The layoffs have begun

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I voted this morning. By sometime tonight, if democracy functions, we should have a new president-elect. And none too soon. The economy’s in the Dumpster, and our employers need to know someone out there has a plan to fish us out.

I write this as I hear from a dear friend that she’s been laid off. Time Inc. announced impending changes recently (here on All Things Digital’s Media Memo), including a reported 600 layoffs. Since then, the company-wide memos have arrived with creepy frequency in our inboxes, as yet another top executive retires or steps aside to make way for a massive reorg. Only the big heads have been rolling here at headquarters, but apparently some layoffs have begun at our sister publications based elsewhere.

Other employers are starting to get mean, too. Starbucks, long heralded as a fair employer that called baristas “partners,” is starting to sound like Wal-Mart. According to Slate’s Big Money today,

This new “philosophy” is called “Optimal Scheduling,” and it requires that “partners” (Starbucks-speak for employees) must dramatically increase their own flexibility. If they’d like to work full time, they must be available to work 70 percent of open store hours.

Sounds like good news to many workers who want to increase their hours anyway. Here’s the catch: even if they totally clear their schedules, Starbucks guarantees them nothing.

What’s going on where you work? Is the boss putting away his jar of candy and pulling out the rat poison?