Signs of the Times - November 2013 - (Page 12)
Darek Johnson is ST’s Senior Technology Editor/Analyst.
Email him at email@example.com
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Businessinsider.com said Walmart
employs 1.4 million workers in
In September, Thenation.com, 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.
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 / www.signweb.com
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,
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
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
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
The Moving Message
Technology Review - Caldera Flow+ 2.0 software and its Version 9.20 RIP
Technology Review - KeyedIn™ Sign Edition software
Enter the ST Intl. Sign Contest!
LEDs: The Omnipresent Illuminators
Signs of the Times - November 2013