Greed is sometimes defined as:
an excessive desire to possess wealth or goods…[it] also known as avarice or covetousness, is, like lust and gluttony, [and is] a sin of excess. However, greed (as seen by the church) is applied to a very excessive or rapacious desire and pursuit of wealth, status, and power.
And therein lies the rub.
Simply put, greed is the desire for more and more and more.
As I noted in a previous post, American workers are falling behind. Under present conditions, it will take a good fifteen years before working people and their families will see employment levels as they were before the recession. Even aside from low employment levels, employers are increasingly cutting the wages of their employees and demanding more work with fewer workers.
While reasonable minds can conceivably reach different conclusions regarding the wisdom of cutting wages for working families that are already strapped, particularly when an employer is hurting financially, there may be compelling justifications in order to salvage an employer’s existence.
But what about an employer that reported $555 million in net income last year? What about an employer that reported sales amounting to $5.5 billion last year? What possible justification can such an employer have to demand that employees reduce their wages by $3,000 a year?
That’s where greed comes in.
The Company is Mott’s. Yes, the same Mott’s that makes and distributes the iconic apple juice and apple sauce. Mott’s is owned by the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and along with Mott’s products also distributes well known products such as 7Up and Hawaiian Punch.
Notwithstanding that the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group is highly profitable and is in no financial trouble, it’s executives have explained their demand for unnecessary concessions from the Mott’s employees because the Mott’s workers should think of themselves as commodities whose values have declined.
On May 23, 2010, by a vote of 250 to 5, the Mott’s workers walked off the job and engaged in a strike, which is continuing.
With each passing week, the two sides have dug in deeper, doing their utmost to outmaneuver and undercut each other. Rain or shine, dozens of workers picket outside the plant each day, standing alongside a 15-foot-tall inflatable rat and a mock coffin emblazoned with “R.I.P. Corporate Greed.”
Rebecca Givan, a professor of industrial relations at Cornell, said the strike has taken on broader symbolism. “The union wants to tap into the public backlash against perceived corporate greed,” she said. “The company wants to emphasize the depressed local labor market.”
The strike has become so important because of the prominence of the brands and because of its unusual nature: a highly profitable company is taking the rare and bold step of demanding large-scale concessions.
Unlike previous battles, where American manufacturers have often sought to cut labor costs by threatening to close plants or move operations to the South or overseas, Dr Pepper Snapple is not making such threats.
For unions across the country, the stakes are high because if the Mott’s workers lose this showdown, it could prompt other profitable companies to push for major labor concessions. Such a lengthy strike is unusual at a time when work stoppages have become much less common than they once were.
Pure and simple.