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A few thoughts
I saw a segment on Lou Dobbs last evening re: a book that was not, shall I say, kind to WalMart. This evening, Lou will interview a book author who takes the opposite view.
Trying to look at the big picture here....
For quite a while some companies require drug testing, feeling that, not only can it endanger the workplace, but also the health of the user.
Many companies have banned smoking on premises, and some ban smokers altogether. As health care costs rise dramatically, some are looking at other risk factors, such as obesity.
Another move has been to cross-train workers, which lessens the impact of employee absences.
I've read that our production has increased, but with fewer workers. This may very well contribute to stress, fatigue and burn out. It's possible this has motivated companies to select employees who can handle the added burdens.
All retail is not just standing behind a counter. It requires lifting, stretching, walking, and bending.
IMO, it involves risk taking, which some employer want to minimize, or pass the risks onto their employees. Many now have health insurance plans that allow the worker to select their coverage.
Increasingly, retirement funding is being passed on to the workers.
Then there are the companies that don't give a whit about their workers, or what happens to them. Others have not properly funded their pension plans that workers thought were solid.
Back to WalMart....
It employs "greeters" made up of retired people. Even that means standing, walking, bending and shaking hands, while keeping a cheery face and voice.
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Another issue with smokers....
....is that they have to take smoke breaks, sometimes quite frequently depending on how bad their habit is. More smoke breaks = less time spent doing their jobs. Some companies have policies that say that smoke breaks must be subtracted from lunch breaks, but I'm sure there's plenty of abuse.
What I don't like are companies that instruct their employees to take those smoke breaks out in front of the building. Anyone entering or exiting the building has to walk through a cloud of tobacco smoke.
They can get away with it because there are so many
people available for jobs. Once the market tightens up,if it ever does,companies will have to give in order to get!
Reminds me a little of what went on in the 1930's when guys with engineering degress made a living shaking down peoples coal furnaces. When there are more workers than there are jobs companies can and do demand more from employees!
Re funding pension funds
It seems from reading that as more and more companies default to the pension fund insurance agency, others cost in the fund go up and up, so more give up pensions, etc, upward spiral.
Companies are dropping pensions in favor of 401K contributions. Interesting that something that started out as a tax shelter for the upper incomes in the beginning is now becoming the defacto retirement fund.
Fixed benefit pensions are disappearing everywhere. And the real shame is that it's happening to people after they thought they had it all planned, based on promises made and now broken as pensions plans are changed with employees at the end of their working careers.
It sounds like soon the only way the U.S. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. will be solvent is to use general tax dollars, and then more business will bail because they can't pay pensions and compete with those that do. The U.S. agency that insures the pensions of 44 million workers said its deficit more than doubled to $23.3 billion this year on the expectation additional company retirement plans will fail.
Even though I believe in self-planning, it's downright wrong for companies to promise employees something for years, then at the last minute snatch it away. Ask AA employess about how they were asked to accept pension and pay cuts while the upper management moved their pension plans outside the restructuring.
It's sad, we as a society have little reverence and regard for our elders or ourself anymore. It's all about what we can have today I'm afraid.
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Sad to say Roger
That often times the people who have maneuvered their companies pension plan towards insolvency are the the late middle aged and elderly CEOs in charge of these same companies.
As a Huperson (kudos to KP) who will retire in 20 years, UNLESS the retirement age changes, I have grown more alarmed as time marches on by how acceptable it has become to run up debt as if it is a financially acceptable practice. We hear everyday of some company who has under financed their retirement funds in order to produce better quarterly reports. This ought to be against the law but how can you condemn this practice when the US government does it with Social Security ? I live in the state where they keep the IOUs for the SS surplus that the Government borrows and never pays back every year.
It has become a recognized business policy to short retirement and it's been going on for years. Thats why we hear about more and more companies defaulting on their obligations. Ironic that it is just as easy as ever for a major company to declare bankruptcy when the people most effected - who now can't pay their bills - have had the bankruptcy laws tightened up to stop "abusive" bankruptcies.
The only benefit I see out of this whole affair is this will recreate the traditional extended family as very soon many will not be able to live on their own due to rising costs of food, shelter, heating and healthcare. I hope everyone gets along with their kids !
I rarely see a greeter get up from their stool!
Not saying they should really, but they aren't the most active of the lot It is a nice gesture by WalMart IMO, because I doubt WalMart sales hinge on the "perk" of the greeters, yet these folks get (prevailing) "minimum" wage for starters. Most do it for the added benefits.
(NT) The only one I've seen sitting was in a wheelchair.
(NT) Must be lazier up here!
