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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What Lifeguard’s Firing Says About Outsourcing

(AP)

Tomas Lopez is the college student who was fired earlier this month from his job life guarding at a public beach in Florida because, despite his supervisors orders, he left his post to help a distressed swimmer in an unguarded section of the beach.

His supervisor worked for Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc., a private contractor hired by the city of Hallandale Beach to manage the lifeguards –something the fire department used to do.

A Parable About Outsourcing

Steve Pearlstein of the Washington Post says the ordeal offers  a parable about outsourcing — public and private companies contracting out work.

“No one is asking you ever to exercise discretion. The system has the intelligence, they don’t need people with intelligence.”
– Steve Pearlstein, columnist

“There are different models of how to do business, but one model that we see a lot in outsourcing is to hire people who have less experience,” he told Here & Now‘s Robin Young. “But then you equip them with all sorts of systems. The experience and the knowledge is embedded in the system.”

Pearlstein gives the example of how people who cook at McDonald’s don’t have to be chefs.

“Why don’t you have to be a cook? Because they tell you everything to do by the second,” he said. “No one is asking you to exercise discretion. The system has the intelligence, they don’t need people with intelligence.”

Another Possible Outcome

Pearlstein says that if the life guarding services had not been outsourced, the outcome in Lopez’s situation probably would have been different.

“Tomas Lopez was a  20-year-old kid, he was doing this for the summer,” he said. “If the city had been running it it probably would’ve been something closer to either a full-time employee or someone who did it every year, who has more experience. They didn’t have so many rules, they’re more apt to be told to exercise their discretion.”

What’s Behind Savings

Pearlstein says the systemic approach is analogous to what’s used in contracting. “We don’t hire experienced high-priced people, that’s how we save the money,” he said. “But we don’t give you much inferior service because most of the time there’s enough intelligence in our procedures… that make it possible for us to do almost as good for a lot less money.”

The community of Hallandale Beach says that by hiring the Jeff Ellis management company for life guarding, they cut the city’s annual $700,000 budget for lifeguards in half.

As Pearlstein writes:

Because [contractors] are generally free from union contracts and the unwritten norms of pay equality that exist within any enterprise, contractors are able to pay lower wages and benefits — in many cases, a lot lower. That was certainly the case with Ellis and the Hallandale lifeguards.

Pearlstein estimates that the lifeguards at Jeff Ellis were paid $8 or $9 an hour. Which is part of why when lifeguard Thomas Lopez was offered his job back, he declined, saying the job wasn’t worth the low pay.

Pearlstein also points out that the contractor, Jeff Ellis, hasn’t had a single drowning in the nine years they’ve been operating in Florida.

A System Of Trade-offs

There are trade-offs to using contractors, says Pearlstein. On the one side, contractors can save towns money, because they often re-allocate low-skilled work to lower-skilled workers who are paid less. That becomes a problem, however, if the lower-skilled workers are suddenly faced with a task that requires more experience. As Pearlstein writes:

If you want discretion and judgment, if you want workers who really understand and relate to customers, if you want the flexibility necessary to respond to individual needs or unforeseen circumstances, then you can go back to paying twice as much to have your own, longtime employees doing the work. That’s the outsourcing trade-off. It may be a good trade-off — most of the time I suspect it is. But it is an unavoidable trade-off, no matter how good the contractors or their systems.

The Rescue

By the time Lopez got to the struggling man in the water, another swimmer with a boogie board had started rescuing him.

Lopez then stepped in and performed CPR. As the Miami Herald reports:

“He was coughing up water,” López said. “You could tell he lacked oxygen.”

The man was transported to Aventura Hospital, where he was treated and is doing fine, said Hallandale Beach spokesman Peter Dobens.

Guest:


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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Lifeguarding is about safety and saving lives.  Outsourcing is about money. Saving that person’s life increased the risk of liability for Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc.

     In short it was better economic sense to let the person drown, and the lifeguard  was fired for placing saving lives above saving his employer from a possible loss of money.

    • Ben

      The mantra of Corporate America.     Profits before people.

      Its been that way since I was able to understand the workings of capitalism back in the sixties onward.
      You are nothing more than a piece of meat to be milked from cradle to grave by this greedy system called capitalism.
      Once you expire and your funeral or cremation bill is paid, it should be all over.
       

