WBEZ | work http://www.wbez.org/tags/work Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Hesitant to increase wages, some employers add perks instead http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-03/hesitant-increase-wages-some-employers-add-perks-instead-113608 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/1102_gyms-biz-e1446480067207-624x356.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="attachment_95344"><img alt="Employers are providing perks, such as gym memberships, to their employers, while showing reluctance to raise wages. (E'lisa Campbell/Flickr)" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/media.wbur.org/wordpress/11/files/2015/11/1102_gyms-biz-e1446480067207-624x356.jpg" style="height: 354px; width: 620px;" title="Employers are providing perks, such as gym memberships, to their employers, while showing reluctance to raise wages. (E’lisa Campbell/Flickr)" /><p>Unemployment may be at its lowest level in seven years, but wages for workers<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/stuck-place-american-economy-113519" target="_blank"> have not been increasing</a>.</p></div><p>It appears that a number of companies are hesitant to increase wages, but are adding other benefits, such as signing bonuses, more paid time off or gym memberships.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/DKThomp" target="_blank">Derek Thompson</a>, senior editor at The Atlantic, joins <em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s </em>Peter O&rsquo;Dowd to discuss why the trend.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/11/02/perks-wages-employers" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 10:45:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-11-03/hesitant-increase-wages-some-employers-add-perks-instead-113608 Regrets? I've had a few http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/regrets-ive-had-few-111940 <p><p>Malcolm Smith grew up in Michigan City, Indiana, with two parents who worked hard. Smith&rsquo;s father worked in a foundry. And each day he&rsquo;d go to work, come home, watch TV, go to bed, get up and do the same thing all over again.</p><p>At 18, Malcolm joined his dad at the foundry. And after two years, he swore he&rsquo;d never work there again; this was not the life he wanted. Smith recently sat down with a colleague at Thresholds to talk about some of his experiences &hellip; and things he wishes had gone differently.</p><hr /><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS7285_StoryCorps%20booth%20%282%29-scr_13.JPG" style="height: 120px; width: 180px; float: left;" title="" /><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="http://storycorps.org/" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;">StoryCorps</a>&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. This excerpt was edited by WBEZ.</em></p></p> Fri, 24 Apr 2015 13:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/regrets-ive-had-few-111940 Left out of economic recovery, workers go underground http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Santana%20CROP.jpg" style="height: 377px; width: 300px; float: right; margin-top: 4px; margin-bottom: 4px;" title="‘I barely make ends meet. Why should I pay taxes?’ a Chicago ice-cream vendor asks. (WBEZ/Chip Mitchell)" />Santana does not want to be part of Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy but says he has struck out everywhere else.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve tried getting a formal job at Menard&rsquo;s, Home Depot, Target, Walmart &mdash; all these big corporations, which usually do hire a lot of ethnicity people,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I have not been called back for an interview.&rdquo;</p><p>So Santana &mdash; who, like other workers in this story, spoke on condition we not publish his full name &mdash; spends most days pushing an ice-cream cart in Little Village, a Mexican-American neighborhood.</p><p>Santana does not earn much. &ldquo;On a decent day, maybe about $90,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>And he comes from a low-income family. &ldquo;I actually have to claim homelessness to get funds from the government such as a Link card,&rdquo; he said, referring to Illinois&rsquo;s food-stamp program. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been paying rent at my mom&rsquo;s since I was 16.&rdquo;</p><p>So Santana says he has good reason to skip paying taxes on his income.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s all off the books,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Five years since the Great Recession, the U.S. economy has grown but a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399#charts" target="_self">key labor-market gauge</a> shows little evidence of the recovery. As of May, more than 41 percent of the working-age population lacked employment, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on civilian, noninstitutionalized individuals. The most recent figure for Chicago, from 2012, is almost 44 percent.<br /><br />Many of the jobless folks are, like Santana, finding other ways to earn money. And there is reason to believe this shadow economy is expanding.<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Down but not out</span><br /><br />It is hard to know how many jobless individuals have resorted to working off the books. Few economists will even hazard a guess.<br /><br />But Edgar Feige, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, estimates that income not reported to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is as high as $2 trillion a year &mdash; equivalent to roughly 20 percent of the nation&rsquo;s total adjusted gross income. Feige said that number is &ldquo;approaching the levels that we observed during the Great Depression.&rdquo;</p><p>He means the one in the 1930s.<br /><br />Nowadays a business may look legitimate from the street while most of its staff works off the books.