updated 11-12-08

estimate 75,000 more by Christmas 2008

compiled by Dee Finney


GE sells plastics business to Saudis
May 22, 2007

Of The Oakland Press
SOUTHFIELD General Electric Co. has announced the sale of its plastics unit, which includes a substantial part of its automotive business, to a company from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. won the auction for the unit by bidding $11.6 billion, GE announced Monday. The plastics unit includes a portion of GE's Southfield-based Automotive Unit. Overall, GE has about 1,000 employees in southeastern Michigan.

GE employees based in Southfield expect that the automotive unit will be divided, with employees assigned to the plastics business being folded into the Saudi company, while the lighting division will remain part of GE.

Jeff DeMarrais, GE Plastics' global communications manager, said in an e-mail to The Oakland Press on Monday that one of SABIC's major interests in GE Plastic is the people.

"Mohamed Al-Mady, SABIC's CEO, often refers to people as the company's number-one asset, and earlier today he stated that, TWe buy companies for the quality of people and operations, and we plan to utilize these people,' " he said.

"This business is complementary to SABIC's existing business without any overlaps and SABIC's intention is to invest and grow the business globally. As a global operating company, SABIC has a long-term, strategic interest in the people, communities, customers, products, plants and technology of GE Plastics," DeMarrais said.

GE already has several new technologies in the wings that it believes will make a difference in making cars more fuel efficient, more environmentally friendly and less expensive to build. It played a key role in General Motors' development of the Chevrolet Volt concept vehicle, which was unveiled to great acclaim at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this past January.

GE said it would use the proceeds from the sale of its plastics unit to increase a stock buyback program it has planned for 2007. It now expects to buy back $7 billion to $8 billion in stock, up from the previous plan of $6 billion. The deal is expected to create a net gain, after taxes, of $1.5 billion for the conglomerate.

GE Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt called the long-expected divestiture "another important step" in the company's strategy to dispose of some businesses and invest in high-growth, high-technology businesses.

"This sale is the right move at the right time for GE shareowners," Immelt said. "We received a good price from a respected global company in a highly competitive bidding process. We will use the proceeds to fund the stock buyback and strengthen the company through restructuring."

Contact Joseph Szczesny at (248) 745-4650 or by e-mail at

11-20-05 - SUSAN'S LIST - DREAM  - I was working at a manufacturing company. Business had gotten really bad and many people were laid off. so many people were gone that they decided to merge the 1st and second floor people.

One of the engineers got a job and was really proud of himself. I saw him and remembered his face but not his name, so I couldn't tell the executive secretary who he was.

So she decided to give me Susan's List of phone numbers since I didn't have one of everyone in the company.

Susan's list was on sheets of paper taped to her desk. She had about 8 lists of names and 4 digit numbers written next to them, but since everyone was changing desks, most of those people were gone and since everyone was moving, their phone numbers were different too.

So my first job was to whittle Susan's List down to who was left.

When I was done, Susan's list was down to 10 people.

At my new desk, which was larger than my original one, I pasted Susan's list to the top ofo the desk and it became Dee's List, but everyone else would still call it Susan's List.

At the table next to my desk was a collection of wedding topper figures. I and another woman thought it would be fun to taste some of them since the people were gone and would no longer care.

So, I tasted two of them that had a trio of white angels on top facing outward in 3 directions. They were very bitter and chalky so I considered that wasn't a very good idea and I tossed them aside for a younger girl to have.

NOTE: The day after I dreamed this, the GM company announced they were going to close 9 plants and lay off 30,000 people.



By Jon Christian Ryter

January 4, 2006

The Flim-Flam Sham & Why Bush Needs to Have Guest Workers

Take a close look at the guy or gal riding next to you on the commuter train tomorrow morning. Don't take a train? How about the subway? How about the bus? Or the car next to you, inching along the freeway slow enough that the guy in the Beemer next to you can shave and not risk an accident. Or the gal in the PT Cruiser on the other side who can deftly apply eyeliner, mascara and lipstick as her car crawls forward one agonizing inch at a time. Or the guy—or gal—in the SUV behind you (whom you can't see because their face is buried in the morning's newspaper as they drive). What color is their hair? Or rather, how old are they? How many of them, do you suppose, are "baby boomers?" The upside is that, in a year or two, they will join the ranks of the retired and won't be crowding your highway each morning. The downside is their Social Security benefits will come almost directly out of your paycheck—you and 2.3 other commuters who will support each one of them.

The odds are about one in six that the commuter next to you is a baby boomer—born during or just after World War II—between 1941 to 1946. There are some 18 million of them—men and women who will begin to retire in 2006. Over this decade 27 million people will join the current recipients in the Social Security parade. While they won't be eligible for reduced earnings from Social Security until they reach age 62—and full benefits when they reach 65, 66 or 67, many of them have company pensions that can be exercised after 20, 25 or 30 years of service even if they are only 55 years old. So waiting on that first Social Security check does not necessarily determine when they say good-bye to the nine-to-five, or take the gold watch and leave the factory swing shift forever.

Today, most of those high paying union jobs with the unbelievable fringe benefits—along with the companies that were forced by the unions to pay them are in Mexico, Pakistan or China, with Mickey-D paychecks—without the fringes—just like the latest job movers like Hewlett-Packard, Eastman Kodak, and Kimberly Clark who recently announced plant closings and job cutbacks in the United States. Since none of them expect to be courting American labor in the future, each of them have announced major changes in their American pension plans.

In announcing plant closures in the United States, Hewlett-Packard added that they would no longer contribute to the pension plans of its American employees. When Eastman-Kodak, which posted a $146 million loss during its second quarter, shed 25 thousand American jobs it also shed the dead weight of funding its pension plan. Kimberly-Clark, maker of Kleenex, is doing the same thing. Kimberly-Clark downsizing cost 30,500 American jobs and $775 million in severance packages. They also converted their retirement program to a contributory 401K which means their contributory participation will be minimal—if at all.

By midyear, 2005, 5.01% of the American work force was without a job. And even though new job growth exceeded job losses, it was clear to the Bush Administration that even if the job drain was somehow plugged for the next five years and job growth continued at the same rate, we still won't produce enough new wage-earners to offset the drain on Social Security from payments to the new retirees—nor the benefits that would be paid for prescription drug coverage for the elderly. Adding 27 million new Social Security and Medicare recipients over the next five years will turn the Minutemen's worst bad dream into a George Bush version of Freddy Krueger's Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue.

By 2010, 13% of the American population will be eligible for Social Security and Medicare. By 2010, 17% of the population will be eligible. By 2030 that number will grow to 20% and by 2050, that number will reach 21.75%. And while Social Security Commissioner JoAnn Barnhart noted that a "trust fund" of $1.7 trillion exists to cover the benefits being paid to retirees, in point of fact the program that supports today's retirees requires today's workers to pay for today's beneficiaries. With a $1.7 trillion trust fund to pay the benefits of recipients, why would today's payroll deductions be needed to support today's benefits? Because the trust fund doesn't exist—except in the form of IOUs the government can't cash.

The $1.7 trillion nest egg that would have guaranteed the solvency of Social Security well into the 22nd century was squandered by Lyndon B. Johnson and the Great Society that created a generational pool of Democratic voters who where chained to the feeding trough of the State—in precisely the same way their ancestors were chained to the hulls of slaver ships that brought them from the Dark Continent to the tobacco and cotton plantations of the American south and the vast agricultural estates of the Caribbean basin. Black America became the chattel of the white labor bosses and African American civil right hucksters—the ancestors of the same Democrats who bought their great-great-grandparents in the slave markets of Atlanta, New Orleans, New York and Baltimore. For a monthly stipend, Black America agreed to trade their votes—and their liberty—for the lies of the Party and a handout from the State, living in poverty while generations of immigrants from Europe and Asia came and flourished, and experienced the fullness of the American dream that was denied to the voter chattel that kept the Democrats in power for almost a hundred years as they wasted the trust fund of the elderly.

Today, as Congress lies to the American people about how "secure" the nonexistent Social Security trust fund is, the politicians on Capitol Hill continue to play the shim-sham shell game with what's left of our retirement incomes in order to conceal from the people the stealth programs they have implemented to hide the theft of our money. Today, to conceal the fact that the piggy bank is empty, Congress has engaged in a new shell game to conceal the theft.

When Social Security was enacted, your benefits were based on the average income of five of the last ten years you worked. You, theoretically, could select the years that would be counted. In other words, if your income "slipped" due to age or health problems in the last two or three years before you became fully vested, you could skip those years and have your benefits pegged on five consecutive years in the middle of the ten year period. That would allow you to maximize your benefit potential.

Today, your benefits are based on your average income over your entire work history—up to 35 years. Since your "top earning period" is generally not more than 10 or 15 years, and sometimes as few as 5 years, its obvious that Congress expanded the number of years from which benefits are computed to lower the gross amount from which benefits are calculated, thus greatly diminishing the monthly benefits that would be paid to the worker upon retirement. As this sleight of hand was being manipulated, Congressmen and Senators were assuring the American people that the politicians would never reduce the benefits already earned by the American taxpayer. What Congress did here was no different than what Enron or did—they stole benefits already earned by the taxpayer.

Like Humpty Dumpty, Congress can't put this one back together again. Nevertheless, the Democrats have convinced America that just a little tinkering—like higher taxes, or lowering everyone's benefits, or making taxpayers work a few years longer—would fix it. Congress should know better since they've already done all three of them. If you were born before 1937, you qualified as "fully eligible" for benefits at age 65. If you were born from 1943 to 1954, you qualify for full benefits at age 66. If you were born in 1960 or later, you will not be eligible for full benefits—which of course, were calculated over 35 years instead of your 5 best years, would be less—until age 67. Congress—with the blessing of their public advocacy spokesman, AARP, has been considering legislation to postpone full retirement age until age 70.

AARP promotes itself as the senior's advocate. Strip off the "we represent senior America" rhetoric and the AARP isn't any different than any other oversized, more-muscles-than-brains, obsolete labor union whose membership is simply a commodity. Wake up, senior America! It's not about you. It's about the money. As shocking as it may seem, most of that money the AARP uses to sell their agenda doesn't come from graying America, it comes from the liberal U.S. bureaucracy in Washington, DC. Over the years, Uncle Sam has paid the AARP over a billion dollars. In exchange for government's 30 pieces of silver, the AARP has championed the government's position as their own. Today, the liberals on both sides of the aisle in both Houses of Congress claims Social Security is solvent, and only needs a tune-up to get us through another 68 years. Not in the least surprising, that has also become the position of the AARP.

Congress can play with the numbers all they want, but the fact remains that if any loose change was dropped into the Social Security piggy bank today, you'll hear a hallow sound when the money hits the bottom. The piggy bank is empty. The money's gone, It was spent over 30 years ago. But that hasn't stopped the Democrats from waving worthless IOU chits claiming the fund still contains $1.7 trillion. But that barnyard strutting is just so much Cinderella rhetoric. When you let the fox guard the hen house, the chicken coop will always be empty when Sunday dinner rolls around, and all of the chicken bones, which have been stripped clean, are lying around on the floor by the feeding trough of the State.

In 1950, 16.5 workers supported each Social Security recipient. Today, 3.3 workers carry that burden. In less than 15 years that ratio will drop to 2.2 workers supporting each retiree. By 2040, 2.0 workers will be required to support each Social Security recipient. Do the math. It doesn't get any better—it will only get worse. It should be obvious to anyone with a pocket calculator why the president is pushing hard for an amnesty program for illegal aliens. Bush desperately needs to find 15 million new taxpayers—not just to keep Social Security and Medicare solvent, but to keep the US Treasury and the Federal Reserve solvent. Bush needs to legalize 15 to 20 million illegals who are already earning a living in the taxless cash-and-carry world of the underground economy in the United States.

The president needs to reach a compromise with the secure border contingent, and he needs to reach it quickly. Bush needs to sign on to the fence, and the Minutemen need to sign on to the president's amnesty program with a proviso that was advanced by some members of Congress. Green cards—but no citizenship—should be given to any Mexican national who is currently gainfully employed in this country providing the illegals can pass a background check, with no green cards given until a thorough security check is completed. Second, any children born to "non-citizens"" should not be granted blanket citizenship because their parents, who had no legal right to be in the country, gave birth. Citizenship to the children of illegal aliens should be granted only if their parents are given citizenship. That way, if it becomes necessary to deport the guest worker, there won't be any "legal" complications to bar an expedited deportation of the entire family, or legal arguments lawyers can use to keep illegals in the country because their children are citizens.

And finally, Bush needs to reach a "guest worker" compromise on the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act needs to be reworded to specifically exclude natural American citizens from its tenets. The unconstitutional aspects of the Patriot Act should be applied only upon those who should not be construed as "covered" by the Bill of Rights—illegal aliens, "guest" workers or students, visitors to this country, and resident aliens, dual-nation citizens (including naturalized Americans who hold dual citizenship since they have dual loyalties). Natural American citizens should be afforded all of the protection guaranteed to them by the Bill of Rights. Non-citizens and dual-citizens should be afforded the protection of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (which, of course, means they have no rights and no protection).

If we can't clear these hurdles, and solve these problems very, very quickly, the American people are going to wake up one morning in the not too distant future and realize they are simultaneously living two cult classic movies: 1984 and Solyent Green.

© 2006 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights Reserved

Order Jon Ryter's book "Whatever Happened to America?"

Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.

Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.



Ohio works to lure Toyota plant
Thursday, January 5, 2006

Ohio, which has struggled to attract new jobs in recent years, is making a bid to land a proposed Toyota engine plant and other possible projects by the automaker.

Gov. Bob Taft and Lt. Gov. Bruce E. Johnson said officials are talking up potential sites for an engine plant in southwestern Ohio in addition to pushing tax breaks and other incentives to keep and attract automotive jobs.

The state has identified three potential industrial sites -- in Clinton, Fayette and Preble counties, according to an Oct. 19 letter from Taft to Seiichi Sudo, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America. Any of those locations would provide ample skilled labor and offer excellent access to suppliers Toyota has developed in the northern Kentucky region, Taft wrote.

He also sent a letter Dec. 2 to Toyota on the matter.

Ohio is offering free land and up to $30 million in grants over 15 years to help with infrastructure improvements and worker training, Taft wrote.

Toyota spokesman Daniel Sieger said the automaker is considering whether to build a fifth North American engine plant but could not discuss details, including when a decision might be made.

Published reports say officials in Michigan, Mississippi, Tennessee and other states are pushing for the project, and Johnson said he expects to hear some news from Toyota this year.

Johnson said Toyota is considering two projects, including an assembly plant. Sieger said he was only aware of the proposed engine plant.

Toyota's other engine plants are in Buffalo, W.Va; Georgetown, Ky; Hunstville, Ala.; and Ontario, Canada, he said.

There's a good chance the proposed engine plant will be built in the Midwest to support Toyota's assembly operations in Kentucky, but it's not clear what will happen, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Meanwhile, Taft and House and Senate leaders are pushing plans to help the struggling auto industry in Ohio with tax breaks and other incentives.

Taft said he also plans to meet with executives from Delphi Corp. along with General Motors and other automakers with operations in Ohio at the annual North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week.

