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company firest smokers for smoking off the job

Discussion in 'News' started by seeking, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. seeking

    seeking Dirty Dozen Crew

    Joined: May 25, 2000 Messages: 32,277 Likes Received: 235
    Workers' rights groups fume as companies tell employees they can't even puff at home


    Associated Press

    OKEMOS, Mich. - A Michigan company's decision to dismiss workers who smoke, even if it's on their own time, has privacy and workers' rights advocates alarmed and is raising concerns about whether pizza and six packs are the next to go.

    Weyco Inc., an Okemos-based medical benefits administrator, said its offer of smoking cessation classes and support groups helped 18 to 20 of the company's nearly 200 workers quit smoking over the past 15 months.

    But four others who couldn't -- or wouldn't -- no longer had jobs on Jan. 1.

    "We had told them they had a choice," said Weyco Chief Financial Officer Gary Climes. "We're not saying you can't smoke in your home. We just say you can't smoke and work here."

    Such policies basically say employers can tell workers how to live their lives even in the privacy of their homes, something they have no business doing, said Lewis Maltby, president of The National Workrights Institute in Princeton, N.J., a part of the American Civil Liberties Union until 2000.

    "If a company said, `We're going to cut down on our health care costs by forbidding anyone from eating at McDonald's,' they could do it," he said. "There are a thousand things about people's private lives that employers don't like for a thousand different reasons."

    Former Weyco receptionist Cara Stiffler of Williamston, one of those who found herself without a job Jan. 1, called Weyco's policy intrusive.

    "I don't believe any employer should be able to come in and tell you what you can do in your home," she said.

    Some companies, while not going as far as Weyco, are trying to lower their health care costs by refusing to hire smokers.

    Union Pacific Corp., headquartered in Omaha, Neb., began rejecting smokers' applications in Texas, Idaho, Tennessee, Arkansas, Washington state, Arizona and parts of Kansas and Nebraska last year and hopes to add more states.

    The company estimates each position filled by a nonsmoker over one who smokes saves it $922 annually, said public affairs director John Bromley. It hired 5,500 new workers last year and plans to hire 700 this year. About a quarter of the company's 48,000 employees now smoke, and Bromley said it's clear they cost the company more money.

    "Looking at our safety records, (we know that) people who smoke seem to have higher accident rates than nonsmokers," he said. "It's no secret that people who smoke have more health issues than nonsmokers."

    On Jan. 1, Kalamazoo Valley Community College stopped hiring smokers for full-time positions at both its campuses. Part-time staffers who smoke won't be hired for full-time jobs, and the 20 to 25 openings that occur each year among the college's 365 full-time staff positions will go only to nonsmokers.

    "Our number one goal is to reduce our health claims," said Sandy Bohnet, vice president for human resources. "So many diseases can be headed off if people simply pay attention to their health care."

    Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia protect workers who smoke, saying they can't be discriminated against for that reason.

    Michigan doesn't have such a law, but state Sen. Virg Bernero has taken up the cause of the former Weyco workers.

    He plans to introduce a bill banning Michigan employers from firing or refusing to hire workers for legal activities they enjoy on their own time that don't impinge on their work.

    Weyco President Howard Weyers thinks Bernero is on the wrong side, especially since companies are wrestling with ever-higher health care costs.

    "We're doing everything we can ... to get our staff healthier," Weyers said, noting that his company reimburses workers for a portion of health club costs, pays them bonuses for meeting fitness goals and offers fitness classes and a walking trail at its Okemos office.

    "Employers need help in this area. And I just don't think employers' hands should be tied" on how to accomplish that, he said.

    Chris Boyd, an 18-year Weyco employee, said she considered the no-smoking policy drastic when Weyers announced it. But she signed up for a smoking cessation group a few months later.

    "I wasn't about to put smoking ahead of my job," said Boyd, 37. She had tried once before to break her 10-year, half-pack-a-day habit and said she probably wouldn't have been able to quit if not for the new policy.

    The Society for Human Resource Management in Arlington, Va., found only one human resource manager among 270 surveyed nationally in December that had a formal policy against hiring smokers.

    About 4 percent said they preferred not to hire smokers, and nearly 5 percent said they charge smokers higher health care premiums, a policy Weyco put in place a year ago.

    Although few companies are copying Weyco's example, "a lot of people are paying attention to this case because it's potentially the edge of a very slippery slope," said Jen Jorgensen, a spokeswoman for the society. "It has raised a lot of eyebrows."

