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They Couldn’t Wait Until After Thanksgiving

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U.S. Steel decided they couldn’t wait until after Thanksgiving to lay off 2000 workers at its Granite City, Illinois facility. What a lovely holiday those unemployed workers will have. At the same time, U.S. Steel is demanding 20,000 union workers give away much of their contract in current negotiations, no doubt using the threat of Granite City and another recent shuttered factory in Birmingham as a threat. It’s true enough that the remnant American steel industry is not in great financial shape but one could also try to work with the United Steelworkers to deal with the situation instead of using it as an opportunity to attack organized labor. And there’s no excuse for laying off people the week of a holiday. At least have the common decency to wait until Monday. But that’s capitalism for you.

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  • Shell4747

    I dunno, man…since the day after Thanksgiving is such an enormous shopping day, I think those people need to know that they’re laid off.

    • Dilan Esper

      Yeah. Tying this to Thanksgiving is a cheap rhetorical device. Lay them off after thanksgiving and Erik would make your point, or say they are going to have an un-merry Christmas, or an unhappy New Year, or whatever.

      Because his objection is to the layoff, not the timing.

      In my profession, this sort of thing is often the mark of a bad legal brief. Instead of emphasizing their actual argument (in this case, that the layoffs are heartless), the writer looks for some hook to pull on people’s emotional strings. (Instead of saying “the government violated the clear commands of the statutes in terminating Ms. Jones’ Social Security disability benefits without notice”, they write “the government heartlessly cut off Ms. Jones’ Social Security disability benefits just before she was to embark on a long-planned trip to see her family”; the problem is, the statutory language does not contain any consideration of whether she was planning a trip, but does require notice.)

      People really think that this sort of writing style is a magic bullet, and more persuasive (including of people who disagree with you) than just stating your case and making your argument. It isn’t.

      • njorl

        People really think that this sort of writing style is a magic bullet, and more persuasive (including of people who disagree with you) than just stating your case and making your argument. It isn’t.

        It is more persuasive than people not listening to you. In a court of law, there isn’t a danger of the judge and jury walking over to the next courtroom to see if there is a more interesting case.

      • yet_another_lawyer

        I see these bad legal briefs all the time. Don’t forget that Mrs. Jones has four grandchildren and diabetes, without the corresponding references to the section of the statute that make four grandchildren and diabetes legally relevant.

        • We’re in a law court now? Guess I’m obliged to go to law school if I want to continue.

          Emotional appeals are entirely legitimate outside of the courtroom for a variety of purposes.

          • yet_another_lawyer

            I was replying specifically in the legal context, where this schlock is common but ineffective. In the realm of public discourse, all sorts of things including emotional appeals are effective at moving the needle. I view this as generally a bad thing– it is, after all, the primary reason why Donald Trump has a non-zero chance of being president. At the same time, though, even though the tactic itself is toxic, it would be even worse if the left unilaterally disarmed, so looks like we’ll be stuck with them for a while. How effective “these layoffs were unfair” will be versus “these layoffs were unfair in part because they occurred the day before Thanksgiving” is an empirical question that I claim no special knowledge on.

            • Yes, Dilan put this in the legal context originally, after first saying that the appeal was “cheap,” so we might guess what he meant was that it was inappropriate in a law court and *therefore* inappropriate pure and simple, though maybe not. (Not being inclined beforehand to agree with him, I could say his argument could equally well support a conclusion that lawyers are likely to oppose the kind of appeal made in the OP, and that they wouldn’t be right to do so.) And every field has a style characteristically used in bad arguments, I guess.

              Some people may get on board with support for unions because they appreciate the unfairness of layoffs just before Thanksgiving, who wouldn’t get upset about layoffs at another time of year, or think it was newsworthy.

              Some people may already be on board with support for unions and already be used to expecting notices of this kind, from their own side, to be framed as strongly as possible.

              I’m not sure either of these is illegitimate, much less “toxic”.

              Posting an apparent objection that maybe the workers preferred to be laid off before the holiday does seem odd, and it’s hard to see how it makes sense in either of those contexts. Maybe if the person knew factory workers who’d complained last year about the reverse happening? It seems far-fetched and I’d have to see evidence before believing it.

              edit: I’ve gone on vacation knowing there was a layoff scheduled for the day I got back, and not knowing whether I’d be caught in it, though that’s not quite the same thing.

              • The Temporary Name

                As a temp worker I tended to get laid off before holidays because holidays are paid. It certainly felt like a meaningful “fuck you” to me.

        • Denverite

          On the other hand, judges are human, and some will be more sympathetic to a more sympathetic plaintiff. They won’t refuse to apply the law or anything, but if an issue could go both ways, they’ll go with the plaintiff.

  • Rob in CT

    Does someone who is laid off really care if it’s immediately before or immediately after a holiday?

    I can’t really speak to this, as although I was laid off once, I was 21 and it just wasn’t the same thing as what these folks are dealing with. I actually got to pick which round of layoff I’d be in, and since one was my birthday I grabbed that one. Laid off on my birthday, those bastids! It was too good to pass up.

    • Denverite

      It wasn’t a layoff, but I got some unwelcome news at work right before Christmas once and it ruined the holiday for both me and my family (because I was miserable).

