Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Here we are another day at Jetset. Lively conversation about the Supermarket strike in the south land. I wish that I was better informed about the issue, I spent a bunch of time scouring google for info and didn't have a whole lot of luck. My gut reaction is not sympathetic, but part of that is because so many of the folks here at work are knee jerk enough towards any union related cause that they are convinced corporation=bad & evil. As near as I can tell the Stores want employess to pay $5 a week individual and $15 a week for family towards their health benefits. They also want to change the pay tier for new hires to a lower level, not current workers. The unions say this is motivated by greed for profit. The Supermarkets are saying that with increased competition from super centers (Wal-mart, Costco, etc) and specialty stores (Trader Joes, Whole Foods) that current wages and benefits are untenable. I don't think anyone thinks that selling food is a high margin business. I did find a supermarket industry journal that said in 2003 the gross profit margin for the industry was less then %1. Obviously they survive by selling quantity. It doesn't seem to me that the stores are being particulary disingenous here and what they are asking for doesn't seem unreasonable given what I know about the rates that most people pay for health coverage and what Jetset asks our employees to pay. It's also interesting to think of in the context of the dissappearing middle class post from yesterday. These semi-skilled jobs at supermarkets and the like are going to be like gold in a decade. Companies need to be profitable while providing workers with good wages and benefits. We need to be thinking about the balance between the two and not hurl accusations. There must be a middle ground and we need to find it.

Ok completely off the former subject is this line from a Stephen Dunn poem (yeah I'm kinda obsessed about this right now): I'm paraphrasing but it goes something like

"...our farewell hope
that we try with what is left us."

I know I've got it wrong and I can't remember it exactly but I think that I've got the spirit of the line. I was commuting in today (absolutely gorgeous here today by the way) just chewing on the line over and over. It's really a pleasurable sensation, riding in traffic and thinking about poetry. I couldn't decide if Dunn was saying the line with resignation (.i.e. let's make the best of this crap) or more metaphorically we make the best of what other people (parents, mentors, heroes, lovers, husbands, wives, both deceased and living) leave for us in our lives.

Hmmm. Hope everyone is well.
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