In a small town in West Virginia, PPG Industries, Inc., a multi-million dollar, global corporation, has offered a two-tier pay system to their 470+ union employees, asking them to ratify a contract that knowingly creates a second class of worker with different pay rates and benefits for all new employees. How is a union to represent two classes of workers? They cannot and that is what the company is banking on, the beginning of the end of this local union.
ICWUC / UFCW Local 45C went to the picket lines in opposition of this new wage plan on September 9th, 2005. The strikers vow to protect the rights of all union members, not just those lucky enough to already be an employee. The workers do not understand why there is such drastic cost-cutting measures when, by the companys own admission, they have enjoyed record sales, quarter over quarter for more than a year. This local union produces chlor-alkali chemicals, among other chemicals, with these particular items having performed well in past quarters.
PPG issued a press release April 21st, 2005 entitled: Another strong performance for PPG in 2005, says CEO discussing last years (2004) performance. It states: PPG generated record sales of $9.5 billion in 2004, with net income up 38 percent (emphasis added). The CEO predicted that PPG would see continued strength in the companys chlor-alkali business in 2005.
"Our sales in the first quarter were an all-time record for any quarter, reflecting the continued growth in all segments of our balanced business portfolio, (emphasis added) said Raymond W. LeBoeuf, Chairman.
It also states that Chemicals sales increased $154 million, or 34 percent, on higher selling prices for chlor-alkali products, Operating earnings were up $114 million primarily because of higher selling prices and improved volumes, which more than offset higher energy costs and inflation. Our strong earnings performance reflects the strength of our chlor-alkali business coupled with improvements in glass says LeBoeuf.
"We not only generated record sales for any quarter, we also enjoyed one of our best quarterly earnings performances ever," (emphasis added) said Charles E. Bunch, current Chairman and CEO. "While the global economy shows signs of moderating, we see continued strength in our coatings and chemicals segments, which achieved record sales each of the past two quarters. (emphasis added) This measurable proof validates our earnings growth strategies and positions PPG to continue generating shareholder returns.
It also said: Chemicals sales increased $134 million, or 27 percent, on higher selling prices for chlor-alkali products, higher volumes in optical and the impact of foreign currencies.
Record profits, best quarterly performances ever, net income up 38%, net income up 24%, these are not the statements of a company who needs to push drastic cost-cutting measures. From the sound of the press being put out by the company, the chemicals sector is performing well and this performance is expected to continue, why, then the need for such drastic cost-cutting measures? The answer lies in the trend of skyrocketing management salaries, as well as, plain corporate greed.
A study featured in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette on Sunday, May 16, 2004, of Pittsburghs fortunate 50 Executives shows that four of PPG Industries, Inc.s management received raises in pay, bonuses, benefits, stock options, etc. ranging from 179% to 255% for the year of 2003. Again, where is the need for cost-cutting measures?
Stockholders also have no reason to complain as the stock for PPG Industries, Inc. has grown from $44.70 (on 9/2/02 at ratification of the last work contract) to $70+ in the 1st quarter of 2005. The stock has since receded somewhat due to energy costs and such, but there is still no argument that the stock is in trouble or even merely, holding its ground. Again, where is the need for cost-cutting measures?
No, this attempt to implement a two-tier system is merely the concoction of some high-priced lawyers who have devised a plan to further exploit American workers. The company refuses to negotiate the issue with the union after nearly four months of picketing and insist on using shady tactics in court to win injunction after injunction against the union as is typical in situations such as this, with the judicial system not even questioning the issue of whether the two parties are negotiating.
It is understandable and agreed that corporations are in the business to make money. They are expected to do so. Ideally, the more they make, the more secure a job, the better and more secure it is for its workers and for the community. However, the scales continue to be tilted against the American worker and for big-time money and corporate greed.
Bonnie Henthorn (firstname.lastname@example.org), from a small town in West Virginia, is a stay-at-home mom of two who has recently become an activist against the two-tier pay system in support of the American worker.