  • http://www.facebook.com/jocelyn.hoopes Jocelyn Marie Hoopes

    Sriously. There is  big difference between flipping a burger and responsibility for saving a life.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      If a lifeguard ran their job like the outsourcers run their business, they would collect their paychecks until actually presented with a “risk” situation – and if the risk exceeds the monetary worth of their job, say “I quit” and walk away.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson
  • Sholmes42

    I am outraged. The lifeguard should have been praised. He is a hero.

    • Wtf

       ya, i don’t know what the hell he did wrong…

  • Pamela

    At the stressful time we were trying to find a care facility for my aging father, the head of the facility we chose summed up her philosphy:  What would a reasonable person expect?  Of course, a resonable person would assume saving a life is more important than the rules.  In fact, that was what they were hired to do.  One more reason the outsourcing “corporate intelligence” needs to hire grandmothers.

  • Dhrosier

    Mankind in general and individuals benefit from people being employed where their talents are most productive.  This is so much a part of the fabric of the society of Mankind that very rarely does anyone notice.  In the automotive industry, for example, workers on the line are assembling tools that are far beyond their individual capacity to create.  There is a long chain of technical knowledge that started with mathematicians and physicists who developed the fundamental science of the use of energy to achieve work (moving objects in this case), and did not exist in practical application until engineers designed the products and the machines needed to produce those products, and the financial professionals who organized the resources necessary to put all of that into operation.

    The process of efficiency (= profitable operations) is one of “pushing work down” to less expensive workers.  Auto workers are able to earn far more income than they could possibly hope to realize because scientists are paid more than engineers who are paid more than the workers because, in succession, the results of their competencies give the workers the tools to produce products that would never exist if there were only the line workers in the line of creating the products.

    YOU benefit from this chain of creation every time you turn on a radio or a television, ride a buss or an elevator, eat produce that is out of season where you live and is imported by air or other transport, etc.  Obviously, it is a rare motorist who understands the operation of their vehicle much less has the competency to develop the physics of compressing the explosions of detonating gasoline / air mixture….

  • Ben

    Slave labor in the west and overall in the world as of about 10 years ago from various reports are the cheapest in history.

    Compare a slave of the 1800′s which could cost $25,000 and up in REAL DOLLARS to getting one today for less than $50.

    The world is evolving to a system of the rich and the slave class. But to be politically correct and not upset the masses, its called the “servant” class.
    In any event, its come down to the “haves” and the “have nots”.

    My biology teacher of 1966 when asked what the world of 1984 would look to him, his answer was the haves and have nots. That thought has stuck with me for over 45 years.

  • Shaz

    Outsourcing is exactly what is going on in education!!

    I have been teaching for 15 yrs.
    but I have seen my district commit$$$$$$$ to:

    ·        
    4 different, very expensive reading
    intervention programs.

    ·        
    Each one became more scripted, more top-down.
    We were:

    o   Directed
    to “keep the teacher’s edition cradled in left arm throughout the class.”

    o   Scolded
    if we added anything; like reinforcements using the same vocabulary

    o   Scolded
    for re-testing when I thought kids were misplaced

    o   Scolded
    if we used some of our own experience teach. 

    As Goldstein said, the theory is
    not to hire a chef but to use a foolproof system.

    In Education, they are eliminating
    those who really know how to teach so they can hire cheaper, new teachers.

    Less expensive; but now we have McTeachers!

  • Katta

    Outsourcing. What is it?  Probably the same searching for a slave or servant to do your work as cheaply as possible so the ruling class and continue to amass more power and wealth. The planet is full of those who will jump at the opportunity to move “up the ladder”.
    Also so the rich can find ways to keep the masses down. The class struggle continues into the 21st century.

    As Karl Marx stated:
    The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.   

    John Lennon’s Classic song from the late sixties fits this bill perfectly.

    It was titled Working Class Hero.

