February 2, 2012

Government Jobs

Yesterday I accompanied The Princess' class on a field trip to the Fort Worth location of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.  This facility and one in Washington D.C. make all of the paper currency for the United States.  If you are ever in the area, plan a stop for the free tour, it is really interesting.

The guided tour takes place on the second floor, where the corridors are lined with windows that provide a view to the production floor below.  There were about twelve adults on the field trip, and frequent comments were made about the pace of work on the floor.  For every person that was seen actively engaged in a task, there were easily three or four others standing around.  We joked about 'government jobs'.

The people down on the production floor also loved to stop what they were doing and wave up at the kids, or pick up a sample of the work done in their area and hold it up for the tour group to see.  The next generation one hundred dollar bills were being printed, they are quite colorful (the background color is a bluish-purple).  There is a tour every half hour from 9 am until 2 pm, Monday through Friday.  Anyone want to venture a guess at how productive that day shift is, when they stop every half hour or so to wave at the kiddos?

Toward the end of the tour, we were getting the tour guide's schpiel as we watched the final packaging of the bills.  They bundle together four 'bricks' into a cash pack of 16,000 bills and send it into a machine that shrink wraps it.  That is one guy taking the bricks off of the pallets, putting them onto a conveyor belt while another guy stands there talking to him.  There is one man guiding the bricks into the shrink wrap machine.  When the cash pack emerges, it continues on another conveyor belt to a man whose job it is to place a sticker on the end of the package.  Seriously.  He was sitting in a chair, in jeans, T-shirt and UT hat, holding a roll of numbered stickers and slapping one on each cash pack as it came by.  I would guess the frequency was around one package every 90 seconds.  I want that job.  Even if it is the lowest pay grade job in the place, that is a sweet deal.  Especially considering the bennies:

  • Challenging work, opportunities for advancement, competitive salaries, bonuses and incentive awards;


  • Ten paid holidays, 13 days of sick leave, and 13 to 26 days of vacation time each year;


  • Access to insurance programs that may be continued after you retire;


  • A wide choice of health insurance plans, coverage for pre-existing conditions, and no waiting periods.  We pay a substantial amount (up to 75%) of the health insurance premiums.


  • But that is really just the tip of the iceberg.  Our tour guide explained that there are 800 employees at the plant.  400 on the production floor.  Those 400 production floor employees are represented by ELEVEN unions.

    Can you imagine the number of jobs it takes just to keep eleven union's worth of employment agreements straight?

    2 comments:

    CenTexTim said...

    800 employees. 400 actually producing something (and all unionized, so the productivity level sucks to begin with).

    That leaves 400 managers and administrators - one each for every production worker.

    Sounds like where I work.

    Oh, wait, I work at a state institution...

    The Whited Sepulchre said...

    And they never, ever take a day off. That's why your groceries are costing more.