One way to negotiate: threaten to blow up the plant

Platinum Equity owns French company hit with layoff unrest

A French plant owned by Beverly Hills-based Platinum Equity, former owner of the Union-Tribune, is experiencing real labor unrest: the workers are threatening to blow up the place, according to the publication Testosterone Pit. Tuesday (Feb. 5) the 168 remaining employees at DMI, an auto parts maker in Vaux, France, placed gas cylinders throughout the plant and threatened to blow it up unless their demands were met, according to the publication. The cylinders were rigged so that they would turn into bombs. The factory entrance was blocked. The workers said they want Platinum to come back to the negotiating table. Forty percent of the employees have gotten the axe.

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LOL...blow up the joint , now that is what I call hard ball negotiations.

SP: That's what you do when initial negotiations blow up...in France, anyway. Best, Don Bauder

Hard ball, hardly. Sounds more explosive to me.

JustWondering: France itself may blow up. Best, Don Bauder

Reminds me of the labor strikes that the Andrew Carnegie steel mills had at the turn of the 20th century.

SurfPup: The history of labor unrest in that era is replete with lessons for us today. Income and wealth inequality were as bad then as they are today. But in our era, management can move jobs offshore; labor is quiescent, and shrinking. The Reader had an excellent series on the Wobblies in San Diego -- a black mark on the City's establishment a century ago. Best, Don Bauder

That's reminiscent of the sort of strikes that hit a number of industries in the US a century or more ago. They actually, on occasion, did blow things up. Probably the most militant of all the unions in the US west were the miners and those who milled and smelted the ores. The work was brutally hard, the working conditions about as bad as you can imagine, and then when out of the workings, the living standards in mining camps were very poor. Who would blame them for getting testy? That was especially true when the mining magnates were, in a couple cases, among the richest men in the nation.

Frenchmen haven't recently been noted for their militancy, except when their cheeses or wines were involved. Are they turning over a new leaf in the saga of labor unions, or is this just an anomaly?

Visduh: The Ludlow Massacre, which happened just north of Trinidad, Colorado, is an amazing story of management brutality, with government (Colorado National Guard) participating in the slaughter. And, of course, San Diego's treatment of the Wobblies -- as covered splendidly by the Reader in a recent series -- epitomized the anti-labor mentality of those days. Things are better today, but look at the police brutality against the Occupy movement. Money talks, but why must it nauseate? Best, Don Bauder

I was thinking of Montana, with its Wild West culture and a huge influx of immigrants from the far corners of the world. All were striving to get there and get those mining jobs, but when they got there the high prices, awful working conditions, extrarordinarily cold winters paired with short summers, and bleak housing didn't satsify. There arose one of the most militant and long-lived of labor movements. It set the standard for mining all across the west, and only ended when the mining generally ceased within the past thirty years.

Send in the Pinkertons to bust some heads. Get them Frenchies straightened out!

The Pinkertons work for Carnegie Steel, 100+ years ago, but not today.

SP: There may be fewer goons smashing the heads of workers, but corporate spying on perceived enemies -- including journalists -- is rampant, and has been for decades. You just don't read about it. Also, corporations don't need goons to bust labor unions now. Strikes are basically something of the past and labor is a very small percentage of the workforce -- less than 10% in the private sector. Best, Don Bauder

Someone been paying attention to the History Channel's program "The Men Who Built America" and it's glorification and revisionist history of America's early entrepreneurs and philanthropists.

JW, are you now a PhD in American History?????

JustWondering: I can't comment on that History Channel series, because I haven't seen it. But I can say this: when I see the robber barons glorified, I get a little queasy. Best, Don Bauder

Burwell: Henry Ford knew whom to hire to bust heads and kneecaps of workers wanting fair wages and working conditions. Best, Don Bauder

Henry Ford paid well ABOVE the prevailing wages of the day...........people were beating down his Ford factory to work there........He was so successful with the Model A that he wanted to LOWER the price even MORE, so more masses could buy the car, which resulted in one of the most widely cited business cases ever decided. The Dodge Bros., whom owned a 10% stake of Ford said NO WAY are YOU lowering the price of the Model A of OUR company, Henry Ford sued and LOST, and the next week Ford bought out the Dodge Bros., who then went on to form their own company.

SurfPup: Yes, Henry Ford was enlightened early on -- paying his workers enough so that they could buy his cars. But you will find that later on, Ford hired goons to brutalize labor. Best, Don Bauder

Duhbya: I refuse to answer that question until I know what a Frod is. Best, Don Bauder

J K Galbraith had a chapter in one of his books entitled "Was Ford a Fraud?" He thought so, and gave credit for much of Ford's "genius" to one of Ford's minions. In his later years, when Ford may have been losing it, he hired Harry Bennetts (sp?) who was a real thug, and who surrounded himself with like-minded henchmen.

Visduh: Exactly. Henry Ford changed his stripes for the worst in his later years. The enlightenment manifested in his early years evanesced. Best, Don Bauder

I went phonetic on you, Don, juxtaposing the "r" and the "o" in a cheap attempt to ask if Ford was a fraud, due to his apparent turnabout regarding his outlook on labor. On second thought, fuhgeddabouddit.

Duhbya: You are just too clever for this man who will be 77 this year. I should have known that a frod was a fraud. For more on this, see Visduh's post above. John Kenneth Galbraith in one of his books asked if Ford was a Fraud. Best, Don Bauder

Ah, heck, 77 is just 2 X 38.5. Visduh's erudite commentary on a wide range of topics is always informative and engrossing, and entertaining to boot.

Duhbya: Agreed: Visduh's comments are invariably enlightening. Best, Don Bauder

Gee, I'm blushing. But worse, this sort of praise just means more comments. Sure you want more of them?

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