Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Free Agent Watch - Coal

Beginning with this blog entry I am introducing a new posting category, Free Agent Watch. These postings will highlight news stories and events that provide real examples of how the work environment in the US continues to Free Agent-ize, which is to say, become less collective and more individualistic with reference to workers. The result is a new and evolving job search environment, one that many job seekers are finding difficult to navigate.

Social commentary is not my intent, nor is it to champion the cause of any particular interest group. Doing so would be counterproductive to my goal, which is to assist job seekers in awaking to the fact that they are independent Free Agents competing in the Marketplace. I take my lead on this from the Marketplace which has no stake in any particular issue or participant. In effect, it has no skin in the game because it is the playing field and the game rolled into one.

Actually this is't entirely true for me as I do have vicarious client-skin in the game. My role is to operate from the sidelines as coach and strategist. I try, before the game begins, to prepare individuals for what lies ahead. This starts with an objective view of the field of play ... the unfeeling, uncaring, Marketplace. Participating groups and individuals are best served by seeing it this way. Owners and real decision makers understand this as do some workers. However for many workers, concepts such as fairness and entitlement have a way of showing up, clouding objectivity and compromising strategy.

A word about my use of the word, worker. By worker I mean everyone that is paid for the service they provide. In most cases this means employees who provide service (regardless of their job descriptions) to their employers in exchange for a paycheck. It also refers to actual independent contractor-type providers of service. In short, nearly all those working in the US.

Okay so you get it. A job seeker has to gear up for the game and this involves coming to grips with the where-and-how of the game. But here's the rub. The overall landscape is changing rapidly - for all participants. What seemed solid not that long ago has been plowed under regardless of which end zone you're cheering for.

With all that, here's the first installment of Free Agent Watch. It's a story from coal country. The players, Peabody Energy Corp., Patriot Coal Corp., the UMWA, and the courts. Click on each and read the linked articles.

Surely those represented by the UMWA are feeling a bit more free agent-like than they may have a few years back. The whole story is yet to play out as another marketplace of sorts is present, the courts. Nonetheless this story is another example of the changing economic landscape, not only for the workers but the companies involved too.

Stay tuned for more Free Agent Watch entries. Until then ..

Travel well.
John Jeffrey Lundell

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