Are you familiar with the term “redlining?”  It’s a dangerous concept because it leads to worker apathy and a lack of motivation in the workplace.  Redlining is a stone in the union arsenal.  A headstone.

Redlining, in its most basic sense, means you’ve maxed out in your current job position.

You can’t make any more money.

You have no other real option for being promoted.

You’re stuck at the same union rank and pay scale for the next decade or so until you retire.

When you meet surly workers who are jaded and tired, your first inkling should be to wonder if they are redliners because that means, “it’s them and not you.” 

In my experience, many of the more surly university and federal and state workers are, indeed, redlined — and there is no need for them to do anything extra in their job except to bide their time until retirement.  They don’t get paid extra for caring a whit.

Good for them; rotten for the rest of us!

How can we tempt redlined employees into caring about their jobs again?  Is it possible to resurrect their want to excel and do well again?  Or are they enjoying the easy paycheck and static life that currently coddles them with a protected job and a decent wage in a dying economy?


  1. For too many jobs, just doing what is required is sadly just good enough. So long as the quota is met and the rent gets paid, there is no push for more excitement. I wonder if there could be other incentives that wouldn’t be fiscally based.

  2. You’re right, Gordon. As long as you “get the job done” and do nothing else — that’s enough — but that can never, ever, be “just good enough” for the long term health of any working nation.
    I wonder if more paid vacation time off would help? It seems to be a big incentive in other nations for keeping the workforce healthier and happier.

  3. University departments are famous for this, David. Some say tenure is a form of redlining. It’s worse with staff. Protected by the union they can’t be touched and they only do the bare minimum just not to get fired.

  4. I’m a big union supporter, Anne, but I can see how protecting those who don’t really work with guaranteed job positions is problematic in the long run for the health of the institution.

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