Feb 16, 2007

Layoffs - Hershey Kisses Workers Adios

The Hershey Company (HSY) announced a restructuring plan that includes downsizing the company from its current level of 13,000 workers to 11,500. The plan also calls for reducing U.S. and Canadian production from 90% to 80%. The 10% shortfall in capacity will be picked up by a new plant that should open in September of this year in Monterrey, Mexico.

As spokesperson for Hershey, Kirk Saville came off as indifferent in his statements to writer, Peter Jackson in his
Associated Press article:

“Saville declined to discuss any details about the job cuts or the Mexico plant…. He said: Some will be expanded, some will be downsized and some will close, … We will communicate with our employees and (their) union representatives,"

Since the “workforce reduction” of 1,500 would also include the additional workers to be hired in Mexico, the U.S. and Canada cuts will have to be more than the quoted 1,500. Also quoted from the
AP article:

“Dennis Bomberger, business manager for Chocolate Workers Local 464, which represents 2,500 workers at Hershey plants in Hershey and Reading, speculated that the actual job cuts could have to be deeper to achieve a net work force reduction of 1,500.”

"They're going to gain some jobs in Mexico ... so there's going to be a higher number lost" in the U.S. and Canada, Bomberger said. "Whenever they move something out the country, that's not good news for any company from the workers' standpoint."

From an earlier
Reuters article written by Brad Dorfman:

“The moves come as the company looks to free up more money to spend on marketing as it tries to regain lost market share from archrival Mars Inc. The overhaul is expected to reduce annual costs by $170 million to $190 million by 2010.

“Hershey has been trying to increase sales by focusing on its traditional chocolate brands, while developing new lines like premium dark chocolate.”

“Hershey said it expects the new plant in Mexico to be running by September and to account for about 10 percent of the company's overall production by 2010. A spokesman declined to say how many people would work at the plant.”

Alcatel-Lucent To Cut 12,500 Blames A Change Of Spending Habits Since December As Cause

From an AP article printed in Forbes.com

Last year Lucent Technologies Inc. and Alcatel SA merged and this year their cutting 12,500 jobs from a worldwide base of 79,000 in 130 countries or almost 16% of their staff.

Lucent was the equipment manufacturing arm of AT&T, and was spun off in 1996. Last year they merged with Alcatel SA, a French Corporation, and became
Alcatel Lucent. The deal was not finalized until December 1, 2006 and 11 weeks later they claim that the reductions are because “competition for wireless phones and a shift in North American telecoms spending habits.” All that happened in less than 3 months.

Press release for 2006 financial results and “synergy plan”:
Alcatel-Lucent reports fourth quarter and full year 2006 results
Press release sites 1,462 cuts planned for France: Alcatel-Lucent announces restructuring plan for France

Anyone care to guess where the majority of the cuts will be.

Feb 15, 2007

Kentucky Taking Lead In Bio-Fuels

From a Business First of Louisville article by Brent Adams Kentucky State Senator: “Harper Angel filed SB24, which would give ethanol producers a $1-per-gallon annual excise fuel tax credit. The credit would be capped at $1.5 million. Harper Angel also filed SB33, which would require the Kentucky Office of Energy Policy to establish a Biofuel Transportation Grant Program.”

“Under that program, businesses, nonprofit organizations, public school systems and local governments would be given grants to buy and install biofuel refueling facilities and to buy blended biodiesel or E85 ethanol-gasoline blend.”

Communities Recognize The Value Of Jobs

One Southern Indiana
Business First of Louisville: “On July 1, the Southern Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Southern Indiana Economic Develop­ment Council and Southern Indiana 2020 will be merged into a unified, business-support organization.”

“One Southern Indiana will help grow and retain existing businesses, attract new businesses to Southern Indiana, promote regional cooperation and plan long-term initiatives.”

From Business First Staff Writer
Sarah Jeffords: “When Patrick Houghlin, executive vice president of Hitachi Cable Indiana, contacted One Southern Indiana about his company's plans to expand, he was pleasantly surprised by the chamber of commerce's rapid response.”