</p><p>&ldquo;I get paid $8 an hour to basically just clean this restaurant,&rdquo; a 25-year-old man said as he hosed off a grill in back of a South Side jerk chicken joint. &ldquo;No one here ever gets a check or pay stub. It&rsquo;s all paid in cash.&rdquo;<br /><br />What is driving people to take these shady jobs? Many of the workers say formal employment is beyond their reach. The labor market is particularly tough for young workers, African Americans, people with a criminal record, immigrants in the country illegally and high-school dropouts.<br /><br />And it can be tough even with a college degree. &ldquo;I have a bachelor&rsquo;s in information technology and I&rsquo;d like to be a Web developer,&rdquo; said a man I&rsquo;ll call Jonathan, a 27-year-old in Flossmoor, a suburb south of Chicago.<br /><br />Jonathan says he came up with nothing in searches for an internship or apprenticeship &mdash; anything that would put food on the table while he developed his skills. So he works on cars.</p><p>&ldquo;I go to the junkyard and I pick out an engine,&rdquo; he said. In his mom&rsquo;s garage, he installs those engines in cars he finds on Craigslist. Then he sells the cars.<br /><br />And the title on those vehicles?</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t even transfer the title into my name first,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I actually just pass it straight on to the person that&rsquo;s buying because I&rsquo;ve reached my limit as far as how many cars I can sell.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jonathan admits he is paying no income tax on this work. &ldquo;The choice is, Do I pay my water bill or do I pay my taxes?&rdquo; he said.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Everyone affected</span><br /><br />If you think Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy operates only in low-income neighborhoods, you are wrong.<br /><br />&ldquo;I live on the North Side of Chicago,&rdquo; said a 45-year-old woman I&rsquo;ll call Jennifer. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a presentation designer and writer. I&rsquo;ve had no full-time employment since 2008.&rdquo;<br /><br />Jennifer does get freelance gigs in her field. &ldquo;But that&rsquo;s infrequent,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />So she resorts to other paid work, much of it off-the-books. It includes dog walking, cat sitting and handing out swag at trade shows and street festivals. &ldquo;Then I figure out what things probably won&rsquo;t go noticed if I don&rsquo;t claim them,&rdquo; Jennifer said.<br /><br />She&rsquo;s not talking about hiding income from the IRS but from the Illinois Department of Employment Security. She doesn&rsquo;t want officials there to dock her unemployment checks.<br /><br />Jennifer says her options are few. &ldquo;Right now, I don&rsquo;t have electricity,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;My electricity was turned off five weeks ago. And I guess I owe ComEd $500 and I have no idea how I&rsquo;m going to get that $500.&rdquo;<br /><br />Even if people report all their income and pay taxes on it, they might still have close ties to the shadow economy. Maybe they have a nanny and do not report her pay to the IRS.</p><p>Or maybe the taxpayers shop at a big-box store. The prices might be great, but that could owe partly to shady contractors that clean the place at night. Those contractors might bring in janitors working off-the-books.<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Drawbacks</span><br /><br />&ldquo;You can think of these underground economies as actually being a buffer that helps families get through difficult times,&rdquo; said Feige, the economist, pointing out that people making money off-the-books also spend it. &ldquo;It contributes to economic growth in the official economy as well.&rdquo;<br /><br />The informal economy does have its downsides. It does not generate many tax dollars to fund the job training or social services that some workers might need. The workers may also lack benefits and protections such as unemployment compensation and a minimum wage.<br /><br />&ldquo;A young person will have fewer and fewer contacts to the outside regional economy,&rdquo; said Steven Pitts, a labor economist at the University of California, Berkeley. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ll have a résumé that&rsquo;s undeveloped for use in that economy. So you may get a reproduction of poverty because of that.&rdquo;<br /><br />There are other risks, especially when the work is further outside the law, such as drug dealing.<br /><br />On Chicago&rsquo;s West Side, a 23-year-old who calls herself Ebony faces workplace hazards every day. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a prostitute,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I work the streets.&rdquo;<br /><br />Ebony, a Chicago Public Schools graduate, says she does not enjoy her trade but considers it her best option. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve applied for McDonald&rsquo;s, Walmart, White Castle,&rdquo; she said.<br /><br />Employers have all passed on her &ldquo;because I don&rsquo;t have a work history,&rdquo; she said. Or at least not a formal work history.<br /><br />Ebony says she has been earning a living since she was 16.</p><p>&ldquo;I stand and wait for guys to pick me up,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You get in a car. They ask you, &lsquo;How much is this?&rsquo; and &lsquo;How much is that?&rsquo; You give them a price. They give you the money. You either do it in the car, you rent rooms from people, or you go to a hotel.&rdquo;<br /><br /><br /><span style="font-size:22px;">Desperate measures</span></p><p>That brings us back to Santana, the young man who pushes the ice-cream cart. Even without paying taxes, he says he is not making enough money. And he could be heading down the same road as Ebony.