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  1. #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by HighFlyinBey++ View Post
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Sam Walton pride himself on paying living wages and treating employees like family (while promoting American-made goods) and that it was after his death that his heirs decided to cut corners to maximize their personal profits?
    So my question is, since this was once a viable and enviable business model, why isn't it now?
    I'm not arguing, I'm just explaining why I'm right
    Violence doesn't end violence. It extends it. Break the cycle.



  2. #122

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    I suppose I will regret this late but here goes
    in many ways the current drama with large corporations affects me the same way
    backstory:

    we started selling commercial hay in 1997.tore up all the great cattle fields (we were at one time one of the largest purebred Charolais farms in TN) and started acquiring land off the home farm. Diesel was .97 c /gal....the average price of 50 lbs of hay was $250/ton ($5bale)

    fast forward to 2008 and we had 10 employees making from minimum to $15 drawing about 15 hours of overtime each week...

    then the first lick hit.....and our wealthiest clients (as horses are a luxury market) told us point blank that summer they would cut back to nothing in the fall...at least they warned us.

    and so it happened that we lost 60% of the hay market that one fall. gone. poof.

    so all the investments we made in training the men.all the soil tests,all the forage tests,all the website time all the fertilizers all the weed control the big barn countless insurance and tax payments .....everything....had now come to nothing. gone

    (now I mention that as all the background we did to offer a premium product could be seen in the same light as safety regulations and employee perks and job security in a much bigger corporation)
    so now FFWD to today....

    we sell premium hay with just a little markup for processing (yes really) and we are SURROUNDED by people who basically dump their hay on the market twice a year for LESS than the nutrients they took from the ground and people RUN to them for their hay...complaining that ours is too expensive...

    so...what do we as a corporation do? cut wages? cut employee hours? cut what...???

    the quality of the hay has not changed really only the inputs to make it..

    so what do we do...?

    I'll give you guys some guesses and they tell you what we did do

    best
    Tamara
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  3. #123
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    So then your OK with your taxes supplementing the wages of those companies that choose to pay a non living wage, even though some big box stores (Costco for example) are able to be successful while paying decent wages and benefits.
    Geez, you're stuck on that, arent you. I guess you'd rather they all sit home and collect full welfare. How do you like your taxes supporting that? At least this way they are working, are earning money, and if they need a little bit of government assistance, it isnt as much as full welfare.

    Try and get a different argument, this one doesnt hold any water.


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  4. #124
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara in TN View Post
    Diesel was .97 c /gal....the average price of 50 lbs of hay was $250/ton ($5bale)
    May I add that Eastern Oregon hay (often imported over the Cascades to the Willamette Valley by those who know the hay here has the nutritional value of a Slim Jim) is still about $250 a ton? Maybe $300. But diesel costs 4X the amount.

    It sucks big dick indeed when businesses have to make huge and relatively illiquid investments in order to produce their products. The dairy farmers I ran with in Central NY were like this: They had millions in equipment or payments and tiny margins on their milk.

    A very tough way to make a living and "keep on keepin' on." I have no idea how crop farmers wrap their mind around the utterly uncontrollable stuff like the weather.
    The armchair saddler
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  5. #125
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    Quote Originally Posted by halo View Post
    Geez, you're stuck on that, arent you. I guess you'd rather they all sit home and collect full welfare. How do you like your taxes supporting that? At least this way they are working, are earning money, and if they need a little bit of government assistance, it isnt as much as full welfare.

    Try and get a different argument, this one doesnt hold any water.
    Doesn't hold water? I suppose that's true if you are a shareholder in these companies. But what if you are the taxpayer who doesn't patronize these places? You are paying for goods you never got!
    The armchair saddler
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  6. #126

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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    May I add that Eastern Oregon hay (often imported over the Cascades to the Willamette Valley by those who know the hay here has the nutritional value of a Slim Jim) is still about $250 a ton? Maybe $300. But diesel costs 4X the amount.

