Whirlpool Corp. recently closed a refrigerator factory in Indiana while paying their top executives more than $75 million in salary and bonuses. Instead of manufacturing refrigerators in the United States, Whirlpool alleges that the layoffs are the result of competitors importing refrigerators from South Korea and Mexico. However, the U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that such imports did not cause any material injury to Whirlpool's ability to market its products in the United States.
Though there are probably several different sides to this story, allegations of unfair labor negotiations by corporations and wage claims often arise under such circumstances. It is one thing to point to tough economic times as the reason for layoffs. It's another matter when middle and lower class workers are being laid-off while executives are being financially rewarded.
Companies like Whirlpool are gigantic conglomerates and have large sums of money to defend company management. Sadly, most workers do not have the same sort of leverage and this is the reason that they join unions. If such businesses do not negotiate fairly with their workers, it's a good idea to consult with an attorney experienced in dealing with such worker disputes - especially when the employer is a large corporation.
Whirlpool's annual sales for the year of 2011 were listed at around $19 billion. Much of the credit for their success should go to the 68,000 employees that they have on their payroll across the world. Though such figures do not tell the entire story, red flags are raised when a company achieves financial success while at the same time its employees are being let go.
Source: The City Wire, "Whirlpool faces union questions, loses trade dispute," April 18, 2012