    As soon as you’re born they make you feel small
    By giving you no time instead of it all
    Till the pain is so big you feel nothing at all
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be 

    They hurt you at home and they hit you at school
    They hate you if you’re clever and they despise a fool
    Till you’re so f*cking crazy you can’t follow their rules
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be 

    When they’ve tortured and scared you for twenty odd years
    Then they expect you to pick a career
    When you can’t really function you’re so full of fear
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be 

    Keep you doped with religion and sex and TV
    And you think you’re so clever and classless and free
    But you’re still f*cking peasants as far as I can see
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be 

    There’s room at the top they are telling you still
    But first you must learn how to smile as you kill
    If you want to be like the folks on the hill
    A working class hero is something to be
    A working class hero is something to be 

    If you want to be a hero well just follow me
    If you want to be a hero well just follow me

    For some reason many web sites posting these lyrics have completely eliminated the “f” word.
    Well it was inserted to make a point folks. Screw the politically correct crap. I suppose John Lennon had to die to as he was too influential and a threat to the STATUS QUO.

    • Vanessa D

      Actually, it had nothing to do with a political point of view. John
      Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman, a mentally deranged
      individual who had a list of murder victims he wanted to kill, mostly
      celebrities. He wanted the notoriety that would attach to these murders
      and identified himself with Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of The
      Catcher in the Rye. Some facts about Chapman (Wikipedia): 

      In 1971, Chapman became a born again Christian. In 1977,Chapman attempted suicide. Chapman has said he started planning to kill Lennon while in Hawaii three months prior to the murder, after seeing him on the cover of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. He has also said that he had a list of people in mind, including Johnny Carson, Elizabeth Taylor, George C. Scott, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but that John Lennon seemed to be the easiest to find, although he has separately said that he was particularly caught up in Lennon. Chapman’s planning, as discussed in laterparole hearings, has been described as ‘muddled’.

      Chapman went to New York in October 1980 intending to killLennon, taking his unloaded gun with him. He left for a short while inorder to obtain ammunition from a friend.

       

      After going to the cinema and being inspired by the filmOrdinary People, Chapman returned to Hawaii, telling his wife he had been obsessed with killing Lennon but had snapped out of it. On the day before the killing, December 7, Chapman accosted singer-songwriter James Taylor at the 72nd Street subway station. According to Taylor, “The guy had sort of pinned me to the wall and was glistening with maniacal sweat and talking some freak speak about what he was going to do and his stuff with how John was interested, and he was going to get in touch with John Lennon.

      • Alfred

        Sorry Vanessa D.

        Your Mark David Chapman in your view was a mentally deranged individual.
        I don’t buy it. Chapman was another one of those “lone gunman” throughout history used to advance the agenda of those behind the scenes pulling the strings.
        You can call it a conspiracy if you wish, I don’t care.
        Chapman was in recent times one of those Manchurian Candidates of the CIA to do their work.
        You and many will believe the crap the mainstream media feeds you and therefore doesn’t need to do YOUR OWN RESEARCH into the matter.
        Its called MIND CONTROL.
        The media can spin any story of Chapman they wish. Reminds me of a soap opera. They can weave a history of the individual prior to the present time.

        Wasn’t John Hinkley obsessed with Jody Foster concerning the Reagan assassination attempt?
        Do some research lady. I can read and parrot the same old garbage the mainstream media is feeding you all.

        • Guest

          Right. And your opinions are based on facts sourced…where?

          • Samlange1201

            All I can say Vanessa. Go back to sleep.
            The indoctrination of your mind has been achieved.
            One could provide you with all kinds of material, but your mind is made up.
            If FOX(FAKE) news or CNN or ABC, etc. didn’t say it, then its all a lie.
            As I have said in the past, you don’t waste your time on those such as you.

            Robert G. Ingersoll say it well:

            Trying to talk to a person who won’t listen is like trying to give medicine to a dead person.

          • Vanessa D

            Feel better now?

            By the way, you wrote, “One could provide you with all kinds of material, but your mind is made up.” Well, why don’t you just give it a try? Come on, let’s see what you’ve got. Saying that my mind is made up sounds like a cop-out to me.

          • Joe

            After reading these comments here, I have come to the conclusion that you are having some mental issues. 
            Open your mind Vanessa.
            I suggest you follow the wisdom of the old Arab Proverb:
            Your head is your house, furnish it.

