Bob Herbert, in the New York Times, writes a preposterous article making much ado about nothing into a class warfare, Us vs Them, Haves vs Have Nots piece.
"Martha Escobar is staring into the cold, dark, unforgiving eyes of destitution.
Ms. Escobar is one of 16 janitors who were laid off from their jobs at a luxury complex in Los Angeles that houses some of the wealthiest tenants imaginable. JPMorgan Asset Management, a unit of the vast JPMorgan Chase empire, manages an intricate investment web that owns the buildings. The layoffs were ordered by a maintenance contractor, ABM Industries."
Ok - let's notice right away that these janitors were fired by their contractor, not by the Uber Evil, Super Wealthy Slumlord, JP Morgan. Perhaps an interesting article could be written if we found out WHY they were laid off - was it because they weren't doing a good job? (probably not) - was it so that their contractor could replace them with cheaper labor at a subsistence wage? (that might be something to get mad about) But Herbert ignores the details and instead focuses on the peasant vs royalty angle that bears little relevance.
"What’s different about these layoffs is that the janitors are not going quietly. They have been vigorously protesting the callousness of their treatment — the way the rich people who employed them for the munificent sum of $13.50 an hour found it so easy to dump them on the scrap heap with the rest of America’s unemployed millions."
I still don't understand the issue. If rich people want dirty floors and dirty toilets, isn't that their prerogative to have them? Are rich people required to hire janitors to clean their toilets? Should they be? Of course not - but it's easy to find someone to hate and blame when there's a rich target around. (note: I'm not asking anyone to like JPMorgan - this piece is not about how great JP Morgan is, or how noble Jamie Dimon is)
"The janitors have marched and fasted outside the buildings they once cleaned. And Ms. Escobar and another laid-off janitor, Elba Polanco, were brought to New York City last week by the Service Employees International Union, which represents them, to bring their plight to the attention of Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase. Mr. Dimon has made a fabulous living by, among other things, borrowing enormous sums of money to buy companies and then hurling people out of work.
In the real world of America’s increasingly two-tiered society, you have to laugh at the idea of these janitors trying to get the ear of Jamie Dimon, who counts his wealth by the hundreds of millions. He is royalty, and they are from the peasant class. Mr. Dimon’s universe is orders of magnitude different from the one that Martha Escobar is scrambling around in. He talks to the Geithners and Bernankes and Larry Summerses of the world. The paycheck Ms. Escobar used to get wouldn’t cover Jamie Dimon’s dinner tab."
You'd also have to laugh at the idea of me getting the ear of Jamie Dimon, despite the fact that I'm an A-list financial blogger (relax - it's a joke!), or the idea of my father, a retired teacher, getting the ear of Jamie Dimon, or the idea of my uncle, who owns his own landscaping business, getting the ear of Jamie Dimon, or the idea of my neighbor, who is a Selectman in our town, getting the ear of Jamie Dimon, or the idea of almost anyone else in America getting the ear of Jamie Dimon. Still, somehow, Herbert tries to push through the steaming pile of crap idea that Ms. Polanco and Ms. Escobar were denied a sit down with Don Dimon simply because they were too low on the social hierarchy - because they were (cringe as you say it and wrinkle your nose) janitors.
"While Ms. Escobar and her former co-workers are being scorched by the flames of unemployment, JPMorgan Chase’s second-quarter profit this year — profit, mind you — was $4.8 billion."
What does JPM's profit have to do with it? Either they want clean offices, or not. Should they be required to hire more people just because they make more money? Come on America - we need to get off this entitlement train. Just because someone else has money doesn't mean they need to give it to you. If Jamie Dimon wants to take a dump in a dirty toilet, or clean it himself, or consolidate the cleaning of the toilets into the summer intern's duties (doodies?) that's his prerogative. He doesn't have to hire more janitors just because his company makes more money, or because he's richer than God.
"The palace guards asked if they had an appointment. They knew very well that an appointment was an impossibility. Ms. Escobar and Ms. Polanco were janitors. They were told to go away."
Ahh - this angle again - he even italicized janitors his time, emphasizing how the "palace guards," sneered the dirty word with contempt. Of course, I already addressed this problem above. It doesn't matter if you're a janitor, teacher, politician, landscaper, wall street trader, or top tier blogger - you're not getting an appointment with Jamie Dimon. Janitor has nothing to do with it.
"I called JPMorgan Chase to ask why the janitors had been fired and if the company was open to negotiations that could result in rehires. The response was cold, cold, cold. A spokesperson said JPMorgan Chase has nothing to do with the matter. “It’s a dispute between a vendor and its employees,” he said."
Oh Mr Herbert - PLEASE tell me you called the vendor, ABM Industries to try to actually get some meat for this story... Please... Wait - you did!
"ABM Industries tried mightily not to respond at all, but when pressed, issued a statement through a public relations firm, Kekst and Company, saying discussions have been held with union officials regarding the workers. The company would not say if any could be rehired or why they were fired in the first place."
So we're right back where we started - we still don't know why these employees were fired, but we shouldn't let that get in the way of a little class warfare, should we? Rally the angry masses! We have a very wealthy (and thus, obviously, very evil) target handy, so let's attack him. (I'm wailing now, try to picture it - I'm on my knees, tears streaming down my cheeks, fists raised in fury) Damn you JP Morgan! Damn you Jamie Dimon! You have so much money! Why won't you hire these poor janitors? Why do you look down on the lower classes with such disdain?
Articles like this one from Bob Herbert avoid any attempt to address the real issue (Why were the workers fired?) and instead appeals to populist senses of Us vs. Them class warfare to stir up emotion, which solves nothing.