Sunday, July 17, 2005
Mark M. Hancock / © The Beaumont Enterprise
(Above) Richard Schlesinger (center), whose wife is from the Beaumont Americare office, voices his anger at the situation outside the Americare office in Pinehurst on Friday, July 15, 2005. The home health care company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after the company bounced payroll checks totaling about $140,000 for its 762 employees.
Former Americare employees gather outside the company's office in Pinehurst on Friday to collect back pay.
This situation is both an example of the good and bad parts of this job. It's good when PJs can show the damage inflicted on the working people by inconsiderate business owners (putting it mildly). It motivates the community to do some house cleaning and rally to help their neighbors.
It's bad when we must go into situations where people are already injured and we can't immediately help. The harm has already been inflicted upon these workers. I could only document their pain. However, their anguish should be seen by other workers at other companies. It should give them (as well as investors) reason to pay close attention to the management of a business and take appropriate actions before it gets to this point.
Of the people waiting to get back pay, most understood the PJ's role and were helpful. Others were simply angry at the employer and verbally lashed out at everyone: the former employer, the police and the media (me). I understood they were in pain and needed to vent, but it's difficult to take the brunt of their anger when we're trying to help.
I covered a candlelight vigil in Dallas after a known gang member was shot dead by a police officer. Because of the situation, I was the sole "outsider" at the event. It was not only unpleasant, it was also dangerous because I was on my own (the police couldn't be there). I wasn't terribly concerned because of my background, but I could see where it might shake up some PJs without military or martial arts backgrounds.
One of my co-workers called this week the trifecta. Each PJ on staff was screamed at, verbally threatened or generally abused by folks who had nowhere else to vent on three different assignments. It's rough, but it's part of the job and part of society. We must show the pain to help prevent it from happening again. Now the question remains, how do we prevent it from happening again?
PJs can only show the problem and pieces of the solution. It's up to the community to repair the problems and heal from the wounds. It's our job to show them how well they're doing.
Enough for now,