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Low-wage workers fight to make bad jobs better.
October 5, 2013 1:58 PM   Subscribe

A growing number of Americans is realizing that “good jobs” aren’t coming back, and that for things to get better, they’re going to have to fight to turn their McJobs into something better. (Via Jacobin)

"Lousy jobs at fast-food joints and retail stores have been around for a long time. Sam Walton (of Walmart) and Ray Kroc (of McDonald’s) designed their business models around underpaying their employees. But experts have always brushed off calls to improve these jobs, arguing that they were stepping-stones—summer jobs for teenagers; flexible, part-time jobs for moms; or extra-cash jobs for retirees. It didn’t matter that the jobs paid low wages and offered little opportunity for advancement because they weren’t designed to support a family or be a career.

But, as good jobs have steadily disappeared over the past three decades, these rationalizations are starting to sound pretty tired. A recent report by Catherine Ruetschlin at the think-tank Demos shows that more than 90% of retail workers are over the age of 20 and that, for the vast majority, this is their full-time, long-term occupation. Labor researchers Stephanie Luce and Naoki Fujita paint a similar picture in a study of New York City-area retail workers. According to their survey, the median age of retail workers in New York is 24 years and the average retail worker has been working in the industry for five years."
posted by klue (103 comments total) 62 users marked this as a favorite

 
... “good jobs” aren’t coming back ...

What about the emerging "reshoring" trend?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:08 PM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not surprised to hear that a lot of this started in Louisiana. Working conditions here for low-level jobs are truly shit. I worked retail for five years here and counted myself as extremely lucky to be making $10/hour plus tips, but it still wasn't enough to live on and my bosses were still extremely unprofessional. When they started fucking with my pay, I put in my two weeks immediately.

Most workers in jobs like the one I had have it worse. My pay was definitely on the high end for my job type, I know of many bosses who are substantially worse than the ones I had, and most importantly I had the luxury of quitting when they started to really mess with me. Very few workers in retail are that lucky -- if you really rely on your job and have no expectation of getting a better one (the case for most people at the bottom of the employment ladder) then going through the uncertainty of quitting is pretty much a no-go. People are stuck.

I have no trouble believing that it's even worse for the folks who are working in non-customer-facing positions, like the crawfish shuckers mentioned at the beginning of the linked article. That's a job that's going to be kind of crappy at the best of times, and your bosses don't even have to keep you happy enough that you can put on a fake smile for the customers, since the customers never see you.

You know what would help? Living wages and healthcare. The government seems unable to deliver effectively on either of these things though (witness the current shutdown over funding the ACA, for example, and the fact that the federal minimum wage is a measly $7.25 with no increase in sight) so it seems like organized action on the part of the workers is the only option. I'm glad to see that it's happening, and I hope it catches on like wildfire.

As for the perennial argument that businesses wouldn't be able to support a higher wage for their workers? If your business model depends on exploiting your workforce to the point where they can't live on what you give them and see no hope for a better future, well then fuck you and fuck your business.
posted by Scientist at 2:26 PM on October 5, 2013 [134 favorites]


This is a really good article most of all for underlining some important points about labor. It's heartening to see low-wage workers organize through a consensus-based, solidarity union model, where disparate groups can rally behind a few key demands and strike for them. But more so, their demands' legitimacy is underlined by this basic fact:
University of Colorado-Denver management professor Wayne Cascio has shown, through a comparison of Walmart/Sam’s Club and Costco, that low wages are not necessary for high profits and productivity. Costco employees average roughly $35, 000 per year ($17 per hour), while Sam’s Club workers average roughly $21, 000 per year ($10 per hour) and Walmart workers earn an average of less than $9 an hour. Costco also provides it workers predictable, full-time work and health benefits. However, contrary to popular assumptions, Costco actually scores higher in relative financial and operating performance than Walmart. Its stores are more profitable and more productive, and its customers and employees are happier.
There's no such thing as a "stepping-stone" job in any practical sense; even if these were strictly temporary jobs, they will always be a part of the labor market, maintaining a constant presence that has a demonstrably strong connection with the economy. There is no justification for denying anyone a living job. The reality that these positions are becoming more sedentary underlines the need for labor to organize and act. These billionaires are going to have to be a part of the solution, whether they like it or not.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:33 PM on October 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


"When ten Walmart butchers in Jacksonville, Tex., voted for a collective-bargaining agreement in 2000, the company simply negated their decision by eliminating delis from every one of its stores in the United States and switching to pre-packaged meat"

That's pantomime villain levels of evil.

I also hate it when corporations blame higher prices as a justification for paying their staff lower wages. As if I as a customer am somehow tying their hands. I'd like the record to show that I would rather pay some extra loose change every week for my groceries than have the person serving me be ripped off.
posted by billiebee at 2:40 PM on October 5, 2013 [43 favorites]


I want my lousy job back. Due to poor planning by management (mostly by hiring inexperienced crew) my $12/hr job is on hiatus for 6 weeks. I have almost 3 years experience at the jobs they have hired managers with 3 months experience at $15/hour. The company has generously arranged for me to work in data entry for $9.50/hr until my regular lousy job resumes. In my first day at work, I saw two people start work and quit within 30 minutes. They cannot find anyone to work this crap job but me. I saw one of my $12/hr job co-workers at the $9.50 job site, in another department. I saw her as she was walking out the door. She quit.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:45 PM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Low wage jobs are going away soon too, with things like this hamburger making machine.
posted by bhnyc at 2:49 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, Swiss to vote on 2,500 franc basic income for every adult.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:51 PM on October 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


I was beyond excited as I accepted a job that pays $15/ an hour. I'm 30, college educated with a family, and I've never made this much in my life.

It's not the work; it's the pay and the conditions.

I hope I live to see the day we have a similar referendum here.
posted by furnace.heart at 2:56 PM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


What about the emerging "reshoring" trend?
Decades of process engineering, robotics and other automation have made manufacturing far more efficient with human labor than it was even a generation ago. It is said that the US manufacturing output has recently risen to an all-time high even as US manufacturing employment has continued to fall to a tiny fraction of its peak in the 1950s and 1960s. Here's a story I've linked before:
In the past decade, the flow of goods emerging from U.S. factories has risen by about a third. Factory employment has fallen by roughly the same fraction. The story of Standard Motor Products, a 92-year-old, family-run manufacturer based in Queens, sheds light on both phenomena. It’s a story of hustle, ingenuity, competitive success, and promise for America’s economy. It also illuminates why the jobs crisis will be so difficult to solve.
Re-shoring or in-sourcing can create a few jobs in the US, but we shouldn't expect to ever see a net positive in manufacturing jobs over the whole 1990s out-sourcing and 2010s in-sourcing cycle. The robots are only going to get cheaper and better.

