Sunday, April 09, 2006

Seems Like Old Times

"If you're yearning for the good old days, turn off the air conditioning."

-Griff Niblask

Ok, so I have a secret guilty pleasure, I like cookies and milk late at night! LOL. I don't indulge in this particular pleasure very often, but when I do there is a particular brand of cookie I enjoy. "Mother's" brand. I especially enjoy the frosted animal cookies with the little sprinkles on top, but I like the chocolate chip cookie Parade, which consists of chocolate chip, oatmeal chocolate chip, and chocolate/chocolate chip. :) Oh the will power it takes! I grew up eating these cookies. They were in my lunch box, they were there when I would come home from a particularly bad day at school, they were there when I broke up with my first boyfriend...and my last boyfriend. LOL. They were there when I got food poisoning that time the one boyfriend's mother tried to kill me. Sigh. Trust me the Mother's ginger cookies will settle your stomach, and make you feel loved. There are a lot of brands on the market that might be able to rival, Mother's Cookies, but there aren't any, at least for me, that can bring back memories like this cookie can.

Mother's Cookies, has been a Bay Area mainstay since 1914. The bakery and distribution center has been located in Oakland, California for over 92 years, so you can imagine what a shock it was to hear last week that the bakery will soon be closed, and operations moved to plants in Ashland Ohio, and Kitchner, Canada. The workers at the cookie factory just found out about the closure that will take place on May 31st. It will put 230 workers out of a job, some of which had never worked for any other company.

In recent years, the Bay Area, and Oakland specifically, has lost a lot of well established companies. Among them Granny Goose, Fleishmann's and Red Star Yeast. It is expensive to live in the Bay Area, and to lose yet one more beloved company is cause for concern. Sometimes I wonder if recent indicators of a stable economy and lower unemployment rates are all together accurate. It seems like the news speaks of the unemployment rate dropping, yet there is news all the time of size downs, and plant cuts. Sigh. This plant closure is only a partial move of operations to Canada, but it is not so for more and more companies.

I would like to see more jobs stay in the U.S. as opposed to jobs being outsourced to other countries. I don't happen to believe that illegal immigrants are to blame for our economy woes, I think it has to do directly with how American workers are treated by the companies they work for, and the fact that the minimum wage hasn't been raised since 1997. Does that seem reasonable? Sometimes I think all presidents should have to live, for one year, on the same minimum wage pay scale as average citizens. Dream on...right? I also wish there was a box on the ballot marked, "None of the Above, " but I doubt that will ever come about either.

The employees of Mother's Cookies will be receiving a severance package, and the Economic Development Department is "actively" trying to find new jobs for the employees who have lost their jobs. I hope that they have an easy transition, but with the way things are moving in the area, I think there will be quite a period of adjustment. I doubt that that owners of Archway and Mother's cookies will cease production of the two brands after they move to the plants in Ohio and Canada, so I know I will still be able to get this particular cookie fix, but somehow it won't be the same. Sigh.

So tell me, is the minimum wage, too low, too high, or just about right? If the economy is so strong, why doesn't congress and the president raise the minimum wage? Is outsourcing a good idea? Does outsourcing help our economy? Do illegal immigrants drive wages down? Leave me your thoughts.

"Mother's Cookies"
Berkeley, California
April 4th, 2005


Gaboatman said...

I've never had the pleasure of eating one of Mother's cookies. I think it's sad they are closing out the Bay Area operations. I think it's time to raise the minimum wage. Outsourcing makes a small handfull of people rich and keeps millions poor. Once those jobs are outsourced to another country, we will never be able to bring those jobs back into the US. That means that we have to create new industries to give those who lost the jobs new employment opportunities. That will never keep pace. Illegal immigrants don't drive wages down. The problem is no one will do that type of work in the US anymore, so the immigrants come in and do it for us. It's not so much about wages as it is the fact that it is hard labor.

DesLily said...

raising minimum wage is needed.. however it won't stop the illegal immigrants.. the companies want them because they pay LESS then minimum wages, and don't have to pay for medical insurance.

It all deals with good old MONEY! more, more, more money.. soon having a million dollars in the bank will still make you a poor person.. so where does it all end?

Karen Funk Blocher said...

Oh, my! I'm so far behind!

I'm sorry to hear about Mother's. For me it was mostly the circus animals for that brand. But as to your questions, my economics course claimed that globalization was better for everyone in the long run - but try telling that to the sweat shop employees and the slave laborers in the chocolate trade. In theory, eventually, companies will have to pay a decent wage around the world, but there are no easy answers, and no quick fixes.

But yes, of course the mimimum was should be raised. It's still more than I was making in 1986, though -$3.75 an hour.