Lately, there’s been much to do about women in the workplace, and men in the workplace, and who has rights, etc. And, I believe there’s enough room for a good old fashioned discussion about this.
The current politically inappropriate discussion about who has privilege in the workplace is so filled with lies and miscomprehension that I often find people writing in circles with their criteria for who gets and who gives.
Let’s start here with the concept of equality in the workplace.
Where does equality come from?
If we are truly honest about the desire to be treated equal – in most instances – the definition is not EQUAL, but rather SAME. We want the same as everyone else, but are we willing to work for the same things?
There’s where most people get all tied up in bad details, because they’re not willing to perform the same to get the same results.
In 1959, my dad went to work at a trailer factory installing kitchen cabinets. He got paid $.22 per cabinet installed. The average trailer had 14 cabinets in it, so he was making a whole total of $1.98 per unit. At that rate, he could install cabinets in one unit every two hours, and the trailer factory had the ability to push out five trailers every day. So, dad was pushing out five units with all cabinets installed properly in 10 hours a day. This allowed for a few breaks, and at the end of the five day week, he’d punched out 25 units, at $1.98 per unit for a take home pay of $49.50 when the average weekly take home pay was about $25. a week.
After about six weeks at this rate of pay, Dad was pretty pleased with his work, and loving the fact that he was getting good enough at his job that he could narrow down the time he pushed out each unit, so he didn’t have to stay for ten hour days any longer… His days were dropping down to about 7 hours, most days, and he still took necessary breaks and a lunch break, but he was punching out the work. And getting the pay to prove it.
A co-worker realized Dad was leaving a little bit earlier than the next team, and took a complaint to the boss.
Before we get all caught up in the difficulties and troubles of one guy taking home a bigger paycheck, let’s look at the reality of this situation.
Paid Per Job
At that time, on that particular job at the Trailer Factory, everyone in manufacturing was being paid per job. It was a great way to pay a person for exactly what they did, without any discrepancies about their work. If a job wasn’t done properly, they didn’t get paid. If the job was done right, they got paid the same amount, whether it took them five minutes or five hours.
Dad had learned how to speed up the process without taking anything away from anyone else’s job, and get his work done in less time. Since he was in finished cabinets, the next crew came into a trailer ready to run carpets, paint, and decorate the trailer, so everything done before his job was completed by groups of men who delivered five units per day to him. Those units arrived in his sector before noon. So if he was ready to start by the time the first one arrived and finished up as they moved them on down the track, his effort was complete. By the end of his shift, he almost always had two units waiting and wouldn’t get any more to work on until the next day. His job for the day was done.
The key to getting paid the full amount possible for your day, was to finish all jobs that were brought to your sector. If the boss had to call someone from another section to help you catch up, you weren’t keeping up. It didn’t mean you got paid any less for the work you did. It did mean that someone else would be earning part of the income from your sector, because they were doing the work.
If you went to another sector, to help out, you got paid whatever the rate was per job, for the job you went to do.
There were both men and women on the line, and the women receive the same rates per job on whatever job as men did. So a woman installing cabinets would have received $.22 per cabinet just like Dad did.
Union Infiltration Workers
In early 1960, the Union arrived on the scene, telling workers how unfair their employer was being. They pointed out that this man took home $49.50 per week, while that man over there, working the same number of HOURS, was taking home just $24.00 a week. After several weeks of meetings, protests, and complaints by some workers who weren’t putting out the effort to earn the bigger checks, the company closed their doors and reorganized the line.
When the workers returned two weeks later, they were given time sheets, and hourly wages, meeting the unions minimum hour requirements.
Dad’s 7 hour per day, $49.50 work week, because an eight hour day, and a $.65 per hour rate of pay, for a paycheck of $26.00 a week. This was considered a fair wage by the union. Everyone on the line received the same hourly rate, and the same hours per week.
Performance lagged, and within two months, the trailer factory was putting out just 3 trailers per day. By the end of the first year, the trailer factory was laying off workers, because they couldn’t put out enough trailers to make payroll.
Working by the Piece.
Working by the piece, everyone who cared to put forth the effort to do more could do as much as they wanted to do, and get paid for each piece they completed. There was motivation to do more, and to do it well, because you got paid for every single thing you did.
Working by the hour, everyone got paid whether they performed or not. They were present on the job, therefore they were paid for the time they spent there. There was no motivation to do more, and slowly the few who were working hard and dedicated to doing the job were doing everything that got done, because paychecks were passed out at the end of the week, whether you worked or not. Slowly, as motivation to get the job done disappeared, the trailers were not being manufactured, and the manufacturing company went out of business.
How does all this relate?
When men and women are both working in business, sharing the load, and functioning at their best level of performance on the job, they will quite naturally find their own area of expertise, and work in that area. When they’re paid per rate of their ability to complete the job or task at hand, they can, and often do earn the same rates of income, because they’ve found their own “Niche.”
Men and women don’t find different niches because they can’t do the job the other one is doing, they find their own niche, because they do THAT JOB BETTER. They find what they love to do, their passion, and they fulfill their passion by performing at a higher rate of motivation.
When you’re motivated to do better by your own self-motivated expectations, you tend to live your higher purpose. You find ways to make your life better. But when you’re relying on some sub-culture of fairness to provide you with the same thing everyone else has, you get stuck, in the lack of motivation that spills over into all sub-cultures that have no self-motivation, no self-expectation, and no self-value.
America’s Main Street Business Success
The biggest reason for America’s Main Street Business Success is the dedication of Mom & Pop business owners to sharing the work, hiring only dedicated workers, and paying attention to the jobs getting done in their business locations. For these reasons, it’s fairly easy for a small family owned business to prosper in times of economic disaster and downturn, because they’re not paying a host of employees to do nothing while the business owner writes checks.
Main Street Business owners treat employees with EQUAL right to opportunity. You have an equal opportunity to everyone else, to be hired to do the job, to do the job, or get fired if you don’t do the job. And this has been the salvation of American Main Street Business.
When you start hearing about raises to minimum wage, look at the protesters who are complaining. Are they the people who are out there working on the front-lines, motivated to get the job done? Or are they the ones sitting back doing nothing, making the business owner pay them for days off with sick pay, or time off work to manage their personal lives, or just gabbing behind the counter, not getting their work done?
You’re going to find real fast, that the big majority of companies that have hard core problems with their financial plans are the ones who have many employees and can’t define specific levels of employee motivation to get the job done. Paying someone the SAME wage is not the SAME as offering up equal opportunity to be paid equally well for the services you provide.
It’s time to get on the right side of employee motivation, working opportunity, and equal pay for equal work, rather than same pay for same hours spent on site.
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