The talking heads on a financial show were debating inflation’s effect on wages and who gets hurt more, hourly workers or the wealthy. A comment was made about what hourly wages were 10 years ago and what they are now. It got me to thinking about our wages here at PlastiCert.
Some 12 years ago as then General Manager, I remember having a disagreement with the prior owner. We were offering $9.00/hr. to start, and I was proposing increasing that to $11.00. Unlike now, workers were not hard to find back then. It was not about generating applicants; it was more about paying a living wage. I remember the owner asking, “Do you know how much $11.00 per hour is?” and me replying, “yes, it’s a hair above the poverty level”.
My insolence landed me in the doghouse for quite a while. At the time, $11.00/hr. was the poverty level for a family of 4, but the point I was trying to make was that increasing it wasn’t about the market, it was the right thing to do.
Even today, the poverty level for a household of 3 is $11.00/hr. It is worth noting that America has one of the highest levels of single-parent families with children in the world. In 2020, nearly 19 million children, amounting to 25 percent of all children in the U.S., were living in single-parent families.* We count some of them being among us here at PlastiCert. It strikes a chord with me as I was once a single parent myself. Even on an engineer’s salary I had some difficulties. I know it can be a trying situation for some hourly workers.
So, hearing this morning’s talking heads did get me to thinking about how we are doing here at PlastiCert since taking over ownership.
Our starting wage is up 70% in the last 9 years. Adjusting for inflation to make things even, we are now starting at a level 40% higher than we used to. (For example, instead of the $11.00 I was asking for 12 years ago, we would have adjusted to $12.60). After the management buyout, we were hampered for the first few years getting past the recession. We also had to pay off the debt our company had accumulated. Having accomplished those goals, now our wage goal is to continue outpacing other manufacturing companies in the area to facilitate meaningful change.
As for my salary, I am directing monies to go to my coworkers and the company. They are the reason the company is successful. In 2020, CEOs of the top 350 firms in the U.S. made $24.2 million, on average — 351 times more than a typical worker.** A 2019 Institute for Policy Studies report estimates that 80% of S&P 500 companies pay their CEO over 100 times more than they pay their median worker.
My salary, adjusted for inflation has gone down 2% in the last 10 years. My pay is a hair under only 3 times my average coworker, and barely more than 3 times the median. Instead, we have invested that money in the company, buying $1 million dollars’ worth of new equipment and spending another million dollars on buying our building back and putting on an addition. PlastiCert is here for the long haul. We’ve set it up to be here long after I am around, providing a living for current and future coworkers.
At PlastiCert, you know we are planning for the future. We are looking to make sure everyone gets ahead as we continue to grow, and our people are more focused on making you look good rather than making ends meet. What do you know about your molder? Can they live up to the same standard? Do they even know where they stand besides offering what is needed to generate applicants? If not, give us a call.
*From The Hill
**From the Economic Policy Institute