Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Monday, March 23, 2009

Select Staffing Back in the News: Cut Out Severance for Workers?

Steve Sorenson from Select Staffing is back in the bad graces of the blogosphere after Select parent company Koosharem Corp's acquisition of Walnut Creek-based Westaff for about $10.3 million in cash and perhaps $10.5 million in debt (see PacBizTimes).

I often look twice when several comments show up on a several month old post. This is from a reader on the last post about Select's response to my post about them asking if their employee's were feeling 'spunky about gay marriage':

You buy the company I work for, two days later you terminate the existing severance agreement entirely, then the day after that you start letting people go.

I trashed the link to a blog in the comments here that went into more lurid detail and invective. I'm not really interested in maligning the man's religion -- especially because there are plenty of Christians that don't follow their own values. If you are into that kind of thing you can probably find it.

If this is true -- that's kind of lame to change the severance policy and then expect your remaining employees to trust you. Yes -- we are in a recession, but that does not give one carte blanche to be an uber-capitalist (i.e. The Man).

Republicans keep on talking about socialism like its a dirty word (an inept, incorrect adjective for Democrats if I ever heard one) but they are not usually willing to say when capitalists (separate from a healthy respect for business and capitalism) come up shy of their promise. What do you think?

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Anonymous NewSpeak said...

Wall street bonuses are bad and Select Staffing severance contracts are good. Both are contractual obligations freely entered into by both parties. Yet in Obamaland, one is bad and one is good? Do I have this right.

3/23/2009 10:51 PM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

It obviously wasn't an obligation...and it isn't freely entered if there's a bait and switch and one has no power over it at all. Change the HR rules, pocket the difference -- not very nice is it?

Wall street bonuses aren't bad -- they should be given based on performance though. This wasn't the case for Notorious AIG. Isn't that something the Republicans used to call entitlement culture? They don't have to get them and AIG obviously can't afford them.

3/24/2009 6:16 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noreiga said...

Dearest Niece: What's bothersome to me is this buildup of power in Washington. The American tradition has so far not followed the "L'etat c'est moi" model. Is there any reason to believe that decision making in Washington is going to be better than decision making in Paris, Beijing, or North Korea?

I often watch C-Span and it often makes me think of Rome and Nero...

On your example of employee rights, I think we've seen enough for us all to rightly conclude that there is no free lunch no matter what your boss of HR person says.

3/24/2009 7:02 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

I usually get grief when I point to Denmark as a viable model for the balance between individual liberty and responsibility to the community, but here goes. What Select Staff did with regard to cancelling severence agreements would never be allowed in Denmark, the government and labor unions would have never allowed it. There are laws there that prevent such a mean spirited, selfish, and greedy practice. And yet Denmark's economy does not seem to suffer from such government and labor union intrusion into the economy, just as it does not suffer from their universal single payer health care system. In fact, Denmark has probably the most robust economy in Europe with the lowest unemployment and its people are among the happiest in the World. Sorry Don Jose mi amigo, what we need is more government involvement, not less.

3/24/2009 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Mr. Moreno said...

Amen, Eckermann. If I were a younger man without responsibilities I'd learn Danish and discover the wonders of Europe's sanest country.

3/24/2009 9:14 PM  
Anonymous AN50 said...

Hate to point out the obvious Eckermann but the very government you and your socialist touting cohorts love to embrace is 11 trillion dollars in debt and they want to add another 9 trillion. Like greed, incompetence is a human behavior. You cannot “fix it” by just changing economic systems. In Denmark they have an overwhelming number of rules, regulations and restrictions on behavior, commerce and, well, life. But greed and incompetence still exists their and just gets buried in the bureaucratic morass. Just ask my neighbor, he and his wife emigrated from there and even with all the problems the left whines about with our country they see the U.S. as the last great hope. They left the coddled culture of cradle to grave government nannyism to experience first hand the exhilaration of actually doing something on your own. It’s been rough on them, they see now there is little in the way of safety nets here, but like all the immigrants who have come before them the oppressive hand of government is out of their lives and they fight on. I am proud of them as I am of all immigrants who arrive at our border not expecting a hand out, a guaranty or an entitlement, but just an opportunity. You may believe compassion and fairness come from a large benevolent dictatorship, but I don’t. Bigger government has always meant less for you and me.

3/24/2009 9:44 PM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

Damn SDLG> I understand your policies and not wanting to malign "the man's religion" but I like to read what people say so I can understand their point of view especially before commenting about their point of view.

I know I am not very a learned type but I thought I was clever enough to use a couple of those internets search engines to find the Westaff employees blog/rant. I searched using just about every adjective, verb, noun and name in your post plus a few more like selfish, polygamy, Big Love, magic underpants/garments, planet Kolob and I still could not locate the rant.

3/25/2009 6:28 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Hey guys! Don Jose is from Spain and knows these Euros inside out. Just look at the economic 'miracle' in Spain! Look, hang around long enough and even the Danes will have their clock cleaned. Anyone want to comment on what immigration is doing their system? How about those 80,000 jobs, or 3.5% of the workplace that just bit the dust this month in France. The English are out of money. Ireland has gone over the falls...right on top of Iceland.

