Street Talk: You can’t look away


A new study projects that employees who are following the televised hearings and news coverage of President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry on the job could cost employers more than $2 billion per hour.

Andrew Challenger, vice president of Chicago-based global outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas, said in a Nov. 13 email that he calculated the impact on the workplace based on a phenomenon from 2018.

Last year, over 20 million people tuned in to network and cable television to watch Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing with Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony. This did not encompass time spent listening to audio, streaming the proceedings live, spending time watching clips online or following social media.

Public impeachment hearings began the morning of Nov. 13, and many Americans have likewise been glued to their televisions, mobile devices, podcasts, social media and live audio coverage since then. This distraction could cost employers $2.1 billion each hour their employees spend when they would otherwise be working, Challenger said.

Here is a cost breakdown that’s hard to ignore:

  • $28.18: Average hourly wage, according to preliminary October 2019 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
  • 90,130,268: Number of Americans who use the internet at work, according to November 2017 data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
  • 89%: Percentage of employed Americans who work on an average weekday, according to the BLS’s 2018 Time Use Survey.
  • 94%: Percentage of workers who discuss politics at work, according to a recent Challenger survey.
  • 90,130,268 x 89% = 80,215,939: Estimated number of workers who use the internet at work during an average weekday.
  • 80,215,939 x 94% = 75,402,982: Estimated number of internet-using workers who are interested in politics/likely to watch or follow updates on the hearing.
  • 75,402,982 x $28.18 = $2,124,856,038: Estimated cost of lost productivity to employers per hour of workers following the impeachment hearings.

Wage hike

The Business Journal in October revealed an out-of-state cannabis company plans to break into the Grand Rapids market with a new processing facility, and new employees can expect a $15 minimum wage from the company.

Terrapin Care Station, a national cannabis company based in Boulder, Colorado, recently announced it has guaranteed a minimum wage for its employees of $15 per hour companywide.

The decision comes as the Denver City Council debates whether to gradually raise the city’s minimum wage over three years. A proposal before the Finance and Governance Committee would raise the minimum wage in Denver to $12.85 in 2020; $14.77 in 2021; and $15.87 in 2022, largely mirroring state law.

Terrapin chose not to make employees wait for three years to see a living wage, and instead, the company is guaranteeing a minimum wage companywide of $15/hour.

“Terrapin wants to lead by example, which is why we are doing this on our own, regardless of what happens with Denver’s minimum wage proposal,” said Chris Woods, owner and chief executive of Terrapin Care Station. “We know that this is the right thing to do to retain employees and provide a living wage as the cost of living continues to spike.”

Terrapin’s new minimum wage policy applies both to its employees in Colorado and in Pennsylvania, where it operates a medical cannabis grower/processor facility.

The policy will serve as a template for new markets, as well, particularly West Michigan, where Terrapin expects to be fully operational by spring 2020.

“Raising the minimum wage companywide isn’t going to solve all of the problems associated with the skyrocketing cost of living we’re seeing, but it’s an important tool to provide some comfort for people as they struggle to make ends meet,” Woods said. “We value our employees, but more importantly, we understand the uphill battle that many of them face every day.”

Psyched up

The chief psychologist at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital has won a national award for contributions to the clinical practice of neuropsychology.

Jacobus Donders was awarded the Ralph M. Reitan Award for Clinical Excellence by the National Academy of Neuropsychology. The award recognizes his influence on clinical practice, including patient care and resident training.

Donders oversees Mary Free Bed’s team of psychologists, who work with patients and their families to help them adjust to hospitalization and cope with various challenges.

Mary Free Bed provides rehabilitation for adults and children affected by serious injury or illness, including brain injuries, strokes, spinal cord injuries, amputations, cancer, multiple trauma and neurological conditions.

“I’ve had the privilege of helping to improve our care at Mary Free Bed with the assistance of a great group of colleagues in the psychology department,” Donders said.

“We’re all here to serve our patients the best we can and being recognized for having contributed to that care is very rewarding.”

Donders, who joined Mary Free Bed in 1988, is board certified in clinical neuropsychology, rehabilitation psychology and pediatric clinical neuropsychology by the American Board of Professional Psychology.


A group of Grand Rapids craft beverage producers has come together to support Safe Haven Ministries’ mission of solving the problem of domestic abuse in the community.

The 22 businesses have rallied around the proclamation that “Love Shouldn’t Hurt.”

Participating breweries, wineries and distilleries each have created a new beverage named “Love.” The unique brews, ciders and cocktails will be sold at each business with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Safe Haven Ministries.

The project kicks off Nov. 25 and will run through the remainder of the year.

The Mitten State, an apparel company based in Grand Rapids, also will donate a portion of sales of its Michigan “Love” apparel series.

“First and foremost, the goal of this project is to support Safe Haven in their mission to solve the problem of domestic abuse in our community,” said Dana Mate Dones, operations manager of The Mitten Brewing Company. “But a secondary goal is to prove that when responsibly enjoyed, alcohol can be a force for good and actually be a part of breaking the cycle of domestic abuse, despite its long negative association with the issue.”

Safe Haven Ministries provides emergency shelter, case management, support groups and more to women and children suffering from domestic abuse.

“It’s an important consideration for our industry to think about how what we produce affects individuals in our community,” said Edwin Collazo, co-owner of City Built Brewing. “We have taken great care to practice responsibility as it pertains to our environment, our service and training, as well as how those things affect the most vulnerable. Better drinking culture is a real thing.”

Participants include Founders Brewing Company, The Mitten Brewing Company, Speciation Artisan Ales, Long Road Distillers, City Built Brewing, The Peoples Cider Co., Vander Mill Grand Rapids, Eastern Kille Distillery, Cedar Springs Brewing Company, Broad Leaf Local Beer, Harmony Brewing, Harmony Hall, Trail Point Brewing, Rockford Brewing, Thornapple Brewing, Railtown Brewing, TwoGuys Brewing, Wise Men Distillery, Gravel Bottom Craft Brewery, Brewery Vivant, Atwater Brewing, Coldbreak and Better Drinking Culture.

“We are honored to be a part of the Love Shouldn’t Hurt project, along with many of our friends in the Grand Rapids brewing community to support survivors of domestic abuse,” said Mitch Ermatinger, owner of Speciation Artisan Ales.

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