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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Ground Level   » "The Living Wage" (coming soon to a Theatre Near You) (Page 1)

 
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Author Topic: "The Living Wage" (coming soon to a Theatre Near You)
Dave Bird
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2000


 - posted 01-09-2018 11:15 AM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Doing my best to keep this non-political, the mythical "living wage" has hit us here in Ontario. On January 1st, last year's minimum wage of $11.40/hr has jumped to $14.00. Our floundering, long-in-the-tooth provincial government actually was against this for most of its now 14-year term, but facing election this June (with horrendous polling numbers FWIW), passed this into law late last year with a promised bump to $15 in one year's time if re-elected. (The politicians are now shaming small businesspeople in public who have been scrambling to adjust.)

Quite a bit of debate as you can imagine, and I'm curious to hear from those located in places where things like this have happened already how you've adjusted. The philosophical and economic debates are one thing (ie: I think I could live on $15 x 40 hours in my small hometown, but not at all in a large city. Not to mention we all started out working for peanuts, and isn't there a valid argument for the value of "entry level" and "student" wages? I think so.).

Anyhow, instant 22% wage increase(30% if the next one kicks in) is obviously causing a lot of concern amongst business owners. It's your largest expense. Some of the franchise coffee shop owners are being shamed for eliminating paid breaks and reducing their health benefits from 100% to 70% (and I should say that most employers of "entry-level" jobs have never provided either, it was the kind of thing some people did as a "perk" for work they otherwise couldn't pay much for). These franchisees can't raise their pricing since the parent company sets those, so it's kind of a tough spot.

Our own situation is a "good news/bad news" thing. On one hand, we have had just a fabulous group of local kids who've grown up with us and are now educated and leaving home. They're leaving now so I don't need to worry about disappointing them. We've been proud to have helped them in our small way. We're also renovating and as such, are able to do some things that will cut out a good chunk of the manual labor required each evening just by being efficient, adding equipment like a dishwasher and more refrigeration and moving our box office to where we can process the "late admisssions" without leaving a kid out there for 3 hours. That's the good news.

The bad news is that now our "college-age manager salary" of $15 (+ bonus when we could) which was much appreciated is now "just minimum". We've so much enjoyed giving kids their "first job" over the years and challenging them with responsibility, I'm disappointed as I think our usual staff of 8-10 kids will shrink to half that, and efficiencies (less hours per shift) we'll bring in will make it difficult to "elevate" those kids to eventually "run the show" with our guidance. It's honestly what I enjoy and what I do best. I just don't know how much we can raise prices right now, this province is getting hit from all sides with inflation.

Apologies for the rambling. In my heart, I want to keep it "the way it is", I want to take my "star" employee, and pay her $19/hr and let the rest aspire first to that, then beyond. Let the customer pay for it. But you either do that, or you "automate" things like McDonald's has, there just really isn't a "middle ground" in a business this tiny. And where's the "soul" in that?

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Alexandre Pereira
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From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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 - posted 01-09-2018 02:47 PM      Profile for Alexandre Pereira   Author's Homepage   Email Alexandre Pereira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This was done soley to get the Ontario witch and her gang of liberal trolls re-elected. Regardless 14/hr is a disaster on many levels. Mainly for working people who are just starting a job or have limited skills.
Larger businesses will simply accelerate automation and streamline the work flow at the retail and service levels. Less is more.
McDonalds has cut their staffing significantly with automated stations - ordering kiosks and direct ordering from mobiles. But more than that the work flow has improved so the people who cook the meals also run the food.
CP is no exception with many more ticket kiosks and self serve options for the customers.
Here at the Kingsway Theatre it is a hit but staffing is at most three people when busy and we stick to box-session. That works to increase bar sales at the point of ticket purchase. Of course I have already raised the price - ultimately that is what will mitigate the increase in the short term.
This will backfire heavily on the idiot liberals - of course they did this with no subsidies to employers - training, financial - nothing other that a promise to reduce corporate tax. Like that reduction means anything when businesses are sliding further into the hole.
Welcome to the corporatocracy and the politicians are doing their bidding by squeezing out smaller business and further indebting workers. Soon Wallace and Weyland will own everything.

