Thursday, November 18, 2010

Geoff's Weavernomics Lesson #3 -- Paid Holidays ...

So. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. And I got to thinking. It's all fine and dandy giving us Thanksgiving off. But not when we don't get paid. It just becomes a lost pay day for ordinary, hourly-paid Weaver Street Workers. Yup. You guessed it. Another letter to Ruffin Slater, WSM General Manager:
"Hey Ruffin,

You will remember that, during our meeting the other week, we discussed ways of enrolling workers in the 15% sales increase for 2011 by better explaining to us workers - to put it bluntly - what is in it for us, and, indeed, ensuring that there is something in it for us.

We specifically addressed the possibility that, as part of the series of "Market Messengers" helping to educate us workers in financial literacy, it might be useful to have one "Market Messenger" devoted to precisely that topic - i.e. what the 15% sales increase means for individual workers.

I thought, in that regard, it might be helpful if I passed onto you the fact that, during the recent Board Election, a number of workers raised with me questions as to why we do not receive what appear to be normal paid-day benefits that are available in traditional capitalist retail outlets.

In fact, one or two workers said they might be referring to exactly these sorts of benefits in the annual benefits survey, which we received a few weeks ago in our mailboxes.

The sort of benefits discussed were: paid sick days, time-and-a-half on public holidays when we work, and full payment of Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are the two days each year that we workers are given off.

To be honest, I did say that I thought that, while I sympathized with the first two categories of paid holiday, it might be a while before we were able to discuss those sorts of benefits, seeing as we are only just pulling out of hard times.

But you know, I had and have a hard time explaining (even to myself) why Weaver Street Market Co-operative gives workers the day off, when it turns out not to be any kind of meaningful benefit, if we are not paid. All it becomes is a lost pay day.

I did a quick (and very rough) calculation based on 260 employees, and an average of $10.00 per hour, and it would cost us no more than $26,000 for each of the two holidays. $52,000 in total. Or, $1,000 a week, in return for we workers producing a profit in 2010 of $475,000, and an increase in sales in 2011 of $3.75 million. Doesn't seem too much to ask, does it?

So. I'd be grateful - with Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner - if you could let me know if you think WSM will this year be able to translate its oft-stated gratitude to us workers into a little extra cash? And if not, perhaps why not?

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

All the best,