Portland, Oregon
Portland Business Journal, by Andy Giegerich staff writer: “The Four County Economic Development Corp. will begin shaping its policies in earnest Feb. 14 … the business-oriented group will study ways to promote the region's sustainability and manufacturing interests.”

“The group is expected to provide crucial support for industries in Clackamas, Clark, Multnomah and Washington counties. It will work with public agencies to stimulate regional job growth and economic development by recruiting new businesses. It's an initiative within the area's Regional Business Plan, which aims to create more area jobs.”

Atlanta, Georgia
From an
Atlanta Business Chronicle article and written by Ryan Mahoney, Georgia’s Economic Commission has a new chief, Ken Stewart. Quoted from the article: “Stewart plans to pick up Gov. Sonny Perdue's vision for the state where Lesser left off: that of a world capital for trade, tourism, finance and industries such as logistics, life sciences and technology.”

“Stewart said the department should focus on fostering the best possible business climate.
That includes emphasizing the role of small and midsized companies, "the backbone of our economy," in addition to Fortune 500s, he said.”

More Atlanta; From the
Atlanta Business Chronicle by Douglas Sams: "DeKalb County is making a bid for more biosciences jobs, … DeKalb has spent nearly $100,000 in recent months to fine-tune its strategy for growing its biosciences sector, which it hopes will include pharmaceutical, medical technology and vaccine development companies that often pay workers at least $20,000 more annually than their counterparts in other industries."

Northern Kentucky
Not all regional development groups have unlimited funds, from a
Cincinnati Business Courier by Lucy May Tri-County Economic Development Foundation, or Tri-EF wants to broaden its funding base by raising more money from the private sector.

North Texas Commission
The North Texas Commission has produced a 24 page fully color glossy guide titled “America's Global Logistics Center” to spot-light the area’s well established supply chain industry.

From a
Dallas Business Journal article by Margaret Allen the guide “cites a multitude of sources for facts that illustrate the region's strategic status as a competitive logistics player. It details the benefits of the region's location, its infrastructure and its supply chain assets, from airports and airlines to railroads, intermodal centers and academic institutions.”

Dayton, Ohio
From the
Dayton Business Journal by Yvonne Teems the Dayton Development Coalition: "midst of a campaign to brand and market the Dayton region. The $1 million project now is in the research and information-gathering phase. Marketing materials will be unveiled in September followed by a rollout to the communities within the region, said Maureen Patterson, project manager."

Kansas City, Kansas
In the
Kansas City Business Journal by Rob Roberts Senator Pat Roberts is spear-heading a 43 member commission to bring a new $450 million National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility to the area. According to the article: “Roberts has been spurring research and technology efforts in Kansas since 1996, when he formed the blue-ribbon Advisory Committee on Science, Technology and the Future. An outgrowth was the 2002 Legislature's adoption of a $115 million plan to help build research facilities at state universities.”

“A resulting structure, Pat Roberts Hall, houses the new $54 million Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University.”

Sacramento, California
From the Sacramento Business Journal by
Michael Shaw: “The city of Sacramento is creating the capital's first true economic development department in an effort to attract more sales-tax revenue and corporate headquarters.”

“The proposal would increase staff and funding dedicated to attracting business, zone ready-to-build land for industry, bring retail back into the city and invest in projects rather than hand out city money in subsidies.”

San Francisco, California
From a
Lizette Wilson article in the San Francisco Business Times: “Mayor Gavin Newsom is seeking to create a campus for clean technology companies, hoping to attract tech startups focused on solving environmental problems and create a cluster equal to the ones recently established in biotechnology and digital entertainment.”

“Newsom is expected to unveil details about the campus, plans for broad solar installations and other initiatives supporting the sector at the Cleantech Forum Feb. 21.”

“The annual conference is a "who's who" in the emerging industry attracting 600-plus venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and established executives, from
Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers to Dow Chemical Co.

Triad Region, North Carolina
I’ve written many times about the great job that North Carolina and specifically the North Carolinas Commerce Department headed up by Jonathan Marshall is doing to bring businesses to their state.