This pro-robot video of the inside of the Tesla factory is very much a PR puff piece. It's also eerily like that car-factory scene in Minority Report. The robots are capable of an awful lot. Many of the human jobs shown (forklift driver?) are pretty obviously ripe for replacement by even more robots, if the volume of Tesla's manufacturing ever increases to the point where doing so makes financial sense.
posted by Western Infidels at 3:03 PM on October 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


As noted elsewhere: Walmart moving thousands of part-time workers to full-time status
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:03 PM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Of course, bringing Walmart workers up to the level of other Retail workers isn't a BIG step forward....
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:04 PM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


furnace.heart, Nixon actually proposed that in 1969
posted by dilettante at 3:19 PM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


In the UK the national minimum wage is £5.03/$8.06 for 18-20 year olds, and £6.31/$10.11 for 21+. (And the cost of living here is higher than the US.)

So it's surprising for me to see calls for a $15 minimum wage. I always had the idea that low-paid workers in the US were paid less than workers here, precisely because you seem to have less active unions and much less employment legislation. Is that just an incorrect stereotype?
posted by billiebee at 3:20 PM on October 5, 2013


Well, the US federal minimum wage for everyone, regardless of age, is $7.25 (I believe), so the low paid are paid less than English workers. Don't take the calls for a $15 minimum wage as $13-an-hour-workers looking for a moderate increase, but rather as $7.25-an-hour-workers pointing out just how far from livable our minimum wage is.
posted by IAmUnaware at 3:26 PM on October 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


The UK also has a much saner, safer, and more effective social safety net than the US does. That makes a HUGE difference.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:52 PM on October 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


In the UK the national minimum wage is £5.03/$8.06 for 18-20 year olds, and £6.31/$10.11 for 21+. (And the cost of living here is higher than the US.

Note that the cost of living comparison cited doesn't include health care.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:53 PM on October 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Remember, too, that the UK has a vastly more functioning social safety net than the US does. It's one thing to make $10.11 or $7.25 an hour when you have free health care and various other benefits and quite another to make $10.11 an hour without any benefits at all. And I am here to tell you that, at least in NC, a full time job at $10.15 an hour for a single adult is not considered poverty level and is thus not qualified for any benefits whatsoever.

Also, there are a lot of jobs that pay just a bit above minimum wage and I think that quite a lot of them (including, maybe, mine) would raise their wages alongside a major minimum wage increase. They would be sort of shamed into it. One of my coworkers pooh poohs the $15 an hour - nobody, she says, makes that, and she's in her 60s with 30 years of retail experience and yes a college degree - but I say that if demanding $15 an hour nets $10, than everyone across the board has won.

wow I wish I was not the metafilter poster child for the horrible new economy but I think, with more than two years now into this retail existence and just turned down yet again for a "real" job, I am.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:54 PM on October 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


And, jinx.
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:54 PM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


The UK also has a much saner, safer, and more effective social safety net than the US does.

Very true. Although the right is doing its very best to erode it.

I don't actually think $15 an hour is unreasonable. I've worked in retail. You damn well earn every penny.
posted by billiebee at 4:08 PM on October 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The part that scares me is that everybody knows about the retail workers, etc. But I know people with master's degrees in business and accounting, people with law degrees, etc, who are also making less than $15/hr, including me. Like we decided at some point that it was totally reasonable for anybody doing desk work to be paid like a data entry clerk, and that it was okay for data entry clerks to be paid like retail, and for retail to be paid like fast food, and so basically everybody's stuck at the bottom if you didn't luck into a position near the top within your first couple years of work. Oh, and don't count on full-time hours, either.

And then everybody else chides you for not being able to make ends meet because they think you have a 'decent' job because you're a lawyer or an accountant, and you're sitting there wondering if your state is actually going to expand Medicaid because wouldn't that be nice.
posted by Sequence at 4:20 PM on October 5, 2013 [48 favorites]


By which I guess I'm saying: If we don't stand up for the rights of a burger-flipper to pay for rent and groceries, pretty soon almost none of us will have it.
posted by Sequence at 4:21 PM on October 5, 2013 [36 favorites]


The minimum wage in San Francisco is $10.25/hour. Remember that recent fpp about how many of those jobs you'd have to have in order to afford rent here? Yeah.
posted by rtha at 4:30 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Walmart CEO Mike Duke earned $20.7 million last year, up from $18.1 million a year earlier.

So, y'know, he could probably afford to rent there.

Meanwhile the majority of its employees with children live below the poverty line.
posted by billiebee at 5:09 PM on October 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


How about we fix federal minimum wage to 1/10th congressional pay? That would be $17,400/year at present. If we use 2000 hours labor (50 weeks*40 hours) to represent a year's labor, that would be $8.70/hour.

Then when Congress gets a raise, or even an automatic cost of living adjustment, it immediately gets reflected in the minimum wage.
posted by fings at 5:25 PM on October 5, 2013 [25 favorites]


I think the thing too many in management and ownership forget is that they need their employees. You know what you call a McDonalds or a Walmart or a small steel fab shop without employees? For sale.
posted by ob1quixote at 5:26 PM on October 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


I blame the MBAs.

For more on the subject in general, however, check out Hedrick Smith's Who Stole The American Dream?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:38 PM on October 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


How about we fix federal minimum wage to 1/10th congressional pay?

Congressional pay is and always has been a red herring. A progressive tax is all you really need to achieve a similar effect.
posted by tychotesla at 5:41 PM on October 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


re: reshoring, here is an article in the ny times outlining the difficulties some textile manufacturers are having in finding employees.
posted by davey_darling at 5:43 PM on October 5, 2013


I was beyond excited as I accepted a job that pays $15/ an hour. I'm 30, college educated with a family, and I've never made this much in my life.

My husband has worked at his company 25 years come November. He has 6 weeks vacation and pretty good (no longer excellent) health benefits, plus a number of other interesting fringe benefits. He's only got a HS diploma, and has worked a variety of "blue collar" positions within the company, working his way from what were basically factory positions to what is now a sort of glorified mailroom job, where he provides business-critical support to the buyers and people who develop product (all of whom probably make 3x his salary). Still, despite the fact the company did a billion (with a B) dollars in sales last year, he still doesn't make more than $12/hour, and never has, as long as he has worked there. Several years ago he hit the top of the assigned pay range for his job, and so hasn't gotten anything but a token raise each year since then.

