Any effort at looking at what Bain Capital did while Mitt Romney was in charge will turn up some info on the paper product plant in Marion, Indiana that Bain owned Ampad acquired in 1994. I have not put a lot of effort into finding more details, so it may be this story is already on the internet somewhere. Well, now it is here too.
Before typing this up, I had a chat with a friend of mine (no liberal, he!) who lives in Marion, reads the paper, and has always seemed to have his ear to the ground to verify my version of events is reasonably accurate.
I was living in Marion in 1994. I got the Marion Chronicle Tribune (no liberal, it!) every day and I read it. Most of what I know is from what I read in that paper.
The local SCM plant was purchased by Ampad. According to this timeline, it was a year before all the employees were let go. They were then allowed to apply to get their jobs back. Almost all of them did apply and did get their jobs back. My friend remembers that the wage scale was cut 25% and all seniority was lost.
Some period of time passed by, I’m guessing a month or so (but maybe just a few days…). The company announced changes in the work rules. The employees grumbled but kept working. This happened a few times (three, four?). The last time, rules were instituted to restrict bathroom visits.
The workers finally went out on strike. They picketed the plant for a period of time (I think a couple of weeks, maybe a month). Then the company announced the plant was closing and moved the equipment out. The jobs were gone.
I am perfectly willing to admit that sometimes companies closing plants is, in the long run, a good thing. It might not ever be for the local community, but it can be for the company’s overall health. These events are sometimes necessary evils.
But what Bain did in Marion was a bit above and beyond the call of duty. Even at the time, I felt it was obvious that the plant was purchased for the purpose of closing it. But someone thought “Instead of just closing this plant, let’s see what we can squeeze out of it first.” The employees were not just let go, they were abused to see what it would take for them to strike.
My memory is that the paper reported a “no comment” from Bain Capital on at least a few occasions. Maybe there is “another side to the story,” but Bain had no interest in telling that story.