Entries Tagged 'Employment' ↓

The Evil Tip Jar


So I attended the Roller Dollz home opener last night at the Arena, I think it has been over 5 years since I was at a bout. The rules have changed a lot, not a lot of contact or action anymore, they should change it to ‘flag derby’.

We also noticed that the Arena still has cup holders (the EC removed a bunch of theirs).

But that is not what this post is about. As I purchased a malt beverage at the bar, I asked the bartender where the tip jar was, they told me they had to ‘hide it’. They also made a colorful comment about Denny Sanford.

I am against this for many reasons, but mainly because of greed and hypocrisy. Besides the fact they charge too much for the beer at the ‘complex’ I think the bartenders should be able to put their tip jars in clear view. Why? Well first off, nothing requires you to tip them, even if the jar is in clear view. By not having the jar in view, it says a couple of things;

1) That the bartenders may be getting paid enough that tips are not necessary or

2) that gratuity may be included in the price.

Neither is true, I’m sure.

I would assume the Arena/Events Center (Ovations/SMG) don’t allow the tip jar because of greed. They want attendees to spend their ‘cash’ on purchases NOT on their employees gratuity. Which is ironic, because we are constantly told about how many jobs the EC and Convention center has created, what we are not told is that they are mostly low paying, part-time hospitality jobs, and to add insult to injury, they have to ‘hide’ their tip jars. Like passively asking for a tip is somehow impolite.

Yet again the management of the complex has shown it will now DICTATE tipping also.

Wonder if the workers will soon have to wear armbands?

We also got a good laugh out of the office printer paper sign taped to the window in the hallway going to the Arena and EC from the Sheraton. After spending millions on signage for the new facility, they must have ran out of signage money.


2014 SD Economic Development Annual Report

This was one of the pages in the report. What does it say to you? Where the rich get richer and the working poor get the shaft. This is so insulting to the hardworking, over taxed workers of South Dakota.



City of Sioux Falls has fewer employees in 2015 then in 2014, and massive salary increases for management

So I was looking at the list of 2015 city salaries last week (DOC:2015-Wages-January) mostly out of curiosity, and decided to pull up my 2014 city salary listing (DOC: Sioux Falls SD 2014-Wages-January) to do a couple of comparisons. As I started digging, I started to see a trend, so I gave the spreadsheets to a friend to see if what I was seeing was correct. A couple of days later, I sit in awe at the massive raises given to management this year compared to the very small 2-3% raises given to hourly employees.


2014 Employees:  422

2015 Employees:  412

2014 Salaries: $29,627,149.78

2015 Salaries: $29,981,602.74

These numbers are approximate due to calculations done to extrapolate hourly to 2040 hours per year average.


2014 Employees: 1087

2015 Employees: 1063

2014 Wages: $46,619,989.80

2015 Wages: $46,891,405.84

Here is a department breakdown of employees (DOC:2014-15 Department list) You will notice in this document that many of the Street Department employees moved from that department into Engineering. I still haven’t figured that one out yet, but it may be some justification for larger raises.

What is shocking is where the big raises came in, mostly the Fire Department. Which I find curious since there have never been any public reports about how effective the FD has been in putting out fires (preventing extensive damage, etc.), just saving lives. Also the fact that the FD is also responsible for EMS emergency calls, and have a good track record with them, yet we have contracted the most expensive ambulance service for the city.

But other departments like the Health Director, Library, Mayor’s office and PD also rolled in some big ones. While the graphic below shows the ‘Big Hitter List’ if you look at the entire city listing (DOC: 2014-15 Combined Salary List) You will see that many in management got over a 7% raise, almost DOUBLE what the hourly wage earners received.


Strangely enough, there seems to be a correlation between departments making the ‘Big Wins’ list and management getting raises. Not sure if this is a coincidence, but I am guessing it is.

I also must point out, this is a simple spreadsheet only comparing WAGES & SALARIES between the two years and doesn’t go into details about bonuses and does not include benefits and pension plans. Wages only, and the percentage increases are based solely on the information provided from the City of Sioux Falls in the two wage tables.

I’ve been told by a city official that certain formulas are used by HR to determine what a salary increase should be when moving up in the department and title changes, and how it compares against the private sector. But I can tell you from reading this preliminary report, I have no idea what that would be, especially when you see a landfill employee getting a $18K a year raise simply by going to salary vs. hourly – it almost looks like an accounting error, and very well could be.

What is disheartening about this review is that the city really is picking ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ when it comes to it’s employees and management (some managers only received a 3% raise). This is something that is more prevalent in the corporate world and not in the public sector where achievements are measured differently.

I guess this is what we get when our city is run like a business.

UPDATE (1): Just when we thought the fun was over with crunching the numbers, Poly brings up a point about the temp staff. Here is breakdown of them (DOC: Temporary employees per year )

Need qualified workers (welders)? Train them yourself

Well the Hubbel craft doesn’t say many wise things, but when she does, they are whoppers. This is Lora’s online comment to the Argus story about hiring welders;

Lora Hubbel · Top Commenter · Sioux Falls, South Dakota

I don’t get it. Sioux Steel, if you need welders….THEN TRAIN THEM! Why look to the government to educate and train someone for your business…DO IT YOURSELF! You don’t have to do the “schooling”…just give them hands on training. Give them a small job at first and as they learn more they can do more complicated jobs. Since WHEN have we pouted about not having enough STATE TRAINED workers? Man up Sioux Steel…take control of your own destiny and train your own workers.

