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When I started my career as a mechanic, I was working for family owned companies. Most were being run by second generations of the founders. The "Old Man" would stop by occasionally to check up on things, but the kids generally ran the operations.

Management never shared with the workers what they earned for the year, I never knew what their profit margins were. I never cared. They paid me a decent salary, treated me fairly decent, and several of them still owe me a pension to which I donated not one cent. (Whether they make good on them these may years later is yet to be seen).

Up until 1987, I personally met the owner of each company I worked for. After that I started working for more internationally owned companies, mostly European, then Japanese owned. It became more impersonal as time went by. During this time, they too did not share a lot of information, but paid fairly.

Through the '90's I worked for a German owned company that paid very well, (and owes me a pension), that never really broadcast their income or expectations of a plants economic performance. At the time, they were a global "Player", had been since before WWI.

Since 2000 though, I find that every company I deal with or work for, wind up being owned by a holding company. A holding company is nothing but a pimp, The various facilities they hold are nothing but their stable of whores sent forth in the night to earn them profits.

The facility I work for now was owned by a family when I signed on. ( I was looking forward to that "knowing the owner feeling" again.) They owned 4 plants, spread strategically on the East coast. They were purchased during my first month here by a holding company that owned 12 other plants.

That was sold to,  within a year and a half,  to a company that held 60 plants.
I think we are up to about 90 plants that this one small investment group owns. Last week, I was told that the 29 MILLION dollars my small plant contributed to their profit was not enough, and we have to cut expenses to make up the difference.

I'm one of the smaller plants they own. I took this job in 2006, when they claimed a day that ran 60% efficient was a good day and finished 2011 at a year end of 90.4 % efficiency, and I didn't contribute enough?

Somebody tell me how much is enough.

Oh, they offer no pension. In case you wondered.

Thanks for reading my rant.

Millrat

Originally posted to Millrat on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 06:49 PM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Retail And Workplace Pragmatists - General, Retail and Workplace Pragmatists - Members and Editors, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (113+ / 0-)

    My wife and I served in the Cold War. It seems our efforts were fruitless. We have a new enemy, and if not, we will create a new one.

    by Millrat on Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 06:49:00 PM PST

  •  Management by spreadsheet (29+ / 0-)

    Your excel box is not meeting an expectation that was created by someone that probably doesn't even know what you do, what the plant makes, or how to make the product better.
    The geniuses are the ones that can cut costs, (that means workers), streamline (that means cutting r&d) and consolidate (that means cutting facilities),  and pump out more product per desperate employee.
    The key is to be bought out before your clients realize that service and quality are down, there is nothing in the pipeline, and everyone that actually makes the product is looking for a better job.

    These capitalists generally act harmoniously and in concert to fleece the people, and now that they have got into a quarrel with themselves, we are called upon to appropriate the people's money to settle the quarrel. Abraham Lincoln

    by Nailbanger on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 12:15:01 AM PST

    •  Even if you increase every year (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      opinionated, bnasley, Toon

      all they see when you meet any goal is that they obviously set the goal too low.  

      No matter that everyone had to bust their butts and work unpaid overtime to reach that goal, or that workplace injuries increased because of exhaustion and rushing, just "we think we can squeeze some more profit out of this for the executives' bonuses and shareholders profits"

      Atheism is a religion like Abstinence is a sexual position. - Bill Maher, 2/3/2012

      by sleipner on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 12:45:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Do you even know what a holding company is? (0+ / 0-)

        Actually, it looks like neither the author nor anyone commenting here even knows what a holding company is.

        It just sounds vaguely Wall Streetish and sophisticated so it's got to be bad!

        How about adding some actual knowledge to this discussion!

        http://en.wikipedia.org/...

        A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. The term usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow the ownership and control of a number of different companies.
        So, really pretty simple.

        What does it mean?  Well, many things.

        Berkshire Hathaway is a holding company - you know how Warren Buffett keeps buying stock in companies like IBM, etc, right?  And he does it with Berkshire Hathaway.

        Most foreign investments in China are done through Hong Kong holding companies to benefit from China's preferential treatment of Hong Kong investment.

        When a company buys another company it may choose not to merge the two companies but to keep both as legal entities for tax or a variety of legal reasons.  In that case you usually end up with some kind of holding company.

        Of course there is absolutely no reason why a business that organizes itself as a holding company owning multiple companies would be any better or worse than a business that organizes itself as a single company owning the same assets.

