September 21, 2009
New York, NY – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a 5-year record low of 7,500 on Friday. Most experts point to the massive national strike orchestrated by the Administrative Assistant’s Union of America as the cause of the downturn.
The strike started as a small dispute at a regional satellite office of a mid-Tier construction company in New Jersey, Bennett and Sons. Mary Klettert, the office secretary, was issued a verbal warning by her boss, Doug, for spending too much time on Facebook during the workday. Unhappy with the tone of her employer’s voice, Mary walked off the job and onto the picket line.
Word of Mary’s actions spread quickly throughout the community of Administrative Assistants, who are well known for their speedy dissemination of information (truthful or not). In a show of unparalleled solidarity, the AAUA implemented a nationwide strike of all workers in their global bargaining unit, which includes all administrative assistants, secretaries, typists and receptionists.
Within hours of the walkouts, the economy began to crumble. The small duties that most businesspeople take for granted (copy making, creating expense reports, keeping their bosses adultery a secret, etc), were not completed because no one else in any office knew how to do them.
“Am I supposed to dial 9 before I send this?” a frantic architect asked to reporters. The bid for a large project was due in on that day; he was attempting to fax his estimate. “Am I? Someone answer me!”
Airline ticket sales have been affected as well. Southwest’s comparable sales have dropped 43% over the past few days. With no AA’s to book flights for business people, planes have had to fly at only half of its total passenger capacity.
“Which department in Accounts Payable should this flight get billed to?!?” screamed the Director of Investor Relations for Nextel. “Seriously. I have no clue what I’m doing!”
The effects of the strike were more disorienting for some than others. Treasurer and Senior Vice-President of Exxon Mobile, Donald Humphrey, was found wandering the streets of Houston, scrolling aimlessly through his Blackberry. No one had updated his Microsoft Outlook calendar to let him know where his next meeting was. Humphrey, who has an engineering degree from Oklahoma State and an M.B.A. from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, said he never fathomed that the duties of an Administrative Assistant were so vital to business operations.
“I thought I was a pretty smart guy. But I tried to open an Excel spreadsheet and it keeps asking me if I want to ‘enable Macros.’ What the hell does that mean???”
The union has met several times with industry leaders trying to work out some new conditions of employment.
“Basically we just don’t want to be yelled at,” said an anonymous member of the AAUA. “Even though you’re a boss. You’re not the boss of me. So don’t try to act all high and mighty like you sign my paychecks, even if you do sign my paychecks.”
Both sides are looking to settle on terms and return to work by the beginning of winter 2012.