In his campaign speech in Kansas last week, President Obama used a company called Marvin Windows and Doors in Minnesota as an example of a responsible business. Apparently when the recession hit, Marvin Windows and Doors reduced salaries and benefits rather than fire any employees.
Over at The Ashbrook Center Blog, William Voegeli fills in a few of the data points that the President conveniently left out.
- Marvin Windows and Doors is a family-owned, privately-held company and has no obligations to shareholders.
- Marvin Windows and Doors apparently doesn’t have any unions. Thus:
When housing starts – and orders for new windows and doors – plummeted, management cut salaries by 5 percent, put hourly workers on 32-hour weeks, stopped paying tuition reimbursement, stopped allowing employees to cash in unused vacation days, and encouraged them to take unpaid leaves. Through attrition, the workforce is 14 percent smaller than at its housing-boom peak. The only things the company hasn’t cut are jobs and health insurance benefits. There’s not a hint in the Times article of any of these changes being voted on or negotiated with anyone – all appear to have been the owners’ unilateral decisions.
So the President’s sterling example of good corporate citizenship was only possible by enacting workplace policies that would be inconceivable in a union shop.
(Voegeli also points out that Obama is praising an approach that his own administration didn’t use with GM and Chrysler.)