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Another “Loyal” Manufacturer Leaves Connecticut: Dear Sirs, Don’t Let The Door Hit Your Ass On the Way Out

Edited (again) on 11/19/15 because you should never write while agitated.

Edited for Typos on 11/18/15 8:12am

Edited for clarity on 11/17/15 @ 2:03pm

 

I have a love/hate relationship with Google. I own an Android smartphone, generally use Google for routine web searches and use Gmail as my primary personal webmail. One thing I am particularly feeling both ways about is the feature on Android called “Cards” collections of shipping, bank, local event and news alerts that, on my phone, show up in one of the secondary pages.

I love the feature when it gets what I’m interested in right, but hate it when it does so and presents me with a news article that infuriates me when I have no chance to comment on it.

 

This is one such case.

 

So I’ve made it obvious that I live in Connecticut, I’ve lived here consistently for the better part of my life and I love my state.  The temperate climate, the beauty of the northwest hills, the rolling terrain and occasional bursts of autumn color make it one of the most beautiful places to live. The people are another matter but that is part of the story.

I have many friends who have either been constantly complaining about the state, have left, or are threatening to leave. For the most part the ones who leave can afford to do so, and the ones who can’t either end up returning or never leaving in the first place. Yes, there is a pattern.

Of those who could afford to leave the general consensus is that life is better elsewhere, which to a certain extent I understand. Not everyone loves the harsh winters or muggy summers, and I’m becoming less and less a fan of the snooty attitude that has taken over the state. However, if you are going to leave, and bitch about leaving, Don’t lie about why, especially if you are a business owner. Don’t bullshit us about the reasons to make a political point, at least not so obviously as these people do.

Here is a sample:

We have always believed that to attract the best employees, we need to be among the best employers. We have never paid minimum wage and we have always offered our employees excellent benefits, including health insurance plans, paid vacation time, disability insurance, a 401(k) plan with employer matching contributions, profit sharing, and other time off based on individual needs.

Some people in authority in Connecticut refuse to understand that a mandated $15 minimum wage would mean that companies like ours would have to raise pay across the board. It would mean that rather than investing in our company and being able to create more jobs, we would have to raise pay for all employees, including those who are already being paid a good wage. These cost increases would cause us to raise the price of our product and become less competitive with companies outside Connecticut”

The article is short, so I’m not accused of taking it out of context I suggest you go and read it for yourself. When you do, keep in mind these few things:

Never does the writer, one of the owners of the company, suggest that his business is in trouble as a result of operating in Connecticut. He only states vaguely that it is “too expensive” to do business here, a refrain that , frankly, I hear every day about this state. A refrain, all things considered, which is largely bullshit considering the educated  workforce and the proximity to shipping channels of all types, not to mention the productivity of our workforce.

The above paragraphs are especially troubling because as businessmen they display a lack of understanding of practical economics, and a terrible shortsightedness that afflicts much of the business community today especially in the northeast.  The part about the $15 minimum wage affecting what they would have to pay their (unspecified) employees is especially troubling and misleading considering the fact that according to him they pay excellent benefits, including health insurance plans, paid vacation time, disability insurance, a 401(k) plan with employer matching contributions, profit sharing, and other time off based on individual needs” much better than any minimum wage $15 an hour job will. And presumably, the skill level required would be far beyond what one would need to flip burgers.

All this aside from the fact that higher minimum wages generally do not result in immediate raises for everyone else as he suggests. It does cause a “ripple effect” but that effect is concentrated mostly on low-wage workers and not skilled manufacturing jobs. In other words, bullshit. The only guaranteed tide riser would be an increase in the FEDERAL minimum wage as that was what it was designed to do in the first place.

A few other obvious obstrufications of the true reasoning behind such a move are:

Year after year employers like us have to fight off efforts to:

— Expand state requirements for paid sick leave.

— Increase the highest minimum wage in the nation to $15 per hour and more.