        In short, the basic premise of this diary is ignorant pap.

        •  ignorant pap. (0+ / 0-)

          wham bam,

          I don't know you, and you obviously don't know me or where I come from in my commentary.

          I make things.

          I in fact make things that you might use every day. I have made things that you may have used everyday for the last 30 years. If you didn't use those things I made, it's of no matter, because literally millions of consumers did, and continue to do so to this day.

          I started out my career working for companies that made things, and took pride in that accomplishment. They paid their employees well, treated them fairly, and as an added bonus, gave them a pension.

          Then, something called a holding company bought one of my plants. Remember, I'm ignorant. I had no idea what a holding company was. I did, however learn, that while they owned my company, there would be no fair pay scale, it had to be lowered to improve the bottom line.

          Ohh, pensions, that was a thing of the past. There was this new wonderkund thing called a 401K. It took the contributions you made from your "INCOME" and invested it in companies it chose. How could that be anything but a win-win situation?

          The bottom line is here:
          I do not understand the nuances of high finance, but I can detect when the vultures move in to shred the meat from the bones of the prey.

          Every holding company that took ownership of a once family owned business that I have worked for have decimated the value of that facility, while reaping great financial rewards in the process. Leaving all those who made the business what it was in the first place find themselves poorer for the effort.

          You , Wham Bam, are full of ignorant pap. and I doubt you have ever "made" anything but a profit.

          Millrat

          My wife and I served in the Cold War. It seems our efforts were fruitless. We have a new enemy, and if not, we will create a new one.

          by Millrat on Tue Mar 06, 2012 at 05:10:31 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The divorce of management and ownership (39+ / 0-)

    is a tragic mistake in modern corporate capitalism. In theory it should work out well. After all- the rich guy owning the company, is not necessary the best person to run the company. However, in practice it almost never ends well because the guy who runs the company needs to have skin in the game and his personal pride and honor tied up in the success of the company, or else he'll just be a pump-n-dump style CEO who inflates the stock price, cashes in and leaves for greener pastures. Likewise the guy who owns the company really needs to live with the consequences of his profiteering. It's a lot harder to lay off a few hundred people when you've gone to their weddings and your kids play in the same baseball leagues as their kids. It's not so easy to outsource work to China when you know that 3 generations of the Jeffers have worked in this plant and take pride in their crafts.  Having a professional manager (in the form of a CEO) insulates you from the dirty/unpleasantries of the business. This has worked out to the great detriment of both the workers AND the (long term investing) capitalists alike.

    •  Insulation (18+ / 0-)

      That is exactly what the vulture capitalists want. They want to be completely "protected" from the consequences of their anti-social behaviour, so that they can enjoy their ill-gotten gains while convincing themselves that they are "better" than the people they abused.

      That is, those who aren't sociopaths (who couldn't care less) or psychopaths (who enjoy the pain they cause in others).

      FOSI: Full Of Shit Information - Both my sister and I are trivia freaks...

      by Spoc42 on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 04:33:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not always (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      Sometimes a family business grows to a point where it can't be competently managed by the owner.  Smart business owners know this and hire professional management.  Google is a good example.

      Also, owners tend to get emotionally invested in their businesses and make bad decisions.  Apple is a good example.

      Of course, when Apple brought Steve Jobs back, he single-handedly saved their asses, but that's a story of competent management + passion = success.

      Johnny's in the basement mixin' up the medicine I'm on the pavement thinkin' 'bout the government - Bobby D

      by CharlieHipHop on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 06:35:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well.. that and a big loan from Bill Gates.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        CharlieHipHop

        Apple was on the skids.. Gates invested $150 Million (if I recall correctly, it was like 1997) in Apple so they could move on.

        The rest, of course was all the genius of Steve Jobs.  

        The point is, however, even some of the most successful companies have, at times, needed outside help with financing or management.

      •  If you believe in perpetual growth, then that's (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe, EthrDemon, Flying Goat, Toon

        what you do- hire 'professional managers' to grow your family business into global corporation scale.

        But have you stopped and asked- is that even a good thing? Why should people not be content with having mom and pop style businesses? Why the obsession with growth and efficiency? Isn't it enough to have a successful mom-and-pop family you could take pride in?

