The Walmart worker image I seem to read by comments are the sales floor and cashier type associate. Yes, there are Some that you wonder if they can be employed elsewhere. But that is not even close to a majority at the store I know about.
Can a Walmart worker work at a Starbucks? Of course!! Can a Starbucks worker work at Wal-Mart? Sure. But retail sucks at times and I would bet more Starbucks -> Wally failures than the other way around.
Many wally workers have been there decades. They earn 50 -125% more than the $10/hr publicised. First level managers Get the 48k required to avoid overtime when the new law takes effect.
Since the new wage hike in my store there has not been any "ventilation" of out with the old and in with better employees. Its really really hard to hire anybody now. Heartbeat? You are hired.
Promotions come at such a rapid pace it is truly wonderful to see. 20 year old given 4 Promotions in 18 months to become assist the manager at 48k. It happens. On another site Many posts about how rapidly promotions occur. Many store managers who make 130-250+ and more started out selling dirt alongside those "can't be employeed elsewhere" associates. In many cases it only takes 10 years to get to that level.
Retail is its own form of servitude. It's hard. Takes work and a special person to succeed. Once off the clock you can not work.
The "$10" pay more to employees was a brilliant move. The press ate it.
I'll finish by my own transformation. I used to think Wally workers were in a class of their own. I worked at Costco too. There is no difference. There are substantially fewer Costcos than Wally. And Costco has much less need for employees. So you don't see the "can't work anywhere else" types.
This store was in the Bay Area. I'd say there were quite a few of the types that were nearly unemployable, including new hires. This is probably due to the fact that the job is nearly unworkable. One time I mentioned the fact that I was tired to a woman who had been with the company for 15 years, she said 'Working at Walmart will do that to you'. I don't think it takes a 'special type of person' to succeed at working there, and I'm not sure I'd call it succeeding. I only worked on weekends so my perspective may be skewed but it felt like doing a wave of work, consisting mostly of putting things back to there proper place, only to come back tomorrow and do the same thing with no end in sight. This may be a phenomenon of employment at large, I don't know.
I'll say that my experience with Target astounds me how Target is apparently so much less popular than Walmart, and for the reasons that this article was trying to push. The training software with Walmart felt very cheap,and something to be rushed through (or in my case something to be milked for a week while I read a book on my phone). Target's training is done in small groups by team leads. I worked at Walmart for almost two months and, despite a few attempts at trying, I was never trained in finding items in the storage room (I was actually coached to say 'we're out of that item'). I was trained in this after working at Target for a few days. Not only that, but there's the fact that business management software is much more deeply embedded into the average Target employee's workday. It makes for a better store.
More on 'the investments', some Walmart employee's get 10% off select items in the store. All Target employees get 10% off everything in the store (except produce, which is an extra 10% for a total of 20).
Anyway, I'm just chipping in.
Most stores do not operate this way, their Just In Time delivery system isn't up to the task. And so customers used to this inefficiency liked to ask you to check. They don't really want an explanation on JIT or walmarts inventory management so pretending to check was best for all involved.
I think the difference for me between the two is the opposite of yours. I leave it to different store management and cultures. The statement "each store is different." is very true
I've been in IT Engineering / SRE for over 10 years now and you just described 80% of my days.
So, glad to see Target spends money training employees, for it didn't spend the money for upgrading their POS terminal software (and apparently Walmart has).
I had read the Bloomberg article when it came out with some interest, because the reason Target was hacked was simply because they did not upgrade the POS OS as recommended and it was for this reason that Target was hacked.
"Both Home Depot and Target Corp. (TGT) -- whose registers were compromised last December -- appear to have fallen victim to a decade-old exploit of Windows XPe.
What's more, these losses -- which may total as many as 100 million customer credit and debit card numbers -- could have likely been prevented by simply paying to upgrade to a more modern Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) operating system, such as Windows 7 for Embedded Systems." 
Each version of Windows has security upgrades (sometimes using new features of Intel CPU hardware) that previous versions of Windows don't implement, even with security updates.
Many of these security hacks happen because firms that use computers refuse to pay for proper security software, perform recommended upgrades and to hire very competent people to work with their systems. Of course, the systems can still be hacked, but there are easier systems to exploit and the attacks can be caught earlier and with limited consequences.
Nope. I'm sure there are others. I worked at Walmart for a bit making $7/hour. Stocking and other misc things, though never a cashier. When min wage was like $5.15 or $6.15. A lot has changed since then though. I now have a masters in CS and work at Microsoft.
Cps degree (pre Microsoft): work (overpaid) at large monopoly until cell phone penetration was 35% and displaced.
Costco has some advantages which don't involve hammering the employees. Their stores are plain warehouses. They only sell in bulk. They have a membership system, which not only encourages repeat visits, but cuts shoplifting way down. (Few shoplifters will come in, be photographed, and buy a Costco membership.)
"Costco has a tiny number of SKUs in a huge store -- and consequently, has half as many employees per square foot of store. Their model is less labor intensive, which is to say, it has higher labor productivity. Which makes it unsurprising that they pay their employees more."
Also, I would be very curious to see where the bulk of Walmart's SKUs are. I would expect a lot of them come from their large array of clothing. (every different size/color has its own SKU)
"Wal-Mart's customers expect a very broad array of goods, because they're a department store, not a specialty retailer; lots of people rely on Wal-Mart for their regular weekly shopping. The retailer has tried to cut the number of SKUs it carries, but ended up having to put them back, because it cost them in complaints, and sales."
 "Walmart figures include Sam's Club, which despite having more stores, is much less profitable than Costco."
 See the graph
As for the stores being less profitable, I would imagine it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. They pay the vast majority of their employees welfare-inducing wages which is an instant turnoff to anyone in the middle class who actually cares about companies taking care of their employees.