<br /><br />&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve actually even considered being a sugar baby,&rdquo; Santana said, describing that as spending time with an older woman and providing her all sorts of services. &ldquo;She&rsquo;d be a cougar. I&rsquo;d be a cub. She&rsquo;d basically pay for my bills and stuff like that.&rdquo;<br /><br />To become a sugar baby &mdash; to find his sugar mama &mdash; Santana says he might have to become a stripper.</p><p>With that in mind, he says, he has been lifting weights. He has the shoulders and arms to prove it. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m never going to look this good again in my life,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>In Chicago&rsquo;s underground economy, Santana figures his body might be the best thing he&rsquo;s got.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Employment-population ratio<a name="charts"></a></span></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%201.PNG" style="height: 370px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%202.PNG" style="height: 390px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%203.PNG" style="height: 478px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart%204.PNG" style="height: 426px; width: 500px;" title="" /></div></div></div></div></div></div><p><em><strong>SOURCE:</strong> U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. <strong>NOTES: </strong>The employment-population ratio is the proportion of the U.S. working-age population (ages 16 and over) that is employed, either full- or part-time. That population includes everyone except members of the military and institutionalized persons. A 2013 figure for the city of Chicago is not yet available. Annual figures are averages of monthly figures. <strong>REPORTER:</strong>&nbsp;</em><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Jun 2014 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/left-out-economic-recovery-workers-go-underground-110399 Morning Shift: Skipping vacation, and looking for higher wages http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-31/morning-shift-skipping-vacation-and-looking-higher <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Work-Flickr- Phil and Pam.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Today we discuss several issues affecting American workers. Fast food workers are striking to get an increase in pay and Latinas in the workforce are on the rise-we look at why. Also, are you scared to take a vacation because your job might not be there when you get back?</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-32.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-32" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Skipping vacation, and looking for higher wages " on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Wed, 31 Jul 2013 08:33:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-31/morning-shift-skipping-vacation-and-looking-higher Morning Shift: Music to make you work http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-11/morning-shift-music-make-you-work-108023 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Work-Flickr-mturnage.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>8th District Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth checks in from The Capitol with the latest on immigration talks and legislation around student loan interest rates. On the heels of former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason&#39;s album of work songs, we play songs about the daily grind.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-24.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-24" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Music to make you work" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 08:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-11/morning-shift-music-make-you-work-108023 Morning Shift: Blackhawks, immigration and workplace contentment http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-25/morning-shift-blackhawks-immigration-and-workplace <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Border Patrol-Flickr- The Last DJ.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>After a long and trying season, the Hawks come out on top with the Stanley Cup. Also, how will the increased number of border agents, as an amendment to the immigration bill, impact Illinois and the Midwest in general? And, what keeps workers engaged at the office?&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-taking-matters-into-your-hands.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-taking-matters-into-your-hands" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Blackhawks, immigration & workplace contentment" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 25 Jun 2013 07:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-06-25/morning-shift-blackhawks-immigration-and-workplace Working longer doesn’t mean you’re more productive http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-10/working-longer-doesn%E2%80%99t-mean-you%E2%80%99re-more-productive-103306 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/By%20driusan.jpg" title="More time in the office does not mean more productivity (Flickr/ Dave MacFarlane)" /></p><p>According to a recent book by Robert C. Pozen, <em>Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours</em>, and a 2010 study coming out of the University of California at Davis, corporate managers primarily tend to measure productivity by &ldquo;face time&rdquo; in the office. Employees who are seen in the office after hours on regular business days are thought of as &ldquo;dependable&rdquo; and &ldquo;reliable.&rdquo; Employees who come in on the weekends are considered &ldquo;committed,&rdquo; &ldquo;dedicated,&rdquo; &ldquo;loyal&rdquo; and on the &ldquo;fast track&rdquo; to promotions and success.