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Comment Re:Right... (Score 1) 674

I really don't see a difference between the strike and individual decisions - most workers decided on their own that they want to strike, but those that didn't could and did go to work. Yes, many didn't - but that is because the company wanted to cut each person's pay. And as you said, you have a choice of preparing your resume in that case - they felt that their jobs weren't worth saving at that level of pay. Should they have stayed there with miserable pay until the company went bankrupt again?

There is a huge decision between an individual and the collective. If you don't understand, there is no point in supporting the union (e.g. individual bargaining vs collective bargaining). The individuals didn't have a choice - and this is something that I do have a problem with. Employees aren't allowed to choose whether or not to join most unions - when the union decided, everyone had to follow. Certainly you can see a difference.

And Miserable pay? To save their jobs, 8% for the first year, and steady raises for 3 years to get to where it was (plus stock grants)=miserable? Come on. It's a sacrifice for sure, but it is a far cry from what you're mentioning. You've thrown out things like "miserable" and "minimum wage"...not really backing that up with actual numbers (you also suggested that the company should have given the workers a piece of the company, which was offered). I'll continue to provide correct information as these come up...and I'm not even an vested party - I just read the news.

Why didn't the management give the company a personal, interest free loan. The CEO had a salary of about $2.5M, surely he could put that at the disposal of the company, giving it a few more weeks to find a different solution to the crisis, or at least time to convince the union. Or how about the other executives give the company their bonuses (they just asked to court to pay them more then $6M - leading a charge into bankruptcy is worthy of a bonus after all).

The CEO agreed to a $1 salary until Dec 31 or until the company recovered from bankruptcy. However, the executive salary was just a drop in the bucket. Check the numbers on other posts in this story - there were a few people who ran the numbers on executive salary vs the workers at large...this was a drop in the bucket and largely a symbolic gesture. It would not have helped keep the company in business for more than a few weeks if the executives worked for free. Hostess Brand's debt was huge, and it was a huge operation. A few $million would not have been sufficient to keep the company running.

So the union's refusal to cooperate was only the last blow, because that's what the management decided. Prolonging the fight might have cut down on the bonus money the company still had.

And there is another reason why the employees might have wanted the company to just die - they are among the creditors. If the company is liquidated now, they might still get some money before it all goes to lawyers and executives. If they give them a few more years that might not happen - the company had more debt at the end of the first bankruptcy then at the beginning.

They kicked the company while it was down. It was the final nail in the coffin. End of story. There were no other options at that point. I understand that you inherently mistrust this management team - and have thrown out a dozen things that "could have been done". I covered that most of these were either done, or were impossible - backing them up with facts. Please, read just one or two relevant news stories before posting another reply - I'm sure that I can keep citing sources for you, but you would be doing both of us a huge favor by reading up on this stuff. To be clear, I always have held that management team (and the market) are responsible for their part in the situation. However, it was the Bakers Union (not the larger Teamsters, who were willing to negotiate and save their jobs and the company at large) that did them in; in the end. We'll never know if they would return to profitability, because of the greedy, un-trusting, and poor-negotiating Bakers Union. They screwed the whole company in the end.

Come to think of it, I'm done. Go ahead and post a reply so you can have the last word and be right. Be well, my friend.

Comment Re:Right... (Score 1) 674

And what exactly is the difference between 'preparing your resume' and striking? The company could have fired them and found new workers, if that's what they wanted - but the new workers would probably have wanted more then the company was willing to pay.

I'm amazed that you're even asking this. You're asking the difference between an individual decision and an organized and orchestrated act against a company, ultimately taking the whole thing down? It sounds like we're looking at this from vastly different angles.

The management could have made other proposals - got better loans, found new investors, hell even sold the company (which they refused to do in the past). But they decided that quitting and blaming the union was a 'cleaner' way out

No, they could have not made other proposals, got better loans, found new investors, or sold the company (which is another way of finding new investors). This was their last shot. They were in chapter 11 bankruptcy - it was reviewed and approved by the courts and their debtors. There was no time to make another deal - this was it. The Bakers Union just refused to believe it; they were convinced that management had another card up their sleeve when management simply did not. The Bakers Union was convinced that the management team was bluffing with the threats of closing the doors. They weren't. Have you read the analyses of this? Again, even the Teamsters were behind it. Are you sure that you understand how bankruptcy works? How is closing doors a 'cleaner' way out? Everyone was screwed. There was no money. Nothing. There were no other options. Of course, you're entitled to your opinion and I respect that. However, the belief that there was some sort of nefarious management meeting where it was decided that they could just stick it to the Bakers Union by closing operations, and everybody loses their job is incredibly far fetched.