Parts supplier Delphi, which has 900 jobs in Columbus and 13,000 statewide, is in bankruptcy, while other automakers with significant Ohio operations have announced plant closings and major cutbacks nationwide.

"We can't guarantee the success of any of these automotive companies,'' Johnson said. "But we can work like hell to attract their investment, and that's what we're doing.''

Taft signed a bill yesterday that allows the state to start spending some of the $2 billion bond issue approved by voters in November. Of the money, $500 million is for Taft's Third Frontier program to foster high-tech job creation, $150 million for business-site development and $1.35 billion for road, bridge and water projects.

The bill tries to better ensure the entire $1.6 billion Third Frontier program is accessible to all parts of the state, not just the three largest cities.

The bond issue, tax reforms, and slowed budget spending have "taken Ohio, a state that in many cases was on the defense in terms of economic policy, and put us on the offense,'' said House Speaker Jon A. Husted, R-Kettering.

Republican and Democratic leaders yesterday praised the bipartisan effort on the bond issue, but Senate Minority Leader C.J. Prentiss, D-Cleveland, said the cooperation is unlikely to last.

"As we celebrate the bipartisanship today, there will probably be a war next week with House Bill 3,'' she said, referring to an election-reform bill.


Federal-Mogul unveils restructuring plan

Federal-Mogul, under bankruptcy protection since 2001, announced Friday a three-year restructuring plan that includes plant closings and cutting 4,500 jobs.

The restructuring plan will cost the company between $125 million and $150 million, and affect up to 25 of its facilities. The company hopes to exit Chapter 11 protection by mid-2006.

Analysts see this as the latest development in the drive for auto parts suppliers to cut costs and move manufacturing overseas, closer to fast-growing markets.

Federal-Mogul is the home of such famous brands as Champion Spark Plugs, Ferodo, Moog, Wagner and Sealed Power.


Alcoa Profit Falls as Costs Erode Aluminum Price Gain 

Jan. 9, 2006 (Bloomberg) -- Alcoa Inc., the world's biggest aluminum maker, said fourth-quarter profit plunged 16 percent as higher costs and disruptions at some plants eroded the benefit of higher metals prices. The shares plunged in after-hours trading.

Net income fell to $224 million, or 26 cents a share, from $268 million, or 30 cents, a year ago, Pittsburgh-based Alcoa said today in a statement. Sales rose 12 percent to $6.67 billion.

A 22 percent jump in profit from raw aluminum was eroded by $93 million of costs and lost production that included shutdowns in the U.S. caused by two hurricanes, unplanned repairs at a plant in Australia and a strike in Spain, Alcoa said. Chief Executive Officer Alain Belda has shed jobs and closed plants such as a Maryland smelter last month to cut expenses.

``There is still the cost issue to battle,'' BMO Nesbitt Burns analyst Victor Lazarovici said in a Jan. 6 interview from New York. ``The oil and gas price really has hurt them on the packaging side of the business, but there are other input costs pressures as well.''

Excluding 11 cents a share of costs, including the disruptions and restructuring costs, profit from continuing operations was 35 cents a share, the company said. A year earlier, profit on that basis was 39 cents, Alcoa said.

Lazarovici, who rates Alcoa ``outperform'' and doesn't own the stock, expected profit of 38 cents a share, excluding some items. Alcoa was expected to earn 37 cents, the average estimate of 18 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial. Thomson declined to say whether its estimates include one-time costs or gains.

Aluminum Prices

Shares of Alcoa fell 93 cents, or 3 percent, to $29.64 at 6:43 p.m., after the close of regular trading on the New York Stock Exchange. A close at that price would be the biggest percentage drop since Sept. 23, after the company said third- quarter profit would fall below the average estimate of analysts.

Before today, Alcoa had dropped 0.3 percent in the past year on concern the benefits of higher prices were being eroded by rising costs for energy and chemicals such as caustic soda used to extract aluminum from mined bauxite. Alcoa shut the Maryland smelter last month because of high prices for electricity, which can be a third of the cost of making aluminum.

``Entering 2005, we anticipated significant pressures from rising input, energy costs and other cost inflation, but actual increases were even higher,'' Belda said in the statement.

2005 Profit Drop

Disruptions to Alcoa plants in Jamaica and Texas following hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico reduced fourth-quarter profit by $55 million, Chief Financial Officer Joseph C. Muscari said during a conference call with analysts. Restructuring costs, including plant closings and job cuts, totaled $19 million, he said.

Net income for 2005 fell to $1.23 billion, or $1.40 a share, from $1.31 billion, or $1.49, in the previous year, including $900 million of increased costs, Alcoa said. Shipments of aluminum products rose 7.5 percent last year to 5.5 million metric tons. The company shipped 1.39 million tons of aluminum products in the fourth quarter alone.

``It's been real murky with Alcoa because it seems like any benefit they gained from a higher aluminum price gets offset by higher costs for raw materials and energy,'' said Brian Hicks, who oversees the $850 million Global Resources Fund at San Antonio-based U.S. Global Investors.

Aluminum Profit

The price of aluminum, used in cars, beverage cans and aircraft parts, averaged $2,070.70 a metric ton on the London Metal Exchange during the fourth quarter, up 14 percent from the average a year earlier and 12 percent more than during the third quarter. Prices reached a 16-year high of $2,329 on Jan. 4 and are up 28 percent from a year ago, as producers shut high-cost smelters and economic growth spurred demand for metals.

Alcoa said its average aluminum price in the quarter rose 12 percent to $2,177 a ton from $1,942 a year earlier.

``The price of aluminum is finally starting to gain momentum and with it earnings will follow,'' Lazarovici said. ``It's catch-up time for the aluminum sector and aluminum stocks.''

Profit in the raw aluminum business, Alcoa's biggest, rose to $242 million in the fourth quarter from $198 million a year earlier.

``In the year ahead, we don't foresee the same sharp spikes on input prices, and our initiatives will gain further momentum to offset inflation and improve the bottom line,'' Belda said.

Aluminum probably will average about $2,094 a ton this year, up from an average of $1,901 in 2005, according to the median estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Global Demand

Alcoa is positioning itself to take advantage of growing global consumption for aluminum, which Belda said will double in 15 years.

``Asia will account for 60 percent of the growth and in 2020, will consume as much aluminum as the entire world does today,'' Belda said on the call with analysts. ``Putting this into perspective, this will require nearly 80 new smelters of 400,000 metric tons annual capacity, assuming that all of today's capacity stays online.''

For 2006, Belda said that Alcoa ``will continue to achieve profitable growth by capitalizing on the strong markets, using technology as strategic advantage, integrating Russia and making opportunistic acquisitions that create value.''

To contact the reporter on this story:
Doug Alexander in Toronto at
Last Updated: January 9, 2006 19:04 EST
January 10, 2006

OfficeMax closings' effect on KC area unclear

OfficeMax Inc. said Tuesday that it will close 110, or about 11 percent, of its roughly 950 retail stores throughout the country by the end of the first quarter as part of its restructuring

The company, based in Itasca, Ill., has five Kansas City-area stores. It didn't say where the closings will occur or how many jobs they will affect.

The company said it will give more details within 30 days.

In a written release, the company said it also will close its wood-polymer building materials plant near Elma, Wash., in the first quarter. The company said it has reported the plant's financial results as a discontinued operation since 2004.

The company said it expects to record pretax charges of about $141 million for the store closings, about $41 million for the plant closing near Elma and about $5 million for other restructuring actions, for a total of $187 million. Of that, the company will record charges of about $46 million in the fourth quarter and about $141 million in the first quarter.

Chairman and CEO Sam Duncan said in the release that the actions announced Tuesday won't change the company's plan to open as many as 70 stores nationwide in 2006.

Labor unions may be on rise

By Bill Clifton

One of our colleagues recently said labor union organizing will increase in the coming years as employees become desperate and angry.

Why? Union organizing in the private sector (except in health care and the public sector) has been virtually nonexistent, relatively speaking, for years. Employees have been wise enough to realize that unions organize for the benefit of themselves, not for the benefit of employees.

Most major unions view themselves as political and social movements, focusing on getting laws passed or getting candidates elected (or defeated) and talking about social justice and fairness. Union leaders claim they cannot organize because the law is against them or employer opposition is more intense than ever, but the law hasn't changed much in more than 50 years and employer opposition has always been intense.

The truth is it is the attitudes of the employees toward the company that determines if they bring in a union to represent them. Employees organize. Professional outside union organizers just point the way. Employees are more likely to believe an organizer's message when they perceive a lack of equity, a lack of control and a lack of security. They organize when they think management doesn't care about them.

What fuels these perceptions? CEOs paid hundreds of times what the hourly employees are paid. Senior executives prosecuted for stealing millions while employees' medical costs increases. Frequent and substantial changes implemented by unseen and unknown managers. News stories about plant closings and jobs going overseas.

When the costs of health care are shifted to employees year after year with no end in sight, and with no understandable explanation, employees sense equity, control and security have been lost. When managing via e-mail replaces managing "by walking around" and meeting with employees, these things, and others, work together to create a perception that management will not take the time to listen.

Collectively, we are all doing some of these things, maybe several of them. If you recognize your company when reading this, be wary. Your employees may become desperate and angry. Then they may become receptive to the organizer's message.

The unions that just broke off from the AFL-CIO have figured this out. They are looking to prove themselves right. Don't help them succeed.

Bill Clifton is a management employment lawyer in Macon with the national labor firm of Constangy Brooks & Smith.


400 idled as Tyson closes Independence, Oelwein plants

WATERLOO --- Approximately 400 workers in Independence and Oelwein will be out of a job March 17 with the closing of two meat processing operations.

Tyson Foods announced today it is closing the former Iowa Ham meat-processing operations in those cities, idling about 300 workers in Independence and another 90 to 100 in Oelwein. The Independence operation is one of that city's largest employers.

The Independence plant had been in operation more than 50 years, and the Oelwein plant more than 40 years, under Iowa Ham and other owners.

Workers were notified of the closings today, company spokesman Gary Mickelson said. They will be given a chance to work at other Tyson facilities, including the 2,400-worker Waterloo pork plant, he said.

"We're also considering having a job fair for team members so they're also aware of the available job opportunities in the community," Mickelson said. Details of that event are still being worked out.

"This is a tough decision because it affects the lives of nearly 400 team members. It affects the families as well as two great plant communities," Mickelson said. "Given the age of the plants, and the investment needed for them to support future production needs, it was not economically feasible to keep them open."

Tyson had been evaluating the Independence and Oelwein plants for about six months, Mickelson said.

"We thank our team members for their hard work and support of these plants," said Bill Lovette, senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods for Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson. "We'll do our best to help them as they seek other employment at another Tyson location or with other employers in the area."

The Independence and Oelwein plants are 126,000 and 43,000 square feet, respectively. Both plants will be offered for sale, Tyson officials said.

Business leaders in Independence and Oelwein only heard of the plant closings today.

Tammy Shaffer, president of the Independence Area Chamber of Commerce, said the decision to close was "unfortunate."

"Independence will be sorry to lose them," Shaffer said.

Shaffer hopes the Independence plant will not remain vacant long.

"My hope is that someone will take advantage of that facility and be able to bring a comparable business in," Shaffer said.

Sally Falb, executive director for Oelwein Economic Development, said the news comes as a surprise and could impact quality of life.

"We are extremely disappointed. This is devastating to our community to lose important jobs for families," Falb said. Despite the setback, she pledged to work on finding jobs for families.

"We will want to see what we can do to fill those facilities ... so our local citizens have jobs to go to," she said. Falb added area economic developers have some prospects interested in the area.

"We hope to have good news is a few months," Falb said.

Ted Harms, rapid response coordinator with Iowa Workforce Development, said the announcement was sad.

"What a way to start the morning on Friday the 13th," Harms said.

With a plant closing of this size, Tyson is required to give the state 60 days' notice before the plant's final date, under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988, also known as the "Warn Act." Once the state receives the notice, preparations for a rapid response team will be made. Rapid response assists displaced workers in finding employment as soon as possible after a plant closing or mass layoff.

"I will gather the very same rapid response team that I'm going to gather for the APAC closing," in Waterloo, announce earlier this week, Harms said. APAC Customer Services announced Monday it will close its Waterloo call center in mid-March, eliminating nearly 300 jobs.

IBP inc. bought the Oelwein and Independence plants in late 1999. IBP was acquired by Tyson in 2001. At the time of the acquisition, IBP officials said they had no plans to lay off workers.

Tyson announced the closings concurrent with plans to reinvest in, and move production to, operations in Cherokee, as well as plants in Concordia, Mo., and Buffalo, N.Y. Tyson will spend $30 million to add bacon production at Cherokee, and ham operations there are being moved to Concordia and Buffalo. Production at Independence and Oelwein similarly is being moved to other Tyson facilities. In addition to Concordia and Buffalo, Tyson also has processed meat plants in Ponca City, Okla., and Houston. About $15 million has been invested in the Buffalo facility over the past two years.

The two plant closings and investments in other facilities are projected to save Tyson $15 to $20 million before taxes, or 3 cents per share. The company is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

The moves also will result in the temporary idling of some 50 unionized workers at the 650-employee Cherokee plant over the next several months, company officials said. The Independence and Oelwein facilities are nonunion plants.

Staff Writers RC Balaban and Brian Spannagel contributed to this article.

Contact Pat Kinney at (319) 291-1484 or

Posted on Wed, Jan. 18, 2006

Waterfield notice

Waterfield Mortgage Co. has officially submitted notice to the city it will lay off 650 employees starting in March.

Fort Wayne Mayor Graham Richard’s office received the company’s Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification on Tuesday outlining the positions that will be cut from the company’s three locations in the city. Terminations are expected to begin March 14.

By law, employers must file the notification 60 days in advance of plant closings and mass layoffs. The document outlines specifically the job titles and number of employees to be laid off. The notification is available in the mayor’s office on the ninth floor of the City-County Building, 1 Main St.

Waterfield announced Friday it had been sold to American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. of Melville, N.Y.

Disclosure rules

WASHINGTON — Regulators moved Tuesday to require companies to provide far greater detail about executives’ pay and perks in an effort to bring more openness to an area that has provoked investor anger.

The five-member Securities and Exchange Commission voted unanimously to propose the biggest changes in rules governing disclosure of executives’ compensation since 1992.

Publicly traded companies for the first time would be required to furnish tables in annual filings showing the total yearly compensation for their chief executive officers, chief financial officers and the next three highest-paid executives. The true costs to the bottom line of the executives’ pay packages, including stock options, would have to be spelled out.


Grand Rapids Auto parts plant to close
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
By Greg Chandler
The Grand Rapids Press

ZEELAND -- An automotive parts plant will close its doors by this fall, putting more than 70 employees out of work.

GKN Sinter Metals will close its plant on Centennial Street by September as part of a corporate restructuring plan for its North American plants, company spokeswoman Kristyn Godlew said Tuesday.

"We had been operating below capacity for quite some time (at the plant)," Godlew said.

GKN, based in Auburn Hills and a subsidiary of a parent company based in the United Kingdom, had owned and operated the plant since 1997. The plant manufactured parts that were produced through a high-temperature heating process known as sintering, Godlew said.