Once he hits his 25 year anniversary (and qualifies for his honest-to-god actual pension benefits,which virtually no company offers any more), I'm trying to encourage him to find another job that pays better, but without a college degree its almost impossible. Anything that pays better will probably be harder on him physically, and it's tough to give up the vacation & other fringes. But, man, just an additional $10K a year for him would make such a huge difference in our lives. Somewhere out there is a job that pays him more than he makes now and provides him with a decent work environment, but neither he nor I have any idea what that job is.
posted by anastasiav at 5:56 PM on October 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah. That $15/hour had no benefits whatsoever. No health, no vacation, no sick time, no retirement. Nothing.

And unfortunately, that growing hourly wage increases how much I 'get' to pay in student loans, since my payment plan is tied to my wage.

I have run the numbers, and after taxes and student loans my take home pay is less than $10/hour.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:17 PM on October 5, 2013


That's not to say "boo hoo I have it worse," or anything, but the student loan payments my generation makes are just absurd, and make it really hard to actually save.

Things like health benefits and pensions? Unheard of for most of us.

And I'd do some pretty treacherous things to get vacation pay.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:22 PM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh, I don't think you have it worse at all. It's just frustrating that after 25 years in the workforce he still doesn't qualify for a salary that would even marginally support a family, all because of the lack of a college degree. Used to be, these sorts of jobs could be counted on to feed your family. But no more.
posted by anastasiav at 6:24 PM on October 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


davey_darling: "re: reshoring, here is an article in the ny times outlining the difficulties some textile manufacturers are having in finding employees."

Not that I'm addressing anything in that article specifically, but ANY business that is having difficulties finding employees in the USA in this economy is either not paying enough per hour or they're not willing to train people. Businesses used to do both of those things. Now very few do either. But, boy do the "job creators" want us to feel sorry for them.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:28 PM on October 5, 2013 [25 favorites]


I've seen a lot of this type of article up on here, and man do I agree every bit. But I still think there's something wrong with how this argument--the argument that people should be paid more--deals with the idea of a corporation.

We're looking at corporations as things that exist to give people jobs. Whole political campaigns are created around the basis of giving people jobs, and higher paid jobs.

The problem is that corporations, in general, exist for another, different reason: to make something which they can sell for profit. "Something" could be anything; it could be a product; it could be an emotion. From a corporation's standpoint, employees therefore exist to help them make "something," for profit.

So when we look to corporations, and their CEOs, and expect them--nay, chasten them--to pay their employees more, we are asking them to do something that a corporation is specifically designed not to do.

The real problem is that we're expecting our corporations to behave like our government (and, vice versa, our government to behave like a corporation).

That said, this is a very broad sketch that I'm sure has many faults.
posted by tooloudinhere at 6:34 PM on October 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


We know that the system can be made to work and employees can be paid a living wage, because these same companies do it in Australia. I'm not saying McDonald employees here get paid a fortune, but it's more than what they'd earn in the States, and these Australian employees also have a far heftier chunk go towards tax that means we all have healthcare too.

I've never understood the American argument that justifies screwing over its own employees (waitstaff who have to survive off tips because the restaurants are allowed to not pay them a proper wage etc) because otherwise customers wouldn't eat there. It's bizarre. Do they really think that if every restaurant in the country now had to pay their staff properly and patrons had to pay a few bucks more, that people would never eat out again? It's an excuse so the owners have more $ in their back pocket, and it's disgusting. (And just as an aside, as an Aussie, it's very confusing for me to be asked to pay extra - the tip - at the end of my meal because didn't I just pay for that? As a restaurant owner, surely paying your employees is your responsibility, not mine? Anyway...)

When low wage employees start earning more, guess what, they start spending more, and the economy picks up again. Australia has a lot of things wrong with it but this at least is one thing we do right.
posted by Jubey at 6:37 PM on October 5, 2013 [19 favorites]


Just popped back to add, that apparently, because Australia has a legally mandated minimum wage, the sum total for one adult working an Aussie McDonalds job is higher than the equivalent worker manages in the US with TWO jobs. Something has to change...
posted by Jubey at 6:48 PM on October 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


reshoring, here is an article in the ny times outlining the difficulties some textile manufacturers are having in finding employees.

I live in a town that was built by textile mills. The house I'm living in was built for mill workers, in an entire neighborhood of houses also built for mill workers, by the mill. Beyond us is a park whose upkeep is paid by a foundation the mill set up. In former days, the mills paid scholarships so the kids of the workers could go to college.

Not that the work was great--my dad used to work in mills, and got all the lung problems that only constant exposure to cotton dust can provide; the hours were long, too, and by the time he got there, pay was no longer very good.

But houses. Towns. Parks. These weren't meaningless morale boosters, they were actual incentives for keeping a skilled team of workers. If you're having trouble finding employees, you are not trying very hard, and are probably forgetting that we live in a competitive economy. Try harder.
posted by mittens at 6:51 PM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Walmart CEO Mike Duke earned got paid $20.7 million last year, up from $18.1 million a year earlier.

Fixed that, not just for you, but for everybody.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:55 PM on October 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


I'd like the record to show that I would rather pay some extra loose change every week for my groceries than have the person serving me be ripped off.

The thing is, that's not everyone's take. If it's really your take, mazel tov! Boycott all stores that don't pay a living wage to all of their employees. If enough people do this, then the bottom line will suffer, and people won't do it. It doesn't require laws to change.
posted by corb at 7:09 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just popped back to add, that apparently, because Australia has a legally mandated minimum wage, the sum total for one adult working an Aussie McDonalds job is higher than the equivalent worker manages in the US with TWO jobs. Something has to change...

Between the "double dissolution" and completely revamped gun laws and no subsequent mass shootings, I'm beginning to think the US should take Australia's lead on...just about everything!

posted by bquarters at 7:42 PM on October 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boycott all stores that don't pay a living wage to all of their employees.

Even working from a perspective that we should only use market-based solutions to address this issue, we've got an information problem with that. I'm too lazy/busy/apathetic to use one of those choose-your-own-boycott phone apps (and I'm assuming their coverage is spotty with all but the largest businesses). Now and then I think it'd be great to have all employee wages posted publicly -- hell, put 'em on our nametags or something. It's so socially uncomfortable to talk about wages in the United States that addressing that somehow that would go a long way. If we can't have a mandated living wage, can we at least shame our employers?

