Archive for October, 2004

Galesburg board votes to bill Maytag $94,000 for school taxes

October 29, 2004
Galesburg board votes to bill Maytag $94,000 for school taxes
Date October 29, 2004
Section(s) Local News


Special to the Newton Daily News

GALESBURG — The Knox County Board has decided the county should simply send Maytag Corp. a bill instead of suing the company for about $94,000 members believe the company owes School District 205.

The board voted 14-1 on the resolution during its meeting Wednesday. Board member Lowell Mannhardt voted no. The consensus among other members was that by simply sending a bill, the county would recoup taxes while avoiding the image of being unfriendly to businesses, a concern held by area planners and some officials.

Knox County State’s Attorney Paul Mangieri first approached the board in August to ask members to support a proposed lawsuit against Maytag, which has laid off about 1,600 workers as it plans a complete exit in February.

Mangieri had determined Maytag owed, from a more than 10-year period, about $1 million in abated taxes to six Knox County taxing bodies within an enterprise zone: the County Board, School District 205, the city of Galesburg, the Town of the City of Galesburg, the Galesburg Sanitary District and Carl Sandburg College.

Mangieri needs at least one taxing body to agree to the lawsuit. Up until Wednesday, all but two taxing bodies had objected to the lawsuit: District 205, which is still investigating possibilities, and the County Board.

Mangieri believes Maytag was allowed up to $1 million in abatements for all six taxing bodies collectively.

In August, the County Board instructed Mangieri to negotiate on its behalf. The state’s attorney said Wednesday he contacted Maytag a while back and had “a good cordial give-and-take phone conversation.”

Mangieri said the next correspondence he received was a letter to the taxing bodies, and he received a copy. He said Maytag does not think it owes the county anything, and that if it did at some point, the statute of limitation would make any obligations void.

Board member Allen Pickrel said he believes Maytag does owe District 205 $94,000 and moved that a bill be sent Maytag. But neither he nor any of the other board members agreed to the $1 million amount Mangieri feels the county is owed.

Board Wayne Saline agreed with billing the company. “It’s an issue of equality. If it were a resident of the county, we wouldn’t hesitate sending the bill. We need to send it (to Maytag),” he said, drawing applause from the audience.

Maytag spokeswoman Lynne Dragomeir said the company remains open to communicating with the county.

“The company always would receive communication from any group, of course, but the company has made its position clear that we believe it has paid its fair share,” she said.


Fitch cuts Maytag debt rating

October 26, 2004
Fitch cuts Maytag debt rating
Date October 26, 2004
Section(s) Business
Fitch Ratings has downgraded its senior unsecured debt rating for Maytag, dropping the company to junk status.

Maytag fell from a BBB- rating to a BB+ rating, the highest of Fitch’s junk status ratings.

In a statement, Fitch said “The downgrade reflects Maytag‘s weaker than expected operating performance in 2004, driven by ongoing problems in its floor care and commercial product businesses and higher manufacturing costs.”

The statement goes on to say that Maytag “continues to be adversely affected by its high cost structure,” and that its “situation is not expected to meaningfully improve in the foreseeable future.”

Maytag had approximately $996 million of senior unsecured debt as of Oct. 2, according to Fitch.

Maytag reports lower third quarter earnings

October 21, 2004
Maytag reports lower third quarter earnings
Date October 21, 2004
Section(s) Local News
By the Associated Press

and Daily News Staff

Maytag Corp. reported today that third quarter earnings fell nearly 80 percent from a year ago as restructuring costs, higher steel prices and lower sales in Hoover floor care products took a toll.

The nation’s third largest appliance manufacturer reported profits of $7.5 million, or 9 cents a share, from $36.6 million, or 46 cents a share, last year.

Sales dropped 3 percent to $1.19 billion from $1.22 billion from the same quarter in 2003.

Excluding restructuring and other charges, the company earned 15 cents a share, missing the 18 cents per share consensus estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson First Call.

