Warren Buffett thinks more like I do

$90,000 a week, 350 employees, USA, $250 a week, poverty level.
$9,000 a week, 350 employees, 3rd World, $25 a week, average.
Profit for CEO, USA, Average.
Profit for CEO, 3rd World, Astronomical.

Same ol story, but when no one left in land o’ plenty to buy socks, cars, guitars, etc, etc, the fat cat CEO’s and owners will NOT care cause they will have all the money in the world anyways. But there is one consolation, Rich man can’t buy his way into the Kingdom of Heaven. So let 'em wipe their arses with them greenbacks.

Quote (John @ Mar. 07 2005,15:06)
Quote (clark_griswold @ Mar. 07 2005,14:13)
What drove this mfg's labor cost to $90,000 a week at his plant? Union labor, perhaps?

Union Labor equals living wages for the average worker, and protection from exploitation by the employer.

Unfortunately, Union Labor also removes the motivation for the average worker to strive for excellence because the lazy and stupid are compensated exactly the same as the smart and driven. The only incentive is to do just enough to keep from getting fired.

It also does a pretty good job of tying the hands of the employer when dealing employees that should be fired. There used to be a guy in my workgroup (he's in another group now) that would disappear for 3-4 hours at a time -- he was sleeping in his truck! (we even took pictures one day) He was always late in the morning. And by late, I mean an hour or two. Some days he just didn't show up at all. At the time, our closest supervisor was based in another city. After several complaints, I believe Mr. Sleepy got a firm talking to "straighten up, or I'm going to have to scold you again!" He was also told that he had to call the boss every morning when he got to work. So... Sleepy still comes in late, but calls the boss from his cell phone and tells him that he's arrived in the office on time. As far as I know, he still has a job. If they ever try to fire him, he's either gonna claim alcoholism and go the "Employee Assistance" route, or he's gonna play the race card somehow and get LULAC involved.

Another guy that I used to work with would take off in the company car every day without telling anyone where he was going, or what he was doing... At the time, there were very valid reasons for being "in the field" but mostly we think he went to take care of his boat. Speaking of his boat... He used to get on the "on-call" list and take "call-outs" (which we get paid per-call) while he was out on his boat... Well... Of course he couldn't use his laptop to get on the network, so he just referred the call to another tech. Here's the kicker - boat guy gets paid for taking the call, and his buddy gets paid for picking up th referral. He would also get calls concerning a particular device than we administer, he always referred those calls to his buddy (double pay again!) because he hadn't been trained on the device. My supervisor at the time sent him to school for training and said that there would be no more referrals - if you take the call you have to fix the problem. Boat guy removed himself from the call-duty list as soon as he got back from school, and never took another call-out again. He finally had to retire after he punched the guy that he caught porking his wife (she works here, too) in the desk in one of the conference rooms here in the building. Even then, I don't see how he would've gotten fired, he is among the protected class of citizens, he would have gone running to the NAACP.

And then there's the guy that spends 45-60 minutes on the toilet... Anybody remember "Fiberman?" It's a true story. Oh.. And Fiberman was Boat-guy?s ?call-out? accomplice. This guy is Anglo so he's got no one to cry to if they ever tried to put the hammer down on him. However, I have heard rumors that he's trying to figure out how to get himself on disability... Plus, he?s got too much time (25+ years) with the company to get fired, it?s cheaper to keep him than fire him, or something like that?

Yep... Unions are indeed a beautiful thing. At least they used to be before they got infiltrated and diluted by people that would rather "work-the-system" than "work-for-a-living."

Don't ask me where I work, I ain't saying.

I have to both agree and disagree with you on this one, John. I'm a union rep., and our union has only done good things, for the members and for the community. Some unions may be better, some worse, but it is inaccurate to paint all with the same brush, especially a brush that only knows the ugliest of paints and ignores the huge selection of beautiful ones. (sorry about that extended metaphor, got carried away...)

Anway, so much talk about unions is by people who think they know about them from what they have heard on the news or (worse) from politicians. At leas tyou are speaking from direct experience. But there are very few lazy people in our union, it just doesn't work that way. And management in our case has all the tools it needs to fix most employment problems. It just doesn't work the way you suggest in most cases. Your situation sounds like both sides have bad leaders, but esp. the management side. But you and I know both know that anecdotal evidence is not worth much, and when you look at the broader picture the kind of situation I'm in is much, much more common than the one you describe.

Quote (Mr Soul @ Mar. 07 2005,19:31)
I understand that guys but I know that Clark doesn't like unions, and unions can help people make $90,000 - right?!?!

Yup, hate unions.

