Labor Force “At-Will”

South Carolina is an “Employment At-Will” state. This means: “that the employer may terminate the employment or the employee may leave the employment at any time for any reason (or for no reason)” in the absence of an employment contract or specific statutory protection. Labor unions largely fulfill the function of representing members in disputes over labor contracts. With the strike by oil industry workers prominent in the news, it seems that these terms and uses bear some consideration for the workforce in this state. I am a contractor and employed by contract. When my contracts are fulfilled there is usually room for an employer to pick up further work on “at-will” terms. This results in working past a contract or over the limitations specified in a contract for both my employer’s benefit and my own benefit. A “breakdown” in the contract employment relationship is my personal responsibility to repair, redeem, or negotiate. I like this arrangement. In my line of work, it keeps me independent and paid. In a corporation, where certain workers may or may not form a union, tension forms from the “at-will” status that is in force in South Carolina. I do not see “at-will” and “contract” as mutually exclusive. Like an independent contract, union contracts can be created to benefit employees and work well for employers if “at-will” rights are retained and not excluded by contract terms. This gives union members contract points to collectively bargain and everyone involved the rights of “at-will” agreements that are not contrary to contract terms. While it seems that this would erode the “collective” idea of bargaining, it actually strengthens it. When contracts are terminated, employment is terminated and this comes from both union and management vantage points. Neither unions nor management want to lose jobs under a collective contract. Retaining the capability of contract negotiation with “at-will” freedoms designates that the employer/employee relationship is not bound by “contract only” specifications. As an independent contractor my employment is bound by contract, but often some work in the job is “at-will”. I do not usually have an obligation to my employer for overtime, extra work, or certain hours on the clock. On the other hand, some of the best jobs I have worked under contract allow for an “at-will” give and take between my employer and me to include some of those “extras at-will”. These “extra” terms do not have to be built into a re-negotiated contract. I am not implying that these same terms apply to non-contractual agreements for unions to uphold. What I am stating is that contracts can leave room for “at-will” answers to still exist. Perhaps I see an “at-will” state’s union workers as just a large group of independent contractors- the union workers are just all on the same contract. In a time where jobs are precious, the employer/employee relationship is important and keeping both contract work and “at-will” employment should benefit the workforce through keeping job elimination at a minimum while still protecting employees.

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EBOLA Status: EMERGENCIES

The government of The Republic of Sierra Leone is rising in recovery from the EBOLA pandemic with a voice that must be heard. Abdulai Bayraytay a National Publicity and Outreach Coordinator in the Office of the Government Spokesman of Sierra Leone gave press conference statements on February 10, 2015 citing: “Ebola still exists” and that “The fight continues”. The schools have been re-opened in Sierra Leone to provide the training and education necessary on EBOLA for community socialization on avoiding the chain of transmission.

The first outbreak of EBOLA in Sierra Leone was documented on May 25, 2014 and there have been over 2,000 plus deaths related to EBOLA since. An infected individual has a 50/50 chance of survival. Regional efforts in stemming the spread of EBOLA have been expanded in partnerships with Guinea and Liberia. Although the borders are still open between these regions, checkpoints are operating at intra-district levels to curtail the migration of EBOLA. In Sierra Leone international trade has been severely impacted; banks have reduced operations; and over 24,000 jobs have been lost due to the EBOLA pandemic.

Although EBOLA has heavily impacted the Sierra Leone economy, recovery measures are in progress. A key challenge is establishing a reliable health care system. The Ministry of Water Resources and of Social Welfare for Sierra Leone has partnered with UNICEF to establish over ten free healthcare treatment centers and the IMF has contributed substantial funds for relief and national stability. The Sierra Leone national census has been postponed. A “117” response phone line has been established for emergency reporting.

Vaccine trials started in Liberia are being extended to other regions and doctors in Uganda are working to prevent possible re-emergence and mutation factor controls. The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation Is conducting ongoing inquiries into EBOLA spread and contamination causes, some of which have been identified including bush meat and bats as major carriers.

Abdulai Bayraytay was cited as reminding the press that “EBOLA is real and it kills”. There is a two-year jail sentence in Sierra Leone served by those found hiding EBOLA infected individuals and fines are applied for not reporting known EBOLA cases. All of the facts and figures listed above were officially released and the press conference may be viewed at this following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF56kKnXePA

Post EBOLA strategies are being discussed with a mind to continuing to implement the Sierra Leone agenda of prosperity with international communities. History teaches us that plagues can change societies. Perhaps the greatest change our modern cultures can show will be a new day where Sierra Leone is not left isolated and devastated but, through international coordination and efforts, education and modern medical science establish a presence that will preserve the future of the Sierra Leone population. Today EBOLA is an Emergency. Tomorrow the history books will show EBOLA as a chapter in our past that reflects a test of our humanity and our resources on a global scale, not just in The Republic of Sierra Leone.

“To the souls who gave their lives, to your sacrifice we rise. There are none who pass unsung when the laurel wreathes are hung.”- song lyrics for “Laud”