July 28, 2014

Risky Business

Have these people lost their minds?

At Chevron Corp, any worker at the company's San Ramon, Calif., headquarters can halt an activity he or she deems dangerous by whipping out a small white "stop work" card. Workers take the authority seriously; filming for a safety training video stopped when an employee noticed props scattered on the ground and invoked that power.

At the U.S. arm of food and beverage company Nestlé SA, NESN.VX -0.51% employees begin meetings by checking for hazards, like computer cords that can cause tripping, and reviewing emergency exit protocol. Workers are also expected to spot two safety incidents each month—such as someone holding elevator doors open.

At a company event held at a hotel, an assembled crowd of Nestlé workers audibly gasped when a hotel employee jumped up onto the stage instead of using an adjacent staircase.

"Everyone went 'Whoa,' " said Joanne Crawford, a marketing director in the company's Glendale, Calif., office. The chief executive of Nestlé USA made the worker leave the stage and ascend the correct way.

Safety-minded employees of Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM -1.05% recently camped out near two stairways in the firm's Irving, Texas, headquarters to observe who held the handrails while going up and down, who carried too many items or ones too large, who was using their mobile phones and who was in a rush. The workers, members of a company safety and wellness committee, mostly just recorded the incidents, for fear they might startle someone and cause an injury.

"We will intervene if we can do so safely," said Glenn Murray, who coordinates the company's safety programs.

Question for the ages: has anyone documented the possible hazards of startling a co-worker with a white, "stop work" card?

Posted by Cassandra at 06:48 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 25, 2014

Achieving "Paycheck Fairness"

The Blog Princess saw this a few days ago and it made her day:

... given that gender pay discrimination has been illegal for more than half a century, if the Congressman is truly committed to “erase that disparity” as he sanctimoniously states in his letter, he may go about that in one or more of the following ways:

First, the Congressman could introduce a bill to restrict women’s ability to work fewer hours than her male counterparts to shrink the gender wage gap. The plain fact is that one of the largest contributors to the wage disparity between men and women is the simple fact that men, on average, work longer hours than women. In fact, of full time workers, 26% of males work more than 40 hours per week, compared to just 14% of women (How Pew Research measured the gender pay gap | Pew Research Center). However, this can be easily remedied by government forcing men and women to work the exact same hours per week, their own personal preferences be damned!

Second, the Congressman could introduce a bill to coerce women to go into male dominated fields that they themselves have not chosen to enter. Some of the most male dominated majors and career fields also happen to be the most lucrative, such as engineering, computer science, and business. The fact that most women choose not to enter these fields should not stop the Congressman from attempting to get the government involved to force women to go into them, if he is serious about closing the wage gap. As an aside, the Congressman may also, in the name of equality and wage parity, seek to force men to enter women dominated (and relatively low pay) fields such as psychology, education, and gender studies.

Third, the Congressman could introduce a bill mandating that men and women devote equal amounts of time to raising children and other household responsibilities. Why allow individual couples the power to decide how do divide up domestic responsibilities when it could be dictated to them by their enlightened rulers in Washington DC? The fact that most women actually enjoy and get substantial satisfaction from raising their own children should not dissuade the Congressman from attempting to stamp out this root cause behind the gender wage gap.

Upon even a cursory look at the evidence, it is abundantly clear the the gender wage gap is not chiefly (if at all) a result of discrimination or some eery unjust force that needs to be battled with legislation. Rather it is a result in the difference choices that men and women make.

Thus if the Congressman is genuinely committed to ending this wage gap he will have no other option than to use the coercive power of the federal government to make women (and, to a lesser extent, men) do that which they would not themselves choose to do.

We are reminded of a particularly moronic screed we read several months ago asserting that "...women should not be allowed within fifty feet of a school where boys are taught".

Who will free women from the tyranny of their own value judgments and decisions? Who will free men to abandon their well paid jobs and flock to the elementary schools where they can *finally* indulge their beautiful and natural desire to work with small children all day?

Verily we say unto you: these suboptimal lifestyle choices must be stopped in our lifetime before they kill us all. Utopia beckons, if only we have the courage to give it a helping hand.

Posted by Cassandra at 07:01 AM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 01, 2014

Womyn Power!!!!

A female homemaker (but we repeat our ownselves) takes on the entrenched forces of Big Labor and state government and wins big. Some might see this as a huge victory for women - evidence that the distaff half of the human race are not as helpless and powerless as some would have us believe:

Pam Harris, the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court case Harris v. Quinn, was watching the news Monday with some of her co-plaintiffs when the announcement came that they had won.

As the verdict was being read, one of the co-plaintiffs whispered into Harris' ear, "It looks like they knocked on the wrong door."

That's probably the one thing that officials with the state of Illinois, the defendant in the case, and the Service Employees International Union, which could lose thousands of members as a result of the ruling, would agree on after Monday's ruling.

Five years ago, Harris was an unpretentious Illinois homemaker with no background in political activism when the SEIU knocked on her front door in an attempt to get her to join the union.

She participates in a state-funded home caregiver program for the mentally disabled that Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, had recently declared eligible for collective bargaining.

