Talk of war

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Poll: employees not worried about job loss, don’t see anti-Arab expressions

With war raging in Iraq, the latest national "America At Work" poll commissioned by the Employment Law Alliance shows that the vast majority of American workers do not believe the conflict poses a direct threat to their job security.
Scott C. Beightol, CFO of the Employment Law Alliance and a partner in the Labor and Employment Law Practice Area of the Michael Best & Friedrich law firm in Milwaukee, said the poll is believed to be the first national survey in which workers were questioned on the impact of war on the workplace just a few days before the fighting erupted.
Of those polled by the research firm of Reed, Haldy McIntosh & Associates, 84% said they’re not worried about losing their jobs because of the war with Iraq.
Of the nearly 1,000 people contacted by researchers, almost 40% said they personally know someone in their workplace who has been or is likely to be deployed. Highlights of the survey include:

  • 84% said they are not worried about losing their jobs as a result of the war; 6% said they think they might lose their jobs; 9% don’t have a strong opinion either way and 1% had no opinion.
  • 89% believe they can openly express opinions about the war that are different from the view of their bosses without facing retaliation. Only 2% said they thought that a dissenting opinion would invite retaliation.
  • 81% said they were not more worried now than in the aftermath of 9/11/01 about losing their jobs; 10% said they were more worried about jobs loss now than after the terrorist attack; 8% don’t have a strong opinion either way; and 1% had no opinion.
  • 78% said they don’t believe that talk of the war in the workplace would hurt productivity or efficiency.
  • 81% of those surveyed do not think there has been an increase in discrimination or harassment against Arab-Americans, Muslims or people of Middle Eastern descent in the workplace since the threat of war; 6% said there has been an increase; 9% said they don’t have a strong opinion either way; and 4% either had no opinion or believed the question did not apply to their circumstances.
  • 24% support federal intervention to ban strikes during times of war; 43% oppose federal intervention; 29% don’t have a strong opinion either way; and 4% had no opinion.
    Beightol said the overall results of the poll are encouraging on several levels but that every employer and labor organization should pay close attention to the findings of the ELA survey.
    "American workers have already seen their workplaces go through significant change, including large scale layoffs, and they are expressing confidence that the war in itself will not cause another wave of downsizing," said Beightol. "They feel that their employers have pared their businesses to the bone, persevered through times, and that the economy cannot dip much further. The big picture at the moment includes a landmark stock market rally, reforms in corporate governance and other signs that the economy can rebound."
    Beightol also said the results suggest that employers are being diligent to promote a workplace where there can be a free flowing exchange of ideas without fear of retribution, and that debate and discussion can carry on without impeding productivity.
    "We are encouraged to see that current harassment against Arab Americans, Muslims or people of Middle Eastern descent doesn’t seem to be a significant problem. However, it is incumbent upon all employers and employees to make sure that situation doesn’t degrade. Fear and emotion can go hand in hand with war," he added.

    April 4, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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