    • solidcitizen

      Yes. The workers and their families are going to spend the next several days being reminded that these are the days to give thanks for all they have. Each one of those will be a punch to the guts.

      • Rob in CT

        Ok, fair enough.

    • The Temporary Name

      Does someone who is laid off really care if it’s immediately before or immediately after a holiday?

      Yes also.

  • c u n d gulag

    Come on.
    You know that laying off people right before a holiday makes it that much sweeter for the Plutocrats!
    Especially now.
    If any steel-working Bob Cratchit’s had plans to buy their Tiny Tim’s new crutches for Christmas, well, they can just go out in the woods and find sticks.
    Handmade gifts are so much better, aren’t they?

    Wait for Christmas Eve for more layoffs!
    The newly unemployed can return gifts on 12/26, instead of cashing paychecks.
    Hey, money’s money, right?

  • IM

    I protest against this picture! The american flag is triggering to some people!

    And I don’t the timing matters much.

    • Malaclypse

      Christ, what an asshole.

      • IM

        no humor, what?

        • Hogan

          That’s exactly what I thought about your comment. Vapid lazy gotcha bullshit.

          • IM

            So? I am not trolling every Loomis post because of the fucking pictures or whatever the excuse de jour is.

            • Hogan

              No, you’re just trolling without an excuse.

              • IM

                I rather count that as an pedagogic intervention. Didn’t work, though.

                • Brett

                  You really are shitting out a ton of defensive bullshit over a bad joke. Why don’t you just move on? Or was it not really a joke?

                • IM

                  You don’t get it, do you? Not the joke wasn’t good- But he underlying issue – derailing of threads because of “wrong” illustrations or whatever – is. Just read the comnments of the texas school book thread.

                  And is is always funny when people attack and then complain about the attacked being “defensive”.

        • Malaclypse

          When you find yourself writing some version of “can’t you libtards take a joke” it is time to ponder the poor life choices that have taken you to this place.

          • IM

            when you find yourself writing some version of liberals are the real racists then perhaps you should start some self-reflection.

            • Malaclypse

              You let me know where I wrote any version of that. I’ll wait.

              • IM

                Did I claim my first comment was especially aimed at you?

                Meanwhile you could prove where I did ever rite something like “libtards can’t take a joke”.

                • Malaclypse
                • IM

                  that was nothing of the sort and you know that.

              • c u n d gulag

                Mal,
                He can’t stand that that flag is blowing to the left.

                All good flags blow to the right!

  • Zoogz

    Mark me as “no real good time for a layoff”… I worked for a heavy machinery company that also happened to be a government contractor, and they were in-between government projects when they laid me off on 1 December.

    However, there’s *ways* to do this too… I was working white-collar and the Monday prior to Thanksgiving, we had a luncheon to say “goodbye” to two of the employees — our VP of legal (my manager’s manager) and the head of export compliance, as both of them just happened to find new jobs after the fiscal year was done…

    Less than a week later, I was out of a job. I quite wish that the company was at least honest enough to tell me that there was no room in the budget for me as well ahead of time, so that I could have arranged a softer landing.

  • AMK

    The steel industry is hurting because our fantastic trade deals allow every other country on the planet to dump their steel in the American market like shit in a bucket, with zero consequences. It’s all the more remarkable because the cheerleaders for our new globalist era are also some of the biggest war fetishists inside the beltway. What do they think ships and planes and subs and tanks are made of? Junk bonds? Things will get really awkward when we have to ask the Chinese to please send us more steel so we can wage our naval arms race against them.

    • Brett

      According to this, the US already has selective tariffs on Chinese steel (the biggest offenders, by far, in terms of steel dumping), but they’re asking for more. I doubt they’ll get it, though – back when Bush Jr slammed down a tariff on Chinese steel in 2002, it ended up going against the US in WTO mediation.

      Things will get really awkward when we have to ask the Chinese to please send us more steel so we can wage our naval arms race against them.

      The US already recycles most of its steel, so that particular issue isn’t a big concern. Plus they can stockpile it.

    • Bill Murray

      it’s more than just steel. More or less every metal being mined is down in price mainly because of Chinese dumping.

  • Brett

    They’re saying it’s just a “temporary idling” (and that plant was temporarily idled back in 2008, so there’s precedent), although of course a temporary idling can become a permanent shutdown if conditions don’t improve. I’d expect the union to try and make sure that these folks are the first to be hired back if the plant goes back into service.

    None of which excuses the shittiness of announcing this two days before Thanksgiving. They couldn’t wait until friday – or monday?

    It’s true enough that the remnant American steel industry is not in great financial shape but one could also try to work with the United Steelworkers to deal with the situation instead of using it as an opportunity to attack organized labor.

    There’s not much they can do, unless they can win a complaint in the WTO saying that the Chinese are dumping steel below the cost of production (which they may or may not be doing – but probably are because the steel companies there are state-owned).

  • keta

    Jesus. I bet there’s a bunch of Yankees haters here, too.

  • pianomover

    I’ve heard the logic behind these types of firings is that their will be no management to go back and shoot for at least four days. Cooling off period and all that.

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