Romney’s Bain, Part 2

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.

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