After all, we all know unions are the source of all evil.

Again, see my comment above - I never stated anything like this here: However, while everyone in the company (including the larger union; the Teamsters - who accepted the deal) were working to save the company, the Bakers Union worked for themselves to ultimately destroy it. Again, this mess wasn't their fault, but they stepped in at a critical juncture and became the last straw. They could have saved the company; admittedly for how long nobody knows...but it was the Bakers Union that put the last nail in the coffin. This is not an indictment of all unions, but this one didn't do any of the 18,000 people in the company a single favor. (Emphasis added). Again, I just don't see the ethics of screwing everyone else over by taking a collective action like that. I also don't understand how you're arguing that this was only a one-sided thing. There was plenty of blame to go around...but the Bakers Union decided to take the ship down with them.

Comment Re:Right... (Score 1) 674

Oh, I agree - the situation was not entirely the worker's fault. Clearly, there were a series of management issue; and if you followed the story at all, the management team has accepted significant responsibility on multiple occasions. The issue also came down to changes in the marketplace, as well as factories being run inefficiently (partly due to the unions fearing change and modernization of factories/bakeries). Read the articles documenting this stuff - its pretty well covered by the news media.

Also, understand that creditors don't just forgive debts just like that. Remember that everyone answers to someone, and there is a fair bit of bureaucracy to the whole debt thing (not to mention lots of federal regulations surrounding debt).

However, while everyone in the company (including the larger union; the Teamsters - who accepted the deal) were working to save the company, the Bakers Union worked for themselves to ultimately destroy it. Again, this mess wasn't their fault, but they stepped in at a critical juncture and became the last straw. They could have saved the company; admittedly for how long nobody knows...but it was the Bakers Union that put the last nail in the coffin. This is not an indictment of all unions, but this one didn't do any of the 18,000 people in the company a single favor.

What would I do if my boss came to me and asked me to work for 8% less than I was with a 30% reduction in company contribution for benefits (not at minimum wage, with no benefits - as you suggested) in order to save the company? I would have two choices, as I see it. First, I could agree and move forward. Second, I could refuse and prepare my resume. It's not that hard of a decision. I wouldn't strike when the company was down and had no other choice, ultimately putting the company out of business and 18,000 people out of work.

I just don't understand the ethics of a group of people taking an organization down with them. They weren't being forced to work there.

Comment Re:Right... (Score 1) 674

Well the owners could have sold some of their shares on the stock market, then put that money into the company. I'm guessing the shares are still worth something, even if the company is near bankruptcy - they would be giving up some of what they have in exchange for a chance that the company will survive.

AFAIK, the company was privately held. There were no publicly trade-able shares to sell. If the company was in Chapter 11 for re-org, all shares were void anyway - this is part of contracts being voided out by bankruptcy.

As for the deal the workers were offered, what made it different from the one they had before (the one that set their old salaries)? If the management kept up like in the past, the company could soon face the same situation again - and any deals would be null and void 'for the good of the company'.

I can't answer that. If workers had no faith in the company, they did have another option than torpedoing the working somewhere else. However, when a company is hampered by contacts and debts, bankruptcy offers a method of freezing debts and other obligations to reorganize the company and return to profitability. This is how it works, and was a way to eliminate stuff like debtors prisons.

Why weren't the workers offered a share of the company instead - work for less, but you get these shares.

According to the articles that I read, the workers were offered a share of the company. This is one of the reasons that the Teamsters bought into the deal (but the smaller bakers union that ultimately brought down the company did not).

Comment Re:Hostess: A case for bankruptcy & RTW reform (Score 1) 674

I see. However, there is no company anymore. Those who were running the company couldn't have extracted much, could they? Any assets they had in the company are gone. This also wasn't a case of a holding company gutting a company by selling off the assets and running off with a whole bunch of money...all under the guise of a bankruptcy court. I do not believe that there are any facts to back a scenario like that (but if there are, feel free to show me that I'm wrong).

