Coal In My Stocking

The Tom McConnell with a Coal Barge on an Icy Mississippi River

The Tom McConnell with a Coal Barge on an Icy Mississippi River

When I arrived at work this morning, everyone seemed unusually happy. I soon learned that the company had announced an enhanced vacation time accrual schedule, starting next year. Lucky employees will soon be getting, one, two or three extra vacation days. Where I work, employees accrue vacation at a rate that is governed by their years of service. It is a sliding scale. The more years that one has worked there, the more vacation time that they accumulate every week. I’ve worked long enough to get four weeks of vacation every year, which is nice, but my tenure puts me in one of the dead zones of this enhanced vacation schedule. In short, I won’t be getting any more days off next year. Mainly, newer employees benefit from the change, but also benefiting are some senior workers. I’m just not senior enough to qualify.

Some think that this policy change is intended to help with employee retention. When I asked them why then do the most senior employees also benefit? Their answer is, “Well, there aren’t very many of those employees.” To which I say, “Bah humbug!” The company has been on a cost cutting austerity drive all year-long. First, they announced that they will be freezing all pensions. This was then followed by first voluntary and then involuntary layoffs. Now they are turning around and handing out free vacation days to all of the good little boys and girls? It just doesn’t make any sense. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and I have a good idea of what it is.

Currently, we receive twelve holidays, most of them in December. Most people, including government, only get ten annual holidays. Do you see where I am going with this line of thought? I expect that next year, in 2015, when they announce the 2016 company calendar, there will be a few less holidays under the Christmas tree than before. We use to get 13 holidays, but have already lost one along the way.

I’m not totally bitter over receiving a lump of coal today, because years ago, after the merger, I actually gained vacation time. Then, some senior employees took it in the shorts worse and actually lost vacation time. At least I’m not facing that situation. Anyway, I’ll continue to plod along with twenty vacation days, until I decide to take 365.

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