I do not believe from my Wally experience I ever hear of "temporary" hires that really get termed. If you are doing the job well you stay if you want
They just briefly skim over the receipt -- until they hit a more expensive purchase, so your view would make sense (the opposite is not possible for shoplifting).
You get poor quality workers when you make the majority of them have to work a second job, since you don't give them full time hours or benefits. Retail often can have 100% turnover or more in the span of a year because of this. The average retail job works their employees part time, from 15 or less hours to near full time, on a schedule which changes from week to week. Sometimes even keyholding staff are worked like this.
You don't create employees loyal to your store when you do this, and especially if they also have to work an additional 5 or more hour shift before showing up at your job. Then you also get into tiny payroll budgets overall, preventing the store from hiring enough people to meet needs. So your 15 an hour worker can't clean the store, because he is on register all day, and he can't work extra hours because there is no budget. Or he does work them, but he has to take the next day off because he can't go over his schedule.
These things among others create a culture where all you can do is punch in, survive the shift, and go home. You can't do a good job because the district managers don't want you to do a good job. they want you to meet their metrics, and most of it is about money and budget. They don't care much about clean stores, since they visit your store maybe once every few months. They do care that you spend more than your payroll, no matter whether you needed to or not.
Honestly, retail sucks.
But I used to brush all Walmart workers with the same crusty paint brush (bought at Wally).
Sure, i'd rather still be earning 6 figures. But when we did we all knew it could not last. What do you do? Leave early when the golden handcuffs are attached?
Retail is my second job. What you describe is very spot on true.
Yet probably the surprisingly largest difference is my lack of awareness prior to Wally that people did not have a supportive and wealthy home life. My retail peers suffer from lives I could not even imagine. Most of this group have no possible way of seeing parent(s) show them how to have a professional life. To excel. To build wealth. To dream big. That's the difference. Where my retail peers come from. Just as my sister in law would not be seen in a Walmart, my fellow co workers don't like to shop at the mall and enter macys or Lord and Taylor. Sears is ok.
"Higher wages were necessary, Ford realized, to retain workers who could handle the pressure and the monotony of his assembly line."
So in Ford's case, he was simply paying the going rate. Supply and demand. The lower wage wasn't enough to keep the workers he needed in his revolutionary assembly line. People spin this all the time to say things like: "He increased the wage so his workers could afford to buy his cars" But if it were as simple as that, he could have tripled or quadrupled their wages so they would buy even more or at a quicker rate.
He could have, like his competitors, continued to pay very little and gotten mostly the low-end quality workers. He'd have continued to make cars, but probably of lesser quality. He chose to pay the going rate for high quality workers.
It's also worth mentioning that a side effect of efficiency wages is more unemployment. Paying more results in a better class of applicant, meaning that people who would normally use WalMart as the bottom rung of their career ladder are shut out.
*Yes, Costco can do it, but Costco also has a very different business model.
This assumes that workers are of a fixed quality. I know I worked harder for $10/hour than I did for $7.25. Higher pay means stronger incentives to do well and less stress from poverty.
Employers will have to hire fewer workers because their workers are more productive
More people will be interested in the jobs, increasing employee competition
Since people vary, some people's increase in productivity will be insufficient to cover the increase of wages
The end result it seems is that getting a job is made harder. This is not to say that increased wages are bad, they are great.
"increase in productivity will be insufficient to cover the increase of wages" is only true if the company isn't turning a profit or paying high salary to managers. This is relevant for some small businesses and bankruptcy-threatened large business, but not for the largest players in the economy, like Walmart.
2) Whether the company is turning or a profit or paying a high salary is completely irreleavent. The question is whether or not you are productive enough that hiring you makes the company more money then they pay you.
Efficiency wage theory definitely doesn't assume that. In fact, a big part of the theory revolves around your existing workers becoming more productive.
Even if you assume your applicant pool stays the same, you would see less turnover with efficient wages—and hence fewer job openings.
In higher populated areas, yes.
In lower populated rural/areas, not necessarily. In fact, by raising wages in rural areas, additional money coming in from income taxes could be funneled into infrastructure, poorly-funded schools, and law enforcement. This would in theory help produce new areas of innovation and growth which in turn help provide more tax revenue for the state and country. It could also bring more people out of poverty, reduce crime and violence, and help to shutdown meth labs which are more common in rural areas.
I think there are some good arguments against raising wages of workers, like much higher wage workers already making enough to be so comfortable as to not require more (depending on how they pay their employees if they are a small business), or to things such as some cases showing that raising minimum wage causes inflation which causes the quality of life of everyone over the minimum wage to go down, such as: http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-0419-goldberg-min...
However, for most of those reading HN, salary raises have more to do with being competitive, in which case paying more for a better applicant is a good thing.
When a large employer raises its wage a big chunk of people who work a few hours at a second job stop working that second job.
With the U.S. underemployment rate at 12.9%, having additional jobs available for people to take shouldn't be a bad thing:
Citation wanted. It really doesn't make sense. Sure, a different class of applicants may fill those higher paying positions, but either those people weren't employed to begin with, which contradicts your point, or they had to leave other jobs to apply for this one, creating open positions where they left, which results in overall employment staying the same.
In scenario 1, Person A works for Wal-Mart and Person B works elsewhere.
In scenario 2, Person A has no job, and Person B works at Walmart, and Person's B previous position is unfilled.
I will also grant that as wages rise, certain jobs simply cease to exist, because it becomes uneconomical to pay anyone to do them. Being from Denmark where wages are very high, I was astounded to be greeted by not fewer than ten clerks in a small, mostly empty Swatch store I visited in Beijing. To have that much staff to do mostly nothing can only happen where wages are extremely low. If wages were to rise, one by one those clerks would probably be laid off. But not because a more skilled person would claim their position, but simply because it would become too expensive to pay any person to do that job given the value it creates.
