Monday, November 18, 2019

A great place to work?

Among the lies, & fallacies, disingenuous statements and statistics that appear out of thin air over at the old PLCB fudge factory, we hear how the PLCB is a great place to work! Jinkies! Cool!

But what do the numbers say? According to the 2019 annual report (on page 61) the average age of a store clerk is 44 years old. Not exactly attracting younger workers. And when they do get workers, 56% of them are part time. I don't think those are the "Family Sustaining Jobs" that are so often mentioned. Out of that 56%, over half of them quit every year for a turnover rate of 53.1%. Even if you somehow manage to get one of the 2,453 full time filled positions, there is a 49.3 % turn over rate there too. Now factor in this: 29% of store workers change location every year.

Can you say "turn and churn"? Is it burnout, or do they just get tired of the bullshit? If the PLCB isn't that good at retaining employees, just how good they are to work for?

Turn it on its head: is this mismanaged workforce of any benefit to the agency (and thus, to the commonwealth). The average sales per employee for 2017 across this kind of industry was $689,000 per each full time equivalent. The PLCB can force a "part time" employee to work 34 hours a week if they want to, so that makes figuring out the total hours the part time workforce puts in a bit difficult. I'll just go with 25 hours a week for part time workers and 15 hours for seasonal workers.

With 3,190 full time sales and admin employees putting in 37.5 hours per week times 52 weeks, that's a total of 6,320,125 hours. Add to that 25 hours times 1,773 workers times 52 weeks equals 2,304,900 hours plus 383 seasonal workers at 15 hours each, but only 13 weeks of work equals 74,490 for a grand total of  8,719,515 hours. Take that and divide it by 37.5*52 (1,950) and you get roughly 4,471 full time equivalent employees.
Now that we have the number of full-time equivalents, we can then multiply that by $689,000 for each employee and come up with $3,080,519,000 as what average sales should be. But the PLCB only did $2,126,927,971 in sales or UNDERPERFORMED the average by just about 45%. In simple terms, having the PLCB do things is costing the state about $950 Million in lost taxable sales based on average sales. Now that is the average, there could be significant differences for liquor stores. But looking at Total Wine, they are only about 10% below that average, so it pretty much confirms the PLCB is a bloated, poorly managed organization,

It gets worse. All the PLCB numbers were taken from the number of working employees as of June 2019. However, the amount that are authorized is greater.  If the PLCB were fully staffed, they would be 65% BELOW average in sales per employee. Filling over 1000 current vacancies might cause the PLCB to not be able to meet the amount of payout revenues requested by the administration.

That of course, would require the PLCB to variably screw the citizens that much harder just to keep them afloat. In that scenario, it is better for them to have less people on the sales floor. What a way to run a business!

PLCB workers, staff, administrators, board members, and your supporters in the Legislature: tell me why we need this bloated, under performing jobs program?

We are not safer, we are not better served and we are not satisfied. Privatize.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

How much did they steal from you this year?

It's that (belated) time of year, time for the PLCB to tell us what a wonderful job they are doing and what a swell place to work they have. Their Annual Report is out (you can download the PDF document here), and the truth is in there; we just have to root it out. 

We say it's "that time of year," but it's not, actually, because the annual report took a ludicrous four months to come out...again. Last time it took four months they said, "Ohh, there were special considerations with the new tax code." No new tax code this year, and they didn't bother with a new excuse. What's the point: it's all lies anyway.

Onward! Right on page 2 there's a mission statement (emphasis added):
The mission of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is to responsibly sell wine and spirits as a retailer and wholesaler, regulate Pennsylvania’s alcohol industry, promote alcohol education and social responsibility and maximize financial returns for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.

Funny how the part about maximizing revenue isn't in the liquor code. Just as well, since based on the available statistics they aren't doing a very good job on the stuff that is, like alcohol education or social responsibility; at least, not compared to states on our border. Their own report on these outcomes shows that students who consumed alcohol in the past year went up from 81.4% to 83%  After 85 years of the PLCB, 85 years of CONTROL FAILURE...maybe it is time to try a different system. Any normal business wouldn't survive 85 years of failure.

What have they done to us lately? After record sales (and record variably-priced screwing us) PLCB liabilities went down $2.03 million on over $1.1 billion dollars of debt. A payback rate of over 500 years, and getting worse. It was "only" 400 years previously. For some reason they don't report that number. Another interesting part of their financial reporting is that they say, on five pages in a row, that "The accompanying notes are an integral part of these statements." And then don't list what any of the accompanying notes are. They aren't going to verify what they are saying; just believe them, because they have such a great track record of telling the truth.

Another thing they don't tell us is that while variable pricing was supposed to be a partnership where the public was supposed to receive some benefit, we don't know what the benefit is in dollar terms. We can look at past financial statements and see that the PLCB is making almost double what it used to. That's almost all because of lower acquisition costs, but where is the share that the public was supposed to get?  We may have seen a 2% reduction in prices, and even that might be high. For every extra $100 they make, we are probably lucky to see a $2 reduction, spread across a number of products. Even then the PLCB still screws us, because of their rounding formula. Rounding is not considered part of "mark-up," so they can hide that from us, just like they hid what the mark-ups actually are now.

It all goes back to the total lack of leadership and experience of those at the top. They are never held responsible for the lack of progress under their leadership, so the status quo, or even a slip in the status quo, is the norm. On the business side it is even worse. I can understand hiring political hacks if you don't want things to improve in a structured order. But when you've got a failed congressman, a political chief of staff, and a furniture company exec it doesn't seem to be the path to a successful liquor business. In 85 years there hasn't been a Yuengling or Jacquin's executive, or someone from a wine wholesaler or spirits importer, who was qualified and wanted to do the job...really?

When you think about this, keep in mind this quote from the Joint session of the House Liquor Control Committee and the Senate Law & Justice Committee of 2017 (adjusted a bit for truth):

SENATOR MCILHINNEY (former Chairman Senate L&J Committee, since retired): "... the state citizens own this system, and they should be able to get some...benefit by having a good  deal when they go to the liquor store."

MR. HOLDEN (Chairman: Liquor Control Board) : "Absolutely Absolutely not."

There, I fixed it for you, Tim.