</p><p>Even though we are now a knowledge-based and service industry society, most firms &ndash; and most bosses &ndash; still think in terms of assembly line work. That is, the more time you are physically on the job, the more real work gets done. Employers still think, &ldquo;If I&rsquo;m going to pay you, you have to be here and you have to be constantly working.&rdquo; The reality is, of course, that knowledge workers don&rsquo;t do standardized assembly line work, and we, as a society, need new models to measure productivity, pay and promotion.</p><p>Both Robert Pozen and the UC Davis researchers argue that we need to change the paradigm and begin to pay and promote people on the basis of results rather than hours. They argue that focusing on results will help individual workers accomplish more work in less time and have more time for the rest of their lives.</p><p>What a good idea: &ldquo;results&rdquo; not &ldquo;face time,&rdquo; &ldquo;performance&rdquo; and &ldquo;raw hours&rdquo;! Such a policy would change the work life balance for hundreds of professionals like law, academia, architecture, TV and film makers and writers. But what about surgeons, emergency workers, brick layers, cooks, chefs, waiters and waitresses, bus and train drivers, carpenters and concrete workers, ambulance drivers, airline pilots and the like? Their jobs cannot always be truncated to 9 to 5. Their jobs are elastic, fluid, and always in flux. Their hours, their face time can, more often than not, exceed the standard work cycle. And these are jobs we want, need and cannot do without.</p><p>So yes, it&rsquo;s true &ldquo;long hours&rdquo; on the job do not guarantee &ldquo;results.&rdquo; Yes, it&rsquo;s true that &ldquo;face time&rdquo; and &ldquo;productivity&rdquo; are not synonymous. Yes, a new contractual arrangement should by struck. Yes as society we all need to work less. But the simple reality is, work is an unavoidable necessity, and a lot of the work that we do does in fact require &ldquo;face time.&rdquo; I think these authors have correctly diagnosed a long standing and serious problem. However, that are nowhere near a realistic resolution.</p><p><em>Al Gini is a Professor of Business Ethics and Chairman of the Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago.</em></p></p> Thu, 25 Oct 2012 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-10/working-longer-doesn%E2%80%99t-mean-you%E2%80%99re-more-productive-103306 Take your vacation, please! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/take-your-vacation-please-99682 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/vacation%20flickr%20reza%20vaziri.jpg" style="height: 414px; width: 620px;" title="The stresses of modern life leave most of us feeling like we could use a vacation. (Flickr/Reza Vaziri) " /></div><p>Long hours on the job, the frenzy of multi-tasking, the responsibility of children and the drudgery of housework leave too many of us with too little time for leisure, play and recreation.</p><p>One company thinks it&rsquo;s found the solution to this problem. Evernote, a California-based provider of note-taking and archiving technologies, offers its employees unlimited vacation. &nbsp;</p><p>But do their employees take advantage? And would you be able to sneak away?</p><p>Check out the video below for more:</p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Is-Hd_PtyXc" width="601"></iframe></p><p><em>Al Gini is a professor of business ethics and chair of the department of management at Loyola University Chicago. He is also the co-founder and associate editor of&nbsp;</em>Business Ethics Quarterly,<em> and the author of several books, including</em>&nbsp;My Job, My Self&nbsp;<em>and</em>&nbsp;Seeking the Truth of Things: Confessions of a (catholic) Philosopher.</p></p> Thu, 31 May 2012 09:26:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-05/take-your-vacation-please-99682 Listeners seek advice from jobs experts http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-02/listeners-seek-advice-jobs-experts-94533 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-December/2011-12-02/Great Lakes Earth.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>This week <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> heard about the real-life challenges facing workers in the Great Lakes region as part of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter" target="_blank"><em>Front and Center</em></a> series. Friday was listeners' chance to share how they were doing in this economy. <em>Eight Forty-Eight </em>asked listeners to share their experiences, whether they faced challenges finding work or making a career change.</p><p>Three experts in the field took calls, e-mails and tweets to help steer listeners toward resources or offer advice: Carrie Thomas is the associate director of the <a href="http://cjc.net/" target="_blank">Chicago Jobs Council</a>, Ray Bentley is the board liaison of the <a href="http://www.workforceboardsmetrochicago.org/contact/" target="_blank">Cook County Workforce Investment Board</a> and Elba Aranda-Suh is the director of the <a href="http://www.nlei.org/" target="_blank">National Latino Education Institute</a>. Listeners can call <strong>312-923-9239, </strong>e-mail the show at <strong><a href="mailto:848@wbez.org">848@wbez.org</a></strong> or tweet <strong><a href="http://twitter.com/#%21/848" target="_blank">@848</a></strong>.</p></p> Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-12-02/listeners-seek-advice-jobs-experts-94533 After accident, woman reinvents work for herself and her community http://www.wbez.org/content/after-accident-woman-reinvents-work-herself-and-her-community-0 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-02/Gloria instructs Travis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Perhaps no city in America has been hit as hard, or for as long, as Detroit. We’ve been hearing about unemployment, vacant lots and poverty coming out of the motor city for decades.