However, there are some additional factors that complicate this picture. If there are fewer unskilled jobs, people will adjust by working to become more skilled. If people have higher paying jobs they will spend more, producing more jobs. If there are many unskilled people looking for work, there is incentive for somebody to find a way to make use of that resource.
But really, the only point I sought to make here was that your original comment which didn't look at the non-skilled worker was missing a bit part of the equation, and so its logic didn't work.
We're doomed to repeat ourselves, as understanding complexity is not an easy thing to do, and it takes significant time, experience, and effort to unlearn your assumptions and learn to get closer to reality.
Ford created a morality department and forced their workers to follow his views of respectability (eg. prevent their wives from working), and to ask for permission before making large purchases, using investigators which would show up unannounced at their home to check up on their personal life.
Not only that, but after receiving some criticism on the issue, Ford realized his mistake and closed down the department saying that it wasn't his job to intervene in the lives of workers.
There's also the lovely Ford Hunger March: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Hunger_March
On worker pay, Ford is a good model to emulate.
Also, I'm not sure I agree that Ford did pay more, since the string attached mean the jobs are different. If some company offered me 5% over my salary but required me to be on-call, I'd say they would actually be paying me less.
Specifically, "the Michigan Supreme Court held that Henry Ford had to operate the Ford Motor Company in the interests of its shareholders, rather than in a charitable manner for the benefit of his employees or customers."
These shareholders would likely win all the time under dodge v ford, but now they win some and lose some under business judgment rule based on the taste of the jurisdiction/jury. The reality is case law provides only some clues and the waters are muddy until a given set of facts is tested, and I'm not saying I like the shareholder maximization rule over business judgment but I do prefer bright line rules over balancing acts.
Also all the large tech players have done this to a large degree compared to non-tech who hire IT folks.
Didn't all the big tech players recently get sued in a class action for colluding to stifle worker's wages specifically by agreeing not to poach each others employees?
Costco stocks about 4000 usually larger, higher margin items in each of their stores.
Walmart stocks more than 100,000 items in their stores, many of them with very low margins.
So, the highest profit and customer satisfaction companies in Walmart's model & market get there by providing decent pay, benefits, and job security to workers plus treating them better in Publix case. Same pattern emerges in lots of other industries. Probably better than what Walmart was doing. That Walmart keeps copying Kroger and Aldi, but not Publix which is employee-focused ;), shows they know those methods are better. Their management greed and control-freak nature makes them adopt more selectively and slowly.
They don't have a full department store and will thus likely have a greater variety of groceries than the Walmart, but they don't have greater variety overall. I would argue that they are a 3rd variety of big box (along with mega stores and club stores), not the same as Walmart.
Edit: It should be noted that Kroger is moving that direction with its Fred Meyer-style stores. They're more like Walmarts and Targets. Walmart even converted a failed store into a Walmart once although Im not sure the size of that one. Kroger is opening a Fred-style store close to me with descriptions that sounded like a Walmart. Will be interesting to see if these work and what effect they'll have on profit.
They consciously raise wages to retain employees.
Sales per employee
So now you need to find low skill jobs for a million people, at a time when automation technology is aggressively seeking to (and increasingly able to) wipe out those types of jobs. Oh yeah, and Walmart is very likely in permanent contraction mode already, in which its business will perpetually shrink on a year over year basis ala Sears and other past giants of retail, as Amazon + its far greater automation eats them. Good luck.
When you are willing to pay more, you can purchase higher quality; this is as true for labor as software or electronics.
You'd loose money. I've met many Costco employees. Most were either high-school students or older people without degrees who simply applied for the job or were referred then got through an interview. They care more about whether you'll work hard than anything else. Then they tend to stick around longer since they get paid and treated really well so long as they work hard. Lots of retail workers would like a job at Costco or a similar place but there's just few openings since people don't quit often.
Costco reps themselves already explained the extra pay was just incentive and that they believe in living wages. They also cancelled the ad bugdet specifically to give that money ("6% of revenue") to workers instead thinking good workers are better than advertising for customer retention. So, they consistently believe paying & motivating workers has highest benefits. They also pull from barely-educated sources who probably have above-average intelligence or character but still the common, low-rung pool of labor.
The point about the large packages and much smaller number of items was more that they need less labor to keep the shelves full.
In my opinion, tech companies pay market wages for a rare skill (being good at programming). Some will say this is arrogant, but it's just my honest opinion given my knowledge.
Not through choice. They are trying their hardest to bring down tech wages by:
* lobbying for more immigrants
* funding programs to bring more girls into computer science
* lobbying to put computer science on school curriculums.
* engaging in illegal no-poach agreements.
They are pretty damned determined.
*I have tried tipping the guys in the garage for tire services & have yet to get anyone to accept, they tell me they are paid well enough and it's against policy, etc... they say that even out at the smoking area, away from the cameras, too.
not even. There are many companies that pay higher-than-category wages just because they want to get the best employees possible. Look at what's happening in the Valley for the more popular companies. They pay more than average and give you tons of benefits on top.
(waves = wages)
60-hour weeks basically means you live to work. Have you considered that perhaps someone's economic usefulness shouldn't be the only determinate of whether they have to spend essentially their entire lives on Earth just trying to survive?
You can also do things like require the same sort of benefits for all employees. Pro-rated vacation and sick time, if offered, as well as retirement, discounts, and other such things.
Brutal is an exaggeration. Americans don't come close to leading in the 50+ hour work week category. The US now ranks below: Iceland, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea on that metric and has been falling down those rankings for decades.
