Archive for May, 2018

“We value you . . .”

So, I was told what my raise would be for 2018. $.28 per hour. I was also told “we don’t want you to leave (insert company here)” and “we really value you.”

In 2017, above company was paying me $14 per hour. Well, actually, for about half the year I was making less than that because of the cut the staffing agency was taking, but, whatevs. We’ll call it $14. To be fair, they also give benefits like a 401(k), if I can afford to contribute, health insurance with a deductible that’s only 20% of my income, and all the overtime you can work without losing your mind, assuming you haven’t lost it during regular hours. Not every company is that generous.

I got called in for my end-of-year evaluation to find out what my pay bump will be for this coming year. At this point I’m trained in almost everything I can be in this department, and up until I burned out, I was putting up excellent numbers.* I’m fairly certain that I wasn’t one of the ones exacerbating the calls that started with “This is the fourth time I’ve had to call you people!” My merit increase for 2018 is 3.5%, prorated. My supervisor wanted me to know that the company approved the 3% and she really fought for that extra 0.5%. Cool, that’s like, what, a nickle an hour? I’m gonna run right out and buy . . . nothing. Because nothing costs a nickle anymore. So, you know, thanks.

There are three points to consider here. Let’s start with the last one that I considered. The average inflation rate in 2017 was 2.1%. That means that 2.1% of my 3.5% prorated “merit” increase is in fact a cost of living increase. The actual number should probably be higher, given the cost of housing in Portland, but we’re going with national averages, here. What this tells me is that my merit, all of the overtime I put in, all of the uptraining I not only attended but actually learned, all of the showing up on time is worth 1.4% of my income to encourage me to keep doing it. I’m feeling the love, here. Really.

Point two, 3.5% of $14 is actually $.49 per hour. I started doing the actual job in January of 2017 for less than my coworkers in the same training class because of the staffing agency I came through. I wasn’t “officially” hired until June. Once again, the company is having words trump reality. I was doing the job all year, but I’m going to get nickled and dimed out of my pay increase because I wasn’t “officially” doing the job (that I was actually doing) for half that time. Well, pennied and dimed. Two dimes and a penny per hour, that is. My revenue for 2017 was low five figures. Theirs were upper nine or lower 10 figures, if I remember the self-congratulatory e-mail correctly. I can totally see why they need those two dimes and a penny more than I do. Makes sense.

The last point, the first one that occurred to me when I heard about my whopping $.28 raise, is that I can now afford a medium Dunkin Donuts iced coffee per day. Not a mocha, mind you, but more than a plain hot coffee. ($.28 X 8 hours= $2.24- 18% taxes= $1.84 take-home per day). Or, I can totally splurge at the end of the year and ($.28 X 2087 hours annually¬† = $584.36- 18% taxes= $479.18 ), well, let’s be honest. I’ll have already spent it by making a tiny dent in my debt or possibly on avocados. After all, we know that the reason Millenials are living in their parents houses in record numbers is avocados. So I’m worth a cup of coffee, but not rent money. I’m feeling very valued.

My supervisor and I also talked about what my next steps would be. She suggested that I work on officially moving the next step up in my department since it “should come with a pay bump.” Of what? $.50? Woo hoo. She was shocked when I asked when I might hear back from the other department that I’d applied for. That I’d already told her in no uncertain terms I was aiming for. Aside from the fact that it’s potentially a far, far better fit for my personality, I happen to know it pays more than half again as much as I’m currently making. She doesn’t want the company to lose me, but when I literally say “I want to be able to pay rent,” she doesn’t seem to be able to back me on figuring out how the company can help me do that. **

One third of my anticipated income for the year ($14.28 X 2087= $29,802.36 – 18% taxes / 3) is $8,145.98. According to common wisdom found everywhere, that’s what I can afford to spend on my housing without straining my budget elsewhere. That’s $678.83 a month and really needs to include heat since I do live in Maine. Around here I can rent a room for that amount, not an apartment. Given that my last rented room situation was . . . memorable, I’m not up to trying that again just now. I’ve been tracking my expenses for the last 18 months or so, and even after giving up my chickens, I’d have to do some rethinking in my budget if I were going to make progress on my debt while also paying rent. Actually, I’d have to do some rethinking of my budget just to pay the rent, even before I think about debt. As far as another injury like a broken leg? That’s just not an option. I couldn’t afford it.

Every few months or so they tell me at work that they value me. Whenever they remember to tell me much of anything. I suppose that comes with being a low maintenance employee. But every two weeks my paycheck tells me exactly how¬†much they value me. Which is really not very much at all. As for the merit increase? It’s ($.28 X $14 =) 2%. Which is less than inflation for 2017. It’s good to know exactly how hard they’ll work to keep a low maintenance, trainable employee around, isn’t it?

*After writing this, I was given a new supervisor. In our first meeting he told me we really didn’t have anything to talk about. My numbers were great and I was doing everything they wanted. Apparently even after I burned out, I’m doing just fine.

**Publication held until I got the job without her help. You never know what your employer is reading online. I didn’t get the job.

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