Archive for the ‘Workplace’ Category

By Gene Schulist, School-Pak, Inc.

The unemployment rate in the United States is reaching a crisis point for states.

Thirty-two states have now gone to the federal government for low cost loans to meet the expanding benefits to unemployed workers. At one time the program provided for 26 weeks of coverage so that people could remain somewhat on their feet while they pursued other jobs.

That since has been extended a number of times and is now over 90 weeks. Close to 2 years that a worker can collect.

But with companies downsizing or closing, where does the money come from? Here’s a quick re-cap of what Wisconsin is dealing with.

Currently, the maximum weekly benefit is $363. This comes out to $18,876 per year. Not a great amount of money but what becomes the break-even point to get a job?

Assuming a low 20% income tax rate, plus 7.5% towards social security, the annual pay would have to be approximately $25,000, which is about $12.50 per hour. Again, not a great amount of money but a lot of jobs are offering only $10-$12 per hour, not an incentive to get off of unemployment. Why be gone from the house for 40 hours a week just to break even and still not have health insurance?

So Wisconsin, like the other states, keeps borrowing money from the federal government (whose money is magically made and doesn’t come from tax payers). At the current rate of borrowing, Wisconsin faces an interest payment of between $70 and $80 million dollars.

So what’s the next choice? Raise the unemployment insurance tax on employers. My question is why we pay it at all. Your company doesn’t benefit from the insurance, only the employees.

I realize that working employees are having a hard time meeting their monthly bills on reduced wages and higher health insurance costs. And as companies close or downsize, there is more of a strain on companies that are in business to pick up the slack. But how much of that ends up with more companies downsizing or closing?

 How much more can we afford? Shouldn’t some of this be paid by the employee? Just wondering.

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By Jeff Pett, Fleetwood Group

What a difference a couple of months can make. Actually, just a couple of weeks. Is everyone in the educational supply/manufacturing community feeling the same June slow down that we are? Our shipments are actually up to last year same quarter, and through May our incoming orders were holding their own with no major year-over-year aberrations. However, this June has been a pretty unusual month for us.

Historically June is by far our biggest month of the year for incoming orders. And each June of the past three years has been better than the previous one. This June we are on track to see the lowest dollar amount for incoming orders of the past four. But, interestingly, we have been busier than normal this month quoting new work. So what’s up?!

I spent most of the past couple of weeks on the road in different regions of the country visiting schools and our dealers. What I am hearing is echoed by my sales team in all parts of the country. And that is that two primary things seem to be making a big difference THIS year as opposed to any previous year anyone can remember:

1. The economy is bad most everywhere (no big news there); and

2. Schools are VERY uncertain about where their funds are coming from for next year.

It seems that budgets for the new fiscal year, for many schools starting on July 1, are more in doubt this year than most due to the economy in general and their state funding in particular. The prospect of federal money being available cuts two ways: it is good to know the feds may help supply much needed funding, but the limitations, strings, and paperwork are very daunting to many school administrators and school boards. The result is that many school administrators have a white-knuckled grip on money with limited spending until budgets are fully approved and direction for school district spending has been set.

Will we see an overall down year in educational sales, or are we going to see a late rush of orders in July and August that get our sales volume back up but that create their own set of challenges? I am sure you, like me, are hoping for the latter.

What are you hearing?


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By Emily Raij, Maupin House

America’s Greenest Campus is a nationwide contest where colleges compete to see who can reduce their carbon footprint by the greatest amount. There are 450 colleges participating to win up to $20,000 in cash prizes, and the contest, which launched March 31, has already achieved the following environment-saving successes:

  • $1.5 million saved
  • 5.9 million pounds of CO2 avoided, the equivalent of taking 500 passenger vehicles off the road or the annual energy use of 250 homes
  • 1.6 million kWh of energy reduced
  • 5.2 million gallons of water saved
  • 39,000 gallons of gasoline saved

The contest is a partnership between SmartPower, a clean energy and energy efficiency marketing organization, Climate Culture, an online carbon measurement and reduction utility, and the U.S. Department of Energy. It runs through October 5, 2009, with winners announced on October 12, 2009. For more information, visit www.smartpower.org, www.letsgetenergysmart.com, and www.climateculture.com, or access the Climate Culture Facebook Application at apps.facebook.com/climate_culture.

As NSSEA members, we’re always interested in how we can make a difference when it comes to education. What about the environment? Maybe your company has already taken steps to “green” its office or its products. If not, here are some suggestions you can try, from baby steps to a deeper commitment:

  1. Start a recycling program in your office. This can be as basic as putting out bins for recyclables that someone volunteers to take care of each week or starting an official pick-up program with your county/city.
  2. Make use of waste paper. Try shredding some of the paper to use as packaging material, use blank sides as scratch paper, print on both sides, and recycle what you don’t use.
  3. Print and copy less. Do you need to print or copy every email, contract, manuscript, quote and proposal? Then don’t! You’ll limit the clutter on your desk and the planet. Consider adding a signature to your email that asks recipients to consider the environment before printing.
  4. Stop using plastic water bottles. There’s no reason why a reusable bottle won’t quench your thirst at the office all day. And you can replace paper and plastic bags with reusable ones as well.
  5. Carpool, walk, or ride your bike to work. This is an oldie but a goodie—even if you go car-less for one day per week, you’ll be making a huge difference over the course of a year
  6. Opt for recycled materials for your print and manufacturing jobs. Catalogs, books, plastic and metal parts, and much more can be created from recycled materials. Soy-based inks are become more common as well. There are more options than ever before, and you don’t have to sacrifice quality for conscience. You can even let customers know about your green efforts by putting an FSC Mixed Sources label on your catalog or books.
  7. Partner with a local environmental organization, chamber of commerce or school. Try starting your own city-wide contest or sponsoring a charity benefit for an environmental cause. If you work in higher education, maybe you can get involved with America’s Greenest Campus!

If you have other green business tips, please post them to the blog!

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