Blaming the Smurfit Closure on the Union is So 1980’s

by jhwygirl

Ok – I’ve probably heard it a half dozen times the last couple days lately, and the last time I just turned my head and walked away. “Oh, of course it’s the union’s fault. You know it,” as if I did. I left, but wanted to walk back and say “So the 47 million they paid in bonuses to top executives just before starting this whole eventual shut down was OK?” or “Why isn’t it dumb management fault?” or “They were a cardboard box place and the economy sucks,” but I didn’t. And I’m ashamed I didn’t.

Maybe tomorrow I print this out and leave it on the copier, because, boy – when you talk about poor business choices, sure sounds like Smurfit is an education in what not to do.

The whole union-bashing thing is crap. It’s a bunch of bunk to think that any entity is going to enter into a labor contract and not make money. Those things are done eyes-wide-open on both sides…meaning union negotiators are looking at books and businesses are opening books trying to justify not giving up one more penny. The process might seem offensive to some, but it’s a give-and-take relationship in industry and union jobs especially – business needs labor, labor needs business. Why should only one side be expected to trust the other blindly? When both rely on each other for survival?

And if Smurfit was really in the business of staying in business, they’da gone to the union and the union – also in the business of staying in business – would of made concessions, regardless of whether the contract was up or not. Because that is how it works if both sides are working together for the mutual interest of each other.

That is how it would work if Smurfit was really intent on keeping that plant open. That is how it would work if they were committed, in part, to the people they employed. But alas, Smurfit has other gods to answer to, and they have no interest in anything but their pocketbook.

Which is why – always – the employed should consider themselves first, just as the employer does.

Anyways – the Bunkster has a great piece over there…don’t miss it.


  1. ladybug

    I’m sure it’s those environmental whackos.

  2. problembear

    we’re not buying enough stuff that needs packaging when we buy local- so you are right ladybug. it is our fault.

  3. Pogo Possum

    “Looking forward, the benefits to Missoula include: cleaner air, clearer skies, less dioxin in the river, improved public health and a more attractive community. . . .” ladybug

    Hopefully the 417 Smurfit employees and the dozens of businesses and the hundreds of other families (loggers, truckers, teachers, shop owners, etc) who’s jobs were dependent on this plant will see through the “crocodile tears” in many of these threads.

    They may not be responsible for shutting down the plant, but I suspect a fair number of the commenter’s loudly lamenting the plant’s closing are in full agreement with ladybug and are happy Smurfit and its dirty jobs are gone so Missoula can be a “cleaner” and “more attractive community.”

    These people never liked you, never wanted you and inspite of their brief show of weeping and gnashing of teeth, that are glad you are gone.

    Talk about adding insult to injury.

  4. ladybug


    Don’t worry, be happy. Happy New Year.

  5. Pogo Possum

    Just more “crocodile tear” sentiments from you, ladybug, but I will pass your comments on to some of my friends who lost their jobs at Smurfit. That should help their families get through the holidays.

    • Lizard

      is it not possible to recognize the benefit the jobs brought the community while at the same time wanting to shift to more sustainable ways of growth?

    • Freeranger

      Sancitmony does not become you, Po Po. Why don’t you tell your friends what you think of their union.

      • Pogo Possum

        Don’t worry, Freeranger. They know who their friends are.

        • Freeranger

          So, Po Po, what are you doing exactly to aid those who will be soon unemployed?

          • Pogo Possum

            I am helping in my own personal and professional way.

            But more important, I am not doing the “happy dance” that you and ladybug seem to be so enthusiastically performing that only comes across as rubbing salt in the wounds of many of those losing their jobs.

  6. ladybug

    Stone is a near-perfect example of a state-corporate system. It is authoritarian in nature, but subsidizes labor unions that will give up worker’s freedom and self-determination – and bargaining opwer – in exchange for (profit) “certainty.” Co-dependent labor, organized or not, is just another cog in the corporate-welfare system. Some workers are beginning to see how this doesn’t work.