    It sucks big dick indeed when businesses have to make huge and relatively illiquid investments in order to produce their products. The dairy farmers I ran with in Central NY were like this: They had millions in equipment or payments and tiny margins on their milk.

    A very tough way to make a living and "keep on keepin' on." I have no idea how crop farmers wrap their mind around the utterly uncontrollable stuff like the weather.
    ok but what do I as a corporation do to stay open pay this "living wage" and be constantly undercut by cheaper products?

    Tamara
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


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  7. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by halo View Post
    Geez, you're stuck on that, arent you. I guess you'd rather they all sit home and collect full welfare. How do you like your taxes supporting that? At least this way they are working, are earning money, and if they need a little bit of government assistance, it isnt as much as full welfare.

    Try and get a different argument, this one doesnt hold any water.
    Of course it does. I would prefer the companies pay they way and not expect us, the taxpayers, to subsidize their low wages. According to several studies, if Walmart increased the minimum wage paid to $12.00/hour, it would impact the average Walmart shopper by $12.47. That's just a little over $1 a month. Your argument doesn't hold water.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant


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  8. #128
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara in TN View Post
    ok but what do I as a corporation do to stay open pay this "living wage" and be constantly undercut by cheaper products?

    Tamara
    You use the same capital you have (land and machinery and the training you put into your current employees) to grow the Slim Jim of a product your market demands.

    After all, you still have to make those payments and have those sunk costs no matter what you grow.

    I think, too, that principals and investors in a company need to be sure that they don't say "I'll take my X% profit out first, come hell or high water."

    A guy I worked for after college helped bankrupt his company by getting this wrong. He had remortgaged his house to start up this company. That was the first bill paid each month by the company. (After that, salaries were paid, then the IRS and then suppliers and last, freight companies). It was there that I learned the legal order of these obligations. By the way, the IRS is first, salaries second.... investors are way at the end of the line.

    If you can't pay a living wage to the employees you have, no way, no how, you try to make it easy for them to either earn that by working for you/and or someone else. Can you adjust your schedules to make it possible for those guys to hold a second job? Can you boast about fabulous training that they can take with them to a second job? Are your employees wealthy enough (or open-minded enough) to appreciate the "in kind" value you give them as opposed to cash on the barrel? So, can you get people to stay because you work around their childcare things or unreliable transportation or whatever?

    I feel bad writing these suggestions as I'm sure they have occurred to you and I'm playing that game of naive catch-up that doesn't help you move forward from where you are.

    But again, if folks want to buy Petunias instead of Alfalfa and you can supply that, don't turn up your nose!
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  9. #129
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    MVP I have to ask, are you a small business owner? Have you ever started and run your own business? You seem to know what it takes to run one. If so how is this economy affecting you and your employees?
    Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!!



  10. #130
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brookes View Post
    MVP I have to ask, are you a small business owner? Have you ever started and run your own business? You seem to know what it takes to run one. If so how is this economy affecting you and your employees?
    The big reveal!

    No, I haven't being the principal of diddly squat, save my under-the-table horse training/exercise business when I was a highschooler.

    But I learned a ton working for that little failing business I described. It was so small that I got to see all parts of the operation up close and personal, including our probably illegal labor in the back who were doing the manufacturing.

    Oh, and the two partners in this business were very different, too.

    Guy with his name on the company and mortgages (and no clue how to cut his family's personal costs) was a risk-loving entrepreneur who reveled in the trading part of the game. He had made and lost one fortune before this one.

    His partner was a fantastically talented cosmetic chemist-- so valuable that the company bought "key man" insurance on his life. He immigrated from South America somewhere, grew up with servants where that was normal for his socioeconomic class But now he and his wife both worked, lived in a modest place and lived on a cash basis. His kids went to college and pursued practical programs like pharmacy degrees. A very grounded guy who also could work well with the latino labor in the back. He was a great judge of character and knew how to get the most from his workers-- when to push, when to say how much he trusted them with this or that job, how to hire and fire.

