Thursday, July 29, 2004

Ethics in the Hat Business

Last thursday during lunch, my coworker was walking around the lunchroom when she noticed our production manager fiddling with material out on the production table. (this is quite unusual, considering the fact that she refuses to handle material --or actually do anything requiring manual labour, for that matter -- during the normal work day, let alone work during her lunch break. Naturally, this arose my coworker's suspisions, so she called me over and together we watched our manager unroll about ten metres of fabric, cut it off, stuff it into a bag and then hide it in her office. Later that afternoon, we convinced our supervisor to look in her office for it, and sure enough, the material was stuffed into a back cupboard behind her purse and bag. None of the owners were around that afternoon, so there was nothing that we could do. This isn't the first time that she's stolen from the company, I'm told, but it is actually the first time that she has been seen blantantly cutting material during the work day. So what do I do with this information? I asked the supervisor for the type of fabric and approximately how much she took, so that when I leave I will leave a letter with the owners telling them what I saw.
Why do I not tell them right away? Well, I'm told that the owners have a knack for taking her side, even when she's completely in the wrong. She's higher up on the chain of command, and they either are quite naieve, or they want to save face by covering for her.
The owners I have issue with in their own right. They have made the decision to send out over fifty percent of production to China-- something which I don't agree with at all. As it is, while the hats are being produced in Hamilton, each homeworker that sews a hat gets anywhere from $1.50-$3.00 per hat. There is only one style of hat on which they can actually make time, and all other hats take a couple of hours each to sew. It is a rather pitiful amount that they are investing in each hat, and to think that it is cheaper for them to send the material to China, have the hats sewn there and shipped back to Hamilton-- it just blows my mind that they're ok with paying someone pennies for these hats that they turn around and sell for $16-48 to companies like The Bay and Sears!
So what can I do about this? I'm doing my best to leave the company, if I can actually find another job to go to. I suppose that the ethically heroic thing to do would be to quit, regarless of having another job to turn to or not. However, can I afford to be ethically heroic while a student of Redeemer? One would think that because I am a student of Redeemer, I would therefore not think twice about it. But it's one thing arguing about fair wages and labour laws and another thing doing something about it that's skin off my own back. Argh.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

It is not without much debate that I am posting a new blog. The purpose of this blog site was created specifically for sharing my experiences in England with those back home, as the description at the top of my page points out. Now that I'm back in the land of the Cannuks, I don't know that I have anything very exciting to say to anyone or about anything. I don't even know that I'm particularly in favour of these blog sites- as my dear friend Michelle has pointed out, blogs open up yet another door to meet and get to know people in a sort of artificial way. If it isn't bad enough that during the school year we spend hours in front of our computer screens writing papers and resarching, we add countless hours onto that tally merely to post blogs, read blogs and comment on blogs. For many of the bloggers (I don't include myself in this number) this time might be considered well spent, as hours of learning in a community with others, having those intellectual discussions involving differing power structures of varios eastern European countries or how Neo-Calvinism affects our culture. However, these discussions take place while one is sitting alone in a room, infront of a computer screen that is eventually turning one's eyes blurry and giving that glazed-over effect. Why can't these discussions take place in a coffee shop, a pub or, even more convinient, in the livingroom of the tower?
For myself, I think that the one excuse I'm giving myself to write on my blog again is simply that: to write. I don't expect a huge following, and for anyone who does read this, don't you dare use my site as an excuse to skip out on any social activities: "sorry, I can't come out tonight, I have to catch up on reading blogs...." How lame. You know who you are.....

Moving on. On the whole, it has been an interesting summer. Very exciting at times, quite depressing at others. New relationship, no relationship. No job, new job, crappy job.... This past weekend was an absolute blast: a whole group of us went out to Gilmour, hometown of the highly esteemed Martin boys. It ended up being quite an interesting melange of folks-- Laura kenny, Meijer, Nathan, Sam, Michelle, Me, Asher, Seth, Brian Harskamp, James Brink and Tina Koopmans. Great times though. I had my first attempt at water skiing, and let me tell you, it was nothing more than an attempt. But it was that, nonetheless. I burned enough so that as I sit here writing this blog, I'm also peeling my nose.
I spent Monday and tuesday with my sister at Presqu'ille, that was good times all around. Days on a campsite seem to go in slow motion, I love it. We had a fair amount of rain at night while we were sleeping, but we found out that our tent is almost completely waterproof. And, a very bright note: we stopped at the LCBO before we went out, and I found that they carry Strongbow, my drink of choice in any of the pubs we went to while in England. (it's an excellent cider, I quite recommend it.)
All in all, it has been a fairly good week thus far. The company at which I am working has shut down for a week of holidays, and I am hoping against all hope that I will not have to return after vacation- whether it be from getting a job at Redeemer, getting a job from the talented Mr Joel Martin, the "estensive scribber" or finding any other random job. If y'all hear of anyone that wants to employ me for a month, give me a shout.
Question about Redeemer= don't they have a responsibility to hire Redeemer students before hiring the children of staff? I have it on good authority that, after the ladies putting in their best effort to convince Joyce at housekeeping to hire another worker for august, me, in specific, a certain staff member put her foot in and said, yes, you can hire another worker, but that worker will be my daughter. (Who, by the way, is in grade 11). Is there nothing that can be done? I love Redeemer- the courses, the professors, the friends, but with all of the hassle I have gotten from almost every office at Redeemer in the past eight months, I sometimes wonder why I am still a student of RUC. The main office can't seem to understand that my mailing address is not in Belleville, it is in Hamilton, which I have told them over and over. The financial aid office can't understand that because I was in England for the semester and they couldn't mail me the forms for the financial aid application, I couldn't submit it before April 1st. And on and on it goes. Anyhow, enough of that. Anyone who has had to deal with administration at RUC knows well enough for themselves.