Employees will be let go over a phased period as final customer orders for the plant are completed. They are being offered incentives to stay through the process and also are being offered separation packages, Godlew said.

The restructuring plan also includes closing GKN's plant in Owosso, which would leave the plant in the Detroit suburb of Romulus as the company's only Michigan plant. Discussions are continuing on the future of the Romulus facility, Godlew said.

The closings would leave GKN with 16 plants in North America, Godlew said

Heights plant awaits layoffs
Weyerhaeuser union seeks solution to keep box factory open.
January 18, 2006

Some production workers at Weyerhaeuser's Elmira Heights facility can expect layoff notices later this month or by early February, the local plant's general manager said.

Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers, which represents Weyerhaeuser's hourly workers and wants to delay or prevent the closing, has scheduled a meeting with company officials next week to discuss the reasons behind the decision to close.

Weyerhaeuser, based in Federal Way, Wash., announced in mid-December the Elmira Heights plant, which employs about 115 workers, is one of the 11 company's facilities that will close or be sold during the first quarter of 2006.

In addition to the local facility at 365 Upper Oakwood Ave., Weyerhaeuser plants in Bedford Heights, Ohio; Little Rock, Ark.; Matthews, N.C.; Pulaski, Tenn.; Waco, Texas: and Kansas City, Mo., will close. A total of about 800 workers will be affected.

Last week, staffers from the New York State Labor Department's Workforce New York offices in Elmira and Corning held information sessions at the cardboard box maker's facility to inform workers of the services available to them when they lose their jobs.

Elmira Heights plant manager James Hoag said workers who operate the equipment that cuts the corrugated paper into the appropriate box shapes will be among the first to be let go.

Those functions are already being transferred to other Weyerhaeuser locations, but filling existing customers' orders will also affect the rate at which the employees will be laid off, Hoag said.

Office workers, who are integrating the local office's functions with those of the Weyerhaeuser facility in Rochester, will be among the last workers to be laid off, Hoag said. All operations at the local factory will phased out by April or May, he said.

A meeting between the UAW and company officials is scheduled for Tuesday, UAW International Representative Scott Montani said. A discussion on why the local plant will be closed is at the top of the agenda.

But the decision to close the Elmira Heights plant wasn't based solely on its profit margins, Hoag said.

"It's about the decline of manufacturing in the United States. There's just too much manufacturing capacity for the market's size. We have some good people here, but they just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," Hoag said.

Montani also said the union will request information to include in an application for Trade Adjustment Act or Training Readjustment Act funds. The federal programs extend state unemployment benefits and provide retraining money for displaced workers.

The programs were most recently used locally to help MT Picture Display Corp. workers when the Horseheads cathode-ray picture tube maker closed in 2004. But approval this time around could be tougher, Montani said.

"(The Weyerhaeuser closings) is a secondary loss of jobs. The customers have moved overseas and not the jobs, which could make it harder to make the case," he said.

Even without the federal money, Weyerhaeuser's workers could still get help through the state's Workforce Investment Act, said Matthew Shick, executive director of the Chemung-Schuyler-Steuben Work Force New York office in Corning.

"Because it's not the (Trade Adjustment Act) program, there won't be quite as many programs available to the individual," Shick said. "But they have the information, can start thinking about it now, come in and see the counselor and start working through the system."

Day of encouragement - North Carolina
200 gather to pray for embattled Caldwell County's future
By Josh Yoder
Record Staff Writer
Sunday, January 22, 2006

LENOIR - Some prayed aloud, others silently.

Some kneeled against metal folding chairs. Many held hands with friends, family members or strangers. More than a few wept.

They prayed for jobs. For guidance. For better times.

About 200 people gathered at the Caldwell County Fairgrounds on Saturday for a communitywide day of prayer and encouragement for the economically embattled county.

Waves of plant closings and layoffs have taken their toll on the county. In July, Caldwell’s unemployment rate was the highest in the state at 13.1 percent.

“We need prayer in Caldwell County,” said the Rev. Rodney Raby, who organized the event.

Raby, pastor of Nazareth Advent Christian Church in Lenoir, knows firsthand about the county’s troubles. He was laid off in April from the Broyhill Furniture Harper Plant. He’d worked there for 19 years.

Later that month, Raby found a job as a manager at Bernhardt Furniture. But he knows many aren’t so lucky.

“People are down and out,” he said. “They need some help. They need support.”

At Saturday’s event, Raby gave a few opening remarks before the group stood up to sing “Amazing Grace.”

Local dignitaries present at the event included Caldwell County Sheriff Gary Clark and U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, who led the group in a prayer.

Later, folks prayed in smaller groups or by themselves.

Kevin Matheson of Hudson paced though the room, Bible in hand, looking upward as he spoke his prayers.

Matheson, pastor of The Church of His Holy Spirit in Lenoir, said many people in his congregation have been affected by layoffs. In 2003, Matheson’s father was laid off from Bernhardt Furniture after working for the country for 29 years.

“It’s a rarity for folks to have a steady job,” he said. “Some people have just given up here.”

Don Phillips seemed to weep as he prayed, his eyes tightly closed as he mouthed his prayers aloud. In his hands, the 71-year-old King’s Creek man clutched a well-worn leather Bible.

“I’ve got so many neighbors and friends who are out of work,” he said. “I’m blessed, I don’t need anything, but I see so many people who do.”

Phillips’ eyes welled with tears as he talked about the furniture companies - once the breadbasket for Caldwell County - that have moved jobs elsewhere.

If something ain’t done, Lenoir will be a ghost town,” he said.

Phillips said he prayed for jobs. He prayed children would have enough to eat and the elderly would get the medicine they need. He prayed that those in need would turn to God.

“There’s just so many people who are hurting,” he said.


Caldwell County’s jobless rate reached as high as
13.1 percent earlier this year. It remains among the state’s top rates.

North Carolina counties with highest jobless rates:
(Most recent numbers for November)
1. Rutherford  - 9.1
2. Vance - 8.4
3. Scotland - 8.3
4. Edgecombe - 8.2
5. Caldwell - 8.0

How Caldwell County’s rate compares to other Hickory metro counties:
Alexander - 5.3
Burke - 6.0
Catawba - 5.7 | 322-4510 x5410 or 304-6917


Konica Minolta to cut 140 jobs in Mahwah

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Konica Minolta's recent decision to exit the camera and color film businesses will result in the elimination of 140 to 150 jobs in Mahwah, a company official said Friday.

About 80 more staffers will be laid off from a film processing plant in Mount Laurel, the company told its employees.

A complete shutdown of Mahwah-based Konica Minolta Photo Imaging USA is expected to be completed by the end of the year, with the first job cuts to take place around March.

Many of the employees in Bergen County were working in Konica's sales operation before the company merged with Minolta in 2003. Some have been working in Mahwah for decades, the company official said.

The Mahwah site has been Konica Minolta's base for North American sales and marketing of cameras, film, photographic paper and inkjet printers. It also sells mini photo labs used in one-hour photo processing shops.

Nationwide, about 500 Konica Minolta jobs will be eliminated, an official said. The parent company, Konica Minolta Holdings, of Tokyo, said Thursday that it would cut 3,700 of 33,000 jobs worldwide.

The restructuring, which also includes some changes in top management, was spurred by heavy losses amid increased competition and a rapid shift to digital cameras. The company said in November it expected to lose more than $400 million in the current fiscal year.

Employees at Konica Minolta's photo copier division in Ramsey will not be affected by the downsizing, a company official said.

The plant in Mount Laurel that will be closed does overnight processing of film dropped off at supermarkets.

Workers in Mahwah were notified on Thursday of the planned shutdown and were told that they would be offered severance pay and outplacement services, but the company did not provide specifics to The Record.

Konica Minolta is not the only company trimming jobs as a result of customer shifts to digital photography.

Fujicolor said in November it will close its Hackensack film-processing plant and lay off all 169 employees there. And Kodak closed a film-processing plant in Fair Lawn last year, one of nine plant closings nationwide, eliminating 220 Bergen County jobs.



Sunday, January 22, 2006

'Black Monday' looms over Ford's future

Ten plants, 25,000 jobs ride on Bill Ford's 'Way Forward' strategy to be announced Monday.

Bryce G. Hoffman / The Detroit News

Ford's plan

People familiar with the plan say:
  • Ford will cut at least 25,000 jobs and close 10 parts and assembly plants, likely including plants in St. Louis; St. Paul, Minn.; and Wixom.
  • Ford will reduce its North American manufacturing capacity by about 25 percent or by 1 million units.
  • Salaried layoffs will begin Monday.
  • Ford Motor Co. workers already have a name for tomorrow.

    "It's Black Monday," said Mark Mockaitis, a line worker at Ford's assembly plant in St. Paul, Minn.

    Like workers from Wixom to St. Louis to Mexico, Mockaitis is anxiously awaiting Monday morning when Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Ford Jr. takes the podium in Dearborn to outline a massive restructuring plan he calls the "Way Forward."

    As The Detroit News first reported Dec. 7, Ford will shutter at least 10 assembly and parts plants and cut at least 25,000 blue-collar jobs in North America over the next five years, according to people familiar with the plan.

    The automaker also plans to cut 4,000 salaried jobs by April 1. The layoffs begin this week. Ford also will commit to reducing its number of top executives by March 1.

    While workers like Mockaitis wonder where their jobs will be tomorrow, Wall Street waits to see whether the plan goes far enough.

    The company that led America to greatness and put the world on wheels now faces one of the biggest challenges in its 103-year history. And for Bill Ford, the great-grandson of Henry Ford, the stakes are not only the fate of a storied company, but the legacy of one of America's last great dynasties.

    "It's the most serious crisis at Ford in modern times," said David Cole, head of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor. "I think they view this as a last shot."

    The situation could hardly be more critical. Ford's market value has plunged by an astonishing $40 billion since 2001. Its North American automotive business is hemorrhaging cash and market share.

    Ford posted a net profit of $1.88 billion for the first nine months of 2005, but its North American unit has lost more than $1.4 billion before taxes. The numbers are expected to look even grimmer Monday when final 2005 financial results are reported.

    Meanwhile, Ford's domestic brands -- Ford, Lincoln and Mercury -- saw their combined share of the U.S. market fall 4.7 percent last year, from 18.3 percent in 2004 to 17.4 percent in 2005. A decade earlier, Ford's market share stood at nearly 25.6 percent. Every percentage point of market share represents 170,000 vehicles.

    "We do have a North American auto business issue and we are committed to fixing that," Bill Ford said. "It's going to be painful for some people."

    So far, Ford has responded by cutting its white-collar work force, selling its Hertz rental car business and reshuffling senior management. But one fundamental reality remains unchanged.

    Ford's North American manufacturing operations still look a lot like they did when the company built one out of every four cars and trucks on the road. Ford has the factory capacity to build 4.5 million vehicles in North America, but produced just 3.3 million last year. As a result, Ford's factory utilization rate is the lowest in the industry -- just 79 percent, Harbour Consulting said last week.

    Trimming the fat

    Most manufacturers would have been forced to downsize a long time ago. However, like the other domestic automakers, Ford's union contracts limited its ability to trim manufacturing operations to match its greatly reduced market share.

    Even if Ford boarded up all of its American factories tomorrow, it would still have to pay the 87,000 United Auto Workers members who labor in them, while also continuing to cover health care and pension costs not only for them, but also for twice that many UAW retirees and their dependents.

    The plant closings and layoffs that Ford announces Monday will either require the approval of the UAW or have to wait until the current contract expires in 2007.

    Analysts have identified several factories that could get the ax Monday. Ford assembly plants in St. Louis, Atlanta and St. Paul are in jeopardy, along with one in Cuatitlan, Mexico. Ford's vastly underused plant in Wixom is also expected to be closed.

    The Detroit News and other media outlets reported last week that Global Insight Inc., a leading industry analysis firm, believed the Wixom plant would be spared and Ford's plant in Atlanta would close. Since then, Ford insiders have said the Global Insight forecast was flawed.

    On Saturday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm expressed hope that the Wixom plant, which employs more than 1,500 workers, will remain open. "I and my administration continue to be in regular contact with Ford officials related to any impact on Michigan facilities. The company has not provided any specific information about its plans," Granholm said.

    UAW officials said last week they had not seen Ford's plan, but were bracing for bad news.

    "You're talking about people, communities, hopes and dreams and aspirations, and it's very difficult and trying for our membership," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "We don't like to see any jobs go away. We're always in hope that, down the road, we'll be able to reverse some of those decisions."

    In total, Ford is expected to reduce its North American factory capacity by about 25 percent, or more than 1 million units.

    Including hourly and salaried job cuts, Ford will commit Monday to reducing its 120,000-member North American work force by about a quarter, according to people familiar with the plan.

    Top executives will not be spared. Bill Ford also is expected to announce a significant reduction in the number of corporate officers at Ford by March 1, according to people familiar with the plan.

    One of those expected to leave is Steve Lyons, group vice president over sales and marketing for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury. He is negotiating to become a Ford dealer in Phoenix.

    However, Mark Fields, president of the Americas Division -- the chief architect of the "Way Forward" plan -- stresses it is about a lot more than just closing factories and laying off workers.

    A new strategy unfolds

    Ford is expected to outline a strategy to bring a host of new cars and trucks to the market with emotionally charged design and better quality.

    The automaker will detail plans to slash vehicle development time and costs through more centralized engineering processes and more sharing of components and platforms. At the same time, Ford will continue to retool factories to allow them the flexibility to build several cars on the same line and respond to market demand.

    "They haven't been able to do that in the past. Every Ford, Chrysler and GM plant was basically dedicated to a product -- and that's not the case with the Japanese," said manufacturing expert Ron Harbour. "As they improve that flexibility, you can have fewer plants and more highly utilize them."

    And Ford will discuss a new marketing strategy designed to sell vehicles with lower rebates and increase profit margins for new vehicles. To do that, Ford has to make cars and trucks people want to buy. That is why another part of the plan will focus on strengthening the company's brands and product offerings and eliminating poorly conceived or outdated models.

    Ford does not plan to eliminate any brands. As The News reported in November, Fields took a hard look at killing the Mercury brand. However, that study concluded that Mercury brings in more money than would be saved by eliminating it. Instead, the company will try to re-energize Mercury by giving the brand new product designed to appeal to women and more youthful buyers.

    Ford is also looking at ways to make its core Blue Oval brand more appealing to younger buyers.

    Though the "Way Forward" plan is focused on saving the company's struggling North American automotive operations, executives will also discuss a new Asia strategy that will strengthen Ford's focus in the fast-growing Chinese market.

    While all of these aspects of the plan will be harder to quantify and take more time to realize, analysts say they are no less important to the long-term success of the company.

    "The revenue side is just as important as the cost side," said Rob Hinchliffe, an analyst with UBS Securities LLC in New York.

    Heir apparent

    If Ford were any other company and Bill Ford were any other CEO, Wall Street might have written them off by now. But Ford is unlike any other company.

    Founded in 1903 by a man whose name became synonymous with industrial progress and innovation, Ford Motor Co. may not have invented the automobile, but did give it to the masses. In the early years of the 20th century, Henry Ford and the company that bore his name transformed the car from a luxury that few could afford to a commodity that no one could do without. In the process, they helped transform America itself from a minor power to the industrial empire it is today.

