Signs of the Times - November 2013 - (Page 12)

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE Darek Johnson is ST’s Senior Technology Editor/Analyst. Email him at By Darek Johnson Average is Over Unions fortify as futurists predict 45% of today’s jobs will automate by 2030. They stood. And stood for something. Just by standing. In waiting. Unavailable. But there for sure. Sure and unbending… – Seamus Heaney, Electric Light/At Toomebridge Maybeoryou don’t shop for Rice Krispies Hellmann’s mayonnaise at the grocery store, but you’ve surely noticed many grocery stores and other businesses now offer selfcheckout options to shoppers. News reports say self-checkout systems – commonly found in Walmart, Sam’s Club and Home Depot – are becoming widespread. This year alone, Walmart plans to install 10,000 self-checkout lanes. Interestingly, Costco, Albertsons and other retailers have uninstalled such systems. They said self-serve systems cut the business owner’s labor costs, but also lessen customer interaction. Further, such lone-ranger systems favor shoplifters and create liquor-buying liabilities. They also put cashiers out of work. Trend observers say self-checkout will become ordinary. Some say even more sophisticated systems will become common and predict future, RFID or iPhone scans that read each bucketed item and then charge your bank account. If you have money in the bank. Unrest Walmart workers aren’t always happy. Some have joined “OUR Walmart”, a Walmart-employee group that petitions for higher wages and “employee respect.” Backing the employee organization are the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Jobs with Justice. Jobs with Justice’s PR releases say it’s a national network of local coalitions that fuse labor unions, faith groups, community organizations and student activists, to fight for working people. NOW, the largest of feminist organizations in the U.S., says it has 500,000 contributing members and 550 chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In November 2012, OUR Walmart members walked out on Black Friday, a day said to be the most profitable for retailers. Reports say the dissenters plan a similar, but larger walkout this year. IBISWorld, an independent market research group, said Walmart’s average sales associate makes $8.81 per hour, which, on a 40-hour workweek, amounts to just over $18,000 annually. said Walmart employs 1.4 million workers in the U.S. In September,, a web-based news site, said, “Walmart, the largest company on the Fortune 500 list, made $16 billion in profit last year, and the majority owners of the company, the Walton’s, have the combined wealth of nearly half of American families.” Other sources say the Walton’s wealth is more like 30% of the lowerincome U.S. earners. Various news sites say economists, labor-market experts and others are increasingly concerned about America’s growing income inequality and its impact on the economy. The U.S. Census Bureau said 15% of U.S. households – nearly 46.5 million Americans – live in poverty. McDonald’s cashiers average just under $8 per hour. Fast forward On August 30, USA Today reported McDonald’s and other fast-food chain workers, organized as “Fast Food Forward,” conducted strikes and walkouts in approximately 60 cities. They demanded wage hikes and the right to unionize. The Fast Food Forward workers received 12 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / NOVEMBER 2013 / financial and training support from the Service Employees Intl. Union (SEIU) and a coalition of labor, community and clergy groups. This coalition illuminates an interesting trend because such recent events as the rise in right-to-work laws (which caused a drop in union activity) may activate other, unexpected forces. For example, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently said union membership has waned because state legislatures have curbed union bargaining rights, but he concurrently announced the AFL-CIO is strengthening its ties with such “like-minded” groups as the Sierra Club, NAACP and NOW. NOW said, “Instead of listening to its employees and the communities that make the company successful, Walmart – a company with billions in profits and all the lawyers it could ever need – is attacking working families and community groups.” Michael T. Duke, Walmart’s director, president and chief executive officer earned $20.7 million last year. Average is over In his new book “Average is Over,” Tyler Cowen said being young and unemployed remains stubbornly common. He said low-paying jobs are now standard for working, young people, and that four-year college graduates’ salaries have fallen by more than 5%. This is a harbinger of the new world of work, he said. He also said top earners’ wages (compensation) have markedly increased. In 2012, America’s top 200 executives earned a total of $3 billion in wages and compensation. Cowen believes the ever-increasing gap in earnings stems from a division of contradictory – stagnant and dynamic – economic sectors. And, the globalization of businesses. He

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - November 2013

Signs of the Times - November 2013
ST Update
Technology Update
Vinyl Apps
Strictly Commercial
Lighting Techniques
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Caldera Flow+ 2.0 software and its Version 9.20 RIP
Technology Review - KeyedIn™ Sign Edition software
New Products
Design Matters
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
Deep Thoughts
Temporary Vanity
LEDs: The Omnipresent Illuminators
Accessible Training
Advertising Index
Editorially Speaking

Signs of the Times - November 2013