The Newton-based company reported a charge of 16 cents a share including $11.9 million for closing a refrigerator plant in Galesburg, Ill., and $7.2 million for a company-wide restructuring plan.

Maytag cut 20 percent of its salaried work force, or 1,100 jobs, as it consolidated its Hoover, Maytag Appliances and headquarters divisions into what it said was a “one-company” approach, designed to improve speed and competitiveness.

“The ‘One Company’ restructuring is on track, and I think it’s going to pay enormous dividends,” CEO Ralph Hake said during a conference call this morning.

The company expected to save about $30 million a year from closing the Galesburg refrigerator plant, beginning in the fourth quarter, Hake said Thursday in a statement.

“We are taking the right actions to improve Maytag‘s performance going forward,” he said. “Our ‘One Company’ restructuring, which consolidates Hoover floor care, Maytag Appliances and corporate organizations, is on track for $150 million in annual savings and lowered our costs in the third quarter.”

During the conference call, Hake noted that Maytag‘s Neptune laundry products gained additional market share in the third quarter. The front load Neptune washer and dryer are manufactured at Maytag‘s Newton facility.

“Our Neptune family of products… did very well, we’re very pleased with how that family is doing,” Hake said.

One caller asked how Maytag was dealing with increased competition from Asian appliance imports.

“The Asians are here. They’re here to stay. They will have an impact. They have to build their distribution a step at a time and right now that’s the process they’re in,” he said. “Our view is that they’re a real threat and we have to get prepared for them.”

Hake vowed the company would deal with this competition by developing more innovative “high end” products.

Maytag stock rose 14 cents to $15.95 in early trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. They traded above $32 a share as recently as last April.

Hake said the company’s new labor agreements at the Maytag-owned Amana refrigeration plant and sale of a joint venture in China will also help the company going forward.

Don’t outsource jobs

October 18, 2004
Don’t outsource jobs
Date October 18, 2004
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

After seven years of loyal labor as an employee for Maytag in Newton, I was laid off on Sept. 27, 2004, a victim of outsourcing. Three and a half weeks after President Bush came to Iowa on Sept. 3 to remind us of all the work he has done to grow jobs, I was laid off. In less than four years of Bush’s leadership, Maytag‘s Newton plant is about to be outsourced to Mexico. The President’s response is to give companies who outsource jobs to Mexico like Maytag special tax breaks.

In three weeks we need to let George W. Bush know that we want to keep working Iowans working. We need to let George W. Bush know we want to encourage companies to keep jobs here, not shipped overseas. We need a President who will work to create jobs, not encourage companies to lay off workers. I would love to take my grandchildren to parks and buy them gifts. With four more years of Bush economics, I am not sure when or if I will be able to do that again.

Brenda Breckenridge


Job eliminations continue at Maytag

October 15, 2004
Job eliminations continue at Maytag
Date October 15, 2004
Section(s) Local News


Maytag‘s “One Company” reorganization hit Newton salaried workers again on Thursday as approximately 40 employees at the company’s production facility were notified of their separation with the corporation.

Maytag spokesperson Lynne Dragomier said the job eliminations conducted Thursday were part of Maytag‘s continued integration of Hoover and Maytag Appliances under the Maytag corporate umbrella. In June, Maytag announced that it would eliminate 1,100 salaried positions by year’s end as part of a major restructuring.

A number of individuals were immediately let go on Thursday while others were notified their positions would be eliminated before the end of the year.

“This is consistent with our other actions where we are reducing layers of management and increasing the span of control,” Dragomier said.

Maytag is scheduled to announce third quarter earnings on Thursday. In a conference call with investors following the earnings release, Maytag CEO Ralph Hake is scheduled to give investors an update on the progress of the Hoover and Maytag Appliances integration.

Maytag‘s stock hit another 52-week low on Thursday closing at $16.44. The stock was trading up 4 cents late this morning.

Help workers in America

October 14, 2004
Help workers in America
Date October 14, 2004
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

My family and I pretty much live from paycheck to paycheck. My wife, Nicole, and I have three kids, one with a disability. We don’t have a lot, but we were living pretty well until I got laid off from Maytag this summer. It was a shock to lose my job and scary to think about how I was going to support my family. How were we going to pay the bills? What would we do without health insurance?

