Remember Neutron Jack?

Remember ‘Neutron Jack?’
 
Date June 24, 2004
Section(s) Opinion
   
 
To the Editor:

Ralph Hake’s recent behavior — the lay-off of hundreds of union workers, the closing of an entire plant (Galesburg), the firing of hundreds of salaried personnel — are nastily reminiscent of the behavior of the infamous “Neutron” Jack Welch (former CEO of General Electric) who brutally fired more than 100,000 people during his tenure. Could it be that Mr. Hake fancies himself to be another “Neutron” Jack ?

Ironically, I believe Hake himself would have fallen victim to Welch’s ‘Neutron Bomb’ firings if he had been employed under Welch. Why? Because from 2002-2003, Maytag‘s net income dropped 36 percent — from $188.8 million to $120.1 million! Understandably, the Maytag Co. was not pleased with this… It stated in a federal filing that Hake “was not awarded any annual variable incentive compensation” in 2003 due to the company’s performance against financial goals. In other words, Hake didn’t get a bonus that year. And if the Maytag Co. didn’t feel Hake deserved a bonus because of his performance, Jack Welch would most assuredly have given him “the boot” as one of the 10 percent of “corporate poor performers” that he eliminated annually during his tenure at GE.

But to return to the subject of all the layoffs and firings that Hake has authorized lately, let me quote him from an interview with BusinessWeek Magazine on 11/19/2001 shortly after he came to Maytag. The interviewer asked at one point: “What did you find when you came to Maytag?” Hake replied, in part: “….people were worried about their future. I felt we needed to settle people down and get them focused on the business. Get them to stop worrying about whether they had jobs.”

Apparently, Hake no longer feels the need to reassure us about our futures or our jobs. Perhaps it’s because he’s decided to simply eliminate our futures and our jobs, either by financially destabilizing Maytag to make it vulnerable to takeover; or by firing so many people here in Newton that the production lines can’t keep pace with market demand — after which he’ll feel justified in moving Maytag Laundry Products out of Newton entirely.

So forgive us all, Mr. Rickers, if we don’t jump on your bandwagon in staunch support of Hake. He’s done this town, and the displaced Maytag employees, such a disservice that I cannot imagine how anyone could support him.

Lorraine Potter

Newton

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