I doubt they'd be sitting if the store's rules forbade it
Obviously it's allowed in the cases you're seeing. Perhaps the person has trouble standing for any length of time. Lack of a visible wheelchair doesn't necessarily mean they're fit but lazy.
I work as a cashier at Sam's Club
I've been a greeter and we stand the whole time and we have to keep carts lined up so they can be offered to members and we have to greet members and ask for their cards.
WalMart greeters also stand and offer carts and welcome customers.
These are the only stores I know of that have greeters.
Just commented that in my area ...
... the greeters don't stand as a general rule in Wal Mart. Maybe those stores are more lax, or they have hired folks with more problems standing. I have no problem with it. It is a job that WalMart largely keeps to provide jobs for those that probably couldn't handle much more physically. Nobody would notice any difference if WM had no greeters. There are checkers that get to sit as well, but that is not the norm. Working retail is not the easiest of jobs, I've never said otherwise.
We have several stores here that have greeters
Their responsibilites differ a bit. Meijers and Andersons (General Store) are two we have but other stores have ''quazi'' greeting persons. Some offer carts or the latest fliers. Some just give a smile and a nice welcome message. Most, it seems, are...shall I say....of more ''mature'' age. I rather like the idea. My daughter has worked at Lowes for a couple of summers between school terms. She has noted (as I have known) that if you really want help and knowledgable information about products there you need to seek out one of the older guys in the aisles. The young folks supply the muscle and the older ones the experience. I presume those in the middle of the age spectrum are the managers and supervisors who probably earn more and have more benefits. The concept seems to work well.
I don't know, but I'm guessing that 'greeters' are probably
part time, and, therefore, do not get benefits. They may do it to stay active.
... you can get benefits with many retailers even if you are part time. You pay a bit more, but I know several folks who have those types of jobs pretty much just to have benefits.
The greeters (and other retiree help)
....... at least in my area, work to supplement their income. There are no benefits for those on Medicare, except a store discount, and keeping mind and body busy.
There is a national chain hardware store near me, and a couple of retired gentlemen work there part time. As Steven noted, these are the ones who know the hardware business and are most helpful.
BTW, that store was privately owned for years. You could find 'most anything there - it was amazing! They had some nails in bins so you could buy by weight. There are many restored old homes in the neighborhood, and they sold stuff that would fit and retro-fit. All sizes of lamp chimneys and glass shades. It was fun just to look around for an hour or two! The guys could tell you how to do projects, and sell you the proper stuff to get them done.
Now the inventory is just basic.
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Businesses don't hire people because they're trying to be
nice. They hire because they are trying to deliver services or products to the consumer on a competitive and profitable basis.
As I stated, besides delivering a service or product companies are turning on thier own. Too often reported that benefits are eroding and/or gone. Further, pensions are practically attacked in order to keep the money in-house rather than let it go. All these benefits and what nots were long ago agreeded upon if not in good flavour at least to keep the peace. Any benefit is strongly rehashed again and again to see if it can be whittled down to lessen the burden on a company but lets face it that's part of being in business. Its not the workers or general employee's fault that foreign labor or goods get dumped or offered very very cheaply. -----Willy
Pensions don't have much to do with hiring practices.
Pensions are being cut for the same reason that a lot of things are done; to keep the company competitive. In many cases, unions forced costs beyond what companies are able to pay. Something eventually had to give. Another problem has been the government holding interest rates to paltry levels. This means that the funds set aside to pay pensions are no longer sufficient to do the job. Like most things, these issues have many contributing causes. Blaming them on corporate greed falls far short of understanding the real causes.
Cost of doing business
I look at pensions as a benefit, "earned" from years of hard labor. Once hired, benefits become part of the picture. It certainly helps if a co. is able to afford and keep affording to pay for those benefits. Certainly it falls on the profits of the co. but as I mentioned, that's the cost of doing business. -----Willy
One place where I do find agreement ...
... is corporations that lay off older workers who are close to a milestone for pensions. After a year of good profits, an insurer laid off the father of my grad school labmate. He was only 50 (or a few years older) so it would be a while before SS would kick in. He had worked for the company for a long time, but was a couple of years shy of getting 100% of his pension benefit. The dropoff was significant (like 75 or 80%) so the layoff was particularly rotten.
OTOH, my FIL and several people I know have received nice "golden parachutes" to retire early -- full pension or whatever retirement bennie and a bonus. In the long run the companies came out ahead as their replacements could be hired in a significantly lower wages.