    Though publicly traded, the Ford family retains controlling interest in the company through their ownership of restricted shares. The Ford family used this power to put Henry Ford's great-grandson in charge.

    When Bill Ford took over as CEO in 2001, the company was barreling down the road to financial ruin. Ford had just posted its first consecutive quarterly losses in nearly a decade and was reeling from the Firestone tire scandal. There was growing concern about quality issues and product delays, and Ford's credit rating was falling fast.

    When Bill Ford ousted controversial CEO Jacques Nasser and took control of the company, some employees wept openly at the sight of Henry Ford's scion striding into the Glass House to set things right. Almost four years ago to the day, Bill Ford announced a massive restructuring plan that called for 20,000 job cuts in North America, several plant closures and the elimination of vehicles like the Mercury Cougar. He promised not only a return to profitability, but also a boost in annual pretax profits of $7 billion by 2006.

    That seemed like a big stretch, considering that Ford Motor Co. ended 2001 with a loss of nearly $5.5 billion. But Bill Ford's fix-it plan narrowed that loss to $980 million in 2002 and restored the company to profitability in 2003. Ford ended 2004 with earnings of $3.5 billion.

    But the spreading insurgency in Iraq was pushing gasoline prices higher and higher, and the buying public's love affair with high-margin sport utility vehicles that had done so much to boost Ford's profits was quickly coming to an end. Even before Hurricane Katrina showed Americans just how painful the pump could become, SUV sales were falling fast, forcing Ford to idle more and more workers and igniting a rebate war with rival automakers that further eroded its profits.

    "The plan -- even now, looking with hindsight -- was the right one," Bill Ford said. "We are profitable again. We have been profitable every year through the plan, which wasn't true in '01 when the wheels fell off and we lost a lot of money as a corporation. So a lot of what we put into place was right."

    Some analysts agree.

    "Generally speaking, Bill's done a good job. The last restructuring was pretty much hitting all its milestones for the first 75 percent of its life," said Craig Hutson, an analyst at Gimme Credit, a corporate bond research company. "They've done many of the things they said they were going to do, but there were a lot of things outside their control."

    Others in the financial community are more critical of Bill Ford's performance as CEO, pointing out that his efforts have done little to help the foundering North American automobile business.

    "(Wall Street) gives people credit for results, and the results were not acceptable," said Rod Lache, who follows for Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. in New York. "I cannot say kudos for anything."

    But even Bill Ford's critics are willing to give him at least one more chance to turn the company around.

    What Wall Street wants

    "He's the right man for the job," said Bradley Rubin, vice president of credit research at BNP Paribas Securities Corp. in New York. "But he's made some big mistakes."

    Chief among them, Rubin said, was his decision to bail out Ford's former parts division, Visteon Corp. The agreement Ford inked with Visteon last year required the automaker to keep some 18,000 UAW members leased to Visteon on its payroll. Rubin said that shows a reluctance to make the sort of deep, painful cuts that will be necessary to restore Ford's North American operations to profitability.

    Rubin's concern is shared by others on Wall Street. Two of the nation's leading credit rating firms -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Service and Moody's Investors Service -- lowered Ford's credit rating deeper into junk bond territory this month, despite the promise of a comprehensive corporate restructuring.

    "The company's financial and competitive position will remain under considerable stress through 2007," Moody's said in a statement explaining its decision.

    Most analysts want Ford to provide a detailed timeline Monday, one that includes clear and quantifiable benchmarks by which they can gauge the plan's success.

    "If that's not part of it, we'll be pretty disappointed," Hutson said.

    And, while analysts recognize it will take some time for many of the plan's elements to be realized, Wall Street wants to see some tangible improvements by the end of the year -- at the latest.

    "I don't think the market is going to be thrilled by a five-year plan," Lache said. "People are going to want to see targets both near term and long term -- and long term means three years."

    Fields, the man tapped by Bill Ford to fix the automaker, acknowledged Ford is on the clock. "The clock's ticking," he said.

    "Obviously, given the competitive situation, we can't dawdle."

    You can reach Bryce Hoffman at (313) 222-2443 or


    850 Workers Face Bleak Future

    Stop & Shop Closing North Haven Facility; Employees Doubt They'll Find Comparable Jobs
    January 24, 2006
    By JOHN M. MORAN And KENNETH R. GOSSELIN, Courant Staff Writers
    The hundreds of union workers who will lose their jobs when Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. shuts its North Haven warehouse may face difficulty finding comparable employment elsewhere, workers and experts agreed Monday.

    Stop & Shop, based in Quincy, Mass., said Monday it plans to close the North Haven warehouse and distribution facility, which it has operated since 1962, by the middle of this year. About 850 employees, including about 700 union workers, are expected to be laid off as a result.

    Alain Levesque, a 40-year-old truck driver from Meriden, said he might be able to equal his $20-an-hour wage if he went back to working a construction job. But his best option - home improvement - does not offer the medical or retirement benefits written into his union contract.

    Levesque estimates that the value of those benefits boosts his hourly wages to at least $36. "There's no one that's going to offer that," he said.

    John Auman, 25, of West Haven, said he has worked at the distribution center since he graduated from high school and may now go back to technical school for training as an electrician or in another trade.

    Until then, Auman, who makes $16 an hour, said he probably would have to take two jobs to come close to matching his pay at the distribution center, where he loads food on pallets for shipping. Working at a gas station would be a possibility, he said.

    "Whoever says, `You're hired,'" Auman said.

    Stop & Shop could offer no immediate estimate of union wages, but interviews with workers suggested they generally range from $13 to $20 an hour.

    Nicholas Perna, economic adviser to Webster Financial Corp., said skilled workers should be able to find new jobs quickly, but it could still be difficult for them to match their current pay and fringe benefits.

    "It's always a problem for people who lose decent jobs with good benefits to replace them right away," Perna said. "It's a tough environment to lose a good job today."

    Not only are pay and benefits hard to replace, but union workers may also lose seniority rights and be forced into longer commutes when landing new work, he said.

    Stop & Shop Chief Executive Marc Smith said in a prepared statement that the closing was necessary to help the company remain competitive. Work currently done in North Haven will be moved to a Stop & Shop warehouse in Freetown, Mass., near Fall River, or turned over to third-party suppliers, he said.

    "We believe that these changes will generate the efficiencies we need to compete in these markets and to deliver value to our customers," Smith said.

    A company spokeswoman said the Freetown warehouse, built within the last two years, is a much more modern facility than the North Haven warehouse. The North Haven site also offers very little room for future expansion, she said.

    Word of the Stop & Shop cutbacks came after last week's announcement that U.S. Repeating Arms Co. plans to close the nearby Winchester firearms plant by March 31, costing about 200 jobs, most of them held by union workers. The twin closings would put more than 1,000 in Greater New Haven out of work by about June 1.

    Kevin J. Kopetz, first selectman of North Haven, said news of the Stop & Shop warehouse closing was a blow to employees and the community.

    "The concern obviously is for the employees and for their jobs and the fact that they also help to support the businesses in the immediate area of the company," Kopetz said. "A closing like this has a ripple effect on the local economy."

    Stop & Shop is a subsidiary of the Dutch retailer Ahold, which also owns the Giant supermarket chain. With 14,715 employees in Connecticut, Stop & Shop is second only to Hartford-based United Technologies Corp. among the state's largest private employers.

    Teamsters Union Local 443, which represents Stop & Shop warehouse workers, had no immediate comment on the closing announcement or what is being done to assist union members.

    It was not immediately clear Monday how long the North Haven site may sit idle after Stop & Shop closes the massive, 823,000-square-foot warehouse.

    The warehouse and another in Landover, Md., were purchased Friday for about $90 million by Preferred Real Estate Investments Inc., a private developer of commercial and industrial properties based in Conshohocken, Pa.

    Charles Houder, director of acquisitions for Preferred Real Estate, said Stop & Shop has a five-year lease for the warehouse, with options to terminate the lease early. He said Preferred is ready to move quickly to market the property to other businesses that might need a warehouse and distribution center.

    "One of our views on Connecticut is that it's got geography that is hard to argue with," Houder said. "From a distribution point of view, you're within a day's drive of 40 percent of the U.S. population. We just believed in the location."

    In a separate transaction, Preferred Real Estate recently purchased a large distribution center in Cheshire.

    Stop & Shop said it is planning to offer workers a severance package along with retraining and job counseling. Workers would also be eligible to apply for an undetermined number of positions that will be created at the Freetown warehouse. Jobs also may be available at Stop & Shop supermarkets in the area, the company said.

    Workers were told of the closing in a 7:30 a.m. meeting in the distribution center's cafeteria. Some employees were called in on their day off. Some drivers learned the news while they were on the road making deliveries.

    Clayton Jones, 30, who supports a wife and three children with his wages from the Stop & Shop warehouse, said even if he were offered a job in Freetown, he didn't know if he would be able to take it. He estimated the commute to Freetown could be three hours.

    "They should have told us that our jobs might be in jeopardy," Jones said. "Now, we've got 60 days to find something else."
    January 25, 2006

    McCormick earnings flat, more job cuts coming

    Rachel Sams

    Coming off a difficult 2005, McCormick & Co. Inc. said it will eliminate up to 1,000 jobs over the next three years as it restructures operations.

    McCormick, based in Sparks, reported 2005 earnings of $215 million, roughly flat from 2004. Earnings per share came to $1.56, with restructuring charges knocking 5 cents off earnings. The average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial was $1.60 per share.

    Sales for the year rose 3 percent from 2004, reaching $2.6 billion. Favorable foreign exchange rates contributed 1 percent of the increase.

    For the fourth quarter -- traditionally McCormick's strongest of the year -- the company earned $88 million, up about 1 percent from a year ago. Fourth-quarter earnings per share were 65 cents. Analysts' average estimate was 68 cents.

    Fourth-quarter sales fell 1 percent to $737 million.

    Over the past year, McCormick has battled problems, including Hurricane Katrina's effect on a New Orleans subsidiary and struggles in its industrial business. Since the fall, McCormick has gradually unveiled a restructuring plan calling for job cuts and plant closings. On Wednesday, McCormick said it would trim its industrial business to focus on its top customers, and would overhaul the spices and seasonings that consumers buy -- a move that surprised some analysts.

    "I'm very excited about the changes at McCormick and this next step in our journey," CEO Robert J. Lawless told analysts on a Wednesday morning conference call.

    McCormick said earlier this month that it would close a California manufacturing plant, eliminating 400 jobs. It will also close a Hunt Valley condiment manufacturing plant that employs 80 to 100. Officials have said those employees will be transferred to McCormick's other local facilities.

    On Wednesday, McCormick said it would cut 800 to 1,000 jobs over the next several years, including the already-announced plant closures. McCormick will also close a small manufacturing plant in Belgium, eliminating 40 to 50 jobs. Other facilities around the world "are being reviewed," officials said, declining to provide specifics.

    McCormick employs about 2,300 in Hunt Valley.

    The company's industrial business -- which provides flavors and spices to restaurants and other food industry customers -- has struggled in the past year. McCormick has said it faces pricing pressure from discount competitors in France, and customers have delayed some key product launches.

    McCormick will greatly pare down its customer list for that business, which totals more than 1,000 in the United States alone. An analysis showed that most of those customers spent less than $25,000 annually, Lawless told analysts. McCormick will raise prices and minimum order level requirements for industrial customers, and will slash the number of products the division sells.

    McCormick's consumer business will get a facelift, too. It's the first major overhaul for the line since the late 1980s, Lawless said. The number of McCormick products on store shelves will shrink by about 10 percent -- and their prices will rise by an average 4 percent. Lawless said he does not think the increase will hurt sales.

    McCormick (NYSE: MKC) expects to earn $1.21 to $1.24 per share in 2006. That figure includes 42 cents' worth of restructuring charges and 11 cents' worth of stock option expenses. Analysts' average earnings per share estimate for the year is $1.73.

    For the first quarter, after stock option expense and other charges, McCormick expects to earn 3 to 5 cents per share. Analysts' average estimate for the quarter is 28 cents.

    McCormick generated $339 million in cash flow from operations during the year, which it used to buy back stock, increase its dividend and for other capital expenditures.

    Acquisitions have played a key role in McCormick's growth in recent years, and Lawless said the company will continue to consider them, most likely in its consumer business.

    Many analysts have expressed frustration with a lack of detail from McCormick about its problems and how it plans to solve them. Wednesday marked the first time McCormick has "provided the outside world with a real complete deck (of cards)," including a slide presentation, Lawless said in a brief telephone interview Wednesday. Lawless said he was pleased with analysts' reaction, calling it "solid."

    More than 250 to lose jobs
    MONTGOMERY TWP. – Spring is the season of renewal but for 259 employees of Macys and Strawbridges at Montgomery Mall spring will be the season of ruin.

    Macys corporate office based in New York announced on Friday there will be layoffs among associates at Macys and Strawbridges.

    As a result of a consolidation between Strawbridges and Macys all Strawbridges stores will permanently close.

    The layoff and closing process will begin between March 21 and April 3.

    The announcement of the layoffs and closings was made by Macys East Human Resources Group Vice President William Ives in a letter to Chris Enright rapid response director of the Bureau of Workforce Investment at the state Labor and Industry Department.

    We currently expect that there will be a mass layoff or plant closing as defined by the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act at the Strawbridges store located at 500 Montgomery Mall North Wales and the Macys store located at Montgomery Mall‚” the letter stated.

    By law Macys corporate office must issue a federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification to all employees as well as the county state and city where layoffs occur 60 days prior to action.

    Layoffs and closings will also occur at the Macys and Strawbridges at the Willow Grove Park Mall Springfield Mall and Oxford Valley Mall.

    Of the 259 employees expected to be laid off at the Montgomery Mall stores 163 will be from seasonal and temporary.

    Twenty cosmetics sales associates will be laid off and 61 sales associates and selling support associates will be laid off according to a list accompanying the letter.

    Seven giftwrap associates and packers will be let go as well as three administrative and office associates and two security associates.

    One associate will be laid off in each of the following departments: bridal registry shipping and receiving and merchandise display.

    In terms of seasonal a lot of employees are seasonal help and we just came off Christmas and the holiday season so it could be that‚” said Elina Kazan Macys corporate spokeswoman. I dont know the employee structure (at the stores) and it would take a lot of time to find out.

    None of the employees being laid off will have the right to assume another position in an equal or lower classification within the same department known as bumping rights.

    Employees are also not represented by a union or labor representative.

    Kazan said the WARN notice allows communities to help with the placement of people from the stores that were divested.

    We are taking people from both stores and we will retain many of them find jobs for them and put the best of both together to create a better Macys‚” Kazan said.

    Managers of Macys and Strawbridges at Montgomery Mall and the manager of Montgomery Mall were not available for comment Friday.

    Cosmetics and seasonal employees at Macys and Strawbridges were contacted for comment but remained tight-lipped on the situation.

    Attempts to reach John Powell president of Kravco-Simon the owner of Montgomery Mall were unsuccessful.

    The stores at Springfield Mall face the largest number of layoffs – 444.

    Of that number 267 are in seasonal and temporary 141 are in sales and 20 are in cosmetics.

    At the Oxford Valley Mall stores 283 people will be laid off with 184 being let go from seasonal.