            How you do that, I don’t care, but it seriously require help.

            Feeling a bit pissed about my comment.
            Tough luck.  

  • Tejanarus55

    Pearlstein is missing the point here, and so far, Robin is letting him; Some services SHOULD NOT BE outsourced.
    He’s basically saying you can do this for anything, and so you stick the build-the-skills-in-the-system, etc., no training to think.
    But lifeguarding…lifeSAVING…is one of those things where the lifeguard absolutely needs to be able to think and to be allowed to think.

    In other words, this is just wrong, wrong, wrong.  I don’t care how much mony my town saves; if I’m drowniing I want the lifeguard to come save me, even if I’m outside his perimeter.

    This is a moral issue, not a business one. Positing as a merely a question of the business model misses, perhaps deliberately, that whole moral question.

    • Colettte Carse

       Yeah, I have been wondering if we might be able to consider the question of ‘ethical capitalism’.  Certainly we must not say ‘socialist’ anything… So, how do we reclaim the concept of ‘social goods’ such that it is not linked to profit?  Or the idea or ‘profitable’ such that it is not determined by the ‘bottom line’? What about morals?  Certainly they were primary in the drafting of our constitution, but it seems that in contemporary US culture they are for people who can’t earn enough dough…

  • Arobinson

    Call center call.  Stayed on the phone for 2 1/2 hours, could’t understand them , they could’nt understand. I felt so stupid. I hung up without the problem solved. 
    Audrey

  • http://www.facebook.com/siliconfalcon Fred Wilhelm

     Outsourcing is a byproduct of Capitalism. It does nothing but make money for the rich share-holders.
    I doubt there has ever been a company who has said “Hey we just found a way to reduce our overhead by 50% so we are lowering your bill 50%”
    No, the only thing outsourcing does is take jobs away from people who need it and make the rich richer.
    The guest praised technology and outsourcing as a way to save money but failed to see that it is at the expense of real human lives.

    • Vanessa D

      You wrote: “No, the only thing outsourcing does is take jobs away from people who need it and make the rich richer.
      The
      guest praised technology and outsourcing as a way to save money but
      failed to see that it is at the expense of real human lives.”

      Not saying I disagree with you or that I don’t understand your view on this, but there is another side to it. Jobs that are outsourced can also result in the workers in the other country having more income to buy more American goods, and there is a very high demand for American goods in countries throughout the world. The resulting increased demand means more money coming into the US, increased production to meet that demand, and, therefore, more jobs for Americans. It’s kind of like,  “what goes around comes around.” I’m not saying it always happens this way, but it is something to consider and another aspect of this issue that is not commonly discussed.

      • http://www.facebook.com/siliconfalcon Fred Wilhelm

         Call me a Separatist but, in a time when millions of Americans are out of work, now is not the time to worry about people in other countries having the money to buy our products. I want to see American’s having the money to buy American products and I can not see how outsourcing these American jobs can help this.
        I understand the theory behind your argument but I believe that if more Americans had more money to buy more American products, the increase in production would mean even more jobs for Americans.
        But a more interesting question is how  many times I can use the word America in the same post?

      • Colette Carse

         Yes, but the problem with this paradigm is that it implicitly suggests that the more people indulge in consumerism the greater the quality of life for (?) US citizens?  Or maybe for everyone, but the thing is, I am not convinced that the great mother of capitalism is the teat we should all be sucking on.

  • ma5328

    Once again there is a big gap between theory and application.

  • Guest

    Ellis trained lifeguards are restricted to a specific, designated area close to them in order to protect their statistical data, such as the one quoted in the article.  If a lifeguard is approached and hears, “there is a guy in trouble in the water down there”, who is swimming in a non-guarded area, the guard is more likely to be too late, and the outcome is more likely to be bad, which wrecks the statistics for Ellis, so they prohibit them from responding.  Ellis does a thorough job in training their lifeguards regarding “hands on” skills.  I have never heard anyone question that.  But their policies, like the one in your story, that restrict territory of response, with a threat of loss of job,  potentially sacrifice human life for reputation, and of course, profit.  Ellis has been accused of this in the past.  BTW, statistics like, “no drownings in front of Ellis trained lifeguards” refer to “active drowning victims”, who are obviously struggling at the surface of the water, which are actually the minority of documented drownings over the last 20 or so years.    More commonly, drownings happen when people slip under the water unnoticed, passively, without a struggle, usually from a sudden loss of consciousness, due to a medical emergency such as a seizure or diabetic shock, etc, and if they sink (instead of float), and no one is swimming with them, they don’t have a chance.  Tragically, these types of drownings, more and more common,  happen in lots of places, guarded and unguarded, and are not included in Ellis statistics.