I was one of the lucky ones who got called back, but the experience was a wake-up call for me and my family. I was laid off again two weeks ago.

Now, it’s hard to hear this administration talking about how the economy has “turned the corner” and the country is growing again. I look at many of my friends who are out of a job and have no real prospects and, from my perspective, this is no turn-around.

We’ve lost a lot of good-paying jobs here in Iowa. Everyday, I read how we’re losing more. If Iowans are buying this “rebounding economy” story, then I have a bridge in London to sell. Why are our tax dollars building schools and creating jobs in other countries? We need leadership who tell us the truth and who help the workers in America.

Scott Danks


Fidelity boosts Maytag holding

October 14, 2004
Fidelity boosts Maytag holding
Date October 14, 2004
Section(s) Business
NEWTON (AP) — Fidelity Management and Research Co. has boosted its ownership in Maytag Corp. to 10.9 percent of the outstanding shares.

Fidelity purchased 3.2 million shares of common stock. It now owns 8.7 million shares of Maytag, according to filings with the Securities Exchange Commission.

The Boston company, better known as Fidelity Investments, is the nation’s largest mutual fund manager with more than $903 billion under management.

Edward C. Johnson III and his family own the controlling interest in Fidelity.

Johnson also is the company’s chairman and chief executive.

Where are the jobs?

October 12, 2004
Where are the jobs?
Date October 12, 2004
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

After more than seven years of work for Maytag in Newton, I was laid off by one of “America’s Most Admired Companies” because they outsourced my job to Mexico. Maytag felt that they could be more profitable if they shipped 190 jobs down to Mexico on Sept. 24 I guess that $4.7 billion in business isn’t profitable enough; they felt the need to lay off over 1,000 people between Jan. 7, 2002, and Sept. 24, 2004, (

I hear President Bush talking about how we are “turning the corner” on our economy. My wife and three children are skeptical since Iowa has seen over 27,000 manufacturing jobs lost since Bush took office in 2001. Bush touts his economic record and claims to be “making progress.” My family and I wonder when that turn will hit Newton because the mission has not been accomplished by this administration on job recovery.

Doug Bishop


Edwards campaigns on jobs

October 12, 2004
Edwards campaigns on jobs
Date October 12, 2004
Section(s) Local News


Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards preached to the choir at a town hall meeting in the Newton high school gymnasium on Monday, and his voice hit resonant chords with the party faithful.

The North Carolina Senator hit upon the party’s major themes in the final weeks before the presidential election, noting the president refuses to admit the quagmire he’s created in Iraq; is out-of touch with the crisis he’s failed to address in health care; and has focused his efforts as president for what’s best for big business at the expense of ordinary working Americans.

But it was the issue of jobs, and Newton as an example of what has been happening to the American manufacturing base, that brought Edwards back to Jasper County just 22 days before the November election.

“So much of this campaign is about you,” Edwards said to those laid off Maytag workers in attendance after being introduced by Brenda Breckenridge, who herself was laid off after more than seven years on the job. “The truth is, all the folks at Maytag that have been laid off and all the workers at Maytag are worried. American workers can compete with anybody. They just need a chance.”

Labor’s strong presence was felt often during the forum as Edwards received standing ovations for plans to stop the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, ways to increase job opportunities in rural America and the administration’s inability to create jobs during his term in office.

“George Bush will be the first president in 70 years who has failed to create jobs during his administration,” Edwards said, something to which he was certain Newton residents could relate.

Employment numbers at Maytag‘s production plant have been reduced by approximately 1,000 during the last several years, with the most recent layoff of nearly 200 people coming two weeks ago. Workers with more than seven years of experience are now on layoff.

Salaried positions at Maytag facilities in Newton have also been targeted for elimination as part of the corporation’s strategy to integrate Hoover and Maytag Appliances under one company. The impact in Newton, which will continue through the end of the year, could result in the loss of as many as 500 salaried positions.

