Yesterday, there was some kinda big-wig meeting for the company in town, with the President, VPs, and other important folk. After their meeting, they came down to the facility and did some walking around. For the facility’s part, they called in every available on-call guy so that when the Grand Parade happened the place was buzzing with people and activity.
As far as that goes, it’s no deal and it happens all the time. Why not put a good foot forward and give impression for one day? Tomorrow it’s back to business as usual and The Parade is happening at some other place with all their on-call people in and looking sharp. In my long, dull life, it has always happened this way and in my experience only once did it ever happen that some Mucky-muck pulled over the manager and say “our sales just aren’t that big, how come all these people are here working today? Do we really need all the machines running?”
I noticed one of my friends was having a conversation with one of the executives so I asked him later if he had a good talk with the VP. “It wasn’t a VP”, he said, “He is the guy in charge of safety for the whole company.” Okay, that’s nice, what did you talk about? “He was saying that we could be spinning our wheels forever and not get any better than we are.”
Stop there: Some board member on the Grand Parade through a nice appearance-driven alternative reality stops to spend some time informing a worker that the company is just spinning its wheels and will not get any better? Didn’t he get the "there are no frowns in the happy kingdom" memo or something? Why are we paying our president $2 Million/Yr if this is the vision the Board which he leads has for the company? Maybe I’m looking at this wrong. Perhaps this might be the appearance-driven alternative reality the board chose to present to the workers. Ya Think? It’s a dance, I tell you. I should have paid more attention to ballet growing up. Okay, Chess game, really.
So, go on; how is the company just spinning its wheels? “He told me that in the past couple of years, they have fired 17 people for workmans comp fraud.” Seriously, that is what is wrong with the company? The Union is what is wrong? “No, not the Union. Individuals defrauding the company.”
So, there you have it. A Fortune 500 company with some 55,000 employees is going down because of 17 cases of people (that’s how many were caught. How many more are there? Use your imagination! There might be thousands!) staying on workmans comp when they were well enough to go back to work. I don’t want to give the impression that I am pro-fraud or anything but I don’t buy that that’s the problem. Granted, no board member is going to come down to the facility to have any kind of real discussion of the issues facing the company, much less to admit they made some bone-headed decisions, but this smacks of crass scapegoating. Even if it’s a matter of the Board wishing to inform workers of parts of the problem which are under the worker’s control, I am not accepting it.
For as long as I have worked there, the company has been saying the Union worker is the problem. For their part, the Union has been granting concession after concession to, as the Union President said, “submit to the global economy” (Why, you ask, is a Union president repeating right-wing/management talking points? Good question.). In that time (and the “blame the worker” was going on before then), in spite of all those concessions, the company’s stock price has gone from (split adjusted) $483,525/shr to $5.80/shr. Shouldn’t that indicate that the “blame the worker” economic theory is a failure? Concessions in pay and the flat refusal of the company to honor contractual pension payments and now the fault lies with workmans comp fraud. I suspect demands for more worker concessions are in the works. It is way past time to call BS on it.