&nbsp;So it might come as a surprise to hear that Detroiters are creating new and innovative ways of living and working in their city. </em></p><p><em>After an accident at an auto plant, Gloria Lowe became one such visionary, reinventing the way she approaches work and her community. Lowe spoke to producer Zak Rosen. The tape was edited by Rosen and transcribed below, with minor changes for clarity. </em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20Black%20and%20White%20Portrait.jpg" title="Gloria Lowe is a community organizer and founder of “We Want Green, Too.” (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)" height="400" width="600"></p><p>I worked in an automotive plant. I understand what it means to not be able to think. What that takes away from a person. Because, it took it away from me. They said just do the job, don’t think about the job.</p><p>I could not even give suggestions to building something. I’m the one who’s working there. I could not understand why you felt that I didn’t have valuable input for building this automobile that people like myself would buy. And it seems like such a small thing. But it really isn’t. Not when you’re building something.</p><p>I was a final line inspector. My job was to drive the cars outside the plant and park them in a certain area so then transportation would pick them up and load them on the trucks. This particular day, I had driven the car out and was walking back into the building and just as I was up under the automatic door, the bushing fell. The door came down, right on my end.</p><p>There was so much pain. Couldn’t sleep. Didn’t eat much. Delayed speech. Problems with my vision. Ringing in my ears. My body would go into contortions. On a lot of medication. The neurologist that I saw told me that I had left side nerve damage from the top of my brain down through my feet.</p><p>It took about two, two-and-a-half years for me to come back around. I felt so blessed to have been given an opportunity to live again<strong>. </strong>But I was told by my doctors that I would never work again, that all of that was complete in my life. I was only 50 years old. I didn’t know what it meant not to work.</p><p>I do remember that there was an awakening that happened inside of my soul that when I came up out of this, I no longer had the same concerns. I understood what love was unconditionally because it had been given to me. And all I could do was return it.</p><p><strong>A new day</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20Preparing%20Presentation.jpg" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: left; margin: 2px 10px;" title="Gloria Lowe prepares for a discussion at the recent “Reimagining Work Conference” in Detroit. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)">I’m usually up at 6:30, 7:00 a.m., stop at the Tim Horton’s, always get me one coffee, oftentimes with a bagel. And I do the Michigan turnaround and enter Belle Isle. Belle Isle is the blessing we have in Detroit, an island that is attached to us that separates the United States from Canada. And it’s surrounded by all this beautiful water and boats, which I love. And I go there and I meditate and I think.</p><p>I woke up this morning with this thought about language. In the news you hear, ‘the poverty stricken, citizens of Detroit, oh the devastated communities, it’s so desolate and homelessness is everywhere and despair.’ That was enough to make you feel bad. What if it read, ‘the spiritually rich citizens of Detroit, experiencing abandoned homes, have now decided to embrace, with love and hope their communities and rebuild for a future’. That sounds different.</p><p>Spiritually it’s said that nothing positive can come out of a negative. If we embrace transformation, I’m not sure that’s true. The ability to recreate is always with us.</p><p><strong>The ability to recreate</strong></p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20Looking%20Into%20Window.JPG" style="width: 275px; height: 183px; float: left; margin: 2px 10px;" title="Gloria Lowe envisions the next step for rebuilding the home she grew up in. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)">I’m founder of “We Want Green, Too.” Our mission is to re-educate, retrain and rebuild a 21st century, sustainable Detroit. We are looking to construct various teams in the basic skills: dry walling, painting, floor repair.</p><p>Right now we’re working out of shelters and the Detroit Veterans Administration building, a connection we have with homeless vets. We work with young people who are underemployed, people who have overcome their substance abuse, as well as those who have been incarcerated.</p><p>We have very good housing stock in the city. And these houses, many of them date back to the early 1900s and late 1800s, it would cost you a fortune to try and build a house today with the same quality of material. So we know that the greenest house is the house that’s already there. All you do is take the time to rebuild it.</p><p>Every house in Detroit has a foundation. So where you have people who are challenged, they don’t have jobs. Why not make their jobs restructuring their own communities?</p><p>I don’t think that prior to my accident I would have understood the value of working from our hearts through our minds, through our hands. What it does in terms of helping to recreate a humanity that’s been taken away from us.</p><p>The work I’m doing now, it’s phenomenal. There’s not a price tag I could hang on it. And I know that ‘cause I’ve been on the other side.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-22/Gloria%20instructs%20Travis.jpg" style="width: 600px; height: 400px;" title="Gloria Lowe instructs her apprentice, Travis Rushon. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Le Claire)"></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 02 Dec 2011 14:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/after-accident-woman-reinvents-work-herself-and-her-community-0