Maytag also recently closed its refrigeration plant in Galesburg, Ill., and shifted production to a new plant in Mexico and operations in Amana. Sixteen hundred positions were eliminated at Maytag‘s Illinois operation. Although jobs were created at the Amana facility, Maytag recently announced pending layoffs at the plant, just weeks after a new contract was approved between the company and the union.

Maytag has said the moves were necessitated by the stiff competition in the world-wide appliance industry. At the same time, the company has noted, the majority of production work remains within the United States.

Late last week, the September job growth report indicated 96,000 new jobs were created in the month. Edwards said he was certain the president would tout the report in Wednesday’s final presidential debate but said the figures really show a dim job market.

“That’s not enough to take into account the new people entering the work force,” he said. “And hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers have given up and fallen off the unemployment lists.”

The vice presidential candidate, who won Jasper County in the January caucuses, said the type of jobs created under this administration are not comparable to the type of jobs being lost.

“Thirty-thousand of those jobs were in fast food,” he said. “They are not the type of jobs where you can support a family. The kind of jobs created are nothing like the ones lost.

“They are going to try every way they know how to put lipstick on that pig,” he said. “You can put on all the lipstick you want but at the end of the day it’s still a pig.”

Edwards said that the current administration believes that outsourcing American jobs to workers in other countries is a good thing.

“Outsourcing is good, this administration says,” Edwards said. “I’ll tell you what would be good; outsourcing George Bush and Dick Cheney.”

That chord struck laid off Maytag worker Don Larkin personally. Sporting an anti-NAFTA T-shirt, Larkin said he was laid off two weeks ago because of the policies of President Bush.

“I don’t know why this election is even close,” he said.

Under a John Kerry presidency, Edwards said, tax benefits that lure businesses to produce overseas would be eliminated and replaced with tax cuts for those businesses keeping and expanding operations in the United States.

“The best products are built right here in America and Newton, Iowa,” Edwards said.

Questions from the audience also focused on the needs of middle class workers and the revitalization of rural America.

A Kerry administration, Edwards said, would “champion” the causes of the middle class over big oil companies reaping the profits of high gasoline costs, pharmaceutical companies benefitting from high prescription drug costs and insurance companies making profits from rising health care premiums.

“It’s a question of whose side you are on,” Edwards said. “You can’t be on the side of big oil, HMOs, pharmaceutical and insurance companies and at the same time be on the side of the American people. The middle class desperately needs a champion. We’re always going to be with the middle class.”

Edwards said the coming election will determine much about America’s future.

“You know what’s at stake in this election; the people of Iowa understand,” he said. “This is the most important election of our lifetime. We are out there fighting for voters, fighting for you with every fiber of our being. And we are going to keep fighting. But whatever we do, we can’t do it by ourselves. We need you to give us the ability to restore America and bring back its integrity with other countries … where once again people will look up to the United States.”

Why change prescription plan?

October 7, 2004
Why change prescription plan?
Date October 07, 2004
Section(s) Opinion
To the Editor:

I attended the meeting that Maytag had for the retirees the other day concerning prescription mail order. First, I would like to say it was a rather poor presentation. I think Maytag and Caremark were surprised by the number of retirees that showed up. I don’t think they learned much as a lot of them got up and left during the presentation.

This brings me to my next thought. Maytag talks a lot about being in partnership with the community. Why on earth are they determined to hurt and/or ruin the pharmacies in Newton? To mandate that all active and retirees do mail order for their prescriptions is beyond me. Whatever happened to freedom of choice?

I am also curious if this is as cost effective as they would like us to believe. I have tried to find out by asking for a cost comparison report but was told by Caremark I would not see one. After I returned to work that same day someone from the Maytag company called me and said very adamantly that I would not see a report. If this is for the betterment of all employees and retirees I am all for it. I do wonder if this is only going to be good for the two companies involved.

My last comment will be, if this is what Maytag considers a partnership with the community, you best watch out.

Maria Modlin