Thursday, November 26, 2015

Rendell wrong on rant over Sunoco job cuts

The governor wants the board of the Philadelphia oil refiner and marketer to reverse the elimination of 750 salaried jobs. Sunoco's so profitable it doesn't need to cut workers, he contends.

Rendell wrong on rant over Sunoco job cuts


In this week of political outrage, Gov. Rendell vented over Sunoco Inc.’s plan to eliminate 750 jobs from its salaried workforce.

His two-page letter yesterday to the directors of the Philadelphia oil refiner and marketer implores them to do the right thing, second-guess their CEO and halt the job cuts.

Sunoco is so profitable it doesn’t need layoffs, Rendell says.

So money-losing companies are allowed to reduce their workforces, but those that make money should not?

Well, Sunoco’s $776 million in 2008 net income is quite a gusher of money. But Sunoco’s not the only big local employer to make some serious coin and still cut its workforce.

GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C., which no longer calls Philadelphia a U.S. headquarters but employs about 4,700 here, reported net income of about $8.7 billion in 2008.

But it has cut 10,000 people worldwide since December 2007, which just happens to coincide with the start of the U.S. recession - and now plans to cut another 7 percent of its global workforce of 100,000 over the next two years.

Using the Rendellian logic, these cuts smack of making a “profitable company more profitable.” Where does CEO Andrew Witty get off trying to do that?

Meanwhile Comcast Corp. eliminated 3,000 jobs nationwide last year, while downloading net income of $2.5 billion. But certainly Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen - Rendell’s former mayor chief of staff - won’t be getting a letter or public scolding.

No, it’s far more appealing to shame those in charge of a dirty enabler of global warming rather than the enlightened programmers that bring us “World Extreme Cagefighting” on TV. Oil companies are easy to pick on because nobody likes them.

The governor is questioning Sunoco’s sense of civic responsibility at a time of extreme pain for the economy. But should he? After all, the company has been the title sponsor of the city’s 10-day Fourth of July celebration for 16 years.

And the company engaged in one of the biggest infrastructure reinvestment projects Philadelphia has seen when it spent $520 million to expand and upgrade a fluid catalytic cracker in 2007.

Plus, a previous management team of the company chose to move the company’s headquarters from Radnor into Center City in the early ’90s, - though that was part of a previous major restructuring of the company that involved job cuts.

How dare Sunoco strive to become more efficient and more profitable. Clearly, this is not the time for that in America.

Inquirer Columnist
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