  • Geotomspaldi

    Outsourcing in PA in juvie justice system was corrupt system that destroyed many lives. Look up judge mark ciavarella. Outsoursing govt services is usually corrupt.

  • Steve G You already know too m

    In the first part, Pearlstein emphasized the company cut the city’s costs in half from $700K.  BUT, then later he said they also only covered only 1/3 the amount of beach the city used to service.   

    They cut their expenses by 1/2 and their productivity by 2/3!  If the city had made that change, they too should have cut their expenses, maybe even by 2/3.

    So, they are doing 1/3 the amount of work for 1/2 the price.  Where’s the savings?

  • Anonymous Joe

    I have to disagree with Mr. Pearlstein’s claim that companies are ‘sophisticated’ about the process of outsourcing. I worked for a large multi-national corporation for more than 10 years. I witnessed vigorous outsourcing, first at the main campus of our division, and then at the local subsidiary in Michigan. I was high enough in the corporate structure that I was involved directly in the active strategic and tactical discussions on the matter.

    Main campus outsourcing was a total disaster, taking that division from the #1 market leader to an almost non-entity in the market in 4 short years. The same individuals then moved on to our small subsidiary, which made a companion product, and proceeded along the same path. 

    Mr. Pearlstein accurately describes their philosophy: with sufficient process you can hire considerably cheaper talent and get the same job done with as good, or nearly as good results. We were told ‘the brains’ would be in the U.S. and the ‘workers’ would be remote. They paid our remote staff accordingly, and discouraged them from career development.

    I was directly involved in the tactical discussions with the people in charge of this process, and I learned one thing from them: they were more emotionally invested in this philosophy than they were in success. When confronted with consistent failure, they were in complete denial about the cause.

    What struck me was the degree of their reaction to this evidence. They were red-in-the-face vehement when the strategy was even questioned, even in the most respectful terms. They were not sophisticated. They were emotional. Very emotional.

    The great flaw in this whole concept is the notion that decision-making processes can be codified to an extent that people can use them instead of thinking.

    I am an engineer. I am an expert in formal processes. And one thing I’ve learned in my long career is that formal processes are considerably more limited than most people think, and that for most things that we do in business, human judgment is critical to success. 

    I am of the firm opinion that the number of jobs you can replace with process-driven, non-thinking, cheap labor is considerably less than most corporations (and economists, for that matter) are willing to admit. 

    I am also convinced that, often, there is some deep emotional need at the higher levels of management for this narrative of cheap labor to be true, and that companies are frequently neither sophisticated nor objective about their failures in this area.

  • Dmw_worth

    The comparison to McDonald’s was quite apt. Their system as I experienced it both as crew and management was based not just on systemic intelligence, but on a structured class system in which the procedures reenforced the distinct classes within labor. Low level management was treated and trained little differently than entry level labor. The largest distinction in recompense was psychological superiority. This serves to obfuscate the true distinction within the labor market, that of the unskilled and untrained verses the highly skilled.

    The weakness of this system is that you are actively promoting incompetence at the lower levels. No system can anticipate every circumstance that may arise. By actively discouraging the use of individual judgement you build the obvious mistake of fireing a hero lifeguard into the system.

  • RICKY

    I AM RESPONDING TO THE SHOW ABOUT PUTTING REGISTERED NURSES IN PHARMACIES. THERE IS NO NEED,  I AM A PHARMACIST, AND WE ARE THE ONLY PROFESSION THAT RECIEVES FOUR YEARS OF PHARMACOLOGY IN SCHOOL.  WE ARE MEDICATION EXPERTS AND CAN ANSWER ANY QUESTION THAT IS RELATED TO MEDICATIONS,THERE USES, SIDE-EFFECTS AND MECHINISM OF ACTION.

