminous Processes). At both companies, the workers were told to put the paintbrushes in their mouths in order to get that fine point.

Even after workers started getting sick from the radium paint, the company owners orchestrated smear campaigns against them during the trials.

They both continued dial painting operations until well into the 1940s, until Luminous Processes, Radium Dial’s new successor/alias, closed in 1978. Both companies were owned by the same guy. BTW, if there is a hell, I wonder if there’s a brand new level of it just for him.

In the documentary, Radium City, the grave sites in Ottawa, IL still set off Geiger counters, same as the grave sites in New Jersey.

Both of these former company locations became Superfund sites, with the work for the New Jersey site completed in 2009. I haven’t been able to find much on the status of the Ottawa sites today, but this article from 2017 states that there is still work going on. I would assume that the cleanup is still happening in 2022, however, if someone has an update on this, lemme know in the comments.

Based on these companies’ actions toward their workers, none of them gave a rat’s ass about them, or anything but their bottom line. I’d like to think that we’ve got way better checks and balances in place now to prevent something like any of these stories happening again.

I seriously hope that’s the case.

I should also make it clear that there are companies out there who legit care about their employees, and today, let’s give them a shout-out. If your company cares about what your employees get, lemme know, and I’ll tell everyone.

To the employees who are overworked, underpaid, unpaid, underappreciated, unappreciated, or worse, mistreated and abused, I see you. I hear you. I believe you. I appreciate you. More importantly, you deserve better than this shyt. Hit me up on LinkedIn, and we’ll see what we can do to help get you the hell outta there.

Over to you, readers. How are you celebrating Employee Appreciation Day? Are you celebrating it at all? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s talk.


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