She said no, but the state and SEIU refused to take that for an answer. Both assumed that she could be prodded into joining.

What could one woman who needed the program to be able to take care of her developmentally disabled son do, anyway?

Plenty, it turns out. Harris saw the effort as an intrusion and fought it every step of the way. First, she organized the union's defeat in a 2009 mail-in election. Then she challenged the declaration all the way to the Supreme Court.

"This is really cool," Harris told me Monday. "I don’t have to worry — and other families don't have to worry — their homes will become union workplaces."

Her victory, obtained with help from the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation, means that not only can she not be forced to join a union, but neither can other Illinois home caregivers. Most are individuals caring for disabled family members.

If a homemaker with no prior political experience wins a huge battle that benefits not just women but all families providing home care to a loved one and no one notices, is there any evidence that women can fight their own battles and win (even in our hopelessly sexist/racist/Otherist society)? This seems like an important angle for a media obsessed with telling us we can't even manage our own household finances, much less take on The Patriarchy.

Yet - unexpectedly! - the prevailing "womyn driven" narrative is that those Big Mean Powerful Men over at SCOTUS are making it impossible for ordinary women to obtain birth control at all. Because - wait for it - the legal right to choose/use birth control is meaningless unless we can also force someone else to pay for it, too:

How did women get birth control before President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act? Before Obamacare, a woman could go to a doctor and get birth control. She often had to pay or make a copayment for contraception. But in the 2014 political lexicon, that means she had no access.

On Monday, the Supreme Court issued its 5-4 Hobby Lobby decision, which recognized family-owned corporations' religious right to not offer contraception mandated under the Affordable Care Act in their employee health insurance plans. In her dissenting opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg charged that the ruling would "deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' religious beliefs access to contraceptive coverage that the ACA would otherwise secure."

Women - those poor, pretty, muddle headed little dears - are apparently incapable of budgeting, prioritizing expenses, or managing their money intelligently so that needs come first and luxuries come second. The real irony here is that if we can believe this fact sheet from the Guttmacher Institute the haves and the have-nots appear to have the same access to the number one method of birth control: the Pill.

•Ninety-two percent of at-risk women with incomes of 300% or more of the federal poverty level are currently using contraceptives, compared with 89% among those living at 0–149% of the poverty line

Now it may be that the 0-149% who are near the poverty line are already getting free birth control from the government, but in that case, just what "access problem" is solved by the ACA?

Oh, and the second most widely used, non-permanent method of birth control? Not covered by the ACA at all:


It's almost as though posturing and demonstrating "solidarity" with helpless womynkynd were more important to these folks than actually guaranteeing access to birth control.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:04 AM | Comments (55) | TrackBack

June 10, 2014

More Good News from the Land of the Living Wage

Mein Gott im Himmel! Who could have predicted these outrages!!!!

... how do the businesses that employ people at or near the minimum wage absorb their now-higher labor costs? CEPR, to its credit, offered some answers:
"Some employers may cut hours; others, fringe benefits; still others, the wages of highly paid workers. Some employers may raise prices (particularly if their competitors are experiencing similar cost increases in response to the minimum wage). Some employers may see their profits fall (along with those of their competitors), while others may reorganize the work process in order to lower costs."

In other words, the workers will simply lose out elsewhere. Meanwhile consumers will pay higher prices and the businesses will see lower profit margins.

The Seattle Times has reported that some hotels have already laid off workers. Some Seattle hotel workers told the Northwest Asian Weekly they had already lost their 401(k)s, health insurance, paid holidays, vacations and free parking as a result of the change. "It sounds good, but it's not good," an anonymous cleaning lady said.

Those aren’t the only unintended consequences of raising the minimum. It may actually help the corporations progressives think they are punishing.

The D.C. city council tried last year to raise the minimum wage for big retailers, and only big retailers, to $12.50, only to be vetoed by Mayor Vincent Gray. Walmart, which was in the process of opening six locations in the city, lobbied hard for the veto.

But when the council subsequently moved to raise the minimum wage across the board to $11.50, Walmart did not object. Why? Because they can afford to pay that, but their smaller competitors may not. Back in 2006, the retail giant even endorsed a federal minimum wage hike.

Seattle has tried to account for this imbalance by phasing in the increases in four different multi-year schedules according to business size. That is still going to be tough for businesses facing thin profit margins.

Still, such micro-managing shows that even Seattle is worried about the practical impact of its hike.

The Editorial Staff have long argued that focusing on supposedly stagnating wages and ignoring the total benefits package is inherently misleading (if not downright dishonest). It doesn't take a genius to predict how businesses that depend on unskilled, minimum wage employees are likely to react to a steep hike in the minimum wage.

Only someone who understands profit, loss, and competitive pressure.

Posted by Cassandra at 06:56 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 11, 2014

Central Planning Fail

We steadfastly refuse to pay attention to Twitter, but this has "hashtag" written all over it:

“HealthCare.gov will be out of service for two and a half days beginning on Feb. 15 — the last day people can sign up to obtain coverage that begins on March 1.

And we want to give these people MORE power? They can't plan their way out of a paper bag.

Posted by Cassandra at 08:00 AM | Comments (7) | TrackBack