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‘The most hated company in America’

An AIG employee offers a glimpse into the roller coaster of working for one of the most talked-about institutions in the financial collapse.
/ Source: contributor

I am an employee of AIG. Well, actually, now I am an employee of AIU Holdings Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of AIG. To answer questions that I am repeatedly asked by everyone, I work 9 to 5 everyday, I am not in the Financial Products division, and no, I didn't get a bonus.

From the very beginning of the initial bailout, we, as employees, really questioned the future of the company. There was talk of bankruptcy along with talk of being purchased by a company headed by our former CEO, Hank Greenberg. We were glued to the television and Internet like everyone else. Communication was poor within the company.

We looked in disbelief as our stock — which was as high as almost $60 in the last few years — tumbled below $2. We were all in shock. The phones became silent as many of our clients refrained from contacting us, either out of respect, or out of fear that they would be told something awful.

One day in late September, I was on my way home and two people were discussing what they would do if they ever saw "an AIG employee." I couldn't believe that two civil-looking men in suits could talk with such disdain and vulgarity toward people they didn't know.

Over the past couple weeks and after the bonuses became an issue, it's been reported that several threats were being made directly against the company and its employees. I even overheard talk of someone getting spit on while leaving work. We received a memo advising us that we should refrain from wearing anything with an AIG logo, and we should keep our AIG ID concealed. This is getting out of hand. How come I, a regular employee of AIG, underpaid by industry standards, who works 9-5, did not work for the Financial Products division and did not get a bonus, have to be on the lookout for threatening figures outside our building?

Employed, but embarrassed
Every Sunday I wake up, eat breakfast, and watch the Sunday morning news programs. Listening to those discussions used to be tolerable, but it now has begun to take its toll. The majority of us regular employees have either left for better job security or involuntarily separated from the company. Others continue to be employed with the embarrassment that they probably work for the most hated company in America. It's definitely been a challenge, to say the least.

Today we're the same department we were before September 2008 (except now we are allowed casual Fridays to boost morale). The phone rings, we answer, and we continue to work on behalf of our clients.

We watch the stock go up and down on a daily basis. We changed the signage on our building and switched the logo on our ID cards from AIG to AIU Holdings.

Most importantly, however, we are hard-working employees who take the same trains and buses you do. We work 9-5, we don't work in the Financial Products division, and no, we did not get a bonus.