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Out Into the Snows of New Hampshire

If the College ever gets around to trimming its egregiously large and expensive support staff, big-hearted members of the community should be aware that Dartmouth workers who are asked to move on will be required to do no more than emulate the regular experience of almost all American workers. Unlike faculty members who set their sights on a job-for-life, Americans leave jobs for many reasons, mostly to seek better pay, increased opportunity for advancement, the chance to work in a more supportive and interesting environment, or the desire to change the place in which they live. According to the Wall Street Journal, on average workers change jobs every 4.6 years:

Worker Tenure1.jpg

This information renders laughable comments by faculty members like now-at-Cornell Rusell Rickford, who scorned the College for laying off workers in the last year of the Wright administration:

In a move that set adrift some of the most financially vulnerable employees on campus, Dartmouth officials recently completed several round of layoffs, mostly of hourly staff members…

“Set adrift…”? That phrase reeks of both condescension and misunderstanding. American workers at all levels are well equipped to find new work. As we saw above, job-hopping is a common occurrence, and interestingly enough, in prosperous economic times worker “quit rates” increase. Think about that fact for a second: workers tend to change jobs more frequently just when their level of employment security is at its highest:

Quite Rate.jpg

Given that the economy is now showing strong signs of a revival — at my business in Lebanon we have numerous newly created, unfilled jobs — the College could take the opportunity to eliminate unnecessary positions, and use the savings to cut tuition and hire more faculty members. The College’s employees have other jobs waiting for them in the Upper Valley, and they are certainly capable of finding them.

Addendum: A close reader of Dartblog writes in:

Another enjoyable read this morning on DartBlog. It brought to mind an interview I read with Jack Schafer, a media commentator who previously worked at Slate and Reuters (now at Politico.) The interview, in November 2014, is right after he was fired from Reuters. Take a look at this passage (below). In my mind, he shares a perspective that is too often lost when folks lose work:

Capital: This is the second time in three years that you’ve been laid off, not maliciously but unceremoniously.

Shafer: No! It’s wrong to say it’s “unceremoniously.” The job is theirs. The job belongs to Slate or the job belongs to Reuters, not to me. The day that they decide that job doesn’t exist or they don’t want me in that job, there’s nothing unceremonious about it. We know this going in. We’re mercenaries.

If, tomorrow, you don’t like the editing or the headlines or the paper stock at Capital, and you want to do something else, it’s not unceremonious to give Tom your two weeks’ notice and walk across the street, so it probably shouldn’t be unceremonious for Tom to tell you, “Peter, we’ve had a great run here, but you know, I’m going to bring in Shafer to do your job.”

No one ever cries any tears for a publication when somebody leaves it for another publication. It’s inconvenient as hell to lose your job. I’m not trying to cast any aspersions about people who go through real trouble and real pain when they get sacked. But we know that going into this business, and it’s the way this business has always been. I would reject the idea that it’s “unceremonious.”

I mean, the way that I was treated at Slate for so long and the nice package I got going out, likewise with Reuters. There was never a better place that I’ve worked in my career than Reuters. If they decide that they want to do something else with their space and their money, god bless ‘em. They’ve been very good to me.


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