Aha says Mureno and Eckermann, we just need more 'world'government...

Sure. What until G20 meets.

3/25/2009 6:41 AM  
Blogger Sara De la Guerra said...

Personally, I like the Big Love search term as a search path...sorry about that, just want to keep things even around here.

3/25/2009 6:54 AM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

NewSpeak; Obama isn't the only one that is angry over Wall Street bonuses. Corporations bailed out by the U.S.A shouldn't have their obligations scrutinized, especially bonuses for companies that are responsible for this current economic trend?

It doesn't sound like Westaff employees had a contract. It was a "Company Policy." If the employees had a union the severance pay probably would have been contractual and probably binding in this buyout.

In Republicanland there are no safety nets. No union, no regulation to provide for retirement, no unemployment insurance, no social security. The republican program is to punish unionized employees by letting the companies fail (auto companies) and go into bankruptcy so that the contracts and obligations are voided. So at age 65 you could find yourself looking for a career.

3/25/2009 6:56 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

AN50, you pretty much hit the nail on the head by drawing a very clear tension between liberty and security. You are of course correct in your assessment that a community pays for every improvement in security with a corresponding diminishment of liberty. It is true that Denmark's total taxes are 49% of GDP (ouch!). On the other hand, everyone is covered by public funded health care, 37% of Danes have vocational degrees and 30% hold college level degrees. Even in the worldwide financial crisis, unemployement there is only about 5% and historical averages are much lower (nearly full employement). Denmark has had a trade surplus every year for over 20 years. Inflation is only 1.2% and growth is about 1.7% annually. 66% of Denmark's citizens live in owner occupied dwellings. 80% of its workforce is represented by a union. By every standard Danes live comfortable lives and are guaranteed a living pension at 65. In my view, they have made a very rational bargain, which has even resulted in a very robust economy. What is there not to like.

3/25/2009 8:03 AM  
Anonymous Soros and Obama - the evil twins said...

Don, Presidents who are bought by the same people who made billions betting against America need to be scrutinized too.

Follow the money from George Soros to Barack Obama and back again.

Whether George Soros did this with "taxpayer money" is just a matter of what your definition of tax payer money is. He bought a Presidency with his political money and clout.

The President stirred up economic doom and gloom beyond all fact and reason and voila, Soros sweeps in and gets a very fair return on his investment.

No Ponzi scheme here. Soros got real money betting against America and installing Obama at the same time. Always follow the money.

And this is why Obama can't speak in public unless he has a teleprompter or now video screen and someone else's words. Anytime he is asked to speak on his own, his appalling incompetence and inexperience becomes obvious. Yet, Obama excells at the Chicago Way.

3/25/2009 11:54 AM  
Anonymous NewSpeak said...

Wow, that is the biggest NewSpeak I have heard so far:

"Republicans punish union employees by letting companies fail."

Congratulations, Don McDermott. That one is a whopper. Whoowhee, are we ever in for a long national nightmare. But thanks for letting us know where it will be coming from.

My apologies for letting unionized public education fail as well. I see now what we have harvested.

3/25/2009 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Don Jose notes for the worthy readers of my niece's blog that yes indeed Mr. Soros does seems to have made about 2.3 Billion dollars while spending all that money for Obama.

Do you think Soros is from Denmark?

3/25/2009 6:48 PM  
Anonymous Don Jose de la Guerra y Noriega said...

Mr. Eckermann...Interesting. Denmark sounds so enticing when you write about it. Can you give me a run-down on Denmark's immigration policies?

3/25/2009 6:54 PM  
Blogger Don McDermott said...

What's with all the off-topic right wing talking points? All I did was excerpt long term objectives of this country's conservative/republican "no safety nets" party platform. I guess the truth can hurt. Sorry.

3/26/2009 7:50 AM  
Anonymous Eckermann said...

Don Jose, I have read that Denmark has fairly liberal immigration policies, but an immigrant does not necessarily get to choose his or her profession (part of that security for liberty exchange). Also, if one does not speak Danish, it would be very difficult to live there. I knew someone who lived there for some time getting by on German, but not very well. My parents have very dear friends in Denmark and they speak very good English. They lived in the U.S. for a while, but moved back. Its not perfect, but it is an interesting and very humane alternative.

3/26/2009 7:51 AM  
Anonymous The Evangelist said...

The key issue here is hypocrisy, whether religious, economic, or political. Steve Sorensen holds himself up to be a paragon of moral virtue, then by his own actions shows how hollow his own words are.

Sorensen's Select Staffing has intentionally and deliberately terminated severance for the employees of Westaff, which while legal is surely questionable in an ethical sense. Select has also intentionally, illegally and unethically avoided paying wages due those employees by virtue of their legally binding employment contracts.

Examine closely the person who advertises their righteousness most loudly, and you will surely find the polar opposite to be true.

4/27/2009 12:21 PM  

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