Kongsberg Automative, a History of Greed

By Bendygirl
crossposted on Dailykos and Uniongal

I have been watching the American Axle strike and now I'm also following the strikes at CBS (Aramark run Cafeteria) and the LOCK OUT in Van Wert, Ohio.
So, what do these things have in common? I think it's money. Not necessarily the cost of labor or the cost of benefits. It's about taxes, trade, environmental standards, in short, it's about the American Way.

Over on my site today, I talked about the UNITE-HERE actions against Aramark in Canada and also at the CBS cafeteria. I also discussed the issues involved in the Kongsberg Automotive lock out in Ohio and it's this action I want to draw your attention to now.

You see, Kongsberg has a most unsavory recent history of closing a profitable plant in order to maximize profits not only by lowering wages from one operation to the next but also through lowering the taxes they pay from one country to the next and the cost it takes to meet specific work or environmental standards. Here's what Kongsberg had to say on their closure of Amotfors seat heating system plant.
"We are one of the world's leading suppliers of seat heating systems for cars. To maintain this position we must adapt our production costs to a level which yield acceptable earnings also in future," said Olav Volldal, CEO of Kongsberg Automotive.

"The potential closure is not because our employees have not performed. It is due to the significant cost gap between high cost and low cost countries," Volldal added.
Wow, you can work for a company, do really well there and then kiss it good bye, because, well, Poland does it cheaper. That's right, POLAND.

Kongsberg closed their Swedish Amotfors plant to move operations to Poland where the tax rate, according to the Kongsberg annual report from 2005, is 19%
The Group is reporting a tax cost percentage of 26 % in 2005. The tax cost is around 28 % for all the countries where Kongsberg Automotive operates, except for Poland where the tax rate is 19 % and the USA where the tax rate is around 33 %.
Hmm, 33% for the US, that must be why they refused to negotiate with the Kongsberg employees in Ohio. After the employees rejected the contract with steep losses in income and benefits, Kongsberg advertised for SCABS and locked out the Steel Workers! and, now they're also threatening to just move all those operations to Mexico, hmm, what a surprise, right?

But this just seems par for the course in World Wide Corporate standards. I mean, it's the same kind of thing that Dick Dauch is suggesting at American Axle and has been since the workers went on strike on February 26th.

The thing is that Kongsberg and American Axle don't seem to get that their actions have consequences to the rest of the automotive industry. More specifically, American Axle not only has already shut down production at about 28 different GM factories and related industry factories nationwide, but the continued strike now will shut down Lordstown prodcution, TOMORROW. From the Mahoning County Tribune Chronicle
Dave Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714 of the Lordstown Metal Center plant, said management told him Thursday afternoon the estimate for running out of a brake part had been moved to Tuesday from the previous estimate of April 18.

Green said he’s scheduled to meet management at 9 a.m. today to get more details about how the situation may develop.

The Metal Center stamps and fabricates steel body parts for the small cars built at the next-door assembly plant. Some of the plant’s 1,000 hourly workers may stay on the job to make parts to bring inventory levels up to required levels, Green noted.

A UAW Local 1112 handout at that plant on Monday stated the factory was second in priority to GM’s Fairfax, Kan., plant for closure if the strike at American Axle continues. No update on the assembly outlook was available Thursday.
So, anyone taking bets on when Dick Dauch is going to take his head out of his ass and bargain in good faith?

And while we're at it, do you think we might all take a step back from the Presidential race and actually ask these candidates on Wednesday what they're doing today to help Aramark workers who make $400 a week in NYC after 9 years on the job, or locked out workers in Van Wert Ohio and the workers walking the picket line at American Axle? Can we have a real discussion about why we're bitter, angry and frustrated? I'd appreciate such a conversation. Um, it's still called Solidarity.

Some of the Dailykos Diaries I've written on the American Axle strike

End in Sight
Equality of Sacrifice
Help Wanted?
Clinton, McCain and Obama SILENT on Strike
Dick Dauch's Entitlement Mentality
I Remember the Day the Shop Closed
When Strikes Happen
When Are You Going to Get Off Your Ass?
9 Million Reasons to Support Strikers
We Aren't Disposable
Strike An American Tragedy

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