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Leo Enticknap
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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 01-09-2018 06:57 PM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As a general rule, people making the legal minimum wage (or close to it) fall into one of two categories: kids in their first job, as described by Dave, and older people, who, for whatever reason (though lack of education and training focused on what the economy needs is almost always the core, underlying reason), are actually trying to support themselves on a minimum wage job, and, in most places in the developed world, can't.

The problem is that there is no effective and fair way to distinguish between the former and the latter and have two minimum wages. Both are doing the same job, so why should one be paid more? But a 16-year old living at home and saving for his first car is in a very different financial situation from that that of a 26-year old single parent, and it's the votes of the latter that the politicians are going after by hiking the minimum wage.

The other aspect to this is that the very big businesses that employ tens or even hundreds of thousands of minimum wage workers (e.g. supermarket chains) are effectively being subsidized by the taxpayer, because many of these workers will need support from the government in one form or another, to bridge the gap between their minimum wage salary and what it actually costs to live.

The fallout from this is significant, and increasing. Political pressure to increase wages by regulation, followed by jobs being automated away in response, is happening here, too. There is an independently owned, mom-and-pop shop cafe around the corner from us. It closed to redecorate for a month last summer, and when it reoponed, there was a touch screen tablet on every table, on which you order your coffee and croissant. The owner appears with them a few minutes later, and the minimum wage student who would have done is no more.

There is no doubt that lower skilled jobs are going to disappear, and the education and training industries (even if most of them are nonprofit, let's face it, that's what schools and universities are) are going to have to step up to the plate and do their part to catch those people who are in danger of entering the workforce proper, without the skills needed to do any jobs other than the ones that are being automated away, before it's too late for them. Some kids are going to have to find ways to gain entry level work experience that they didn't have to find before (my son will be in this position in about 15 years' time, so this is something I'm thinking about). There's a role for government in that, too, but that's veering OT for this forum.

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Justin Hamaker
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 - posted 01-09-2018 07:18 PM      Profile for Justin Hamaker   Author's Homepage   Email Justin Hamaker   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I'll add to Leo's comment that over the last decade there have been increasing numbers of people forced to take minimum wage jobs because of jobs lost when the economy tanked in 2008. The conventional wisdom that these jobs are filled by teenagers and low skill workers is not necessarily true any more. Plus many jobs in manufacturing and other similar trades require a higher skill level in the past due to more advanced equipment and techniques.

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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

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 - posted 01-09-2018 07:53 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You also have skilled jobs that cease to be needed anymore. Someone might be in their 50s when their industry changes and all of the sudden their career just ends. They are not at retirement age nor does their previous skills have any direct value. This could happen to anyone up until they are retired (presuming that they have a retirement plan and if not, until they can no longer physically work ANY job).

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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 - posted 01-09-2018 09:34 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is a very complicated issue and one that, in the United States, only promises to grow much worse over the next couple decades unless major changes happen with the mindset of the general public, changes in demographics and changes in (whisper: politics). If we stay on the current path the United States will be like a cruise ship running full speed towards an iceberg.

The cost of living varies widely in different regions of the US. Making every city adhere to a flat, national minimum wage is only a flagrantly stupid idea. Here in Oklahoma people love to scoff at cities like San Francisco raising minimum wage levels to $15 per hour. But our overall income demographics are far lower (and the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour). Someone can make a decent yet modest living on $15 per hour here in Lawton. $15 per hour isn't enough to even live on the outskirts of San Francisco or other high cost cities like New York. That's a little fact political junkies in my region just love to ignore. They think $7.25 is enough for anyone to live anywhere.

And then there's the asinine notion that minimum wage jobs are just for teens in school. If that's really the case then maybe all these businesses paying minimum wage shouldn't be open during school hours. And they should close early in the evening so the kids have time to get their homework done. How about that? The truth is there's lot of adults working minimum wage jobs during school and business hours.