I should note that I have done this myself on occasion (like that time when I took a second job in retail for promised health benefits, but those benefits were so laughably bad I started showing the plan to customers), but one person does not make for a social movement. Also, I knew I wasn't staying in that job at that point, had at least some other income, and many people don't have those luxuries.

On the whole, just raising the minimum wage would be less icky than having everyone wear tags with "$8.15/hr" or whatever on them, but I'm not picky, I'd take any solution that works. So far my attempt to buy nothing from any business but Costco is not paying off for the average worker.
posted by asperity at 8:30 PM on October 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Between the "double dissolution" and completely revamped gun laws and no subsequent mass shootings, I'm beginning to think the US should take Australia's lead on...just about everything!

Australia -> The Road Warrior
USA -> Waterworld

Nuf said.
posted by brundlefly at 8:54 PM on October 5, 2013


brundlefly: "

Australia -> The Road Warrior
USA -> Waterworld
"

Dammit! Why does Australia always get the cool cars! SCNR
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:08 PM on October 5, 2013


I've never understood the American argument that justifies screwing over its own employees (waitstaff who have to survive off tips because the restaurants are allowed to not pay them a proper wage etc) because otherwise customers wouldn't eat there. It's bizarre.

Americans are indoctrinated into believing in the rightness and inevitability of corporate control in much the same way as Soviet citizens or pre-WW2 Italians and Germans were indoctrinated into believing in the rightness and inevitability of their own forms of top-down, undemocratic rule by a tiny power elite; Australians less so, largely because organized labour has historically had more influence here.

Noam Chomsky's analysis from the early Nineties remains apt. So do his observations on the fact that the American system of federal government was intentionally, explicitly and openly designed to keep power in the hands of the wealthy few and out of those of the general populace.
posted by flabdablet at 9:09 PM on October 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just to point out that the national minimum wages discussed above are pre-tax, so healthcare is still a cost in the UK.
posted by forgetful snow at 9:22 PM on October 5, 2013


Low wage jobs are going away soon too

Couldn't agree more, if I am to believe the steady stream of robojobpocalypse articles spilling forth from mefi. They're going to have to fight for legislation to make robot labor illegal, too. So am I actually.
posted by Halogenhat at 9:30 PM on October 5, 2013


Halogenhat: "They're going to have to fight for legislation to make robot labor illegal, too. So am I actually."

Clarification, please?

Who are "they?" And what sort of labor is currently illegal, just as robot labor will be in the future? And why, exactly are you, specifically, going to have to join that fight?
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 9:37 PM on October 5, 2013


And what sort of labor is currently illegal...

Depends on the location, but off the top of my head: child labor, slave labor and labor from undocumented workers.
posted by Jeff Howard at 10:52 PM on October 5, 2013


The issue is not robots making human labor obsolete. That's awesome. The problem is that the resulting efficiency gains benefit the owners of those robots, not their erstwhile human laborers. Automation should be making full-time work obsolete. It's not, so far, because we don't redistribute the wealth that results.
posted by silby at 11:16 PM on October 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


I still think that a six month holiday season in retail or food service should be mandatory for someone to hold public office.

It's simple: September through March. 40 hours a week. Paid the standard wage for that job.
posted by sleeping bear at 11:42 PM on October 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


The SEIU is at the forefront of this. I urge you to support them.
posted by vapidave at 12:03 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


"It's not, so far, because we don't redistribute the wealth that results."

Precisely so. I keep wondering what the end game is supposed to be. Are we supposed to be aiming for a future society with a handful of incredibly rich people, millions of robots and billions of dead non-rich people? What's the point of efficiency if it eliminates well-being?
posted by jiawen at 1:01 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are we supposed to be aiming for a future society with a handful of incredibly rich people, millions of robots and billions of dead non-rich people?

Yes.

Sadly, this is not the first time this has happened. In the late 18th century, French mill workers, who could see what was happening, were partial to throwing their clogs (sabots, hence sabotage) into industrial machinery as automation spread. Across the Channel, the UK's Luddites did the same thing. All to little avail. What followed was a 19th century with a cabal of the super rich benefiting from the misery of the working and non-working poor. But many of those two latter groups got organised and fought back politically. For a better quality of life and some redistribution of wealth. See, for instance, the Communist Manifesto for a range of such demands. Look around and see how many came to pass. That said, many of those hard fought workers rights are now being taken away.

So... Get organised! Fight for a bigger slice of the pie! Fight for a better future!
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:08 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also hate it when corporations blame higher prices as a justification for paying their staff lower wages. As if I as a customer am somehow tying their hands. I'd like the record to show that I would rather pay some extra loose change every week for my groceries than have the person serving me be ripped off.

What I really hate is the recursive nature of this argument they present. It's a catch 22.

What I often hear is that costs can't go up because then poor people wouldn't be able to afford the food, and food stamps wouldn't go as far.

But guess who would have more money to spend on food if they were being paid a living wage...

It's something that would only work as a national, federal law solution though. If costs went without wages going up it really would fuck a lot of people.
posted by emptythought at 2:57 AM on October 6, 2013


It's all the fault of some bullshit that got washed and polished, and sold as a solution instead of a problem. See, all our economic problems are the fault of poor people!

That dude on the corner with his hat out? HE'S why you make such lousy wages! Really! Those people picking tomatoes for pennies, yep, it's their fault!

See, it's not really the fault of the CEO who's making so much more than you are. All these rich folks sucking up capital aren't your problem. They're rich! They make jobs! They are you benefactor! POOR FOLKS are why you get paid so little! Really!

Somehow, a big bunch of Americans got zombified enough to believe that shit. They get upset if you try to talk about it because their heads hurt. It's difficult and painful to stay programmed!

I haven't the slightest idea how this all came about. But it's too damn clear. Wubbagubba ain't that dumb, I don't care if his teeth are green. It's programming.
posted by Goofyy at 4:17 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


I haven't the slightest idea how this all came about

It's policy driven.
posted by flabdablet at 5:12 AM on October 6, 2013


I still think that a six month holiday season in retail or food service should be mandatory for someone to hold public office.

It's simple: September through March. 40 hours a week. Paid the standard wage for that job.


Don't forget the part where they have to exist using the employers' shit health insurance which also takes a chunk out of their paycheck.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:19 AM on October 6, 2013


So far my attempt to buy nothing from any business but Costco is not paying off for the average worker.