Besides having the desire to want to be a welder and having skills working with your hands, there really isn’t a reason why you can’t train welders on the job. As someone who has worked in manufacturing in the past said to me;

The training schools do not teach useable welding skills. Through the last 40 years of our trying to use their trained skills in many South Dakota factories, the first thing we learned to do with the new employee was to break all the bad habits taught at the SD schools. This is a reason these students have to leave South Dakota. We do not have programs being taught matching the needs of the factories.  The necessary skills for South Dakota welding shops / factories are not taught by the instructors not understanding the businesses. Most South Dakota businesses do not need “certified” welders. These shops need to train their own employees to do the light gauge work South Dakota factories utilize. The need for the training academies is expensive bullshit to force under-educated kids to get sucked into paying high priced loans to study useless skills.

These factory owners do not want to take the farm and city kids into their factories anymore to go through a rigorous training period. We taught many workers everything about welding the way we needed them to weld and some are still at it 30 years and more later at the factory we started in 1965. This is the way it needs to be done to build South Dakota and a dedicated workforce.

No money for public education, but $50 million to subsidize training for private industry, go figure.

Let’s get serious about workforce development


Yesterday at the Sioux Falls City council informational meeting, Darrin Smith did a presentation on the $500K the city will be granting to businesses to recruit workers. Some interesting points he made;

1) He said employers are telling him they are having trouble recruiting workers in the $20 an hour an lower range.

2) He said recently in Sioux Falls there was 2,300 available openings and in the same period 3,800 people applied for unemployment.

Am I the only one that sees the correlation here? I think some people would just rather draw unemployment then work for a low wage.

I think to put some teeth in this grant process the city should require anyone seeking the recruitment money that they pay market scale-living wages. In other words $16 an hour or higher.

I also think for every dollar a business gets in grant money they should roll over as a bonus to employees that get recruited and stay with the company over one year. In other words, if Company A receives $5000 from the city in grant money, and they hire 5 people that stay with the company for over a year, each employee would receive a $1000 bonus.

We can recruit low wage employees until the cows come home, but it doesn’t have much of an affect on our local economy and is really just a waste of tax dollars.


Should elected officials be drug tested?


Before I get smoking on this post, I will say I don’t think anyone should be drug tested unless you are working in public safety, trucking or other jobs where safety can be compromised. I think people should be judged on their accomplishments and experience.

That being said, I have often wondered why lawmakers require public employees, and some have even suggested welfare recipients, to be drug tested when they are not? I thought about this the other day after turning in my resume for the county commission seat.

What do you think? Should we drug test elected officials before they are sworn into office? Or better yet, drug test them when they turn their petitions in for candidacy?

Hey, what’s good for the goose, is good for the gander.

Wage increase for tipped employees takes effect January 1st


­While most would be happy with a $2 an hour raise, it really doesn’t address the bigger issue of employers paying employees fairly. While I supported a minimum wage increase for hourly folks, I didn’t like the portion of the law that doubles tipped employees wages from $2.13 to $4.25.


It doesn’t address the bigger issue of tipped employees paying non-tipped employees. What most diners don’t realize is that restaurants in South Dakota can force tipped employees to give a portion (10-25%) of their tips to non-tipped employees (bussers, cooks, dishwashers, hosts). Of course no employer really forces you to do this, but they do sucker you into signing an agreement that you will, or they won’t hire you. While a $2 an hour raise will help a lot of full-time servers (even though many restaurants already pay more then $4 an hour to tipped employees) we are still stuck paying other employees from our tips when this should be the business’ responsibility.

I would have liked to seen a provision in the law eliminating the tip share option for tipped employees, forcing employers to pay their non-tipped staff more instead putting it on the backs of their tipped employees.

While I only work about 10 hours a week serving nowadays, when I worked full-time a couple of years ago I tipped out $4,500 in one year (these are tips I EARNED given directly to me from customers I served). In that same period of time, let’s say I was making that extra $2 an hour, that only adds up to $4,160 before taxes.

Eliminating the tip share would be more beneficial to tipped employees then any silly $2 an hour raise.

Furthermore, the media will have a feeding frenzy about how tipped employees are now making double of what they did before (not really), so the unintended consequences will be people tipping less while giving restaurants an excuse to raise meal prices.

Want to get ahead in Sioux Falls? Work multiple jobs.

The irony of this story, was just to hard to resist:

So Drew came up with a crazy plan to pay off the debt as soon as possible and that involved him taking on not just a second job, but a third–putting in an average of 70 to 80 hours a week.

“My friends joke, ‘How many jobs do you have now Drew?’ Also did—house sat for people, dog sat, gave plasma, sold stuff,” Drew said.

Stacey stocked retail shelves nights and weekends and there were no dinners out or other luxuries.