One way around this is to assign a base value to a person because they are a member of the human race and a citizen of your country, and then let them demonstrate additional value through the usual capitalist means.
It's imperfect, certainly, but it works well enough in many developed countries, and it's more accurate than the model that says what can't be measured has no value.
Models are paid to be very, very good-looking. "What you produce" is a value decision in the first place, one that society makes together by how we allocate resources.
Not what they produce, but how good they are at convincing other people to give them money. Whether it's by building a product, being very good-looking, or asking for a handout. (Sure you can say that we pay people based on what they produce if you argue that a homeless man is producing good feelings when you donate to him, but I think that's a bit silly).
Obviously this is always going to be the case to some extent in a free society, but we should definitely do more to help those who don't happen to be good at convincing other people to part with their cash.
I see no evidence to support your premise that the US is brutal toward its people, given the high wages the US pays, the high standard of living the US offers at the median, and the extraordinarily high disposable income levels the US offers at the median ($44,000 household disposable income vs eg $28,000 in Finland). Where's the brutality? The sole thing I can see that is actually bad is in healthcare.
Let's compare the US median to the medians in: Spain, Portugal, Greece, France, UK, Germany, Italy, Czech, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Bosnia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey, New Zealand, China, South Korea, Russia, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, Nigeria, Iran, Egypt, Indonesia.
The only thing you're going to find where the US lags significantly, is in regards to healthcare costs. In nearly every other economic respect, the US exceeds those nations and the radical majority of the planet.
Yes our median and mean incomes, disable incomes, household wealth etc... are high.
But those values aren't very evenly distributed at all. Just look at average household wealth by race. You'll find an enormous discrepancy. (I was actually shocked when I looked at this. I knew it was bad, but not that bad)
We have a huge number of people doing incredibly well, and a huge number of people barely getting by. The social programs other developed countries offer go a long way towards easing the burdens of that 2nd group.
You can point to Finland and say that yes they have $16k less in disposable income, but they have universal health care (which you already pointed out), they have paid family leave, they have worker protections, better unemployment etc...
Update - Getting downvoted, so here's explanation:
This doesn't align with the culture over there at all. I think this source is questionable.
For example, if you compare the average hours worked per worker over a year (descending), the U.S. is #18 with 1,789 hours while Australia is much lower at #27 with 1,664 hours .
Have you considered that perhaps it's someone's prerogative and right to choose whether or not they want to pay for other people's lack of "economic usefulness"?
We're in this mess precisely because we had good intentions of helping the needy, and propping them up. All that did was raise their number, putting all sorts of economic pressures on existing poor people's salaries. Now we're expected to foot the bill even more?
You know, at some point, people are going to start saying enough to that sort of thing. It's borderline emotional-terrorism to guilt people into supporting so many needy. NO I am not a bad person for wanting the best for the people I care about. And not wanting to sacrifice it for the people who are reckless about bringing innocents into this world on my expense, and then teaching them anyways to hate me for not wanting to sacrifice further.
One last thing. I come from a family where the sole bread-winner did work 60-hour work weeks, and still does. Precisely so that I and my sibling wouldn't have to. Though I still do, because I want even better for the people I care about and brought into this world.
There's countries in the world where the bottom rung isn't such a terrible place, and people don't have to constantly sacrifice just to make sure they don't end up there. And those countries are doing just fine - there's no horde unemployed destroying their economies. There is, however, less stress, less fear, and a better standard of living for the median person. And sure, there's no country that's perfect, but what I'm saying is there's at least one alternative, which is currently working well in real economies, to the "red in tooth and claw" fight that Americans feel is necessary.
I'm not making a guilt-trip argument here. If you're a working class person in America, by a wide range of objective measures (access to health care and education, life expectancy, time with family, class mobility, exposure to crime, etc.) you're worse off than if you were in the working class in many other countries, ones with higher taxes and more generous welfare systems. Sure, if you look at just your taxes going out, it looks worse, but the situation overall for everyone in the 99% is improved. You just have to get over your distaste for your taxes helping poor (and sometimes lazy) people, because despite that it still ends up helping you.
Yes. We have. A great many of us have considered this at significant length over the course of centuries. The question is not novel by any reasonable measure.
Do you have a suggestion along the lines of an answer, or did you wish to merely pose the question?
However, history suggests that translating that laudable sentiment into actual resource-allocating policy and social organization is upon occasion slightly less than maximally clear, obvious, or straightforward.
I take it you're European? What's the youth unemployment rate in your country?
So first off that's kind of offensive. Secondly, one commentor on HN doesn't reflect the views of 300M+ people.
People typically come to HN because it fosters good discussion. Throwing insults at an entire country doesn't accomplish that at all.
It's not an insult. It might not reflect the views of the entire country, but it is an accurate depiction of our labor policies.
We are the only developed nation in the world without paid maternity/paternity leave. No universal healthcare. No protection from arbitrary termination. And a terribly low minimum wage that hasn't kept up with inflation.
Some people might not care about their fellow workers but some of us do. Typecasting all Americans as brutal is offensive. I say this as someone who actively helped to campaign for a higher minimum wage. But yeah, I'm American so I must not care about anyone else. I'm fucking sick of this stereotype.
How does that help people who aren't working for your company. That's like saying America isn't brutal to it's workers because rich people can afford good dental plans. Sure we're not brutal to people who have good well-paying jobs. We're brutal to people who aren't that fortunate.
> But yeah, I'm American so I must not care about anyone else. I'm fucking sick of this stereotype.
Work to change it. Our country sucks when it comes to labor rights and social welfare compared to every other developed country.
As long as that's true it's not really unfair to call us brutal to workers.
