Universal Orlando raising base pay to $10 over next year

Posted Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:54 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Base hourly pay for Universal team members, including all hired beginning Wednesday, will increase to $9.50 an hour from $9 an hour on June 1. It will go to $10 in June 2016.

Read more from WKMG/Orlando.

Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:46 PM

I worked at Universal Orlando as a ride attendant for a year in 2000-2001. It was a dream come true at the time. The problem was, I couldn't afford to live. I made $6.25 an hour, if recall correctly. I had to move back home to PA.

I've worked at Walmart over the last four years. They are raising pay so that everyone is making at least $10 an hour by next year. It will not affect me though, because I make a lot more, but I am very happy to see that some of these businesses are starting to take pay seriously.

I totally understand the idea that if you didn't get an education, you probably don't deserve the big bucks. This whole higher pay movement is a little different though. The cost of living has gone way up over the last ten or so years, as well as worker productivity. Profits have gone up too. And yet pay has stayed almost the same, overall. This is an adjustment that I feel is necessary, and I commend any business that takes the compensation of their employees seriously.

Last edited by LostKause, Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:47 PM
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 12:56 PM

Inflation over the last 10 years has been about 20%. So going to $10 outpaces inflation significantly with a raise over that time of 60%.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 1:11 PM

LostKause said:

I totally understand the idea that if you didn't get an education, you probably don't deserve the big bucks.

Agreed - but if you work full-time, you shouldn't be poor enough to need Medicaid, SNAP, etc. (just wanted you to know I'm rarely if ever asleep at the switch). $10/hr. for Orlando sounds *about* right to me if Seattle and Chicago are around 15...

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 1:38 PM

Is it expected for a for-profit company to provide their employees with an hourly wage that covers their cost of living? Or should they be paying the minimum wage necessary to keep employee turnover at an acceptable level and keep profits at the highest possible level?

Universal is not raising pay rates out of the goodness of their hearts to try to keep up with cost of living. They are raising rates to meet the market.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:26 PM

"Minimum necessary" isn't going to get and keep quality employees. You want people who can think on their feet, smile, and* get guests to willingly empty their wallets - that takes some talent.

Additionally, if your *worst* employees aren't worth a minimal standard of living, why are you keeping them on full-time....labor shortage?

Last edited by rollergator, Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:27 PM
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:30 PM

Why should you get to dictate those decisions for businesses?

And a minimal standard of living for whom? Single person? Family with kids? If so, how many kids?

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:34 PM

rollergator said:

Additionally, if your *worst* employees aren't worth a minimal standard of living, why are you keeping them on full-time....labor shortage?

Also, this is framed in a totally loaded way.

It's not the employees that aren't worth it - that's an attempt to pull at heart strings by suggesting employers don't value humans.

It's the jobs they do that aren't worth it. It's not worth paying someone $10 to sweep garbage or empty garbage cans. It's flat out not a $10 skill. And as we continue to raise the bar in general with education, skills and abilities, the issue is only going to get worse and these "anybody can do it" jobs get less and less valuable to employers.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:47 PM

While there are certainly some "Anyone can do it" tasks, there are some personality characteristics they are looking for that not everyone has.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:50 PM

When I said "minimum necessary", I meant the minimum rate it takes to hire and keep the quality of employee they are seeking. That isn't and likely never will be at or higher than what most people label a living wage for a non-skilled position for a front-line, entry level amusement park employee. And it doesn't have to be until the market dictates otherwise.

Last edited by bigboy, Thursday, April 16, 2015 2:51 PM
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 3:02 PM

If you go back to the late 1960s, a time when the middle class was booming and the economy was doing very well, minimu wage was only $1.60 an hour. Of course, that's the equivalent of $10.90 today, but I'm sure there's some OTHER reason spending is down. It can't be because buying power is literally down 25% with the decrease in minimum wage that's happened since then.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 3:35 PM

If anything this is an argument that the system works.

The market is dictating that Universal raise wages to $10 in order to find and retain competent employees. The government didn't have to force anything or artificially inflate the worth of these jobs.

And at 10 bucks an hour these folks can now almost party like it's 1969!

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 3:43 PM

Precisely what I was thinking. I take absolutely no issue with a private business deciding to raise their wage for lowest paid employees. When the government dictates that, then I start to Hulk out.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 7:46 PM

Lord Gonchar said:

It's the jobs they do that aren't worth it.

I think this is where I have to offer a differing, albeit somewhat unpopular opinion.

Every job that needs doing should have some dignity. And a basic no-frills standard of living to the person who does it.

If we (not ME) don't require that much, then we end up paying for it in thousands of little ways, from government programs that are admittedly way too expensive for what they deliver....but that's the price of the excessive amount of time and money spent on "accountability" measures those programs require before the first dollar feeds a kid or an elderly person.

I think about it this way: We're repealing the inheritance tax. What did that tax accomplish? Well, in addition to revenue generation, it encouraged spending in a real and serious way. Stimulated the economy overall. I don't think the people out there are "hostile to success" or even begrudge people their vast sums of wealth. I do think that when the wealth becomes overly concentrated, it slows the economic growth at large.