Articles about what North Carolina is doing to attract quality jobs; Another Win For North Carolina, North Carolina Gets Googled At A Cost Of $18,873 Per Employee For 30 Years, The Sun Belt Is Doing It Right, Imagine That – Governments Making Sense

Feb 14, 2007

Coke Is It, It = 3,500 Lost Jobs

From the Atlanta Business Chronicle: Coke Enterprises posts $1.1B loss, job cuts coming

“results for 2006 include a $2.9 billion non-cash impairment charge, restructuring charges, expenses related to expensing of stock options and net favorable tax items.”

There seems to be two common threads among quite a few of the current slew of restructuring announcements being released. After four years of strong growth companies have gone on a buying and expansion spree, part of the growing pains is the accumulation of some hefty costs and charges. And when these “charges” do hit the books, resulting in poor quarterly financial performance for the company, they can pull a restructuring plan out and site job cuts as the answer. That’s the easy way of saying they’re on top of things.

Last years explosion of ethanol plants has pushed the cost of corn up 50%, that along with a significant rise in the price of aluminum will result in a 9% increase to the cost of producing a case of Coke.

Since inflation has hit Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. along with other bottlers and the employees must pay. I can only imagine how many jobs it will take to cover the “expenses related to expensing of stock options” .

Delphi Blames American Workers

Quoted from an AP article by Tom Krisher, “Delphi Loses $2B in Third Quarter Due to Cost of Paying About 20,000 Workers to Leave Company”

In the first nine months of 2006 Delphi lost $4.6 billion attributed $2.9 billion of the loss to costs associated with the work force reduction. The parts supplier plans to close or sell 21 of its 29 U.S. plants and has moved most of the lost U.S. production to lower cost labor markets.

As previously posted in: This Ain't Your Daddy’s Oldsmobile, Delphi needs to have some of their production near their primary customer, GM, and has replaced nearly 40% of their U.S. workers with lower wage workers.

Feb 9, 2007

Sprint, Motorola, Nortel & Kodak Plan Major Cutbacks – In People

Kodak: 30,000

From Ben Dobbin, AP Business Writer writes an interesting article about Kodak. They are adding an additional 3,000 layoffs to the previously announced 27,000 planned for this year. That comes on the heals of 23,000 already sent packing.

At its peak in 1988 Kodak employed 145,000 and after the cuts planned for 2007 will employ 29,000. At the end of these cuts Kodak will have shrunk by 80%.

Sprint: 5,000

This is a different story, in an
InformationWeek story by Elena Malykhina Sprint plans to cut 5,000 of its staff. As quoted by Ms. Malykhina:

“Sprint is the most ambitious of the four major U.S. cellular carriers, acquiring Nextel for $35 billion and making bets on emerging technologies like WiMax. But with costs up, customers unhappy, and layoffs imminent, the No. 3 U.S. cellular carrier may have taken on more than it can handle.”

The recent breakout of the video blogging and pod casts, has caused carriers to throw out any previous projections concerning bandwidth requirements. With the consumer now demanding substantially more bandwidth networks have to be reworked before they are even finished. From an article in The Guardian titled Rise of video downloads threatens gridlock on net:

"The growth in video downloads could create an internet traffic jam that threatens the net's development, according to Google."

Motorola: 3,500

Motorola has announced layoffs of 3,500 after having a record breaking 4th quarter where sales of handsets rose 47%. Unfortunately profits went the other way by 48%. Motorola does so many different things and has been on a buying spree lately that the poor results have to be answered somewhere, or by 3,500 some ones.

Nortel: 2,900

Nortel, a Canadian Company with a 2,600 worker plant in the Research Triangle Park of the Raleigh/Durham, area has announced layoffs of 2,900. The specific locations of the proposed layoffs weren’t given but the company has indicated plans to cut spending in the R& D and administration areas.

Feb 8, 2007

Why Are Prescription Drugs So Expensive

As previously posted in my article Pfizer Has No Cure For Michigan’s Headache and Health Insurance The Wild Card the health care industry is operating outside of any economic realities. Costs have consistently raised at 2 to 3 times inflation, medical coverage has gone up so much and has become such a problem, that in a recent CNN survey 43% of company CEOs consider health insurance premiums the #1 threat to their companies future.