Service industry businesses (like movie theaters) are going to be increasingly behind a rock and a hard place in urban areas with high costs of living. They're going to be caught between affording rising wage levels that are either mandated by the local or state government. Or they're going to be forced to raise wage levels just to get enough positions staffed.

New York City has an alarming problem of homelessness where many of the homeless are people with jobs. They can't afford anywhere to live since land lords, hedge fund companies and other types of speculators have spiked housing prices and gentrified widespread areas. Lower income workers are literally being priced out of the region or they're being forced into homelessness. Sadly, it's far more difficult now for people to migrate to more affordable parts of the nation. Skilled workers with certifications may have to go back to school and get re-certified when moving to a different state.

Eventually the low wage workers struggling horribly to survive in these high cost cities will escape to other regions. Then a bunch of these low wage, service businesses in high cost cities will have far worse staffing problems.

One factor that has me worried for the long term is the United States is now entering a "baby bust." Total fertility rates of American born women are plummeting to new all time lows, well below the "replacement level" of 2.1 children per female (enough kids to replace citizens who die). Parenthood is turning into a very expensive luxury due to high health care costs, high education costs, high costs of family sized housing, day care, family vehicles, etc.

Compound the high cost of parenthood with big cultural changes. Far more women no longer feel obligated to get married and have kids. Many want the freedom to have careers, far more free time and far less complication in their lives. Millennials are delaying marriage and parenthood or just foregoing it altogether in record numbers.

Compound the birth rate problem even further with immigration. Since 1975, for over 40 years, ALL of the United States' net population growth has come solely through immigration. The fertility rate of American born women has wavered near the replacement rate level all that time. Now we're looking at radically reducing the amount of legal immigration and deporting thousands or even millions. Of the immigrants who are coming here their fertility rates are also dropping.

Getting back to the point, the long term worry with an American Baby Bust is many of our nation's businesses and industries need a large, steady supply of young adults. Movie theaters depend greatly on being able to employ teens and young adults. Automation will eliminate lots of jobs. Online merchants killing many brick and mortar "main street" businesses will eliminate far more jobs. Investors like the idea of those kinds of "efficiencies." But they can't escape the fact that online merchants and automated businesses need LOTS of employed, human being customers in order to survive -customers with jobs and discretionary income. Amazon makes no secret how it wants to cannibalize every kind of brick and mortar business, but Jeff Bezos apparently hasn't bothered to think how many customers he will lose once all those brick and mortar businesses fail.

Our military needs a large, steady supply of young adults. We also need a large supply of working age citizens to provide the financial foundation for many government programs, pension systems and even the pension systems for many businesses. If we have too few young adults paying into the system the entire thing goes bust.

I don't think this baby bust problem is on the radar scopes of policy makers at all.

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Lyle Romer
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From: Davie, FL, USA
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 - posted 01-09-2018 11:06 PM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Bobby Henderson
I don't think this baby bust problem is on the radar scopes of policy makers at all.
They should have made the affordable care act ban insurance companies from covering contraceptives instead of forcing them to. Then, the baby bust might turn the other direction!

BTW, this is meant as a joke and not a political debate about healthcare!

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Alexandre Pereira
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From: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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 - posted 01-09-2018 11:26 PM      Profile for Alexandre Pereira   Author's Homepage   Email Alexandre Pereira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This is all deliberate - here is an interesting article...focusing on the likes of Oprah and her message. Movie theatres are the canary in the coal mine for the future of the west...

Oprah is a key propagandist for neo liberalism. She may even have had more effect than the Clintons. She propagandized: if you haven't found success, look inside yourself and make some changes, you have no one to blame but yourself, it's not the system. IT'S YOUR FAULT was her core message. Same message as the Harvard Business Review, LinkedIn, Business Insider, The Economist and on and on. Meanwhile the Clintons were destroying the democratic, fairness aspects of the system - the New Deal - and making life increasingly cruel. Shell game.

How did we get from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” to Oprah Winfrey’s “spiritual capitalism”?

...

As Kathryn Lofton writes in Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon, “Every product of Winfrey’s empire combines spiritual counsel with practical encouragement, inner awakening with capitalist pragmatism.”

