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Web Letter

Here's some data on Ed Whitacre, who is now being considered to run GM, based on my experience working at AT&T during the 2004 labor contract negotiation period.

Whitacre's approach was to play the office workers against the unionized workers. He did this by requiring all nonunionized (office) workers to work twelve-hour days, seven-day weeks, doing the work normally performed by unionized workers. If we were a minute late reporting to work, we were fired. If we failed in any way to perform the work assigned, we were fired.

The stress level built to where some people had to increase their normal medications. Food was situational. In the San Francisco office, food workers honored the strike, so food was often not delivered and there was no time for AT≈T workers to leave the premises to buy it. In other facilities, food was provided, though was pretty unpalatable.

The strike lasted only little more than a week. Apparently, Whitacre's ploy broke labor's back. It would have broken many of us in the office ranks had it continued much longer. This whole scenario is a pathetic testament to what passes for business management in the US. But it is in keeping with an industry whose profits rely not on quality or care but on strangulation of state legislatures and other regulatory authorities.

Paul Shafer

Everett, WA

Jun 10 2009 - 6:37am

Web Letter

Wow! My visceral response is, "Right on, baby."

How did a person as intelligent as Obama end up with Stress-test Geithner and "women are too stupid to learn math and science" Summers? I wonder if our heroic POTUS has read Krugman or Nicholas Taleb. Does he ever talk to Sheila Bair? We haven't progressed far beyond "rising tides" Clinton and "protectionism is bad" Reagan. We will all become millionaires building batteries and windmills?And why the hell are we exporting all the coal we can mine and why is China opening one coal-fired plant a week? Why is Buick being built in China and imported here and why is China importing all the oil Iran and Iraq can pump? Why are we paying $70 a barrel for oil that is being pumped at a cost of $2 a barrel at the well, Saudis' words?

James L. Pinette

Caribou, ME

Jun 6 2009 - 7:24pm