    • Joe

      The good old side effects of medications. Allopathic medicine is good for that-treating symptoms, ailments, dis-eases, etc. When it comes to prevention, forget it. Its all about having a population of the ill, ailing and dying to keep Big Pharma in business.
      Leave to take care of yourself people or else.
      Consider the nosocomial infections, the iatrogenic diseases, those wonderful side effects from those drugs.
      Your #3 killer of Americans are doctors. 

      “Over and over I explain to patients, ‘Your pain, misery and illness results from your own dietary mistakes and drugs. You are suffering because you are filled with toxic wastes caused by your diet of poorly selected food filled with artificial flavorings, preservatives, synthetics, and over-processed ingredients—too much stimulating food and too few natural vitamins from vegetables and fruits….’ ”

      Henry G. Bieler, MD  Food is Your Best Medicine

    • Joe

      As a retired physician, I can honestly say that unless you are in a serious accident, YOUR BEST CHANCE OF LIVING TO A RIPE OLD AGE IS TO AVOID DOCTORS AND HOSPITALS AND LEARN NUTRITION, HERBAL MEDICINE AND OTHER FORMS OF NATURAL MEDICINE [i.e. PREVENTION]. Almost all drugs are toxic and are designed only to treat symptoms and not to cure anyone. Most surgery is unnecessary. In short, our mainstream medical system is hopelessly inept and/or corrupt. THE TREATMENT OF CANCER AND DEGENERATIVE DISEASES IS A NATIONAL SCANDAL. The sooner
      you learn this, the better off you will be.

      Dr. Allan Greenberg on 12/24/2002

  • Vanessa D

    I don’t know which pharmacy Mr. Pearlstein calls to renew his prescriptions, but every one that I’ve ever used, that has an automated renewal system, ALWAYS provides an option to connect to a staff member in the pharmacy.

  • Steve

    I ve walked that beach many times it is a very short beach. and not that wide either. 
    I would not describe it as a “long beach”  like south beach 
    I would be supprised if it was as long  quater mile 

    steve

  • Vanessa D

    Actually, it had nothing to do with a political point of view. John Lennon was murdered by Mark David Chapman, a mentally deranged individual who had a list of murder victims he wanted to kill, mostly celebrities. He wanted the notoriety that would attach to these murders and identified himself with Holden Caulfield, the protagonist of The Catcher in the Rye. Some facts about Chapman (Wikipedia): 

    p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: Times; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }

    In 1971, Chapman became a born again Christian. In 1977,
    Chapman attempted suicide. Chapman has said he started planning to kill Lennon
    while in Hawaii three months prior to the murder, after seeing him on the cover
    of The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. He has also said
    that he had a list of people in mind, including Johnny Carson, Elizabeth
    Taylor, George C. Scott, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, but that John Lennon
    seemed to be the easiest to find, although he has separately said that he was
    particularly caught up in Lennon. Chapman’s planning, as discussed in later
    parole hearings, has been described as ‘muddled’.

    Chapman went to New York in October 1980 intending to kill
    Lennon, taking his unloaded gun with him. He left for a short while in
    order to obtain ammunition from a friend.

     

    After going to the cinema and being inspired by the film
    Ordinary People, Chapman returned to Hawaii, telling his wife he had been
    obsessed with killing Lennon but had snapped out of it. On the day before the
    killing, December 7, Chapman accosted singer-songwriter James Taylor at the
    72nd Street subway station. According to Taylor, “The guy had sort of
    pinned me to the wall and was glistening with maniacal sweat and talking some
    freak speak about what he was going to do and his stuff with how John was
    interested, and he was going to get in touch with John Lennon.

    • jefe68

      What?

      • Vanessa D

        Sorry for the head-scratcher, Jefe, I meant this to be a Reply to another poster, but must have goofed and it got placed out of sync. Looks like a total non sequitur, I know. 

    • Woodie

      Thanks for all the info or so you presented here. Anyone could get that “news” from the censored, filtered garbage via the mainstream media clowns.