Ann Neumann
Taking Liberties

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Dave Bird
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 753
From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
Registered: Jun 2000


 - posted 01-09-2018 11:36 PM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There's a lot of good thoughts here. I really hate to see the death of the student job. My daughter actually has classmates in university who've NEVER had one, it's crazy. For us it's really going to force changes. We've always got by on as little "automation" as possible. Customers like it because you just don't see it anymore. Our initial theory is to "automate" enough things (like pre-sliced condiments, larger popcorn display and more "batch-fills", not traying nachos on demand but again using a display case). In short, we'll TRY to go with one less staffer inside, we'll move the box office so nobody is stuck out there after the show starts, and instead of keeping most of the crew there until intermission, they'll go home after the show starts and we've cleaned up. The kids we do keep will probably get most of the hours they've always had and a little more pay, but there might only be half of them as before.

The point about no differentiation for student versus adult wage category gets worse. The new rules say you CANNOT pay less to a part-timer doing the same job as a full-timer. (I once was negotiating a collective agreement and asked the union rep "What if we can't afford this." "Oh, no problem, just lay off your full-time staff and hire part-time." Nice, all for one and one for all? He didn't care, dues were paid hourly.) For sure we will have to define managers versus regular staff if we choose to still have a higher pay rate.

Yes Alexandre, it's getting tough to take up here by times, they've made a mess of everything, taken energy prices through the roof and clearly this is a last ditch attempt to retain power. I'm actually more worried about the new Federal small-biz tax guidelines (effective NOW but they won't actually announce what they are until May.......real easy to plan for that right?). For those not in Canada, it looks like despite business owners paying roughly 50-55% tax now inside a business (rebated if you take it out as dividend to roughly the normal "earned" rate), the gov't is attempting to "double-tax" it if you leave it in a "passive" investment (common to fund expansion or improvements). This would bring it to roughly 73%. So really they want to force this out into your hands to be taxed now. Completely ignoring the fact that a business MUST continually fund it's own growth or at least maintain. Another problem is that since business owners are not entitled to employment insurance or gov't pensions, they often fund medical emergency funds or their retirement via passive investment.

It would seem that this all effectively "breaks" the mechanism in that you now really have no incentive to risk capital inside a business let alone create jobs. It's a curious, curious move. We all have our theories of course, but this is not a political forum. The accountants here are baffled, the gov'ts own economists predict FAR LESS tax revenue and job creation if it goes through. Nobody is aware of any country who has done anything close to this, so we're hoping for the best. (If not, I know how to make popcorn and I work CHEAP!)

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Frank Cox
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 - posted 01-09-2018 11:54 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Fast Food CEO says 'it just makes sense' to consider replacing cashiers with machines as minimum wages rise
quote:
RLANDO, Florida — Jack in the Box says it is considering swapping some cashiers with robots as the minimum wage rises in California.

"As we see the rising costs of labor, it just makes sense" to consider adding new automated technology, CEO Leonard Comma said Tuesday at the ICR Conference.

Jack in the Box previously tested technology such as kiosks. According to Comma, the kiosks resulted in a higher average check and helped with efficiency. But at the time Comma said the cost of installing the kiosks wasn't worth it.

But with minimum wages increasing, Jack in the Box is reconsidering the use of kiosks and other technology, Comma said.

Minimum wages are increasing in 18 states in 2018, including California, where the West Coast-centric Jack in the Box is based. California is on track to become the first state with a $15 minimum wage.

Jack in the Box isn't the only fast-food chain that has considered using automation to reduce labor costs and modernize.

Wendy's announced plans to install self-ordering kiosks within a year. McDonald's is adding kiosks to 2,500 stores, though it pledged not to replace cashiers with kiosks.

Smaller chains such as Eatsa and CaliBurger have been working on automating the entire restaurant experience.

"With government driving up the cost of labor, it's driving down the number of jobs," then Carl's Jr. and Hardee's CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider in 2016. "You're going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants."