The existing union contracts were part of what was killing the company - of course, there were many other factors. While I have not read their Chapter 11 reorganization plans, I'm sure that these other factors were addressed; otherwise, no bank would have lent Hostess Brands the money to reorganize and recover. Now, rather than preserving the unions, a competitor (presumably without the same union contracts) will buy their brands and continue production of their products with more efficient factories.

Comment Re:Right... (Score 1) 674

But what is the alternative? Accept the paycut and you'll be at the same table 6 months later, only this time it won't be a 10% pay decrease, it will be 50%. Why not demand the owners of the company step up and invest a few million into it? Or that instead of the workers giving up their pensions, the management returns all the money it's been paid since the company started losing money?

You suggested that the workers demand that the owners step up and invest a few million - that multi-million dollar has to come from somewhere. Just because the company has management and owners, it doesn't mean that they have a few million dollars in cash kicking around. They may not have money to give back, which doesn't matter - the suggestion seems unreasonable for other reasons altogether. The pay cuts were an across-the-board percentage - it wasn't just the union that was getting the shaft.

Typically, money like that comes from banks who agree to extend credit to the company based on a plan to bring the company back to profitability. In this case, the creditors reviewed (and approved) the plan to make the company solvent and agreed to loan money to allow reorganization and eventually recover from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The larger union (the Teamsters) also reviewed and accepted this plan. That plan also set pay rates back to their current levels over 4 years (not cut 50% in 6 months, as you suggested). The problem is that the bakers union (the smaller union) either didn't understand or didn't believe the they decided to strike. They also didn't believe that if they failed to return to work, that the company would close down. They were wrong on all counts. This small union took the entire company down...and it was needless. What a shame - they screwed themselves and everyone else at the company out of their jobs.

Comment Re:Hostess: A case for bankruptcy & RTW reform (Score 5, Insightful) 674

The only reason Hostess decided to close is to use bankruptcy law to attack the unions - and replace them with employer-supported unions such as contract workers from staffing agencies. This usually comes from companies based out of the South where workers are to "know their place" and businesses are to not be questioned.

Get rid of the provision that voids union contracts on bankruptcy and make Right to Work apply to contractors and part-time labor.

I was under the impression that Hostess were out of money, no longer profitable, and could no longer afford to pay the earlier negotiated wages and benefits. So you're suggesting that Hostess was doing just fine, but the whole bankruptcy was just a conspiracy to screw the unions?

Please tell me if I understand what you're saying: Hostess did not offer ALL of their employees a package that would allow them to get credit from the bank and continue operations, without laying off their entire workforce? Hostess didn't offer a package that their (larger-than-the-baker's-union) Teamster union agreed upon? If they had plenty of money and were still profitable, how would a bankruptcy court (and their auditors) grant them the status of chapter 11? Chapter 7? the case of a legitimate Chapter 7 bankruptcy, how can Hostess replace their former union workers with contract workers from staffing agencies when they are no longer in business?

I think that we may have different understandings of how bankruptcy works. They are liquidating - Hostess is no longer a company. Their assets (e.g. brands, recipes, factories) will be sold to pay off their debt. This will be overseen by the courts - and Hostess' creditors will likely be paid back a fraction of what they are owed. The private shareholders will be the last to get paid out of the liquidation, and it is very likely that they will get nothing. Am I wrong about this?

If we have such different understandings of how bankruptcy works, I'm not sure that we will agree on how (or if) it should be reformed. I suggest reading up on bankruptcy. If we're talking about the same thing, it will be easier to have an informed discussion.

Comment Re:What RIM needs to do to remain competitive (Score 0) 134

The reality is that RIM is not building hardware that people actually want. Further, they are not able to develop on a competitive cycle. You mention two features which are nice (sturdiness and battery life). However, in my opinion, these two hardware features alone do not make a company competitive in this marketplace. This is not what made Apple a commercial success, and is not what caused HP to fail; I do not find these to be analogous. I guess that we'll find out soon enough if what you suggest is a competitive market strategy. I know where my money is.

Out of curiosity, what motivates you to post with such a snarky tone? Do you feel that this will help you "win" the internets? Do you actually talk to people like this? If so, do you have any friends?

