You’re not being paid. Do you stay or go? (5×8 – 11/30/11)

You can’t cash gratitude, the last Vietnam soldier in North Dakota, stealing stuff for Christmas, privacy and the secrets you tell the government, and an interview with Temple Grandin.


You’ve got a job but the paychecks have stopped coming for some reason. Do you quit or do you hang in there and hope the money starts flowing again? It is, after all a job, at least in name.

On Thanksgiving, a poster on the Perfect Duluth day social networking site reported he/she hadn’t been paid by a marketing firm in the city and wondered what to do?

Of course, I’m looking for another job but there aren’t many opportunities in Duluth and many from (the firm) are in the same boat, applying for the same jobs so it’s not easy. I wish I could just walk out and be done with it but money is tight and obviously even tighter than usual because of all this.

What followed in the comments section that well-stated the various dimensions of employment.

Here, for example, is one side:

I worked there until last year. Leaving that company is the best thing that has ever happened to me. My last 4 paychecks bounced. I can tell you that when they try to make people feel like they need to tough it out and it’s “hard everywhere” and basically just give off a “you’re lucky to be here” vibe, that is completely false. The negative atmosphere that they insist you work in and the financial problems are NOT A NORMAL THING. This is the trademark of a corrupt, disorganized, mismanaged company. I am so happy where I am now, I got a new job (that ended up being a giant promotion with a pay raise) within a few months of leaving. My advice: staying is not worth the emotional torture. Leave and seek out a company that rewards dedication and initiative versus rewarding those who are the most quiet about not getting paid. Go for an employer that will not only give you your paycheck, but will give you regular raises. I wish you luck.

And then there this:

Funny how there is never any praise for the small business. Companies are struggling all over this country to make ends meet and all you people offer is your opinions of how bad the owners are. They have sacrificed a hell of a lot to provide work to over 300 families in a city that has very little opportunity. Funny how our local government gives opportunities to new companies that promise and never deliver, but can’t lend a helping hand to companies who have stayed here. Life is never easy and we all have struggles but if you aren’t in someone’s shoes day to day then keep your negative, pointless comments to yourselves. The reason why you all have something to say now is because you have no skills and brought no value. Keep telling yourself you left so you can feel better!

Find the whole thread here.

(h/t: Craig Rhode Jr. via Google +)


Alan Peterson, a Swanburg, Minnesota native, retires from the North Dakota National Guard today. He’s the state’s last active military person to serve in Vietnam. “If you had told me 35 years ago I’d be doing this full time, I’d tell you you were crazy,” he tells the Fargo Forum.


In the spirit of the holiday season, let’s go steal stuff! People are helping themselves to other people’s evergreen trees.


A case to be heard at the U.S. Supreme Court today raises the question of whether the U.S. government can be held liable for publicizing the private information you provide. It’s the case of a private airplane pilot who didn’t tell the FAA that he was HIV positive when requesting renewal of the medical certificate pilots need to fly. He was taking advantage of an amnesty program the FAA was offering for people who’d fibbed or otherwise left medical information out when submitting medical data to the FAA, as NPR’s Nina Totenburg points out:

But it was too late. Unbeknownst to him, the FAA and the Social Security Administration had teamed up to find pilots who hid medical conditions. The joint operation, dubbed Operation Safe Pilot, fed in the names of 45,000 pilots in Northern California, cross-referenced them with the names of those who got any Social Security benefits, and came up with some 3,200 violators. Because Cooper had gotten disability benefits for 12 months when he was sick in 1995, his name popped out. He was charged with three felonies and eventually pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor false statement charge. He was sentenced to two years of unsupervised probation and fined $1,000.

The pilot sued saying government agencies have no business releasing private information by exchanging it with each other. The government says the law gives it some protection against a damage claim.

The very excellent ScotusBlog points out the far-reaching importance of the question:

The Court will have to weigh the view that the Privacy Act was intended to broadly protect privacy rights against the government’s more limited understanding of the law limiting the statute’s coverage only to pecuniary loss. Not only would such an interpretation limit monetary recovery for damages but – as an amicus curiae brief filed by the National Whistleblower Center suggests – it could frustrate the intent of the law by increasing the disincentives for whistleblowers to expose misconduct or violations of the law.