    You couldn't have picked two more opposite guys to put together in a start-up. I saw the writing on the wall and knew that, among other things, the partner was going to be the enormous loser in this. I bailed and it was painful to watch, but is was a fabulous education.
    The armchair saddler
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  11. #131
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    Of course it does. I would prefer the companies pay they way and not expect us, the taxpayers, to subsidize their low wages. According to several studies, if Walmart increased the minimum wage paid to $12.00/hour, it would impact the average Walmart shopper by $12.47. That's just a little over $1 a month. Your argument doesn't hold water.

    But has that been extrapolated over the entire population? If Walmart raises it's minimum wages $4.75/hr., other business will have to follow suit, including boarding barns, gas stations, fast food, Target and other big box stores, motels, grocery stores, etc., in order to compete for decent employees. Your Walmart bill may increase $12, but add to that increases in every other thing you purchase and service you pay for.

    Oh, and $12/hr. X (40 hours X 52 weeks) only comes to $25,000/year, which is still less than most people on the other thread stated was a living wage.

    Or is Walmart the only one who is expected to increase wages in this study?


    ETA: I'm not saying that wages should not be increased, just find it interesting that so many seem to think that this one place should have to while ignoring the many other employers who pay very similarly.


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  12. #132

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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    You use the same capital you have (land and machinery and the training you put into your current employees) to grow the Slim Jim of a product your market demands.
    After all, you still have to make those payments and have those sunk costs no matter what you grow.
    But again, if folks want to buy Petunias instead of Alfalfa and you can supply that, don't turn up your nose!
    yes. and now we grow corn,a product that the mill pays us for by the ton and does not cry that "my horse just won't eat it" on every other load.

    the men were cut to the four we needed to survive until now(this fall) and three are here as extras til harvest was done (but they knew that going in) and one permanent extra has come in the form of my sister since his death.

    but my point is when it comes to a real operation and real changes to be made many places are not as fluid as we had to be and will simply fail.

    tamara
    Last edited by Tamara in TN; Nov. 26, 2012 at 09:34 PM.
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.


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  13. #133
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    Quote Originally Posted by MoonoverMississippi View Post
    But has that been extrapolated over the entire population? If Walmart raises it's minimum wages $4.75/hr., other business will have to follow suit, including boarding barns, gas stations, fast food, Target and other big box stores, motels, grocery stores, etc., in order to compete for decent employees. Your Walmart bill may increase $12, but add to that increases in every other thing you purchase and service you pay for.

    Oh, and $12/hr. X (40 hours X 52 weeks) only comes to $25,000/year, which is still less than most people on the other thread stated was a living wage.

    Or is Walmart the only one who is expected to increase wages in this study?
    Yes, but a major employer underpaying actually makes this go backward. So when Walmart underpays and that helps them outsell competitors, those guys are forced to wring cash from a stone. The first cost you think you can cut? As often as not, your labor costs. Again, you have to pay your building lease, your suppliers and the rest.

    One person paid too much and replaced with two for less is a quick and legal way to go. That's why retail is so interested in software that helps them track customer flow to the hour so that the business can have no more sales people on the floor at any time than are needed.

    It's also why companies that work this way want to deskill jobs. After all, if you put in the time (read: money) to train an employee and you knew he'd be transient either because of his behavior or the nature of your business, you'd realize that you'd be bleeding money every time you laid off an employee.

    The reasons, then, to care about what a large employer is doing are two, so far as I can tell.

    1. They press smaller employers to follow suit as best they can. Walmart already gets some important perks for being a volume buyer. They get cheaper shipping rates, they can buy each unit cheaper when they place massive orders and, IME, they can dictate payment terms to suppliers. Little competitors get none of these advantages on the buying side. So Walmart, already able to price things lower by virtue of it's buying power takes "more" by lowering labor costs, the smaller operation next door is pressed, and pressed hard to cut labor costs as well.