— Require paid family and medical leave.

— Impose unworkable restrictions on workforce scheduling.

— Restrict our ability to talk to our employees about union organizing efforts.

— And, of course, make us pay for every new “investment” policymakers think is a good idea.”

So let me get this straight, you are BRAGGING about trying to diminish worker protections or the push for FEDERAL policies that support the ones on a state level? You already offer leave of a sort, unless you are lying, you already offer pretty good benefits as good or better than mandated by the state and federal government. Oh and a correction, Washington State currently has the highest minimum wage, not Connecticut. Ct has the 3rd highest, 4th if you count Washington D.C.

The simple fact that Connecticut does all this , makes this a BETTER place for employees and therefore better for employers. With these protections workers can be more productive, in fact Connecticut is one of the most productive states (AND not surprisingly, so are many of the states often complained about by business as being “too expensive” to do business in). Worker productivity in states that have better worker protections is on average higher than those without. So in essence, there is only one reason to leave, greed.

Nowhere in the screed of Conservative talking points does the owner take into account any of this.

Nowhere does he say that moving to South Carolina simply means more money in the pockets of the owners. It is heavily implied, but never explicitly stated. Never do they say, “fuck you Connecticut, we don’t make enough money here so fuck the families we are leaving behind and fuck our responsibility to all the people we put out of work, we just aren’t making enough money here.” But, in actuality, that is exactly what they are saying.

Take a few of the talking points as examples: We have always believed that to attract the best employees, we need to be among the best employers. “ So what’s the problem? If you are so damn good to your employees, why leave? You don’t seem to be struggling here, at least you don’t state that. I would see it as a simple oversight but you go to great lengths to talk about everything else. Not once did you say that your business was struggling.

And this: some people in authority in Connecticut refuse to understand that a mandated $15 minimum wage would mean that companies like ours would have to raise pay across the board. This is just an outright lie,  wages would not go up as a direct result of an increase in the minimum wage on skilled manufacturing jobs any time soon. There is no direct correlation between raising the minimum wage and manufacturing wages, especially if you already pay your employees well to begin with. It is total compensation, not simply wages that attract the best people, and $15 an hour alone is not a rising tide that lifts any boats except those at the very bottom. Hell, it might even help your business in the long run by allowing more people to buy the products your parts are in.

This is especially telling: “We are taking a third of our employees with us and paying them the same wages. With South Carolina’s lower cost of living, it is as if they are getting a big raise. And we pay our new employees in South Carolina competitive local wages” A few statistics here: The current Minimum wage in SC is 7.25 an hour and the unemployment rate is 6.7%, while in CT the minimum wage is currently 9.15 an hour and the unemployment rate is 6.3%, no correlation there. Where there is a correlation is in poverty rates, CT’s is 15% while that of SC is almost 19%. Granted the great wealth in the state  creates an unbalanced statistic but the poorest city in CT doesn’t compare to the poorest in South Carolina.

So what is actually being said here is that, we are taking profits on this move, we have abandoned our state and our friends because a few of us will do MUCH better in South Carolina while those we hire here will do at least slightly better than they would do otherwise. 

I don’t begrudge anyone for leaving the state if that is what they choose to do, nor do I feel that companies should be compelled to stay if they are truly unable to make it here. What we should all ask for is that people and companies not lie about the reasons for doing so to score some points in the anti-regulatory crusade. The same regulations that keep CT one of the highest income states also bless us with some of the most productive workers who deserve every benefit they get.

Oh and one last thing, I call bullshit on the Union Busting rhetoric, I worked for a company in Connecticut that was notoriously anti-union and they never had a problem giving us regular seminars on how evil unions were and how much better off we are without them. If you were feeling constrained by the states laws in this regard you must have been trying to suppress union organizing in a way that was illegal at a federal level.  Besides, unions actually make employees more productive, not less, therefore costing manufacturers less in the long run.

Goodbye.

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