So it came as no surprise when I read Insiders article
Pfizer's decimation - will the lobbyists be cut? On his/her blog PharmaGossip:

“According to the
Centre for Responsive Politics, in 2005 there were 2,326 registered pharmaceutical lobbyists. That amounts to 4.3 lobbyists for every member of Congress, and the drug companies spent $146,783,853 on their efforts.”

”And the Center for Public Integrity reports that between 1998 and 2005, the industry spent over $675 million on federal lobbying”

What Makes Employees Happy

Every year Fortune Magazine features the 500 Best Companies To Work For. What makes these businesses so popular with their staffs? The perks vary greatly but there are two noticeable consistencies; first would be wages, since two of the top five are grocery stores with managers salaries under $50k and hourly under $12, it’s not amount but that it is in the upper 20% of comparable positions and second are the perks, not that they are overwhelming, but that they are special enough to make the staff members feel special.

If you want to see the top 100
list click here. After reviewing all the companies, the only common threads, as to why these companies were chosen, are low turnover rates and an extraordinarily high number of applications to available job openings. Both of which can have outside influences such as being located in an area with few available openings or an aggressive online presence that produces a large volume of applications.

Take a look, some are predictable and others, well I would need to see more evidence.

Feb 6, 2007

More Layoffs At Harley

From CrossingWall Street .com:

"In a statement posted on its Web site, dated February 5, Harley said it would reduce production of engines, transmissions and components at two plants that supply parts to the York facility. That will mean the temporary layoff of about 740 workers at the plants in Menomonee Falls and Tomahawk, Wisconsin, it said."

Constructive Opinion On The Harley Davidson Strike

Now, you Harley people don’t get me wrong. I think you deserve a much better contract and with the company making record profits, they should show their appreciation. BUT…

From the companies press release and confirmed by Harley employees:

“The company said its proposal included annual wage increases of 4 percent over three years. But part of the increase depended on the union agreeing to contribute toward health insurance coverage. Unionized employees currently pay no premium. It also would have doubled the company's 401(k) retirement plan contributions.”

...BUT. A four percent annual increase and doubling your 401s is more than fair, the two parts that everyone is having problems with are the takeaways. First and most important is the charge back for you health insurance, since I’m not privileged to what the charge back is, I’ll guess it’s equivalent to two percent or half of the raise. The second is the $2.50 reduction is starting salary. If that part is true, then a starting salary of $18.25 per hour just isn’t as bad as you guys are making it sound. My guess is that it’s the union trying to earn some of their keep. Unfair, yep but there is another side.

If you’ll look further down in this blog there are numerous articles about communities and States that make huge concessions to draw companies to their areas. Google just received over $18,000 per employee per year for 30 years, in reduced taxes, from North Carolina to get their 215 jobs. That’s over 100 million dollars. I feel that the union should get on the phone to Governor Rendall and every local and state Commissioner, Representative, Senator along with the BBB and all Development Groups in the area, to see what incentives local, county and state governments will throw into the kitty for Harley. Then they might feel like the union is working with them and more willing to take care of the crew at York.

The doors open for you to show everyone in the country how companies, unions and their people can work together.

Another Win For North Carolina

It is rumored that HondaJet will be announcing the opening of a manufacturing facility, at the Piedmont Triad International Airport. Drawing the company there was a combined effort of the cities of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem along with Guilford County. Besides a Department of Commerce Grant it is estimated that the communities will contribute combined incentives of an additional $1.4 mil for the 300 to 400 employee plant that will have an average annual wage of $73,000. (Wages and combined benifits)

“The stakes are so high, in fact, that local economic development officials are reluctant to even mention the HondaJet name, much less speculate on a timeline, job impact or investment. Economic developers say they are honoring Honda's request to keep all details quiet while negotiations are under way.”

“What is known is that the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority has applied for a $2.7 million grant from the state Department of Commerce as part of a program called the 2006 Economic Development Reserve grants.”

