Esterline Industries to Massachusetts Workers: Drop Dead

Or, at least, don't obey Massachusetts law and receive the healthcare they are entitled to. Esterline Technologies demonstrates that much of what passes for 'rational business decision making' is actually ideology combined with petty personal vendetta. From Yves Smith:

This story illustrates how far some companies are willing to go to preserve their bottom lines and assert their right to operate in an unfettered manner, even when that includes breaking the law and violating contracts...

Esterline is in the process of shuttering its Tauton manufacturing operation, Haskon Aerospace, which specialized silicone-rubber seals and gaskets for military planes and the airline industry. Even though the plant has always been profitable, Esterline is moving production to non-union operations in Mexico and California.

Once again, we have a U.S. company stabbing workers in the back by eliminating their jobs, even though those workers are generating a profit. I'm not sure how that's supposed to restart the economy. But believe it or not, that's not the sleazy part:

Esterline is not content to merely close the plant. It is also intent on preventing the highly-skilled workforce from buying and operating the plant on their own or as a subsidiary of another firm. Esterline has announced that it no longer feels bound by its earlier promises to allow the workers the right of first refusal on buying the plant's equipment.

So why would they be so callous and cruel? Well (emphasis mine):

Esterline, based in Bellevue, Wash., was infuriated when the union insisted that the corporation abide by Massachusetts law and provide funding for three months of healthcare after the workers are laid off. Finally recognizing that it could not evade the law, after the point was driven home by State Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton) and a federal mediator, Esterline still found a way to lash back at the UE.

To make up for the cost of the legally-mandated healthcare, Esterline said it would reduce the total severance package--already agreed upon earlier--for the workers by $143,000. "They finally agreed to abide by the law, but then they reduced their severance offer," said an incredulous Knowlton. "That's illegal because it's regressive bargaining, so we're filing charges [with the National Labor Relations Board.]

Esterline also informed the union that it no longer had first right to buy the plant's equipment, because the corporation needed to recoup the severance costs through auctioning off the equipment to the highest bidder. "Essentially, Esterline is stealing the workers' labor represented in the machinery that they've worked on for years," declared Knowlton.

We're talking about pettiness over $143,000 for a company that earned nearly $120 million in profits last year. The city of Taunton is attempting to seize the factory's equipment through eminent domain. Good for them, and I hope they're successful.

Because people who try to force others to break the law--for money they don't need--should be punished. Hard. Because, the idiocy of Supreme Court justices notwithstanding, there is a real human price to this vindictiveness:

For the union and its members, the struggle against Esterline is about preventing the wanton, pointless decimation of a viable operation--and with it, increasingly-rare family-supporting jobs.

"Saving the jobs seems like a no-brainer to us," says Knowlton. "What's wrong with this picture where Esterline is out to destroy the jobs? What's wrong with our country?"

There's nothing wrong with the country; it's the assholes at Esterline.

But it's we Dirty Hippies who are conducting class warfare. Or something.

More like this

Business owners as 2-year-olds throwing a tantrum.

"You can't make me, you can't make me, you can't make me!!!"

You know what You guys should stop complaining because, one the health care we have now isnt as good as it was supposed to be. also the law has just been signed so give it some time. so if u want to say u have the right to choose tell that to ur congress men or state official. If you do not have insurance and need one You can find full medical coverage at the lowest price check .If you have health insurance and do not care about cost just be happy it and trust me you are not going to loose anything!

Personally speaking, I hope all union employees lose their jobs a week before Christmas.

Unions have driven the cost of goods to market so high that companies are forced to move operations outside of the United States just to stay competitive. Union administrators sold American workers a BS bill of goods; Promise of higher pay, better benefits, and a pay check for life for so long that their efforts have actually back fired.

Hey dumb ass American union employee, your service can be replaced easy and for much less then you do it for. Most of you skated by in high school, did not seek higher education, took a mindless, skill-less or minimum skilled factory job, and expect to live like royalty. The union boss promised you the sun, moon, and stars and you bit hook line and sinker.

The only way that companies will begin to move back to the US is for scum bag union extortionist to be unemployed for so long that they, the union employees will be willing to work for a reasonable wage.

In spite of all that has taken place. In spite of all that has been said. In spite of all that has been learned. Union employees still ask for more. These things you ask are not free. American consumers will not pay your price anymore; We cannot afford it.

So, enjoy your unemployment.


PS, I was a factory worker before I went to school to learn a skill.

By American Consumer (not verified) on 06 Dec 2010 #permalink

American Consumer:

You are both a failure at reading comprehension, and an ass.

That is all.

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 10 Dec 2010 #permalink

wow, American Consumer is terribly misguided and
ignorant...whew...lucky for us this moron lives
somewhere else...
When his aorta is torn open from stress I don't
want to be around for the trauma..
"chance"...and yes I was laid off as a worker
in 2007.

Everyone keeps touting that Haskon is profitable. That may be so, but at the end of the day, all they have to make is a single dollar to call themselves profitable. You cant blame Esterline for doing what they have to do to maximize profits. They are a public company, so technically it is their fiduciary DUTY to do whatever they have to do to maximize profits.

Perhaps the union has priced themselves out of competitiveness. One article says over 50% of the employees have been there for over 35 years. Being union, I would bet they are far from being a competitive work-force.

As for taking Esterlines equipment under "eminent domain" this sounds disturbingly communistic. If the union wants to bid on the equipment at auction, so be it, but literally trying to steal the companies assets is downright un-american.