Sunday, December 11, 2011

Corporate Fitzwalkerstan In Action!

An astute reader sent me an email with a link to this news story, which is reporting that Wisconsin Public Service Corp (WPSC) sent out lay off notices to some of its workers:
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. could lay off up to 74 workers at its Rothschild and Green Bay power plants a year from now because of increasing regulatory costs, the utility said Friday.

The utility is looking at ways to cut expenses tied to environmental regulations associated with running old, inefficient, coal-fired power plants, WPSC spokesman Kerry Spees said. It's possible no workers will be laid off, he said.

"It's not a specific regulation, but as plants get older, they're more expensive to modify to meet whatever changes there are," Spees said.

Of the 74 employees, 16 work at the Rothschild plant, Spees said. The plant currently employs 186 workers.

WPSC is required to give workers from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 310 a 12-month notice of possible layoffs as part of a collective bargaining agreement.

The workers who could be affected run some of the older, less-efficient units, he said. The workers make family-supporting wages, though Spees declined to provide a salary range.
So what we have so far is that the power company is threatening to lay off 74 workers for an unidentified regulation which might or might not happen, all because they are using some ancient power plants that they don't want to have to fix up.

So instead of spending any money and being responsible corporate citizens, they decided to gear up the fear machine by threatening "family-supporting" jobs, but won't verify that they are indeed family-supporting.

They got the desired reaction out of the union, which turned around and asked the EPA to delay these unidentified regulations to give the company time to comply with the mystery regulations.

Of course, this fits in nicely with Scott Walker's talking point about how "excessive" regulations is hampering the creation of the 250,000 jobs he promised but admits he can't deliver on.

Friendly members of Walker's
Economic Development Commission
To help promote this inane talking point, WPSC is a "silver corporate sponsor" of Walker's privatized economic development scam.  This is significant not only because they will be able to influence the state's environmental regulations but also towards other areas they would be interested in, like the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, which oversees the rates that WPSC can set.  In what I'm sure is just a simple coincidence, WPSC also had requested to raise electrical rates by 3.5%.

So now they are basically saying that they want no new regulations and a pay increase or the workers get it. Sounds like something you would expect to see in a movie about the mafia.  Except that in this case, not only are the gangsters holding up the people and calling the shots, they also are paying off the cops who basically go along with all the demands at the expense of the people being robbed.

It would not be hard to imagine, especially in the spiraling economy Walker has given us, that the folks at WPSC might be hard up and so are forced to take such drastic action.  But it would be still only imagination.

Integrys, the parent company of WPSC (as if they weren't big enough already), posted a $35 million dollar just three months time.  But we are supposed to believe they don't have enough money to fix up or replace their dilapidated power plants and so they want the people to pay for it both with their money and their health.

We didn't elect a new governor or legislature last year after all.  We were the victims of a racketeering bunch of corporate gangsters.

Which all leads to a pointed question or two: Have you signed a recall petition? And if not, what the hell are you waiting for, Christmas?

1 comment:

  1. Extortion is the name of the game in Fitzwalkerstan. It's the same play with the Medicaid waiver -- Feds, approve by Dec. 31, or well kick 53,000 people off Medicaid (even though Dennis Smith did not work with the feds to devise the new rules).

    I thought extortion was illegal.