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November 1997
Vol. 1 No. 2 Page 6

Could Have Bailed
by Steve Psiaki

About 2 years ago I read about a textile factory in Lawrence, MA. Specifically, Feuerstein and Malden Mills, that was almost completely destroyed by a fire. At the time, and if memory serves me correctly, the fire was close to the holidays Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Anyway the owner, Aaron Feuerstein, made a promise to the employees, close to 3,000 of them, he would rebuild and reopen the factory, and everyone could have their job back. I believe he paid the employees through the end of that particular year, (but I could be wrong there, it was a long time ago).

As of the rebuilding, well he did it! I'll say that again HE DID IT! Malden Mills recently celebrated the opening of a new $130 million factory. Malden Mills has rehired 2,700 workers and expects to bring back the remaining 70 or so within two months.

Mr. Feuerstein could have taken the $300 million insurance policy and run abroad in search of cheap labor, and in most parts of the world that translates into child labor. But he didn't. Are you listening Nike, Reebok, Hanes and all the rest of you companies that run overseas and pocket huge profits on the backs of "slaves". Here is a man who knew the value of skilled loyal employees.

Mr. Feuerstein recognized that it made good business sense and served a moral purpose to stay where the workers had skills and dedication to maintain a high quality product in the very competitive market of outdoor clothing.

His reward, according to the New York Times, sales are up 40 %, productivity is up 25%. This is an all too rare gesture in a world where amoral business ethics dominate. All too often workers and communities are the last thing on the agenda. Next Column

Bankers, industrialists and merger manipulators turn their backs on the very people who make the businesses work. They sacrifice the trust and livelihood of the employees in order to get a lift in the stock market or qualify for bonuses.

So, who out there would trade-in their management, both persons and style of the post office, for that of a progressive management style of say Mr. Feuerstein.

Decisions that could and should be made locally are being dictated down a long line of managers. They are managers who have no clue of what is going on in the field or how to put a quality product (service) back into a company that is suppose to be service oriented.

I know the post office has many more employees than the 3,000 or so of Malden Mills, and there are more problems within the post office that Mr. Feuerstein could ever imagine.

I believe if front line supervisors had the ability and authority to handle problems at their level, and if the post office would hire supervisors or promote people to a supervisory position who actually had some ability, many of the problems wouldn't exist.

Finally, the last time I looked around the office every supervisor had their own 204b, and sometimes two of them, doing the work that they say they do.

Steve Psiaki is Vice President of merged Branch 1779 - Zephyrhills, Florida (an Associate Office of Lakeland, FL). Steve has been a Letter Carrier for 17 years. He has served as a Shop Steward and Vice President for about 15 years.

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