But there’s another question here that the court won’t consider: Why can’t pilots with HIV fly a small plane? We don’t require people who drive cars to submit their most personal medical records every two years as pilots do?

Coincidentally, groups representing private pilots are asking the FAA to allow pilots to fly their private airplanes, using a driver’s license in place of a medical certificate. If you’re healthy enough to drive a car, you’re healthy enough to fly a small airplane, they say. Under their proposal, pilot’s would be limited to carrying just one passenger.

J. Mac McClellan, who writes for the Oshkosh-based Experimental Aircraft Association, says a medical condition can affect a pilot’s flying ability, but the current process doesn’t make the system any safer.

For example, I know that flying with a cold, or after taking some cold remedies, can compromise safety. But do I know exactly why that may be true, and which symptoms and medications to watch out for? No. But I would learn that under the required training.

There is an entire range of medical and health issues that affect our daily activities, and through the training we can learn how those issues may also have specific flying effects, if any. The pilot choosing to fly recreationally with a driver’s license if the petition is approved will have much more useful information about how health can affect safety than the pilot who simply goes through the motions to get an FAA medical certificate.

The bottom line is that we can’t just say the FAA medical certification system doesn’t work so let’s throw it out. What we must provide is an alternative that will work better, and that’s what the petition does.

It’ll be years before the FAA decides whether the proposed system makes enough sense to change the present one.


MPR’s Kerri Miller interviews Temple Grandin at the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council’s annual meeting in Minneapolis:

An Interview with Dr. Temple Grandin from Minnesota Agri-Growth Council on Vimeo.

Bonus I: You know that model railroad city you have in the basement? All things considered, it’s not that impressive anymore:

(h/t: Neatorama)

Bonus II: Your moment of Minnesota zen…


Unemployed older workers seem to have a harder time finding jobs than younger people. Today’s Question: How has your age affected your search for work or your life at work?


The state legislative auditor plans to release an in-depth report on the state’s Legacy Amendment Wednesday. The Big Story Blog will cover the report.


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Why companies aren’t getting the employees they need.

Second hour: American Airlines ‘ parent company just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What does this mean for the company, it’s employees and its passengers?

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Amy Lindgren of Prototype Career Services gives advice to older people looking for jobs.

Second hour: MPR’s Bright Ideas Series: John Hinderaker, founder of the popular conservative blog, “Powerline.”

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Political news with NPR’s Mara Liasson.

Second hour: American exceptionalism, the idea that this country stands as a model for the world — what Ronald Reagan once called a “shining city upon a hill’ — no longer rings true for most Americans. a number of recent polls show a new pessimism, and a sense of long-term decline.

  • Matt B

    Re #4: I’ve made this comment on Twitter before when flying is compared with driving: I think it should go the other way. It would make more sense in my mind to tighten up driving laws, retesting, and medical requirements to be more in line with what private pilots face. The harder part in all that is enforcement. People already ignore suspended licenses, I doubt they would go along with anything else that was more restrictive.

  • BenCh
  • Jessie

    On the story of the unpaid worker; if they left or quit they wouldn’t qualify for unemployment. I would think that staying with the company, although unpaid, while searching for other employment would be better than outright quitting.

    Which brings me to the next point which is that I have noticed an increasing number of jobs offered through Temp agencies. The downfall of this is that you are at the mercy of an agency to re assign you if the position you secured with them doesn’t work out. Also, I don’t think that you would qualify for unemployment if your job did not pan out. It’s tricky at times and trusting your intuition is the best avenue to take in these circumstances.

    I know that there are people who deliberately hire and fire people to knock them out of employment benefits.

  • kennedy

    Re #4 – I support more stringent and duplicated health checks for pilots. Flying an airplane requires more from the pilot than does driving a car. The DMV serves too many people to qualify drivers as physically fit pilots. I personally know people who are qualified to drive without vision correction but I would not ride along if they were flying blind.

    That being said, I can’t see any reason why HIV would limit a pilot. It may be useful to know in case of a medical emergency, but a pilot’s license isn’t an obvious source for medical history.