        •  Quantity vs quality (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Toon

          That issue always drives me wild. My career has been in non-profit, and the big numbers always impress and get the support (100 kids a month in sports camps! Over 10,000 nights of emergency shelter for homeless people!!)  Never mind that the same amount of money could let you mentor, tutor and otherwise support some smaller number of those kids all the way through jr. high and high school, greatly reducing the odds that they are ever going to need temporary shelter later on. Or that you could take some number of those homeless people, get them into an apartment, underwrite some skills training, child care and other supports until they get decent jobs, and then they won't be needing shelter again either.

          from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

          by Catte Nappe on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 01:12:42 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Teh Stupid! It burns! (0+ / 0-)
          Why should people not be content with having mom and pop style businesses?
          Think a mom and pop style business could build a fab capable of producing a Z80 chip (heart of the old TRS-80)?

          What about a P4?

          Or an iPhone?

          Or a Boeing 747?

          Or a trans-Atlantic fiberoptic cable?

          Or enough measles vaccine for all American children born each year all sterile and safe?

          I do wish that people who said things like this could somehow get a real understanding of what life would be like in such a world, starting with not having motor vehicles and culminating with a child dying of smallpox, diptheria, or other now virtually unknown horrors.

      •  Perhaps companies (0+ / 0-)

        should not grow past that point.

        They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it's not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance. Terry Pratchett

        by Toon on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 07:14:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  tax structure encourages this (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WheninRome, Toon, thejeff

      When taxes were higher on profits and capital gains, owners were more likely to put money back into the company instead of sell. It also made bundling up companies and stripping their assets or squeezing workers less likely. When you referenced pump and dump CEOs, the likely republican presidential candidate sprang to mind.

  •  great post. this is the essence of the problem (23+ / 0-)

    nearly everywhere.  Corporate "efficiencies" have resulted in a soulless world.

    ecstatically baffled

    by el vasco on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 01:25:18 AM PST

  •  These types of parasites rule because that's (6+ / 0-)

    who they are, it's what they do and what they are good at. Technology has enabled this sub-species just as surely as it has enabled some 7B people to live simultaneously on this planet where our formally benign presence is becoming rather problematic (tragically so) to all kinds of life forms, including our own...

    Anyways, thanks for your observations, and, Is there a doctor in the house? Someone who can figure out how we're to go forward with such a radically different set of tools and challenges?

    The art of listening is the ability to pay attention to that which is most difficult to hear

    by dRefractor on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 01:27:03 AM PST

  •  Used to be many businesses worked for the long (23+ / 0-)

    Term.  Book publishers lived on 10% or less rates of return by publishing books that may not pay off now but may create an author who will in the future, or may support a niche that improves the name of the publisher.  Now it is important that you maximize this quarter, and you must focus on a best seller/movie tie in.
    We used to have a lot more dolphins, where now all we have are sharks.

    •  Love your metaphor (13+ / 0-)

      Dolphins are social creatures, looking out for each other and cooperating to ensure everyone gets enough to eat. Sharks OTOH are solitary, living only for themselves, and eating anything that they find, including each other.

      Just remember, once dolphins get enough momentum, they can kill sharks.

      FOSI: Full Of Shit Information - Both my sister and I are trivia freaks...

      by Spoc42 on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 04:39:53 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually, you are 100% wrong (0+ / 0-)
      Used to be many businesses worked for the long (23+ / 0-)
      Term.  Book publishers lived on 10% or less rates of return by publishing books that may not pay off now but may create an author who will in the future, or may support a niche that improves the name of the publisher.  Now it is important that you maximize this quarter, and you must focus on a best seller/movie tie in.
      http://www.bowkerinfo.com/...

      The number of titles published each year has steadily increased until 2009.  In 2009 it exploded due to non-traditional channels such as e-books and print on demand.

      In short, the long tail has become more and more important and we have more and more books... the exact opposite of what you are claiming.

      Book publishers today rely more and more on the long tail and less and less on the best sellers and movie tie ins compared to earlier years.

      Why do people write stuff like this when it takes just 30 seconds with Google to see that it's stuff and nonsense?

  •  How do holding companies relate to private equity (8+ / 0-)

    Or don't they?

    I think the short-termism element is widespread.  The most damning acronymn to come out of the economic collapse is IBGYBG -- basically geniuses saying, by the time things fall apart "I'll be gone, you'll be gone."  It is all of a piece with libertarian/Republican philosophy.  Shine the light on it whenever you can?

