It is Black Friday and everyone is out to get deals wherever they lie. It is honestly a fun day to go out with family and friends and enjoy the fruits of your labor, but it is a day that I (as a realist) get depressed about more than anything else. In light of both the Hostess bankruptcy and OURWalmart staging their walk-outs on Wal-Mart’s across the US, it makes me wonder why companies treat profits with more importance than workers?
While the right-wing is laying literally ALL the blame for the Hostess closing on the union, it is merely ignoring the facts. Back in 2009 Hostess filed for bankruptcy and was nearly sold to Bimbo Bakeries USA (which the unions mostly approved of), but majority owner Ripplewood holdings kept it afloat and the other hedge funds that funded it allowed them to continue working instead of stripping it dry. The unions as well, gave concessions in the way of lowered pensions and lowered wages in order to keep plants open and jobs a plenty.
Now in 2012, the unions have pushed away the restructured contract offer from the executives because they called for another reduction of pay/benefits by 24%-32%. This while their CEO of less than a year is given a 300% pay increase from $750,000 to $2,250,000 and the other executives gave themselves $100,000+ raises all in the wake of asking employees to concede pay so the company can stay afloat. The height of corporate hypocrisy. How can a companies executives claim that the company needs their concessions when they pay a CEO with no experience in the baking goods industry over $2 million dollars.
I agree with paying a CEO handsomely because they are intelligent and (generally) know what their doing in order to make a company profitable, but in this case Hostess went through 6 CEO’s in 8 years (dating back to 2004). Hostess has had issues for a majority of the decade with profitability and while the union has in fact, given concessions the executives have not. The problem with corporate America is that it wants and wants and wants and refuses to give. It claims that it is just doing what it should with trying to be profitable, but what is the point of profit when your employees cannot afford products they want?
I’m not against profits before you start screaming that, but I am against demeaning and destroying your employees ability to afford living and afford both wants and needs. What is the point of video game stores, Apple products and Microsoft products if we cannot afford them? Eventually you will have industries battle because if you keep wages low, you hurt the economy because people will eventually stop buying things. Things already are showing ware as Black Friday, which was normally the “crazy as hell you may even die” day of the year, has been reduced to nothing more than a normal holiday shopping day. Stores like Wal-Mart, Target, Kohls, Macy’s and more are opening at 8, 9 and 10pm on Thanksgiving day and even having a majority of their sales begin just after Halloween. They are doing it do make the holiday shopping season extend an extra month to again, maximize profit. Maximization of profit is a good thing, but what is the point if a majority of workers at these esteemed stores cannot even afford to buy anything?
The story of Hostess is one of Romney style economics. The championed right-wing, allow those who basically have no soul to become self-sufficient. What kills me is when I hear pundits say, “You don’t always get to do what you want to!” Which yes you are technically correct, but tell that to someone who went to college and spent a lot of money to specialize in a certain career field only to be told sorry buddy, but either we won’t hire you because we need more profits or we can hire you, but at a very very low wage that you damn near will not be able to afford to live on.
Just to touch on it really quick, I love hearing people talk about the teacher’s union and how they are destroying America. Don’t you want your teacher’s to be paid well in order to teach our children? Do you really look at the numbers or do you reiterate what Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck spew? Factually speaking your average teacher makes around $24,000 to $30,000 starting which is relatively low when you consider that they have between $80,000 and $120,000 in debt to pay off and that very few institutions are hiring because of the loss of funding from cities and states. Why do we down on our education yet prop up our corporations? Because they make money? Oh because all our evil teachers are socialist plants who want to destroy America and our youth… that argument is about as stupid as it gets.
Look all I am trying to point out is that corporations are perfectly fine, they employee us, they give us an income, they give us great products, but when does the need to skim everything off the top to make an extra buck stop? How is all of this outsourcing the unions fault when corporate profits are at a 72% increase since Obama took office in 2008? It used to be that management/ownership tried to work hand-in-hand with unions to better the workplace, make livable wages and make contributions to the community. Since Reagan it has been a corporatocracy that has basically said, “f–k the community we can make more money by screwing our workforce” and no matter how much of a corporatist you are, if your workers cannot afford products, what is the point?
Reference China where FOXCOM, China’s largest and most dubious employer, where they have to install nets outside the factory windows to keep employees from committing suicide, is looking to put plants in America. Why? The same reason Swiss furniture maker IKEA is doing it, cheap labor with very little rights.
Take Switzerland where nearly the entire population is unionized. IKEA pays their average worker $19/hr plus benefits including 19 paid vacation days, several months of maternity leave (PAID) and regular humane rights. The IKEA plant coming here will pay its American workers $8/hr doing the same job that the Swiss refuse to do for any less than $19/hr. We are the new India and China because our deluded ignorant people are willing to take any job that they can at any pay rate they are offered. This isn’t just to the under-educated, college graduates are being forced to manage at chain restaurants and retail stores. It is a lie they tell us nowadays that you just have to go to college and everything will right the ship. Nowadays corporate life dominates everything, like it or not.
I just long for the days of equality. No not a redistribution of wealth because that is a stupid idea and one that would lead to the failed government style of Communism. Why can your average worker not be allowed to afford rent, utilities, TV/internet, gas, car payment and a disposable income. Until we regain the equality foothold we will never recover from this permanent recession and until we make a college degree mean something again… well, I would like a #2 with fries and a large coke.