  • Bob Collins

    // Flying an airplane requires more from the pilot than does driving a car.

    Like what?

    I almost NEVER hear of any accidents of private airplanes involving a health issue; most every accident is a matter of judgment and a pilot’s judgment is already evaluated every two years anyway. That isn’t part of the medical certification process.

    The pilot’s self evaluation before every flight is important — that’s what the EAA is saying — and is accompanied already by restrictions. Pilots, for example, can’t drink anything within 8 hours of flying.

    But, again, it’s still not clear to me how an HIV-positive person isn’t capable of flying an airplane.

    //but I would not ride along if they were flying blind.

    I think, in general, pilots are smarter than the average driver. I’ve never met one who wants to fly blind.

  • Greg W

    Regarding #3. — That report cements my opinion that Boyd Huppert is a state treasure. Man alive that guy’s good.

  • david

    “On the story of the unpaid worker; if they left or quit they wouldn’t qualify for unemployment”

    This is untrue. I left a job that wasn’t paying me and at times only partially paying me and I received UI.

  • kennedy

    So the argument is that there are already enough barriers to fly a plane? I do see that. Ground school, flight training, and the investment of time and money usually mean that people seeking a license are diligent and responsible. Not to mention the fact that if a pilot take risks, the personal consequences (death) can be severe. So we rely on individual pilots doing a self-evaluation before every flight. McClellan’s suggestion that medical training be part of licensing is a good one as it can improve a pilot’s ability to self-evaluate.

    I agree that a review of medical paperwork has little value. A better idea would be to actually verify physical fitness. A quick visit to the doctor every two years to examine fitness, motor skills, reflexes, vision. I suppose we could just trust pilots, though.

  • Bob Collins

    I think the argument is similar to the “security show,” that the process adds an unnecessary solution to a problem that isn’t really established.

    //Not to mention the fact that if a pilot take risks, the personal consequences (death) can be severe.

    As opposed to what? Everyone takes risks; that’s not really the issue. If the consequences of poor judgment are severe, that the proper recognition of that is monitor a pilot’s judgment and that’s done now outside of the medical process.

    Reflexes, motor skills, vision show up in the biennial flight review.

    But the real issue here isn’t that there’s no connection between a medical condition and the ability to fly. It’s really with the FAA “ground ’em all” attitude with people who have almost ANY medical condition at all.

    I have bundle branch blockage and I’ve had it since I was a kid. It means simply that the pathway of electrical signals to my heart take a different route than “normal” people. It doesn’t threaten my life and once I satisfied the FAA, that should’ve been the end of it. Instead, I have to go through the expense every two years. It’s silly.

    Not to mention the nightmare one has when answering the “have you ever been to a psychologist or psychiatrist” question. That question alone prevents pilots from seeking assistance, the same way that the alcohol question for airline pilots led to a lot of drunks in the cockpit.

  • reading spectacles

    “Not to mention the nightmare one has when answering the “have you ever been to a psychologist or psychiatrist” question. That question alone prevents pilots from seeking assistance, the same way that the alcohol question for airline pilots led to a lot of drunks in the cockpit.

    Posted by Bob Collins”

    “I personally know people who are qualified to drive without vision correction but I would not ride along if they were flying blind”.-kennedy

    And there you have it, crazy people licensed to fly a potential bomb.

  • Kassie

    If you work, and aren’t paid, the employer is breaking the law. Not only would I quit (and collect umemployment), I’d sue them for the pay they owe me. The company needs to not let people work who they know they can’t pay. They have a legal and moral obligation to pay the people they keep on staff.

  • This is NOT lucy

    I’d sue them for the pay they owe me

    Hey Kassie,

    How do you think they are going to pay you if you win a court case against them when they can’t pay your salary in the first place. I read what david posted but I am wondering how long ago that happened. From my experience you have to come up with evidence that you are making a good claim. And then there is the part where your employer can contest your request for unemployment. David’s employer most likely agreed to the claim.

  • GaryF

    Great piece with John Hinderacher!

    Why doesn’t MPR have more conservative guests or commentators? Arne Carlson/Dave Durenberger are not conservatives.

    It was quite refreshing and handled well.

    Maybe John could be a regular?