Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Costco Offers Interviews to Sate Workers

Earlier this week Washington State actually held some elections that had importance. One of the more controversial measures on the ballot was Initiative 1183, which if approved, would remove the state from the liquor business.

The Initiative was backed with some serious money ($22+ million) from Costco which hopes to begin sales of hard alcohol next May.

One of the unintended consequences of this initiative was the elimination of more than 900 state employee jobs which were used to staff and run the state-run liquor stores and distribution services.

Costco has offered to step up (sort of) and offer state employees who lose their jobs the chance to interview for positions within Costco.

Costco Wholesale said it will offer any displaced state liquor store worker the opportunity to apply for a job at the chain, and, “We will make sure that they get an interview,” chief legal officer Joel Benoliel said Thursday.

“There is obviously no guarantee of a job, but anyone who would like to work at Costco will have the advantage of being interviewed. We will be working on a procedure to make happen between now and June when the transition will happen,” he said.

Benoliel also noted that workers who want to keep their affiliation with their union, which also represents grocery-store workers, might be better off seeking work elsewhere; Costco in nonunion. (Source: Seattle Times)

Although it might surprise some of my readers, I was not a supporter of Initiative 1183. Most of you know that I am not a fan of the government in our business and certainly not a fan of the government being in business. But in this instance my feelings were a little more muddled. I am concerned with the lack of government oversight there will be a significant increase in the amount of alcohol sold to minors.

Let me give you a little background on my feelings about alcohol and minors. I am not a prude by any means when it comes to adult beverages. I enjoy a good beer every now and then (partial to Alaska Amber and Amstel Light). Not a drinker of the hard stuff anymore, too much in my youth and it just doesn’t taste good anymore.

I don’t claim to be an expert on the matter, but it is fairly obvious that we have a huge underage drinking problem in the USofA. I also happen to believe that a significant portion of this problem stems from our attitude on alcohol. In our culture we have surround the consumption of alcohol with such a mystic of taboo, teenagers are going to naturally attracted to it. And as teenagers, rather than do something in moderation they are not supposed to do, they have a tendency to over-indulge. This leads to all this issues of teenage drunk driving and the binge drinking in college (which raises its own issues).

I am more in favor of how the Europeans do it (and this would be about the only thing European I would support). Alcohol is not taboo in their countries (mostly). Young people are introduced to alcohol at an early age. Many drink wine with their families at dinner. And responsibility is taught as well as very strict laws are in place against drunk driving. Based on what research that I have been able to accomplish, teenage drinking and the troubles that go with it are nowhere near the level that we experience here.

Now after reading all this you might be saying to yourself “Self, PACNW Righty is speaking out both sides of his mouth.” No so. I know that being in favor of strict handling of alcohol on the one hand and then saying I’d like us to be more European (liberal, if you want) when it comes to alcohol on the other hand might seem like a contradiction, I don’t think it is.

They are mutually exclusive yet oddly related.

If our attitudes were closer to how folks in the “old counties” felt, there would be little to no issues with teenage consumption of alcohol that we have to deal with time after time. But since we don’t have those attitudes and probably never will, I think the control of alcohol and who buys it needs to be tight.

When I have had this discussion with others the argument is raised that if we served up the booze to kids as young as 12 and 13 there would be an increase in alcoholism. I disagree with that.

Alcoholism can be broken into two categories: 1) alcoholism as a disease, and 2) alcoholism as a “problem drinker.” They are not the same thing. An alcoholic is going to be an alcoholic no matter when he/she begins to drink. And they will crave, and fight the cravings for, alcohol for the rest of their lives. Based on what I have read about the issue, the first drink is the trigger, plain and simple. The disease might not manifest itself for several years, but it is still there, slowly working on the victim. And if a person starts at an earlier age, under the eye of their parents, there might be a good chance of catching the disease early.

But the other area, the problem drinker, is where I focus my attention. That was me in my youth. I drank like a fish. I had a reputation amongst my peers as someone who could consume and hold a vast amount of booze. I got into trouble, nothing serious because my friends were watching out for me, but trouble none the less. It stemmed from the taboo. I wanted to drink because I wasn’t supposed to drink. And when I started, I very quickly made up for lost time (probably 10 times over). And as I mentioned I did get into some troubles, but I was able to stop before getting into serious trouble. Just decided I didn’t want to spend the money anymore. And I never since have had and do not have cravings for alcohol. Yes, I do enjoy a cold one every once in a while, but it is not a craving. In fact, I drink so little any more, that one beer and I am done. You might even call me a “lightweight.”

I compare these two because as long as we make alcohol off-limits to teenagers, they are going to want it and when they get it, they are going to be stupid. As my two teenage boys prove every day, there aren’t two functioning brain cells between them. Stupidity gives rise to problems and binge drinking and all the troubles that go with that.

And because of this, I still wanted the state to have a heavy hand. Until the attitudes in the US changes, there needs to be tighter controls.

Please be gentle with the comments.

Ah, what the heck, let 'em rip, I can take it.

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