This comment and my response from the post just below was worth posting here on its own to get more attention. I've edited my response a little just to polish it. This...is directed at the PLCB employees. It's about how to keep your jobs, and take pride in them.
Another word to my fellow LCB employees:
You cannot, and
should not, expect anyone to choose sides on the privatization debate
based on our losing our jobs. On the positive side, the thing we CAN do
is educate ourselves about the products we sell. Product knowledge is a
skill that will serve both to break the stereotype of the
potable-ignorant LCB clerk AND also to give us a strong leg-up if we end
up having to apply for jobs in the private sector.
Bullseye. The service at the State Stores isn't being talked about in
the high-level debate in Harrisburg, for the human and political reason
that no legislator wants to be quoted criticizing people's performance,
but it is definitely discussed among the people who actually have to use
I've said all along that the service I've received
at the register has almost always been satisfactory, and often quite
friendly. But the service out on the floor is distinctly sub-par, with a
very few notable exceptions. I've been given to understand that there's
no real program in place to increase product knowledge, and it shows.
union reps may tell you what a horrible work environment Total Wine is, but
fail to point out that while their employees complain about their
treatment by management, they almost never fail to admit that the
training they receive in wine and spirits is exemplary...and they often
use it to go elsewhere.
If you get motivated about what you're selling, and get excited about helping the people who need help...that's the very best thing
you can do to stop privatization. Much better than the chanting and
shouting that the UFCW encourages, much better than the flimsy
"control" statistics, much better than allying yourself with anti-alcohol groups (because that just emphasizes the innate and bizarre dichotomy of the whole control/sell dual nature of the agency).
If you want a "modernization" program that could actually save your jobs,
look to Sweden's Systembolaget,
their state monopoly wine and spirits retailer. I've heard nothing but
praise for it from producers (I was on a press trip with the Swedish
brand manager for Pernod Ricard, and she never stopped praising it) and
from consumers; a fraternity brother of mine now lives in Stockholm --
he's very picky about wine -- and he raves about the service and
selection at Systembolaget...and as a former Pennsylvanian pities me for
the State Stores.
Real modernization would include linking
product knowledge and sales performance to advancement, would include a
wine specialist and a spirits specialist at each premium store. It would
give the local store managers much more training, and much more control
over what's sold at their stores. It would take the control of shelf
facings away from the people in Harrisburg and give it to you, the
people who are actually selling, and seeing what your customers buy, and what they're not finding.
I don't think that's likely to
happen, but if it did? It would go a long way to shutting me up on this
issue. It would also help if some of your co-workers would stop trying
to tell me that private stores in other states aren't as good as the
State Stores, because I go there, and that's simply not true. Doesn't
help your case. Instead, do what you can to make your service, your store better. Just do what you can, where you are.
don't go to New Jersey for the prices. I go for the selection,
somewhat, especially on spirits, because the State Store is, for
whatever reason, scared of whisky. But the main reason I avoid the State
Stores is the service. I get much better, much more helpful service at
the private stores in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, and Delaware.
And let me add: I've already talked about how to change the State Stores and save them here. Add this stuff, and you've got a good formula for it. But...I still don't think it's going to happen. Because no one in the upper bureaucracy of the PLCB cares -- because their jobs aren't directly at risk -- and Wendell W. Young IV doesn't care, because up until now, shouting and chanting and yellow shirts and campaign donations have been all he's needed to just keep things the way they are. You're being encouraged to keep the status quo, but the status quo is what 60% of Pennsylvanians don't want (and remember: a large chunk of the 40% or so that says they're in favor of keeping the State Stores don't drink, and would really rather just have Prohibition). You can do better. You can do better on your own. Think about it.