Obviously there are those of us who aren't, but it's a pretty fair generalization for the country as a whole.
Dental plans as practiced in the US only make sense if someone other than the beneficiary is paying the premiums. So what really matters isn't whether someone is rich but whether their employer is paying for a dental plan.
Now "rich people" can afford to just pay the dentist, of course. Not least because dentists typically have sane price transparency (e.g. will tell you ahead of time how much something will cost) and dental emergencies are very rare, so people can usefully shop around. As a result dentists are actually subject to price competition, unlike most of the other parts of the medical profession.
It's worth it to me because I'm self employed, so I can deduct dental insurance premiums, but I make too much to deduct direct dental costs (they're too small a percent of my income).
Since my marginal tax rate is close to 50% it only costs me about $350 a year, which is a bit less than it saves me on average each year when I've needed normal stuff like 2 cleanings, x-rays, a filling or 2. And my cost after tax deduction is a lot less than it would save me if I did need some major work.
> So first off that's kind of offensive.
Perhaps, but it's also true, at least when restricted to relative comparisons within the field of employment.
If I say the Japanese love seafood that doesn't mean I think there are no Japanese people who hate seafood.
We're speaking in a natural language not Lojban.
Sure, we could probably reduce welfare dependence by allowing people to work 60h a week, but that would be abandoning one of the most important principles of the fair labor standards act and greatest achievements of the labor movement.
Edit: Just to clarify a bit, when I was working 2 minimum wage jobs it was because I wanted to be able to build some savings. I could have actually lived more comfortably (and had health insurance) had I opted to only work one job and apply for benefits, but then I just would have been getting by. Had I not had the extra money saved up I wouldn't have been able to replace my car when it's transmission went out, or be able to take the risk to work at a startup which is how I started my career as a software engineer.
But wouldn't this movement along the demand curve reduce the number of jobs available (at the point where demand and supply cross)?
Since the premise is that the demand for Wal-Mart's products has fallen due to worker unproductivity, their bet is that there will be a new demand curve altogether by increasing their productivity, one that is shifted to the "right" of the original one. The price of labor is counteracted by the new demand for it.
But that raising the work-time per worker reduces the number of jobs available is not a myth, it's mathematical inevitability (unless work-hours needed not only will grow to compensate, but also grow more than if the per worker work-time had remained fixed).
We could thrive on 20h a week.
We just don't have a rational allotment of resources, but rely on busy-work, antiquated (pre software and pre-automation) work ethics and timelines, and squeeze them extra too so that enterprises and employers can get that extra profit margin out of employees.
Usually, yes. But the company might not necessarily only make decisions in their own best interest.
Sometimes, executives/owners just like to see lots of people head-down "hard at work". Sometimes, execs/owners adamantly believe work has to be done, that doesn't actually need to be done. Sometimes, the customer demands busy work be done and pays the company for it. (every Enterprise or Government contract I've ever seen has some amount of this) Sometimes, people just can't agree on what work is busy work in the first place.
I'm sure there are more reasons. Those four come to mind because I have personally experienced all of them at some point in the last decade.
With the slow but steady rise of automation, the solution is not more work per employee, but less. There's going to be an incredibly rough period as unrestrained capitalism struggles against ideas like basic income. But there will come a day when there isn't enough work to go around, and your idea will only make this situation worse.
We have the wealth to pay workers more, at least in the US. It's just that the top ~400 people have more of it than the bottom 160,000,000 people combined. This doesn't require absolute socialism where everyone is given exactly the same amount regardless of work ethic; any amount of reduction in income inequality would be beneficial. A return to where we were in the 1950s (ignoring other inequality issues of the time) would be a very positive step.
Further, exponential growth of revenue is impossible to sustain indefinitely. At some point, people are going to have to stop judging a company that breaks even or has stable profits as a failure. As long as a company isn't losing money, it's providing value to all the people it employs, and to the economy as a whole by allowing those workers to purchase goods and services from others.
These are called utility companies or dividend companies and no one judges them a failure, outside of the SV bubble.
Though I also agree that there should be more wealth redistribution. But without a very significant increase in that sort of thing, the existing laws are still going to be more in the way of workers than actually helping them in my opinion.
Certainly not. But for every two people that do, that's one more 40-hour-a-week job eliminated from the market. Unemployment is already at, depending on who you ask, 5% to 10%. Do we want to make that worse?
Further, people's natural productivity drops off after a certain point due to exhaustion. Why would an employer even want to pay the same employee to work to the bone when they can pay two employees the same amount and have them at their best?
> And there are many people who already want to work 60 or more hours a week who get a second job to do that, but it's a very annoying and inconvenient process
This isn't meant as a negative response to you, I just thought I'd share my experiences with you, if you're interested.
When I first started out on my own at 18, I was in the position where I had to. To qualify for an apartment, you had to make 3x the income level of your rent. The cheapest apartment was this affair where you paid for a room and shared living space with three others (they handled the roommates for you, so you weren't screwed if one up and left), for $425 a month (this was in 2001.)
Net income from 40 hours a week at Wal-Mart was just shy of $800 a month. So that required me working an extra 25-30 hours a week at McDonalds. It wasn't too bad because I spoke with both managers and worked things out before accepting the second job. But I agree, this can usually be really hard in these kinds of jobs that want to change your schedule every week.
Now to say that people "want" to do this ... holy fuck no. I literally started getting gray streaks in my hair after a few weeks of doing that. At 18 years old. I had no energy or time to do anything else. I basically lived to work.
I get that people do this, and some even work -more- hours, and do even -harder- work (like farm labor.) But, you know, fuck that. With my body decayed as much as it has since then, it would be impossible for me to do that again. And honestly, no hyperbole at all, I'd rather be dead than live like that again.
