Wednesday, June 13, 2012

“My Employer Makes More Off My Labor Than I Do”

It seems that at just about any “progressive” protest rally, union unrest or occupy tantrums, it doesn’t take long before someone either in the crowd or on a speakers platform will state words to the effect of, “my employer make more off my labor than I do,” trying to build sympathy that they don’t receive proper wages for whatever their labor may be and whip up emotions to support demands of more.

In those crowds of envious and jealous malcontents, it is just what many desire to hear and speakers know it all too well. In the case of unions, demands follow for even more with no realization that any increases in business costs to employers must be passed along to consumers in order for their employer to remain in business and afford to pay them what they demand.

In a vicious circle, even those making the demand end up with less value for their dollar as consumer prices continue to climb.

Invariably, comparisons will be made that the laborer works hard, an undeniable fact and that while they may earn a decent wage, the employer is “raking in the dough” and enjoying large profits.

Some even claim that they end up investing in the “tools of the trade.” Mechanics, machinists, mill workers and more may end up owning over $30,000 worth of tools needed to perform their jobs and believe that to be a major investment, even though spread out over 30 or 40 years.

I can’t dispute that as I have a personal investment of some $35,000 in personal tools sitting in my own tool box, being a retired mechanic myself. But, they are mine to do with as I please and do not belong to any of my former employers.

Yes, the dealers I worked for over my adult life did indeed make more of an hour of my labor than I did. But is that really “unfair” as we so often hear today? Does that make the employer that “greedy rich guy” we so often hear of them accused of being?

So many crying out that they deserve whatever their employer has overlooks a lot. While we learn our skill and seen being hired at an existing business, most never consider what it took to establish and build that business over many years and often prior failures.

Many companies begin as an idea in someone head and years of working in garages or basements improving and perfecting that idea. Long hours late into the night, often after working a full day for another employer are put into the idea. Years of failing may result in an idea that finally works and offers others an improvement in their lives and demand builds.

Garages and basements are too small to meet the demand and a building is sought, often rented in the beginning and if the idea catches on, construction of a suitable location for manufacture is sought.

By now, the person that had the idea can longer meet the demand on their own and begins seeking to hire people with the skills needed to manufacture, sell and market the idea to consumers. Shipping and packaging enters into the equation so consumers may find the item on store shelves and receive it at their homes.

So workers are interviewed and those with the proper skills are hired, given a paycheck, benefit package or whatever the employer offers. He must also begin paying taxes and fees on his business for needed permits and licenses as well as purchase insurance on his business and employees.

If an employee isn’t as efficient in the job as thought, they will likely be let go after mistakes are made, mistakes that often the employer must pay for in recalls, lawsuits or buy backs. The employee that made the mistake only needs to seek other employment, drawing unemployment compensation during the time of unemployment, also paid for by employers in unemployment insurance.

While we workers may end up buying many tools of our trade over our working years, the employer may very likely have to invest hundreds of thousands, if not millions in equipment and tools for us to be able to practice our trade at their place of business. Be it lathes, drill presses, computers or what have you, the employer supplies those, we don’t.

They also must pay someone to maintain and repair that equipment as needed plus purchase the supplies needed to turn something into the item the dreamed of long ago and spent many years perfecting that we now build for them.

In a nutshell, it is the employer that comes up with the idea, works hard to perfect it, takes all of the risks, makes the investments and pays the necessary license, fees and taxes while many of us sit back and bitch because they expect a return on what they may invested their entire life in.

While our skill is important to us and the employer, what would we do with those skills if someone hadn’t done all of the dirty work to build a business first that we may practice our skills at?

So, who is it that is really the greedy ones? The one that came up with the idea, worked hard to perfect it, took all of the risks, made the investments and continues to pay the necessary license, fees, taxes and other expenses to keep a business running?

Or the one who comes along years later, sells themselves to the employer, asks for a paycheck and now expects an equal share without making any of the investments or taking any of the risks?

You decide.

I know there will be exceptions to this as not all business owners are decent employers, so don’t come try to tell me about your employer who screwed you over. Been there, done that, got the tee shirt.

But also don’t forget, you are free to quit and go sell your skills to someone else if your employer falls into that category.

You always have the freedom, so far, to seek a better paycheck.

What you are not entitled to is to continually demand more than the business can give. You receive a paycheck and benefits for your labors. That is what you are entitled to, provided your job performance meets the business owners’ expectations.

The next time you hear some malcontent saying, “my employer makes more off my labor than I do,” you might remind them that their employer has invested and risked far more than they are willing to and over a much longer period of time.

1 comment:

Brendan Gertner said...
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