  •  How much is enough? (0+ / 0-)

    Who knows, but at the end of the day I'm willing to bet that most of the 0.1%ers are much like Montgomery Burns - they'd be willing to give it all up.

    For just a little bit more.

  •  absolutely! (12+ / 0-)

    As anyone who works in 'customer service' knows, there is little to no regard for the 'customer' and the 'service' is negligible.
    It's faster, faster, make more, and more, spend as little time with the nuisance, ie. the customer, on the phone (or in person), as possible.  Every second of your time is measured and god help you if you have something going on in your personal life, there is no time for that.  Work.  Nothing else matters. The shareholders MUST be appeased.  You MUST follow the script to the letter, or you will be penalized, and with enough penalties, you will be fired.  Because there are always people to take your place, you are completely disposable.  I'm not even going into the ludicrosity of middle management types who shouldn't be allowed to manage toasting bread let alone people.  
    There is no surprise that the actual customer service of years ago (when there wasn't a ridiculous script to follow and employees cared because they knew their employers, and were proud of their product), was light years better and far more helpful than it is today.
    There is just no joy in going into a workplace of indentured servants who know they're on a very short leash, and any slight could be the slight that results in a firing by management who doesn't see you as a person, but as an expendable disposable cog.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 04:42:21 AM PST

  •  boo. rah. (5+ / 0-)

    Great posting.  You said a lot and you said it well.  Thank you.  The next questions are, where is this going and what can anybody do about it?  And I hope you do get those pensions.

    It's getting real creepy out there.

  •  Thanks, Millrat, for telling it like it is (7+ / 0-)

    and in such a compelling way.

    Everybody's in a squeeze, including management people whose own jobs are on the line all the time. I think you can track it all the way up the ladder to banks putting owners in a squeeze by tightening operating capital. Even big public corporations have to drive up stock prices to keep the shareholders happy. Ayn Rand has become the goddess of business.

    I have a good friend, age 67, who's still working, mostly because she feels great and wants to. After working for two companies all her life, she just took a new job a few years ago. The company she'd worked for previously (for more than 25 years) had sold to a much larger, out-of-state competitor. The larger company immediately fired everybody and closed the plant. End of story. Oh, one more thing: 5 years later, the plant is still for sale, still sitting empty and the out-of-state owners don't seem to be very interested in maintaining it.

    Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

    by RJDixon74135 on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 05:10:52 AM PST

  •  Excellent diary! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazey, Gorette

    It's such a shame that this has become normal.

  •  Mittens shown up yet? Just a matter of time... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hazey, maybeeso in michigan

    Dudehisattva...

    "Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"

    by Dood Abides on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 06:05:47 AM PST

  •  Even our shitty Inhumane Society (9+ / 0-)

    where I used to work sold their employees to a "personnel leasing company," but continued to lie to the employees that the move was nothing but a "new payroll service." Bullpux. We got a new employee manual and everything from the leasing co.
    You know what it really is? A complete firewall between the employee and workers' comp and unemployment insurance.

    #OWS #Occupy: Exposing US police brutality to the entire world.

    by OleHippieChick on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 06:33:41 AM PST

  •  Sad. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette

    Capitalism will be  undone by itself.

    The problem is that the capitalist solution to the problems capitalism cause is this:  More capitalism.  

    This patient is dehydrated from ongoing problems with diarrhea, Doctor!  

    Administer Ex Lax, stat!

    I want my pajamas to be covered in words from Bartlett's. That way I'll always be sleeping in quotes.

    by otto on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 08:12:53 AM PST

  •  Welcome to corportism (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Milou, Gorette, Kiterea, Ree Zen, Toon

    It is never enough.  They are legally obligated to always make more and more money no matter what.  I've often argued that this is why corporations are all evil.  It may not be intentional or happen immediately, but this profit before all else motive means at some point, corporations will have no choice but to do harm.  That may be breaking the law, polluting, creating monopolies and reducing competition, gouging customers, or actions like those that created the sub-prime morgage crises.  

    Even breaking the law is just a cost-benefit statement to them.  Will they make more money breaking the law than any potential fines?  Look at tort reform.  The penalties for lawsuits seem insanely high, but if you compare that to the profits many of these corporations make, it is just a drop in the bucket.  So lowering or restricting those penalties actually encourages companies to keep doing harm.