    Maltby said he doesn't have a problem with companies' raising health insurance premiums for employees who have unhealthy habits. But he worries about what's next on employers' lists.

    "If employers are going to make the smokers pay a surcharge, they might as well make the deep-sea divers and the motorcycle riders and the Big Mac eaters and the skiers pay a surcharge," he said. "Smoking, drinking, junk food, lack of exercise, unsafe hobbies, unsafe sex -- the list of things many people do is endless."
  2. !@#$%

    [email protected]#$% Moderator Crew

    Joined: Oct 1, 2002 Messages: 18,517 Likes Received: 623
    no fucking wonder.
    my boss smokes all goddamn day and he smells so bad, i call him Phillip Morris sometimes. he also is constantly steeping out to have smoke breaks. it drives me kind of crazy when people take those fucking breaks all day. i smoke, but i don't smoke at work.

    drug testing opened the door for all kinds of shit.
    employers can spy in their employees' emails, fire them for taking a toke, and now for being a smoker. no big surprises here.

    the worker always gets the goddamn shaft in this country though.

    if a company can tell a person what they can and can't do at home, when the shits perfectly legal.. i guess it's time to find a new job.

    i wonder if cigarette companies are going to start massive lobbying against this shit.
  3. <KEY3>

    <KEY3> Veteran Member

    Joined: Mar 24, 2004 Messages: 6,878 Likes Received: 2
    I honestly dont think that American companies can compete
    anymore with international ones. If you combine the lower wages
    with a serious work ethic that borders on modus vivendi (a way of life),
    how can te US seriously expect to win? The corrupt unions will have no jobs left to protect.

  4. !@#$%

    [email protected]#$% Moderator Crew

    Joined: Oct 1, 2002 Messages: 18,517 Likes Received: 623
    i don't know, ask toyota why they are building plants here now.

    "Free trade has hammered a lot of U.S. towns, making it easier for companies to send manufacturing jobs south of the border or overseas, and idling hundreds of American factories and tens of thousands of workers.

    But free trade works both ways, and just as U.S. companies look overseas for workers, a lot of foreign companies have been expanding their operations in the U.S. and creating new jobs for Americans. The attractions for them are better business conditions, proximity to the ever-expanding U.S. consumer market, and the promise of incentives that many U.S. communities offer to attract new investment. "


    from wall street journal..

    ..and don't forget. Americans are generally non vacationing workaholics
  5. <KEY3>

    <KEY3> Veteran Member

    Joined: Mar 24, 2004 Messages: 6,878 Likes Received: 2
    my point is that if an american factory has to battle an asian
    factory in some kind of team game (not counting tug-of-war)
    the asian team would efficiently and systematically kick ass.

    AND if you told an american factory worker that they had to show
    up at work a half hour early to do group exercises every morning,
    the unions would raise holy hell.
  6. MIZZaBcfly

    MIZZaBcfly Member

    Joined: Jul 22, 2004 Messages: 326 Likes Received: 0
    ya cant smoke over here btw
  7. !@#$%

    [email protected]#$% Moderator Crew

    Joined: Oct 1, 2002 Messages: 18,517 Likes Received: 623
    dude, walmart makes their workers ahow up early for those workout sessions too.

    you know they (walmart) closed their canadian store after the canucks got it unionized?
    the days of workers uniting to make demands are ending in this country.

    i haven't been in a union since about 1996, and we got screwed on our contract renewal. i quit that job soon after they shafted everyone. i worked in restaurants for SEVEN YEARS and was never even approached about unionizing.

    i agree, the asians will still kick our asses.
    but who's asses won't they kick?

    my bet would only be on a group of haitian immigrants.

    and, no matter who's asses they kick, it is still a bitch to ship all those automobils all the way here as opposed to makin em here and ingratiating your company to the average american
  8. source

    source Junior Member

    Joined: Dec 24, 2004 Messages: 167 Likes Received: 0
    i picked up that good factory job with a bunch of ex-cons. they dont give a fuck what we do, the welders get stoned at lunch everyday.
  9. CACashRefund

    CACashRefund 12oz Loyalist

    Joined: Oct 8, 2004 Messages: 14,171 Likes Received: 272
    I used to work at a department store like that, it wasnt a big chain like macy's so we werent pee tested and shit. Alot of the females at my work would get drunk or sniff some coke and the dudes would spark a blunt and join in and do some lines as well.