Jesus in the work place.
Dairies across America ranged from 50 to 400 cows and could change size with a family members coming and going. It took one worker for every 50 cows. Cows were milked two times per day. Dairy size started to grow in California from 400 to 800 cows.
Then came the age of the Industrial Dairies, 1,200 to 2,000 cows. Larger dairies were more efficient and only needed one worker for every 100 cows.
Being a retired pioneer in the labor leasing business I was aware of the problems that Industrial Dairies must be having in the area of labor management.
Just out of curiosity to see if they were having the problems that I thought they might be having I searched for any businesses that were helping the Industrial Dairies (ID’s). There were none, and that did not surprise me, because the work force was a high percentage of illegal labor.
I set up a booth in the California and Idaho dairy conventions and did a survey questionnaire with the dairy owners. I ask about the problems of operation of a dairy and ask them to tell me what percentage labor was in the headache and stress of the operation.
Nobody said less than 90% and I got a lot of 100% answers.
Now I had to decide if I wanted to come out of retirement and see if I could help these ID’s. The ID’s were expanding fast and were 2,000 to 4,000 cows now for the average ID’s, or 25 to 45 employees per dairy.
I knew that they were not in the cow management business now as much as they were in the Labor Management business. But they didn’t know that, and the convention results confirm it.
They faced the same problems as the big restaurant and hotel business. There is no way say Hilton will be writing a check to an illegal worker. They lease all their illegal workers. Leasing companies are expendable where Hilton is not.
Get caught three times hiring an illegal and you go to jail and lose your dairy. So most of the dairies were paying under the table and that worked with ten or so employees but it is too risky with fifty employees.
I set up business in Idaho and serviced the dairies in CA, UT, AZ, OR, WA and Idaho. My largest client had 20,000 cows.
I stopped taking on new clients when a got to 2,500 employees to try and fix employee related problems.
I had so far implemented safety programs, picture identification, and employee of the month, birthday posting, and safety signage in Spanish. I even got Monsanto to add Spanish to the products sold to the dairies.
The biggest items were the videos I created on how to milk a cow, it covered how bacteria moves. I was surprised that the dairies had not covered this. ID’s make more money with less bacteria in the milk and the less bacteria the bigger the bonuses for the workers.
I tied in with the Mexican Counsel and sponsored Mexican rodeos’ and concerts. I set up banking and English learning programs.
It would have helped if I spoke Spanish. 85% of the work force was Spanish speaking. With 65% of those being illegal. It was that 35% of workers that were not illegal that were causing me a lot of problems.
I did a survey with the ID’s. It came back that the best workers’ were the guys up from Mexico less than two years and not speaking English.
A common belief was the dairies were taking advantage of the workers. That was not the case. The starting pay back then was $12/hr. What I found was the American workers just did not want to work at a dairy. They would take a job in town at $6/hr over working at the dairy. It was not uncommon for workers with overtime and bonuses to earn $40K per year. Many made much more money.
Each ID’s fell into 1 of 3 forms of management. What worked for one dairy may not work for another, for many reasons. The only common denominator I could find was religion.
The Catholic Church had a team set up just to work with the Mexican workers. But that didn’t help me, because never in my life have I run into so many arrogant guys as the Catholic Monks. They were impossible to work with. So I got a monk from Mexico to come and help me set up a program for the dairies.
To get the cows to give more milk you use the women as milkers. To create the right working environment, hang a cross of Jesus on the wall and pictures of Mary in the break room. And once a month have a local priest come out and talk to the workers.
That solved the problems. I went back into retirement with the largest ID’s client having over 50,000 cows and the ID’s average size for new ID’s was now 6K cows.
Thank you Jesus.
Note; if I had it my way the small dairies would still be operating. But the problem is there are countries like Argentina with unused grass lands half the size of the United States and we could end up with our cheese and milk being imported. Just look at Brazil and the soy bean today if you think it can’t happen.
I got the feeling that religion was more a culture as it was a religious belief. I don’t even know if they print the bible in Spanish, because I never saw one of them with a bible. Most had two birth dates. The day they were born on which they did not use. The date uses was always a saint’s date showing me that they were brought up in this culture. I never seen the Catholics here in the US do birthday that way.
The main problem was with instigators. And I found the only one who could stop instigators was god’s representative.