Well, yeah, it's a really slow process - especially because, like you said, most of us just aren't that devoted to this idea to use those little phone apps, which probably also themselves have information shortages. We could try to guess based on how happy the workers in a given store look, but given that whole fake-happiness-for-your-employment thing I think there was a thread on a while back, it would probably be counterproductive. There's just not this overwhelming call to change things in mass quantities for the immediacy.

But on the other hand, as I recall, you're the one who convinced me to use Costco, and now I shop there for a majority of food and such. And I'm talking about it to other people, and while the wages aren't always the first thing I mention, it's certainly in there. Costco has a name for treating its workers well, and over the long term, it will probably continue to do better and better.

I think, and I could be wrong, it's less about a lack of information, and more about the fact that it doesn't really matter on a huge level to most Americans. I think most people in America know that Walmart pays shit wages, but still Walmarts are pretty popular because of their dirt cheapness. A lot of us are doing well enough that we can avoid them, but what about people who really do have to make every dollar count?
posted by corb at 5:58 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


It should be pretty easy to buy groceries at a union store, right?
posted by smackfu at 6:22 AM on October 6, 2013


Boycott all stores that don't pay a living wage to all of their employees. If enough people do this, then the bottom line will suffer, and people won't do it. It doesn't require laws to change.

I am really tired of this "free market uber alles" argument towards social reform.

"You can't eat? You're not working hard enough!"
"Job doesn't pay enough? You're either not working hard enough, either at your job, or trying to fix it!"
"Oh, there was a huge national movement to address these reforms? Well, they didn't have a clear message! Not working hard enough!"
"That company is still solvent despite you not shopping there? It's still your fault!"
"These corporations are changing laws in their favor? That doesn't mean YOU need to monkey with law, just, y'know, try the boycott thing again. Still your fault."

The problem with this argument is pretending that boycotting Wal-Mart actually means anything. Wal-Mart can dictate it's own supply chain. It can demand product modifications from major manufacturers. When they build a new Super Wal-Mart, the local government will widen the roads to accommodate it. In the words of Galactus, "You are like an ant, trying to fight the sun."

This is WHY we have a government, this is why we have Representatives. Shit, it's RIGHT THERE in the job title: They're supposed to represent us, so we don't have to fight multinational corporations in between work and getting the kids to school. I know "Too big to fail" was something of a jarring betrayal, but just because no one remembers how to hook up the VCR doesn't mean that we can never watch movies again.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:04 AM on October 6, 2013 [22 favorites]


Chomsky last year: Who owns the world? Resistance and ways forward
posted by flabdablet at 7:17 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


How about we fix federal minimum wage to 1/10th congressional pay? That would be $17,400/year at present. If we use 2000 hours labor (50 weeks*40 hours) to represent a year's labor, that would be $8.70/hour.

I've always liked the idea of setting the minimum wage based on total executive compensation, with a national number based on average CEO compensation as the legal minimum and an employer-specific number based on the employer's CEO pay, if it's higher than average. That way a company's decision-makers would have to spread the wealth if they want to give themselves more.

So say we set the minimum wage to 1/100 average CEO pay, that comes to...
14.4 million * 1/100 = $144,000 a year or $72/hour.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 7:35 AM on October 6, 2013 [9 favorites]


ANY business that is having difficulties finding employees in the USA in this economy is either not paying enough per hour or they're not willing to train people.

I have been running up against the "not willing to train" wall a lot lately. I have a degree in graphic design and 17 years of experience in a broad range of work, but many companies won't hire me because I don't have experience in their tiny little niche. Just this week I had a recruiter contact me about a packaging design job. When I told him I don't have experience in packaging design specifically, he wished me good day. I possess about 90% of the relevant job skills, but they aren't willing to give me the other 10% in training, which I could pick up in a matter of weeks.

I'm currently making the same wages I made 10 years ago. My company recently had difficulty getting freelancers in to help on a project because they aren't willing to pay the rates the staffing agencies charge.

We're all stuck in a race to the bottom.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:48 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


corb: "There's just not this overwhelming call to change things in mass quantities for the immediacy."

This is a crystal clear justification for laws that obviate the need for these Rube Goldberg workarounds. Instead of assuming that everyone is capable of keeping track of these things, getting up-to-date on working conditions for every store they visit, etc. we can just set a minimum wage that guarantees an opportunity at a basic standard of living we deem acceptable and be done with it. Yes, the freedom to pay slave wages is restricted, but most of us can sleep at night trading that freedom for someone's freedom from starvation.

corb: "I think, and I could be wrong, it's less about a lack of information, and more about the fact that it doesn't really matter on a huge level to most Americans."

It doesn't really matter whether it's due to people not knowing or not caring -- there is a clear moral case for a new law to overcome the collective action problem. You can object to that law on ideological grounds, and that's fine, but there is a clear moral case for it.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:17 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It should be pretty easy to buy groceries at a union store, right

Throughout college I worked at a couple grocery stores. One was a Portland oregon darling New Seasons market. Think, a local version of whole foods with a "we're from here" story. Thy started out as a really interesting company, and are now a B -corp, which is sort of worker owned (but effects of the ground are not any different than any other. The owners are grea people, and I still know their CEO, who was married by our officiant. They're nice people, doing on a whole, an arguably net good.

But these people are the most anti-union motherfuckers in the world. They bitterly hate Unions with a passion, and they've (allegedly) taken legally sketchy action against peons for even mentioning a union.

Now, this really is a place that actually pays it's workers well and treats them well as far as the industry goes.

But fewer and fewer grocery stores are union, and often the only parts that are unionized are the freight workers who unpack the loads (you're awesome teamsters! We love you!!). The rest of the workforce at grocery stores is just transient enough that there's no real way for them to consistently organize.

Cooperatives grocery stores are nice, but not as common as they should be. But from a labor perspective are your best option. Good wages, not profit motivated, an ownership is spread throughout te community.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:18 AM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


This pro-robot video of the inside of the Tesla factory is very much a PR puff piece. It's also eerily like that car-factory scene in Minority Report. The robots are capable of an awful lot. Many of the human jobs shown (forklift driver?) are pretty obviously ripe for replacement by even more robots, if the volume of Tesla's manufacturing ever increases to the point where doing so makes financial sense.