So, as you can see, if you want to live the American dream, you must eliminate fun and work like a dog, or at least sit a dog or sell some bodily fluids.

Wages in Sioux Falls

During the financial report last Tuesday at the Sioux Falls city council informational meeting, councilor Staggers asked Tracy Turbak after he told us about the glowing unemployment rate in Sioux Falls what wages were like in Sioux Falls. Turbak of course says he doesn’t keep that kind of data (yeah right), but told Dr. Staggers he was welcome to check the South Dakota Department of Labor Statistics.

During the course of the meeting, councilor Erickson did some googling on her I-Pad and reported that the average median household income in Sioux Falls was $50,700 a year. Now let’s remember what this means, this is ‘household’ income, NOT, ‘personal individual income’. Big difference.

That aside, it got me to googling today. I cross referenced many different national websites and statistics, too many to link and after collecting data nationally, statewide and city wide on cost of living, etc. My educated guess is that the average individual worker in Sioux Falls must make at least $16.00 an hour to make a ‘living wage’ which comes to $33,280 a year. It varies in different parts of the country ($15-$20 per hour), but for a city our size, that is the closest. Now remember, my definition of a living wage is ‘covering expenses’ there is no wiggle room their for ‘extras’ like a recreational vehicles, vacations, or even basic entertainment.

It is believed that 53% of American workers make less then a living wage, we are a little bit better then that in Sioux Falls, and we will get to that in a moment.

After figuring out what a living wage in Sioux Falls should look like, I followed the SD Department of Labor MSA statistics on Sioux Falls (these are end of 2013 numbers)

Sioux Falls had 140,000 workers in 2013

42% of them made under a living wage (59,000) but what was even more shocking was that almost half of them (27,000) made 50% of the living wage or below ($16,640) per year.

Who makes the lowest wages in Sioux Falls? You probably already guessed it. In a town that loves to brag about all the great restaurants we have in town, most of the poverty wages come from the hospitality industry.

I was glad to see that we are below the national average, but I do believe Sioux Falls has a lot of work to do when it comes to wages. There is a reason our food banks are handing out food at a record level and that almost half of the kids in our school district are on FREE or reduced lunches. Low unemployment is one thing, but higher wages contribute to a better quality of life.

Shortage of professional jobs in Sioux Falls?

I didn’t find this story surprising, but just a reminder that there are not a lot of ‘professional management’ jobs in Sioux Falls (this person actually had to go to a corn field in Iowa to get that kind of job). I hear it a lot from friends with college degrees, people are not hiring professionals, and if they are, the wages are not there or the hours don’t match the salary.

She freshened up her resume, sent out numerous cover letters to countless companies and left no website unturned.  She was expecting a relatively low-maintenance process, given the Sioux Falls job market continues to thrive and outshine many similarly-sized cities across the nation.  According to the South Dakota Department of Labor, Sioux Falls’ unemployment rate currently sits at 3.1 percent.  Despite the low number, Orsack quickly learned not everyone finds the job they are looking for.

“I just came to learn it was very difficult to get anyone’s attention and to get a call back, to get an interview,” Orsack said.  “It felt like when they saw Las Vegas as my home address, they didn’t want to try because I wasn’t technically in Sioux Falls yet.”

The companies that did get back to her would not fly her in for an interview unless she footed the bill.  Faced with few job prospects, and positions that would bring severe pay cuts, Orsack felt exhausted and unwanted.

“I wanted to get home, and when you sit and you wait for months on months to figure out if you’re even going to get an interview for a job, it feels like you don’t have it,” Orsack said.

What I often see is that local companies try to get by with hiring fewer professionals (to save wages) and stretch the resources of their lower paid and qualified employees to the max.

Companies in Sioux Falls are not here, or didn’t come here to pay ‘high wages’ and to ‘hire’ multitudes of professionals. That is not how SD or SF recruits companies. CHEAP LABOR!

Doesn’t surprise me the runaround this person got. Had a friend looking to move back to Sioux Falls after going to college in Texas. She had trouble getting interviews because #1. She had an Austin, Texas address and #2. Though she grew up in Sioux Falls, and is very much white, she has an African American name (First and Last) and she didn’t start getting interviews and callbacks until she started putting her photo on her resumes, she joked, “Almost instantly.” And it’s not like she was a schlump, she was on her college’s honor roll in her field of study. She eventually got a decent job at an international  agri-business company, the pay and bonuses were good, but they also expected her to work 50-60 hours a week on a 40 hour a week salary.

She moved back to Texas. The only positive experience she had while living in Sioux Falls was buying a house here on foreclosure, fixing it up and using it as a rental for extra revenue.

Sioux Falls needs to make a decision. Do we want to continue to be the wasteland of call centers and low-paying professional jobs, or do we want to start sharing the wealth with the hardworking South Dakotans? The mayor can continue to talk about the low unemployment and high building permit numbers all he wants, but I wouldn’t consider these ‘Big Wins’ or ‘Successes’ until about 99% of the workforce in this community are benefitting, otherwise, it is just more smoke and mirrors from the administration.