Screw it; I'm gonna move to Massachusetts and become a janitor

Yesterday, the Boston Glob reported on a hearing over a new law being proposed in Massachusetts. It seems that when companies are sold, quite often one of the first things they do is change the cleaning companies, and that’s just not fair. So they want to put a 90-day freeze on changing cleaning companies when a company is bought out.

The main witness spoke about her husband, who lost his job with an hour’s notice when just the above happened. The Glob is overwhelmed with sympathy for this woman, but a few things jumped out at me:

1) Janitors in Massachusetts make an AVERAGE of $11.80 an hour, which is more than TWICE the minimum wage. And more than I make, for that matter.

2) The woman testified through a translator — she doesn’t even speak English well enough to whine properly.

3) Every single job I’ve ever held, I’ve been an “employee at will.” That meant my employment could be terminated by either side, with zero notice, for any reason or no reason whatsoever. That’s the norm these days. It’s dampened my loyalty a bit, but that’s the price employers seem willing to pay these days.

4) Who the hell is the STATE to tell anyone who they must do business with? Suppose the new owner has their own dedicated maintenance employees? Or an exclusive contract with another cleaning company?

5) What the hell kind of performance can an employer expect out of a cleaning crew that’s essentially just been given 13 weeks’ notice? I’m sure that the soon-to-be-unemployed workers will redouble their efforts and perform with even more efficiency and skills, so they can leave the building at the end with their heads held high and filled with the satisfaction of a job well done. And absenteeism will not change in the least.

6) Is there any particular reason why janitors are being singled out for this special protection? Why not all employees? Force the new owner to keep all of them on for 90 days, so they can “prove” their worth.

Personally, I think the basic idea here is a good one — give the folks a chance to show they can do the job, and maybe even improve in the new conditions. But I find it repugnant in the extreme for the state to coercively demand, under penalty of law, that they do so.

But I guess that’s just the Massachusetts way. The State knows what is best for everyone, so just shut up and do what they tell you, when they tell you, how they tell you — or else.


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