I always find it so laughably obscene that just because I am good at computer programming, I now earn six times more per hour (even accounting for inflation), and work 40% less hours per week. I never feel right that I make so much more simply because I'm good at something that others aren't. The lazy ones who don't try, sure. But the ones who just don't have the intellect for higher skilled labor ... that's heartbreaking that they're stuck in these kinds of positions.
And since I've shared their experience, it's a lot harder for me to turn a blind eye and tell them to just work more.
Now all that said, maybe you've worked longer and harder than I have, and find me to be a huge wuss. And there's probably some truth in that. I'm definitely only speaking for myself here.
In part the answer is that people actually do work less than they used to. Less child labor, longer retirement--even the idea of retirement is something new.
Seems like that paid family leave so many want would be a good way to lessen work.
Society has found ways to cope with efficiency before, and the result has always been that people wind up with a higher standard of living. There's no reason it will be different now.
Sure. But there's some truly devastating automations coming up unlike any before it.
Self-driving vehicles are going to kill four million decent paying jobs driving semis. Where are these jobs going to go? Manufacturing is all but gone here. Outsourcing is taking out another huge swath of skilled workers. We're not going to be able to run an entire economy on the service industry.
And even those jobs aren't safe. Grocery stores are steadily replacing cashiers with self-checkouts. Fast food is increasingly being automated -- Eatsa has one employee working per store. People are staying home and ordering online where warehouse jobs at eg Amazon are increasingly assisted by automation.
Yes, if we look at the past, there's a lot of unnecessary jobs we've eliminated. Pin setters for bowling alleys, street lamp lighters, phone switch operators, etc. Then we have the really good paying jobs we've cut through outsourcing manufacturing and programming jobs. And yes, every time we've had some new job for people to go to. And they've always been worse jobs with lower pay.
We've gone from a time where one person working could afford a house and two cars, and get a pension retirement at 65; to now where both spouses need to work, probably can't afford a house, and will need their kids to get by on student loans to go to college. 401Ks do not replace pensions, and they can disappear out from under you (eg MCI Worldcom.)
But this time is different: we're really on the bottom rung of jobs in the service industry. Replace these jobs, and there's nowhere else to go.
Society is going to be forced to deal with a post-work economy. I don't mean no one working, but I do mean "there aren't enough jobs for everyone to work 40, let alone 60, hours a week." Broken window fallacy and all.
I think the pace of automation is slow right now, as we still aren't very good with AI. But eventually there's going to be a breakthrough in AI, and I don't see our governments keeping up with how rapidly everything is going to change.
Maybe this future is 10 years away. Maybe it's 100 years away. But it is coming.
Yeah. Also slavery might work.
Maybe we shouldn't optimize for the lesser evil but fix the issue altogether?
How would working more without any more wages actually help the worker? Or do you mean the worker would receive their normal hourly wage without the "additional expense" of time-and-a-half overtime rates?
This scheme sounds insane, a recipe for slave-driving and exploitation of the worst kinds.
I was saying they ought to get the same hourly rate but that the time and a half pay should not be mandated as a federal law as it is now.
A substantial (2-digit) number of percentages are substantial (2-digit) percentages.
Are you saying that in order to do business, a company must pay each employee enough to keep them off food stamps?
That's a subsidy. Every welfare dollar that helps a Walmart employee stay alive and go to work tomorrow is a gift from the taxpayer to Walmart shareholders: they'd have to pay for it if we didn't.
Thank you Mr Privileged.
Frankly, if they unilaterally decided to pay more it would harm more poor people than it would help since all kinds of poor people shop at Walmart (and would have to bear the resulting higher prices) and rich people don't.
Edit: added 'unilaterally'
And do you see why I think this headline of all things is ironic?
At worst, it would result in unemployment and recession.
It is exactly as valid to claim WalMart is saving taxpayers money by creating jobs and paying people who we'd have to fully support otherwise.
Walmart already has extremely low profit margins, any increase in wages would be passed directly to their poor customers.
In fact, the status quo is the best way of solving the wealth inequality problem. That is, let Walmart make as much profit as they can and then tax the hell out of them, their well-paid executives, and their shareholders and redistribute that tax money to the poor.
Simultaneously they employ millions of worker that otherwise have few alternative job opportunities, and do so while consistently having among the lowest net income margins of any major corporation on the planet at ~3%. The mom & pop shops Walmart has often replaced were no better, they pay even higher wages than those businesses ever have.
If you want to defend wage floors, going back to the "original purpose" of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act is probably a bad strategy.
"People employed at the lowest wages" was, at the time, a very strong dog-whistle for "immigrants and black people". The FLSA was passed with broad support from unions like the AFL, but that's because they wanted to ensure that their (largely white) members were employed and didn't have their jobs "stolen" by poorer immigrants and black people who were willing to work for less.
In other words, unions were betting that wage floors would mean "employees getting paid more, but fewer people employed", and they (correctly) assumed that discrimination against black people and immigrants would ensure that the white union members would still be among the group of people who remained employed.
> “The Caucasians . . . are not going to let their standard of living be destroyed by negroes, Chinamen, Japs or any others - Samuel Gompers, who founded the American Federation of Labor
> [Gompers] declared he was always ready to assert his patriotism on behalf of the colored man, saying " 'Tis true that some white men have been angered at the introduction of black strike breakers. I have stood as a champion of the colored man and have sacrificed self and much of the movement that the colored man should get a chance. But the Caucasians are not going to let their standard of living be destroyed by negroes, Chinamen, Japs or any others.
The statement fell in a discussion of black workers being pulled in as strike breakers in Chicago (the issue is returned to in a later section in the same article, warning that continued strike breaking would trigger race hate), not in the context of any discussion of minimum wage.