Resourced from: The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area - February 2, 2007 by
Matt Harrington and December 29, 2006 by Eric Olson

Renewed Call For Reservists Legislation

As posted previously in Employers Snubbing Reservists employing reservists can be a risky endeavor for small business and a pain for larger companies. With 550,000 reservists called up since the beginning of the Iraq War, a majority of employers, albeit to themselves, resist hiring a reservist. Besides the inconvenience of losing a valued worker there are stiff penalties if something should happen.

Legislation is needed that offers employers tax credits that kick in when an employee returns to work from performing their reservists duties. Why hire someone if their work might be disrupted and all you have to look forward to is penalties. It time to provide a carrot to employers.

National ID’s Soon To Be Required

I’m against this kind of national ID. The idea of a national ID first surfaced after 911 and was pushed as a national ID for immigrants I felt that the government would not resist the temptation to apply the system to all people in the United States. I guess I was right, damn.

The Real ID Act of 2005 passed totally under my radar till I came across this AP article by Leslie Miller:
States Challenge Nat'l Driver's License. According to Ms. Miller:

“A revolt against a national driver's license, begun in Maine last month, is quickly spreading to other states.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

1) Establishing national standards for state-issued
driver's licenses and non-driver's identification cards;
2) Waiving laws that interfere with construction of physical barriers at the borders;
3) Updating and tightening the laws on application for asylum and deportation of aliens for
terrorist activity;
4) Introducing rules covering "delivery bonds" (rather like
bail bonds, but for aliens that have been released pending hearings);
5) Funding some reports and pilot projects related to border security; and
6) Changing visa limits for temporary workers, nurses, and Australians.

The article also says that numerous states have pending legislation against the Bill, once again another issue will end up in the courts.

I’ve said this before; I support a national workers ID number administered by the Social Security Administration. Every employer is required to have a Federal ID number before they may hire workers, this would be one for workers and a new number would be issued with every job change, this would do the same job while forcing compliance with the least amount of trouble and cost while protecting our identities. Of course the government doesn’t want clean, simple and effective. There’s no gain in that.

Chrysler And “Project X”

In a Reuters article, Chrysler has a secret plan called “Project X”, a plan to trim Chrysler of two manufacturing plants and 10,000 American jobs. The plants to be closed are in Detroit, Newark and Delaware.

Chrysler has a planned news conference on February 14, This will be where they give 10,000 Americans a going away kiss.

The Last Word: George Clooney The Frustrated American

How about frustrated Americans

In an interview by NEWSWEEK's Ginanne Brownell Mr. Clooney expressed his thoughts on what it is like being an American in Europe:

“It is probably the worst time ever for us internationally. When you go to Europe, for the most part, they just hate us. Not individually, but they think we are just like these big bullies—and quite honestly, we have acted like that. That has been the most unusual twist in the last few years, having to defend being an American.”

He’s right. Since WWII all of Europe needed help and America answered their need. But after 50 years interjecting ourselves into European politics while maintaining a major military presence there, they now resent the fact that we wouldn’t leave.

Concerning the main street media (MSM) he answers:

“I just worry that we have lost our balls for reporting. We constantly underestimate the intelligence and interest in the audience. The U.S. press took such a pass on the Bush administration that they are as responsible for us marching into Iraq as the administration. There is no question about it. They were afraid to be marked as unpatriotic.”

He fails to mention that the MSM has become the best stage for propagation of progressive liberal programs.

GE Is Moving Plant To Mexico

GE will be closing its 100 year old lamp plant in Wellston, Missouri on February 28. The operations for this 175 employee plant are moving to Mexico.

Feb 5, 2007

Response To Neil Cavuto On Minimum Wage vs.Legal Status

If an employer is already breaking the law by hiring illegal workers, then he is breaking two or more laws by not paying them a minimum wage. The problem is in the enforcement. We do not need more laws with more political correctness, we need enforcement of our current law. When that happens, the solution to the issue of illegal workers also begins. Until then all our politicos achieve is more free air-time.

Neil expressed his opinion that the latest numbers on the U.S. savings rate are misrepresented and in our economy is meaningless. Every time people start to ignore basic economic tenants, we learn why they are considered rules the hard way.