  7. Pogo Possum

    Wow……the evil “state-corporate system”.

    It’s Noam Chomsky, the Wobblies and the all wrapped up into one. Brings back fond memories of some of my old grad school classmates reminiscing about their days in the SDS, the Fidelistas and YSA getting high, skipping classes, dodging tear gas and “fighting the man” as they tried to justify their sorry existance and lack of acomplishment.

    Meanwhile, ladybug continues her “happy dance” now that the evil polluting co-dependent unionized Smurfit workers jobs are gone.

    • Lizard

      pogo, this one’s for you–what it takes to build a movement. here’s a snip you’re condescending little comments in this thread could benefit from:

      Thinking back over my own experience, I realized that I had inherited this organizer’s identity from the red diaper babies I fell in with at the Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, SDS. Raised by parents in the labor and civil rights and communist or socialist movements, they had naturally learned the organizing method as other kids learned how to throw footballs or bake pineapple upside-down cakes. “Build the base!” was the constant strategy of Columbia SDS for years.

      Yet, young activists I met were surprised to learn that major events, such as the Columbia rebellion of April 1968, did not happen spontaneously, that they took years of prior education, relationship building, reconsideration on the part of individuals of their role in the institution. I.e., organizing. It seemed to me that they believed that movements happen as a sort of dramatic or spectator sport: after a small group of people express themselves, large numbers of bystanders see the truth in what they’re saying and join in. The mass anti-war mobilization of the Spring 2003, which failed to stop the war, was the only model they knew.

      I began looking for a literature that would show how successful historical movements were built. Not the outcomes or triumphs, such as the great civil rights March on Washington in 1963, but the many streams that eventually created the floods. I wanted to know who said what to whom and how did they respond. One book was recommended to me repeatedly by friends, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: the Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle by Charles M. Payne (University of California Press, 1995). Payne, an African-American sociologist, now at the University of Chicago, asked the question how young student organizers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, had successfully organized voter registration and related campaigns in one town, Greenwood, Mississippi, in the years 1961-1964. The Mississippi Delta region was one of the most benighted areas of the South, with conditions for black cotton sharecroppers and plantation workers not much above the level of slavery. Despite the fact that illiteracy and economic dependency were the norm among black people in the Delta, and that they were the target of years of violent terror tactics, including murder, SNCC miraculously organized these same people to take the steps toward their own freedom, through attaining voting rights and education. How did they do it?

      care to add anything substantive, pogo? is derision the only tool in your toolbox?

  8. ladybug


    You might put down your rear-view mirror for one minute and try to see the opportunity, instead of all the dis-this, dis-that and such gloom and doom. These temporarily displaced workers are not the worst-off among us by a long shot. Freedom is not such a bad thing, try it, you might like it.

  9. problembear

    smurfit stone is just the tip of a very large iceberg, the days of wealthy investors making money off the “churn” of a continual spiral of insane growth projections is over. today smart money is crawling back into its shell and buying gold until a cleaner, greener economy with less packaging (buy local) and less fossil fuel energy dependent lifestyles present better opportunities for investment. but as long as our government, wall street and our military continues to prop up saudi interests in keeping us all addicted to cheap gas and diesel, we will get nowhere.

    this has been coming for a long time. and it is not the fault of any one person. empty train cars are stacked like so much discarded spaghetti accross this continent. cargo containers pile up in our coastal ports like legos…..

    to condemn each other in the midst of a huge recession which could well make or break our country depending on how we approach it seems to me to be small and petty and i find it particularly appalling when a right wing republican presents himself as a friend of any union is ludicrous. maybe a moderate republican……but this is too much hubris for me to swallow. the fact is times are changing. waste and pollution are byproducts of the good old days long gone. younger people with better vision than most of us are working toward a smarter future

    my grandfather in 1971 told me to forget working in the woods or in the mills as a career. this curve has been bending toward

    • problembear

      (cont.) economic oblivion for a long time. until we get control of our central banking system and our government comes to its senses and stops propping up failed theories we are all in deep trouble.

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