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Production Jobs…More than the sterotypes suggest.

January 29, 2014 Leave a comment

I have been working in production now for six years and have come across a similar reaction when describing my job to friends and family. That well it won’t be forever look and the consoling words that come from the desk jockeys who have never operated an industrial machine in their lives can be infuriating.
Indeed the fairytale of WWII factory workers building the equipment to safe the lives of American soldiers overseas has long since devolved away to an all time low, in my almost humble opinion. Low Education, Loves physical labor, bottom of the barrel…such is the stereotype of the American factory worker.

I started looking around the web for some comforting news about the image of factory workers. My google search first turned up a yahoo answers page. The question (What is the stereotype of a factory worker?) was answered by three people:
1.PepperEva said, “They had some tough luck. Maybe they made bad choices, maybe things happened that they couldn’t control, maybe they like working a factory. Maybe they want to run one some day. I generally just think, huh, a job. I doubt I’ll get a steady job doing what I love. I’ll probably take the work I can get and do what I love in my free time.”
2.Apple Jacks said, “uneducated.”
3.Vanessa said, “Poor.”

…not a very reassuring find for the image of the factory worker.

The Actuality

As I was bouncing around safety blogs and came across an article in http://www.impomag.com that gave some stark facts that describe the reality of factory workers. The article was written by Nancy Syverson, Managing Editor. It is entitled, “Who Works in Your Plant? A Profile of Today’s American Factory Worker.”

Today’s factory workers are educated and well paid

Syverson’s article had some facts:

Myth: Factory workers are low paid.
•Fact: According to recent reports, the average manufacturing wage is $54,000 per year, 18% higher than the average U.S. wage.

Myth: Factory workers are high-school dropouts.
•Fact: Some 78% of the manufacturing workforce has a high-school or greater education.

Myth: Factory jobs require vocational education, which attracts students who are less qualified in other areas.
•Fact: According to NAM, today’s manufacturers seek a range of skills that include hands-on abilities as well as math, science and computer use.

Myth: You have to be a union member to work in a factory.
•Fact: Unions represents only about 20% of all factory workers, down from 25% five years ago. Currently 22 right-to-work states give factory workers the choice of belonging to a union or not.

Myth: The burden of benefit costs have been shifted to the employee in manufacturing as in other industries.
•Fact: More than 80% of manufacturers still pay the bulk of employees’ medical benefits, including dental.

Myth: Factory work requires physical labor and can be dangerous.
•Fact: Certain factory work will always require physical labor, but automation and ergonomic awareness have reduced that type of work, resulting in a 40% decrease in workplace injuries over the past decade.

Using current demographic data, a new picture of the modern factory worker emerges. Tough, hardworking and determined, America’s factory workers are faced with challenges that often require more smarts than strength.

Some further digging found an article published in http://www.breakingout.net by Kevin Wells. His article Why It’s Important to Cut Loose contrasts working in production and working in a cubical. “The term “factory workers” doesn’t have to be taken literally,” Wells says, “Most people in the Western world nowadays are actually office workers, but – same difference. In the West, office work is the new factory work. When I worked in offices the people I encountered were pretty much the same as the old factory worker stereotype. It makes not a jot of difference whether you are blue collar or white collar.”

My Experience

I work with Pepperidge Farm in Bloomfield Connecticut, where we make an enormous amount of Bread and Stuffing.  I can count a half-dozen other employees I personally deal with daily on the production floor that have at least a Bacheller’s degree. Pepperidge Farm pays better than most jobs in the area and we all know that there are lists of people waiting to get a shot working here. The factory uses more machines than manual labor, which creates the rise of computer savvy machine operators. These operators are highly skilled problem solvers who invest themselves in the million-dollar machines they operate.

Yes the American factory worker is in dire need of a PR campaign. This down-and-out reputation does not reflect the dedication, education and technical skill that is mandatory in today’s workforce.

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Tablets Scramble to Drop Their Prices for the Holiday Rush.

November 28, 2011 2 comments

Thank you Amazon Fire!  Amazon sent the Android tablet market into a frenzy last week when they launched the Amazon Kindle Fire, an Android tablet customized for a seamless Amazon experience, for a whopping $199.

…and $199 is retail by the way, not just a black Friday gimmick.

In just over a week, Amazon has changed the game of Android Tablets.  Here are some examples of how the Android market is trying to keep up with Amazon’s pricing brevity:

  Barnes & Nobel dropped the Nook Color (the traditional rival of anything “Kindle”) from $249 to $198   and launched the Nook Tablet, a remarkably similar device with additional memory, priced at $249. 

Walmart dropped their already inexpensive Vizio 8″ tablet from $250 to $198.

Latest to jump on board is the BlackBerry Playbook made by RIM.  This fledgeling tablet has been given new life by a lower price point.  For a limited time the price is being dropped from $499 to $199, just to compete with the falling price brought on by the Kindle Fire.    This tactic is working as well.  A Best Buy representative said that the Playbook is selling out across the country.    

              

Why Would Amazon do This?

Amazon took the lesson from the HP Touchpad firesale earlier this year.  The computer giant, HP, liquidated all Touchpads and discontinued the product.  HP slashed the price from $399 to $99, and perhaps influenced the direction of Android tablets forever.  Touchpads sold out immediately, an android port (CyanogenMod 7 Alpha) was developed to replace the lack-luster windows-based OS , and the Touchpads had an immediate underground following.  As a matter of fact, the upcoming Android upgrade, entitled Ice Cream Sandwich, will increase the usefulness of the Touchpad.  Incidentally, the HP’s now discontinued Touchpad was the biggest selling Android tablet of 2011.

So, the lesson in all of this?  Field of Dreams says it all.  If you build it [and sell it for the right price] people will come.  The $200 line has been crossed and the Android world is reeling to figure out new price points.  People will buy a cheap 7″ with limited bells and whistles over a fancier 10″ tablet that is triple the price.

The next year in the world of the Android operating system will be an education to watch.  Perhaps we will see a redefining split between competing middle-class and business-class Android tablets.  Perhaps we will see the industry push the price back up and take the hit in customers.  Perhaps, on the other hand, Android will be able to do what Apple cannot…hold their prices lower than the competition.

Again, thank you Amazon Fire!  The sky is falling.  You have changed the  tablet pricing rules.  The race for consumers is on and this consumer will be actively looking on to see who comes out first!