They Knew But Did Not Care -- Then Again, Why Should They Care?

Daniela Truty, John Truty


This article is about why organizations should take time to understand and care for employees and why they probably do not. The discussion is set against the backdrop of stories from 28 people separated from the job in August 2000 during a downsizing event at TREBCO (pseudonym), a manufacturing automotive firm based in a large midwestern U.S. city. A total of 1,100 white-collar workers were sent away at that time. The first author presents findings from a qualitative study she conducted in 2001 to explore these workers' experiences of the same downsizing event and their perceptions about whether or not TREBCO knew that its decision might adversely affect some lives. She ends her section by suggesting that because of the varied experiences that emerged from the study and because of the unique relevancy structures from which each emerged, TREBCO should have taken time to know these employees as persons and found alternative means of achieving corporate profitability ends. The second author then presents a counter-argument based on some of the organizational literature that questions why TREBCO should care, from an organization's perspective. He also presents a position from a labor point of view, which argues that the proposed action may actually be detrimental to those same employees. The purpose of this paper is not to resolve this perspectival dilemma; rather, it is to promote dialog toward possible transformation. 

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