Curiously it is almost always quoted the way you do, with the "..." which do not appear in the original source (nor is any text cut from the quote at that point), and out of context, and is generally used to prop up modern attacks on the minimum wage.
Finding examples of racist then is easy - many unions still did not admit non-white members, and Gompers himself e.g. argued strongly for continued strict restriction on Asian immigration to the US and used racist language to do it.
But that quote is a curious choice both to use as a demonstration of Gompers or AFL racism given the context, and to quote in dicussions about minimum wage given that it's not what the quote is about.
When white natives decided to work for less, they got hateful slurs too. They were called "scabs", and their was no racial motivation to it.
Gompers took us halfway -- to wage floors, and the Equal Rights / Anti-Discrimination laws took us the other half, to a comprehensive platform of support for the entire working class. (Of course, that platform still has holes and erosions and needs repairs)
The current case being made for more open borders is that a flood of low wage workers is _awesome_ for society.
It's called overtime.
Instead of working one person 80 hours a week, give two people jobs where each works 40 hours a week.
If you want to work someone more than 40 hours a week, fine--but pay time and a half for those additional hours.
Cheaper to employ more people.
They may actually have such a responsibility, they simply don't have an obligation.
No wonder EITC is so popular among the usual suspects.
This is a weird criticism to make, because the EITC doesn't "offload" labor costs at all. In fact, the biggest advantage of the EITC over systems like wage floors is that the EITC is completely invisible to the employer. (If you hire ten employees for the same role at the same wage, three could be receiving EITC benefits, but you may not even know, because you're paying them the same amount regardless. It just so happens that the people who receive the benefits end up taking home more of the money you give them.
> No wonder EITC is so popular among the usual suspects.
EITC has broad, bipartisan support not because of some conspiracy, but because it actually works. And, unlike the minimum wage, it scales gradually, and it also can be used to target people in need of different levels of assistance with zero additional overhead.
In other words, take that example of ten employees. Three are on the EITC - one is a middle-aged, single mother of three children, one is a married father of two, and one is a 22-year old single mother attending college full-time (on top of work). The other seven are all upper-middle-class college students who have all of their tuition and their living expenses paid for by their parents, and are simply working a summer job to earn some extra pocket cash for the "non-essential" expenses that their parents won't cover.
It's pretty clear that those three need assistance whereas the other seven don't. And it's also clear that those three don't need exactly the same levels of assistance either. But for the employer, that doesn't (and shouldn't) factor into the equation - you don't want the employer deciding that the single working mother of three needs to be paid more.
The EITC provides an easy way for those three to take home more money without the employer entering the equation. And all three cases result in the same amount of government overhead, regardless of how much assistance they receive. Furthermore, if they receive raises (perhaps they're promotion) or their eligibility changes (let's say the first woman gets married, and the combined incomes mean she needs less - or let's say one of them has an additional child), the assistance calculation scales smoothly with those life changes.
 If for no other reason than the fact that, in the long run, this results in employment discrimination against women (and especially mothers).
According to Megan McArdle's article on Walmart and Costco , Walmart has one employee for every $211,000 in revenue while Costco has one employee for every $620,000 in revenue. For each dollar of revenue, Walmart hires 3 people compared to 1 for Costco, which has 107,000 employees.
Thus, if Costco were using Walmart's metrics, they would hire about 215,000 additional employees, most of whom would need only a high school education, at that. Jobs that can be done with little education are the jobs that are being exported to Mexico and China.
Interestingly, articles on paying higher wages never seem to focus on the number of people employed.
I'm simply demonstrating that Costco could hire more employees among the segment of people with little education and help to lower unemployment. Many people batter Walmart for not increasing wages for employees, but just as important is that Costco could hire many more employees and help to reduce unemployment.
In my view, I think the writers should point out Walmart as an example of hiring 3 times more people per dollar of revenue than Costco (I don't know the figure for Trader Joe's) and thus, compared to Costco, doing much more to reduce unemployment. But you never read an article asking Costco to hire more people, only criticizing Walmart for not paying enough.
In fact, as I'm thinking about this, perhaps you're saying it's a meaningless metric because it makes no sense to compare dollars per average transaction-second to dollars for all cashiers, as the units aren't correlated and just give random values.
"The profit landscape is less sunny. Operating income for Walmart’s United States stores was down 6 percent in the most recent quarter, reflecting higher labor costs and other new investments."
And while employee headcount from 2008 is mentioned, there is no mention of the number of employees who have been let go to allow for paying high wages to the remaining workers.
This article is yet another example of how the NY Times is a well-disguised propaganda arm of the Democratic Party.
"The results are promising. By early 2016, the proportion of stores hitting their targeted customer-service ratings had rebounded to 75 percent. Sales are rising again."
One example of how this may be better is a lower performing store that is still making a profit may stay open, other larger chains may remove stores and cut lower performing stores even though profit is made. Not a flawless system but owning shares, ownership and being a part of the company in this way makes the best work come out of skilled people.
The reason low profit locations are often shut down is because there are often higher profit places to park that capital.
So if I'm a shareholder employee of another location or HQ, I might wonder why we're not doing something that will grow the company even more.
Of course this is where things like company values and mission statements come into play to ensure everyone is aligned.
Not advocating that this is necessarily what I'd do in that situation, just curious how it is handled when it inevitably comes up.
Why do i believe they're not helping the American economy? Because firstly, that is not what they legally holden to (ie, the stock holders). Secondly, and most importantly, Walmart is costing the country a lot by not paying their workers a living wage. So a job at walmart means another person on government social aid program(s).
As opposed to a person with no job (at Walmart or otherwise) who would then not be on said programs?