    At the Willow Grove Park mall 302 people will be laid off from Macys and Strawbridges with 173 being let go from seasonal.

    Federated Department Stores Inc. which owned Macys and The May Department Stores Co. which owned Strawbridges merged in 2005.

    Jan. 24, 2006, 5:10AM
    Ford Says New Plan Goes Beyond Job Cuts

    Ford Chairman and CEO, Bill Ford listens to a reporter's question during a question and answer session in Dearborn, Mich., Monday, Jan. 23, 2006. The automaker will cut 25,000 to 30,000 jobs and idle 14 facilities as part of a restructuring designed to reverse billion-dollar losses in North America. The cuts represent 20 percent to 25 percent of Ford's North American work force of 122,000 people. Ford has approximately 87,000 hourly workers and 35,000 salaried workers in the region. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

    DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford Motor Co. says its new restructuring plan goes beyond job cuts and plant closings in its effort to restore North American profits. The nation's second-largest automaker also will try to reinvigorate its domestic brands as part of the turnaround.

    Shortly after Ford announced its plan Monday to cut up to 30,000 jobs and close 14 plants by 2012, Ford Americas President Mark Fields stood between two clay models of concept vehicles _ the Ford Fairlane crossover and Ford Reflex diesel-hybrid coupe _ to show that the company isn't afraid to head in new directions.

    Fields said that at the beginning of the company's internal deliberations on its restructuring plan, he questioned whether all three domestic brands _ Ford, Lincoln and Mercury _ should continue. He decided the company was stronger with all three, but only if they appeal to different customers.

    He said the company hasn't adequately differentiated its brands in terms of design and amenities.

    Fields said the Ford brand is "defined by three words: bold, American and innovative." Mercury, meanwhile, is a brand that appeals more to women and to younger customers with "modern, expressive design." Lincoln is about a distinctly American approach to luxury, he said.

    Ford also owns the luxury brands Jaguar, Volvo, Land Rover and Aston Martin, and it has a 33 percent stake in Mazda Motor Co. Those brands weren't on the table.

    It's a different tactic than some of Ford's rivals have taken. General Motors Corp. ended production of its struggling Oldsmobile line in 2004, while DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group killed its Plymouth brand in 2001. In both cases, the brands were having trouble capturing customers because they couldn't set themselves apart from the automakers' other nameplates.

    In a statement, United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger and Vice President Gerald Bantom expressed disappointment over the plan, which they said leaves "a cloud hanging over the entire work force because of pending future announcements of additional facilities to be closed at some point in the future."

    The study team for Ford's brands came only two weeks after Fields assumed his job in October. The team's assessment became the basis for the entire restructuring.

    "It sets up everything in the business. If you don't understand who you are, you can't expect your customers to understand you," Fields told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.

    Ford shares rose 5 percent to $8.32 on Monday's news, indicating some investors were pleased with the long-awaited "Way Forward" plan as well as the company's larger-than-expected $124 million overall profit in the fourth quarter.

    Ford said the plan will restore profitability by 2008. Some analysts said the plan was thin on details, leaving them uncertain if it would boost Ford profits as the company struggles with aggressive competition, higher gasoline prices, rising costs for labor and raw materials and a junk credit rating. Ford named only five of the plants it plans to close.

    The cuts represent up to 25 percent of Ford's North American work force of 122,000 people. Ford has approximately 87,000 hourly workers and 35,000 salaried workers. In addition, Ford plans to cut 12 percent of its corporate officers in the next two months.

    Ford's St. Louis plant will be the first plant idled, in the first quarter of this year. A plant near Atlanta will close at the end of this year and a plant in Wixom, Mich., will close in the second quarter of 2007.

    Other plants to be idled and eventually closed through 2008 are Batavia Transmission in Ohio and Windsor Casting in Ontario. Later this year, Ford will choose two more plants to be idled. The company also will reduce production to one shift at its St. Thomas assembly plant in Ontario. All the plant closings and job cuts are scheduled to be completed by 2012.

    In addition to the facilities named Monday, analysts also have predicted assembly plants in St. Paul, Minn., and Cuatitlan, Mexico could be at risk for closure because of the products they make.

    Ford also plans to build one plant in North America, but Fields wouldn't say where.

    Under the company's existing contract with the UAW, workers at the idled plants will continue to get most of their pay and benefits until a new contract is negotiated next year.

    Fields said half the jobs Ford is cutting will be through attrition, while the rest will be through layoffs. He said the company plans to help workers using buyouts and possible placement in other plants.

    Ford and its larger rival, General Motors Corp., have been hurt by falling sales of profitable sport utility vehicles, growing health care and materials costs and restrictive labor contracts. GM announced a similar restructuring plan in November that will shave its work force by 30,000 and close 12 North American facilities.

    Ford also has seen its U.S. market share slide as a result of increasing competition as Asian competitors sell more and more cars. The company suffered its tenth straight year of market share losses in the United States in 2005, and for the first time in 19 years, Ford lost its crown as America's best-selling brand to GM's Chevrolet.

    Earlier Monday, Ford reported earnings of $2 billion in 2005, down 42 percent from last year's profit of $3.5 billion. It was the third straight year the automaker has reported a profit, but gains in Europe, Asia and elsewhere were offset by a loss of $1.6 billion in North American operations.

    Ford Chief Financial Officer Don LeClair said employee buyouts and other elements of the restructuring plan could cost the automaker around $500 million this year.

    The restructuring is Ford's second in four years. Under the first plan, Ford closed five plants and cut 35,000 jobs, but its North American operations failed to turn around.


    Associated Press Writers Tom Krisher in Wixom and Sarah Karush in Detroit contributed to this report.


    On the Net: Ford Motor Co.:


    Kraft Foods Will Cut 8,000 More Jobs, Close 20 Plants

    Jan. 30, 2006 (Bloomberg) -- Kraft Foods Inc., the largest U.S. food maker, will eliminate 8,000 jobs and 20 additional plants after commodity costs soared and the company failed to boost sales volume last year. The initiatives will cost $2.5 billion pretax.

    The plans, an expansion of a restructuring that began three years ago, will save $700 million pretax and eliminate about 8 percent of the workforce, Northfield, Illinois-based Kraft said in a statement today. The changes were announced as Kraft reported fourth- quarter net income rose 23 percent on a sales gain of 10 percent.

    The company said today raw materials costs increased $800 million last year over 2004 and sales volume was ``essentially flat'' even after price increases. The job cuts and plant closures will occur through 2008 and bring total restructuring expenses to $3.7 billion under Chief Executive Officer Roger Deromedi, who earlier cut 20 factories and 6,000 jobs.

    ``As we look at the 2006 environment, we see it continuing to be challenging,'' Deromedi said in an interview today. ``We wanted to move aggressively to deal with that environment.''

    Kraft today reported net income rose to $773 million, or 46 cents a share, from $628 million, or 37 cents, a year earlier. Sales rose to $9.66 billion.

    New Products

    The company said it earned 56 cents excluding 10 cents in restructuring charges, three cents higher than the average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

    Shares of Kraft, whose brands include Kool-Aid beverages, Grey Poupon mustard and Honeycomb cereal, rose 95 cents to $30.95 at 4:17 p.m. in trading after the close of U.S. stock markets. The stock rose 72 cents to $30.01 at 4:01 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Kraft, which released results after regular trading ended, shares declined 21 percent last year.

    Credit Suisse analyst David Nelson estimated Kraft earned 55 cents a share excluding costs to close factories. The Chicago-based analyst is top-ranked by Starmine Professional Service. The average estimate of 16 analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial was 53 cents. Thomson declined to disclose the parameters of the estimates in its survey.

    Kraft said today it expects to earn $1.38 to $1.43 a share in 2006, including 50 cents in restructuring charges.

    The company said it expects pretax restructuring and impairment costs of $1.3 billion this year, or about 50 cents a share. Most of the company's earnings growth will occur in the second half of the year as the first half will be hurt by higher costs, Kraft said.

    An increase in restructuring costs to $3.7 billion from $1.2 billion estimated in 2004 ``calls into question future earnings quality,'' Nelson of Credit Suisse wrote today.

    `Ongoing Process'

    ``It's an ongoing process of sizing their business that's not growing that fast,'' said Daniel Popowics, an analyst at Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Asset Management, with $21.5 billion in assets including about 122,600 Kraft shares on Sept. 30. ``That's a lot of jobs and a lot of plants.''

    An extra week last quarter accounted for 7 percentage points of Kraft's 10 percent increase in sales. Growth was stronger in the U.S. than internationally, rising 4 percent excluding the extra week to $6.4 billion on higher prices and demand for Starbucks and Seattle's Best coffee, meats and Post cereals. U.S. profit dropped 3.4 percent to $915 million, hurt by higher restructuring and commodity costs.

    International Unit

    Kraft's international unit generated $3.2 billion in revenue, which excluding the additional week was 1 percent higher than a year earlier. Profit at the unit increased 10 percent to $330 million, helped by lower restructuring charges and increased shipments of Philadelphia cream cheese in Italy and Jacobs coffee in Russia and Ukraine.

    Kraft said Dec. 27 the planned sale of several Canadian grocery brands including Primo pasta to buyout firms Sun Capital Partners Inc. and EG Capital Group LLC resulted in a fourth- quarter charge of about 5 cents a share.

    Kraft reduced the price of Maxwell House coffee by 5 percent last summer, after increasing the price by 12 percent in the spring, company spokeswoman Kris Charles said in October. It raised prices for Oscar Mayer ham and beef deli meats in the first half of 2005 to cover higher costs.

    Selling Businesses

    Kraft's coffee-price reduction followed Procter & Gamble Co., the largest U.S. consumer-products company, which lowered the price of top-selling brand Folgers by 5 percent after the cost of raw beans declined.

    Deromedi, 52, sold four businesses last year, including the Life Savers and Altoids candy brands to Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co., as Kraft sheds slower-growing lines and shifts spending to new, healthier foods. He's also spending more to market its biggest global brands of cheese, Nabisco cookies and crackers, Maxwell House coffee and beverages such as Kool-Aid.

    Deromedi is preparing for a possible spin off of Kraft by New York-based Altria. Chief Executive Louis Camilleri said in November that the company's food, U.S. tobacco and international tobacco units would be worth more if operated separately.

    Altria, which owns Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International, is expected to report tomorrow that per-share net income rose 24 percent to $1.17, according to the average estimate of 11 analysts surveyed by Thomson.

    Sales excluding tobacco excise takes were expected to increase 6 percent to $17.4 billion, helped by acquisitions in Indonesia and Colombia.

    Of the 18 analysts tracked by Bloomberg, four rate Kraft shares ``buy,'' 12 say ``hold'' and two say ``sell.'' Profit has exceeded analysts' expectations two of the prior four quarters.

    To contact the reporter on this story:
    Chris Burritt in Greensboro, North Carolina at
    Last Updated: January 30, 2006 18:03 EST

    Local Leaders Paint Positive Picture Of Economy

    POSTED: 4:06 pm EST January 24, 2006
    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Triad leaders are taking the pulse of the local economy and say it's good.

    Despite recent plant closings and layoffs in the Piedmont and southwest Virginia, area officials said better times are around the corner.

    "We expect slow, steady growth over the next year," said Gayle Anderson of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce.

    In recent weeks and months, plants in Surry, Rockingham, Forsyth, Guilford, Alamance and Davidson counties, as well as Galax, Va., have announced closings and/or layoffs.

    But Dell's new plant near Kernersville is a symbol of what economy watchers say will be a resurgence of jobs in higher technology fields as more and more workers retrain and re-enter the job market.

    "I have a pretty optimistic view of where we're heading," said Jim Decriston of the North Carolina School of the Arts.

    Financial analyst John Manley said the economy is poised to grow in 2006, in part because of the layoffs that have helped keep labor costs and, thus, inflation at bay.

    Southern Comfort: Not That One, but the Truck and Van Converter

    Date posted: 01-27-2006

    TRUSSVILLE, Ala. — Comfort Conversions' purchase of Centurion Vehicles/Starcraft Conversions has turned it into a major player and the most important large vehicle customizer in the United States, with projected annual sales of $80 million.

    The company, with the colorful name of Southern Comfort, is expected to gain 80 new jobs at its Alabama facilities as part of the acquisition. Centurion/Starcraft will be closing its operation in White Pigeon, Michigan. The Starcraft and Centurion names will be retained on some vehicles, though.

    The company is expected to move to a new location in Alabama to be determined by this summer.

    What this means to you: The expansion of Southern Comfort further solidifies Alabama's growing reputation as an American automotive hub, especially in light of recent plant closings up North.

    Chip maker to shut Bay Area plant
    By Jason Kelly and John Stebbins, Bloomberg News
    Applied Materials Inc., the world's largest maker of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment, will close five plants and offices at a cost of $212 million, including one in Hayward.

    Properties in Oregon, Massachusetts, South Korea and Japan also will be affected, the Santa Clara-based company said in a statement Friday. The cost will be taken against earnings for the current quarter, which ends Sunday.

    Most of the "couple hundred" workers affected will be transferred, spokesman Dave Miller said in an interview. Applied Materials is looking to trim costs after profit and sales fell in its fiscal fourth quarter as chipmakers cut back on expansion plans. Chief Executive Officer Mike Splinter said in a Wednesday interview that he's "more positive" about prospects this year.

    The properties to be sold were "acquired either as part of a merger or under business conditions that have changed," the company said in the statement. Applied Materials will spend $122 million to write off the assets and $90 million to change lease obligations. Annual savings from the closings are expected to be $29 million through 2014.

    Properties to be shut are in Hayward;

    Goodyear raw materials costs higher than expected
    Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:01 PM ET

    CHICAGO, Jan 30 , 2006 (Reuters) - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on Monday said fourth-quarter raw materials costs were higher than expected, but operating income for its business segments should be fairly steady, excluding the impact from U.S. hurricanes.

    Goodyear (GT.N: Quote, Profile, Research), whose shares fell more than 9 percent in extended hours trading on the Inet electronic brokerage, said raw materials costs rose 13 percent in the quarter. The stock had reached a 3-1/2-year high.

    The rising cost of materials and currency fluctuations remain challenges, said Goodyear, the largest U.S. tire maker. In September, Goodyear said it planned three years of plant closings and asset sales to cut back on high-cost operations.

    Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear expects fourth-quarter segment operating income to be about the same as the $238 million reported a year earlier, excluding the hurricanes.

    Goodyear expects sales of more than $4.9 billion in the fourth quarter, while analysts on average expect $5.09 billion, according to Reuters Estimates. Goodyear adjusted production to reduce inventories, particularly in Europe and Latin America.

    For 2005, Goodyear expects record sales of nearly $20 billion, while analysts expect $19.88 billion. The company also expects 2005 segment operating income to be up 20 percent to 25 percent from 2004, when it reported $945.5 million.

    Goodyear will report fourth-quarter results Feb. 16.

    Goodyear shares were trading at $17 on Inet, down from a close of $18.76 on the New York Stock Exchange.


    GM to Offer Buyout Deal to More Than 125,000 Workers
        By Micheline Maynard and Jeremy W. Peters
        The New York Times

        Wednesday 22 March 2006

        Detroit - General Motors, the United Automobile Workers and the Delphi Corporation reached a historic agreement today that would offer incentives of up to $140,000 to more than 125,000 workers at the two companies if they agree to leave their jobs.