Comment Re:What RIM needs to do to remain competitive (Score 1) 134

They are disappearing, but IMO, this is mostly due to user demand moving toward other devices. The BES is now the last vestige for RIM - IT managers and administrators still like the centralized management and security that BES provides. You're right that the BES is kind of a whore, but why can't this be fixed (so it works like Good does) - or fixed and licensed and/or integrated into an MTA (like how Microsoft has been slowly been rolling these services into their MTA)? It's only a matter of time until the market completely surpasses Blackberry. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater on this one.

Comment What RIM needs to do to remain competitive (Score 1) 134

Ugh - this will do nothing to help RIM.

The only thing that I can imagine RIM doing to stay competitive is to license their Blackberry software while they still can. Dump (or severely reduce) the hardware and OS business, it's clear to everyone (and it should be to RIM) they can no longer compete with manufacturers offering Apple, Microsoft, and Android-based devices.

While RIM still has some foothold in the corporate managed mobile messaging arena, take that software and port it to Apple, Microsoft, and Android devices; allowing those devices to connect to BES servers. This will allow IT to have the manageability and security offered with Blackberry devices. It will allow RIM to survive as a company. However - if they do not make this move soon, it will be too late. The same manageability will become ubiquitous among competing devices, and any competitive advantage that RIM might have had will disappear forever.

Comment Re:Easy to Read, not sure easy to change (Score 1) 157

Right, but those who receive more basic screening have already been vetted. In order to qualify for PreCheck, one must agree to (and pay for) a federal background check. This perceived flaw in the system lets a traveller (who has presumably already been qualified for the PreCheck program) know when they are flagged for random additional screening. However, they have already been identified as a lower security priority. Also, given that many analysts believe that additional post 9/11/2001 security screening measures are no more than what they call security theater, and the PreCheck screening measures are nearly identical to pre 9/11/2001; is there really an additional threat? Magnetometers in the TSA PreCheck lines will find box-cutters, or any other items prohibited for travel. Finally, screening for drugs and microfilm is outside the scope of the TSA's enforcement. They are in place for safety, not to enforce state, federal, or customs laws. The article and much of the commentary is misleading, and the AC GPP is one of the few to add real information to the discussion. There is little or no vulnerability, and nothing to see here. Move along please.

Comment Re:USA Land of Crime (Score 1) 451

In the rest of the world, justice comes before anything else. No matter how evidence is obtained, it is still evidence, and will be used in court. In the US, if an unskilled policeman makes a small mistake, all evidence will be thrown down the sink, and the criminals who would be convicted on that evidence in every other country of the world, will walk free. I don't understand this protection of people where there is evidence that they are criminals.

The rest of the world also has due process of law. In America, we do tend to take parts of it more seriously than some other countries; so much so that we have constitutional protections form the government (e.g. forth amendment to the constitution banning illegal search and seizure). This is not unique to the US, but the way that it is implemented, it is a little bit unusual.

It sounds like what you may be talking about is known colloquially as 'fruit of the poisonous tree'. The linked wiki article has a really nice example:

For example, if a police officer conducted an unconstitutional (Fourth Amendment) search of a home and obtained a key to a train station locker, and evidence of a crime came from the locker, that evidence would most likely be excluded under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine. The discovery of a witness is not evidence in itself because the witness is attenuated by separate interviews, in-court testimony and his or her own statements.

This is part of what is known as the exclusionary rule, and is largely how the fourth amendment to the US constitution is enforced, protecting citizens from the government, and helping to provide due process of law to citizens. It does not throw out all evidence - just evidence that was gathered as a result of illegally gathered evidence.

No system of justice is perfect, and America's is certainly no exception...but I do firmly believe in a certain level of protection from the government. When we talk about excluding evidence, often, it is not over a small mistake from the police (e.g. mishandling chain of evidence custody). Rather, it often involves flagrant violations of the civil rights that help define us as a people. As others have suggested, how else would we incentivize the government to follow the rules of the road (or disincentivize it from breaking its own laws)?

This case is a simple argument of what constitutes probable cause to issue a legal warrant for a search. When arguing constitutional law, interpretation is pretty important...otherwise, the Supreme Court would be pretty bored. Personally, I think that the question has merit. This video was made by a person who claims that his car was illegally searched without consent based on the behavior of a drug sniffing dog. It seems reasonable that the result may be a false positive, triggered by the searching officer. If drug dog behavior is used for probable cause for searches based upon subjective, abusive (or easily abused) results, why shouldn't these be scrutinized by our highest legal authority?


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