Unemployment has been in the news this past week. The U.S. Senate finally passed an extension of unemployment benefits. The President promptly signed it into law. This is certainly an issue that is near and dear to many of my bankruptcy clients. One or both of the wage earners in many of my client’s households is facing unemployment now or has faced it in the recent past.
A local Cleveland radio station had a call in over unemployment. The talking heads were having trouble putting a face on the unemployment problem. Their show is a highly rated drive time program. None of them ever had to face not working. One woman called in who was a cashier in her mid 50’s who has not worked in over a year and a half. Her plight is she is being rejected even at stores with help wanted signs in the windows.
I am the child of two generations of union men. My father was a union bricklayer. His father was a bricklayer and a union official. Until I became a bankruptcy lawyer I had a number of union jobs, from steelworker to mattress builder. I still can see the benefit of labor unions. If bankruptcy attorneys had a union, I’d be there.
Not so long ago I began to notice that the big box grocery and hardware stores were replacing cashiers with point of sale terminals. You’ve seen them. You scan your own purchases, put them in a bag and put the money or payment card in the machine. At first they were few and far between. Now a live cashier is the exception to the rule.
The first time I saw one, I commented to my wife:
- Where is the food service union?
- Why are they letting this happen?
- Don’t they realize this is putting their members out of work?
In a few short years these terminals have replaced the friendly smile of my favorite cashier. I will not use a terminal unless there are NO cashiers. I willingly stand in line to make sure that one of my neighbors has a job.
Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy are all about starting over fresh. A big step to making that happen is a job. Waiting for a human cashier in a store is such a small step and a simple thing. If that is all it takes to keep people working, isn’t it worth it?