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Dave Bird
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From: Perth, Ontario, Canada
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 - posted 01-10-2018 09:22 AM      Profile for Dave Bird   Author's Homepage   Email Dave Bird   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well based on McDonald's here in Canada, that's a flat-out lie that they aren't going to replace cashiers with kiosks. I don't go often, but the last 3 or 4 stores I've been into feature only ONE live cashier, about 6 touchscreen/pay stations and many tables with info promoting a new app which you can order/pay via your phone. Cashier on duty mostly accepting payment for those uncomfortable paying via kiosk. No "free smiles" here anymore.

Personally I loved elevating great kids above minimum wage when they proved themselves, really felt there was value for us in that. But when I see the amount of staff places like Tim Horton's uses, SO over-staffed, it's a dead cinch that automated machines which will be loaded with filters and coffee to spit out a new pot every 20 minutes to replace a couple of 'em. The touch screens will follow soon after.

And the consumer won't care. They've proven their preference for "cheap" above all else. We grew up with full-time "living wage" service everywhere, but it was the CUSTOMER who eliminated that, not this political posturing. This is just the final nail for the "entry level job".

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Leo Enticknap
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From: Loma Linda, CA
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 - posted 01-10-2018 09:55 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Steve Guttag
You also have skilled jobs that cease to be needed anymore. Someone might be in their 50s when their industry changes and all of the sudden their career just ends. They are not at retirement age nor does their previous skills have any direct value. This could happen to anyone up until they are retired (presuming that they have a retirement plan and if not, until they can no longer physically work ANY job).
Maybe I'm being overly optimistic, but I have a feeling that this will be less of an issue for Generation X and going forward than it has been for their parents and ancestors.

I grew up during the late 1970s and 1980s (born 1972), and grew up in Britain against the backdrop of the huge social and economic changes that Margaret Thatcher presided over. One of the defining moments of 1980s Britain was the 1984-85 miners' strike: a year long, fight-to-the-death industrial dispute in which coal industry workers fought the government's attempt to privatize it (it had been taken into government ownership in 1947), which effectively meant closing it down. The emergence of oil and nuclear power and the disappearance of other uses for coal (the Clean Air Act had outlawed burning it for heating and cooking in most homes, which it had been on a large scale until the 1960s, and the railways had shifted from steam to Diesel and electric at around the same time), had effectively made the fuel obsolete. For about a year and a half, Thatcher and Arthur Scargill (the miners' union leader) pretty much monopolized our TV screens and newspapers: people talked about little else, including 12-year old schoolkids, which I was at the time.

During that dispute, workers whose ancestors, literally going back to the early 1800s, had started work in the mines as teenagers and carried on working in the same mines until they retired, suddenly had to look for something else to do with their lives. To be fair to them, there was little or no economic activity in many mining areas at that time, and little thought had been given to what jobs and retraining might be there for the redundant miners. Scargill was right about that, and IMHO has been unfairly demonized as luddite to some extent, both during the strike itself and by some historians and commentators since. But what that dispute was really about was processing the realization that a second industrial revolution was beginning, one in which the traditional heavy industries that had been the backbone of the British economy for two centuries, were starting to be replaced by other, less permanent and long-term forms of economic activity.

That (and other, though less spectacular changes like it), left a huge impression on me, and I suspect, most of our generation. The lesson was simple: the "job for life" is no more, and we're going to have to spend our entire careers dealing with job skills disappearing, and others replacing them. The transition to digital cinema is the obvious example of that in our industry. Ongoing retraining and "keeping up with the latest" was baked into Gen X's DNA from the 1980s onwards, and therefore I'd speculate that finding ourselves out of work in our 50s and lacking any of the skills needed by the economy at that time will hopefully be a smaller scale problem than it may have been for our parents and our grandparents.

