"Sunbeam's mismanagement is hurting workers and cheating stockholders," said James P. Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "Current management is set on a destructive path. Shareholders must insist on a course correction before more lives are wrecked."
The company's recent history is the story of one set of "slash-and-burn" managers after another. In the late 90's, the board hired celebrity CEO Al Dunlap to cut costs and prop up share prices. Dunlap applied the same game plan that earned him the nickname "Chainsaw Al" in a prior stint at the helm of Scott Paper. His trademark style featured ruthless cost-cutting, wholesale firings and questionable accounting gimmicks. Dunlap was eventually fired himself, when Sunbeam's stock and reputation went into a tailspin. His successors, after a brief interlude of more rational management, are back to Sunbeam's old, tired ways.
In May, Sunbeam closed a Mr. Coffee assembly facility in Cleveland, Ohio leaving nearly 400 workers, mostly African-American women, jobless. The plant was closed despite the fact that they made a quality product and turned a profit. Sunbeam and its pricey outside consultants contend that shipping the jobs over the border will garner substantial cost savings. In Mexico, the company gets away with paying subsistence wages and evades America's tougher environmental protection, worker safety and collective bargaining laws.
"Our plant was efficient, productive and profitable. Still Sunbeam's management chose to throw our families out in the street," said Joylyn Billy, a laid-off Mr. Coffee worker who attended the shareholders' meeting. "Now Mr. Coffee workers are subjected to unsafe working conditions and poverty wages so management can report cost savings to shareholders."
Sunbeam Chainsaw Massacre II -- Workers Slashed, Investors Burned is available at www.teamster.org.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.5 million working men and women in the United States and Canada.