Not a single person I know who works for a union makes $90,000. But that wasn't my point. I was simply asking what might cause this sock manufacturer to have a payroll of $90,000 a week.

Sock Menders Local 123? That was just a guess...

Clearly, I was wrong.
Quote (TomS @ Mar. 08 2005,08:46)
I have to both agree and disagree with you on this one, John.

There's not really much to agree/disagree on, my stories are true. The three people that I talked about are actual human beings that I work(ed) with every day for a year or more. These are my experiences with union people that have learned to "play the system" and have no motive to do anything other than keep from getting fired because we all get paid exactly the same. My first involvement with the union was when I tried to file a grievance for dual supervision. I talked to the union rep on the phone and he had me type a letter detailing the incident. He seem pretty positive about the whole thing until he met me in person for the first time... He took one look at me... And I actually saw his posture and expression change like a sail losing its wind... I guess my skin wasn't the right color for him... He limply shook my hand and mumbled something, took my letter and left. That was the last I heard from him, and he never returned any of my voicemails.

That's the dirty side of unions.

The good side of unions:

40-hour week & 8-hour day
Living wages
Less likely to be exploited by employer

I think unions had a place and a time…I just don’t believe it’s here and now.

TomS, don’t mean to dis you or your union with that comment, and it is based on personal belief and seeing how a union could virtually destroy one of my fathers businesses.

Quote (TomS @ Mar. 08 2005,08:46)
Some unions may be better, some worse, but it is inaccurate to paint all with the same brush, especially a brush that only knows the ugliest of paints and ignores the huge selection of beautiful ones. (sorry about that extended metaphor, got carried away...)

I agree that some unions do a good work. Others NOT!

Unfortunately Tom, that is the case with the union where I work. A union or any other organization is only as good as it's members. We (management) have placed incentive after incentive in place to keep the plant profitable so ALL of will continue to have a job. Unfortunately, the hourly workforce is mostly composed of people who cannot see beyond the ends of their noses. They want to put in their shift with the least amount of effort/grief possible, collect a check and go home for a cold twelve pack. Here is a prime example of their "vision". We installed a 401K plan for them. Before this they had virtually NOTHING as far as retirement planning goes. The company will MATCH dollar for dollar up to 4% of an employees salary. FREE MONEY!! PRE-TAX! You know how many signed up? TWO!!


TG -- probably soon to be unemployed

PS When I first started here I was a dues paying union member. I soon realized though that it was a "Good ol' boys" network that only cared about it's little cadre of people in the clique. To heck with everyone else. Then there was the case of the disappearing money from the union treasury. Nobody ever got caught. I was on my way out when I was offered a management position.
Quote (gtr4him @ Mar. 08 2005,09:28)
MATCH dollar for dollar up to 4% of an employees salary. FREE MONEY!! PRE-TAX! You know how many signed up? TWO!!

That's just plain silly. How stupid do you have to be to turn down free money?!? Even if the company didn't match anything, the reduced tax-liability of contributing pre-tax is just like free money. Sheesh... I just recently upped my contribution to the absolute max that you can do pre-tax. So what if I have to go back to boiling my bass strings instead of buying new ones. :D
The good side of unions:

40-hour week & 8-hour day
Living wages
Less likely to be exploited by employer

And this is why I say we're better off w/ unions than w/o. Of course, if you don't mind fat-cat CEO's getting rich off from our toils, then let's nuke unions.

If the right-wingers have their way, they would get rid of all unions & we as workers would have little or no power.

The kind of work I do, software, doesn't have unions, so I've never been in one. So far, the demand for software engineers has really made it so a union probably would not have helped me, but that is changing quickly with jobs being outsourced to India. I think it's a crime that companies like Microsoft (and my company) are still bringing in people from India & China on work-visas that our government sanctions, when we have people here that can do the work!

I mis-read the original post - 90,000 is total payroll, but I didn't mis-read Clark's negative union comment.

Nope, you didn’t.

of course, in this day and age, it’s more than possible to have:

40-hour week & 8-hour day
Living wages
Less likely to be exploited by employer

WITHOUT a union.

Clark: ummm all those 4 things have largely fallen by the wayside. Unions are one of the last remaining things obstructing the big guy from imposing economic slavery on the regular guy. It’s happening. The toothlessness of unions is just one reason why. It’s true that Unions have brough a lot of bad press on themselves over the years and this has contributed to loss of influence. But workers without representation will become workers exploited real quick. And that hurts everybody, even the employer eventually.

Of course it’s possible, and desirable, to get all that without a union. But what if you were working in a place that didn’t give you that without a union?