There are two distinct attitudes towards our economy, one is that everything is fine and the other is that we our on the brink of catastrophe. Either way the negatives are numerous and enormous, there has to be a time when they are reversed or we will experience some very negative consequences. The U.S. savings rate is just one of them. With the age of our populace, savings through retirement vehicles, should be at its peak.

Economy, Reporters And Numbers

In a Bloomberg article Courtney Schlisserman sourced statistics from the Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index, which moved up in December to 59. A 59 reading indicates a very strong services sector that is healthy and growing. She then states that Services make up almost 90% of the GDP.

It’s this statement that drew attention and shows that many who write about the economy and financial matters do not understand how these numbers coincide with each other. If the Services sector is 90% of GDP then all other sectors must only be 10%. The military alone is more than 10%.

Manufacturing hit its peak in 1959 at 47% of GDP and in 2005 had dropped to 33%, last year manufacturing had further declines but is still above 30%. To do the math; military 10% + manufacturing 32% = 58% for everything else that makes up the GDP.

Later in the article Ms. Schlisserman does make some very good points: “Lower energy prices and higher wages are fueling increased consumer spending and generating stronger sales at retailers, adding to economic growth.” The first part, of the quote, nails the economy but the second part “and higher wages” is also inaccurate. Wages have increased at a slightly higher pace than inflation over the last three months, but over the last three years have not kept pace with inflation. In fact this trend has been going on for awhile, and the American workers earnings in real dollars, is at the bottom of the earnings scale today than at any time over the last 40 years. It is not wages but the unemployment rate that is adding to consumer spending.

Big Business In Patents

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has started a hiring blitz that will bring 1,200 new jobs and for the next three. this year to its sprawling complex in Alexandria

From an
article by Senior Staff Reporter Joe Coombs in the Washington Business Journal the PTO has moved to its new digs, a quant 2.5 square mile facility, in 2005 and is running out of room.

John Doll, the PTO's commissioner of patents says:

"We have moved from a manufacturing society to an idea, or intellectual society… The surge in applications is due to the surge in innovation in America."

Last year which ended last September PTO received a record 440,000 patent applications. That doesn't include a backlog of 701,000 applications that have yet to be handled by examiners.

Since most new patent applications are centered on electrical systems, including mechanisms that support cell phones, satellite communications, interactive videos and other avenues of communication, patents can take from seven months to over six years.

There was no reference how many of these applications were from outside the United States. According to FreshPatents.com 36.8% of patent applications are of foreign origin.

Feb 2, 2007

Hot News For Generation Young -- Visa/Master Card Are Not Savings Plans

I know this may come as a surprise to many of you, but sending money to make a card payment is not the same as putting money in the bank. After reading Martin Crutsinger’s article, on a Commerce Department report, I thought that many of you might think that it is.

Last year we came the closest to breaking a record, that has held since 1933, than at any time in 74 years. What record is that? Why silly, it’s our savings rate. Last year Americans saved a negative 1%. The record was set in 1933 with a negative 1.5%. There have been only 4 times that the United States has had a negative savings rate, twice during the Great Depression 1932 & 1933, when unemployment was at 25% and again in 2005 & 2006 when unemployment was 5% or lower.

On top of that the average American tapped into their Visas and Master Cards increasing their personal debt levels to highest amount in history. Of course the consumer would get an A from wall street who is cheering while the DOW, fueled by consumer spending, is hitting new highs and from Uncle Sam they would get an A+ for following the governments stellar example.

Looking For A Career

Try alternative energies.

Last week Bush called for a 20% reduction in gasoline consumption and he also visited an ethanol plant. Whenever the price of gas takes a serious turn North, people start to talk about alternative energies. The difference this time is that the science is here, the price is right and for the first time the people are ready to accept change. Currently the changes, at the consumer level are minimal, a new pump at the local station and slight adjustments to the engines. In Europe bio-fuel blends have been common for years and the trucking industry have already been converted.

Behind the scenes the ethanol industry has been busy, so busy that the price of corn has almost doubled since June. The infrastructure to deliver the product isn’t available yet, but with a huge supply of product the businesses that put in the pumps and produce the parts required for existing autos to run on the blend will be covered up with business.