        The company did not estimate how many would accept.

        GM, the nation's largest automaker, said all 113,000 of its hourly workers in the United States would be offered packages to retire or leave. Workers who have reached retirement age would be offered $35,000 in cash to give up their jobs immediately. Meanwhile, workers with 10 years' experience who would not be eligible to retire can leave and receive payment of $140,000 and a pension, but would have to forgo health care coverage, according to an outline of the program posted on the UAW's Web site.

        Delphi, the country's biggest parts supplier, said it would offer payments of $35,000 to 13,000 of its 34,000 workers in the United States who opt to depart.

        Workers are not under any obligation to accept the deals, and executives and union officials have been concerned that some could wait for sweetened offers.

        But Robert Betts, president of the UAW local at the Delphi plant in Coopersville, Mich., said the offers were attractive. "If someone is going to give you $35,000 to take your pension, that's good," Mr. Betts said. "I think a whole lot of people are going to hit the road over this."

        The deal, which requires bankruptcy court approval, did not remove the threat of a strike at Delphi, which is operating under bankruptcy protection. In a statement, Delphi said it wanted to reach a broad agreement with the UAW on sharply lower wages and benefits by March 31.

        Otherwise, it said it would ask a judge for permission to impose less-generous terms - a move that could trigger a walkout, which in turn would cripple GM.

        GM will pay the brunt of the cost, expected to be billions of dollars, another burden for the suffering auto giant, which lost more than $10 billion in 2005 as its market share in the United States fell to its lowest since 1935.

        Negotiations have been going on for months between the union, GM and Delphi, the parts supplier that was part of GM until 1999. Delphi filed for bankruptcy protection last October.

        GM was involved because thousands of workers at Delphi, which remains GM's biggest supplier, have the right to return to the company. GM is liable for pensions and post-retirement benefits for those who worked for it before the Delphi spinoff.

        In a statement, GM's chief executive, Rick Wagoner, said the move was an important step in GM's restructuring and that GM was "pleased" by the agreement.

        The UAW in a statement said that the agreement "required an inordinate amount of time and patience due to the complexities posed by Delphi's bankruptcy filing."

        A GM spokeswoman, Katie McBride, said that about 36,000 GM workers were eligible to retire with full pension and benefits. An additional 27,000 workers are within a few years of retirement, and are being offered a special program that will them up to $2,800 a month on top of their regular pay, if they agree to retire once they have put in 30 years at the automaker, when workers can retire and receive their full retirement benefits.

        Delphi, in a statement this morning, called the agreement a "critical milestone." The workers offered the cash payments comprise slightly more than half the 24,000 represented by the UAW, if they agree to leave the company. In all, it has about 34,000 workers in the United States.

        Under the UAW's contracts with GM and Delphi, workers can retire after 30 years on the job. But many stay longer, because of the $27-an-hour pay and generous benefits that the union contracts provide.

        Delphi said GM had agreed to pay the cost of the lump-sum payments for its workers, as well as cover the costs of its own retirements. Further, Delphi said GM had agreed to accept 5,000 Delphi workers back to the company through September 2007, when the current union contract expires.

        It also said GM had agreed to be responsible for pensions and other post-retirement benefits for those 5,000 workers.

        GM plans to cut 30,000 jobs through 2008, and has begun closing some of the 12 plants where it will eliminate production.

        Given that, there are not likely to be jobs for the Delphi workers when they "flow back" to GM. Unless they retire, that means some would go into a program called the Jobs Bank, where workers receive full pay and benefits until the UAW contract expires next year.

        The agreement marks unprecedented cooperation by the union, which has been put in the position of convincing its members to give up jobs that the UAW has fought for decades to protect.

        Meanwhile, Delphi said negotiations would continue on its bid for sharply lower wage and benefit rates from UAW members.

        Union officials said last week that Delphi would possibly hold off filing its court motion if it reached an agreement with GM and the UAW on early retirements. But this morning, Delphi reiterated its intent to seek the court motions.

        The deal comes amid difficult times for GM and its embattled chief executive, Rick Wagoner. Analysts say GM's credibility was damaged by last week's unexpected disclosure of improper accounting. Late Thursday, GM increased its loss for 2005 by an additional $2 billion, to $10.6 billion, and delayed filing its annual report.

        The action sparked displeasure among members of GM's board, including its newest director, Jerome York, who represents billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, GM's biggest individual shareholder.

        Shares of GM were up 5 cents, to $22.05, this afternoon.


    CA plans layoffs

    Aug 15,2006

    CA has announced plans to lay off 1,700 staff in response to further disappointing financial results.

    The software vendor recorded a net income of $35m for the first quarter, down from $97m in the same period in the previous year. The fall is partly due to revenues not rising as fast as operating expenses.

    While revenue for the first quarter increased by three percent to $956m, total expenses grew by nine percent to $905m, fueled by higher personnel and professional services costs, said CA.

    Responding to the results, chief executive John Swainson said that the firm was not satisfied with its existing cost structure. “We are implementing an expense reduction plan to improve the company’s efficiency and competitive position,” he said. “These are the first steps in a long-term program to achieve a best-of-breed cost structure.”

    Part of this restructuring will include cutting 1,700 jobs, about half in North America, and consolidating global facilities. CA expects these actions will save $200m each year once the restructuring is completed by early 2008 – although the changes will also cost the firm $200m to implement.

    The latest figures followed lower-than-expected results for the previous quarter, which Swainson then attributed to an increase in sales expenses and a slow start in bookings for the period. CA had already laid off hundreds of staff last year and in 2004.

    Meanwhile, in April this year, former CA chief executive Sanjay Kumar pleaded guilty to fraud charges relating to an accounting scandal at CA.


    Radio Shack e-layoffs "fast" and "private"


    Unhappy Labor Day edition:

    At Radio Shack, they came via e-mail. More than 400 workers at the retailer's Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters got the 21st-century pink slip last week.

    "The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated," the e-mails read. A spokeswoman said workers knew it was coming and e-mail was faster and more private.

    Various reports are saying Intel has a huge job-cut announcement coming Tuesday. The chip maker is searching for efficiencies as it battles Advanced Micro Devices for market share.

    The Oregonian, citing information on an internal electronic message board, reported that Intel CEO Paul Otellini will announce the results of a months-long internal review Tuesday. Intel has some 17,000 employees in Oregon involved in design, manufacturing and marketing, according to the newspaper.

    Some sources said the blood-letting could affect up to 10 percent of Intel's 100,000-person work force. The company has already let go 2,000 people this summer through layoffs and divestitures.

    More things change ...

    "Microsoft's latest Windows personal-computer operating system ... is priced at $200 for the full home edition and $100 for some upgrades, according to's Web site."

    Sound familiar?

    It's from 2001, when began taking preorders before Microsoft disclosed prices for the Windows XP operating system.

    The Seattle-based Internet retailer has posted prices, this time for XP's successor, Windows Vista, again before Microsoft was officially ready to let the cat out of the bag. 

    For the record, Amazon's pre-order prices for XP were spot-on.

    Out again

    Sprint Nextel said two weeks ago Chief Operating Officer Len Lauer was leaving the company, his services no longer needed.

    Last week, he was let go again. This time he was erased from the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment keynote lineup for the September convention and told he will no longer be the wireless association's chairman of the board.

    Sharing spaces

    Melinda Gates can't get away from husband Bill, even at the office.

    Our sources say crowding at the Eastlake Avenue headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has grown to the level that Bill has relinquished his office to make room for more staff as the charitable group ramps up to give away $3 billion a year.

    Or maybe he just wanted to spend more time with his wife.

    "Throughout the building we are reconfiguring space to make room for more employees," a foundation spokeswoman said via e-mail.

    Download, a column of news bits, observations and miscellany, is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff. We can be reached at 206-464-2265 or

    Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company


    Intel Layoffs Could Be Huge
    With Intel apparently poised to announce the latest stage of its restructuring effort, speculation has centered not on whether the world's largest chipmaker would be cutting jobs, but on how many.

    "Most people are expecting a head-count reduction," said Eric Ross, an analyst with ThinkEquity Partners. The cuts are widely expected to be in the 10,000 range — about 10 percent of Intel's work force. But Ross expects it to be higher.

    "I think the numbers are going to surprise people," he said.

    In advance of the announcement expected Tuesday afternoon, shares of Intel gained 8 cents, to $19.96, in trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

    It comes amid intense pressure for the Santa Clara-based company to unload money-losing divisions and halt Advanced Micro Devices from further encroaching on its core business of making the microprocessors that act as the brains of computers.

    Intel has been steadily losing profits and market share. Analysts have criticized the company for being too bloated and distracted from its focus of making the chips that power servers, desktop computers and laptops.

    Speculation about massive job cuts has been rampant since chief executive Paul Otellini announced in April the company was planning a broad overhaul targeting money-losing business groups in every aspect of its operations.

    Intel, which had about 103,000 employees worldwide at the time, vowed to cut $1 billion in spending and launched a comprehensive review of its business units.

    Otellini said the restructuring will be as expansive as the company's transformation in the mid-1980s, when it exited a business it helped create — making dynamic random access memory chips widely used to store information in computers — to focus on microprocessors.

    That shift prompted one of Intel's largest rounds of layoffs ever, with the company eliminating more than 7,000 jobs, about 30 percent of its work force at the time.

    Since then, Intel has avoided large-scale layoffs. But the dot-com crash did prompt the elimination of about 11,000 jobs — largely through attrition and buyouts — in less than two years. Head count was reduced to about 79,000 in 2002.


    Ford to offer 75,000 buyouts, early retirement

    Associated Press

    Ford Motor Co. plans to offer buyout and early retirement packages to more than 75,000 of its employees, a United Auto Workers union official said Thursday.

    The union announced the deal in a statement to its members Thursday, said Chris Kimmons, president of UAW Local 919 at the Norfolk, Va., assembly plant.

    The buybacks are aimed at helping Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford cut costs as its sales shrink under fierce competition from more fuel-efficient models from Asian automakers.

    "Once again, our members are stepping up to make hard choices under difficult circumstances," UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in a statement. "Now, it's Ford Motor Co.'s responsibility to lead this company in a positive direction — which means using the skills, experience and dedication to quality that UAW members demonstrate every day in order to deliver quality vehicles to customers."

    Kimmons said there are eight steps to the packages offering anywhere from $35,000 to $140,000 to workers who leave the company, depending on their years of service and retirement eligibility.

    "I think it's a good package," he said. "I think they worked real hard on it. They've got to do something to help Ford out of this crisis."

    Depending on which plan is chosen, workers may have to give up health benefits, Kimmons said.

    The announcement came as Ford local leaders gathered in Detroit to discuss the situation at Ford and potential buyout offers.

    At the same time the union was meeting, Ford's board of directors also was meeting to consider a dramatic restructuring plan.

    That meeting wrapped up before 1 p.m. Thursday, and the company issued a statement saying it would announce details of the restructuring plan at 7 a.m. Friday.

    The plan is likely to include job cuts and plant closings to bring Ford's manufacturing capacity in line with slumping demand for its cars and trucks.

    For more on this story, see Friday's Lansing State Journal.

    Posted: Thursday, 14 September 2006 10:25AM

    Layoffs Loom in South Bay
      San Jose, Calif. (KCBS)  -- Layoffs are on the horizon for county workers in the South Bay as the Board of Supervisors grapples with closing more than a $200 million budget deficit.

    An estimated 1,000 county positions likely will be affected.

    Board of Supervisors Chair Jim Beall said after making $1 billion worth of budget cuts over the past five years, they have nowhere else to go.

    “The county can only take so many torpedoes,” Beall told KCBS Reporter Mike Colgan. “I think the ship’s going down at this point and some of the programs we’ve had in terms of prevention, programs that take care of people in the mental health departments, drug and alcohol departments are going to be completely wiped out.”

    “We’re not going to have any programs in the schools anymore, nursing programs. Health programs in the schools is going to be totally eliminated,” said Beall.

    Also on the proposed chopping block is a $6 million program where students in low-income school districts are provided free physical exams, immunizations and other healthcare services from a mobile medical unit.

    Copyright 2006, KCBS. All Rights Reserved.

    Layoffs Expected At Centerville Plant

    POSTED: 5:40 am CDT September 15, 2006 More layoffs are expected to become official Friday in Centerville.

    There are 500 Rubbermaid plant employees who are expected to be laid off in the downsizing effort.

    Starting Friday, the Centerville plant will close their production side and the distribution end will follow in mid-October, NewsChannel 8 reported

    The company said that its Centerville plant is closing, because there's more room for expansion at the Kansas facility.

    Copyright 2006 by All rights reserved

    Air America acknowledges some layoffs

    Staff and agencies
    14 September, 2006

    by LARRY McSHANE, Associated Press

    NEW YORK - Financially strapped Air America Radio acknowledged Thursday, after star commentator Al Franken said publicly that his paycheck had stopped coming, that it had suffered a small number of layoffs but insisted there were no plans for the liberal talk show network to declare bankruptcy.

    Horn, without getting specific, said there were "a handful of layoffs" that followed a move of the network‘s New York outlet from WLIB-AM to WWRL-AM, a station with a less powerful signal. The network launched in March 2004.

    "Let me say one thing, if we do go into bankruptcy: I‘ve flown on United (Airlines)," he said. "They went into bankruptcy."

    Franken, in a recent interview, said the network was suffering from "a cash flow problem."

    Horn said no decision was made on any filing, and that the network was unsure about the source of the bankruptcy rumors. Franken said it was last week when he discovered that his paychecks had stopped.

    The investigation into that case was continuing.

    Powermate plant announces major layoffs

    (9/14/2006) By Lauren Maloney A Kearney plant is forced to cut dozens of jobs. Managers said you can blame it on the weather. Coleman Powermate has laid off employees who work at their portable generators plant.

    The plant manager says between 50 and 100 employees are affected.

    It looks like the year's slow hurricane season had an effect on production.

    Last year, the company sent some employees to the gulf coast with the portable generators.

    400 people worked at the plant, but this year's good weather had already cut production back to only three days a week.

    Bayer CropScience plans layoffs in N.C., Kansas City


    RALEIGH, N.C. Bayer CropScience plans layoffs at its U-S headquarters in Research Triangle Park and at sites in the Midwest.

    The cuts are part of a previously announced plan to eliminate 15-hundred jobs by 2009.

    Bayer A-G, the German chemical and drug maker, two weeks ago announced a restructuring for its CropScience unit to save about 380 (M) million a year. It includes closing and restructuring production sites and layoffs.

    CropScience employs about 31-hundred people in North America. That's about 16 percent of its global work force in more than 120 countries.

    About 450 marketing, management and research employees work in R-T-P.

    Around 700 work at a research and development site in Stilwell, Kansas, and a manufacturing and R-and-D site in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Harley-Davidson's Layoffs in T'hawk Impacting Local Businesses, Too
    Posted: 5:45 PM Feb 13, 2007
    Last Updated: 9:28 PM Feb 13, 2007
    Reporter: Alison Struve

    About two-thirds of Harley-Davidson employees in Tomahawk are out of a job, but the layoffs are affecting the entire city.