    2. The largest of companies can better afford to set a standard for paying labor well than can the little guys. There is just more money and slack in their system that can absorb, say, one employee too many on the floor. That represents a proportionately smaller loss to the big company than it does to the smaller company.
    The armchair saddler
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  14. #134
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    Quote Originally Posted by LauraKY View Post
    Of course it does. I would prefer the companies pay they way and not expect us, the taxpayers, to subsidize their low wages. According to several studies, if Walmart increased the minimum wage paid to $12.00/hour, it would impact the average Walmart shopper by $12.47. That's just a little over $1 a month. Your argument doesn't hold water.

    Unskilled, entry level jobs SHOULD pay the minimum wage. These aren't career jobs nor are they meant to provide a living wage. If unskilled entry level is the only job someone can find due to the job market, they will hopefully be able to prove themselves and move up quickly...and/or will continue looking for better employment until they can move up into a living wage position. Just because these jobs are currently being filled by the "underemployed" doesn't mean they need to start paying a living wage.

    Getting a job is 50% of the struggle, getting the right job is the rest. Every job is not designed to support someone on.

    BTW - the living wage calculator says someone can live for $22k in my area. That's probably true, if they are frugal and have housemates (budgeted $850/month for housing) and it's even better if you have roommates (which is perfectly acceptable for college and even some post-college ages. I'm sure I'll get some thumbs downs for that ). That's $10.57/hour full time. Minimum wage in CA is $8(?)
    Keith: "Now...let's do something normal fathers and daughters do."
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  15. #135
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tamara in TN View Post

    yes. and now we grow corn,a product that the mill pays us for by the ton and does not cry that "my horse just won't eat it" on every other load.

    the men were cut to the four we needed to survive until now(this fall) and three are here as extras til harvest was done (but they knew that going in) and one premanent extra has come in the form of my sister since his death.

    but my point is when it comes to a real operation and real changes to be made many places are not as fluid as we had to be and will simply fail.

    tamara
    Another crazy-wack idea done with success by my grandfather's brother. The guy ran a printing company and when he was getting pressed by the Bigger Boys competing with him, he began to trade equity in the company for pay to his employees.

    This has been done forever in the agricultural world. I know your part of the country is well-steeped in agricultural co-ops. I don't know what makes those better and worse.

    On paper, at least, it looks to me as if you could ask if the farm's business or assets will cover you and yours for the future you'd like and then sell the rest of it without taking anything apart physically as in selling land.

    Fussy horses are the worst. Really? Those checking accountless whiners get a say in sending a load back? I hope you have some better-natured, more reasonable cattle friends who will eat what is put in front of them.

    And another thing!

    The cost of benefits is so, so hard on small business and infra-structure rich business like farming. At the beginning of time, we assumed that a salary was the thing that would pay for life and the (short) time between the end of one's working days and death. So we tied health insurance and retirement savings to the employer. No inherent reason that we need to do that. I would like employer and bling-buying workers to appreciate that the job was to pay for all of life, not just this pay period. So I think employers should do things like match contributions to IRAs and such.

    But otherwise, there's no inherent reason that we have to yoke health care and retirement to a particular employer. Germany does it otherwise and man, that's an impressive First World country.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  16. #136

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    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    On paper, at least, it looks to me as if you could ask if the farm's business or assets will cover you and yours for the future you'd like and then sell the rest of it without taking anything apart physically as in selling land.
    I am at the bare bones of what it takes to run the farm...there is nothing to parcel or send away,we already did that

    Fussy horses are the worst. Really? Those checking accountless whiners get a say in sending a load back? I hope you have some better-natured, more reasonable cattle friends who will eat what is put in front of them.
    yes the customers had always been able to send the hay back until a few started to abuse the abilty

    in any event we are not hurting anymore but for a few years it was really scary

    Tamara
    Production Acres,Pro A Welsh Cobs
    I am one of the last 210,000 remaining full time farmers in America.We feed the others.



