Or, at least, don’t obey Massachusetts law and receive the healthcare they are entitled to. Esterline Technologies demonstrates that much of what passes for ‘rational business decision making’ is actually ideology combined with petty personal vendetta. From Yves Smith:
This story illustrates how far some companies are willing to go to preserve their bottom lines and assert their right to operate in an unfettered manner, even when that includes breaking the law and violating contracts…
Esterline is in the process of shuttering its Tauton manufacturing operation, Haskon Aerospace, which specialized silicone-rubber seals and gaskets for military planes and the airline industry. Even though the plant has always been profitable, Esterline is moving production to non-union operations in Mexico and California.
Once again, we have a U.S. company stabbing workers in the back by eliminating their jobs, even though those workers are generating a profit. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to restart the economy. But believe it or not, that’s not the sleazy part:
Esterline is not content to merely close the plant. It is also intent on preventing the highly-skilled workforce from buying and operating the plant on their own or as a subsidiary of another firm. Esterline has announced that it no longer feels bound by its earlier promises to allow the workers the right of first refusal on buying the plant’s equipment.
So why would they be so callous and cruel? Well (emphasis mine):
Esterline, based in Bellevue, Wash., was infuriated when the union insisted that the corporation abide by Massachusetts law and provide funding for three months of healthcare after the workers are laid off. Finally recognizing that it could not evade the law, after the point was driven home by State Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) and a federal mediator, Esterline still found a way to lash back at the UE.
To make up for the cost of the legally-mandated healthcare, Esterline said it would reduce the total severance package–already agreed upon earlier–for the workers by $143,000. “They finally agreed to abide by the law, but then they reduced their severance offer,” said an incredulous Knowlton. “That’s illegal because it’s regressive bargaining, so we’re filing charges [with the National Labor Relations Board.]
Esterline also informed the union that it no longer had first right to buy the plant’s equipment, because the corporation needed to recoup the severance costs through auctioning off the equipment to the highest bidder. “Essentially, Esterline is stealing the workers’ labor represented in the machinery that they’ve worked on for years,” declared Knowlton.
We’re talking about pettiness over $143,000 for a company that earned nearly $120 million in profits last year. The city of Taunton is attempting to seize the factory’s equipment through eminent domain. Good for them, and I hope they’re successful.
Because people who try to force others to break the law–for money they don’t need–should be punished. Hard. Because, the idiocy of Supreme Court justices notwithstanding, there is a real human price to this vindictiveness:
For the union and its members, the struggle against Esterline is about preventing the wanton, pointless decimation of a viable operation–and with it, increasingly-rare family-supporting jobs.
“Saving the jobs seems like a no-brainer to us,” says Knowlton. “What’s wrong with this picture where Esterline is out to destroy the jobs? What’s wrong with our country?”
There’s nothing wrong with the country; it’s the assholes at Esterline.
But it’s we Dirty Hippies who are conducting class warfare. Or something.