Monday, June 30, 2008

Labor papers

Whose bright idea was the Department of Labor website?

Let's ask another way: Who is most likely to be computer illiterate, to not have internet or even a computer? My guess would be the jobless and those making minimum wage. In practice, people needing work are least likely to 'surf DOL' and look at job announcements.

But all they have to do is drop by the Department of Labor. Sure, they can fire up the Hummer and cruise on down, or maybe stop at the Library instead to save gas. These Laborites have been working for the government too long.

Oh, and once you get there you've got to register before you see any announcements. Also, "Job seekers must be approved by the CNMI Department of Labor before their Résumés will be displayed."

It's meant to control the make-believe job postings, the Your Help Not Wanted ads, to catch illegal workers. I can see that, better enforcement has been overdue for a loooong time. How does it help when you're denying access to the very job-hunters you're protecting? Keep your system and require its use, you probably have to justify the grant that funded it anyway. It's a good control, but job announcements should be advertised publicly in newspapers or on the air.

Unclean hands

I have a hidden agenda, of course, having boarded this train of thought when I went looking for an old advertisement in the Saipan Tribune. I suddenly noticed many days when there weren't any ads. The thought had been like a pesky mosquito buzzing around in the back of my head and I finally nailed it. I'd chuckled when the 'job announcements' dwindled from a few pages to a few lines. All that easy, steady revenue gone, it must drive the publishers bonkers, thought I.

But wait, today I saw that the display ads have dwindled too. That's what's been bothering me. Two Tan Holdings companies, the government's Wise Women Project and Carmen Safeway hold Sunday's Tribune together. That's all she er, wrote and it won't pay the bills. I went through back issues of the Tribune and the Marianas Variety (Only a couple because I usually read it online). Uh, oh. Unless fat Friday issues and government notices can float the boats, they're leaking money.

Happily, that means a bigger news hole, paradise for a news junkie like me who prefers paper cuts and ink-smudged fingers to squinting at a screen. It's a fleeting pleasure because I know it can't last. Cutting pages (four at a time) would help a little, though not enough and it's noticeable when you get lower than 28 or possibly 24.

Which brings us to the classified ads. Not only would my rationalization give the newspapers more revenue, it's actually a good idea. I might have thought of it before, but it seems I'm as disconnected from the real world as those folks at Labor.

The subject would make a great editorial, except people would think it a tad too self-serving.

PS: Today's Saipan Tribune was full of ads. Hard to categorize because I only glanced: alien workers snapped up all of my copies in less than an hour because of that Don't hold your breath headline about green cards.


Lil' Hammerhead said...

I agree with the need to publish the job announcements in the local papers. The internet is not used widely enough, and not accessed by many. The argument that they can go down to Labor or the Library, is silly. Many don't have vehicles, or the money for gas to get there. If the announcements aren't reaching these people.. they're not working. Pretty websites are nice.. they're not neccesarily the most appropriate tool. Certainly not in this case.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

The old paper system was cumbersome. Go to labor, fill out a form, pay, go get another form, fill it out, take it to JVA for 'approval', now you can finally take your ads to the newspaper. But you're not done yet. After the ad runs you have to go back to the news office, pick up the completed, attested copy, take it back to labor, go to JVA and have it 'certified' stamped, vamped and camped, then it's back to labor processing to turn the whole bloody mess in. It was a ridiculous waste of time and money.

The new system is far better than the old one. Labor could easily transmit all the ads received electronically directly to the newspaper using the current system. Then you have the best of both worlds, streamlined processing for employers, the papers get their revenue back, laborers (those who can read) can look at the we’re-just-advertising-because-we-have-to ads in the paper and go get that job that they have no car to go to once they are hired.