Now the good part. Ethanol is only the tip of the alternative energy mountain. According to the Christian Science Monitor’s article,
Greener, cleaner ... and competitive?, in 18 short years, 25 % of our nations energy supply will be generated from renewable sources such as wind, solar, bio-fuels. The real difference, in the way we drive, will come from hydrogen fuel cells. Since the production of ethanol is not energy efficient, hydrogen fuel cells is thought to be the future for automobiles with the ethanol craze just a stop-gap measure in the fight against foreign oil imports.

The entire spectrum of energy/power production will change within 20 years and there will be many interesting and fulfilling careers created in these fields.

“There is an emerging consensus that we need to enter a rapid transition to clean energy technology," Reid Detchon, executive director of the Energy Future Coalition, a nonprofit energy advocacy group that requested the RAND study. "For years there has been this myth of an expensive and painful transition. This report helps knock that down."

Me, I’m Supporting Little Caesars

I have long believed that if a you don’t like a business, don’t shop there. If you don’t like a show, don’t watch it. In turn when a business does something that impresses me, they win my support and business. My next pizza is a Little Ceasars.

Michael Ilitch, Founder and chairman of Little Caesars, did something that deserves as much publicity as possible. He read about about Doughty in a USA Today story and was so impressed with the 31-year-old Army staff sergeant that he called to thank him for his service to the country. They struck up a friendship, and Ilitch offered Doughty the franchise.

"Doughty stood strong for our country," Ilitch said in a news release. "I was so impressed that I wanted to do something."

PMI Index Lowest Reading In 49 Months

The Purchasing Managers Index came in at 49.3%. It’s only the second time and its lowest reading since November, 2002 when we were emerging from recession. While the reading indicates mild overall economic expansion, the manufacturing sector is contracting. This is consistent with the overall view of the 2007 by most economists.

It’s becoming more important to watch these numbers because there are numerous factors, in the economy, that could kickoff a rapid downturn.

Feb 1, 2007

Employees Locked Out At Harley Davidson

As of Thursday morning the 2,700 employees of the York, Pa. Harley Davidson Plant was locked out. According to articles, written by Andrea Maria Cecil in Sunday’s and today’s York Daily Record, 98% of the members of International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 175 voted on Wednesday to reject Harley’s latest proposal and initiate a strike at 12:01 am. Friday.

At this time the terms of the proposed contract have not been disclosed, but a reader has commented that the company has requested employees accept a higher share of medical costs and reduced pension benefits. There was no reference to wages other than Harley had requested that new hires may be brought in at about ½ the current wage. As quoted by David J. Lynch,
published in the Aug. 17, 2006 issue of USA TODAY:

The venerable motorcycle maker, battered by Japanese rivals, came within an eyelash of bankruptcy in 1985. Harley slashed payroll, overhauled its factories and engineered a remarkable turnaround. The company has been profitable for 20 years and, in a nice irony, now enjoys the largest market share in Japan.”

This is the same plant that President Bush visited:

“Harley-Davidson's example also is something less than a pure free-trade success. In 1983, the company won special trade protection from the Reagan administration that raised tariffs on imported Japanese bikes to 49% from 4%. That gave Harley critical time to retool.”

“The president said such temporary protection is sometimes warranted. And Harley's robust workforce of more than 9,000 — roughly double the 1995 figure — underscores the point.”

In a company statement:

"Because of the union's intent to strike at midnight, not knowing how long that would last, we thought it was in the best interests of everyone to suspend badges and eletronic access to the facility, essentially giving employees a second day off with pay."

As quoted from The Auto Channel:

"Harley-Davidson has no business behaving like they're on the brink of bankruptcy," said Tom Buffenbarger, international president of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). "When Harley was flat on its back in the 1980's, it was union members who refused to let it die. Harley went on to become an international success story but they've obviously forgotten how they got this far."

"They don't respect workers as much as their stock options," declared District 98 Directing Business Representative Tom Boger about company leaders who reported record revenue of more than $1.6 billion for the third quarter of last year.