    It is inevitable because there is only so much money out there.  I call it the myth of infinite profits.  It is impossible to do this without harming society and the people within it.  That is why the law needs to be changed and corporations should NOT be LEGALLY obligated to always increase profits.  That should just be a given that, as a business, they will want to make money.  But saying they HAVE TO as their primary motivator only hurts us all and it is the reason our political class has so much trouble doing anything against corporations.  They believe that it would be both economically problematic, but also they see it as getting in the way of the law.

    •  Yes, "Even breaking the law is just a......" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Toon

      cost-benefit statement to them."

      Like major banks such as Wells Fargo laundering drug money. They are charged hundreds of millions in fines, then find new ways to do the same thing over again. There is nothing the capitalist 1% will not do for more gain.

      "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

      by Gorette on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:50:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary. I actually did not know (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Toon

    anything about this whole thing. I'd heard of holding companies but didn't realize what they did was buy up lots of companies. So thank you for informing me.

    I believe we need to have a government that somehow regulates against all the harm corporations do by getting money out of politics. The only other remedy would be for capitalism to somehow become moral again and that's not going to happen.

    It's truly sickening how the workers get shafted for ever-increasing profits by immoral owners totally removed from them and their interests.

    "extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy.... the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake." Paul Krugman

    by Gorette on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 09:55:04 AM PST

  •  An excellent rant (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, Ree Zen, Toon

    and one we should all be ranting about. Local companies owned by people who started businesses get swallowed whole by holding companies. We have in my city a chain of grocery/health food stores that was started and owned by several former heath food store owners. They treated their employees great generous wages, good benefits and a lot of autonomy as far as managing departments etc. They used local farmers and carried locally made products.

    They have expanded recently and opened new stores and while they did not go public, they are now partially owned by an equity company to finance this expansion. It's a huge change for the worse that even as a customer I can see. The employees are not happy with the new policies in place to make more profit for the new 'partners'.

    These stores bill themselves as the 'friendliest store in town' but that will not be the case if they become another Whole Foods or Safeway.  It seems to me that perhaps it's better to be a fish in a smaller pond then lose the qualities that made the business successful and an asset to both their workers and the community. Seems to me that growth has to be something other then profit for companies that simply invest, hold and move on.  

    •  Kinkos (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, Toon

      I feel a sort of personal attachment in having watched their devolution over the years. My college town in California had one of the first (but not the first) Kinkos. Half of it was more a head shop, with posters, incense, tapes, etc.  Then enventually it went big time, and moved it's HQ to Dallas, where I live now. Then it got swallowed up by FedEx. The founder's story is kind of interesting.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      from a bright young conservative: “I’m watching my first GOP debate…and WE SOUND LIKE CRAZY PEOPLE!!!!”

      by Catte Nappe on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 01:25:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Comunities and people (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Catte Nappe

        globally are just pieces of paper that these large entities eat and swap for investment.They do not care about the businesses or the places that where they are part of the community. We own a business and are trying to build it once again but the business landscape really has no place for small medium home grown companies that are boot strapped.

        Ours is not retail but a business to business service for market research companies. We have so far managed to find a niche with small to medium regional research firms. Were able to tailor our services better then the big number crunchers and data processors. It's a fine line to tread. I really am glad were not competing in the retail world of big boxes.

        Good link, it's interesting to trace back these giants to the originators.

               

  •  Used to work for a marketing company (0+ / 0-)

    that went through this exact process:  family-owned to holding-company owned.  I never heard it put this way but what you said is 100% correct

    A holding company is nothing but a pimp, The various facilities they hold are nothing but their stable of whores sent forth in the night to earn them profits.
    When you meet the new owners - the holding company CEO/CFOs- all they talk about is quarterly share price, not the health, goodness, or importance of the actual work you and your workmates are investing so much of your life in.  It's thoroughly demoralizing and that's exactly why I left.
    •  They're all pimps (0+ / 0-)

      It doesn't matter if it's a family or a holding company doing it, they are all profiting from someone else's work.  Pimps (ownership) and whores (labor): it's the nature of capitalism.

      Those who support banning cocaine are no better than those who support banning cheeseburgers

      by EthrDemon on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 02:40:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Be careful of hitting the goals cause (0+ / 0-)

    they just keep moving out the posts!

    Nice rant, Mill.

    Occupy- Your Mind. - No better friend, no worse enemy. -8.75, -6.21

    by Thousandwatts on Wed Feb 29, 2012 at 10:12:05 PM PST

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