I also work in the software industry and have no need for a union.

In the past I worked in a large non-union boat factory. I was getting $1.80 and hour. That was minimum wage at the time. It was considered a skilled labor position yet I was getting the same wage as the rest of the folks in the factory, except a very few that had been there for many years (most didn’t stick around very long).

That company had a habit of having the foreman come around and ask each worker one at a time if they would mind staying an working later that day. They’d do it every day except Friday (payday). I almost never saw anyone refuse. If you did you’d be fired on the spot.

I overheard the foreman tell one person that needed to pick up her sick daughter from daycare to “don’t bother coming in tomorrow…or the rest of the year.” This was in the summer. She left and never came back.

I asked to get off at 3:30 PM a full two weeks in advance one time (had to go out of town and I needed to be on the road or I’d be late). It was written on my foreman’s calendar. Keep in mind that 3:30 was the normal time got off, if they hadn’t pulled the “overtime” trick. On that day the foreman said I couldn’t leave yet. I pointed out that I had asked two weeks earlier to get off at out regular time and he said “You did not.” I said look at your calendar, to which he had no retort. I left, but obviously I was on his poop list.

I was moved to a position I had NO training and was given NO training. I had to figure it out on my own by asking co-workers what to do (they didn’t have time to do that), but I was able to figure it out eventually.

It was a promotion of sorts (did I get a pay raise? not hardly), being a higher skilled position than I had previously held. Ironically, the company sent in time management folks to see how we were doing. Anyone want to guess who they timed first? Yes, it was me working at a position that I had never done and didn’t know how to do. I got the lowest score of anyone in the company. If it wasn’t punishment for leaving “early” one day I don’t know what it was. It was just too timely and not everyone got times - just a few were picked for averages.

I was not let go. The reason I was not let go was because every other person doing that particular job walked out all at once as soon as the time managment guys got finished. I was the only person left in the factory that had a clue about what that position, and what I was still learning. It became my job to train the new hires, in spite of the fact I didn’t have much idea about it yet. (The fact that I might train them wrong didn’t matter to the foreman.)

…at $1.80 and hour and under thread of being fired.

We, meaning every worker in the whole factory, pulled a one day walkout when they demanded we work through the weekend. They told us on Friday at 3:30 we had to work the next day. No warning. No excuses. Not one floor worker showed up Saturday morning, nor Sunday. We all got pink slips (just warnings this time - what were they going to do fire everyone?) on Monday. Next one would be immediate dismissal.

I left without warning a year to the day on the job. I was working 60 to 80 hours a week for $1.80 plus 1.5 for overtime.

This was in North Carolina. It was (maybe still is) a right to work state. There were no unions then.

The workers in that place NEEDED a union.

We can talk about the Musician’s Union in Minn later, then you’ll understand why I am anti-union.

Ironic? Youbetcher.

Quote (Mr Soul @ Mar. 08 2005,11:22)
If the right-wingers have their way...

Looks like MrSoul finally got his groove back since returning from vacation. I was wondering how long it would take before he pulled the partisan-politics card.

Do you deny that the Republicans are trying to dismantle or weaken the unions? If so, you seem to be living in some dream world.

The fact is that both sides suck big donkey nuts, but you seem to have only seen the suckage in the “conservative” party and have yet to also see the suckage in the “liberal” party.

Pardon my french. :p

For sure there’s “suckage” in both parties, but I’ve never heard a Democrat fight for a right-to-work bill.

Tell me John - do you cross picket lines? I don’t. There was a grocery strike out here for months. It caused much hassle & it was tempting to go to that grocery store & cross the line but my wife & I didn’t.

Mr Soul

Quote (kymarcus @ Mar. 08 2005,11:59)
And that hurts everybody, even the employer eventually.

Ah there it is! You see, the President of our company has figured this out long ago. It is my firm belief that in our case, the employees would take home more money, have better REAL benefits and our entire plant would become MORE successful WITHOUT the Union.

Quote (Mr Soul @ Mar. 08 2005,14:05)
Tell me John - do you cross picket lines? I don't. There was a

I don't know what the flip this question has to do with your partisan politics, but here's my answer... I got out of the union several years ago because of what I saw as a corrupt and racist organization (see my post above). However, the union went on strike last year, and did not cross the picket line -- stayed home.

Tell me again why you ask this question?

Action speak louder than words - John. If you can’t figure out why I asked the question, I’m sorry then.

Quote (Mr Soul @ Mar. 08 2005,16:11)
If you can't figure out why I asked the question, I'm sorry then.

And if you've managed to once again confuse clever and obtuse, I'm sorry as well.