One of the reasons why cars are so substantially better today than 10, 20, 30 years ago is due to this kind of precision automation. It's simply impossible for humans to manually apply the same repeatable tolerances. Several of Volkswagen's plants have automated delivery vehicles that bring components to line workers and the elimination of humans from the assembly process continues to evolve as robots become more capable of more dexterity. Case in point: windshield installation used to be a human-only task, but now ably handled by robots. Many automakers use humans to install the dashboard because robots traditionally were unable to navigate the complex maneuvers to install the large unit, but now Daimler and BMW have several of their car lines use robots to successfully install dashboards.
posted by tgrundke at 8:22 AM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


While we're on the topic of groceries and robots; everytime you go through that self-checkout line? You're typically replacing three to SEVEN workers. Usually those bays of 4 checkout pods are manne by one person, sometimes an 8 bay pod is manned by one individual. You're paying the same amount for that grocery store to replace up to seven people. Whose getting that extra money? It sure as hell isn't that one person who is making exactly as much as a "regular" checkout person.

If you're worried about efficiency replacing people, this is a pretty concrete Luddite-ish step, that you can make everytime you step into a grocery store.

But don't think for a second it's helping stem the tide.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:03 AM on October 6, 2013 [6 favorites]


The rest of the workforce at grocery stores is just transient enough that there's no real way for them to consistently organize.

That's kind of the thing, isn't it? Make your jobs untenable for anyone who needs any sort of stability or structure, and your employees won't organize because it's not a job they think they'll have long-term; and the jobs won't appeal to anyone who has kids or other dependents or a mortgage to pay. People who are going to stick around are more likely to organize.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:50 AM on October 6, 2013


cosmic.osmo: "I've always liked the idea of setting the minimum wage based on total executive compensation, with a national number based on average CEO compensation as the legal minimum and an employer-specific number based on the employer's CEO pay, if it's higher than average."

I'm a big fan of this concept too but it is laughably easy to circumvent by contracting out all your low pay employees. And that tends not to be a net win for those employees.
posted by Mitheral at 10:21 AM on October 6, 2013


While we're on the topic of groceries and robots; everytime you go through that self-checkout line? You're typically replacing three to SEVEN workers.

What frustrates me with this is that if you were to directly compare the checkout transaction, (as in scanning and bagging the items and paying for them) it's obviously going to be faster if performed by an employee (who does this regularly and will likely have memorized the routine, the more common product codes, where the bar is on the packaging, etc.) than if performed by a customer (who isn't going to know any of that stuff.) But you will almost always spend more time waiting in line for a checkout than you'll spend in line for the self-checkout, which says to me they are under-staffing the checkouts.
posted by RobotHero at 10:22 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yep which is why I tend to use the self check out; I selfishly value my own time more than I value someone else's employment. I feel guilty every time but damn it I've got better things to do than stand in a checkout line. This is also the main reason I don't find boycotting walmart much of a chore; just the thought of standing in one of their lines for 20-30 minutes makes me drive right on by.
posted by Mitheral at 10:26 AM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


My personal sample size is likely too small to be relevant, but every time I've tried to use the self-checkout it's taken longer than going through the regular one - the scanner doesn't read something correctly, or I put something down on the wrong piece of machinery, or the people in front of me need assistance but each must wait for the one staffer whose job it is to keep an eye on the self-checkout machines, and so the rest of us in line have to wait anyway.
posted by rtha at 11:04 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


From a certain perspective, grocery stores are already largely self-service, since you have to go find things on the shelves and grab them yourself, instead of telling a clerk what you want to buy. Superficial internet research shows people attribute this to Piggly Wiggly in the 1910s, and the justification sounds largely the same: it allowed them to serve more customers with a smaller staff.
posted by RobotHero at 11:11 AM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm, a grocery store where you give someone a list of what you want and they bring it out to you would suit me just fine. And you'd think that they would save money on displays and floor space, since they could just keep the stuff in a big warehouse instead of having to have a nice pretty store where everything is attractively presented with plenty of room for customers to meander around without crashing into each other too much.
posted by Scientist at 11:15 AM on October 6, 2013


Companies pay for shelf space and most places have shelves at least partially stocked and maintained by vendors.

But check around, there are several stores here that offer delivery with the attendant picking for very modest fees.
posted by Mitheral at 11:19 AM on October 6, 2013


Yeah. I've checked around already, and that service doesn't seem to exist in New Orleans. A bummer, since grocery shopping is actually a pretty stressful chore for me for some reason and I would totally get on board with a service like that if it existed.
posted by Scientist at 11:29 AM on October 6, 2013


While we're on the topic of groceries and robots; everytime you go through that self-checkout line? You're typically replacing three to SEVEN workers .

And that's why it's so terrible. I want someone to help me scan through the groceries. I love library self-check out, but groceries are horrible. I never use them.
posted by jb at 11:37 AM on October 6, 2013


Yeah. I've checked around already, and that service doesn't seem to exist in New Orleans. A bummer, since grocery shopping is actually a pretty stressful chore for me for some reason and I would totally get on board with a service like that if it existed.

Do they have Internet-based grocery delivery? we used it in the UK, my mom uses it in Canada. You go online, pick your groceries like you're shopping amazon, have them delivered. It's pricy for one person, because it's usually a flat-rate delivery fee, but worth it if you have a big pantry and you stock up on lots of can goods, etc. But I'm creeped out if I can't pick my fruits, vegs and meat myself - have to check it all.
posted by jb at 11:42 AM on October 6, 2013


Nope jb, nothing like that here. New Orleans is pretty behind the times in many ways, and this is just one of them.
posted by Scientist at 11:47 AM on October 6, 2013


My local grocery chain has a new program where you enter your order online and then go pick it up at the store, curbside. I haven't used it yet, but I really should. There are days when grocery shopping seems insurmountable.

As far as wages go, I just accepted a new job in my field that is offering 17.00 an hour. I'll take it, cause I need a job, and they seem like nice people, but this is a position that requires a Master's degree! I am not exactly seeing the benefits of my extra schooling.
posted by Biblio at 1:52 PM on October 6, 2013


Yep which is why I tend to use the self check out; I selfishly value my own time more than I value someone else's employment. I feel guilty every time but damn it I've got better things to do than stand in a checkout line.

I have used those things once since my local Woolworths installed them, pretty much for curiosity's sake.

I've got better ways to spend my checkout time than being spoken to like a slow-learning child by a machine's happy happy joy joy recorded voice. I would rather miss out on an opportunity to pay 0.5% less for my groceries if it means that my neighbour still has a job. And since this store has installed the self-checkouts, the Aldi down the road (which has a less extensive range, but whose prices on what it does have are lower, and which gives its checkout staff comfy chairs) is getting more of my business.

