There have been relatively new phrases coined that illustrate how CEO’s take even more advantage of their customers and working people.  Our Secretary-Treasurer Aly Waddy recently wrote an article regarding the practice of heads of large companies increasing the prices of their products at a rate higher than the current inflation rate.  This means they continue making profits even during a dramatic inflation surge.  That process is called “Greedflation”.  As if times weren’t hard enough, the wealthy folks that run these companies have found a way to make it better for themselves, and even harder for us.

I am pretty sure you all have experienced what I’m about to describe…which is yet another way wealthy companies become even wealthier…while the everyday working person gets to figure out how to cope with it:

Have you noticed that the size of the products you buy are shrinking, yet the prices have remained the same, or in many cases increased?  Think about it…when is the last time you saw that 99 cent 2-liter bottle of premium soda on the shelf?  For years now we have seen beverage bottles shrink in size, but the cost remains the same.  I picked up my Snapple bottle just this week and thought “Is it me or is this bottle getting smaller?”  (probably the inspo for this article).  

Shrinkflation is not new, it has just apparently become the new norm.  Are there any other yogurt lovers out there?  Because it’s been over 20 years since Dannon and its competitors shrunk from 8 ounces to 6.  I was mad when that happened, I’m not sure I ever got over it actually.  In 2009, Haagen-Dazs ice cream went from 16 to 14 ounces.  I know that had to piss some people off right?  Couldn’t even call it a pint of ice cream anymore!  And I’m all for ‘portion control’ but things have gotten ridiculous.

Here is what a potato chip company spokesperson said after shrinking the size of their nacho chips: “We took just a little bit out of the bag so we can give you the same price and you can keep enjoying your chips”…Is that not an insult to our intelligence? 

And there is an endless list of examples of shrinkflation.  From cereal boxes to bags of coffee and from pet food to toilet paper…companies have reduced the size of their products yet have the audacity to charge the same or higher prices.  Which ultimately means they make, package, and sell you less, which is also better for their bottom line.  And for you to get the same amount they used to sell you, you’ll now have to pay more.  It’s a win-win for them, and a lose-lose for us consumers.

There is definitely something wrong with this process, and it is not just limited to your shopping experiences.  We have witnessed the same type of behavior when it comes to your job.  Employers regularly look to have the same amount of work accomplished by fewer people than before.  We have seen a reduction of work hours year-over-year, coupled with a dramatic expansion in automation that is aimed at replacing jobs.  How many self-scan registers did you have 20 years ago?  How many do you have today?  And if your company had their way, how many do you think you’d have in the next 10 years?  And if they could figure out a way to effectively curb theft, there probably would be close to zero cashiers today.  But they’re not paying you more because they have fewer and fewer people to pay – they just reap the benefit from it.

At the bargaining table we have seen evidence of Shrinkflation also.  Employers saying they cannot give any more to their employees because it’s just not in their budget to do so.  For years I have heard about this infallible “budget” that cannot be touched.  And that “this” is the amount of money that they can spend on this contract, so it’s up to both sides to figure out the best way to appropriate it.  I know a lot of you have heard that before…you know…the infamous “pie” that only has a certain number of slices?  “Divide it up how you want”, etc.  What they should at least have the courage to say to us is “We are not allowed to negotiate a contract that will in any way affect the profits that are set aside by our principal/owner/leader/king/insert the people pulling the strings here.”  Oh yeah there’s more money out there, it’s just never on the table because that good ol’ corporate greed won’t allow it to be factored into wage increases or benefit improvements for the working people.  So even though inflation has hit us and prices for everything have risen considerably, you’re stuck dealing with wage proposals from your company that do not properly address inflation or increases in your cost of living.  So, you potentially wind up in a worse financial position, not a better one.  So, your salary is effectively that bottle of Gatorade that went from 32 ounces to 28 ounces for the same price.  The money you earn today does not go as far as it used to.  

The minimum wage in New York has had a serious compression effect on our longer-tenured members.  Yes, in the way that a worker says that they’ve been here for decades and now this new person makes just as much as they do, and more so that most companies are only willing to address the wage increases that they have to by law.  No company that I have come across has said, “you know what Joe, since we have to increase everyone who’s at minimum wage by one dollar per hour, we’re also going to give everyone else who’s above minimum wage a dollar per hour too- it’s only right.”  Not a one has said that.  Although they know that the people that are the most negatively affected by that compression are the folks that have been with them the longest.  So that pay gap continues to shrink, while inflation continues to rise.

Now I’m not quite the numbers guy that President Newell is, but I will briefly throw a couple of numbers at ya: The cost of living in New York City is at least 50% higher than the national average.  And more expensive than Honolulu, San Jose, Boston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Washington D.C., just to name a few of the big dogs.  But New York was ranked 14thin median household income across our country.  And depending where you get your research from, New York’s housing expenses are upwards of 385% higher than the national average.  And groceries in the Big Apple are about 35% higher than the national average.  Which simply means New Yorkers ain’t earnin’ enough to keep up with their cost of living.  

We have to stop going backwards.  Our membership is in a never-ending battle against corporate (and political) decisions that work against them.  Grocery items being packaged smaller may seem cute at first, but it is a symptom of greed.  And if they could shrink your ‘work package’, yet pay you the same, most would do that too.  

Rest assured that we will continue the fight to make sure your job and thus your livelihood continue to improve, year over year.  We certainly appreciate your membership and will always be 100% right by your side.