As a postscript to this, I worked in an area of Britain that was formerly the epicenter of its coal industry from 2001-07, as a film and television archivist. While I was there, I gave a film show to a community group in their social club one evening, and afterwards, received a thank you card that included an invitation to "the party of the century," to be held at that venue on the Saturday night following Thatcher's death. I'd emigrated to America by the time that happened, and so never did find out if it took place or not, and if so how well attended it was. Another postscript: while I was there, another of my co-workers told me over a drink after work that she didn't feel comfortable saying this to anyone else (i.e. who had been born and raised in the region), but that she believed that Thatcher closing down the mines was the best thing that ever happened to the north-east. Relatives of hers who had died of mesothelioma or were severely disabled in mining accidents in their 40s were now working in call centers and lighter industry, and she was very relieved about it. But it took 15-20 years and a generation later before anyone could even begin to think in those terms. I wonder how many others secretly believed that, but didn't dare say so out loud for fear of sounding disloyal to their parents and grandparents. I sometimes wonder if that party ended up being a little lower key than was anticipated when I was invited to it.

Sorry - going off at a bit of a tangent.

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Sam Graham
AKA: "The Evil Sam Graham". Wackiness ensues.

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 - posted 01-10-2018 10:35 AM      Profile for Sam Graham   Author's Homepage   Email Sam Graham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Bobby Henderson
Service industry businesses (like movie theaters) are going to be increasingly behind a rock and a hard place in urban areas with high costs of living. They're going to be caught between affording rising wage levels that are either mandated by the local or state government. Or they're going to be forced to raise wage levels just to get enough positions staffed.
That's actually a problem in some markets with low unemployment rates in the Midwest right now. I've seen stories in a couple of markets (sorry, can't remember the sources) where fast food restaurants are having to implement rolling closures of night and even some day shifts due to lack of available staff.

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Alexandre Pereira
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 - posted 01-10-2018 12:26 PM      Profile for Alexandre Pereira   Author's Homepage   Email Alexandre Pereira   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The only upside on this is that the Ontario Witch and her liberal flying monkeys are finished.

http://toronto.citynews.ca/2018/01/10/minimum-wage-automation/

MONTREAL — Companies might not be able to dodge rising minimum wages by relocating even their most mobile workforces to lower wage provinces, but higher costs could accelerate the pace of automation.

“It would be foolish of some employers to think that they can escape temporarily by moving their operations,” said Canadian Labour Congress president Hassan Yussuff.

While companies may get a short-term benefit, he said the reality is that minimum wages across the country are going to keep increasing.

Unifor president Jerry Dias said pressure is being placed on every province to boost entry wages that mostly affect retail and service sectors, where relocation is not an option.

“This is spreading across the country like a very good epidemic and so they can run but they can’t hide,” he said in an interview.

Some businesses have criticized the pace of wage hikes in Ontario and Alberta.

On Jan .1, Ontario boosted hourly minimum wage by 20 per cent — from an $11.60 to $14. The rate will rise to $15 an hour in 2019. Alberta is expected to raise its minimum wage to $15 later this year.

But the union leaders argue that higher wages will ultimately help businesses as low income earners are more apt to spend all they earn and boost the economy.

Jobs that can easily be done from any location, such as call centre work, are theoretically most likely to shift locations. But the reality is that many of these positions pay much higher than entry wages, said Rob Campbell, president of ContactNB, which represents New Brunswick’s large contact centre community.

Air Canada and WestJet Airlines say they have adjusted the wages of their call centre positions and have no plans to move these jobs to other provinces.

Some companies may move jobs say from Ottawa to Gatineau, Que., but the numbers will be very small, said Fabian Lange, associate professor at McGill University’s Department of Economics.

But don’t expect provinces to woo businesses with the promise of lower wages.

He said it would be “politically problematic” for provinces with lower minimum wages to run big campaigns that emphasize how many low wage workers they have.

“It would be political suicide to do that because ultimately they’re all going to be at $15,” added Dias.

Provinces cannot guarantee that their minimum wages won’t unexpectedly rise, said University of Alberta economics associate professor Joseph Marchand.

“No one really saw Alberta’s $15 minimum wage coming. In 2014, it was one of the three lowest minimum wage provinces,” he said.

Marchand said rising minimum wages could speed up a growing trend to automate with the addition of ATMs, restaurant order screens and grocery self-checkout lines.