At this point all parties need to take a step back. There are many communities that would pay Harley mucho buckos to move to their community. Google just received
$100 million in tax discounts from North Carolina for a 215 employee server farm. We are in a highly competitive era and companies have more options than ever before. Someone has to give and I seriously hope it’s not the 2,700 workers at the York Harley plant. There just aren’t comparable jobs out there.

Internet Frustrates Print Media

As new opportunities open some close, some in the print media have called it “economic restructuring”.

As previously reported on in
Newsroom Layoffs the last couple of years have been rough on newspapers and other print media. Newspapers and magazines have been scrambling to publish effective web sites and then the problem still exists on how to capture a portion of massive on-line advertising revenues.

As Joanne Morrison and Michele Gershberg reported on in their
Reuters article based on a report from the outplacement tracking firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the print industry has lost over 27,000 jobs in the last two years. Job cuts are only on the upward rise as 2007 showed an 88% increase over 2006.The actual number of layoffs could be quite a bit larger as small and rural publishers don’t report their job loses.

In the first two weeks of the year over 2,000 additional cuts have been announced by Time Inc. and The New York Times.

Massachusetts Job Dilemma

This is a case of be careful what you wish for. Massachusetts and particularly Boston has the been placed in the envious position where investment capital and job development have outmatched the areas infrastructure for housing and transportation. With the median price for home ownership now at $315,000 in the state, and the commutes to-and-from work exhaustive, many are attempting to take their skills elsewhere.

Massachusetts is the only state that has experienced a continual labor force contraction between 2003 – 2005 with only the smallest of gains in 2006. Having the most educated work force in the nation and internationally recognized universities has brought the state quality capital investment for R & D, technology and computer sciences. In 2005 Massachusetts can brag that over 10% of all investment capital has ended up there.

A state or an region may put all their eggs in the medical or high-tech basket, but if you don’t balance that with the other 95% of the population, the services required to support the “preferred” positions, will end up looking for areas that do.

It Takes An Act Of Congress to Display The Ten Commandments

H.Con.Res. 12 (ih) Requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in the United States Capitol. [Introduced in House]

There is absolutely no benefit, to the citizenry, for 95% of what goes on in Washington or in most of our state capitals. The fact that Congress has to legislate permission to display the Ten Commandments is only symbolic, after the attorneys get the issue into their “court” the whole issue becomes doubtful and could take years of litigation to go nowhere.

Imagine our capitalist upbringing where improving, growing, doing-better and thinking outside-the-box has replaced a slower built-on-fundamentals approach. Add that entrepreneurial dynamism to years of advocacy legal training and you start to get a feel for our current legal system. At one time we could brag about our legal professionals that would defend the guilty with the same efficacy as the innocence, advocate for the weak with the same audacity as the strong. But as causes for various individual rights issues gained in popularity, funding improved, allowing their positions to be championed by the best and the brightest.

The American people have always shown their resiliency to overcome and conquer the many obstacles that circumstances have thrown our way. Depressions, wars and diseases are easy to identify and Americans have always stiffened, pooled their resources, and prevailed. But what about a threat we can’t identify, a threat that works from the inside and whose only goal is to win.

Does an atheist have rights, absolutely. The exact same rights as any other recognized religious group. If having the Ten Commandments on the wall of a Capital building is in support of a religion and offensive to atheists then NOT having it on the wall is in support of Atheists and equally offensive to someone else. This argument can go on forever and everyone loses, but it’s the lawyers from both sides that gain in stature, obtain lucrative commissions and what is most important, create a never ending argument.

It’s this advocacy training that prepares attorneys to do so well in politics, the ability to aggressively debate an issue or put into contention an issue that they don’t want action to be taken on. The will of the people or even personal opinion has nothing to with it, the first priority is self-interest, the next is party politics, then there are the needs of the special interests, and lastly come the constituents.

Even it they lose on an issue it is still not over. Look at the issue of the “Border Fence”. Congress passes a bill to build the fence, then passes a bill to fund it and the President reluctantly signs both bills. Does that mean we have a fence? No. The funds are not going to be appropriated and if they are, a court will find an excuse to block it.