I have made a point of telling all these things to the Woolworths store manager and asking him to pass that feedback upstream.
posted by flabdablet at 3:22 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]



How about we fix federal minimum wage to 1/10th congressional pay?

Congressional pay is and always has been a red herring. A progressive tax is all you really need to achieve a similar effect.


I don't believe there will ever be a change to a fair tax system.

FMW 1/10 congressional pay?
It's a fuckin' start.
posted by BlueHorse at 4:12 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fleebnork: "I have been running up against the "not willing to train" wall a lot lately. ... I possess about 90% of the relevant job skills, but they aren't willing to give me the other 10% in training, which I could pick up in a matter of weeks. "

That's how incredibly myopic they've become. You're 90% of what they need, and you could pick up the rest in a matter of weeks, yet they still see you as something like "unqualified."

It's hurting them, their businesses, and the people of this country (and world).
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:49 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The resistance to training people is one of my great peeves. The local subway is constantly posting for help but won't even spring for the $100 for foodsafe cert.

flabdablet: "I've got better ways to spend my checkout time than being spoken to like a slow-learning child by a machine's happy happy joy joy recorded voice. "

After a bit of a learning curve you can process your groceries, at least at the store I most often use them, way faster than the voice can speak. There isn't any need to wait for instruction each time.

Also I rarely buy anything but maybe dozen different products with product codes and I've got those codes memorized so I can type them in as fast as a cashier.
posted by Mitheral at 7:03 PM on October 6, 2013


Congratulations, you've just trained for and performed labor for the store on your own time!
posted by butterstick at 8:16 PM on October 6, 2013 [5 favorites]


butterstick: "Congratulations, you've just trained for and performed labor for the store on your own time!"

"But we're sorry... You simply don't fit our needs at this time." (Thanks for paying for the 'training' though. We LOVED the kickback we got from our partner training company.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 8:27 PM on October 6, 2013


While we're on the topic of groceries and robots; everytime you go through that self-checkout line? You're typically replacing three to SEVEN workers.

Disturbingly, at several local grocery stores self checkout is actually the ONLY option unless you go from say, 8am to 8 or 9pm. It used to be that at night only one or two checkstands would be open because of the low volume. Now you find just a self checkout with all the human-operated checkstands completely shut down and roped off.

As for what Mitheral said about being able to beat the machine speaking or do it as fast as a cashier, that is absolutely categorically not true at any grocery store in my area. There's only really 3 variations of the self-check systems i've seen or used, but every single one gets mucked up at some step or has some glaring design/implementation/possibly maintenance flaw.

One of them, for example, no matter how much of a ninja you are requires each individual item to be set down in the "bagging area" for around 3-4 seconds before you can scan the next item. The screen just sticks at "Please place the item in the bag" for that long EVERY TIME. It also regularly freaks out about the weight being off in that area in some way(remove the last item and scan, unexpected item in area, etc) or just throws a generic "please wait for an attendant" CONSTANTLY. If you're buying more than one item, or any items that aren't barcoded or even worse anything that requires ID you are going to waste a shitload of time.

There's a really, really narrow situation in which they're faster. That's when you're buying say, less than 5 items and they're all barcoded. You'll still be screwed by having to bag them after you ring them up, so this really only counts if it's stuff you can carry in your hands and you don't want a bag. There also needs to be no line.

I thought they were cool machines for about a week when they were first introduced, but i hate them with a fiery passion now. Every local grocery store except for a co-op has used them as an excuse to never staff their regular checkstands. Several have actually eliminated all but a couple(in one very large story, quite literally 3) regular checkstands.

They are more efficient in no way except for the companies payroll/labor numbers. The logic here is similar to the whole walmart getting rid of the deli to dump the deli employees thing mentioned above. And worse, a lot of people buy that the self-bagging thing is somehow more efficient/faster/green if you actually ask them what they think about it.

It's fucking crap.

The one thing i will concede is that they're often faster because walking straight to a self checkout console with zero line, dealing with it's vagaries and bagging all the items off the tray AFTER you scan them and let them sit on the scale(putting a bag on beforehand freaks the machine out and requires more jimmying, and often the checkout guy to push some approval switch after two minutes of waiting) is still faster than waiting in a 10 person line for the one open normal checkstand. When the store just had a bunch of rows of normal checkstands and you waited in a one person or zero person line nearly always that shit was WAY faster though. It's like F1 pitstop Vs a an arthritic grandma changing a tire in the driving rain.

But guess whose fault that is?
posted by emptythought at 2:17 AM on October 7, 2013


While we're on the topic of groceries and robots; every time you go through that self-checkout line? You're typically replacing three to SEVEN workers.

Well, except that you're kind of not, because there are still workers required to build, program, and maintain those systems. Businesses make all kinds of tech-heavy decisions that they think will save them bundles of money, only to end up shifting the expenses to IT departments, to (fewer) workers who cost more than the original laborers the tech was meant to replace.

In other words, it's a bad decision all around. The grocery store I actually like going to in town has managed to avoid the self-checkout debacle, has a stable staff that actually remembers you when you shop there, and is overall a much friendlier, happier place to be.
posted by mittens at 4:38 AM on October 7, 2013


there are still workers required to build, program, and maintain those systems

Nowhere near as many. Someone ALWAYS says this in discussions about automation, but come on, you cannot seriously believe that as many people are involved in the production and maintenance of these systems as are replaced by them, or even anywhere close to the same number. Have you ever seen a cashier? Of course you have. Have you ever seen a self-checkout maintenance person? Me, neither.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:31 AM on October 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


That is sort of the entire point of automation. It's nice that the comparative handful of people responsible for building and maintaining such systems make better wages than the people the systems are meant to replace, but if overall labor costs weren't being reduced, there would be no reason to automate.
posted by asperity at 8:09 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, precisely.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:22 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, except that you're kind of not, because there are still workers required to build, program, and maintain those systems.

If there's one thing this nation needs is more jobs for those poor underpaid and underemployed programmers and less jobs for people who can't program.
posted by entropicamericana at 8:25 AM on October 7, 2013


mittens: I live in a town that was built by textile mills. The house I'm living in was built for mill workers, in an entire neighborhood of houses also built for mill workers, by the mill. Beyond us is a park whose upkeep is paid by a foundation the mill set up. In former days, the mills paid scholarships so the kids of the workers could go to college.

