Picketers And Saratoga Springs Police Show What The Word “Class” Means

Blogger And Picketers

Members of the International United Electrical Workers and the Communications Workers of America have been on strike in Waterford now for eighty-two days against Momentive.  I have discussed the details of this job action in another blog.  The company was bought from General Electric by Apollo Global Management which is run by Leon Black and Steven Schwartzman.  These are two of the wealthiest men on Wall Street which makes them two of the wealthiest men on earth.

After successfully cutting wages and benefits in a previous contract with the unions they now want to cut health benefits for both current employees and retired employees as well as cut retirement benefits among other give backs.

This evening (Monday, January 23, 2017) the employees set up a picket line at Jack G. Boss’s home off Meadowbrook Road.  Mr. Boss, who is the CEO of Momentive, had a compensation package of $5,418,611.00 in 2015.  Picture of Mr. Boss.

Joe Levy and I went out to see what was going on.

Everything was rather quiet in the cold night until a man driving an Audi with his children in the car stopped in front of the union members holding a banner.  Much of this incident was caught on video by channel 13. One of the strikers approached the car and this elegantly dressed gentleman got rather ugly.  To my amazement, in spite of the fact that there were approximately fifty men from the unions there, he got out of his car appearing to be interested in a fight.  If you find this hard to believe, watch the video.

The Guy In The Audi and his son

What was most impressive was the restraint of the union members and the excellent job done by the two city police officers who were present.  The police officers got this gentleman  back in his car and patiently urged him to leave.  This was another time I was very proud to be living in Saratoga as I watched our city’s officers work to defuse the situation.  The man continued to be belligerent with the police.   I couldn’t hear it all but I did hear him ask the police officer, “Do you know who my wife is?”  “I’d like your name.”  “How long have you been a policeman?” (seventeen years he was told). 

The police officer pointed out that the man had children in the car and suggested he should  take them home.  None of this seemed to do much good.  I cannot recall exactly how the police officer put it but in a very dignified and firm voice he sent the message to the man that if he did not leave action would be taken.  The man finally left. 

The man’s  license plate was “Joe 14”.   If anyone recognizes this man I would very much like to know who he is and who his wife is who apparently is someone “important.”

Other than that, the event was all very peacefulWe left around 6:30.  The event was to end at 7:00.


Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner Goes Out In The Cold To Support the Momentive Strikers

What had been the GE silicone plant in Waterford was bought by the hedge fund Apollo Global Management.  Its president, Leon Black, made celebrity status when he paid $120,000,000.00 for the Edvard Munch painting, “The Scream.” 

The purchase of the plant from GE was a classic Wall Street maneuver.  The hedge fund paid $3,800,000,000.00 by leveraging debt and leaving the newly created company with huge debt.  If this story goes the way many of these do, Black’s hedge fund will have received millions of dollars in fees for their new creation no matter what happens to it.  If the plant fails, Apollo will walk away with its fees leaving Momentive unable to pay its creditors.

That debt led Momentive to file for a bankruptcy that, according to Forbes Magazine, was eventually worth $300 million to the company. “Apollo has been the hottest private equity player in recent years,” the magazine said in an admiring profile.  It’s possible they received fees for managing the bankruptcy of their own company.

The employees of Momentive endured a wage cut in 2010 and a pension freeze for 400 of its members in 2013.  In November IUE CWA Local 81359  rejected the latest contract which included more draconian cuts to employees’ benefits for health, vacation, and retirement.

For some reason, Americans seem often to lack empathy for people on strike.  In this case, the men and women of this local have been out for forty-two days.  Given the stress of lost income for such a long period life is very hard.

On Tuesday night in bitter cold weather there was a rally and march to support the strikers.  It was there I ran into our Assemblywoman, Carrie Woerner.  I think it speaks extremely well of her, especially given how conservative this district is, that she would turn out for the event.

Assemblywoman Woerner and Blogger

The Times Union home page has a large banner in which Momentive solicits new employees.  I never recall any similar solicitation on their home page.  It is particularly of note that they are asking for “replacement” positions.  It is interesting because it doesn’t include anything about the type of work.  Momentive is a chemical plant.  Working with chemicals requires great care due to the hazardous nature of the process.  Replacing employees with the skills to perform the work is not easy.  I have been told that the non-union employees that have been hired (referred to as scabs by the world of unions) have been mainly for maintenance purposes and little in the way of production has been happening.   I speculate that this “advertising” has more to do with unnerving the people on strike than it does to actually finding employees.