That is, you are assuming that if Walmart paid more it would still have just as many employees. This assumption is not obviously true, and is likely false.
By (loose) definition, non-living wage employment results in needing assistance - ie government assistance. Whether you agree with it or not is another story.
I'm not saying Walmart shouldn't exist because employees are on government assistance. I'm saying that Walmart is profiting off of this assistance.
I think it's important in discussions like these to point out that Costco got to $100 billion a year without advertising by just paying people well and keeping management out of their way. The result was they did a great job with high customer service that spread business by word of mouth. Remember that this $100+ billion business started in 1983. Publix, founded in 1930, similarly minimized number and cost of management and executives while keeping large numbers of production workers whose personal stock rewards them based on company performance. Founder, like Costco's, still rich despite taking care of employees. The result is Publix is most profitable of all grocers with highest service level. Almost twice the margin of Walmart despite selling less stuff with very, conservative expansion.
This shit isn't rocket science like biased NY Times and other corporate media would have you believe. Virtually every company that does these things outperforms those that don't. Toyota Production System probably being one with most media coverage. They rarely talk about most, though, since the owners of corporate media are themselves pulling outrageous amounts of money out of their semi-micro-managed companies. Any widespread change of the compensation situation in America to favor workers would pull money of out media managers' own pockets. So they seem to censor companies like Publix and Costco a lot while making a big fuss of how McDonalds might handle a raise. Sickening but makes rational sense given incentives of media executives (highest compensation) and business model (ad revenue from companies screwing workers). Don't bite the hand that feeds.
It's that simple for vast majority of cases. As I always say, most of these medium to high margin firms could take care of and enable workers if a 1.6%, 2.2%, or 5.6% (IIRC...) margin company can do it. That those companies outperform micro-managed firms treating people like cogs despite less management & executive compensation means companies forgoing this strategy are doing it for reasons that have nothing to do with company performance. More like executive's paychecks and managers' egos. ;)
Please don't mislead readers with false information. The original NYT title does not have the word "profits" in it:
"How Did Walmart Get Cleaner Stores and Higher Sales? It Paid Its People More"
This is a critical distinction because the details of the story actually explain that profits are down -- not up -- after paying their workers more:
>The profit landscape is less sunny. Operating income for Walmart’s United States stores was down 6 percent in the most recent quarter, reflecting higher labor costs and other new investments.
>In the short term, the Walmart experiment shows pretty clearly that paying people better improves both the work force and the shoppers’ experience, but not profitability, at least not yet.
So, just because Walmart is paying them better, does not inherently mean they are happier OR that i know they are being treated better. I had no clue, and thusly have not changed my shopping habits at all.
Also, please read:
While it's not always applicable, paying more for the best is not a bad idea in dev and IT. Just be sure that you can survive up to 100% of the top people on your dev and IT teams getting replaced by ensuring you have good design, good code, good management, good training, and good documentation.
Wow. That's descriptive.
Employees that have higher skills will get the higher-paying job and the ones with lower skills will have even less of a chance to get a job.
My fiancee has been steadily employed by a different retail chain and was on Medicaid/etc because of the useless minimum wage pay.
Now we're double income (along with a moderate engineer pay), so she no longer needs that, thankfully.
"Someone working 40 hours a week should not be on government aid."
This has nothing to do with Walmart, because they pay above minimum wage.
If you have 3 kids (a personal choice) and have no choice but to work at Walmart (because of a lack of skills), and you are forced to get government assistance, you need to start re-evaluating your personal choices.
The problem is that everybody has different needs and should make decision accordingly. Many people make bad personal choices and can't support themselves on the standard, minimum wage. The healthcare system does need to be fixed, but also needs to be more stress on personal responsibility.
"My fiancee has been steadily employed by a different retail chain and was on Medicaid/etc because of the useless minimum wage pay."
I have a hard time believing she was getting minimum wage. My Wife has worked at almost every single retail chain stocking and doing other various jobs and has always gotten paid more than minimum wage.
All of the fast food chains and most retail stores in my area pay at least $2/hour above minimum wage. The reason is because market competition has pushed the wages up and they wouldn't be able to find many workers at anything less.
Note that at that point, you have essentially no option. You can't retrain because the Government is entirely unwilling to look after your family while you do, and you can't save money on retail wages to be able to quit your job to retrain. You're stuck until your children are able to support themselves.
So the answer is to just shrug our shoulders and make it easier and easier for more people to get themselves into the situation because the government or the taxpayers will bail them out?
Why is this the job of the government? If this is the case, I, the taxpayer, should have a lot more control over the people that decide they need me to pay for their kids while they retrain. The government should have complete control over the family and money decisions (IE: no drugs, alcohol, or expensive gadgets) while on the dole.
The people that do the right thing and make better personal choices always seem to get punished these days. I don't have a problem using some of my tax dollars to help the needy (I donate money every year to the poor), but when there are egregious abuses of the system, we should have some say in how our money is spent.
It is the job of the government if people decide it is the job of the government to provide a safety net.
And it ought to be in part on the assumption that a proportion of those who finds themselves in such as situation either is there without fault and/or want to improve and stop being a drain on the taxpayer. Investing in their future is also investing in increased tax revenue and reduced future benefits payments.
It's already easy to get into a situation where you get stuck working paycheck-to-paycheck and can't get out of it. Very, very easy. What's your solution for people who are actually in this situation?
Also, your country's obsession with controlling people on the dole is insane. In pretty much the entirety of the rest of the world, people get money and are expected to spend it on housing, food, and a little bit left over to spend on things to keep mentally healthy. If it turns out they can't manage that, then money can be sent directly to your landlord and municipal-funded organisations can come in to help you sort your llife out.