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I occasionally write 'Brothers and Sisters" letters to my co-workers. This one was occasioned by a letter sent to the employees of my company, YRC Freight by the President/CEO, Mr James Welch. The letter is appealing to re-open our contract for changes and extension. It was originally a five-year very concessionary contract and has already been extended for two years - including 15% concessions on the contractual wages and unagreed upon not paying into contractual benefits - and now they are asking for a further five-year extension. Twelve years of concessions and stagnation.

Mr Zollars, referred to in the article, is the previous CEO who through his decisions put the company into a death-spiral. Eastern Airlines was a previous company mal-managed by Mr Zollars to destroy the Union. The company went into a death-spiral and eventually was sold. Rumor is that Mr Zollars was also in the leadership of Eastman Kodak during its march to being irrelevant but I haven't confirmed that.

I might further add that the Anti-Labor, but nevertheless FOR dues collecting, President of the Teamsters, Mr James Hoffa, has called for a "poll" of the membership to see if this is what is wanted by them. Besides the fact that any "poll" is not an election and so is not binding, I read an article at Yahoo where it is stated that Union Locals support the opening of the contract when the actual polling is not yet completed. Preordained result, I guess?

My letter to my co-workers is below the fold.

Brothers and Sisters,

Like the rest of you, I received a letter from the President/CEO of YRC Freight, Mr James Welch. As many of you have observed, it’s the same boilerplate letter with the same ominous threats that we have received before. One plus, I think, is he writes out that our troubles stem from “missteps made … by (our) previous management team”. “Missteps” is putting it kindly. What happened was crass management malpractice. Despite the attempt to distance the current management from those events, much of the current management was on-board and supporting the strategy which saw YRC’s stock price tumble from $483,525 a share in 2005 to today’s $7.50 a share. What the previous management and current management gained for this sabotage of the value of the company is a weakened workforce and obscene usury and dictatorial power for our debt-holders. Doesn’t make sense to me but this is Mr Zollars stock-in-trade (remember Eastern Airlines?) and the company knew this when they hired him.

Welch’s attempt to create distance by admitting the previous management team’s mismanagement is also betrayed by the fact that all of our current management’s ideas and commitments appear to be the exact same ones as the previous management’s (his letters certainly are). One would think that if we all agree that Mr Zollars' rule was a disaster, then board meetings would ask “what would Zollars do?” and then do the exact opposite! Instead, we are being told again that the employees are the enemies of company success. When he talks of “investing in the company” he does not mean investing in the employees. Nor does it mean he considers the work and sacrifice of employees an investment on our part in the company’s success. Like Mr Zollars, he believes an employee’s investment in the company to be beyond paid-in-full on Thursday.

“Competitive” is a word with which Mr Welch likes to use to describe our wages. At his level, this word has two meanings. First regards our wages. WalMart (Always Low Wages) likes to say their wages are competitive. It is a word which describes the management practice to compare with the lowest wages in the industry to justify paying the lowest wages possible. In other words, “competitive” when used to describe us means a race to the bottom. Even if Mr Welch’s vision does not include YRC handing out Food Stamps applications at their new employee orientation, his action point for the employees is this race to the bottom. Strange that he likes to boast of “Teamster co-operation” (usually, he says this to club down Union criticism of his plans) and at the same time justifies this race to the bottom by saying YRC is at a disadvantage because we are a Union company.

The second use of “competitive” to a CEO regards himself. In 1985, Eastman Kodak (which was then engaged in the management-chosen business strategy which resulted in their being turned from an innovative company to the irrelevant dinosaur it is today (sound familiar?)) announced that due to a non-record-breaking year (they made profit, just not a record), all wages were frozen: no merit raises, no cost-of-living raises. In the same announcement, the Board of Directors voted a 45% pay increase for themselves “to attract the best people”. In other words, Mr Welch’s “competitive” means for him to look at other CEO and President wages in the industry and seek the highest wage. A race to the top. In America, the average CEO makes 350 times his average worker’s wage. This is what CEOs compete over.

In either case, value or contribution to the company is not in the picture at all. It is important to point out the value of Unions here. A united workforce is able to address management’s wholly one-sided commitment to “lowest wages possible”. Unions bring to the table the contribution and value of the company’s workforce. Silence is agreement with management’s plan to race us to the bottom.

In a previous letter, Mr Welch said that with 35 years in the freight business “I know what it takes to succeed and to be innovative”. Following the previous administration’s policy of sabotaging the value of the company is not what it takes to succeed; neither is stealing employees’ livelihood innovation.

3:48 PM PT: On the Rec list! Thanks so much. Solidarity Forever.

Originally posted to xulon on Wed Nov 13, 2013 at 10:09 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.

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