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home : letters : letters February 5, 2016

11/8/2012 10:40:00 AM
Workers get the losses

To the editor:

I started working for Midwest in Cannon Falls in 1978. In 2011, after 33 ½ years I was eliminated, along with my manager and 14 others.

On September 4, 1997 an announcement was made that Bain Capital of Boston (Mitt Romney, CEO) had "made a significant equity investment in the company." In a letter to the employees, the president and vice president of Midwest stated that we could be assured that the current management team would remain unchanged in the new partnership. I saved the letter.

June 17, 1998, nine months later, the CEO of Midwest stated the company would undergo a major restructuring, resulting in job eliminations. I saved that letter too. Bain Capital stripped away the employee pension plan as well.

We were "acquired" by Blyth Corporation in April of 2001 (more eliminations). When Bain Capital first came into our lives, Midwest sales had peaked at over $100 million. Sales decreased every year after we were sold to Bain Capital. In the years that followed there were more lay-offs; one on December 10, 2004 - 25 people laid off (Merry Christmas!).

April 16, 2011 Midwest was sold to MVP Group.

Midwest has been sold again. This is the slow death of a business that was once a major employer in a small town. We heard from management about our responsibility to shareholders and about the returns that they expected on investments. This was to explain cuts in benefits and jobs. Myself and others often wondered, "what about us, the people who actually work here?"

The rules of free market capitalism state it's the market that decides whether you make a profit or not. Owners of corporations want to make a profit. Ownership implies responsibility. Stockholders purchase shares of a corporation and become owners of that corporation. When profits are not at the desired level of stockholders, then jobs are cut, pay is cut, and benefits are cut; this is to maintain profit levels for stockholders. The rules of free market capitalism seem to state that the stockholders and the CEOs take the profits and the workers get the losses.

Jeff Johnson

(Formerly of Cannon Falls for 50 years,

now residing in Saint Paul)

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