Friday, March 2, 2007

Hershey: A sober second thought

The area is still reeling from the news last week that Hershey has given the Kiss of Death to Smiths Falls. Our very identity .... gone next year. Smiths Falls This Week has an interesting editorial comparing the stages of grief to the fallout that has happened since that awful news last week.

I'm still stuck in the anger phase, but not at my original target. When the news first broke, I was pissed... How could Hershey, a company unlike any other with it's rich history of employee and community support, pull up roots and move to Mexico, of all places. I have a feeling that if the company was consolidating operations in PA it would be a much less bitter pill to swallow.

Once again, Clive & the readers over at TDPC got to the bottom of the real story before any of the MSM. In a comment posted here on Feb 23, an anon poster gave some insight to the real reason this has happened:

"You can thank Mr. Steve O'Neil, ex-union chief steward at Hershey's for beginnning this terrible voyage. The corporate way, whether we like it or not, you don't keep sending business to a place where the union/ management relations is unpredictable (ie strike 2004)at the Smiths Falls plant. We all knew this would happen but Steve and his posse of followers thought that this would never happen. Go ahead and call Steve and ask him how he feels now. Ask him how he's going to like his pension, and when he has no reply, ask him how he feels about 395 people not getting a pension. Way to go Cement Head', i guess the CAW's motivational speakers made your head swell as you 'attempted' to lead the union in 'your' way, not the right way. "

Earl MacRae touched briefly on the subject in the Feb 27 Ottawa Sun with these noteable comments....

"Says a plant worker of many years, now retired, a well-respected businessman, asking not to be named: "During the contract talks a few years ago, the union local president at the time was totally inflexible. One of those hard-nosed 'this is the way it is' types. They went on strike for several weeks. Then this January, in the new talks, the union votes 59% to strike if necessary."

"It's been a terrific place to work at, you won't find a better employer than Hershey,"

So I ask - if this is the case, then why would 60 % of your co-workers vote to strike if necessary, given the bitter strike 3 years ago, knowing the $14M bill & lost production due to the salmonella contamination. Add to this the 30% rise in the value of the Canadian dollar, and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster.

Think of it from the perspective of a board member making decisions in Hershey, PA. On one hand we have this plant in Canada, that had a strike 3 years ago, and is willing to go out again, if they don't get what they want. On the other hand, you have this eager workforce willing to work like, well, mules, for 10% of what it costs to produce the same product. Oh, and we also have this pesky problem - our profits are down 10% in the last quarter and the shareholders are gonna be ugly if we don't do something. Honestly, what would you do ??

"these things sure didn't help the relationship with a company that has always treated its workers and the community unbelievably well."

Gee, do ya think ??

Howard Hapton (NDP leader-ONT) was in Town last night .... Go home, Howard -- You, Buzz and the rest of the CAW got us into this trouble in the first place.... we don't need any more of your kind of help !!

March 4 UPDATE:

Hershey,PA held a rally today, media accounts are saying 200 employees & concerned citizens came out. Sounds like a disappointing turn-out, given that 2500 employees are facing lay-off.

To Rick Lenny -- there is still time to stop this. Re-considering your decision to close the Smiths Falls plant would be the best possible advertisement that your company could hope for.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good posting on a very depressing topic.