  • Retired Ocean Lifeguard

    To add some additional facts to this story: The Ellis organization started out in waterparks and pools. They found ways to reduce training and presumably pay, by making the job less complicated. They pioneered a technique of using a lifeguard rescue tube that had been used by lifeguards to float victims, to instead keep the lifeguard afloat. That reduced the level of swimming skill needed by the lifeguards, which increased the potential job applicant pool, and further depressed wages.

    The Hallandale contract was one of, if not the first contract for Ellis at a surf beach. It’s a totally different environment and outside of the competency of the company. To what degree they amended their existing standards to address this is unknown to me, but there is a lesson here beyond outsourcing. Because you are an expert in one discipline of a given profession does not make you an expert in all.

    Much seems to be made of Ellis’ claim of no drowning deaths during their contract. The job of a lifeguard goes well beyond rescues from drowning. One might reasonably assume that this lack of basic judgment may have come up many times before, but was not as newsworthy. The company’s experience here demonstrates that dumbing down certain professions is not easy to do, and more importantly, not wise.

  • KennethAmerica

    The overlooked fact in this story is that THE COST OF LIFEGUARD COVERAGE INCREASED- YES INCREASED- when  Jeff Ellis & Associates was hired  to manage the lifeguards.  Doubt this?  Follow the numbers:

    It is stated that “Hallandale Beach says that by hiring the Jeff Ellis management company
    for life guarding, they cut the city’s annual $700,000 budget for
    lifeguards in half.”

    At 11:10 into the audio record above, Mr. Pearlstein says that “the first thing Jeff Ellis Management said was ‘…We are only going to patrol one-third of the beach’.”

    ONE-THIRD COVERAGE FOR ONE-HALF PRICE!!?? 

    Although the City’s annual expenditure was reduced, simple arithmetic proves that the cost of coverage per beach foot INCREASED 51% (fifty-one percent).

    BTW:  I am really conflicted in re unions.  Many times they protect incompetent workers.  Other times, they impose absurd conditions on people who are forced to use their services.

    Despite this reservation, I think Hallandale Beach should re-calculate the cost of their original plan using the 1/3 coverage parameter.  Maybe the fire department management was  actually competitively priced?

    • Info

       Re: Unions, being in one, I can say that even a bad one can be better than none at all. Workers need an organization dedicated to representing their interests in areas where they may be at odds with those of the employer (eg. decent wages, a semblance of due process in firing and promotions). Ideally the shared interest both parties have in the continuing success of the employer provides an incentive to compromise.

      In a country like ours, where so much of a person’s livelihood not to mention  access to health care, shelter, etc.  is tied in to their employment, there have to be protections in place to protect the rights of workers. Otherwise, the potential for exploitation is too great.

      There is a lot of focus on Unions as protecting incompetent workers, etc. You hear this a lot in discussions of education reform. But unions can and do serve a very important function as well, in that they can make it possible for people to be more than contingent, expendable worker-drones with no expectation of humane treatment in the workplace. As with any organization, there is sometimes incompetence and corruption, and individuals who become entrenched in their positions of power. But this just means we need better unions, not fewer, since without them it’s each individual up against the power of the employer.

      • Colette Carse

        Yes, to unions.  So glad this theme found its way int the thread.  It feels to me that at this moment unions might be reclaimed as centers for social justice.  Unions could help organize parents and teachers in the education turf wars with an eye to the promoting and supporting the child’s intelligence as the goal, and not the governmental standards that are an outsourcing of teachers intelligence, care, and connection to their pupils.  The anti-union bashing that fuels the ‘bottom line’ approach to social goods is emblematic of the neoliberal discourse that is threatening our democracy.  Unions might become centers through which we learn to take back our country from the radical capitalists that have hypnotized everyone into believing our votes are dollars, time is money, and security is an IRA.  Fuck that.

  • Eithne_clarke

    Something that wasn’t mentioned is that the rescued person was non-English speaking, a tourist from Eastern Europe.  He would not have understood the “Swim at your own risk” signage. Kudos to the brave Tomas Lopez for his courage in risking his job to do the right thing: Save someone’s life.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1040955487 John Flowers

    It’s effectively the same as the healtcare debate – what do we want to leave up to Capitalism and free market in this country?  People’s healthcare?  How about their very lives?

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