    Small business owners like Elaine Steinhafel are concerned as well.

    She's owned the Village Square Restaurant for 20 years.

    She says a lot of her business usually comes from Harley-Davidson.

    Her restaurant caters meals and delivers dozens of to-go orders to the plants, so she's expecting a big hit from the layoffs.

    The layoffs are due to nearly 2800 striking union members in York, Pennsylvania.

    The two Harley-Davidson plants in Tomahawk produce parts for the York plant.

    Harley-Davidson and the union plan to continue contract negociations tomorrow.

    California ranks 14th for January foreclosures | Main | Tell us 'When will O.C. homes be profitable again?' »

    February 13, 2007

    SoCal big layoffs up 1,089%

    That caught your eye! This is from a curious data set tracked by federal job watchers, who add up the big layoffs impacting 50 or more workers at one joint. And those job cutbacks can mean pain to the housing market.

    In the fourth quarter in SoCal, there were 71 major layoffs involving 10,498 workers, vs. six layoffs with 883 workers in the year ago period. Thus, you get the eye-catching percentage point increase of 1,089 percent. Yes, it's not a typo.

    Just so you know, this isn't a sign that the recession is in full bloom. The fourth quarter of 2005's 883 was the record low of the data set, which dates to 1996. And the average quarterly layoff job loss in the past decade has been 13,419. So despite the sexy headline, we're still below average – though the trend is clearly in the wrong direction.

    For the year, big SoCal layoffs averaged 9,709, up 129 percent vs. 2005.

    Posted by Jon Lansner at February 13, 2007 07:25 AM


    Mass layoffs in greater Chicago area highest in nation
    Medill News Service

    Workers in the greater Chicago area, including Northwest Indiana, experienced more major job cutbacks in the final three months of 2006 than any other U.S. metropolitan area, according to a report released Tuesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Preliminary figures show 14,916 workers in the Chicago area lost their jobs for at least one month in the fourth quarter following 91 mass layoffs.

    "I think it’s a reflection of the fact that Chicago is the industrial center of the U.S. and in the current economic slowdown, industrial activity has been disproportionately affected,” said William Hummer, chief economist for Chicago-based Wayne Hummer Investments LLC.

    Despite the dismal ranking, the number of laid-off workers in the greater Chicago area fell 8 percent from 16,043 laid-off workers one year ago.

    "When our numbers go down, I think that speaks to the diversity of our economy," said John Challenger, CEO of Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas Inc.

    For the full year, the greater Chicago area ranked second among the nation’s 367 metropolitan areas in the number of laid-off workers with 35,757.  Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif. ranked first with 39,547.

    “The tri-state metro area is one of the largest metropolitan statistical areas, so by definition it’s going to have some of the highest numbers,” said Rich Reinhold of the Illinois Department for Employment Security.

    The area includes the counties of Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Grundy, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will in Illinois; the counties of Jasper, Lake, Newton and Porter in Indiana; and Kenosha County in Wisconsin.
    2007-02-14 11:41:11
    Chrysler to Cut 13,000 Jobs, May Split
    AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (Feb. 14) - In the next three years, 13,000 Chrysler workers will lose their jobs under a wrenching restructuring announced Wednesday that eventually may lead to a DaimlerChrysler  divorce.

    The Chrysler unit of the German-American automaker announced its long-awaited plan at its Auburn Hills headquarters, saying it would cut 16 percent of the U.S. division's work force, a move it hoped would return its U.S. operations to profitability by next year.

    The plan was announced only hours after Chrysler's parent, DaimlerChrysler AG, said it was considering "far-reaching strategic options with partners" and that "no option is being excluded" as it reported a 40 percent drop in companywide profit for the fourth quarter.

    The plan calls for closing the company's Newark, Del., assembly plant, and reducing shifts at plants in Warren, Mich., and St. Louis. A parts distribution center near Cleveland also will be closed.

    Under the plan, 11,000 production workers - 9,000 in the U.S. and 2,000 in Canada - will lose their jobs over the next three years, and 2,000 salaried jobs also will be cut - 1,000 this year and 1,000 in 2008.

    The job losses are the latest in a yearlong series of devastating cuts in the ailing domestic auto industry, which likely will lose more than 100,000 jobs in all.

    We believe that this represents a solid plan to return to profitability and lay the groundwork for a solid future," Chrysler CEO Tom LaSorda said at a news conference.

    DaimlerChrysler Chairman Dieter Zetsche  said the company was looking into "further strategic options with partners" for Chrysler.

    "In this regard we do not exclude any option in order to find the best solution for both the Chrysler Group and DaimlerChrysler," Zetsche said in a statement.

    Analyst Georg Stuerzer with UniCredit, when asked if the wording in the statement was a sign that the company was mulling a spinoff of Chrysler, said, "the impression was right. This is what people are thinking it could mean."

    He added that the restructuring could be the first step, likely followed by a push by DaimlerChrysler to find a partner with which to operate the Chrysler unit, or even find a suitable buyer for it.

    Bank of America  auto analyst Ron Tadross said in a note to investors that DaimlerChrysler "did not rule out disposing of its money-losing Chrysler division."

    Tadross said he "would not be surprised if there is good interest in Chrysler. We see Chrysler as a decent business, at least relative to the other U.S. domestic manufacturers."

    DaimlerChrysler said Wednesday that its fourth-quarter earnings plunged on weaker demand at the Chrysler unit, where sales fell 7 percent. DaimlerChrysler's profit fell to $761 million, or 74 cents per share, as revenue slipped to $53.7 billion. The Chrysler unit lost about $162.8 million in the fourth quarter.

    The job cuts at Chrysler will reduce by 400,000 the number of vehicles that operations can produce each year.

    The Delaware plant, which makes the slow-selling Dodge Durango and Chrysler Aspen mid-sized sport utility vehicles, employs about 2,100 workers. Chrysler plans to close it in 2009, with a shift reduction this year.

    Dean Almuwalld, who works in painting on the Newark plant's assembly line and has worked at the plant for 13 years, learned its future from news reports.

    "I'll take a transfer," the 33-year-old said as he walked into the local United Auto Workers hall. Almuwalld said he has relatives in Detroit. "I've got family there, so I'm ready to go."

    The Warren truck plant, with 3,313 hourly employees, makes the Dodge Ram and Dakota pickups, which saw sales decline last year. Chrysler plans to eliminate a shift there this year.

    The other plant to lose a shift is the St. Louis South assembly plant, which makes Chrysler and Dodge minivans. It has 2,850 workers and would lose the shift in 2008.

    The Cleveland-area parts distribution center would be close sometime this year, Chrysler said.

    DaimlerChrysler shares rose $2.70, or 4.2 percent, to $67.15 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

    AP Business Writers Matt Moore in Barcelona, Spain, and Randall Chase in Newark, Del., and Associated Press Writer Ken Thomas in Washington contributed to this report.
    Copyright 2007 The Associated Press.


    Hershey's Oakdale plant closing  - MOVING TO MEXICO -->
    The Hershey Corporation makes things from Hershey's kisses to Peanut Butter Cups. Dispite their candy image, their corporation is run by a CEO that is on the board of, or President of, McDonalds, Kraft, Pillsbury, and is also the Chairman of the Grocery Manufacturers of America. The GMA is a lobby group that works to expand the comerical market for multinational foods.

    Hershey is set to lay off hundreds of workers in the US and move a lot of it's operations to Mexico. While thousands are marching to protest racist immigration laws and the affects of NAFTA and neo-liberal capitalism on immigrations, something like what Hershey is doing can perhaps point out to many workers in the US how interlinked these struggles are. If you are near a Hershey plant, want to flyer or post this up, or use it as a starting point for other action, go crazy! However, the flyer is made to be based upon what is happening near Modesto, in the small town of Oakdale CA, so make changes if you so desire. To print, simply copy and paste onto a word document.

    With great revolutionary zeal - Modesto Anarcho Crew -

    Some of the people responsible:

    Hershey Board of Directors:


    We live in a truly sick world, when the CEO of Hershey’s, Richard Lenny, who made $6.6 million last year, is now going to lay off close to 600 people in the small working town of Oakdale CA. People spent their entire lives working in one place and just like that, someone that they have never even met has completely changed their lives for the worse. People across the world have built up the Hershey corporation, but of course it’s the shareholders and rich bastards who make the decisions for us. Now the factory is going to be moved to Mexico, to take advantage of cheap labor, and low working and environmental standards. It will use up all the resources and people it can and then move on to the next town. To the next pool of victims and use them up until there’s nothing left.

    The global economy which was supposed to raise everyone standard of living has instead lowered it - while at the same time making the rich richer and more powerful. Oakdale was built on chocolate. From the yearly festival to the Hershey museum. But now all that’s over. All that’s left is us and them. Let us hold no illusions towards our relationship between the Hershey bosses, their property, or their corporation - they are the enemy.

    Wage slaves everywhere wait for your response - be it sabotage, strike, or simply revenge. Against their production lines and time clocks - let’s take back our lives once and for all!

    More information about Richard Lenny and who he represents and stands for (and thus some possible ideas for action):
    Also check out:
    For more on some of the ideas expressed in this

    Oakdale Stunned By Hershey's Closing

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007 - 06:00 AM

    Oakdale, CA -- A shocking announcement for Oakdale; the Hershey's chocolate factory will be closing its doors next year.

    575 employees will lose their jobs at the 42 year old facility. They received word of the closure Monday afternoon. Company Spokesman Kirk Seville made the official announcment.

    The plant has an annual payroll of $27 million and it has been estimated that Hershey's pumps that same amount into the local economy.

    With a national restructuring, Hershey's is also closing plants in its home state of Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Hershey's has also announced that it will be terminating several of its product lines.

    Written by

    ++ 2007,
    Workers at the Oakdale Hershey plant will receive a severance package that includes two weeks' pay for each year of service, with a minimum of eight weeks and a maximum of 65, company officials and employees said Friday.


    Hershey plans to close the Oakdale chocolate factory, which employs 575 people, early next year. Employees were notified of the severance details during meetings Friday.

    The severance will be paid biweekly, and medical benefits will remain in place during the payoff period, Hershey spokesman Kirk Saville said.

    Employees also will receive vacation pay, as required by state law.

    Workers 55 or older will be able to retire with medical benefits at the end of their severance package. Those benefits will be extended to employees who turn 55 during their severance period.

    Oakdale Hershey workers are represented by Teamsters Local 386 in Modesto. Union representatives said they could not comment on the severance package because of confidentiality agreements.

    "I'm satisfied," said Patty Ulrich, 60, who has worked at the Hershey plant for 40 years. She will receive the maximum severance payment of 65 weeks of salary, which will start after her last day at the plant.

    Ulrich had planned to retire at 65, but said the severance payments combined with her 401(k), pension plan and Social Security will be enough for her to make it.

    "You don't expect to not retire when you spend that many years there," she said. "I think I'll be OK, but I feel very deeply for the younger people and the husbands and wives in their 40s who both work out there."

    Employees will be laid off in three phases, starting in July. The second round will take place in October and November, and the final phase will be in February when the plant is shut down permanently.

    The severance package offered to Oakdale workers is similar to agreements reached between Hershey and unionized plants slated to close on the East Coast.

    When Procter & Gamble shuttered its Modesto plant in 2001, it offered a comparable package, paying severance ranging from three months' to a year's salary.

    Benefits from other plant closures have varied: Tri Valley Grower's S&W cannery gave one week of severance pay when it laid off 200 workers in 2001; and 1,190 employees at Seneca Foods in Modesto didn't receive severance pay, but were offered two months of health and other benefits when Plant 1 shut down last year.

    Job and résumé help

    Hershey is contracting with an outside agency, Pennsylvania-based Right Management, to hold résumé-writing workshops and provide other job searching skills. The candymaker also is setting up a financial counseling hot line.

    "Our focus is on assisting our employees and our community with the transition," Saville said.

    Job training officials will hold orientations at the Hershey plant to explain unemployment benefits and retraining programs, said Jeff Rowe, director of the Alliance Worknet, which provides employment services to county residents. A job fair with area employers is planned, he said.

    "It is going to take a coordinated effort to make sure they know about everything that's available and they can pick and choose so they can go about getting on with their lives," Rowe said.

    The organization is applying for funding through the Department of Labor's Trade Adjustment Assistance, he said, which helps workers who have lost their jobs because of production leaving the United States.

    Hershey is closing the Oakdale plant as part of a restructuring that will transfer some candy production to a new plant in Mexico.

    To comment, click on the link with this story at Bee staff writer Christina Salerno can be reached at or 238-4574.

    May 21, 2007

    GE Sells Plastics Business for $11.6B
      GE has agreed to sell GE Plastics to Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), a global petrochemicals manufacturer, for $11.6 billion in cash plus assumption of debt. GE Plastics is a $6.645 billion global supplier of plastic resins widely used in automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics, transportation, performance packaging, building and construction, telecommunications, and optical media. It is headquartered in Pittsfield, MA. and employs 10,300 people in 60 locations worldwide. SABIC is one of the world’s 10 largest petrochemicals manufacturers ranked by market capitalization (currently US$80 billion). The company produces polyethylene, polypropylene, glycols, methanol, and fertilizers as well as the fourth largest polymer producer. Brian Gladden, who currently serves as vice president of GE Plastics’ resin business, will be president and CEO of the new business, which will be renamed upon completion of the transaction.

    Layoffs grow in mortgage industry - over 40,000 layoffs
    Subprime lending market is no more, says former Countrywide executive

    Brian Jurvis of Hazel Park wasn't surprised when he was laid off late last week from Countrywide Financial Corp.'s subprime lending division.

    He was among six employees laid off Aug. 16 at Countrywide's Full Spectrum Lending Division in Troy, he said. About 16 people worked there. He went back Tuesday and the office looked abandoned.

    "There is no subprime market anymore," said Jurvis, 36. "I knew something was coming down."

    Jurvis joined more than 25,000 workers nationwide who have lost jobs in the financial services industry since the beginning of the month -- more than half of them eliminated since Friday. With few exceptions, the cuts are the direct result of woes in the nation's housing market, especially in subprime mortgages created for borrowers with risky credit.

    In Michigan, hundreds of jobs have been lost as subprime and wholesale operations have vanished, said Drew Sygit, a certified mortgage and equity planning specialist with the Lending Edge Team at Meadowbrook Mortgage in Bloomfield Hills.

    Sygit notes that Franklin Mortgage Funding, a subprime lender in Southfield, laid off 120 people earlier this year, Aegis in Troy let 25 people go three weeks ago, American Home Mortgage laid off 25 employees at its Farmington Hills underwriting operation and Option One in Novi let 30 people go.

    "I'm not aware of a subprime lender with offices in Michigan," Sygit said. "A lot of them will not lend in Michigan."

    More layoffs are announced daily. On Wednesday, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. closed its subprime mortgage business, laying off 1,200 workers at 23 offices; Scottsdale, Ariz.-based 1st National Bank Holding Co. closed its wholesale mortgage unit and cut 541 jobs, and Accredited Home Lenders Holding Co. added 1,600 positions to the heap.

    Tuesday night banking giant HSBC said it would close a main financing office and cut 600 jobs.

