In 2006 and 2007, the company took on massive debt through stock buybacks and a leveraged buyout (PDF), enriching around a dozen large shareholders and officers to the tune of $660 million, but leaving the company with hundreds of millions of dollars in added interest expenses that made it difficult to weather the economic downturn; in 2009, Station filed for bankruptcy. Meanwhile, workers have gone without raises since 2007, and the company has stopped matching contributions to 401(k)s and increased insurance costs. More than 2,800 workers have been laid off, with entire departments subcontracted out.
As Station workers began organizing to join a union, in what's perhaps the largest private-sector organizing campaign in the country right now, Station waged a fierce—and illegal—battle against their efforts. In September, a National Labor Relations Board judge found 87 labor law violations at Station:
The unfair labor practices run the whole gamut of illegal conduct by employers to prevent organizing. It fired, disciplined, threatened, interrogated, offered bribes (promising benefits), and spied on its employees who were organizing for the union. It adopted rules designed to prevent employees from communicating with one another about the union. It told them that it would be futile for them to select the union to represent them. [...]After not having called a single witness during the trial, Station is appealing the result.
While the company claims 26% of its workforce is Latino or Hispanic, 78% of the 87 labor law violations found by Judge Carter involve Latino workers.
The organizing campaign at Station combines layoffs and wage and benefit cuts as a more or less direct result of a massive payday for a few wealthy people, a brutal anti-union campaign including illegal firings, and apparent targeting of Latino workers for firing. Even if you're not inclined to boycott at the drop of a hat (as I'm not), it's little wonder the AFL-CIO is considering such a move.