Having those at the bottom who do work (hard) have enough money to live and maybe even spend some discretionary income helps everyone. It grows the economy *because* an extra dollar in their paycheck gets spent, buying goods and services. The 300-dollar onetime check to everyone was HUGELY successful. And that was from a GOP president.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 9:13 PM

I agree with most of what you're saying, but I'm also not convinced that these are all related issues. At the very least, some are moral issues, others are economic principles. That doesn't mean they aren't worth talking about it, but when you mix the emotional issues and market realities, the emotional issues tend to get more weight.

The American mentality seems to now be super pro-capitalism, even among the people who are clearly disadvantaged by "the system." That's pretty weird. Europeans tend to be more balanced between the extremes of capitalism and socialism, and they're probably right to an extent. However, I often wonder if they're not getting it wrong with related issues of free speech and going after large companies (Google) for questionable reasons.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 9:52 PM

There are concerns in Europe with a lack of competitiveness in the global economy and ballooning public debt resulting from huge social programs. France's credit rating was cut in large part because of those concerns. And Greece has significant issues with both. I view the results of the European approach as more of a warning sign/wake up call than something to which we should aspire.

We haven't had anything approaching super pro-capitalism since FDR and I don't see much risk of a return to anything close to it in my kids' lifetimes.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:29 PM

I still think that a single-payer health care system makes more sense. It's not even because I think everyone should have healthcare... it's because the system as it stands with insurance in the middle does zero to contain costs.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 10:52 PM

rollergator said:

Every job that needs doing should have some dignity. And a basic no-frills standard of living to the person who does it.

Again, equating pay and dignity feels like (as Jeff alluded to in some ways) more of an emotional argument. Warm fuzzies are nice, but rarely realistic.

If we (not ME) don't require that much, then we end up paying for it in thousands of little ways, from government programs that are admittedly way too expensive for what they deliver....but that's the price of the excessive amount of time and money spent on "accountability" measures those programs require before the first dollar feeds a kid or an elderly person.

In other words, if all that a person can do is a job that isn't valuable enough to maintain an agreed upon arbitrary standard of living then someone has to foot the bill to keep that person afloat. It's more efficient to put that burden on the employer.

I don't agree that it's the responsibility of the employer needing said job done to do so. In fact, as an employer, I'd be inclined to not hire such folks then. A not-so-good job quickly becomes no job when my hand is forced to compensate for problems my government has no better answer for.

I could argue that it's pretty selfish to suggest as much too - "Hey, I don't want to pay for this schlub. You hired him. You pay his way!" - even if maybe deep down I don't really feel that way...much.

At least if the government has to support that person...and that money comes from all of us...then maybe it will piss people off enough to look for better answers than, "I don't want to pay his shortcomings. You hired him, you pay his way!"

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Thursday, April 16, 2015 11:10 PM

Jeff wrote--

I still think that a single-payer health care system makes more sense. It's not even because I think everyone should have healthcare... it's because the system as it stands with insurance in the middle does zero to contain costs.

Worse than that: a largely employer-paid, insurance-driven health care system does not merely do nothing to contain costs, all the incentives in the system are stacked to actively *maximize* costs. I'm not sure that a single payer system does anything to fix that problem either. The only way you're really going to get some cost containment is if you get the incentives shifted around so that it doesn't appear that everything is paid for with other people's money.

But that's a side issue.

The more important issue is that, as others have said, those low wage jobs are only worth what the company has to pay to get the kind of employee they want doing the job. When it costs them $10 to get that kind of employee, the job will pay $10. What is stagnating wages isn't the low minimum wage, it's the low standards of workers. There are enough people willing to work for very low wages that employers have not had to raise pay. And that is a natural consequence of a market where there are far more unemployed workers than there are job vacancies.

Perhaps I am showing my age. But I remember when the minimum wage in Ohio was under $4/hour. And yet, you could walk into any fast-food joint in Columbus and get yourself a McJob™ for no less than $8/hour...more than double the minimum wage. Why was that? Because there was a wage floor on crappy jobs in this market. I worked for a whole lot less money because I had a great job. And so did lots of other people. That forced the wage up for those jobs that people didn't want.

Of course since then, the cost of employing any worker at any wage has skyrocketed, the workforce has become more productive, the minimum wage has been raised high enough to become an arbitrary wage floor, and a series of unfortunate events has destroyed many thousands of jobs. Now there's no shortage of cheap labor, and that pushes the labor costs down.

Meanwhile lots of well meaning people are screaming about minimum wage and complaining about income inequality. It's populist and it sounds good, but it doesn't come close to describing the real problems or figuring out how to solve them. If you *really* want to solve those problems, consider tackling these issues instead--

1) How can we get the cost (other than wages) of employing a worker under control?
2) How can we actually produce systemic reductions in the cost of health care?
3) How can we create a surplus of jobs and a shortage of labor

I suggest that all three may be related to this one:
4) How do we dramatically accelerate the movement of money through all levels of the economy?

--Dave Althoff, Jr. (Who thinks we need to elect engineers to public office, but who also knows that engineers would not want the job...)

Last edited by RideMan, Thursday, April 16, 2015 11:12 PM
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Thursday, April 16, 2015 11:22 PM

I don't think single payer is the best option (particularly not in the long term). But I think its where the US is headed within the next 5-10 years. Healthcare costs are on a trend that is absolutely unsustainable. So something needs to be done. And I think it terms of selling it to the public, single payer is an easier sell.

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