  17. #137
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    Quote Originally Posted by RugBug View Post
    Unskilled, entry level jobs SHOULD pay the minimum wage. These aren't career jobs nor are they meant to provide a living wage. If unskilled entry level is the only job someone can find due to the job market, they will hopefully be able to prove themselves and move up quickly...and/or will continue looking for better employment until they can move up into a living wage position. Just because these jobs are currently being filled by the "underemployed" doesn't mean they need to start paying a living wage.
    Yes, but we have spent much of the last 100 years deskilling labor. So when you are done learning the ropes at a cashier, the "move up" spot isn't obviously there.

    It is there for some people. There are others who don't try to be that self-improving go-getter. But you can't deny that the tales of "staring in the mail room and working up to the Board of Directors" is the uncommon experience now.

    And look at all the folks graduating from college and unable to find jobs that utilize their skills! The deskilling problem is real. It's also one that has been talked about in manufacturing circles for a hell of a long time.
    The armchair saddler
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  18. #138
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    There are others who don't try to be that self-improving go-getter.
    Are these people owed a living wage then?

    And look at all the folks graduating from college and unable to find jobs that utilize their skills! The deskilling problem is real. It's also one that has been talked about in manufacturing circles for a hell of a long time.
    IMO, society has spent too much time putting an emphasis on a college degree and too many people are going to college just to go, without real ideas of what they want to do or if their chosen study path will lead to a job that offsets the cost of their education. Admittedly, one needs a college degree to even be considered for many positions, but that is also something we have messed up right now. Why in the world does a receptionist need a degree? Yet most postings for receptions say it's required.

    We ought to be pushing trade schools, tech schools, etc for students wanting more than a diploma, but don't have a big career desire and who lack the resources to "waste" the money on college. At the very least, today's kids are coming out of high school with an understanding of computers and tech and even typing. That alone qualifies them to apply for a slew of jobs that can be worked up from.

    FWIW: I have a degree that I don't use. I have professional certificates that I don't use. The job I now hold does not techinically require any of the education I have received (although it is still a requirement for the job...which again is wrong, IMO). I am doing just fine for myself...although was just told today that I make "jack". For what I do and the town I live, my salary is pretty damn good. My brother, who only has a diploma...and barely at that...is more successful than I. He's an electrician that worked his way up from nothing. It didn't happen right away for him...and there were plenty of non-living wage years for him (when he lived in my Grandmother's garage...or even a car when his behaviour and chemical use was unacceptable), but he owns a nice home, a boat, an RV and supports a wife and 2 kids. Not bad...and still do-able, but not if you expect someone to do it for you.
    Last edited by RugBug; Nov. 26, 2012 at 06:13 PM. Reason: spelling and this time I can't blame it on my iPad
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  19. #139
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    RugBug, I agree. We graduate kids from high school with no skills, there are few manufacturing jobs and employers are more and more refusing to train workers...they expect them to come pre-trained.

    I suspect it all started when we got rid of defined benefit pension plans in most companies and the switchover to 401(k) plans. Used to be, you had a reason to stick around, it was in your best interest to keep your company viable and profitable so you could retire with a decent pension. Job hopping was frowned upon. Now employees are disposable, your so called pension goes with you and is easily portable, and it's frowned upon, in many cases to stay with a company for a long period of time.

    Walmart, in particular, makes it almost impossible to hold another job. Schedules and days off change and you're expected to be there for your shift with a changing schedule, maybe a split day and changing hours.

    You really should read the book Nickel and Dimed. It's the true account of one woman's attempt to support herself on minimum wage.
    "We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." ~Immanuel Kant



  20. #140
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    I am in this boat now myself. CAD and Technical jobs are outsourced now these days too. They can pay someone in the Phillipines or India 2 dollars a day to do the same work.

    If anything is to be done, we must protect our labor here in the USA. I think companies should have to pay a high tax if they outsource all the work..

    Quote Originally Posted by LexInVA View Post
    Even technical jobs aren't paying well these days. Outsourcing and temp-contracting (under the premise that you might get hired after 3-12 months) have ruined wages in many technical fields.
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