For the record, a lot of those jobs had been in New England, especially along the Blackstone River in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We stole those jobs (along with the intellectual property on how to build water-powered mills, thankyouverymuch) from the English...and someone else stole them from you.

I would sing that "Ciiiiircle of Liiiiiiife" song from The Lion King but it's too depressing when I think of ehat's left behind in areas like your and mine.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:47 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's okay: the northern English stole the textile jobs from the south-west (can't remember which county/counties, but there was a major textile industry down there c1500, before it moved north. I should bone up on my proto-industrial history again).
posted by jb at 9:06 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


anyways - the loss of the textiles in the south was really bad for them, but we don't talk about it anymore because it's been a few hundred years and people's memories are so short.
posted by jb at 9:07 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone ALWAYS says this in discussions about automation, but come on, you cannot seriously believe that as many people are involved in the production and maintenance of these systems as are replaced by them, or even anywhere close to the same number.

Well, no. My point was that businesses do not save nearly the amount of money they think they're going to.
posted by mittens at 9:49 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


You'll still be screwed by having to bag them after you ring them up, so this really only counts if it's stuff you can carry in your hands and you don't want a bag.

Your checkouts are apparently much different than the ones I use. Here is a typical check out experience for me:
  1. Make my way to the self checkout area. Generally I don't wait at all for a checkout but occasionally there will be a queue. Said queue moves much faster than regular queues though as it is feeding 8 checkouts instead of just one.
  2. Pull my cart (I've got one of those wheelly grandma carts that I use for grocery shopping) up to the first available checkout.
  3. Unstrap my reusuable bags. Press the start button on the till and then press "Use own bags" or whatever the button says. I then put my bag handles in the bag holders in front of the plastic store bags already there. Then press the done button.
  4. Now I can start scanning items and this usually goes pretty quick. Each item goes directly into my own reusable bags after scanning. I used to have "mass matching" problems but the algorithms or data must have gotten better 'cause that rarely happens to me anymore.
  5. Bulk items are the slowest because of the need to page through menus for the items but I've now got the codes for my regular items committed to memory and those can just be typed in. Also I've learned when buying unusual to me items to seek out an example with the product code sticker Trouble items:
    • bulk purchases of cased items. Buying 12 cans of soup or 24 1L tetra boxes of juice means scan each through individually. I sometimes call over the assistant because they can over ride that.
    • Discounted meat (stuff that is expiring today) has a discount label on it and that need to be scanned by the attendant.
    • There used to be a couple items (like six packs of 710ml pop) that had both combo and individual UPC codes that would trip you up as you needed to scan the group code not the individual code. For what I purchase anyways these have all been fixed; if there are multiple bar codes now it doesn't matter which one you use.
  6. Scan my loyalty cards
  7. Pay via Interact
  8. Load my bags into my cart and head back home.
There was a learning curve but now it's not much different than pumping my own gas. The variation of store to store is about the same as service station to service station.

I would still use self serve checkouts even if they cost a little more because:
  1. Technology - COOL
  2. I'm a curmudgeon and can't stand checkout chit chat especially at the end of a work day or when I just want to get my condoms and formula and go.
  3. At least in my case I rarely have to wait to check out.
  4. I never misplace my reusable bags
  5. The self serve checkouts aren't yet trying to upsell me on weekly special items or charity donations.
  6. I like DIY. I change my own oil, cut my own grass, perform all my own home repairs, bake my own bread, grow much of my own fruit and vegatables, make my own jam, etc.
posted by Mitheral at 11:59 AM on October 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


"That's how incredibly myopic they've become. You're 90% of what they need, and you could pick up the rest in a matter of weeks, yet they still see you as something like "unqualified."

It's hurting them, their businesses, and the people of this country (and world)."

I think the issue with this is that we still have so many people out of work, as well as folks that want to change jobs that the hiring manager knows he/she can simply find someone else who may not have the 90% skills the op has, but rather the package design skills and whatever else can be trained.

That seems to an issue here and still will be for a long while - there's just not enough choice in job selection.
posted by gregjunior at 1:54 PM on October 7, 2013


My point was that businesses do not save nearly the amount of money they think they're going to.

Not directly. But displacing large numbers of workers increases competition for jobs and creates a climate where businesses can lowball pay offers for all its less-than-top-level job roles and still get people to work them. This is advantageous to executives, who see workers mainly as an expense to be minimized rather than as peers. America is and always has been a society where social class is defined mostly by wealth, so that's an increasingly likely viewpoint the further up the pay scale you go.
posted by flabdablet at 5:54 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Update:

My crappy job replacement for my old lousy job has changed. The person who quit after 30 minutes caused HR to rethink the crappiness of $9.25/hr data entry. They gave everyone a raise to $11/hour (11.25 for me, since I have a seniority raise of 25 cents per hour). I told my manager to call the poor woman back and see if she thinks the job is less crappy for $11 instead of $9.25. She fell on her sword for all of us, she deserves a reward (such as it is).

Even at the new pay rate, they can't hire enough people. So unlimited overtime has been authorized. I worked 9.5 hours today. My new work schedule is from 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM. That is a 10.5 hour day. That is a 52.5 hour work week. For about 12 hours, I will earn time and a half. I will still not earn as much in 52 hours, as I used to in 40 hours. And I only have to kill myself to do it. For the next 6 weeks. Then back to my lousy job.

Potential downside: the old lousy job site has a defibrillator at its first aid station. The new crappy job site does not.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:54 PM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


There was a learning curve but now it's not much different than pumping my own gas.

That just seems like a lot of manual and tricky steps, all to save the business money.
posted by smackfu at 5:48 AM on October 8, 2013


I agree if that's why I was doing it. But I do it because it's better for me irregardless of the business case.

Really it no different than operating your own elevator. Automated elevator controls put a lot of operators out of work in order to save building owners money. Or maybe the door security buzzer would be a better equivalency going forward. Some apartment buildings still have doorpersons as a benefit but I'd guess most people manage with the automation.
posted by Mitheral at 7:52 AM on October 8, 2013


"That's how incredibly myopic they've become. You're 90% of what they need, and you could pick up the rest in a matter of weeks, yet they still see you as something like "unqualified.

I think, though purely anecdotally, this may be industry-specific - and possibly a result of how well the various industries are doing, and also how many people thought to go into that particular job field. So over-populated industries can afford to turn away people like this, because they know they'll get someone with 100%, whereas under-populated industries cannot. This may also mean that "good jobs" have disappeared at different rates for different sectors of the economy.
posted by corb at 3:46 AM on October 9, 2013


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