Miss Ginger read a couple of thought provoking posts by some favorite bloggers to day, and she decided to chime in with her own rather than cannibalising their comments sections!
First of all, Nutwood Beth posted about the effect the shutdown of Studebaker had on the economy of South Bend, IN in 1963. If I am summarizing correctly, she felt strongly that the automakers must prove a viable plan before the government provides any assistance. Her husband Ken, in a separate post, ran some numbers to estimate what he thought the failure of the industry potentially could cost. One of his commenters went so far as to add that she wondered if this "impending doom" of the automakers foretells the fall of Capitalize, if I editorialize just a tad on her words.
Ken quoted a number that blew me away when he used the assumption that the average auto worker makes $60k a year. I'm not sure where Ken got his number, but I am going to assume it is accurate.
Everyone knows that the chief executives are making way too much money, especially in light of the results they are showing. But really, in the whole American auto industry, there are 3 CEO's. 3. That's it. And any business plan for any company is going to allow for a CEO salary that can attract a leader capable of managing an organization of that magnitude. And sure, they surround themselves with a bevy of stuffed shirts and yes-men that are all overpaid as well. But they are part of the budget. And the existence of some of them is inevitable, and a few might even be required. But really, in total they are just a handful of the millions of autoworkers whose jobs are at risk.
If you go into the plants, you find the masses, the "millions" the press likes to call them. They will form the bulk of the corporate payroll, not the execs. The riveters, the painters, the assembly workers, and "all the rest" take home the largest portion of the payroll. These are the "worker bees". The ones who make the honey. The ones who get it done. They may or may not be educated. They may or may not have skills. They may or may not even be very dedicated. But if Ken's salary average of $60k is correct, they are taking home $28/hr for every hour they work. A salary typically negotiated by a labor union, not granted due to superior work, or supreme dedication, or remarkable results. When the raises come along, everyone gets them, whether they are the best in their field or the worst. What happens to them? Where would they go? What would they do if they lost the only job they know how to do?
They could go down to their local mall and apply for a job at, say, a department store. Department stores almost always have job openings, and they require very little experience. And department stores require lots of worker bees. People to fold the clothes, pick up the fitting rooms, wait on the customers, ring them up, smile, be nice, and make the customers want to come back and spend money there again. Worker bees. The lifeblood of any industry.
And do you know what the worker bees make in a department store? $8.50 and hour, usually. Some make more, but even the oldest, most experienced don't make much more than that. If they have been there "all along", since the "good old days", they may make it to a wage of $12 or $13 an hour.
Most of those older worker bees have a drawer full of old nametags, too. Names like "Bullocks", "Burdines", or "Broadway". "May D&F","Meir and Frank", "Filene's", or "Marshall Field's". Miss Ginger has stores in Louisiana that have been named "Goudchaux's> Maison Blanche> McCrae's> Parisian> Foley's since they were built in the 80's.
It's an industry of the survival of the fittest. Fat cats don't make it. Quick fixes don't work. And nothing can be swept under the carpet (which is glued to the floor, by the way, so it won't wrinkle and trip people!) And the big sharks swallow up the little fish every day.
You may have a newly named department store in your town; it may have even replaced one of your venerable old favorites. You may have seen changes in the store, or it may be pretty much the same to you. But if you look at the faces, you'll see the people in the store are many of the same people who have helped you for years. They wear all black to work now. They wear a different nametag. And they had to learn to work a "new-fangled" cash register. But they have a job. With a company that respects them. And makes them feel good about what they do every day. That didn't get bailed out by the government, and never will. Americans would laugh at the thought of bailing out the Department Store industry. But I'm not sure why? It appears to be a hell of a lot better run than the automakers!
So, start your Chevrochrysford and head to the mall!