Steel Worker: We View Mitt Romney as a Job Destroyer
Employees describe working for Romney’s Bain Capital, “It was like working in the wweatshops of the ’30’s.” “It was like going to war every day,” expounds Joe Soptic of working at a steel factory Bain Capital bought. “They were trying to figure out ways to eliminate jobs and so everyone had to pick up the slack.”
When Republicans tout their candidate’s business experience as the reason to trust them on the economy, they often paint a picture of mom and pop stores getting tax breaks (as they actually did under Obama). Pretty pictures of a happy Main street in a small community float across the screen. It’s America like it used to be, or as it exists in Normal Rockwell paintings, but not their America. It’s not the America that would result from their policies.
When we contrast that pretty picture with the stark reality of Mitt Romney’s business model, we see communities destroyed, families thrown into poverty, and management seeking to feed itself at the expense of the business. That isn’t Capitalism or even good business – it’s a shell game where only the rich win.
Take Steel. GST Steel had 5,500 hundred employees in the Kansas City, MO., “a city within a city.” Joe Soptic, a steelworker for 30 years, explains, “We weren’t rich, but I as able to put my daughter through college. That stopped with the sale of the plant to Bain Capital.”
Their jobs were all destroyed by Bain’s business model of using debt to pay themselves millions of dollars while cutting workers, ending healthcare benefits, filing to end the pensions of workers who had been there for 30 years, and eventually closing the plant.
Watch here, courtesy of the Obama campaign:
David Foster, lead negotiator for workers at GST Steel explains, “Bain Capital was the majority owner, they hired the management, they picked the Board of Directors, they were responsible. Mitt Romney was deeply involved in the influence he exercised over these companies.”
The steel plant started having quality issues after Romney’s company began cutting jobs and the management wasn’t concerned about the workers health. “It was like working in the sweatshops of the 30’s.”
David Foster explains that private equity isn’t bad, but what Bain Capital did was not Capitalism, it was bad management. “The decision makers were governed by a different set of rules than the rest of us played by.”
A worker says, “Bain Capital was sucking money out of the company like there was no tomorrow.”
Foster elaborated, “The business model of loading a company up with debt in order to extract immediate profits for yourself out of it, and then ensuring the failure of the company later on, seems like exactly the wrong thing that we need in America today.”
Bain issued $125 million of bonds and out of that debt they paid themselves almost $40 million. A worker said “They’re like vampires. They came in, sucked as much money out of us as they could.” His co-workers said, “They made as much money off of it as they could, without any concern for the families of the community.”
Bain Capital went to the bankruptcy court and sought elimination of the pension fund and the employee life and health insurance. Their pensions were reduced by 50-60% and they lost their health insurance.
David Foster recalls the experience of telling his workers that they no longer had health insurance and their pensions had been cut, “Telling them they were going to lose their health insurance, their pensions had been reduced by 50-60% in come cases, those are among some of the most painful experiences of my life, standing in front of hundreds of people in their 50s and 60s and retired steelworkers were at those meetings too, in their 70s and 80s.”
“They came in and they destroyed. There is nothing left.”
A worker describe looking for work after the plant closed, picking up a job six months later for about 1/3 of what he had been making, on top of losing all of his health insurance, “I was devastated.”
Another worker summed it up, “When you take away all of the good paying jobs like we had at GST Steel in Kansas City, the middle class is going to become extinct.”
Soptic, looking visibly distraught still, said, “It makes me angry. Those guys were all rich. They had more money than they will ever be able to spend, more money than their families will ever be able to spend. Yet they didn’t have the money to take care of the very people who made the money for them.”
Another worker explained, “Bain Capital walked away with a lot of money that they made off of this plant because they took all of the money. We view Mitt Romney as a job destroyer.”
With palpable pain, a worker said, “To get up on national TV and brag about making jobs when he has destroyed thousands of people’s careers, lifetimes, just destroying people….”
Foster laid out the difference between capitalism and what Bain did, “When it is a business model, and when it is deliberate, and when it is a thought out strategy, on how to get the value out of a company in a reckless way, and hurt others, and you then become a proponent of that strategy, and talk about it as if it’s the soul of Capitalism and literally the soul of America, I think nothing is more offensive.”
Soptic said, “If he’s going to run the country the way he ran our business, I wouldn’t want him there… How could you care? How could you care for the average working person if you feel that way?”
This video does an excellent job of breaking through the businessman “job creator” narrative that Mitt Romney is attempting to create around himself. When we think of a business person, we think of someone who seeks the success of their business, but that is not the goal of Bain Capital. The goal of Bain Capital is to create wealth for the owners of Bain Capital, by buying up other businesses, loading them up with debt, paying the owners of Bain millions of dollars and then filing for bankruptcy in many cases.
That’s called vulture capitalism, but it really isn’t a form of business management at all. It’s more of a Wall Street leveraging sort of model than a long term profitable business.
Studies show that good business leaders and good managers are humble and share the success with the workers, and yet today we have a culture that rewards vampires like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital. It’s a culture devoid of morality, where the most narcissistic win.
Romney’s vision for America is the desolate aftermath post Bain takeover; empty buildings, 80 year old retirees left without their full pensions, young parents without healthcare and on the other side, privileged sociopaths greedily suck the life out of communities and families deliberately. Romney’s business model is not the American dream, it is the American nightmare.
When you destroy the ability to earn a decent living without a care, and you did it in order to pocket millions in profits for yourself, with no care for the success of the business you took over or the workers in that business, you don’t get to call yourself a job creator.
They psychological cost of devastating middle class families can’t even be measured, but the pain on these men’s faces is evident. They weren’t looking for a handout; they worked just as hard as Mitt Romney did (maybe harder). They just wanted the opportunity to work hard for a decent paycheck.
If Romney is going to tout his “job creator” status, he better come up with something else, because the $19k a year job at Staples he described as a good middle class job isn’t going to put America on the right track and we don’t need a vampiric, vulture Capitalist in the White House. America deserves a leader who respects the importance of work for our national soul if not the economy, and decent paying jobs for hard-working Americans.