Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls
from: althouse.blogspot.com

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


This story is close to my heart for a couple of reasons: I love applesauce, and the folks who've been making great applesauce at Motts for generations have been doing so in my native country of upstate New York. Now they are on strike because their new parent company is determined to drastically slash their wages and benefits.

The workers, meanwhile, are incensed that the company is demanding givebacks when it posted record profits last year and increased its dividend by 67 percent in May.

“Corporate America is making tons of money — this company is a good example of that,” said Mike LeBerth, president of the union local representing the strikers. “So why do they want to drive down our wages and hurt our community? This whole economy is driven by consumer spending, so how are we supposed to keep the economy going when they take away money from the people who are doing the spending?”

Dr Pepper Snapple has vigorously defended its stance. “The union contends that a profitable company shouldn’t seek concessions from its workers,” the company said in a statement. “This argument ignores the fact that as a public company, Dr Pepper Snapple Group has a fiduciary responsibility to operate in the best interests of all its constituents, recognizing that a profitable business attracts investment, generates jobs and builds communities.”

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (parent company of Motts) is making an argument that doesn't hold water. No one is suggesting that they shouldn't try to make profits. They have in fact made enormous profits. Continuing to pay decent wages to its workers is the only way they can operate in the best interests of all their constituents. This is because workers are constituents as much as shareholders. It is true that layoffs at Xerox and Kodak give them a large pool of local workers who would work for low wages. Why is it then necessary to slash wages and benefits at Motts? Is there something wrong with being one of the few decent employers left?!?! This doesn't generate jobs and build communities. It does the opposite! Although incomes of pre-strike Motts workers were fairly modest, they allowed the surrounding community to enjoy the presence of people able to live and spend a few bucks. Pushing everyone down to subsistence level wages will destroy jobs and communities. Ice cream parlors, bookstores, realtors-- they all suffer when an important former source of decent local jobs starts paying like Walmart.

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