    Since the start of the year, more than 40,000 workers have lost their jobs at mortgage lending institutions, according to recent company layoff announcements and data complied by the global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.

    Meanwhile, construction companies have announced nearly 20,000 job cuts this year, while the National Association of Realtors expects membership rolls to decline this year for the first time in a decade.

    It's an employment collapse that threatens to rival the massive layoffs in the airline industry that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, when about 100,000 employees lost their jobs.

    "It's far from over," said Bart Narter, a senior analyst with Celent, a Boston-based financial research and consulting firm. "The subprime lending collapse will continue to ripple through the financial sector."

    For five years, the nation's housing market was booming and mortgage companies grew quickly, at times offering lucrative jobs to people who had little experience.

    Jurvis, an account executive at Countrywide, worked in the mortgage business a little more than two years after several years of building and installing elevators around Michigan. He now plans to go back to school to get his teaching certificate.

    Contact GRETA GUEST at 313-223-4192 or The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Bristol-Myers to Trim Jobs, Factories

    By Associated Press December 5, 2007

    First Pfizer, then Merck, now Bristol-Myers Squibb plans to cut jobs as the pharmaceutical industry wrestles with profits being siphoned off to generic drugs.

    Bristol-Myers Squibb, whose best selling product is the anticoagulant Plavix, said Wednesday it would lay off about 4,300 employees and close more than half of its manufacturing plants in a broad restructuring aimed at cost savings of $1.5 billion by 2010.

    Bristol-Myers is the latest brand drug maker to reduce its work force, as the industry struggles to battle generic competition following expirations of key drug patents.

    Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug maker, earlier this year said it plans to cut 10,000 jobs to counter expected revenue losses from generic versions of its antidepressant Zoloft and Norvasc blood pressure treatment. Merck & Co. also plans to slash about 7,000 positions by the end of 2008 as it faces generic competition against its top-selling Fosamax osteoporosis treatment and a potential threat against its cervical cancer drug Gardasil from GlaxoSmithKline's Cervarix, now available in Europe and awaiting U.S. approval.

    "It is difficult to see our valued colleagues leave the company, but right-sizing our work force across all areas is critical to achieving our productivity goals and enhancing the competitive position of the company," Bristol-Myers Chief Executive James Cornelius said in a statement.

    The job cuts at Bristol-Myers represent 10 percent of its staff and will largely be made in 2008 and 2009. The company also said it will close more than 50 percent of its factories by 2010 and reduce by 60 percent the number of brands in its mature products portfolio by 2011.

    Looking ahead, the company expects a sharp downturn in earnings and revenue after Plavix's key patent expires in November 2011, Cornelius said at an investor meeting in New York Wednesday. "We don't have a complete answer on how to offset or mitigate that cliff," he said.

    Plavix, which the company markets with Sanofi-Aventis SA, booked $1.25 billion in sales in the most-recent quarter, helping double Bristol-Myers's third-quarter profit and offset declining sales of cholesterol drug Pravachol.

    Bristol-Myers also lowered its 2007 net earnings forecast. It now expects 2007 net earnings of $1.15 to $1.20 per share, compared with a prior forecast of $1.28 to $1.33, due to restructuring charges. The company, however, reaffirmed its adjusted earnings guidance at the high end of the range between $1.42 and $1.47 per share.

    For 2008, the company forecast adjusted earnings of $1.65 to $1.75 per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings per share of $1.46 for 2007 and $1.72 for 2008.

    In a note to clients, Banc of America Securities analyst Chris Schott continued to express concern over upcoming patent expirations, despite the company's effort to cut costs.

    "We do not believe that the potential near-term upside from expanded cost reductions will be able to offset the next wave of patent expirations in key Bristol franchises," said Schott, pointing to Plavix as well as anti-psychotic drug Abilify.

    With sales rising 34 percent to $420 million in the third quarter, Abilify is also the fastest growing atypical anti-psychotic in U.S. and European markets, said Tony Hooper, president of Bristol's U.S. pharmaceuticals unit, at the meeting. Abilify's key patent expires in the U.S. in 2014. Bristol-Myers licenses Abilify from Japan's Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co.

    Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings said Wednesday the pharmaceutical industry will likely experience continued pressure from generic drug developers and regulatory scrutiny in 2008. The outlook for the sector remains stable, nonetheless, the ratings agency said.

    In addition to the staff reductions and plant closings, the company plans to spin off its medical imaging business and review options for ConvaTec, a wound care products supplier, and its Mead Johnson Nutritionals business. The company also hinted at more buyouts, saying it "seeks to reallocate resources to enable additional strategic acquisitions," such as the recent purchase of biopharmaceutical company Adnexus Therapeutics.

    Bristol-Myers also said it is boosting its quarterly dividend by 11 percent to 31 cents from 28 cents per share. This is the first increase in five years.

    Shares of New York-based Bristol-Myers rose 20 cents to close at $29.26.


    SEATTLE -- Starbucks Corp. said Tuesday it will close 600 company-operated stores in the next year, up dramatically from its previous plan for 100 closures, a sign the coffee shop operator continues to struggle with the faltering U.S. economy and its own rapid expansion.

    Seventy percent of the stores slated for closure had opened after the start of 2006, the company said in a statement.

    To put it another way, Starbucks is closing 19 percent of all U.S. company-operated stores that opened in the last two years, Chief Financial Officer Pete Bocian said during a conference call.

    About 12,000 workers, or 7 percent of Starbucks' global work force, will be affected by the closings, which are expected to take place between late July and the middle of 2009, spokeswoman Valerie O'Neil said.

    O'Neil said most employees will be moved to nearby stores, but she did not know exactly how many jobs will be lost. Starbucks estimated $8 million in severance costs.

    In total, the company forecast up to $348 million in charges related to the closures, $200 million to be booked in the fiscal third quarter ended June 30. Starbucks reports third-quarter results at the end of July.

    The 500 additional stores set to be closed had been on an internal watch list for some time. They were not profitable, not expected to be profitable in the foreseeable future, and the "vast majority" had been opened near an existing company-operated Starbucks, Bocian said.

    Some analysts had wondered whether Starbucks' explosive growth in the U.S. would come back to haunt it as the market became saturated.

    But before Tuesday, the company avoided acknowledging that saturation was an issue, and pinned weak financial results and adjustments to new store openings on the economy.

    During the call, Bocian said that between 25 and 30 percent of a Starbucks shop's revenue is cannibalized when a new store opens nearby, and that the closures should help return some of that revenue to the remaining stores.

    Bocian said there aren't a material number of stores left on the watch list, but that the company will hold remaining stores to the same standards.

    Starbucks still plans to open new stores in fiscal 2009, but on Tuesday it cut that number in half to fewer than 200. The company did not adjust its plan to open fewer than 400 stores in 2010 and 2011.

    "We believe we still have opportunities to open new locations with strong returns on capital," Bocian said.

    During the conference call, the CFO echoed concerns about the economy expressed

    by Chief Executive Howard Schultz in May, when the company attributed a 28 percent drop in profit to less traffic from U.S. consumers who were feeling the pinch of higher food and gas prices.

    At the end of March, there were 16,226 Starbucks stores around the world. The company operates 7,257 of those stores in the U.S. and 1,867 abroad; the remaining 7,102 locations are run by partners who license the Starbucks brand.

    Shares of Seattle-based Starbucks jumped 78 cents, or 5 percent, to $16.40 in after-hours trading after losing 12 cents to close at $15.62.


    On the Net:

    11-12-08 - YIKES

    Store Closings - where NOT to buy holiday gift cards

     May I make the recommendation that we be careful of buying store brand
     gift cards for holidays. Things are closing rapidly. Not on the list
     below is Linens & Things which is under liquidation and closing all stores by
     year end.

     Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide A company spokeswoman said the
     company hasn't revealed which stores will be shuttered.. It will let the
     stores that will close this fiscal year know over the next month.

     Eddie Bauer to close more stores. Eddie Bauer has already Closed 27
     shops in the first quarter and plans to close up To two more outlet
     stores by the end of the year.

     Cache closing stores. Women's retailer Cache announced that it is closing 20 to 23 stores this year.

     Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide The
     owner of retailers Lane Bryant , Fashion Bug , Catherines Plus Sizes
     will close About 150 underperforming stores this year. The company hasn't
     provided a list of specific store closures and can't say when it will
     offer that info, spokeswoman Brooke Perry said today.

     Talbots, J. Jill closing stores. About a month ago, Talbots announced
     that it will be shuttering all 78 of its kids and men's stores. Now the
     company says it will close Another 22 underperforming stores.. The 22
     stores will be a mix of Talbots women's and J. Jill , another chain it
     owns. The closures will occur this Fiscal year, according to a company
     press release.

     Gap Inc. Closing 85 stores. In addition to its namesake chain, Gap also
     owns Old Navy and Banana Republic .The company said the closures - all
     planned for fiscal 2008 - will be weighted toward the Gap brand.

     Foot Locker to close 140 stores. In the company press release and
     during its Conference call with analysts today, it did not specify where
     the future store closures - all planned in fiscal 2008 - will be.. The
     company could not be immediately reached for comment.

    Wickes is going out of business. Wickes Furniture is going Out of
    business and closing all of its stores. Wickes, a 37-year-old retailer
    that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

    Goodbye Levitz / BOMBAY - closed already. The furniture retailer, which
    is going out of business. Levitz first announced it was going out of
    business and closing all 76 of Its stores in December. The retailer
    dates back to 1910 when Richard Levitz opened his First furniture store
    in Lebanon , PA. In the 1960s, the warehouse/showroom concept brought
    Levitz to The forefront of the furniture industry. The local Levitz
    closures will follow the shutdown of Bombay.

    Zales, Piercing Pagoda closing stores. The owner of Zales and Piercing
    Pagoda previously said it plans to close 82 stores by July 31. Today, it
    announced that it is closing another 23 underperforming stores. The
    company said it's not providing a list of specific Store closures. Of
    the 105 locations planned for closure, 50 are kiosks and 55 are Stores.

    Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores The Walt Disney
    Company announced it acquired about 220 Disney Stores from subsidiaries
    of The Children's Place Retail Stores. The exact number of stores
    acquired Will depend on negotiations with landlords. Those
    subsidiaries of Children's Place filed for bankruptcy protection in late
    March.. Walt Disney In the news release said it has also obtained the
    right to close about 98 Disney Stores in the U.S.. The press release
    didn't list those stores.

    Home Depot store closings (E. Brunswick, Rt 18 just put up their closing
    sign) ATLANTA - Nearly 7+ months after its chief executive said there
    were no plans To cut the number of its core retail stores, The Home
    Depot Inc. announced Thursday that it is shuttering 15 of them amid a
    slumping U.S. economy and Housing market. The move will affect 1,300
    employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement
    store chain has ever closed a flagship Store for performance reasons..
    Its shares rose almost 5 percent. The Atlanta-based company said the
    underperforming U.S .stores Being closed represent less than 1 percent
    of its existing stores . They will be shuttered within the next two

    CompUSA (CLOSED) clarifies details on store closings. Any extended
    warranties purchased for products through CompUSA will be honored by a
    third-party provider, Assurant Solutions. Gift cards, rain checks, and
    rebates purchased prior to December 12 can be redeemed at any time during
    the final sale.. For those who have a gadget currently in for service
    with CompUSA, the repair will be completed and the gadget will be
    returned to owners.

    Macy's - 9 stores

    Movie Gallery - 160 stores as part of reorganization plan to
    exit bankruptcy. The video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500
    Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520
     locations the video rental chain closed last fall.

     Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations New Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse
     appears to have inherited a company bleeding subscribers by the
     thousands, and will now officially be dropping the ax on 4,000 employees
     and 125 retail locations. Amid the loss of 639,000 postpaid customers in
     the fourth quarter, Sprint will be cutting a total of 6.7%of its work
     force (following the 5,000 layoffs last year) and 8% of company-owned
     brick-and-mortar stores, while remaining mute on other rumors that it
     will consolidate its headquarters in Kansas . Sprint Nextel shares are
     down $2.89, or nearly 25%, at the time of this writing.

     J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot are scaling back

     Ethan Allen Interiors: The company announced plans to close 12 of
     300+stores in an effort to cut costs.

     Wilsons the Leather Experts - 158 stores

     Pacific Sunwear will close its 154 Demo stores after a review of
     strategic alternatives for the urban-apparel brand. Seventy-four
     underperforming Demo stores closed last May.

     Sharper Image: The company recently filed for bankruptcy protection and
     announced that 90 of its 184 stores are closing. The retailer will still
     operate 94 stores to pay off debts, but 90 of these stores have
     performed poorly and also may close.

     KB Toys posted a list of 356 stores that it is closing around the United
     States as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. To see the list of store
     closings, go to the KB Toys Information web site, and click on Press Information

     Dillard's to close more stores. Dillard's Inc. said it will continue to
     focus on closing underperforming stores, reducing expenses and improving
     its merchandise in 2008. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO
     William Dillard II said the company will close another six
     underperforming stores this year.

    Marion hit with Whirlpool layoffs
    Columbus Dispatch, 11-12-08
    The announcement adds to the 375 layoffs Whirlpool announced last week at its two plants in northwestern Ohio and the 5000 permanent job cuts announced late

    Ohio town devastated by layoffs by German firm DHL
    Reuters - Nov 11, 2008
    At the bookstore and cafe across the street, staff have called a meeting to brainstorm how they can avoid layoffs when people stop spending money on lunch ..

    GM to sideline another 1900
    Chicago Tribune, United States - NNov 11, 2008
    The nation's largest automaker said in a securities filing Monday that the layoffs are a result of declining sales. Company spokesman Tony Sapienza said the ...

    W.Va. steel plant joins spate of layoffs
    Charleston Gazette, WV - 11-12 -08
    Duke says steel orders have dropped dramatically across the industry, but he expects the layoffs to be temporary. The news comes as West Chester, ...

      5/21/2007 10:35 PM
    By: Web Staff
    It's official, GE is selling it's plastics unit. What that means for the nearly 1,000 workers in the Capital Region remains to be seen.  

    The company has its headquarters in Pittsfield, and they have a plant in Selkirk. Officials said the headquarters will stay in Pittsfield even after the $11.6 billion sale to the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation. But, there is no assurance that the incoming company won't relocate.


    A stream of layoffs has newly unemployed people taking low-wage jobs that might have otherwise gone to the poor. Benefits for welfare recipients are ...


    In addition, privatization can result in massive layoffs and higher prices for basic services and utilities. But poor governments are obliged to implement ... -


    Mayor of New Orleans Announces Layoffs. By AMY FORLITI, Associated Press Writer ... Nagin described the layoffs as "pretty permanent" and said that the city ...

    ANTI-BUSH PROTESTS REPUBLICAN CONVENTION 2004 288 arrested and the ...

    and "More Layoffs on November 2." Union leaders vowed to do their utmost to defeat Mr. Bush. "If George Bush can cut our time and a half, then we should cut ... -


    Bankruptcies and layoffs have slowed, and steel companies are more profitable now than they were before the safeguards took effect. ... united_nations_food_program.htm


    Expect trouble on Wall Street as many companies are experiencing thousands of layoffs. This, as it did in the 1920's and 30's, will cause many deaths by ...