Exactly, some cos. in hidden ways find reasons to be rid of those that will cost them if kept. They certainly don't make it public. I've "heard" the humor(take it at face value) that UPS drivers were found at around 9yrs. or employment(in the 80's) becoming too much of a burden to keep and one way or another were dismissed(fired, in any way possible, let go if you prefer) in order to cut them loose. The replacements were less cost and the whole 9yards. When cos. use these tactics, what can they ever hope that empoyess won't take the necessary actions to protect themselves and get into thier own camps foster hostility and/or look at the other side in the worst way. As you mentioned, higher ups tned to make themselves as comfortable as possible, golden parachutes being mentioned. How would the upper rank feel if they couldn't trust even those aroud them in upper management w/o those parachutes, etc. can easily see how lower rank&file would react. off soapbox -----Willy
WRT the golden parachute ...
... I clarified in another post that I WASN'T referring to the "bigwigs". My FIL was not alone in his circle of friends/family in being offered one. His company and the economy as a whole wasn't doing too well at the time. They didn't have to do it really, they could have just laid off the newer hires (to heck with their families) and made the old guys work extra hours (required "overtime" was not unheard of at that company). Their golden parachutes deserve kudos not jeers.
UPS is unionized. I have a hard time believing that workers
are 'fired' as they approach retirement at UPS. They'ld get their tails sued off. I think you shouldn't rely too much on what you 'hear'. Many will talk just to hear themselves talk.
Reread earlier post
I said nothing in "retirement" but rather they approached
at around 9yrs. a different or apparently so payscale of to the co. a burben. This was a cutting off point and management was trying to curtailed those getting too far into the benefits pile. These rumors were passed on by UPS workers to me. That's why I stated it as so, rumor. It later came out in press roughly 6-9mo. later from memory. Once it came out, things were changed. But, apparently the thinking is very much used in any business. Its strange how some close to retirement(I use retirement now) have to jump hoops it seems in some cos. . -----Willy
See your rumor and raise you one ...
... anecdotal observation. The UPS guy in my area has been there forever. So has the one in my folks area. So was my brother's friend.
I kinda think being a UPS driver is an enjoyable job of sorts because I've met VERY few that seem unhappy or ***** about work when they get off (used to work out at a gym down the block from a UPS and the guys used to come there after work for working out and socializing at the bar at the club).
There would have been a strike if this were true. I don't
recall a strike over this at UPS.
The pension has pretty much been a thing of the past ...
... for a large portion of the private sector for quite a while. The 401K is far superior and provides workers with far more flexibility. With the exception of a few larger companies, mostly only union workers (government and corporate) have pensions.
There should be a better way to offer the younger workers a way out of that system while making good on the promises to older ones. It seems one impediment to that is union insistence that pension programs be continued for all.
Please explain why the person making the company profitable, i.e., the worker, gets shafted and the execs get millions in compensation and retirement golden parachutes? How does one differentiate the costs between the physical, actual doing of the job, and the mental performance of management?
My uncle retired a few years ago from Bethlehem Steel with a nice pension. They file bankruptcy, he loses his pension and the Feds pick it up at a reduced benefit.
IMHO when people quit buying cheap plastic Chinese junk sold by Wal-Mart we can get some jobs back in the USA, if the environmentalists will let companies build plants.
I'd disagree with you about the notion that the
worker is the person that makes a company profitable. It's more like a symbiosis IMO. There is a risk to becoming an employer and to accepting employment. It might be noteworthy that pensions becoming passe seems to parallel that of employees being willing to stay on for the longer term. It's a long time before many employees are actually contributing to company profits and turnover costs money. Folks like your uncle are rare and becoming extinct as more people aren't interested in long term employment. Such also affects the risks one takes when starting or taking on a business. They need to deal with more turnover than ever and this means constant training cycles during which most employees are not assisting in the positive side of a profit picture.
Hence the beauty of the 401K
(1) You are 100% vested for your contribution from Day 1. That contribution comes at least in part from increased wages the company would otherwise have paid into a pension fund you would get no benefit from unless you put in several years with the company.
(2) My hubby was 100% vested in his employer's contribution from Day 1. Originally their contribution was restricted, but now it can be put in as cash in what amounts to a savings account if that's what you opt for. Again, that money is in your hands/account, not being paid into a fund you have to stick around several years to see a payback from. Judging from discussions he's had with folks coming from other companies or going to other companies, this is more the norm than the exception today. IAC, even if there is a lag in participation or vesting, it's months to a couple of years, not a long haul before you see squat.
(3) Aside from the portion in company stock (which some don't even have), you retain the investment even if the company goes under.
(4) You can work 10 years at 4 different companies, 4 years at 10 different companies, or whatever you please, and you can take the retirement bennies with you and your benefit is not tied to length of service. No more sticking with a job because you've put in 10 years and 10 more gets you X so you're miserable for the next 10.
Now if only we could own our SS.
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