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Sat Apr 14, 2012, 05:45 PM

The spark when workers come first

The spark when workers come first
Robyn E. Blumner, St. Petersburg Times, 4/15/12

‘Job security" is such a quaint expression. America's 21st century workplaces operate more like sweepstakes. You win Instagram's dream, landing in the money before the training wheels are off your company's idea. Or you live Katniss Everdeen's nightmare in The Hunger Games, trying to stay alive while those around you are slowly picked off. A few win big, more get downsized and everyone's scared.

This isn't good for the American psyche. A work environment where a relatively few people do astoundingly well while everyone else worries that their economic lifeline can be pulled away at the next downturn is not a solid foundation for long-term, broadly shared prosperity or human fulfillment. We can do better than that, by returning to some old-fashioned corporate values and norms.

I cringe when mass layoffs announcements are accompanied by CEO claims that their people are their most important asset. Clearly, they're not. But there is still one company in America that says it and means it. The Ohio-based Lincoln Electric Co. — a place where executives understand that being loyal to workers redounds to the bottom line.

Lincoln Electric is a publicly traded global company and the world's leading manufacturer of electric welding machinery — much of it produced at factories in the United States. This alone makes it special, but what makes Lincoln Electric oh-so-rare is that its U.S. workforce of about 3,000 employees enjoy guaranteed employment. Lincoln Electric promises that its permanent American employees who pass a three-year probation will not face layoffs due to a lack of work.


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Reply The spark when workers come first (Original post)
teach1st Apr 2012 OP
xchrom Apr 2012 #1
Sarah Ibarruri Apr 2012 #2
AdHocSolver Apr 2012 #3

Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 05:49 PM

1. Du rec. Nt

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sat Apr 14, 2012, 06:06 PM

2. What a good article. Thanks. How unusual...

The Ohio-based Lincoln Electric Co. — a place where executives understand that being loyal to workers redounds to the bottom line.

I have come to view the rich and corporations as having no country at all. Zero patriotism. Zero dedication. Zero caring for their fellow citizens.

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Response to teach1st (Original post)

Sun Apr 15, 2012, 12:21 AM

3. At one time there were many more U.S. companies well managed like this one.

It is important to understand what happened to business in America.

Many years ago, I worked in a branch office of a high-technology company. The company was started and managed by two competent engineers who took pride in their products, which were state-of-the-art and of very high quality.

The company was well managed, and it was a pleasure to go to work. My fellow employees were competent and we were like family, including the bosses. The parent company was Hewlett-Packard, which had acquired the division that I worked for the previous year.

I worked in other high-tech companies over the years, and where the managers were technically savvy, and product quality and customer service were a high priority, worker competency was appreciated and supported.

The companies and institutions for which I worked where cost-cutting and profit-maximizing were the only goals of management, then working there was unpleasant and precarious.

The "financialization" of manufacturing, where investment firms bought companies to gut them for profit through stock price manipulation, was the turning point for the American economy.

Huge amounts of money could be realized by merging two competing companies and laying off huge numbers of "redundant" workers from departments such as IT, sales, marketing, and personnel. Then even more costs could be cut by outsourcing manufacturing jobs to low-wage countries such as Mexico and China.

However, to make outsourcing even more profitable, Wall Street had to promote "free trade" by getting trade agreements like NAFTA instituted, and Most Favored Nation trading agreements with China.

At the same time, the U.S. tax code was changed to allow corporations to evade taxes on profits made off of imports. Major manufacturing companies were no longer manufacturers as much as they had become importers.

The only way the U.S. economy can be rejuvenated and jobs returned to the U.S. is to repeal NAFTA and its ilk, and change the tax code to prevent corporations from evading their fair share of taxes.

Another action is to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act to separate commercial banks from the so-called investment banks.

The U.S. economy is not going to improve very much without major changes in trade policy and the tax code.

The greatest economic problem for the U.S. is NOT the government deficit, but rather the trade deficit and the debt owed to foreign countries such as China. This debt is causing a rapidly increasing inflation caused by stagnant wages and continually increasing prices.

The U.S. is long past the time when we could reduce the debt merely by increasing exports. Our corporations have sold or given away all the advanced technology to countries such as China, so that they can produce everything that they need internally and have no need or incentive to buy anything from the U.S.

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