“It’s happening because technology is moving at a constant rate so that’s making capital cheaper year by year, but then if you have a drastic shift in labour costs that’s only going to speed up the process.”

A report from the Brookfield Institute on the Canadian jobs most at risk of automation found employees in the lowest-paid sectors, such as cashiers and food and beverage servers, are most vulnerable.

Canadian retailers such as Dollarama Inc. and Metro Inc. have said they are speeding up studies of automation as they consider options for offsetting the pending wage increase.

But the shift to automation over the last couple of decades has little to do with wage hikes, said labour representative Yussuff.

“There is recognition that more and more automation is coming to a lot of sectors in society and that’s long before the minimum wage has been increased.”

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Bobby Henderson
"Ask me about Trajan."

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 - posted 01-10-2018 01:55 PM      Profile for Bobby Henderson   Email Bobby Henderson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Dave Bird
Well based on McDonald's here in Canada, that's a flat-out lie that they aren't going to replace cashiers with kiosks. I don't go often, but the last 3 or 4 stores I've been into feature only ONE live cashier, about 6 touchscreen/pay stations and many tables with info promoting a new app which you can order/pay via your phone. Cashier on duty mostly accepting payment for those uncomfortable paying via kiosk. No "free smiles" here anymore.
I think automation may yield unintended consequences at some businesses where customers are used to getting some level of human customer service. The cold feel of self-serve automation may result in customers just staying at home more often. The brick and mortar sector is suffering bad enough as it is without needing to convince people to stay at home and do all their business via the Internet. I think movie theaters are on a slippery slope with this. You can remote automate d-cinema booths and really not have booths at all in these theaters. You can install ticket kiosks and various self-serve food & drink stations to reduce staff to a skeleton crew level. The end result has a creepy, impersonal ghost-town vibe to it.

quote: Lyle Romer
They should have made the affordable care act ban insurance companies from covering contraceptives instead of forcing them to. Then, the baby bust might turn the other direction! BTW, this is meant as a joke and not a political debate about healthcare!
Certain people are trying to attack contraception in various ways. There were efforts to allow business operators to remove contraceptive coverge from employer provided plans if it conflicted with their religious beliefs. I don't recall what came of that. I can imagine lawmakers trying limit access to birth control pills and other contraceptive methods, perhaps taxing the hell out of condoms, if this baby bust goes into full effect. But then that might result in boom times at vasectomy clinics. If policy makers want to force young people to have more children they would be calling for an extremely expensive unfunded mandate.

quote: Leo Enticknap
Ongoing retraining and "keeping up with the latest" was baked into Gen X's DNA from the 1980s onwards, and therefore I'd speculate that finding ourselves out of work in our 50s and lacking any of the skills needed by the economy at that time will hopefully be a smaller scale problem than it may have been for our parents and our grandparents.
Unfortunately it's costing a hell of a lot more for displaced workers to go back to school and retrain for different careers. They can't do that for free or cheap in the US. Most white collar jobs require degrees specific to their respective field. Price inflation of college tuition is nearly as insane as that of the price gouging going on in health care. Costs of trade schools are ramping up as well. The United States has a hell of a student loan debt bubble (over $1 trillion) that is growing every year. Government financial aid is limited, leaving students (and unemployed workers) having to get private student loans with much higher interest. By the way, financially suffocating student loan debts are another factor affecting America's emerging baby bust.

quote: Sam Graham
That's actually a problem in some markets with low unemployment rates in the Midwest right now. I've seen stories in a couple of markets (sorry, can't remember the sources) where fast food restaurants are having to implement rolling closures of night and even some day shifts due to lack of available staff.
Many young adults who can manage to move are leaving behind small rural towns and modest sized cities in "flyover country" to find better job and social opportunities in large cities. The talent drain is leaving a smaller and less capable work force in these smaller communities. One of my friends is the GM at a local restaurant. Staffing is a constant headache for him. My workplace does random drug screening company-wide out of fairness for our crane truck drivers. When we have a job opening it takes longer to fill it because so many people can't pass a damned drug test.

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