Bank Turns to Cannibalism, Employees Flee in Terror

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bank of America has been holding severance pay hostage unless laid off workers agree to train their new replacements from India. Of course, BofA doesn't say that outright. They prefer less threatening and legally murkier euphemisms like, "severance pay is contingent on satisfactorily completing your jobs." In other words, do as I say or you're fired and you get squat!

No matter how you feel about this tactic - and it's pretty low - it isn't surprising.

"I know that's parsing things a bit," BofA's corporate mouthpiece said. "What we ask associates to do as part of getting severance is that they stay on the job until the job is transitioned. It's a common practice when your job is being transferred from one person to another that you train the new person," she added, without mentioning that usually applies when you're leaving on good terms or moving within the company.

But, we won't quibble over semantics. We're sure she didn't mean to make it sound like something unpleasant.

Barbara Desoer, BofA's Tech Diva, said she knows the replacees hate it, so she's making a "commitment" to help the poor schmoes understand what's happening to them. "It caused us to make a greater commitment to our associates," she said. "It caused us to make a larger commitment to explaining the context of changes happening in the marketplace in advance of (changes) happening."

I'm sure the "associates" left that meeting thinking, "Gee, now that I understand what's happening in the marketplace, I'm glad I could take the bullet for good old BofA! Am I lucky or what?"

When these things happen, the discussion is usually about the nameless, faceless "company" mistreating its workers. But aren't companies comprised of human beings?

You can bet your ass that if BofA showed Barb the door, she wouldn't stick around training her replacement or having her severance pay held hostage. In fact, she'd probably get a healthy bonus for resigning to "take on challenging new assignments" - the stock phrase translated as, "The incompetent boob is leaving, huazzah!"

Although she benefits either way from the fiscal slaughter, Barb isn't alone. Other managers also got nice bonuses, and more than a few bonusless drones in financial planning and cost-benefit analysis drove the decision too. Many may end up on the chopping block as well.

I can only think of these people as economic cannibals. They chew away at working class America, even when it includes them. They make financially dubious decisions and when the bill comes due, pass the check over the table and say, "Take care of that, will ya?" The fact that one day they might be learning Hindi to pass along their corporate wisdom never seems to occur to them.

Cannibals in the civilized world generally don't turn to cannibalism because they like their meat rare. They usually take to it as a last resort or because they're mentally ill. In more remote regions, having a nice human rump roast is OK because of religion or other societal factors.

So where did BofA's cannibals catch the "people, the other white meat" bug?

Last resort? Safeway has plenty of Rancher's Reserve steaks in the cooler, so I don't think so.

Mental illness? That's a good possibility because they aren't showing much connection to the real world.

Religious or societal factors? BINGO! They're apparently born again greed heads completely seduced by the mantra of absolute capitalism. And while they're doing their daily devotions of counting stock options and performance bonuses, the sick behavior is being reinforced by a society that doesn't rise up as one and smack the dumb bastards silly. Instead, we go to Wal-Mart, buy something made by Chinese prison labor and sold in a store well known for anti-labor behavior, and then drive home smiling at the great deal we got on that swell rattan lawn chair.


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Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Saturday, June 10, 2006

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